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Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Yankees, Unobstructed — May 2

April is such a sloppy month for baseball. It's hard to gauge how good/bad any individual will be as the entire season plays out. Strange and crazy things happen, like the Mets and Athletics finding their way to first place, or Paul Konerko hitting 11 home runs in 23 games.

Basically, baseball looks different in April. So when the calendar turns to May, I like to reflect on what we saw in the last month. Presenting...

The Second Annual Bronx News Network April Yankee Awards

Hitting MVP:
Last year — Nick Swisher. This year — Robinson Cano.

It's an understatement to say that Cano has been the best hitter in baseball so far this season. At the end of April, he was batting .400, with a .436 OBP. He's also had eight homers and 18 RBI. I don't know that Cano will be around .400 all season long, but this is looking like it will be the season Yankee fans have been waiting for from Cano for quite some time. He's shown us power, and he's shown us hitting acumen, but he's really never put it all together before now. It's nice to see.

Hitting LVP: Last year — Mark Teixeira. This year — Nick Johnson.

It's great that Nick Johnson gets on base a lot (his .378 OBP is fifth on the team), but if you don't complement your walks (21, which leads the team) with hits (8, fewest among regular starters), you're not going to produce very much. Johnson is batting an atrociously low .136 and has only contributed a measly 5 RBI during the month of April. I do think he'll turn it around.

Pitching MVP: Last year — Andy Pettitte. This year — Mariano Rivera.

It's tough choosing just one this April. The Yanks have three pitchers with three wins (Pettitte, Burnett and Sabathia), three with ERAs below 3.00 (Pettitte, Burnett and Hughes) and four starters with WHIPs of 1.20 or lower (the four mentioned already). But Mariano Rivera is phenomenal. He's had seven saves in seven opportunities....oh, and zero runs surrendered. That's right, Mariano's ERA is 0.00, he's also got an unheard of 0.56 WHIP. Like an Obama commencement speech, Rivera's been inspiring.

Pitching LVP: Last year — Chien Ming Wang. This year — Javier Vazquez.

Every April features at least one starter who just can't perform. This year it's Javy. With an ERA near 10.00 and more earned runs (and almost as many walks) than strikeouts, Vazquez has been ugly to watch. Remember that scene in the "Animal Farm" movie, when the horse looks through the window and sees the pigs that kinda look like pig-human cyborgs? Yeah, that's how ugly Vazquez's starts have been.

Biggest Letdown: Last year — Tie - Yankees Front Office, City Hall and the new Yankee Stadium. This year — Turner Construction.

You really couldn't demolish the old stadium during the off-season? Really? You couldn't work that out at all? Instead there's just this thing standing there, for some reason.

Best Baseball-Related Political Movement (new category): The decision by the Player's Assocation to protest the All-Star Game being held in Arizona.

Good job guys. Star San Diego first-baseman Adrian Gonzalez, a Tijuana native, said he won't play in next year's All-Star Game — set to be played in Arizona — if the state's new immigration law is still in effect.

Biggest Chump: Last year — Me. This year — Me.

If I were a betting man (which I am), I would bet against myself every time (still trying to figure out how to do that legally).

So far this season I've heralded the additions of Nick Johnson (LVP hitting) and Javier Vazquez (LVP pitching). In addition, I said David Robertson might challenge Joba Chamberlain for the eight inning job...he's since given up six runs in 3 innings.

I also, in confidence, told a certain Bronx News Network Seattle-area native that I expected "big things" from the Mariners this season. They're in last place in the AL West right now.


Got some of your own April awards? Feel free to leave them in the comment section below.

NOTE: Make sure to check back every weekend for The Yankees, Unobstructed, BNN's weekly Yankees opinion column.

For more of Graham Kates' sports writing, check out his True/Slant blog "Coaches in the Crosshairs" (http://trueslant.com/grahamkates).


  1. "It's not an understatement to say that Cano has been the best hitter in baseball so far this season." Does that sentence sound weird to anyone besides me??? Don't you mean 'overstatement' or perhaps 'exaggeration'???

  2. Well, I'll be damned, anonymous.

    You're correct. Consider that an editing snafu...and one that is officially fixed!

    Thanks! I appreciate it.

  3. First of all, I think your Mariners pick is still solid. No one's running away with that division and the M's offense is seriously under-performing and has to get better. Right? Please?

    Secondly, Texeira has to be the April hitting LVP. Going into May he had 11 hits! As the 3 hitter! Not to mention the fact he's single-handedly sunk my fantasy team. And I'm not even going to talk about A-Rod's struggles (another fantasy killer).

    The most amazing thing about this team is that they're winning without much help from their two best hitters.

  4. Alex, I hope you're right about the Mariners.

    A-ROD's killing my team, too.

    I do think both guys are going to turn it around (they gotta, right?), but I'm afraid they're going to have another tough stretch before they do.

    P.S. By "tough" I mean, "tough for the Yankees" — as in the about .500 ball they've been playing for the last couple of weeks.


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