Friday, October 22, 2004

The ’05 Yankees Will Go the Way of the ’04 Mariners

If the ’04 ALCS proves one thing, it’s this: prayer really does work.

Looking ahead to next year, the Junkees are in trouble, and I’m delighted:

1B – They have Giambi locked up for another few years, and no team will be dumb enough to take him, so they can either leave him at first, with his horrid defense and his .208 batting average or move him to DH, which would preclude them from getting Beltran, because Bernie would have to remain in centerfield. I wonder if the Yanks wouldn’t mind having Jeremy Giambi instead…

2B – They’ll probably try to get Jeff Kent. Typical, typical, typical… Then again, Kent didn’t have a great experience in New York when he was on the Mets, so he might opt for a smaller market team. That leaves

SS – The overrated Derek Jeter, who would get no attention if he played for the Devil Rays. He’s nowhere nearly as good as Tejada, Nomar, or Michael Young.

3B – Alex Rodriguez has shown that his great ’01-’03 numbers were due to batting in the hitter-friendly Ballpark at Arlington. Worth all that dough? No way.

LF – Shemp had a pretty good postseason, but he’s a tad overrated. He hit 16 homers in ’03, but once the Yanks got Sheffield and Rodriguez, his total increased to 31 because he had more pitches to hit. If he were on the Pirates, I wonder if he’d have 10. And his defense leaves much to be desired.

CF – Bernie has one more year on his contract, and George will not cut him, so he’ll be in centerfield, unless they get Beltran, in which case Bernie DHes and Giambi plays first. The media seem convinced that the Junkees are getting Beltran, but you never know. If Houston goes further in the postseason, he just might accept a 5-year $60 type of deal. Unlikely, but it’s possible. But even if they get Beltran, having Giambi play first everyday with those gimpy knees will be a joy to watch.

RF – Sheffield is excellent, there’s no denying that, but he’ll be 36 and has had nagging injuries over the past couple of years, so who knows if he’ll stay healthy. But I give the Junkees props on this one, even though many teams can’t afford to pay a guy $13 million a year.

C – Posada is looking a little long in the tooth, so I can see him slowing down both offensively and defensively, where he was never a bargain anyway.

DH – They still have Lofton signed through ’05, who I can see George dumping, but the logjam of Giambi and Bernie will make it tough to sign anyone.

So right away you see that the Junkees don’t have much space to put anyone, except second base, of course, and Bernie is getting old, as is Sheffield, Shemp (who looks like he’s 55), Posada, Giambi (who aged about 10 years since 2001), and we haven’t even gotten to the pitchers!

SP – Mussina doesn’t impress anyone with his 4.59 ERA, gives up a lot of home runs, and hitters batted .276 off him this past year. He’s become a #2, #3 type starter making #1 type money. Lieber is not signed past this year – they have an option on him – but hitters batted .301 off him in ’04. El Duque cannot be relied upon long-term, and the Dodgers look like geniuses dumping Brown and his $15 salary. He’s shot, so forget him being effective, but he’s under contract for ’05. Who else is there – Loiaza?

Pavano looks like he’s going to Boston, so the Junkees will have to settle for a second tier pitcher like Eric Milton, Russ Ortiz, or Derek Lowe, so don’t expect the rotation to resemble the ’98 Yankees.

RP – After the two blown saves in the ALCS, I think it’s fair to say that Mariano is no longer invincible. He’s been around for a long time now, and his contract extension may prove to have been a mistake. Gordon, Quantrill, and the other guys are most likely goners, so the Junkees will look to pick up relievers off the scrap heap. So you’ll have the Tanyon Sturtzes and Antonio Osunas of the world once again.

All in all, I like what I am seeing, so I think I’ll re-subscribe to the baseball package on Direct TV and enjoy watching the Junkees miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993.

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