COMMENTARY | The New York Yankees are off to a better-than-expected start, with a 15-10 record heading into the final day of April.
That's good enough to have the Yanks in second place in the American League East, three games behind the Boston Red Sox.
Written off by many observers after starting the season without five key performers all out with injuries (shortstop Derek Jeter, third baseman Alex Rodriguez, first baseman Mark Teixeira, outfielder Curtis Granderson and pitcher Michael Pineda), the perceived goal for New York in the early part of the season was just to tread water and not get buried in the divisional race before those injured stars could find their way back.
So far, that's going according to plan. That having been said, there are still some frustrating aspects to the 2013 New York Yankees through the first month or so of the season. Here are the top five:
5. Dude, Where's the Running Game?
With so many of the Yankees' power sources on the mend, it was expected that manager Joe Girardi might get more creative in his approach to scoring runs in 2013. There was talk about aggressiveness on the bases and of utilizing the speed of Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez in particular to create stolen bases and scoring opportunities.
So much for that. Instead, the new-look Yankees look an awful lot like the old Yankees. The team leads the American League with 35 home runs and is fifth with 113 runs scored. As far as the speed game goes, though? Not so much: The Yankees are tied for 12th in the AL with nine stolen bases and have attempted only 13.
4. Wasn't Eduardo Nunez a Good Hit-No Field Guy?
After going 1-for-4 against the Houston Astros on Monday, April 29, Eduardo Nunez raised his season average to .169.
That's right: Raised his average to .169. For several years now, fans have been salivating about Nunez's speed and offensive potential while cringing every time a ball was hit his way. The error he made against the Astros on Monday, however, was just his third of the season. But the guy's not hitting ... at all.
His line is a less than robust .169/.273/.185 in 79 plate appearances. That includes one extra-base hit, a double, and four RBIs.
3. Stupid Scheduling
The Yankees will lose one of only three scheduled off days in May because Major League Baseball's scheduling people had some issues with the first year of constant interleague play. The Yankees' only scheduled trip to Cleveland was April 8-11 for a four-game set.
Oddly enough, the weather in northeast Ohio was bad in early April (I know, it's a shocker). The final two games of the series were rained/slowed/sleeted/giant flying frogged out, so the May 13 off date now becomes a one-day trip to Cleveland for a doubleheader.
That will make a six-game, six-day road trip to Colorado and Kansas City an eight-game, seven-day road trip to Colorado, Kansas City and beautiful downtown Cleveland.
Weather happens, I get that. But scheduling a team's only trip to a cold-weather city in early April defies common sense.
2. The Roller Coaster That Has Been Middle Relief
Closer Mariano Rivera has returned from last year's knee injury without missing a beat. Rivera has nine saves in 10 appearances (the nine saves is the most the all-time saves king has recorded in April) and a 1.80 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in 10 innings of work.
Setup man David Robertson has been lights-out for the most part with a 2.79 ERA and 0.93 WHIP in 9.2 innings.
It's the rest of the guys out there who have some ... issues. Shawn Kelley is boasting an ERA of 6.52 and a 1.34 WHIP. David Phelps, who will now be in the rotation, checks in with a 5.29 ERA and 1.47 WHIP. Lefty specialist Boone Logan has been special, if allowing a lot of baserunners qualifies as special; he has a WHIP of 1.58. Joba Chamberlain, meanwhile, is allowing 1.71 baserunners per inning. That's hardly a recipe for success.
1. Can Anyone Stay Healthy For the Love of All That Is Holy?
The Yankees came into the season with a veritable All-Star team on the disabled list.
It's only gotten worse. Catcher Francisco Cervelli, who was well on his way to locking up the regular catching job with his outstanding performance early in the season, was lost for a month or more with a broken hand. In the same game, starting pitcher Ivan Nova left early with what was diagnosed as inflammation in his right triceps.
OK, so given how Nova had been pitching, it could be addition by subtraction, but still.
Infielder Kevin Youkilis hasn't played in more than a week because of soreness in his lower back, but an MRI on Monday, April 29, came back clean (per ESPNNewYork.com). Still, Youkilis' prolonged absence leaves Lyle Overbay in the lineup at first base, even against left-handers, and that's not a good thing. Overbay is currently 1-for-24 against lefties.
Phil Watson is a freelance journalist and commentator based in upper Michigan who covers the New York Yankees for the Yahoo Contributor Network.
- Sports & Recreation
- Eduardo Nunez
- New York Yankees
- American League East