Yanks Mid-Season Report Card

As we reach the All-Star game tonight, the Yankees are at 51-37 (.580) and in second place, three games back of the Red Sox.  As I look back and evaluate 2009 so far, who doesn’t love a report card?  It’s a nice fun way to assign an (in this case) arbitrary grade to how my Yanks are doing so far this season.  Without further ado, here are my grades for the Yanks by position:

Catcher: Both Jorge Posada and Jose Molina went down within a week of eachother earlier in the season, so the Yanks were forced to make do with Francisco Cervelli, who was called up straight from AA-Trenton.  Cervelli did an admirable job as primary backstop, hitting .270 but earning the praise of the pitching staff for the way he calls games.  It’s nice to see the Yanks have some kind of hope for life after Hip Hip Jorge.  As for the 37 year old Posada, he’s hitting a respectable .285 with 11 homers, 40 RBI.  Grade: B+

First Base: Sure he started off slow, but Mark Teixeira .249 hitter in April, so he was bound to turn it around, which is exactly what happened.  Tex went on a tear after April ended, and despite playing mediocre ball close to the All-Star break, he is a deserving American League Starter in tonight’s game.  His .275 average is 13 points lower than his career average, but I like his 21 homers and 63 RBI.  As for his defense, Tex is the best defensive first baseman the Yanks have employed since Tino Martinez or Don MattinglyGrade: A-

Second Base: After a dismal 2008 season, there were rumors the Yanks would want to trade Robinson Cano, but realistically they didn’t have a better option.  He’s the definition of a streaky hitter, but Cano is hitting a solid .308 with 13 homers (six shy of his career high) and 46 RBI.  It’s looking more and more like Cano won’t duplicate his .342 average of 2006, but I’d be very happy with a second baseman who hits .300/25-30/85-100.  Grade: B+

Third Base: When A-Rod went under the knife early in the spring, no one really knew how he would return and how his replacements would do.  Cody Ransom was a disaster at third and Ramiro Pena is better suited for the bench as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch runner.  I think I could hit better than Pena lefty (If you don’t get it, here’s a hint: I bat righty).  I won’t even mention Angel Berroa.  As for Mr. Rodriguez, he’s hitting 50 points below his career average, but the power numbers are there.  He started hitting in Anaheim, but it’s too early to tell what the Yanks will get out of A-Rod.  Grade: Inc.

Shortstop: The .321 batting average is right in line (actually even a bit higher) than his career average, his power numbers are up, and his defense is the best it’s been…ever?  Actually his range numbers are much better than they have been for at least the past six years.  Could Derek Jeter be playing for a new contract in 2010 already?  Yeah, I think so.  All his critics say he should be moved out of shortstop when his contract is up, but maybe not.  Let’s finish the season first.  Grade: B+

Outfield: The spring training outfield of Johnny Damon/Brett Gardner/Xavier Nady has been altered since Nady is done for the year with his second Tommy John surgery and Gardner has been platooning with Melky Cabrera in center.  Damon is hitting .276, which is on-par for the decline of a 35 year old.  The power numbers are there, but a three year old could hit a home run to right field in New Yankee Stadium.  Cabrera and Gardner have been pretty good in center and Nick Swisher has been a fun, albeit interesting player to watch in right.  He’s hitting .237, but when you factor in his walks, he gets on base 36% of the time, which is nice.  Could use some more production out of the outfield, though.  Grade: C+

Bench: The addition of Eric Hinske is nice and about time they added a bat.  Berroa wasted away on the bench for two months, playing once every three weeks.  Hideki Matsui is a wasted roster space (unfortunately, because I like him) since he’s limited to DH duty and has no knees.  Pena was a good infielder to have around, but was sent down and now Ransom needs to remember how to hit.  It’s tough having a team with players in their mid-30s since someone always needs a day off or a day as DH, but as the roster continues to turn over, I’d like to see some more athleticism.  Grade: C

Starting Pitching: They’ll go through a stretch where each pitcher is just dominant.  Overall, CC Sabathia has been good, but not great.  AJ Burnett is somehow still healthy and a second half pitcher, so we’ll see with him.  Andy Pettitte is showing his age, and that underwhelming 4.85 ERA doesn’t help.  Joba Chamberlain continues to develop, which is tough to watch when your team is supposed to be competing for a pennant and Chien-Ming Wang has been a huge question mark all year.  Grade: B/B-

Bullpen: It started off as a disaster, but once the dead weight of Jose Veras, Damaso Marte, and Edwar Ramirez were sent packing, to the DL, or to AAA Scranton/W-B, things looked better.  Alfredo Aceves has been a hell of a find for the Yanks, Phil Hughes has been great in the pen, and Phil Coke works just about every single day and still gets the job done more often than not.  I’d like to see Mark Melancon get more of a shot in the majors because I think he’s legit, but the Yanks have more arms than bullpen slots, so he’ll probably be on the Scranton/Bronx shuttle all season.  Grade: B

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