As the season closes, this is the best Yankees team since 2001. When the season started, there were a number of starting and relief pitching question marks as well as a weak bench. Now, a team seemingly transformed after the first two months, in attitude as well as roster, sporting a new bench and a vibrant young core of new talent, lead by Joba Chamberlin on the pitching side who is joining Melky Cabera and Robinson Cano on the position player side. With the wildcard in their back pocket, it remains to be seen if the Yankees have a good enough starting rotation to make it through the post season, the biggest standout in early post season exits in recent years.
Top Yankees in 2007
A huge season for anybody, it was even bigger for the Yankees this year as the pitching injuries snowballed and the lefty bats slumbered. ARod didn’t just hit home runs, he got big hits all year long. Without ARod, the Yankees are in third place at best. You can’t deny he’s the AL MVP with his mind blowing 150+ RBIs, 50+ HRs and .300+ batting average and a very good stolen base ratio, not to mention on base percentage and solid glove work.
Another 200 hit season (his 6th), another day at the office. Jeter is one of the most consistent players in the game. He continues to come up with big hits and defensive plays when his team needs them.
A Cy Young candidate for sure, Wang has had another great year. How anyone can keep their ERA under 4 in the AL these days is any body’s guess, but Wang is right there again, right around 20 wins. Even when his sinker wasn’t working, Wang has showed a much improved slider that will make him a much tougher pitcher than we’ve seen in his first 2 seasons. Wang missed April with a leg injury, so it’s pretty incredible he’s won so many games.
It’s too bad the offense didn’t hit much for him in the early going, other wise Pettite would have 20 wins easily and be receiving a lot more Cy Young buzz. True, he’s given up a lot of hits, but he doesn’t let those runners score, keeping his ERA solid under 4 runs. Right around 15 wins is a pretty good year for the 35 year old, who really showed that he knows how to pitch this year. We project him as the Yankees number one starter in the post season.
Aren’t catchers supposed to decline with age? But like a fine wine, Posada keeps getting better. This guy’s defense has made leaps and bounds since Tony Pena came to the Yankees and Posada has had a career offensive year with a .334 BA, 20 HR and 89 RBI. No one can deny what a great leader he is for this team. We do love Jeter, but we’d pick Posada as the captain for this team.
Mariano Rivera (30 saves), Joba Chamberlin (31 strike outs in 21.2 IP), Bobby Abreu (99 RBI), Hideki Matsui (25 HR, 102 RBI), Robinson Cano (94 RBI, 19 HR, .305 BA), Johnny Damon (26 stolen bases). Yankees current roster here
Yankees Playoff Coverage: Yankees Eliminated
Good Pitching beats good hitting.
It’s an old adage, but it’s true. Wang pitched poorly in two starts, Clemens was clearly not healthy and the offense was totally shut down when Pettitte took the hill. Could it be any simpler?
Sure, you can ask your team to get you some offensive wins, but you probably won’t get one, especially in the post season.
We’re not letting the offense off the hook that easily, though. Jeter was pretty lifeless, which makes us wonder about that knee. Who knows what Posada’s issue was. Matsui seemed to be a bit more comfortable after having his knee drained of fluid but it didn’t really translate into production. Melky and Minky were equally unproductive. Was it just good pitching or was it more? The bottom line was, the Yankees left a ton of men on base during this series.
Sure, there was some bright spots: ARod finally got an RBI and some good relief performances: Hughes pitched well, Moose pitched OK, Joba pitched pretty well (insects aside), Pettitte was great, Damon and Abreu hit pretty well. But they only won a single game.
You can generate a list of excuses a mile long: calls didn’t go their way (especially in game 4, sheesh), the bugs, Wang’s finger might still be ailing? The bottom line is the Indians delivered from the plate with two outs and runners on nearly every time and they pitched well. The Yankees will have to wait till next year.
Now, about Joe Torre: Do we think this elimination is his fault? No, not really. Wang pitched poorly; perhaps giving him the ball again was a mistake, but if you’re going to get eliminated, you probably want your best guy out there. Clemens probably said he wasn’t healthy, but they recognized he wasn’t and pulled him. I’m sure there would have been a ton of criticism if Torre started Moose in game 3 and Hughes in game 4 (or vice versa). Should the Yankees go a different way for 2008? Maybe. Should they base their decision on this 2007 exit? No way.
10/16/2007: That was an old testament styled loss. How often do you run into angry fans the next morning at the bagel shop cursing about bugs? Pettitte pitched a good game, obviously Chamberlin had an issue with the bugs, Mo had one fly down into his mouth but still pitched very well and Vizciano lost control of the situation with 2 outs. On the offensive side, it seems like Bobby Abreu, who critics declared dead earlier in the season, is the only one who can get a hit. Good pitching always beats good hitting, but 3 hits? Jeez. And the Yanks still almost pitched their way to a victory, but almost only counts in horse shoes and conception. Anyway, the Yanks will put Clemens on the mound and it’ll be all hands on deck as they face elimination.
10/5/2007: Wang got whacked! It’s one thing to throw pitches down the middle of a plate and its quite another when they are throw down belt high. We won’t panic just yet; if the Yankees can win and Pettitte can again play the role of stopper, we’ll be happy with the Yankees going home for 2 more games.
We are a bit critical of Joe Torre for starting Wang in a road game – his numbers are dramatically better at home. But we know Torre considers game 3 to be the swing game in any series and he wants his best out there and Clemens is arguably the best pitcher ever, so we can’t really argue with him. Too bad the Yankees slumbered so early in the season: they still came back and made the playoffs, but home field advantage really matters when you have a pitcher like Wang. We can’t let the offense off the hook: Jorge Posada’s strike out with the bases loaded was a big lose. Sabathia walked 6 Yankees and not one of them came around to score. Once Wang was out of the game, the Yankees phoned the rest of the evening in.
Yankees Post Season:
Clemens ready for ALDS
On Monday, Clemens threw 49 pitches at the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa in preparation, or rather, to see if a game 3 start in the ALDS was possible. Clemens did not speak with the press but during the Yankees visit to Tampa, he said he expected to pitch in October. Head over to Yankees.com for the full story.
We think this is good for the Yankees: historically, Torre likes to line up his best pitcher in the 3rd game slot of a series as he finds that to usually be the make or break game. Game 3 will be at Yankee Stadium. Some may question this move as Wang’s numbers are much better on his home mound than they are on the road, but Torre has picked his horse. Time will tell…
THE YANKEES CLINCH!
“Who has two thumbs and is the AL MVP? This guy!”
OK, maybe ARod didn’t say that. But he could. ARod has over 150 RBIs and over 50 HRs. You can’t deny his play is a huge part of why the Yankees are heading to the post season again. Head over to our Yankees page to see our picks for the top Yankees in 2007.