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May 10, 2005

What a Difference 4 days makes
by SG

15-19 sure feels a lot better than 11-19. The Yankees still have a long way to go, but at least they're showing some signs of life. Yesterday's game by Tiger Wang marked 5 straight quality starts by the Yankee rotation.

The competition they were facing needs to be considered when looking at this string of starts. Neither Seattle or Oakland has a very good offense, but all you can do is beat the team in front of you on that day.

There were two key players in yesterday's Yankee win. In Tiger Wang, you have a glimpse at the Yankees' future. If Wang can continue to pitch effectively, the Yankees may have a rare homegrown starter they can count on for years to come. I don't think Wang will ever be a front of the rotation starter, but from what I've seen I don't think it's unreasonable that he will develop into a solid third starter in the majors. He continues to keep the ball down and get ground outs, which are good things. I'm not sure what will happen to Wang if/when Jaret Wright comes back, but I think he's acquitted himself quite well for this season as well as the future.

Of course, you also had a glimpse of the Yankees' past in Tino Martinez. I was not particularly enthused about the Tino Martinez signing at the time. I thought he was taking a job from Andy Phillips and was being overpaid for past success, but Tino has been a key cog in this latest stretch, homering in all 4 Yankee victories. I don't know that it will last all year, but I will gladly admit to being wrong about Tino, and am happy he's getting one last chance to shine in Yankee pinstripes.

Mariano Rivera has looked better and better every time out. He's gaining his control and command, and I noticed him throwing a lot of 4 seam fastballs in tonight's game. That was the pitch that made him in 1996, if he can re-use it to change things up on his cutter, it can only help.

Of course, there are still the problems. The big buzz prior to and after the game was the Jason Giambi story. In this article in "The Ledger", Giambi's role on the team was discussed:

Jason Giambi could be headed to the minor leagues. With Giambi’s batting average down to .195, Yankees manager Joe Torre and general manager Brian Cashman met with Giambi on Tuesday night and asked him whether he would consider accepting a minor league assignment.

Cashman would not go into details on the meeting, which took place before New York played Seattle. The Yankees’ request was confirmed by a baseball official with knowledge of the meeting who spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said no decisions had been made, and Giambi said he would think about it.


If the Yankees send Giambi to the minors outright, they would save $37,470.73 in luxury tax for each day his $17,142,857 average salary isn’t included on the payroll of their 40-man roster, which is taxed at 40 percent over the 183-day regular season.

I'm not sure what will happen with Giambi. I like the idea of letting him go down to the minors and try to get his swing back in a lower-pressure environment. I also like the idea of saving all that money on the luxury tax. I don't know if Giambi will go along with it though, I guess we'll see how it plays out over the next few weeks.

Some players are still scuffling, notably the aforementioned Giambi, Hideki Matsui, and Tom Gordon. Derek Jeter has cooled off after a hot start, and Jorge Posada appears to be crawling out his slump but ever so slowly. The fact that they are winning despite this is potentially a good thing, in that it's very possible that this team is still not at its full ability.

One of the infamous West Coast Trips is coming up after a day game with Seattle tomorrow. Hopefully the Yankees take advantage of struggling Seattle and Oakland and can enter the Subway Series on a good note. With the Mets a much improved team this year, those games will be a challenge.