Not since 2006 have the Yankees finished the month of April with a winning record, but with a 7-4 win last night against the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim, California and the United States of America, they have finally managed to meet that feat again.
Sitting in 3rd place with a record of 12-10 is pretty good considering their #2 starter Chein Ming Wang may have just had the worst month in the history of baseball, Mark Teixeira is currently riding the interstate and CC Sabathia has been what you could call inconsistent at best. Oh and they are also playing without the 3 time AL MVP, Alex Rodriguez. So barring any injuries going forward I expect this team to really heat up in the month of May. But before we dive into May, lets take a quick look back at some of the biggest surprises and disappointments from April.
April MVP: (Tie) Nick Swisher & Robinson Cano
- You can't go wrong with picking either one here. Swisher had the difficult task of coming in and replacing fan favorite Wilson Betemit, however in just 22 games he already has the fans asking “Wilson who”? His current line stands at .312/.430/.714 with 7 homeruns to boot. Oddly enough none of his homeruns have come at the New Yankee Stadium, so just wait until he starts taking advantage of that short right field porch. Swisher did have a stretch for about a week where he couldn't buy a hit, yet he was still able to remain productive due to his ability to take a walk instead of making an out. It also doesn't hurt to see him attempt to catch balls in the outfield unlike a former Yankee rightfielder. Throw in his upbeat personality which has quickly made him a fan favorite (seriously if you get a chance sit out in right field for a home game, his interaction with the fans is great) and Swisher had a very successful month of April. Just be forewarned though, he is playing a ways over his head right now. Aside from the fact that his current OPS of 1.114 puts him in Babe Ruth territory, his batting average is certain to drop (he's never hit above .262 in a season) and the strikeouts will increase. However as long as he slugs somewhere in the range of .460 to .500 and gets on base at a .380 clip he will continue to be extremely valuable.
- Robinson Cano also had a lot to prove this season, especially after the rampant trade rumors swirled around the Yankee message boards this past offseason. Cano started slow in 2008, which isn't abnormal for him, however aside from a two week period following the All-Star break in July, Cano never seemed to heat up. Even his defense took a turn for the worst last season, which left many wondering if Cano wouldn't be the same player without Larry Bowa constantly in his ear. Seeing as second base is one of the easier position to fill, the Yankees weren't about to let Cano's trade value plummet when they could package him for a young starting pitcher or a starting outfielder. Yet so far this season Cano is showing it may have been a good idea after all to hold on to him. His current line sits at .366/.400/.581, but even more impressive is that he's reached base in 21 of the 22 games. He's still not walking a lot, and I've seen him battle in long at-bats fouling off a number of pitches when he could have easily taken a walk instead, but as long as Cano can maintain a batting average of .300 he'll rank among the best 2B in the American League. Perhaps some credit should be passed on to new Yankee first base coach Mick Kelleher, who has worked with Cano a lot during the spring on staying focused on the game at all times.
Honorable Mention: Andy Pettitte & AJ Burnett (minus the Boston start)
April's Pleasant Surprise: Melky Cabrera
- The Yankee darling from 2007 appeared to be on his way to Milwaukee this offseason, when rumors were running wild about Melky being traded for CF Mike Cameron. The organization clearly had no faith in Melky, and rightfully so as he showed no improvements since breaking into the league in 2005. If anything he looked to be regressing from year to year, as his OBP continued to drop and the power just wasn't developing. Melky not only had to fight for playing time during spring training, but he had to prove to Girardi that he deserved to make the team. Melky hit well enough in spring to stay on the roster as the 4th outfielder, which is the role that will suit him best going forward. However Brett Gardner's inability to hit the ball on the ground to take advantage of his speed (Maybe Girardi should make him do push-ups? If so can we start calling him Black Hammer?) has found him a seat on the bench in favor of Melky. Currently Melky is hitting .327/.400/.571 with 4 homeruns, 1 of those homeruns being a walk-off shot in extra innings vs. Oakland. Personally I don't think he'll be able to maintain anything close to this level of success, but I like how Girardi's riding the hot hand for the moment.
