Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Teix Starting To Turn It Around

(And the battle rages on for team HR lead.  Courtesy of The AP)

July has been an ugly month for good old Mark Teck-SHARE-uh.  His OBP is .320 and his SLG is barely over .400.  By now every blog in the Yankopshere has covered his struggles and what the true cause really is, but the last week or so may be a precursor to the usual Mark Teixeira summer breakout we're used to seeing.

After the win over Tampa on July 18, Teix's line had bottomed out at .239/.344/.496.  He had just 2 XBH in the entire month, neither of them HR and none since July 3, and just 4 RBI.  In the 8 games since July 18, Teix has 10 hits in 32 AB (.313 BA), including 2 2B, 3 HR, 6 R, and 9 RBI.  The power and timing that was seemingly missing from his swing earlier in the month looks like it's starting to come back, he doesn't seem to be pulling off the ball too early and popping everything up as he had been, and the results are much better.  Teix is in the middle of a 5-game hitting streak after another 2-hit night last night, and has all 3 HR and all 9 RBI in just the last 5 games.  He's seen his season line creep back up to .245/.344/.509.

Small sample yes?  Yes.  Drastic improvement?  Not at all.  But with the long stretch of diminishing results leading up to this recent resurgence, I'll take the baby steps as a good sign.  Teix is one of, if not the most important cog in keeping the Yankee offense dangerous during The Horse's absence.  And up until recently he hadn't been living up to that responsibility of his massive contract.  But now all signs are pointing in the right direction and if he can continue this upward trend, and get his production back to the normal Teix levels we expect, it makes the immediate concern for adding a bat at the deadline less of an issue and makes the long-term concern of having the Yankee lineup at full strength and at its most dangerous during the stretch run and postseason much more likely.

CC Better Than Perfect

(Damn rain.  Courtesy of The AP)

I'm really starting to run out of things to say to describe the job CC Sabathia is doing this year.  I said way before the season started that I wasn't going to get involved in the "will he or won't he?" opt out talk, but I'm going to break that commitment right now and just say that the Yankees would be complete fucking morons to not get a new deal done with him before he even has the chance to opt out.  He's that good and they need him.

It helped that he was basically pitching against a Double-A lineup last night, but that still doesn't take away from how brilliant CC was last night.  Through 5.1 innings CC hadn't allowed a baserunner , had 11 Ks, and had only thrown 62 pitches.  That's beyond dominant.  That's beyond perfect.  That's downright inhuman.  He had to wait through a 30-minute rain delay before he lost the perfect game in the 7th to a legit single, and then waited through another 15-minute delay that really cost him as he lost his command after that in the 8th.  The Mariner hitters certainly didn't do anything to halt his miracle working on the hill last night.  The only person/thing that could halt it was another miracle brought on by Mother Nature in the form of rain.  What a whore she is.

Even with the 2 delays and 3 walks that he handed out in the 8th, CC's final line was still mind-bogglingly good:

7 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 14 K (Career High), 102 Pitches (71 Strikes), 82 Game Score

He threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 25 batters he faced, and racked up 19 swinging strikes (26.76%).  The fastball was working, the slider was downright murderous.  It almost didn't matter whether he had the rest of the team out there behind him playing defense.  It was the type of performance that you tell your kids about later in life if you were at the game.

With all due respect to the Justin Verlanders and Jered Weavers of the world, if CC is not the leading Cy Young candidate right now, then something is seriously wrong with people.  He has a better FIP (2.49) than both of them, more wins (MLB-leading 15) than both of them, and a higher WAR (5.6) than both of them.  He's pitched more innings than anybody in baseball except for Verlander, strikes out more guys than Weaver, and does it for a better team that has arguably a weaker staff, making what he does more valuable to his team's success than either of the other 2.  And last night was the perfect example of just how valuable he is.