Wednesday, April 30, 2008

April Review

Well, if you would have told me that at the end of April the Junkees would be 14-15, I'd say SIGN ME UP.

I know the fans will complain about injuries, but come on. Every team has to deal with injuries, and when you have a payroll of $200 million, you find a way to get the job done anyway.

Starting pitching: Wang has defied all expectations. I know, let's see him do this in October, but you don't get there if he stinks during the season. Other than the Boston drubbing (8 ER in 4 IP) he's been excellent. Mussina is doing better than anyone thought (that's because everyone thought he was shot!), and Pettitte's been okay, if inconsistent. And Hughes and Kennedy - let's just say that Hank Steinbrenner is probably calling Ca$hman everyday asking why he didn't get Johan Santana.

Relief pitching: Russ Ohlendorf has been quite good, and much to my chagrin, it seems that Joba Chamberlain's '07 campain was no fluke. Charlie Brown is still going strong, but otherwise you have no one. That said, if you have two guys who are absolutely dominating, you're better off than (at least) 25 other teams. So when Old York has a lead in the late innings, I'm nervous.

Offense: The good - Shemp (.955 OPS), Melky (5 HR), Damon (.381 OBP).
The bad - Jeter (.303 OBP), Giambi (.171 BA).
The ugly - Cano (.459 OPS).

Defense: Well, you have Damon's girlie-arm out there (sometimes), Jeter with no range, and Shemp playing like a stooge. If you watch the games like I do, you can see occasions when these little things add up to runs for the other teams.

Overall, you can never stick a fork in the Yankees and assume they're done (see 2005 and 2007), but they have two huge holes in their rotation, and a couple of question marks. You know their offense will heat up and they'll start scoring like crazy (although Ringo's absense could hurt some). So it'll be up to the pitching to overcome the 11-9 contests.

But again, this could have been 2003 (18-3 start) all over again, so I ain't complaining.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

2008 Preview

Nice to hear some of the experts predict that Old York will miss the playoffs this year. They've been a lock forever, so their season opener notwithstanding, here's how I see the team this year:

C - Ringo Posada. Old man. Will not duplicate his 2007 numbers. He's 36, and his .338 was a fluke. Isn't moving to DH yet, so Yankee fans, have fun!

1B - Juice-on Giambi. Reports say he's healthier and in better shape than he's been in years, but I don't see how he becomes a better defensive player at 37.

2B - Robinson Cano. Can't argue with his .314 lifetime average, so let's just hope he takes another step back (he did go down 49 points in OPS from '06 to '07, so who knows).

SS - Derek Cheater. Worse defensive SS in baseball. Enough said.

3B - A-Schmuck. Well, he did win the MVP and have a fantastic 2007. Pisses me off that he's back, but then again, how many rings has he won? Exactly.

LF - Johnny Damon. Gotta love a guy with a .396 slugging percentage as your everyday left fielder. Too bad for the Yanks, they're stuck with him and his arm that can get the ball from the gap to second base on seven hops.

CF - Melky Cabrera. For all his hype, he also ended up with a pathetic slugging percentage - .391. His OBP wasn't too hot, either (.327). So we'll see.

RF - Bobby Abreu. Heard all the excuses why he was horrid in the first half of 2007, but still gets on base a ton and is pretty good in the outfield. We'll see if he hits more than 16 home runs in '08.

DH - Shemp. Can't field a lick (too bad they moved him off the field) and isn't the 30-homer guy Old York thought they were getting when they signed him in '02. Still, solid offensive numbers, and now that the ridiculous streak has ended, has a chance to rest and be okay. At the same time, realize that the Junkees almost shipped him off to San Francisco, so that says something.

SP - No sure bet. Pettitte's breaking down, you can't trust Mussina, Wang is up and down (more up than down, but still - not to mention October), and who knows what you'll get from Kennedy and Hughes.

RP - I've been writing off Charlie Brown forever, but until he proves that he's finished, I have to give him his due. Joba had a few good innings in '07, so I'd be cautious if I were a Yankee fan, and the rest of them (Hawkins, Farnworthless, Ohlendorf, and Traber) will be useful in the 10-1 games. Otherwise, cross your fingers.

PREDICTION: The pitching will be the downfall. They'll get enough offense from A-Schmuck and Co., but the bullpen will blow leads, and the starters will struggle. Unless Boston falls apart, we may finally have a Yankee-free October!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Like Father, Like Son

Daddy George guaranteed Bob Lemon and Yogi full seasons in the Bronx. Hank guaranteed that Joba would be a starter for the entire 2008 season.

In case you still thought you could take Hank Steinbrenner seriously, that's your answer.

