Midterm grades continued …

Joe Girardi has treated Hideki Matsui as one of a number of parts instead of a star, giving him a lot of rest (this aside from the enforced time off during interleague play). Matsui has been up and down but has hit for good power this year — even during his May-June low point (.227/.317/.454 in 49 games) he still socked eight doubles and eight home runs. Even with all the rest, he’s on pace for the second-highest home run total of his American career. Some of that is Yankee Stadium II at work, but not all. As usual, platoon issues are minimal (he’s slugging .652 against southpaws). Even his sluggishness on the bases hasn’t hurt too much. GRADE: 85/100

One of the problems with signing players off of career years is that your expectations are inflated. CC Sabathia finished the first half with an ERA of 3.85, consistent with his AL career mark of 3.83. That said, Sabathia hasn’t been his most consistent this season, giving the Yankees a quality start only half the time (discounting his injury-truncated start against the Marlins). He’s been quality in 60 percent or more of his starts every year but one since his rookie season. Part of the shortfall, if that’s not too extreme a term, is his 4.55 ERA at home — on the road, CC has been the same old Sabathia, with a 3.19 ERA. GRADE: 87/100

In his post-game interviews, Girardi always says that Andy Pettitte pitched well regardless of the results. Chalk it up to sentimentality. Pettitte has a strong 8-4 record, but that’s not quite a fair representation of his performances as he’s been quality a little less than half the time, picking up wins despite allowing 12 hits in 6.2 innings to the Twins, or allowing nine baserunners (but just one run) in five innings against the Indians. His battles with control has been perplexing given his age and his experience; right now his walk rate is the highest since 1999. GRADE: 82/100

After a bumpy start, A.J. Burnett has performed at the highest level of any Yankees starter, giving the club 10 quality starts in 16 tries and closing out the first half with four terrific starts in a row (caveat: two of the four were against a highly-depleted Mets club). Bumped down slightly for that troublesome walk rate, Burnett leads the league in free passes. GRADE: 89/100

Short starts, wildness, tentative pitching, and Joba Chamberlain has still given the Yankees a quality start in half his starts, which is a touch better than average. His last two starts have been on the rough side but aren’t any reason to write him off as a starter. Pitching at home has been a problem, and something odd is going on with his approach to right-handed hitters, as they’re hitting .293/.360/.503 against him — last year it was .209/.297/.273, and in 2007 it was .156/.224/.244. Is it the decreased velocity? Is his slider not biting? Darned if I know, but it sure is interesting, and a bit frustrating, too. GRADE: 81/100

Chien-Ming Wang’s physical problems seem to have destroyed his mechanics, and though he pitched better after coming off of the disabled list, all better really meant was a 6.50 ERA instead of 16.00. He has yet to make a single quality start in nine tries — even Steve Trout got one in the same number of chances — and now that he’s back on the DL, it will be some time before he does, if he even gets the chance. He did pitch two good games in relief, and it’s possible the Yankees should have left well enough alone. GRADE: 55/100

The great Mariano Rivera’s home-run rate is his highest since 1995, which is to say in his whole career as a reliever, and it’s not just a function of Yankee Stadium II. Still, Rivera has blown just one save, and overall has been one of the most effective relievers in the Majors this year. The one place where he’s struggled is in tie situations, which has frustrated Girardi’s attempts to use him to the greatest advantage. Alas, no one is perfect, not even Rivera. Bumped downward because as good as he’s been, his “A+” standard is years like 2005. He may yet get there; in 14 games covering June and July he’s held batters to .163/.196/.245. GRADE: 94/100

A revelation. It will be interesting to see if Alredo Aceves remains Mo-like, which is to say that he keeps killing left-handed hitters. They’re currently hitting .155 against him. In retrospect, leaving him off of the Opening Day roster looks like a major mistake. GRADE: 96/100

Phil Coke has given up a few more home runs to lefties than you would like, but his overall line against them (.176/.203/.382) is pretty darned good, and he’s holding righties down as well (.167/.297/.296). Since allowing runs in back-to-back appearances on May 26 and 31, he’s pitched 15.2 innings over 17 games and allowed just one run on five hits and four walks. He’s even pitched well at Yankee Stadium II. One wonders if the eighth-inning bridge the Yankees have been looking for has been wasted on one-batter appearances. GRADE: 97/100

His starting work was spotty (5.45 ERA), but Phil Hughes did give the team two more quality starts than Wang did. We’ve only seen 14.2 innings of Hughes the reliever, but he’s been dominant, with opposing averages of .120/.170/.220, which works out to just six hits allowed in 14.2 innings. Hughes gets a confidence booster and the Yankees get a lights-out reliever. It’s the best of both worlds. GRADE: 83/100

