Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Mid-Term Grades for Yanks, Mets
Tonight’s All-Star Game may not be the exact halfway point of the season (Technically we’re a bit past the mathematical halfway point) but since the break is considered the mid-point of the season let’s grade the New York teams in a number of catagories including offense, defense, starting pitching, bullpen, manager and overall standing.
Well get to the easier of the two first in the New York Yankees.
NEW YORK YANKEES
OFFENSE: If someone told you that Mark Teixeria would struggle for a decent amount of time and yet the Yanks would still towards the top of the AL in batting you might have been surprised, but with the emergance of Robbie Cano as a serious MVP Candidate and solid production from Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner and a fantastic last three weeks from A-Rod, the Yankees rank 7th overall in batting average and homeruns in the majors, 5th in hits and 2nd in runs batted in. While they have had a few small team wide slumps where they seem to struggle to score runs, it’s fairly rare and the team seems to be firing on all cylanders as of late. GRADE: A
DEFENSE: The main difference in this team’s defense the last two years is mainly at first base, where Teixeria is just about the best glove in MLB at this point. Not only does he have wide range, but scooping balls out of the dirt and catching errant throws is second nature to him. Cano and Jeter (his gold glove not withstanding) don’t have the best range and A-Rod has been known to over throw a bit but the defense has been fairly good for the most part. Gardner and Granderson both cover a lot of ground in the outfield and the less that Posada plays behind the plate, the better the catching is. GRADE: B+
STARTING PITCHING: It’s pretty hard to find any real fault with the Yankee starters, seeing as all of them have at least 7 wins and they have three with double figure wins, but even if you discount wins as a good measure of a starting pitchers worth, you only have to look at the stellar ERAs and WHIP of Pettitte, Hughes and Sabathia. Even with some uneven performances from Burnett and Vazquez, and the earlier season struggles of Sabathia the Yankees starters are excelling. GRADE: A
BULLPEN: If you were looking for a weak spot on this powerhouse team, this is it. Obviously the closer is not part of the problem. Mariano Riveria is still the best in the game and is more lights out than anyone in baseball. However, getting to him is not always the easiest thing. Their 4.24 bullpen ERA is 9th in the AL and poor performances from Chan Ho Park and David Robinson and very uneven seasons from Joba Chamberlain and Damaso Marte have been glaring. The starers have pitched quite deep into games which has helped, but besides Riveria, the bullpen hasn’t given much relief. GRADE: Rivera gets an A, everyone else gets a C-.
MANAGER: Joe Girardi reminds me a lot of guys like Tony LaRussa and Bobby Valentine where you know they are smart baseball men, but they always seem to feel the need to put their stamp on the game. I think Girardi over manages and makes some decisions that make you scratch your head. Despite how well he did with the Marlins and the fact the Yanks won the World Series last year I think he gets a little more credit for being a great manager than he deserves. However, he is in no way a BAD manager and he certainly knows his stuff for the most part. GRADE: B+.
OVERALL: The Yanks are pretty much where you expect them to be. In first place, best record in baseball and holding off a young, strong Rays team and the old rival Red Sox. It’s hard to imagine this team not holding on to the AL lead the rest of the year and barring injury, the odds are good to see them get back to the World Series. I’m not handing it to them, but Yankee fans should be feeling pretty good right now. OVERALL GRADE: A-
BIGGEST PLUSES: Robbie Cano, Phil Hughes, Brett Gardner, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, C.C. Sabathia
BIGGEST DISAPOINTMENTS: Nick Johnson, Joba Chamberlain, Chan Ho Park, David Roberson, Curtis Granderson, A.J. Burnett
FIRST HALF MVP: Tie: Robbie Cano and Phil Hughes
NEW YORK METS
OFFENSE: Ok, They started the year without Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran (in fact they have yet to get Beltran back) and Jason Bay’s power has disapeard this year like David Wright’s did last year. Disaster, right? Not quite. Along with Wright’s leap back into the top of the NL as a hitter, Angel Pagan’s fantasic awakening as an everyday player, Ike Davis’ emergance is a saving grace and a catching tandem that actually can hit the ball, the Mets are in better shape offensively as anyone might have expected. While they aren’t blowing the doors off the barn every night and the team is prone to lineup wide slumps more often than you might like at times, they’ve hit enough to keep themselves in postiton to surprise and with the return of Beltran and hopeful that Bay will get more comfortable it will likely get better. GRADE: B-
DEFENSE: One thing this team can do is catch the ball, and by no means can you discount the smooth transaction that Davis has made into the major league level. Davis seems to scoop up everything thrown at him and is showing a range the Mets haven’t seen at 1st base since John Olerud in 1999. Wright has a great glove but his suspect throwing has been evened out by Davis, while Reyes and Castillo (and Tejada since Castillo’s DL stint) and been very solid. The outfield has looked great, showing they’ve learned the ins and outs of the spacious Citifield outfield and even Bay, who came with a rep for less than average defense has been above average. Barajas and Blanco have been fantastic behind the plate. GRADE: A
STARTING PITCHING: This was supposed to be the team’s main weakness, and only two weeks into the season it looked like it might be, but the absence of Oliver Perez and John Maine and the emergance of Jon Niese, R. A. Dickey, and Hisanori Takahashi along with the coming of age of Mike Pelfrey has seen the starting pitching be much more of a strength for this team. Johan Santana hit a small rough patch and Pelfrey has stuggled a little in the last three weeks, but no one can argue this rotation has been much better than expected. GRADE: B+
BULLPEN: It’s been a weird year for the Mets bullpen. For a large chunk of the season, they actually lead the majors in bullpen ERA. They have struggled at times, although I think that is as much as a by-product on some mis-management as anything else. K-Rod makes almost every appearance an adventure and that can wear on a team, but Pedro Feliciano has been great, and Bobby Parnell and Elmer Dessens have been solid enough. The bullpen has holes, but so do most teams. GRADE: B
MANAGER: Well, the “Fire Jerry” watch is gone, and the team is winning… but there is still something about the way Manuel handles the team that rubs me the wrong way. You cannot argue this team seems to like playing for him and responds to him enough to WANT to play for him, but his total mishandling of the bullpen scares me. Overall he’s not a disaster, but not the best manager in the NL either. However, holding this team together and seeing how they play hard and play much smarter baseball this year than the last few years gives me hope. GRADE: B-
OVERALL: Most people picked this team to finish 4th or last. The team has already exceeding hope for the first half in having a better record than the Phillies and being only 1 game out of a wild card spot at the all-star break. They are an enigmatic bunch. Who are the Mets? The team that went 13-4 against the AL (including strong teams like the Yankees, Twins and Tiger) and who have a good record against teams over .500 (28-22) or the team that has 10 walk off losses and a poor record in 1-run games (10-15)? Only the second half will tell, but if the Mets can get another starting pitcher and Beltran comes back and is Beltran, there is no reason this team cannot make the playoffs in 2010. OVERALL GRADE: B
BIGGEST PLUSES: Mike Pelfrey, Ike Davis, David Wright, Jose Reyes, Pedro Feliciano, Jon Niese, R.A Dickey
BIGGEST DISAPOINTMENTS: John Maine, Oliver Perez, Jason Bay, Mike Jacobs, Gary Mathews Jr., Fernando Tatis
FIRST HALF MVP: 3 way Tie: David Wright, Mike Pelfrey and Ike Davis