Honorable Mention: Phil Hughes & Brian Bruney (before the injury)
The Damaso Marte Award for April's Biggest Dissapointment: Mark Teixeira
- How can I not give this award to the man for whom it is named after you ask? Well as terrible as Marte has been, he's still only a relief pitcher. Tex on the other hand is making (or will eventually make) $23 million dollars a year and will be expected to carry the team when Arod gets closer to 40 years old. Tex's line isn't pretty, .200/.367/.371, although the OBP is encouraging. The .371 slugging does concern me though, as the lack of power makes me wonder how bad his wrist condition actually is. There's no way to sugarcoat it, Tex had a terrible month, but I'm really not all that broken up over it since he's a career .260 hitter in April and he has had the minor injury. Lately his at-bats have been looking a lot better, and having Arod in the lineup should help him see some more fastballs. But based on the stat line alone he wins this award. As for Marte, well…he's still shitty.
- You know I really should have given this award to Chien Ming Wang and his era of 1 million, but I feel like we haven't even seen him pitch yet. Literally, the guy has only thrown 6 innings in 3 games this year. However he clearly wasn't back to his old self, and once he begins pitching on a regular basis I think he'll return to form. Tex has played 19 games this year, so it's disappointing to see him still not find a groove.
Honorable Mention: Jeez so many to choose from……Cody Ranson (did anyone really expect him to do much?), CC Sabathia (looked better in his last start), Jose Veras, Brett Gardner.
Checking the Bulletin Board
- Just want to get this out of the way quickly….the “I'm Obsessed with Arod” book by #1 Duke fan Selena Roberts will now be released on May 4th, just in time for the Yanks-Sox series. From what I've seen so far there are a lot of anonymous quotes in the book which just screams high quality journalism. I think we've been there and done that on the steroid talk, so I'm going to ignore that for now. The most newsworthy allegation however is Arod may have been tipping friends to what pitches were coming during blow-outs while he was in Texas. Who knows if it's true, I wouldn't be shocked if it was, although a few Ranger players have come out and denied it already. There is a simple solution to this however, which is MLB can go back and investigate tapes from 2001-2003 to see if Robert's accusation rings true. After that MLB can focus on tracking down all waitresses that have served Alex in his life to find out the truth behind the tipping scandal. Because Alex should know Hooters girls deserve far more than a paltry 15%. Hell it should be 15% per br….maybe I shouldn't go there. Moving on….
- I was at the ballgame last night against LAAAAA Angles, and I was surprised by the lack of love for Abreu. He obviously had some cheers, but the fans were very indifferent to him. Personally I never had a problem with the guy, he seemed to play hard in his 2 1/2 years in NY despite his obvious faults. I wish him the best in Anaheim.
- Boston Redsox CF Jonathan Van Every tried to show up my boy Swisher by pitching in the Rays-Sox blowout last night. Luckily for Gabe Kapler, he was not in the lineup. I didn't see the game, so I don't know if Van Every was smiling, but I'm guessing he wasn't since I haven't heard of any outrage from Peter Gammons yet.
- To convince me even further that Yankee fans always need something to worry about, people are questioning if Rivera is not the same as he once was. Granted the blown save in Boston was disappointing, but I really can't get worked up over the homerun to Curtis Granderson. Rivera just didn't appear to be warm once he took the mound in Detroit, seeing as he had to warm up in about 30 seconds once Albaladejo began to struggle. Still even after surrending 2 homeruns in back to back games, Mo's era sits at 2.79. He's allowed 12 hits in just about 10 innings which is odd for him, but he's also struck out 13 and has walked none. He's had more trouble with right-handed hitters, although it's far too small a sample size to post those numbers right now. Still I can't get worked up over Rivera, he's not superman but he's still among the best in the game.
- For anyone who watches Yankee games on YES, just ignore the radar gun. I don't think it has been right all year.
- I wouldn't spend more than $50 for a regular season baseball game ticket. Which is why I could care less about all the discussion surrounding the $1,000+ seats at the new ballpark. To me that's something people with too much time on their hands can worry about. I'll happily continue to attend games with my $12 ticket.
Ugh I really need to get more post out because there's a ton of other minor things I'd like to discuss. But I'm sure I'll get to them all over time. So that's all for now, questions or comments can be sent to email@example.com. Enjoy the weekend.
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Written by Joseph Gallo