Congrats, Yankees fans! We have made it through the first week of the young season. After a full week of “Opening Day” ceremonies, we can start taking the banners down and removing the decals from the fields, and get down to the grind of 162 games that make up the regular season. For the Yankees, it has been an interesting week, as only two starters from the 2012 Opening Day lineup are active on the team, and there are a plethora of new faces that make take some time to get used to, even if we’ve known about their acquisition since Spring Training (seriously, Kevin Youkilis in pinstripes is gonna take a minute to comprehend). With that, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly from the first week of the 2013 season.
“The Replacements,” as we shall call them, have been pretty fantastic this week, and have far exceeded expectations, even in a small sample size. Vernon Wells (.294/.429/.706, 1.134 OPS) and Youkilis (.409/.480/.722, 1.207 OPS) are hitting very well in a relatively limited number of at-bats. However, there is a lot to like about the actual quality of at-bats, as well. Both players are taking pretty deep counts and are having some loud outs. Their timing looks good, and both players appear to be seeing the ball very well. They will certainly go through slumps this season, but if the Yankees can take advantage of their over-production over the next month, it will be a big coup. Further, Wells and Youk do look better than they have in years since joining the Yankees. Take what you will from this, I don’t read too much into it, but it’s undeniable that both guys do look rejuvenated. Add-ons: Travis Hafner (.350/.409/.500, .909 OPS) is doing pretty well, and Fransisco Cervelli is leading the team in RBI with five. (No, really.)
For all the hand-wringing about the Yankees this year, all the injuries, the one area where fans could feel fairly confident about was the pitching. In 2012, the starting rotation looked like a glaring weakness heading into the season. But despite the loss of key cogs such as Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia for several weeks, the rotation pitched to a very respectable 4.05 ERA in 1001+ innings, striking out 7.89 batters per nine innings, and going 71-50 on the season. With all members of the 2012 rotation returning in 2013- Pettitte, Sabathia, Phil Hughes, Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova- combined with a built-in backup in David Phelps, Yankees fans had to feel fairly confident. However, the first week of the season, the starters have struggled. Pettitte has pitched to a 1.13 ERA with a win, while the rest of the rotation has maintained a dreadful 8.79 ERA, including 33 hits over 23 IP. Outside of CC Sabathia, there has only been one turn through the rotation, and Kuroda’s one outing was cut short after suffering a finger contusion, so there is definitely a small sample size. However, so is the overwhelming success of The Replacements, who will inevitably come back to earth at some point. As such, the pitching will need to step up in order for the Yankees to hover around .500 until Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira return, and to not fall too far out of the race.
The ugly- and I do mean really ugly- was Boone Logan during the first week of the season. While he seems to have settled in, he’s allowed 5 hits (and one homer) with 2 BBs in 2.2 IP. Logan’s struggles aren’t too far-fetched when you remember that he appeared in a whopping 80 games in 2012, and was used as the primary lefty as Clay Rapada was rarely used by Joe Girardi. It’s possible that Logan may be suffering a bit of a tired arm (in the same way as say, Phil Hughes in 2011), but that isn’t really an option for the Yankees as he is not the only lefty left in the ‘pen with the release of Rapada last week. With a deceptively weak middle of the pen, Logan’s lefty-specialist skills will be called on often, and he will need to step up as the season progresses. Another candidate for the ugly: Joba Chamberlain. His stuff is still electric; his control is awful: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, and 6 (!!!) BBs. We talked about it here on YGY last year, and the same remains true. The Yankees will be clawing for wins this year, if all the prognostications are right. They cannot afford to use a valuable bullpen spot on someone who cannot perform, no matter how amazing his talent might be.