Thursday, July 15, 2010

Midseason grades off the mark for some Yanks

With the second half of the season about to start for the New York Yankees, the beat writers are all giving out their mid-term grades for player performances. Some of the marks are right on target, but others make you shake your head.

No question Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte earned those straight A's for their stellar first half performances, followed closely by the well-deserved A- marks for Phil Hughes. But the A's for CC Sabathia are a bit too generous, especially when factoring in that so many of his wins came against the hapless Baltimore Orioles. I would classify his first half more like a B, with a lot of promise to rise over the second half with the way he's been pitching recently.

When it looked like AJ Burnett was ready to shed his Mr. Erratic image once and for all, I thought he was well on his way to earning straight A’s. But his bad June lowered his marks to C’s. In contrast, Javier Vazquez was flunking until he started to turn things around in the last two months, raising his average to a C with several really sharp performances. But Pettitte, Hughes and lately CC have been so good that the starters collectively get a B in my book.

As good as the starters have been, Joe Girardi can't keep hoping for them to serve as their own bridge to Mo, which is why the rest of the bullpen, namely Joba Chamberlain, needs to step it up in the second half. I'd put the reliever grade, not including Mo, at a C-.

I also thought the B's given to Derek Jeter were a little too high. Yes, the Yankees Captain started the season on fire, but his current batting average is about 40 points below his career average and he again has had trouble on defense after a remarkable season in the field last year. I know Alex Rodriguez has 70 ribbies, but most of his key hits came in the last week or two and he was MIA for most of the season so how he earned those B’s is beyond me.

It says a lot that the best marks on the offensive side go to Brett Gardner, who started out competing for a full-time outfield job, and Robinson Cano, who responded to questions about whether he could protect ARod by having an MVP-caliber season. I would give the overall lineup a C+, mainly because of its inconsistency although there have been signs of improvement in recent weeks.

Overall, I thought the Jersey paper did the best job in grading the Yankees. It was a tough, but fair report card.

How would you grade the Yankees so far?

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