Judging the New Yankees

There is no one in the world that I like to see fail at their job worse than Jonathan Papelbon. A Yankees win is enough for me to have a great night and feel good about life. A Yankees win over the Red Sox that comes at the expense of Papelbon is my version of euphoria.

Before Monday’s win, the Yankees had been a tease when trailing in the late innings. There was usually a run in them, but for the first 37 games, they always seemed to miss that one hit that would complete the comeback. A couple of first-pitch fastballs from Mr. Papelbon changed that. But as enjoyable as Monday’s win was, it had the emotional swings of no-limit hold ‘em and there was certainly more than one time I had to restrain myself from spiking my Blackberry off the floor like Brandon Jacobs.

Some more disgusting bullpen decisions from Joe Girardi were once again covered up by the offense, and all will be lost and forgotten thanks to the instant Yankees Classic moments that took place in the ninth inning. Except it won’t be forgotten with me. I don’t forget. I don’t forget when Boone Logan comes into a game with the lead and tries to blow it. I don’t forget when Chan Ho Park is summoned to hold a one-run lead and leaves with a two-run deficit. I don’t forget any of the hundreds of questionable decisions made by Joe Girardi.

After the disastrous Sunday loss, the Yankees couldn’t blow a 5-0 first inning lead and lose to the Red Sox at home, but they nearly did just that when Girardi made everyone with talent in his bullpen unavailable. Getting 12 outs from Logan, Park, and the other bullpen benders just wasn’t going to happen without a few Boston runs scoring, and thanks to Joe Girardi’s magical bullpen phone, and the ever-helpful mound visits of Dave Eiland, the Yankees’ lead fell apart like David Ortiz’s career.

Nearly every new addition to the 2010 Yankees played a role in the in the up-and-down affair that resulted in an 11-9 win on Monday, with some more having a more positive impact than others. I always hated tests, surveys or questionnaires that gave you options like Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree and Strongly Disagree, but I am going to use a similar method in judging the new Yankees through the first 38 games of the season.

I am a huge Curtis Granderson fan. So much so that I didn’t care that they traded Austin Jackson (someone I have been following for nearly four years) to acquire. I wasn’t exactly fond of Granderson when he tore apart the Yankees pitching in the 2006 ALDS, but I am happy that he is in pinstripes now. Granderson’s devastating groin injury has turned the Yankees outfield into a gongshow, and the removal of his bat along with Nick Swisher’s and Jorge Posada’s has turned the bottom of the order into an NL lineup. The fact that the Yankees are currently where they are in the standings with so many injuries and without their center fielder and a 30-home run hitter is flat-out scary. The Grandy Man needs to get back ASAP and make people forget about Austin Jackson’s hot start to his career.

I am usually a sucker for homegrown guys, so when the Yankees had a chance to bring Marcus Thames back, I was all for it. Aside from the fact that Thames was just two years removed from a 25-homer season, anything I have read about Thames talks about his strong clubhouse presence and his positive clubhouse chemistry. Thames has been extraordinary against left-handed pitching this year, and after his moon shot off Papelbon on Monday, hopefully Girardi realizes that he can play Thames against right-handed pitchers as well.

Randy Winn isn’t exactly raking, but that’s not what he is here to do. A career starter, Winn has picked up his offense lately with more of a regular spot in the lineup due to injuries. He has played well in the outfield, and despite that one throw that went about four feet on what would have been a play at the plate, Winn has done everything expected of him so far as a Yankee. There hasn’t been anything to really love about Winn, but there is also hasn’t been anything to really not like. Just a solid player doing a sound job while the injury bug makes its way through the clubhouse.

Javier Vazquez faced one hitter on Monday and ended up with his second win of the season. Go figure. I want Javier Vazquez to succeed, I really do, because Vazquez’s success means a seamless rotation for the Yankees. However, Vazquez’s early season struggles have been frustrating to watch and tough to take, and I have written some not so nice words about No. 31. Sometimes I feel bad for Vazquez and sometimes I don’t. In his postgame interviews, he seems like a genuinely nice guy, but we are talking about results here and not personalities. So far it’s been a love-hate relationship, but if he can turn it around with a big game against the Mets this Friday night and be consistently good, then the past can be forgotten.

The Yankees’ plan to get younger this offseason has gone as well as the Red Sox’ run prevention plan. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui are being penciled into their respective lineups everyday for the Tigers and Angels, while Nick Johnson sits in the dugout and works on grooming his hideous moustache. Johnson was close to being my least favorite Yankee during his first go-around in the Bronx, and so far, the second verse has been the same as the first. Johnson’s absence has turned the No. 2 spot in the order into a revolving door between Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher, and Curtis Granderson will join the two-hole platoon once he returns to the lineup. Was signing Nick Johnson in place of Damon or Matsui in the offseason the biggest mistake of the winter? No question. Now instead of watching Nick take called third strikes, we get to watch him watch games from the dugout while Damon and Matsui contribute to their new teams.

When Chan Ho Park was activated from the DL, I knew Phil Hughes had to go at least seven or eight innings or Girardi would be shaking with his anticipation to get Park into the game. Chan Ho Park has pitched in 17 major league seasons. Before last night he had a 3.99 ERA in the NL and a 5.78 ERA in the AL in his career. When you have a chance to give someone a guaranteed spot on the Opening Day roster with numbers like that, you have to do it. Don’t you? Park has made four appearances this season, has allowed runs in three of them, including four home runs in 6 2/3 innings of work with two blown saves to his name. He has had some success in the majors (though not much of it), so he hasn’t fallen to the Boone Logan level yet, but he appears to be have a one-way ticket there.

My hatred for Boone Logan is well documented. I think I would take my chances running across the Major Deegan at 5:30 p.m. before I gave Boone Logan the ball with a lead. For some reason, Joe Girardi doesn’t feel the same. Logan is currently the worst Yankee on the 25-man roster, and he has been since he was called up. Does no one else think it’s weird that Joe Girardi’s favorites are always the worst players on the team (Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Boone Logan, Chan Ho Park)? Logan has now put 17 men on base in 9 1/3 innings to put new meaning to the term “lefty specialist.” I am willing to pay for his bus ticket back to Scranton-Wilkes Barre if that is what his roster spot is about, and I’m also pretty certain I can take up a collection before tonight’s game to pay off his salary, so the Yankees can rid themselves of him.