Monday, April 5, 2010

Chan Ho Park, Just A Bad Fit

Every so often, the Yankees will break from spring training with one guy on the roster who just doesn't seem to fit.

LaTroy Hawkins ring a bell?

Ladies and gentleman, meet this season's fugitive from the Island of Misfit Toys: Chan Ho Park.

Park was called on in the seventh inning of Sunday's season opener at Fenway Park in Boston after the Yankees had just taken a two-run lead and promptly gave up three runs to take the loss in a 9-7 defeat.

Park has had some good moments in his career, mostly early on during his time with the Dodgers. For the last several years, he's been nothing more than a journeyman, splitting time as a starter and a reliever.

Last season, the Phillies caught lightning in a bottle with Park, getting a good season out of the righthander, who went 2-2 with 2.52 ERA in 38 appearance.

Associated Press
Certainly a nice season. Enough to considered a legitimate option for the Yankees? Not when you look at his career relief numers 7-9, 3.95 ERA in 136 appearances.

So when Brian Cashman signed the 36 year-old South Korean near the beginning of spring training, it left many scratching their heads. You can never have too many arms in the bullpen, but this guy? Really?

And in Sunday's Season Opener, we saw exactly why the Yankees would have been better off steering clear of Park.

After retaking the lead in the top half of the seventh Sunday, Joe Girardi turned to Park, who promptly allowed a single to Marco Scutaro before striking out Jacoby Ellsbury. And then up to the plate stepped Dustin Pedroia and out went the ball and the Yankees' lead, as that pain-in-duff pounded a 2-and-1 pitch over the wall to knot it at 7.

It didn't get much better after that.

After Victor Martinez grounded out, Kevin Youkilis ripped a double to center and Park's night was done. Damaso Marte followed, but looked nothing like the guy who was so dominant in October, throwing a wild pitch to move Youkilis to third before crossing up Jorge Posada for a passed ball that allowed the go-ahead run to score.

And like that, Park and the Yankees were on their way to an Opening Day loss.

Associated Press
Now look, losing on Opening Day is not that big of a deal. Fifteen teams lose their season openers every year and that doesn't mean their seasons will be disasters or that they can't win the World Series. There is a long way to go.

Heck even losing a game to the Red Sox in April really isn't that terrible. Since 2001 the Yankees have played an April series in Boston seven of the nine years. They have not even split any of those series.

But what is frustrating is that this is a game the Yankees could have and should have won, especially after jumping out to a 5-1 lead after four and knocking out Josh Beckett in the process.

Jorge Posada and Curtis Granderson hit back-to-back homers in the second to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead, Granderson's coming in his first at-bat as a Yankee.

New York then seemed to take control in the fourth as Brett Gardner and Derek Jeter had two-out RBI singles before pulling off a double steal that plated Gardner.

Getty Images
Meanwhile CC Sabathia was strong into the fifth. Boston scratched out a run in the second after Youkilis led off with a double and then plated another on Scutaro's two-out single.

By that point, Sabathia's pitch count was at 90. In midseason, that wouldn't be a concern, but in the opener, it was clear the big lefty was running out of gas. He was starting to struggle with his command, and possibly was a bit tentative, nibbling too much.

Instead of going to long relievers Alfredo Aceves or Sergio Mitre, Girardi sent Sabathia back out for the sixth -- and paid the price. Pedroia led off with a walk and went to third on Martinez's double before Youkilis plated both with a triple that should have been held to a two-run single. Had Nick Swisher taken a proper route, he could have cut the ball off before it could reach the fence. Youkilis eventually tied it a 5 on an RBI single by Adrian Belte off David Robertson.

Still, the Yankees' offense got the lead right back as Mark Teixeira led off with a walk and went to third on Alex Rodriguez's double. Robinson Cano brought in one with a groundout and Posada drove in the other with a single, to give the Yankees a 7-5 lead.

That should have been enough. The Yankees should have been able to close it out from there.

But Park is not worthy of Pinstripes.

He's just a bad fit and by June, he'll be long gone.

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