It's been a successful winter for Yankee despisers. The Mitchell Report reminded us that the Yankees' aura and mystique are just what Curt Schilling told us they were. Joe Torre told Floundering Hank sayonara and went to LA. The Mets made the big splash this offseason; maybe it's not good for baseball, but it's good for Yankee haters. And the hot stove season was capped off with Roger Clemens lying through his teeth yesterday.

In a way, Clemens has turned the Yankees into the San Francisco Giants - a team where the specter of steroids overshadows the rest of the team. All eyes will be on Andy Pettitte as this soap opera inevitably continues.

An up-and-coming Rays team should continue to give the Yankees headaches, and the underrated Jays should give 'em a hard time, too. Hopefully Boston picks up where they left off and takes away the bad taste that Belicheck and Co. left in New England. Bring on 2008!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Bronx Zoo All Over Again

With Roger Clemens headed to Capitol Hill, we'll be seeing a media circus from now until the whole thing is over, which may take several months.

I agree with Buster Olney, that no matter what happens, Clemens's reputation is toast. And the way the Hall of Fame voters are treating Mark McGwire, there's a good chance that Clemens will not be voted into the HOF.

So Pettitte may get dragged into the whole mess, and who knows who else will be involved.

Although Clemens is done with baseball, it'll be interesting to see if this effects the Junkees in '08. I'm not a big believer in the idea that this off-the-field distraction will lead to Yankee losses, but one never knows.

What a way to start the Hank Steinbrenner era!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Maybe It Isn't Jeff Nelson

The last great season for Yankee fans was 2000. It was the season that David Justice saved a slumping offense, capping it off with ALCS MVP honors. It was a season when Glenallen Hill went from being a fourth outfielder to having such a torrid hot streak, he made Shane Spencer look like Rey Ordonez. It was the Rocket's second season as a Yankee, and he made it a great one, capping it off with a masterpiece in Game 2 of the World Series, shutting down the Mets after throwing a bat at Mike Piazza.

What do these guys all have in common? They made it to the Mitchell Report.

When all is said and done, there was an astounding number of juicers on the 2000 Yankees. You thought the Bash Brothers A's were bad, but the Junkees, living up to their nickname more then ever, are easily the most-juiced World Series champs ever.

Here's the complete juiced-up roster from the 2000 season:

David Justice
Roger Clemens
Denny Neagle
Chuck Knoblauch
Andy Pettitte
Glenallen Hill
Jose Canseco
Jason Grimsley
Mike Stanton

Maybe this excerpt can explain Hill's hot streak:

Radomski recalled meeting Hill at a social function in 2000 when Hill was still
playing in Major League Baseball. Radomski said that Hill told him that he was getting human
growth hormone in San Francisco and was “not feeling anything.” Radomski thereafter sent Hill a “sample bottle” of human growth hormone without charge and told him to try it. Hill tried it and told Radomski that he “felt everything you told me I would feel.” Radomski told Hill the human growth hormone Hill had been taking likely had spoiled. Hill purchased two kits ofhuman growth hormone from Radomski.

Now, I know some of the Yankee fans will point out that, upon further review of the Mitchell report, many of these players didn't order PEDs until after the 2000 season. However, when there's smoke, there's fire. These guys were Grimsley's teammates, and had plenty of access There are many more transactions that Mitchell doesn't know about. But once someone's on the list, I think it's fair to speculate that they took PEDs even before the dates mentioned in the report.

But forget Jeff Nelson: this might be the real reason the Yankees haven't won since that year.

It's the Curse of the Juice.

Some fans think the records held by juice-users should be erased. Perhaps, on that basis, the 2000 World Series should be taken from the Yankees. But if they're cursed, hey, that's fine with me.

Monday, December 10, 2007

LaTroy Hawkins? Nice

I'm actually happy to see that Old York picked up Hawkins to be this year's Luis Vizcaino. Hawkins was pretty good as a Twin, but he's been spotty since then. He's bounced around a bunch of times, and looking at his stats over the past few years, I can see why. But the interesting thing is that his strikeouts are way, way down. This past year he stuck out 29 (walked 16) in 55.1 innings.

Essentially he had a couple of really good years, and those were in '02 and '03. You can throw '04 in there, too, but since then he's been nothing special.

What's also interesting is that he's never had the nerve to be a closer. They've tried him in that role in Minnesota and in Chicago (with the Cubbies) but his constant implosions always put him back into middle relief.

Like I said, I'm glad that Old York is getting a guy who'll be 35 and will probably be relegated to mop-up duty by mid-June. It's too bad he's signed for only one season.