Monday, April 8, 2013

Yankees' First Week: Unexpected Offense, Disappointing Pitching & Defense

Going into today's action, Yankee fans were worrying about more injuries, while being pleasantly surprised by unexpected offense. The best news of the first week of the season was that veterans Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia settled the minds of rattled fans with dominant wins in Games #3 and #6. As long as one of the other three starters settles in, the opposing offense won't have too much room to run up the score in any given game--oh wait, unless they're lefty-heavy. Boone Logan is still the only lefty in the pen.

As frustrating as it is to start a season with two series losses, the good news is the Yankees are not sitting at the bottom of the AL East in offense--the part of the game media and fans felt the Yanks were lacking after free agency and injury left them without the lineup that won an AL best 95 games last season. The bottom line is that the last minute replacements are getting on base, and now that Girardi's lineup shuffle has settled down a bit, the hits will continue to come at a more frequent rate.

While offense is on the up, defense is suffering. Even though the number of errors haven't stacked up for the Yankees, they have the worst Defensive Efficiency Ratio in the AL East (Seattle and Cleveland have the best). That stat determines the likelihood of a team's ability to prevent runs within a particular lineup (considering both the participating pitchers and fielding players). Counting on utility players like Nunez at short and Nix at third has already compromised overall defense, but now we're looking at a third string short stop for a few games after Nunez was nailed by an 80+ mph pitch from Detroit's Doug Fister on Friday.

Now the question is whether Girardi and Cashman will sacrifice the defense even more by keeping Nix at short or can the 40 man roster be shuffled enough to bring Gil Velazquez up from Scranton. Velazquez wouldn't bring any offensive plus side, but neither does Nix at short or Overbay at first. If Nunez will be out for an entire series, it wouldn't be much of a question for me--out with Overbay and in with Velazquez. Girardi can keep Youkilis at first, Nix at third, and Velazquez at short. Ok, I'll admit there might be an ulterior motive to that move--a Velazquez in the Yankees line up HAS to be a good thing!

As of noon, Nunez was going to try to play in today's game and Logan was still on the roster. Cleveland's lineup can EASILY boast four lefties out of the nine spots and three switch hitters. "Booney" will definitely be the one tested if there is no roster move and starters 3-5 can't go deep in the game. Hopefully, that "test" will be postponed this week.

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