David Robertson has done a fine job of breaking in. He’s particularly hard on right-handed hitters, whom he’s held homerless in 45 at-bats. When his curveball doesn’t curve against lefties, though, it’s a souvenir. Numbers that are likely a small sample mirage: His .125/.286/.150 rates at home. Now all he has to do is get out of the trash-time role. GRADE: 82/100


  1. daveskur@comcast.net

    How can Aceves have a lower grade than Coke? He has pitched more innings (40 vs. 36) with a lower ERA (2.03 vs. 2.97) and a better W-L (5-1 vs 1-3). And, less was expected if Aceves, since he was left of the Opening Day roster.

    I’d give Coke a grade of 90 and Aceves 99.

  2. letsgoyankees

    I don’t know Steve, but I disagree with a lot of these. Of course these post are all based on opinion so it’s useless to call anybody stupid or anything like that, but I would give Aceves, who has been more or less a gift sent from Scranton, a higher grade than Coke. I’d give Ace a 98 or even 99 and Coke a 95 (he started the year inconsistent). A.J. Burnett HAS to get a lower grade than CC-I know we’re talking bout expectations, but remember we got him more or less to beat the Sox and he’s utterly failed at that. At least CC pitched well against them. CC 93, A.J. 89. Everything else I more or less agree with.

  3. yankee7777

    Just a general comment?Wasn?t it nice to watch a game without Michael Kays constant babble. He is a nice enough guy but his knowledge of baseball is very limited.
    Do other Yankee fan note how there is less talk when any other combination of announcers is on?
    And also what a treat not to hear the pitch count after almost every pitch.

  4. payankee

    Giving Joba a score of 81 is very interesting. If you base your opinion on just numbers you may come to that conclusion but you need to watch this guy struggle thru 4 innings or less–he is not the reason why the team won most of his starts. Maybe 72

  5. oldschoolyank

    I also think Coke’s rating is a little high–maybe it’s because Joe G uses him at times for match-ups rather than having to get 3 or more outs. I think he’s been solid, but that number is high. I love Joba and want him to be a great one, but giving him an 81 (that would still be a low B in the academic world) might be a little generous. He has really been inconsistent, has not challenged people, and instead has tried to pitch away from contact. If not for his famous belly-flop fielding of that blooper between the mound and 3rd earlier this year, he may not make the team’s mid-year highlight reel.

  6. pelicansnowslide@aol.com

    how is posible to give joba anything but an F?
    What has he done? Does he look like a pitcher that has a clue as a starter? Does he maintain velocity? What happened to four major league pitches? What measure are you using as a quality start 4 innings?

    The experiment is a bust, Joba a bust as a starter!!!!!!
    4 wins out of fifteen starts!!!!!! The only reason he is not 4-11 is the offense saving his butt.

    No other team in baseball other than the nationals or o’s would use him as a starter.
    Lets just start calling his starts what they are, a long relief session in the first inning. Not a dominating pitcher by any means, a lets try to hold em’ here guy.

    Posada a B?????? Look and see who the catchers been in the games we have lost by more than 6 runs. I bet you see that same guy. He is a dh or a 1b out of position, but not a catcher. He should be traded. He would be worth something as a dh or to an nl team that has no o. We can get younger and better defense and a baseball player, like cervelli into the starting role, and spell him with molina.

  7. sadaharuo

    Jorge Posada is a borderline Hall of Famer. Cervelli and Molina are barely even qualified to play in the major leagues (as anything other than back-ups). To argue that the Yanks would be better served with those two instead of Jorge is madness.

  8. dianejerry@hotmail.com

    I too find Joba to be an ongoing source of disappointment. Your grades with him were more than generous! He needs to be returned to the bullpen where he can do the most good.

  9. sadaharuo

    I have a question for the “Joba to the bullpen” people:
    How do you know he’ll be any better in the ‘pen? You all seem to think that he’ll instantly go back to having that 0.38 ERA if ONLY he went back to the 8th inning. Don’t you understand that you’re basing your entire opinion of him on 24 innings? An 8-week period at the end of one season, and that’s the “real” Joba? How do you know that wasn’t the fluke? Who’s to say he’ll ever be that good again? Any pitcher, even a lousy one, can put together a good, long streak of amazing effectiveness. Remember Jeff Zimmerman? Had a microscopic ERA for half a season, made the All-Star Game, and was never really good again.
    I don’t see anything in Joba’s makeup to suggest he’ll be an elite pitcher OTHER than those 24 innings. Why are those the only things you’re using to evaluate his talent?

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