A brief look at an opponent we play this weekend.
Dates we play them: 7/30-8/2 at home, 8/28-8/30 @ NYY
The Offense: A potential lineup: Derek Jeter-SS, Johnny Damon-LF, Mark Teixeira-1B, Alex Rodriguez-3B, Hideki Matsui-DH, Jorge Posada-C, Robinson Cano-2B, Nick Swisher-RF, Melky Cabrera-CF.
The Yankees come into this series tied with the Dodgers for the best record in baseball, and the offense has been a huge part of that. New York ranks first in the American League in the following categories: R/G, R, HR, RBI, BB, OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+, and TB. So yeah, here's hoping the pitching is on point this weekend. Derek Jeter is simply refusing to let age affect his play. He is killing the ball (127 OPS+) and is playing legitimately good defense for the first time in a long while. The man most likely to be the next Mr. 3000 still has it. Whenever the Captain decides to retire, the HoF will welcome him with open arms five years later. At first glance, Johnny Damon seems to be having a damn good season for 35-year old former burner. Then you look at his home/road splits. New Yankee Stadium is helping Johnny Damon post the best OPS+ of his career. He doesn't steal much and plays some pretty awful defense in left. And there's this. Mark Teixeira is hitting like a man making $20 million a year should. He is currently leading the AL in homeruns (26) and is semi-quietly on his way to being worth 5 wins this season. And his favorite musical is Les Miserables. Other than his defense being a little worse than normal, A-Rod has been doing pretty well this season for a guy with a bum hip. But what about his batting average (.251) you say? Look at his BABIP (.243). Something has to give. Everything else is right in line with where you would expect from one of the best players of my lifetime. And he even has a new Hollywood ladyfriend.
Godzilla has responded well to being shifted permanently to DH. He's walking more and showing some power. His BABIP is a little low, so his average should bounce back. He also happens to be just like the rest of us. Jorge Posada is still killing the ball when he's healthy. The only problem is it's not exactly easy for a 37-year old catcher to stay healthy. He is signed through 2011 and could remain productive as long as he gets enough days off or at DH. He also appeared in some of my favorite recent ESPN commercials. Robinson Cano is rebounding quite nicely from his horrific 2008 season. He'll never be mentioned in the top tier of second basemen, with guys like Chase Utley and Ian Kinsler, but I think it's fair to put him on the next rung down of the ladder. Nick Swisher. Ick. The man we all quickly grew to hate is hitting like he used to before he played for the Pale Hose. His average is awful and his defense is kind of crappy, but he gets on base and hits the crap out of the ball when he does hit it. Plus he brings awesome intangibles. Melky Cabrera was probably going to be traded until Brett Gardner got hurt. Melky is a more than capable replacement and could be a starter ona quite a few other teams. He looks to not enjoy smiling young girls though.
Pitching: the potential rotation and closer: CC Sabathia-LHP, A.J. Burnett-RHP, Joba Chamberlain-RHP, Andy Pettitte-LHP, Sergio Mitre-RHP, and Mariano Rivera-RHP.
We all know CC from his years with the Indians. He is big, left-handed and throws the ball pretty hard (94.2). The richest pitcher in baseball has been above average this season, but not high enough above it to justify the Midas money he's getting. He throws a fastball, a slider, and a changeup. The Yankees other high-priced pitching addition has actually out-pitched CC thus far. The maddeningly inconsistent Burnett has been on fire this month. He also owns a very nice home theatre, and pitched one of the worst no-hitters ever in 2001 (9 walks). I still think Joba would be better used out of the bullpen, but that's just me. His velocity is way down from what it used to be (97 to 92.5) and that's going to lead to him being a lot more hittable. If he learns to cut down on the amount of guys he walks, the rest of the league will be in trouble. Thankfully, it doesn't look like he's going to do that any time soon. He has been terrifying since the ASB though (21 2/3 IP, 0.83 ERA, 19 K, 8 H, 8 BB) The snitch hasn't really done anything this season. At this point in his career, he's just going to be an innings eater and he's done a decent job of that this season. Sergio Mitre has joined the rotation fresh off his 50-suspension for androstenedione. The former Cub and Marlin throws a low-90s fastball to go with his change and curve. What really needs to be said about Mariano Rivera? The only man in baseball still wearing 42 on his jersey has been the most dominant closer in the history of baseball. The fact that he can still post an ERA+ above 200 (212) at the age of 39 is just plain amazing. Yet another first-ballot HoFer.
Outcome: I don't think it looks good for us. The Yankees are on fire right now, while we're quite the opposite. We play seven games against the Bronx Bombers this season and the best I can see us doing is 3-4. One last thing, I'd feel terrible if I didn't give nomaas.org some love in my Yankees preview. They do some great stuff over there and even give money to fight children's cancer. Check them out.