This is the latest installment of the 2010 New York Yankee progress, honoring the epic Clint Eastwood movie of the same name.
MOVIE TRIVIA: Given that the Italian Il buono, il brutto, il cattivo literally translates to the English: The Good, the Ugly, the Bad, reversing the last two adjectives, advertisements for the original Italian release show Tuco (Eli Wallach - the Ugly) before Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef - the Bad) , and, when translated into English, erroneously label Angel Eyes as "The Ugly" and Tuco as "The Bad".
Now I know why beat reporters who work on deadlines get very frustrated.
"Since my last installment (No. 4), the Yankees have played 12 games, resulting in a 6-6 record. What is more important is that the Yankees still have themselves the No. 1 record in the major leagues at 46-29, a game up on the pesky Boston Red Sox."
After the stunning comeback last night over the Dodgers, correct that to a 47-28 record and two game lead over the injury-depleted Red Sox.
The Yankees have been 16-8 in June, with a split of their just completed, six game West coast Inter-league trip through Arizona and Los Angeles. During the last 12 games, the Yankees lost three in a row once (two to Philadelphia and the opening game versus the New York Mets).
All numbers are from the last 14 days, unless noted.
CC Sabathia - with all the hub-bub over AJ Burnett's disastrous June, have you noticed that the only pitcher the Yankees should have signed two season's ago, is 5-0 in June? Sabathia became the third pitcher this season to win five straight starts while going seven plus innings in each?
The other two? See below.
CC was 3-0, 1.57 ERA over the three starts the past two weeks. Simply dominant.
Phil Hughes - because of his innings limit skipped start out west, he only made one start over the last weeks. Phranchise made it his 10th win, going seven strong over the New York Mets, avenging his only loss to the Mets and Mike Pelfrey.
Robinson Cano - hit .298 BA/.365 OBP/.489 SLG/.855 OPS with two runs, which isn't exactly Canoesque as we have been programmed to see. But he continues to come through with huge hits, culminating in last night's extra-inning, game-winning home run off of left-handed reliever George Sherrill.
He also has a string of 60 errorless games. Interestingly, his throwing error was during Dallas Braden/Alex Rodriguez "don't cross my mound" game.
Alex Rodriguez - starting to get the power stroke back with three home runs this past week. He slashed .256/.362/.564/.926 with the three HR's and 11 RBI. All three home runs were huge, giving the Yankees the lead in this game and this one.
His home run last night got the Yankees on the board with his fifth inning two-run shot off of Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw.
I am concerned with Alex's hip/groin issue as it has made him much slower in lateral movement. It also has eliminated his ability to steal a base.
Brett Gardner - until getting hurt last night, Gardner was hitting .342/.419/.395/.813 while continuing to play great defense. He still leads the other New York left fielder, Jason Bay, in OPS this season (.821 vs. .791), while making considerably less money.
Colin Curtis - due to inter-league games in NL parks, he made his major league debut this past week. When Jorge Posada was catching, Curtis was the primary left-handed bat off the Yankee bench.
He had a few hits in six at bats, driving in four runs. His great at bat last night led to a RBI ground ball.
He has shown a good knowledge of the strike zone, takes great swings and can play better than average defense.
Read more about Curtis here in my 40 man roster advice from last season.
Good video of Curtis here on the biggest challenge of his life.
Good deal for Curtis, who is a very likable guy, cancer survivor and all.
He also played his college baseball at Arizona State. I remember in 2008, after the Trenton Thunder won the Eastern League title, I asked Curtis if that title was bigger than starring in the College World Series his junior season.
He smiled, took a few seconds, and said "the College World Series was awesome."
Chad Huffman - like Curtis, Huffman got his first major league hit within the last two weeks. He also had that big two-run single in Sunday night's stirring comeback against the Dodgers.
And he hustles all the time.
Mariano Rivera - A great move by Joe Girardi in bringing in Mo into a tie game on the road again last night.
As I tweeted last night, Rivera is like an elite piece of real estate - location, location, location. When he hits the corners, he is unhittable.
David Robertson - he continues his really good pitching after a disastrous beginning to 2010.
In 5.2 innings over the last two weeks, he allowed a single cheap run. His overall ERA is now 5.04 (it was over 14 in early May!), but in June he has pitched to an ERA of 1.00.
People wanted to dump him to the minors in early May, but he is now the most consistent bullpen arm not named Rivera.
