The Yankees Are Pretty Much What We Thought They Were

Big bats and iffy pitching to start the season.

By Josh Alper
|  Tuesday, Apr 5, 2011  |  Updated 5:24 PM EDT
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The Yankees Are Pretty Much What We Thought They Were

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Let's hope this isn't a regular look for Yankee pitchers.

When looking ahead to the 2011 Yankees season, it was generally accepted as fact that the team would score a lot of runs while struggling to keep the opposition off the board.

Four days into the season, the conventional wisdom is holding up quite well. The Yankees have bashed more homers in their first three games than any other team in the history of the franchise, but their pitching has done very little to make you think they won't need to step up the offensive pace to remain ahead of the pack in the American League East.

Let's deal with the good news first.

This team is going to score a silly amount of runs this season. The ball was flying out of Yankee Stadium like it was, well, 2009 and the team pounded Tiger pitching to the tune of a 943 OPS during the three games.

The big standout was Mark Teixeira, who homered in all three games to raise questions about whether or not he's using some kind of sensory deprivation techniques to make himself think it is June right now. He probably won't wind up with 162 home runs this season, but a good April added to his usual body of work could make for eye-popping numbers all the same.

Less flashy but just as impressive were Russell Martin and Jorge Posada. Martin's first weekend as a Yankee was full of productivity (not to mention a serious upgrade behind the plate) while Posada's two homers on Sunday were a strong sign that his bat hasn't slowed all that much yet.

That was good enough to win the Yankees the first two games of the series, but seven runs on Sunday weren't enough to secure a sweep of Detroit. That's because the fears about Phil Hughes were fully realized.

Hughes's velocity issues raised concerns as spring training wound down and they were on full display at the Stadium on Sunday. He got taken deep twice by Miguel Cabrera as his breaking stuff didn't break enough to offset the lack of speed on his fastball.

His 18 wins last season were the product of some good pitching, but it is hard to escape the fact that the Yankees scored more than seven runs per Hughes start. They gave him seven again on Sunday and it was nowhere near enough as the Tigers assaulted his every toss with extreme vengeance.

Bartolo Colon wasn't much better in relief, casting doubt on his ability to reproduce Tampa results once the bright lights are shining. We're yet to see Ivan Nova or Freddy Garcia, but it is safe to say that the offense better keep on cooking to quiet fears of trouble in the Bronx.

Not all of the news was bad. A.J. Burnett's start of three runs in five innings produced sighs of relief because he wasn't totally awful and because the bar has been dropped so low that mediocrity is hailed as a great achievement. 

Mediocrity is a big step up from what Hughes produced so perhaps we shouldn't be so quick to mock it. Nor would you be wise to bet anything other than the over in games involving the Yankees this season.  

Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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