13 games in to the season, there's two ways to measure Yankees: Wangs (good) or Mussinas. (not so good)
Wangs- Chien-Ming Wang= If he pitches this way for the rest of the season, there is no reason he can't go 30-0 with a 1.15 era. And more importantly, he will make my 60 dollar purchase of his autograph photo a wise if not prophetic one. Wang has finally learned how to throw his non-sinker pitches for strikes consistently and has been able to get guys to whiff at his changeups and sliders on 2 strike counts. His complete game, 1 run (nice catch bobby) effort in Boston was his finest pitching performance to date. He looks like he will finally be able to become a 20 game winner this season and should contend for the Cy Young in a Santana-less AL.
Mussinas- Mike Mussina= I know he has not pitched horribly so far. He had a strong 6 inning 1 run outing last week against the Tampa "don't call us devil" Rays. Still, his performance in the 6th inning this Saturday at Fenway is a perfect example of why Yankee fans can't stand this guy. He pitches an excellent first 5 innings in which he allows only 1 run. Then, as soon as the Yanks grab the lead on the real (real according to me) 2007 Al Cy Young winner Josh Beckett, he gives it right back. After getting a dramatic if not improbable strikeout of the slumping but clutch David Ortiz with runners on 2nd and 3rd and 1 out, Muss proceeds to give up a first pitch double to Manny Ramirez allowing Boston to get the lead back for good. Yea, Girardi screwed up big time by not intentionally walking Manny to get to Youkilis but that does not excuse Mussina for once again failing to protect a small lead.
Wangs-Bobby Abreu-Bobby has played great offensively so far this season. He is drawing walks, hitting the ball hard to all fields, and has been right in the middle of the few rallies the Yankees have put together this season. My only beef with him is that he needs to steal more bases because he is the fastest guy on the team.
Mussinas= Johnny Damon- Feel free to hit the ball hard somewhere before the end of the month, Johnny. His few hits this year have come on broken bat bloopers and the occasional misplayed single into an extra-base hit. I'd rather see Melky hit leadoff. He is a switch hitter, a stronger hitter right now, and is almost as disciplined as Damon despite his youth.
Wangs- Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera- These two have simply dominated the opposition in their appearances so far this season. Joba is dazzling opposing hitters with his obscene sliders and his triple digit heat. He is simply the most talented Yankee to come up through the farm at any position in my lifetime. Rivera continues to be incredibly effective despite losing some zip on his cutter and losing much of his hair. White Boy Senior and I agree that he has the best control of any pitcher we have ever seen.
Mussinas- EVERY OTHER RELIEF PITCHER- Girardi has to find someone that can be a consistent third reliever. Lord knows it isn't the human white flag Kyle Farnsworth or Letroy Hawkins. My only hope is that young fireballer Ross Ohlendorf or Brian Bruney can take on this role so that Girardi does not burn out one of his two superstars at the top of the pen pecking order.
Mussinas that I assume will turn into Wangs= Phillip Hughes and Robinson Cano- Cano is a .314 hitter over his first 3 major league seasons and has struggled mightily in each of the last two Aprils. Although it is frustrating to see Robby struggle so much in the cold weather, there is no reason to believe he won't be near .315-.330 by the end of the season. Hughes pitched great in his first start against Toronto but has gotten blitzed by the Royals and Sox in his two subsequent outings. Last night against Boston he kept getting into trouble by walking hitters in front of Manny and by getting behind nearly every hitter. Unless you are facing a very young team like the D-rays, if you are consistently 3-1 and 3-2 on hitters they will walk and get hits more often than they will chase a ball out of the zone. Young Phillip learned this lesson the hard way last night as he got shelled for 6 earned runs in only 2 + innings. However, he still featured a 93 mph fastball and a beautiful 12-6 breaking ball. He needs to work on his control a great deal if he wants to come close to winning the 15 games my fellow Yankee fanatics and I had hoped he would.
Mussinas that I don't expect to improve too much= Jason Giambi- 8 years. That's right this is Giambi's 8th and hopefully final season with the Bombers. He is fun to watch at times when he hits his prodigious upper deck shots at the stadium. However, I am sick of watching him run the bases. I am sick of him making me nervous every time a ground ball comes his way. Most of all, I am sick of waiting for him to live up to the mega contract he signed before the 2002 season. He has missed almost 2 full seasons with injuries and illness and he has hit over 40 home runs only twice as a Yankee. Although he is a lock for an over 350 On Base Percentage almost every year, walks don't help all that much when you can't score from 1st on a double. I'm just glad this is his last year in the Bronx. BRING ON MARK TEIXEIRA.