Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stayin' warm by the hot seat

Some Yankees -- Jeter, Mo, Posada -- have earned your trust. Others have not. Today on River & Sunset, we will take a closer look at some struggling members of the New York Yankees and discuss how their job performance could affect their baseball future.

Darrell Rasner
The wheels have coming flying off the Razz bandwagon in June. He's 1-5 with a 6.00 in his last six starts, looking like a BP pitcher at times in the process. He was absolutely hammered by a middle-of-the-road Pirates team on Tuesday. If the Yankees weren't so thin in the rotation, he may have already started his last game.

Aaron Small has left 11 voicemails on Cash's phone since Tuesday night. As it stands, the Razz will likely get at least one more start and possibly even two before the Yankees are forced to look in another direction.

Kyle Farnsworth
Since Joba's move to the starting rotation, Farnsworthless has been predictably poor in the hugely-important eighth-inning role. In his last 14 appearances (14 innings) he has a 4.50 ERA while allowing opponents to hit .327 off him. Most alarmingly, he's already served up more homers this season (10) than all of last season (9) -- this just in little more than half the innings. He seems physically incapable of putting together even a week of strong outings.

Verdict: It's difficult to say how loyal Joe Girardi will be with Farnsworth. Where the faith stems from is unknown, but there doesn't seem to be any rush to move the big right-hander out of his current role. Jose Veras has pitched well this month, making him the most likely candidate to seize the role if Farnsworth continues to deal like the pitcher in the Century 21 Home Run Derby, only on ESPN.

Melky Cabrera
He may be just 23, but don't you get the feeling that the mystery of Melky is gone? He's a good center fielder, possessing solid range and a strong throwing arm. But he's a below-average offensive player who doesn't hit for average, has only marginal pop and doesn't steal bases. He also slides head first into first a lot, which is super annoying.

Verdict: If Melky continues to be a drag on the offense by the All-Star break, look for the Yankees to call up speedster Brett Gardner in hopes of a Jacoby Ellsbury-esque shot in the arm to the lineup. This move may be closer to happening than some people realize.

LaTroy Hawkins
I'll say this in defense of Brian Cashman: When he traded away Luis Vizcaino to the Rockies in exchange for Hawkins this winter, he had to have factored in that Joe Torre could've been charged with a felony for the acts cruelty he perpetrated upon Vizcaino's arm. After all, the poor bastard appeared in 83 friggin' games in 2007. That said, The Viz did have eight victories out of the 'pen and you would've thought Cash could have gotten something close to equal value in a trade. Instead we got a dude who makes Farnsworth look like Dennis Eckersley. You can currently see Hawkins serving as your team's porn theater mopup man, where he has posted a 6.12 ERA in 26 appearances.

Verdict: Barring some miraculous change in performance, Hawkins is a dead man walking. He could be packing his bags when Bruney comes off the DL next month. If not sooner.

Robinson Cano
I know, I know, he has no business being on this list. But we're now going on nearly three full months of lost baseball, this in a season when many predicted him to put up MVP-type numbers in a loaded Yankees lineup. And while his .235 batting average can be mostly attributed to a horrid .151 April, it's harder to figure out where his pop went (four homers in 281 at-bats) or why he's lost all cognitive ability to not swing at every pitch thrown in his direction.

Verdict: You have to wonder where Yankees brass stands on Cano circa 2008. Is he a franchise cornerstone for the next 10 years, or is he the most valuable trade commodity they have as the deadline nears? After signing him to a longterm deal this winter, a trade would be shocking. But then again, so too has been his descent into mind-numbing mediocrity.

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