The New York Yankees finally have their first scheduled off day of the 2011 season today. The Bronx Bombers are an uneven 5-4 through the early stretch of their schedule, and today provides a good opportunity to assess what we have seen thus far.
So, here are nine things we have noticed through those first nine games.
- Derek Jeter Has Not Been Good. Coming off the worst offensive season of his career, Jeter and hitting coach Kevin Long tinkered with Jeter's mechanics a bit. Jeter is off to a .206 start this season, has hit 23 ground balls out of the 29 balls he has put in play, and seems to have already abandoned those swing changes. He has one measly double in 34 at-bats. It is too early to write him off, of course. It's not too early to begin worrying, however, about Jeter's ability to be a productive hitter.
- Russell Martin Has Been Very Good. The new Yankee catcher has impressed with bat (.300, three home runs, eight RBI), has base-running, his handling of the pitching staff and his defense behind the plate. Martin has played every inning thus far, and as well as he is playing Manager Joe Girardi better get him some rest or he'll wear him out by mid-season.
- Alex Rodriguez Looks Dangerous. A-Rod may no longer be the game's best player, but he seems to be swinging the bat better than he has since his 54 home run, 156-RBI 2007 season. The ball is jumping off his bat again, and he's headed for a huge season if he stays healthy.
- Joba Chamberlain Is Like A Box Of Chocolates. You just never know what you are going to get with Joba. He is throwing the ball much more crisply than he did at any time in 2010, but he is only getting guys out sometimes. There are dominant games, then there are hold your breath and hope games.
- Mark Teixeira's Off-Season Regimen Worked ... Sort Of. Teixeira, a notorious slow starter with a .235 April average for his career heading into this season, changed his off-season routine. He lifted weights less often and swung a bat more often in hopes of getting off to a better start. Teixeira is hitting just .182, but he does have four home runs and 10 RBI. At least he is doing some damage with the hits he is getting.
- Jorge Posada Looks Old. I don't know if he has just gotten old and can't do it anymore, if he is just off to a slow start as he tries to adjust to being a designated hitter or what, but a .138 start for Jorge isn't good. Eric Chavez might be seeing more DH at-bats if this trend continues.
- Phil Hughes Looks Helpless On The Mound. Hughes is throwing his fastball 88-90 mph instead of 92-94 as he was a year ago. That big curveball he used to have seems nowhere to be found. The changeup he keep talking about? Useless. Hughes does not look like a youngster developing into a front-of-the rotation starter. Sure, he won 18 games last season but right now he looks like an average big-league starting pitcher.
- The Yankees Miss Pedro Feliciano. They signed the currently injured former New York Met to get out key lefties, and through nine games of watching Boone Logan try to do it you can see why. Logan has been terrible, giving up five hits and three walks in two innings of work over four appearances. Get well soon, Pedro!
- Rafael Soriano Is A Diva. Well, wait, we learned that during Spring Training. Soriano, though, has continued to prove it. This is not only about his storming out of the clubhouse without talking after blowing a 4-0 lead against Minnesota. This is about Soriano seemingly wanting closer treatment. He apparently only wants to pitch in games the Yankees are winning by three runs or less, which is treatment usually reserved for Mariano Rivera. Hey, Rafael, who is going to pitch all those other innings, say when the Yankees are down a run or two at home in the ninth inning and need to keep a game close?