This week in Yankees baseball

yankeeslogo Well...there has to be a positive spin in here somewhere. June is over? Yeah, that works. June is over. By any standard thrown out there by any team--never mind by Yankees' standards--June was a horrid month. The New York Yankees went 11-16 in June. They lost four and a half games in the standings. They were outscored by 32 runs in the month. The team came in last or next to last in all of baseball in most offensive categories. This current Yankees team has had so little going for them on the offensive side, that is has been...well...offensive. Wait. I started by searching for a positive spin. June is over. That is it. June.

As I was watching the game last night and watching the fans of the Baltimore Orioles celebrate and rock Camden Yards, I was happy for them. This success has been a long time coming. They have a fun team to watch. Feeling any other way is not being a good sport and not being a fan of the overall game of baseball. Teams like the Orioles and Pirates having success is good for baseball. That their success came at the expense of the Yankees was the sad part. Here are some other random thoughts I had while watching:

  • At least the Yankees will have a better draft position next season.
  • I cannot remember watching a more joyless Yankees team. 
  • It has been forever since I watched the Yankees and felt like they had no chance to win.
  • How can Joe Girardi justify pinch hitting Vernon Wells for anybody or for batting him fourth against lefties?
  • Yelling, "Zoilo!" is the only highlight of watching Yankees baseball.
  • CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda getting heat for giving up four runs would not happen if the Yankees could hit. Starters giving up that few runs in a start should win their fair share of games.
  • Bringing in a bat at this stage of the game is probably too late.
  • We had a nice run from 1995 to 2012.

The season is far from over. July is a new month. Optimism may be flagging, but there are still games to play. What does this week look like? Let's take a look.

The Yankees continue their road trip with four games in Minnesota against the Twins. At least this is a series where the Yankees have a fighting chance. The Twins played .500 baseball in June and have a much worse record than the Yankees overall. However, the Twins are just as close to the top of the division as the Yankees are since they play in the AL Central. The Twins do not have a single starter in their rotation that has more than 5.0 strikeouts per nine innings. That means that the Yankees should make contact. What happens with that contact will remain to be seen.

The first game features Andy Pettitte versus Scott Diamond. Pettitte has had a career of pitching to Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau and has had some success against them. Diamond is a left-handed pitcher, which is never a good thing for the Yankees. That probably means a Vernon Wells start at cleanup. Yay. But I like the Yankees chances in this one.

The second game features Phil Hughes against Samuel Deduno. Hughes pitches better on the road, of course, and although the fences have been brought in in the Twins' ballpark, the place still plays tougher than Yankee Stadium. Deduno has ups and downs and will throw a good game followed by a bad game. He was good his last time out, so perhaps he will go the other way this time. Deduno does keep the ball in the park and has the best WHIP of all the pitchers in the Twins' rotation. Once again, the Yankees have a fighting chance in this one.

Wednesday will feature CC Sabathia against P.J. Walters in the battle of initials. Again, my initial thought (see what I did there?) is that this is another game where the Yankees have a chance. Walters has an ERA over six and a WHIP of 1.806. Woof. That is bad. Everyone is writing about Sabathia wondering what his problem is and wondering if he is on a downward career path. Maybe so. Maybe the innings have caught up with him. Maybe a skinnier Sabathia is not as good a Sabathia. Whatever the case, Sabathia can still pitch, still has a 4.22 strikeout to walk ratio and gives the Yankees a chance to win.

The series wraps up on Thursday, Independence Day, with a day game as the Yankees get to face one of the Twins' best prospects in Kyle Gibson. Gibson made his Major League debut in this past week and it was a successful one. Gibson has a very good change-up to go along with a better than average fastball and has four pitches he can throw for strikes. He will pose a challenge for the Yankees' lineup such as it is. The Yankees will go with David Phelps who was abysmal his last time out. The only good thing about Phelps' last outing that can be said is at least he should be well rested.

After Thursdays' game, the Yankees will fly home to again face the Baltimore Orioles. At least it will be in Yankee Stadium and not a rocking Camden Yards. The pitching lines have not been announced but the Yankees' rotation has been fairly static and it should be Kuroda, Pettitte and Hughes. Maybe by then, the Yankees will have a new bat in the lineup. Maybe the outcomes will be different. Hey, all games start out with a zero to zero score, so who knows. By now, expectations are lowered. Thoughts of the playoffs seem silly. We are looking, perhaps, at a couple of years of transition. It is what it is. Either way, we will be watching because that is what we do.

Have a good July 4th and have a good Yankees week, everybody.