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DL on the DL: Yanks Will Feast in June

By Dr. Mark Filippi ~ June 1st, 2010. Filed under: Digest Contributors.

That unexpected bite the ‘pork chop on a stick’ took in Minnesota last week to the shock and awe of Kim Jones was the perfect image for the Yanks in May. While the Bronx wasn’t ‘burning’, it was bumbling as the DL and walking wounded continued to expose the age and rust on the back end of the 25-man roster. When they took the field for a Sunday night attempt to sweep the Red Sox in Fenway, Burnett got bopped around instead and they lost 9-3. No problem, right?

Well not so fast Evil Empire fans. They went on to sleepwalk in Detroit and lose 3 of 4. Then the Twins beat Rivera late.

The Monday after that Joba let the Sox catch them, only to be bailed out by a Papelbon meltdown. But since then…as the voice from satellite radio oblivion would say…”spotty”. A 2-game blitz by the Rays was followed by an anemic offensive effort against the Mets and then a typical 5-2 run against the Twins and Indians. As usual, the losses revealed more than the wins as Vazquez and Joba continue to struggle in their respective roles. Overall, a cog wheeled 16-13 month Suzyn.

The Yankee subtext throughout this month is age. Jeter is still playing hurt and it’s bubbled up talk about his reduced range and even though he’s hit over .500 in the last week or so, the Captain’s overall play is moving from star to savvy.

Over at 3rd, the Lightning Rod is picking up the power numbers and he’ll feast on bad pitching in June, but his need for rest is going to become a topic as the heat of summer arrives. The schedule is a flat joke in June, with 14 of 26 games against last place teams. So unless one of the 30-something’s in the rotation or the core regulars stands near Kim Jones and get bitten by a drunken fan, the Yankees can expect close to 20 wins during the month, which will ensure they are position in the race.

If you want to look at the glass half full scenario, here’s the key names to keep tabs on as the first half winds down…

Jorge Posada - C - He’s on the DL but with the play of Cervelli in the field and his peskiness at the plate, Girardi may have found himself a caddy for his beleaguered catcher. The pitchers seems to enjoy scolding Cervelli lately, but it’s way less contentious then some of the town hall meetings Posada had last year. In a way, the injury helps them preserve his bat.

Mark Teixeira - 1B - His brief resurgence in Boston early in the month was followed by another dip that hit rock bottom in the Subway Series. Of course he managed to find his form over the weekend against the Indians. But it’s more than a matter of time with Tex this year. He seems to have a little David Wright bug in him where he’s tight with 2 strikes and with RISP. I was a little surprised he got the IBB on Sunday against CLE. A-Rod promptly found the monuments and made a 2-1 game a 6-1 one en route to an 11-2 walk through. I’ll be curious to see Teixeira’s splits as we get into mid-season.

Joba Chamberlain - RP - The yearly ‘project’ that is Joba’s career path took a few more turns for the guardrail as he continues to evolve into a thrower not a pitcher. While the hope is still that he’ll inherit Rivera’s role, lately he looks more like Mota than Mo. The funny part is that the Yankees can afford to let him toil through mid-season like this and allow his natural competitiveness to take over when the bell rings after Labor Day. Until then, the Joba saga will fry Yankee nerves.

Javier Vazquez - SP - I still think this guy can pitch. I don’t know why. I just think he’s been a bit of a media obsession in the early going and his little run there against Detroit, then a spot hold against Boston, and his 1-hit wonder-ful appearance against the Mets are what he’ll produce in spurts as the season unfolds. Face it, if you’re a four on the Yankees, your job is to EAT innings period. So unless he gets blown up all summer, he’s done his job. I’d see a playoff role for him in the pen.

The Yanks made some moves in late May as Gaudin returns while Aceves continues to rehab his bulging disc down in Tampa. Nick Johnson is back to his natural position - hurt. So what says the fan base because Granderson is back and the days of Thames and Winn in the outfield can mercifully end. Cano is the linchpin this year. He makes that lineup so tough. With their starters and stat hog regulars and that cookie of a schedule, maybe we’ll find out who biffed in the booth!

I’ll have more before the July 4th weekend when the Yanks put their interleague quibbles behind them and get ready for the heart of the regular season. If you have any questions/comments, e-mail me.

Dr. Mark is the in-house NYBD behavioral consultant. A lifelong Mets fan, his role is to help us understand how a player's performance over time and in the moment is linked more to their social brain design than their baseball IQ. So don’t expect him to cite OPS+, WAR, or any other statistic. Look for his "DL on the DL" segments each month as the season unfolds so you can better understand the how environmental and physiological rhythms affect slumps, streaks and other misunderstood aspects of a player, a team and fanbase's mood and outlook. He'll also explore some key player's somatic/nonverbal identity and how protecting and supporting it impacts their energy, focus and ability to adapt over the grind of the long season on and off the field in the crucible that is New York baseball. Check out his website at somaspace.org
Dr. Mark Filippi

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