The Yankees have maintained their record of being the best team in the majors. In August, one additional factor fell into place – the bullpen. The bullpen which had been previously erratic and with roles constantly changing fell into place with the arrival of Kerry Wood. But before we get to that let’s attempt an overview of the batters – those who were strong, those were weak and those who were just plain confusing……..
|New York Yankees – Batting – August|
Marcus Thames. Thames began his career with the Bronx Bombers but was deemed to be not up to scratch. It’s surprising then, to have him back on the Yankees but to be doing extremely well albeit in a limited and specialist role. August was his best month so far. Only second to Teixeira in home runs, the best batting average over the period and adapting well to a DH role means that his substandard fielding doesn’t get in the way.
Nick Swisher. Nick has been a consistent player in 2010. Swisher has been a consistent player in 2010. No matter how I say it still sounds weird and out-of-place but it is true. He still strikes out too much but his tendency for slumps which last weeks at a time seems to have disappeared. It’s interesting that people have been speaking of Robinson Cano has a potential MVP and that Swisher pretty much matched him in every offensive category in August.
Robinson Cano. Cano had a below par month (for him) in August but was still one of the outstanding players on the team. He’s quite simply the best defensive second base in the American league and offensively, even this month is a major, major contributor to the Yankees journey to the post-season.
Mark Teixeira. Whilst Cano was slightly off-speed, Teixeira had his best month so far and his 15 extra base hits (9 homers) led the team. Even at his best he has not been the offensive player that he was in 2009 but this is more than adequate.
Lance Berkman. Berkman was a deadline signing and an ill-thought out one at that. He has played his whole career in Houston which is not New York and he has therefore spent his whole time in a league where the designated hitter is a post-season mystery. And so the Yankees brought him to a very different environment as a dh. Mmmm……. And this career .299 hitter proceeded to hit .200 in his first eleven games and then head for the disabled list. He was brought in to replace Nick Johnson and he’s certainly matched his usefulness so far.
Curtis Granderson. It’s now past surprising that Granderson is not producing hits or power like he did for Detroit. With the addition of Austin Kearns to the mix then it seems sensible that between now and the end of the season, the Yankees will pencil in Swish and choose two of the three other outfielders (Granderson, Gardner, Kearns) unless they’re facing a left handed starter when they will go with Thames. This certainly wasn’t what they were expecting from Granderson but at least he is consistently ordinary.
Alex Rodriguez. Speaking of ordinary, here comes A-Rod. .226 on the month. The slump at the beginning of the month came with media attention as he approached a landmark. He has power but otherwise offensively he is not the player he once was.
Francisco Cervelli. Cervelli has not really lived up to my expectations. All the signs are that Posada is coming nearer and nearer to the day when he will hang it up and the chance was there for Cervelli to put his case to grow into the role. Defensively he has been okay but with the bat he was the weakest on the team in August and that means that when Posada does go then the Yankees will look elsewhere.
Eduardo Nunez. In my pre-season coverage of Spring Training, I ranked Nunez and Kevin Russo about even. Russo made the call up well before Nunez and for a very short time shone brightly. However, when it was time to send an infielder back to the minors, Russo had lost that glister and incumbent back-up Ramiro Pena found it easy to hang on to his slot. And when it came time to call up another infielder, Russo was passed over and the job given to Nunez. So far, all is going well and the future is Nunez’s to lose just as it was Russo’s earlier in the year.
Austin Kearns. When Austin Kearns arrived in another of those deadline deals for that great guy ‘to be named later’, there was little excitement in these parts. However, his early appearances began to cause a rustle of interest – enough that most days the Yankees would find a slot to let him play. Since that happened his figures have fallen away and the interest has passed – go figure…..
Brett Gardner. Like Swisher, Gardner seemed to have become much more consistent. He didn’t look like the guy who had blown his chance at the beginning of 2009 and with Melky becoming a Brave, he seemed like he had grown into the role. The sad news is that by August it has all gone rather flat, hence the excitement when Kearns began to play.
Derek Jeter. Last season, Derek Jeter looked like a man who had something to prove. Stung by criticism of his performance at shortstop, he worked hard to put that right and his batting performance grew with the momentum. Offensively, this might be the weakest season of his career and he might find it hard to find the motivation to turn that around.