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Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Yankees, Unobstructed — June 6

As the attention of baseball fans turned towards the retirement of a legend and a perfect game-gone-awry this past week, the Yankees continued creeping up on first base (and baseball's best record).

The Yankees have been playing pretty good baseball, but their success has been the result of a delicate balance between THE GOOD and THE BAD....

The Good

Robinson Cano for MVP: Cano is arguably having the best offensive season in baseball. He's 2nd in the American League in avg. (.363), 2nd in runs (41), 5th in OBP (.402), 4th in RBI (45) and 8th in home runs (12). What's more, he's proven himself to be an elite fielding second basemen. Cano has the second highest range factor in the American League.

Cy Young candidate Phil Hughes: With 15 strikeouts and only two walks in his last two starts, the 23 year old has emerged as the most reliable starter on a staff of pitchers a generation older than he. Hughes (7-1) has only allowed more than two runs in a start twice this year. Ironically, he's the Yankees pitcher who gets the most run support — the Yankees have scored eight or more runs in all but one of his last seven starts.

Javier Vazquez is no longer the worst: For two straight starts now, Javier Vazquez has looked like a real starter. His ERA is below 6.00 for the first time this season, and he's held opponents to two runs or less in four of his last five starts.

The Bad

Mark Teixeira: Just when you thought Mark Teixeira was ready to start hitting up to his $20.6 million capability, he has a week like this. Tex extended the season of his discontent with a 4-for-28, 0 RBI week. The most disturbing aspect of Teixeira's season-long slump is its consistency. The switch-hitter is only slightly better against lefties (.239) than he is against righties (.197). The Yankees are fairing fine without Teixeira's input for now, but eventually their number three hitter is going to be needed.

Maybe they can just stay at home: The Yankees have played like baseball's best team at home, winning 19 of their 26 games, but away from the Bronx they're a mediocre 16-15. I'm not saying they're suffering from Bill Madden's amphetamine deficiency or anything....but I'm also not saying they're not.

Trouble with southpaws: Throw a righty starter against the Yankees, and they'll beat you roughly two-thirds of the time (23-12). Toss a lefty at 'em, and suddenly it's a coin flip (11-10).

Other Baseball Things

Ken Griffey Jr. retired. Fans of beautiful swings mourned.

Umpire Jim Joyce made what will be one of the most famous blown calls in history, when he ruined Armando Galarraga's perfect game in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs. Upon hearing of the blown call — from beyond the grave — author James Joyce is reported to have strung together an individual vitriolic sentence, no less than two pages long. Much of that sentence had little or nothing to do with baseball.

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).


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