by Patrick Giorgio
Catcher Jorge Posada: When one franchise can say it had Bill Dickey, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard and Thurman Munson, it’s hard to imagine this man may only be the FIFTH most valuable catcher in franchise history.Â Another productive season from one of the most under rated catchers in baseball.
1st Basemen Jason Giambi*: This guy just continues to amaze. Everybody on the entire planet counted this guy out after steroids were officially tested for in 2004, and somehow he’s not only passed all his drug tests, he’s still hitting 35 home runs a season and walking 100 times. His batting average is pretty low, but he’s had plenty of big hits this year and had 17 RBI in 53 at-bats against the Bosox. He’ll never be what he was in 2000 but he’s still a big part of this lineup.
2nd Basemen Robinson Cano: This guy is going to be a name to remember in New York for years to come. He has plenty of power for a middle infielder (40 doubles and 15 homers despite missing over a month) and is able to make some acrobatic throws. One thing he needs to work on going into next year is drawing more walks. If he can do that, the sky is the limit.
Shortstop Derek Jeter: His offense may not be what it was in 1999, his defense may not be what it was in 2004, and his stolen base % may not be what it was in 2002; but with all that said Derek Jeter may have had his finest season. In a year where the Yankees lose TWO 30 home-run outfielders Jeter was able to step up and keep the Yankees in contention. Say what you want about him not even being the best shortstop on his own team, there’s still a reason why Jeter has 4 world series rings and Miguel Tejada/Michael Young/Alex Rodriguez have zero. Grade: A
3rd Basemen Alex Rodriguez: By the way the media have been talking this season, you’d think Alex was hitting .200 with 10 home runs. Well, his defense may have been the equivalent of that horrible (.939 fielding %), but he’s still hit 35 home runs and drove in 121 RBI in his “worst” season of the decade. His defense definitely hurt the Yankees a few times this year (i.e. costing Mussina a shut out) but I’d take him over a gold-glove 3rd basemen who can’t hit.
Left Fielder Melky Cabrera: What an impressive rookie campaign by Melky. He’s further proof that reports of the Yankees farm system being dry were over-exaggerated. Remember when he robbed Manny of a home run?Â You couldnâ€™t ask any more from a rookie.
Center Fielder Johnny Damon: The biggest acquisition of the entire off-season by any team. Why? They took away the Red Sox leadoff hitter AND gave themselves a leadoff hitter. He set a new career high in home runs (24) in his first year in pinstripes and hit well against the Red Sox (22/68 with 4 home runs and 13 RBI). Coco Crisp will never fill his shoes.
Right Fielder Bobby Abreu: Played a huge role in the Boston Massacre and helped solidify the Yankees as THE offense of the century. It is hard to judge a guy on 50-some odd games as a Yankee.
Bernie Williams: Plenty of big hits, got a lot of playing time to fill in for Matsui/Sheff. Got to hand it to him. As a starter he would receive a C, but because he’s been viewed as a replacement I’ll give him a solid B.
Gary Sheffield: N/A
Hideki Matsui: N/A
Andy Phillips: N/A
Miguel Cairo: This guy could be starting on most national league teams. Still, N/A
Pitcher Mike Mussina: Started off hot and cooled off during the summer while battling injuries. Still, he had a pretty productive year. Almost hit 200 innings (197.1), 14 wins (with only 7 loses) and he improved his BB/IP ratio and almost lowered his ERA an entire run from last season.
Pitcher Chien Ming Wang: He had less strikeouts than several RELIEF pitchers around baseball despite pitching 218 innings. How does this man manage to win 19 games and turn himself into the teamâ€™s ace in his sophomore season? He went beyond and above any expectations the Yankees had for him.Â Â He is definitely a dark horse in the CY Young discussion.
Pitcher Randy Johnson: Randy finished at 17 wins-11 losses, which is a record you can’t complain about. Still, his ERA was over 5, his ability to strike out batters at a world-record pace is long gone and I can recall several games where even the leagues crappiest hitters took him to school. I don’t think any team can be disappointed when their third best starter wins 17 games but it’s not that impressive when you counted on the guy being an ace.
Pitcher Jaret Wright: Jaret “the master of 5 innings” Wright has been nowhere near worthy of his contract since coming to NY. I expect him to implode in the playoffs, he just drains the Â bullpen.
Pitcher Carl Pavano: #%^&$#!@
Relief Scott Proctor: Torre may have over used him at certain points this season, but Proctor has been pretty solid as far as setup men go. I trust him the most of anyone in the Yankees pen not wearing Jackie Robinson’s jersey number.
Relief Kyle Farnsworth: I certainly hope this is not the best Farnsworth will be as a Yankee. I knew he wouldn’t adjust to the AL East that quickly and itâ€™s hard to fill in Tom Gordonâ€™s shoes (unless its the playoffs), but I was overall disappointed in Farnsworth this year. He did an ok job filling in for Mo when he was injured, but I certainly wouldn’t be comfortable with him as a full-time closer.
Relief Ron Villone: This guy is not good.Â Enough said.
Relief Mike Myers: Other than for pitching to David Ortiz, is there a reason he was added to the roster?Â Hard to judge a guy who threw 30.2 innings in over 60 appearances, but I’ve got no complaints.
Closer Mariano Rivera: The only knock I have on Mo is that he wasn’t as good as last year. Grade: A-
Joe Torre: Were the Yankees really contemplating firing this man?
Grade:Â No Yankee Manager can be graded on the regular season.Â Instead George grades him on a curve.Â A+ if they win the World Series.Â F if they donâ€™t.
Brian Cashman:Â He has an insane budget.Â Regardless, it is not an easy job.Â He took command of the organization and looks like he may have settled the Tampa\NY power struggle.Â As is the case with Torre, Brian will be graded on one thing.Â Did the Yankees win it all?