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New York Yankees' Week 1 Grades

Yanks' Rough Start Generates Few Bright Spots

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After Missing the Playoffs, Should New York Yankees Manager Joe Girardi Be on the Hot Seat?
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Joe Girardi.

COMMENTARY | We are officially through the first week of the tumultuous 2013 New York Yankees season, and their record stands at a disappointing 2-4. Sure, the sample size is small, and the season is only six games old, but there are legitimate reasons to be concerned if you're a Yankees fan.

With a relatively abysmal showing by many key players and most alarmingly the pitching staff, the Yanks did not fail to disappoint the rapidly growing population of pinstriped pessimists.

While CC Sabathia's clutch start April 7 will ease some of the early panic, the glaring problems on this roster cannot be ignored.

If you read any of the headlines after a disaster of an opening day, you might foolishly believe this season is already over (somewhere Yogi Berra is shaking his head). Well, call me a blind optimist, but there were just enough bright spots in an otherwise stormy week to think this diluted version of Yankees baseball can still be competitive.

So, without further ado, here are your 2013 New York Yankees Week 1 grades:

The Lineup

Brett Gardner: C-

Gardner hasn't exactly been the catalyst at the top of the order that many inside the Yankees organization think he has the potential to be, batting .160 to start the season. With that said, he is playing an error-free center (clearly better than Curtis Granderson), and even has one of the Yankees' four home runs. Expect him to figure it out.

Robinson Cano: F

Looking like déjà vu for Cano. Pitchers literally could not get this guy out in September, and then he crumbled under the bright lights of October. Cano was named the MVP of the World Baseball Classic last month, batting .469 and leading his Dominican team to the title. But now he looks completely lost at the plate. His atrocious 3-for-23 (.130) start at the plate is magnified by the fact that without this guy putting up an MVP-type season, the Yankees' offense will be hopeless. Those MVP numbers may just be there come the end of the season, but this guy needs to turn it around and fast.

Kevin Youkilis: A+

Youkilis has been everything the Yankees could have hoped for, leading the team in average (.409), doubles (4), and OPS (1.207). If he can keep this up even a little bit, he might prove to be more valuable than the man he is replacing.

Travis Hafner: A

No, it may not be 2006 anymore, but Pronk has shown that he still has a little pop in his bat, after all (.350/.409/.500, 1 HR). By no means should you expect anything more than 15-20 homers from Hafner, but the Yanks can use all the power they can get from their cleanup spot.

Vernon Wells: A-

As lost as this guy has looked at the plate the last two seasons, he is off to a hot start (.294/.429/.706). At 34, he seems to still have something left in the tank, leading the "Bombers" in homers with two. Let's hope for the Yankees' sake that he does.

Ichiro Suzuki: D

Ichiro is 2-for-18 (.111) and his bat looks slow. Luckily, he still has a cannon and hasn't lost a step in the outfield. Ichiro must find a way to turn things around and start getting on base. This is the year of small ball of the Yankees. If Ichiro doesn't find the fountain of youth soon, this will be awfully hard to accomplish.

Eduardo Nunez: B+

Let's hope Nunie's bicep injury is nothing more than a missed game or two. With his surprisingly hot start at the plate (.364), his defense seemingly much improved (only one error), and the captain still injured with no return in sight, the Yankees sorely need Nunez.

Lyle Overbay: C+

He is batting only .211, but he seems to have a knack for something the Yanks sorely missed last year: clutch hits. Overbay is batting .667 with runners in scoring position in the early going, as well as providing a solid glove at first.

Francisco Cervelli: A-

For someone who spent nearly the entire season at Triple-A Scranton last year, Cervelli is off to as good a start as he could have hoped for -- batting .308 with a .438 OBP and leading the team in RBIs (5). His deep blast off the left-field bullpen wall (measured at 444 ft) certainly helps his case to take over the full-time job.

Jayson Nix: B

Nix had an impressive April 7 performance against the Tigers (3-for-4 with a homer). With injury seemingly waiting to strike the Yanks at any moment, he is invaluable off the bench.

Incompletes: Chris Stewart, Brennan Boesch, Ben Francisco

The Starting Staff

CC Sabathia: B

Five innings, four earned runs, and a fastball that sat under 90 mph is plenty of reason for concern. But with a clutch bounce-back performance against Justin Verlander and the Tigers (7 IP, 0 ER), Yankee Universe can all breathe a collective sigh of relief.

Hiroki Kuroda: C

Forget about the boneheaded mistake of sticking your bare hand at a line drive, two runs in less than two innings pitched is hardly going to cut it. He looked off his game even before he lost all of his control after the injury. Luckily, he is on schedule to make his next start.

Andy Pettitte: A+

Pettitte was simply vintage Andy in his masterful eight-inning, one-run performance against Boston. He is truly the only bright spot in the Yankees' rotation after one turn through.

Ivan Nova: C-

Not enough first-pitch strikes and too many pitches that found the middle of the plate doomed Nova in his first start. He was tagged with the loss and currently sports a dreadful ERA of 7.71.

Phil Hughes: C

Less control problems, but, essentially, as bad a start as Nova gave the team. He also failed to make it out the fifth inning. Granted, he is coming off a back injury but without Hughes being somewhat of a constant this season, the Yanks' rotation may be in trouble.

The Bullpen

Adam Warren: B+

Warren made a great case to be in the rotation if a spot opens up. Throwing 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the Red Sox in mop-up duty.

Shawn Kelley: C-

Newcomer Kelley looked pretty awful against Detroit (3 ER, 2 HR allowed).

Joba Chamberlain: F

Chamberlain has looked absolutely horrendous in his first two outings of the season. Why did the Yankees cut David Aardsma again?

David Robertson: A

Two innings pitched, two strikeouts, and no runs allowed. Looks solid. Eagerly awaiting his first Houdini of the season.

Mariano Rivera: B+

Sure, he hasn't looked dominant quite yet, but Rivera is still getting the job done. No reason to worry about Mo.

Incompletes: David Phelps, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan

The Manager: B

Joe Girardi can only do so much with this depleted lineup and the pitching being so unexpectedly poor (Yanks hurlers own a 6.45 ERA collectively).

But Joe has been creative with the lineup (personally, I like Cano in the two-hole), and his infamous binder does have a history of success.

If the Yankees flop this season, it won't be Girardi's fault.

Tobias Rosen is from northeast Pennsylvania. He has been an avid Yankees follower his entire life. He is the creator of the recently launched sports blog Not Quite Grantland.
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