The Yankees finally welcomed Bernie Williams back into the starting lineup on Wednesday against the…
Yankees Mid-season Report Cards, Part 3
Karim Garcia: Incomplete
Had Garcia been around for a while longer he easily would have pulled a B+. But this isn't the case. Garcia has been a Yankees for a mere two and a half weeks, coming over from the Indians with Dan Miceli for... well nobody yet. What Garcia has done since donning the pinstripes has been nothing short of excellent however. Since June 26, Garcia is batting .406 with three homeruns and five RBI in limited playing time. Returning Yankees will ultimately force Garcia out of the lineup, but he will continue to see time at DH and spot starts in the field as well as being a pinch hitter. If he can remain productive despite the loss in playing time, he will have been a worthwhile acquisition.
Hideki Matsui: A-
After a slow start, Matsui has been everything the Yankees have wanted him to be. Before the season when everyone was predicting that the Japanese import would crack 40 homeruns, Joe Torre maintained that he was expecting closer to 20 homeruns from Matsui and would be happy with whatever he got. Godzilla has nine homeruns as of this writing, and is on pace for 16; short of predictions, but homeruns aren't where Matsui makes his biggest contributions.
As it turns out, Matsui is a line-drive hitter, in the same mold as ex-Yankee Wade Boggs (sans about 40 batting average points). And that is where Matsui makes his difference, slapping doubles down the right field line and shooting grounders through the infield. All of Matsui's peppering has lead to 64 RBI, tops among rookies and seventh in the American League. Matsui also strikes out far less than most of his teammates, a welcome quality in the Yankee lineup.
Matsui isn't going to come anywhere near the 50 homeruns he hit in Japan, but he is on pace for 116 RBI. So who cares how many homeruns he hits if he's still driving in runs?
Raul Mondesi: B
For the beginning of the season, Mondesi looked like a changed player. He was hustling out ground balls, stretching singles into doubles, stealing bases and basically being everything the Yankees needed him to be. Recently, Mondesi has run into an extended slump and nagging injuries that have slowed him down. But some advice from Yankee-great Reggie Jackson might be able to put him back on track. His average has dropped to .259 from his in-season-high of .352, and he hasn't stolen a base in close to a month. But his defense is still top-notch, and hopefully he'll be able to set in around .270-.280 for the rest of the year.
Juan Rivera: D+
Injuries forced Rivera onto the Yankees roster early in the year. He has recently been sent back down, and hopefully he'll be able to get his act together in AAA. Remember that 18-inning game in Detroit a little over a month ago? That game sums up Juan Rivera's season with the Yankees quite nicely. Rivera went 0/6 in that game and grounded into a whopping three double plays. All told, Rivera had one good game this season, on June 24 when he hit a game-tying homerun against the Devil Rays. Sorry Juan, one isn't enough. Expect Rivera to spend the foreseeable future in the minors. Barring injury, he should remain there until September call-ups.
Ruben Sierra: B-
Sierra could've had an incomplete, but those are boring, aren't they? The 17-year veteran came back to the Yankees on June 7 from Texas for minor league outfielder Marcus Thames. Since returning to the pinstripes Sierra has hit well, batting .329 with 16 RBI in 24 games – more RBI than he had in 43 games with Texas. Like Garcia, Sierra will see a dip in his playing time as more and more Yankees come off the disabled list. However, Sierra is more likely to continue seeing time at DH while Nick Johnson continues to heal. Once Johnson returns to the lineup however, what happens to Sierra is anyone's guess. One thing is for sure: the Yankees are going to have a heck of a bench between Sierra, Garcia, Todd Zeile and John Flaherty.
Bubba Trammell: Incomplete
Now here's a guy that deserves his incomplete. Trammell recently went on the Restricted List - a designation for players that aren't hurt, but also aren't playing. Generally players go on this list when they have personal affairs to attend to that involve them being unavailable for a considerable period of time. All we know about Trammell's mysterious disappearance is that it isn't related to a death in the family. Before leaving the Yankees, Trammell was hitting just .200 with no homeruns and five RBI. It is more than likely that he is disappointed with his role as a Yankee. When Trammell was a Padre, he was a starter. As a Yankee, he is a fifth outfielder. If Trammell's issues are playing time-related, Brian Cashman would do well to try and trade him for a relief pitcher. No word on when or if Bubba is returning, but as of right now the Yankee lineup doesn't miss him too much.
Bernie Williams: A-
He's baaaack. Bernie made his return to the Yankees lineup on Wednesday and went 1/4 with a pair of RBI. The Yankees couldn't have asked for a better All-Star break present. Without Williams stabilizing the middle of the Yankee lineup, all sorts of strange things were happening. Such as Ruben Sierra batting cleanup for instance. Bernie brings a lot to the table: power, contact, protection for Jason Giambi and veteran leadership. When Williams was placed on the DL he was batting .286 seven homeruns and 31 RBI, but his average was higher before the actual injury. Before five straight games without a hit, Bernie's average was at .323. If he is back at 100% health, there's no reason to think he can't produce at that level again. He was the biggest piece of the puzzle that the Yankees were missing. And with him back in the order, look for the Yankees offense to start to take off.
That concludes part three of the four-part Mid-Season Report Cards. Part four will detail the performances of the Yankees pitching staff, so stick around to see who comes out at the head of the class.
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