Sometimes things can get magnified on Opening Day, not to mention when the opener is played at Fenway Park. Still, most of the conclusions that can be drawn are usually very basic and already widely known. For example, after yesterday’s loss to the Red Sox, we learned that Nick Johnson works the count, Arod hits the ball harder than anyone in the game, Curtis Granderson can hit right handers, Nick Swisher can get lost in the outfield and Brett Gardner is fast. Again, nothing groundbreaking and clearly no reason to panic.
Having said that, the Yankees can’t be too happy with the bullpen. Chan Ho Park, in particular, promises to elicit groans, as his career AL ERA of 5.79 will attest. For some reason, it seems as if Park has been handed the 7th inning role, so we could see more nights like this one before a reshuffle is made. Unfortunately, the Park experiment eerily resembles one that was tried with Latroy Hawkins back in 2008, although at least Park wisely steered clear of any revered uniform numbers. How long will Park’s leash be? I can only hope it wont be as long as 41 innings this time around.
Damaso Marte didn’t distinguish himself with his one batter appearance, but some of his blame can be shared by Jorge Posada (more on that in a moment), whose passed ball allowed the go ahead run to score. Still, you’d like to think that your lefty out of the pen can come near the plate, but we’ll chalk that up to Marte’s cranky shoulder.
The biggest disappointment from the night, unfortunately, has to be Joba’s performance. With any other pitcher, a 1 run stint from a reliever in the early going would be completely overlooked, but Joba has become a lightning rod whose every outing will draw scrutiny. At some point, that has to really wear on Joba, which makes me wonder if he wouldn’t be better off starting down in Scranton. If the Yankees remain committed to using Joba in the pen, however, they can’t overreact to each outing like the media and fans surely will. Joba can’t keep pitching while looking over his shoulder, so the Yankees have to figure out whether the carrot might not be more effective than the stick.
As for Posada, sadly, it has become clear that Jorge’s catching skills have deteriorated. Because his bat is so good, and the alternatives are less than inspiring, there is every reason to keep letting him squat behind the plate. Once Jesus Montero or Austine Romine is ready, however, the Yankees will need to convince Posada that his future is as DH. I’d hate to be the one who has to tell him.
Chan Ho Park (NL): 1,548IP, 3.99 ERA, 1.346 WHIP, 8.0 K/9
Chan Ho Park (AL): 380IP, 5.79 ERA, 1.610 WHIP, 6.6 K/9
LaTroy Hawkins (NL): 278IP, 2.75 ERA, 1.180 WHIP, 6.8 K/9
LaTroy Hawkins (AL): 919IP, 5.04 ERA, 1.515 WHIP, 5.7 K/9