In advance of the Yankees coming to town tomorrow for a three-game set in what will be the unofficial start of baseball season around here, I figure we should get caught up with what’s going on in Yankeeland.
- So far, their prized offseason acquisition, CC Sabathia, has struggled. Through four starts, he has a 4.81 ERA, which is better than he has pitched. His first start (against the Orioles) was one to forget, as he gave up six earned runs in 4.1 innings without whiffing a single batter. He rebounded to pitch a gem against Kansas City but now has back-to-back disappointments (Cleveland, Oakland). In three of his four starts, he has more walks than strikeouts.
- The new Yankee Stadiums is a veritable wind tunnel. Home runs are flying out at an absurd rate, and everyone’s falling all over themselves to figure out why. There are many reasons — the different angle of seating, direction of stadium, wind direction (which will change again after the old Yankee Stadium is demolished, which could create another wind tunnel to left field)… bottom line: when your stadium gives up 25 home runs in six games in April, you have a problem on your hands.
What does this mean for the visit to Fenway? It may mean the Yankees may be a bit shellshocked when they go on the road and find that their hits aren’t travelling as well. In the early going, the Yankees will be nonplussed by it. But should this keep up, eventually the home/road issue will come up. (PS: Can’t wait for Big Papi to pop up in Yankee Stadium only to have the ball go out of the park.)
Oh, and no one’s showing up to watch the games at Yankee Stadium either. When tickets run $500 for “normal” seats, you have problems.
- Chien-Ming Wang would have to pitch nine consecutive complete game shutouts plus a handful more innings just to get his ERA below 4.00. That should tell you how awful Wang has been in his first three starts. He’s having his start skipped this weekend against the Sox. We’ll be seeing Joba Chamberlain, A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte.
- Chamberlain will make his third start, and hasn’t gone longer than six innings yet. His first start against the Royals saw him give up one run, walk one and whiff five in six innings. His next start, hosting the Indians, was less kind to him: 4.2 IP, 5 ER, 5 BB, 4 K. He’ll duel Jon Lester.
- A.J. Burnett has been sensational in the early going. He has a 2-0 record in three starts, chalking up a 3.20 ERA in 19.2 innings. He’s held three very good offenses in check: Baltimore, Tampa Bay and Cleveland. The only blemish is his 7 BB, 2 K effort his last start against the Indians. He escaped with just three runs in 6.1 innings. He’ll be duking it out with Josh Beckett.
- Pettitte has started out fast, matching Burnett in his wins total but checking in with a lower ERA at 2.53 over 21.1 innings. Going opposite Justin Masterson, Pettitte is looking well worth the investment by the Yanks to bring him back. Pettitte has historically only gotten stronger in the second half, but regressed to a 5.35 ERA after the half last year. Strange tidbit: he allowed two runs over seven innings to shut down the Athletics Tuesday… but had no walks or strikeouts. Wow.
- The Yankees’ bullpen has been a disaster so far. Through Tuesday, the bullpen ERA was 6.94, as compared to Boston’s 2.66. While Mariano Rivera remains unhittable, the rest of the staff is brutal. Indeed, without Mo and the scoreless inning by Nick Swisher, the ERA is 8.17.
Brian Bruney and Jonathan Albaladejo are the only two other members of the bullpen who can say they are earning their paycheck. The rest of this oddly-pieced together bullpen (I say this because the Yankees, for all their money and talent, seem to prefer to piece their bullpen together with independent leaguers, decent minor leaguers and players who have bounced around) consists of Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez and Phil Coke. Mark Melancon is tearing it up in Triple-A and could come aboard soon, but unless they swing a trade, this bullpen will be a liability.
- As we all know, Alex Rodriguez is currently out with a hip injury. He’s shooting for a May 8 return and seems to be on target for that. His replacement, Cody Ransom, is batting a cool .154/.196/.273.
Hideki Matsui is hobbling and has received a cortisone injection, but should be good to go this weekend.
Xavier Nady was injured and many thought he would be out for the year, but he will attempt to rehab his way back in a month. Meanwhile, this has opened playing time for Nick Swisher, who is absolutely on fire. Swisher had a poor year last year, but that was the fluke. The White Sox’s loss is the Yankees gain — and that’s a gain of .311/.415/.756.
- Last but not least, Jacoby Ellsbury’s poor man is playing in Yankee pinstripes. His name is Brett Gardner, and he’s also a speed demon. A comparison:
Gardner is hitting .240/.283/.300 with four stolen bases. Jacoby is at .283/.317/.317 with six stolen bases and according to range factor, Jacoby has a slight edge in the ground he can cover in the outfield.
Sox sweep. You heard it here first. (That was a tounge-in-cheek response to those who aren’t sure.)