Monday night's rainout provides us with a perfect opportunity to assess our New York Yankees through the first 13 games. So, here are some thoughts on what we have seen thus far -- keeping in mind that there are 149 games to play and much can, and will, change.
- A 7-6 start is not great, but it's not horrible either. You don't generally win the pennant in the season's first 30 games, but you can bury yourself and make reaching the playoffs virtually impossible. The Yankees haven't done that. Look at it this way. Boston is also 7-6. Tampa Bay is 5-8. The only team ahead of the Yanks in the AL East is Toronto at 10-4, and I think we can forget about them beng a contender. So, the Yanks are fine.
- I almost hate to say it, but this Yankee offense will desperately need Alex Rodriguez to hit like, well, Alex Rodriguez, once he gets back in the lineup. Cody Ransom and Ramiro Pena are a combined 8-for-51 (.157) with 5 RBI. I can do without the A-Rod freak show, but over the long haul the Yankees won't win without his bat.
- Even with A-Rod, the Yankees might be a bat short. Have you checked the bottom third of the Yankee lineup some days. We are looking at Brett Gardner, Ransom/Pena and Jose Molina way too often. Some days you can add Melky Cabrera to that. Even with A-Rod, some days you will get Cabrera, Gardner and Molina at 7-8-9. Nick Swisher is a career .262 hitter and won't continue his torrid start (he is already just 3 for his las 18). Xavier Nady's bat will be missed, especially since the Yankees can't seem to count on Hideki Matsui and his gimpy left knee.
- I am going to try and not freak out over every little detail about the new Yankee Stadium, including the crazy number of home runs that have been hit. Let's get through a whole season, then assess it. I am sure that over time some modifications will be made. It's a beautiful place, it's going to be home to our favorite team for decades to come and we are just going to have to come to grips with that.
- Chien-Ming Wang will pitch better. That's a pretty easy statement to make. How can you pitch worse than 34.50 ERA and just 6 innings totaled in three starts? The real question is how close will Wang get to his pre-injury level, when he was among the game's best pitchers? He is still a one-trick pony, with a sinkerball and no other truly big-league quality pitches. If the foot injury has robbed him of some velocity and he can't consistently get ground balls every game will be a struggle for him.
- The bullpen will shake itself out, and the pitching will look better overall once Wang gets straightened out (or gets replaced by Phil Hughes). Already we are seeing Jonathan Albaladejo rise up the bullpen pecking order, and Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez slide down. Eventually, I think the Yankees will decide they wasted $12 million on Damaso Marte, and Phil Coke will end up as the primary lefty. Brian Bruney looks unhittable, and let's pray that he stays that way. He is pitching like the guy the Yankees always hoped he would become.
- I am loving A.J. Burnett more than I ever thought I would. I always knew this guy threw hard, but I didn't realize just how dominant his stuff is. The guy is also unafraid and has a little bit of a mean streak on the mound. If he stays healthy he is a great get for the Yankees.
- Robinson Cano looks primed for a big year. To be honest he had better have one. If he doesn't, the bottom of the Yankee lineup looks pretty pathetic when Molina plays.
- It hasn't taken long for me to understand just how good of a defensive player Mark Teixeira is. The guy has absolutely tremendous, quick hands. And I am not worried about his .206 batting average. He will hit just fine.
- Joe Girardi needs to stop outsmarting himself. There have been at least two, maybe three, games already this season where the Yankee manager has started mixing and matching and burning through relievers way too early, and has had it blow up on him. C'mon, Joe, let these guys pitch. Just because you have 8 of 'em out there doesn't mean you have to go through all of 'em every time you get in a close game.