Monday, April 23, 2007

The Lost Weekend

The Yankees went up to Fenway this past weekend for three games and managed to leave without a victory. As if getting swept by your arch-rival wasn't enough, Mariano Rivera blew his second save in a row and the whispers are already starting about whether he nearing the end of the line. Of course I would ask all Yankee fans to keep this in perspective. It is April and the Yankees did go in to Fenway with only one proven starter pitching in the three games. They did have a chance to win all three games and in fact had the lead into the 7th inning in two of them.

Of course the Yankees ended up with three losses, but there are definitely some positives to take out of the weekend. Arod remained on fire. I'm sure there were some who thought (and may have been secretly rooting) that he would go into Fenway and revert to some imagined (by many) mediocre player. That didn't happen. In fact Arod hit over .450 for the series with two home runs and five RBI's. Andy Pettitte continues to pitch well in his return to the Bronx. He should have two more wins than he does, but the bullpen has wasted his last two stellar outings. The Yankees managed to score at least 5 runs against all of the Red Sox starters. The Red Sox had their best starters lined up for the games and the Yankees offense managed to push runs across consistently against them. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the offense in spite of the fact that Matsui was not in the lineup and has been replaced by Melky Cabrera, who is currently having difficulty keeping his batting average off the interstate. The lineup also carries the sub par bat of Doug Mientkiewicz. He is hitting in the low .100's. Also, Johnny Damon has been having hamstring issues and was replaced in the starting lineup on Saturday by Kevin Thompson.

There were some bad signs though. The bullpen, which had been a strength of the team heading into Boston, appeared very ordinary in the three games. Outside of Mike Myers, I don't think any one got out of there unscathed. Joe had no choice to go to the pen considering the efforts he got from his starters on Saturday and Sunday. Joe has been going to the bullpen early and often this year, but thankfully there is help on the way. Chen Ming Wang will be back today and Mussina should be back by early next week. Carl Pavano is a different matter, but at least he did show some of the form that enticed the Yankees into signing him to a $40 million deal. Matsui is now back in the lineup and Damon should be back up to full speed any day now.

The bottom line is that there is no reason for panic. It's way too early and there are too many games left to be too concerned about being swept in a three game series. Their is a high annoyance factor because of the fact that it was the Red Sox, but it does not signal that there are major problems for the team. In 2005 the Yankees went 10-14 in April and in fact were only one game over .500 at the end of June. That team went on to win 95 games and capture the AL east. I'm not saying that this team will do exactly the same thing, but the end of April is no time for Yankee fans to start worrying about the team. There have been way too many injuries to get a proper perspective on how the team is going to play as the season progresses. As for Mariano, he is going to be fine. His problems stem from being under worked, not the loss of any velocity or movement. His location has been off because he's only been working once a week. Once he starts getting his regular appearances, the Mariano of old will return. Here's the recap of the season so far: The offense looks fine, but the starting pitching has been shaky. It's as simple as that. That pattern won't necessarily continue for the entire season. Everyone should just relax. As I've always said, the only people who get excited about the standings in April are Mets and Red Sox fans.

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