Yankees rookies - very interesting, but four Yankee young players have gotten their first major league hit this season; both Curtis and Huffman, plus Greg Golson and Kevin Russo. And Ivan Nova and Romulo Sanchez pitched well earlier when the bullpen needed a few new arms.
Sure, the team's payroll is around $200 million, but the organization is doing a much better job at bringing up their young players and letting them play.
Joba, Phranchise, Gardner, Francisco Cervelli, David Robertson, and even when they started this new trend by bringing up Cano and Chien-Ming Wang in 2005.
Mark Teixeira - I am sorry, but Teixeira needs to change his approach from the left side to stop being a complete pull hitter.
But from what I hear, Teixeira is not a willing participant in the adjustment game, and thinks "he will come out of it on his own."
He won't by continuing to try and pull every pitch when he hits left handed.
With pitchers getting better, Teix getting older and the usual big shift, Mark's split against RHP is a terrible .228/.333/.386/.719.
I do not see him improving unless he makes some changes.
Jorge Posada - he is beginning to look old, with a slower bat. But it might just be him getting back into the groove of playing every day.
Posada will get more consistent at bats as the Yankees are finished with the National League parks and Jorge can DH a few days a week.
Last night's 9th inning ten-pitch at bat against Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton was the Posada we know.
If he hits the way he can, the lineup can withstand the continued year-long slump from Teixeira.
Joe Girardi - even though I am a big fan of his Mariano Rivera move, Girardi still tries to show everyone that he is a National League manager. Too many double switches by pulling Swisher out of games, and leaving his bench very vulnerable.
But the NL park games are over.
He was gong to pinch hit Ramiro Pena at Arizona in the Mariano game. I would rather see CC Sabathia pinch hit then Pena, especially after using both catchers. Pena is the emergency backup.
Then with first and third, with one out in LA, and Gardner on first base, Girardi elects to have AJ Burnett bunt over the runner to second.
Why not have Gardner steal second instead? If he gets thrown out, and AJ makes an out (very likely), then Derek Jeter leads off next inning.
I am a big fan of the bunting game, but with one out, giving away an out when AJ isn't moving over two runners is a big mistake.
Derek Jeter - whew! That three strikeout performance Saturday night was brutal. His slash line over the 12 games is worse - .244/.358/.289/.647 with ZERO extra base hits and no RBI.
Chan Ho Park - a .400/.444/.680/1.124 slash line is great if you are a hitter, but just brutal if you throw the ball for a living. Many have pointed out that it is usually his second inning which causes lots of damage, but some of his single inning appearances aren't great either.
I do not believe it is Park's durability which is an issue, as he was a starter and has several successful multi-innings appearances this season, including April 7th at Boston and June 5th at Toronto.
But after a really good 2009 season, maybe Park isn't that good this season. This is typical of many relief pitchers.
But if the Yankees only pitch Park for a single inning, then he needs to go. Other pitchers can go the one inning route, but an effective bullpen needs lots of guys who can go multi-innings.
When Alfredo Aceves comes back, Chad Gaudin is gone, but Park is not far behind. The Yankees have lots of patience with ineffective relievers (see Damaso Marte last year), but if Sergie Mitre comes back, too, Park could be gone.
Joba Chamberlain - like Park, Joba has a terrible line of .353/.476/.529/1.006 with a 2.50 WHIP in his four innings. His control remains a problem, even walking the leadoff guy last night.
He seems to go 3-2 on every batter and does not look like he concentrates every pitch to every batter.
That is a must for a late inning reliever, a role which Joba might be relieved of himself.
AJ Burnett - it is not Dave Eiland's month off, lack of in your face, walk-off cream pies, or Jorge Posada catching him.
It is AJ Burnett. He is not that good.
I was against him coming here in the first place, and have never wavered off my thoughts. I still believe he will eventually be on the disabled list.
He can not throw strikes to specific spots, thus leaving the ball out over the plate, where it gets roped all over the park. Except for his really good 2008 season, Burnett is basically a .500 career pitcher. There is a reason for that.
He is not that good. When you can not command your pitches, you will never pitch well. And it does not appear he concentrates on every hitter in every situation.
Never a good combination.
ANSWER: The other two pitchers in 2010 besides Sabathia with five straight starts, five straight wins and each win going seven or more innings is Ubaldo Jimenez and Nick Blackburn.
Jimenez was the easy choice, but Blackburn was tough. He has had a terrible April and June, but sandwiched them around an amazingly dominating May.
I guess he is destined for a really good July?
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