Can Boone Logan Do a Damaso Marte Impersonation?
This time last year, Yankee fans were scratching their heads over the decision to place Damaso Marte on the post season roster, much in the same way they may be perplexed by this year’s inclusion of guys like Sergio Mitre and Dustin Moseley. A 9.45 ERA in 13 1/3 innings will elicit that kind of response. Of course, we now know how that decision turned out. For those who may have forgotten, just ask Ryan Howard. I am sure he remembers that Marte was near perfect in the 2009 post season, retiring 12 of the 14 batters he faced, including an unblemished 2 2/3 innings with five strikeouts in the World Series.
This year, the Yankees will look to Boone Logan to fill the role of lefty specialist. Unlike Marte, however, Logan excelled in the regular season, pitching to a 2.93 ERA in 40 innings. What’s more, Logan was dominant against left handed hitters. In 91 plate appearances against lefties, Logan kept the opposition to an OPS of .501. Therefore, if Joe Mauer, Jim Thome or Jason Kubel come up in a big spot, there’s a great chance Logan will called upon to face them.
Will Logan take his place among Graeme Lloyd, Mike Stanton and Marte as a lefty killer in the post season? The answer to that question could go along way toward determining how deep the Yankees play into October.
Will the Yankees Finally Miss Matsui and Damon?
Even with Nick Johnson missing most of the season and Curtis Granderson struggling over the first four months, the Yankees’ offense still managed to compensate for the losses of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. Will the same be true in the post season?
Matsui’s 2.027 OPS in the 2009 World Series speaks for itself. Obviously, the Yankees will not be able to replace that. Before his outburst against the Phillies, however, Matsui had produced a sub-.700 OPS in four of his previous five post season series. Even though his cumulative post season totals are all very good, Matsui was far from consistent in October. The same holds true for Johnny Damon, who has had just as many series with an OPS below .700 as above .900.
The point isn’t to denigrate the contributions of Matsui and Damon, but to point out that performance in the post season can be somewhat variable. There is no reason why Curtis Granderson and Lance Berkman can’t have a big series this October, but by the same token, no one should be surprised if they do not. The bottom line is the Yankees have replaced Damon and Matsui with accomplished hitters, so their success or failure should not be judged through the prism of whom they are replacing.
Will Alexander the Great Conquer October Again?
Saying Alex Rodriguez had a monster post season in 2009 would be a gross understatement. The much maligned Yankees third baseman not only shed the image of not being clutch, but emerged from October with an aura of invincibility. Of course, Arod had put up big numbers in October before, but for some reason, he came to be defined by his struggles in the 2005 and 2006 ALDS.
What Arod will show up this post season? If his strong September (.295/.375/.600 with 9 HR) is any indication, the Yankees could be in line for another magic carpet ride. Although the Yankees can’t expect Arod to repeat his 2009 post season, there is a benefit in knowing that questions no longer swirl around the cleanup hitter. An even bigger benefit will come from an increased contribution by Mark Teixeira, whose struggles last post season were completely obscured by Arod’s amazing performance. With Robinson Cano thrown into the mix, the Yankees have a very strong middle of the order, so the burden shouldn’t have to fall on any one player’s shoulders. Should that be the case, at least we now know Arod’s are broad enough to carry the load.
Is Andy Dandy?
Too much has been made of the “disarray” in the Yankees starting rotation. They still have C.C. Sabathia taking the ball in game 1, and Phil Hughes was just as effective in 2010 as AJ Burnett was in 2009. So, the only potential difference between this year and last is Andy Pettitte, or more precisely, which Pettitte will take the mound.
If the Yankees get the pitcher who was on his way to having a Cy Young season before being injured, the rotation could actually be stronger than last year’s. If, however, Pettitte is still hampered by the lingering effects of his injured groin, the Yankees will have to scramble. The only way to answer that question is to give Pettitte the ball. So, after game 2 of the ALDS, we should have a pretty good idea about the Yankees’ chances to repeat.
Catch Me, If You Can?
With AJ Burnett not part of the ALDS rotation, the plan is to play Jorge Posada every game. From an offensive perspective, that’s a great thing. However, it does raise some red flags on defense. Posada not only ranked at the bottom of the league in terms of nabbing base stealers, but he also ranked near the top in passed balls. Making matters worse, Posada’s backup, Francisco Cervelli, hasn’t been any better behind the plate.
In the ALDS, only Denard Span and Orlando Hudson are significant threats to run, so the Yankees vulnerability behind the plate may not come into play. If the Yankees, advance, however, you can bet that either the Rangers or Rays will plan to run the Yankees out of the series. As a result, it will be incumbent on the pitching staff to hold runners, or even better, keep them off base altogether. There is no Jose Molina this time around, so defense at catcher could wind up being the Yankees’ biggest Achilles heel.