Thursday, April 28, 2005
In a way, Shemp is the guy that gets the Yankees going. He and Jeter (and maybe Sierra) are the only Junkees who can still hit in the clutch, and when he struggles, the team is in trouble. Sure, he got an RBI double tonight, but it wasn't enough. And Shemp was a glaring 0-for-4 on Wednesday night, fanning twice.
And after leaving 10 runners on base tonight, you gotta admit this Yankee team can use some clutch hitting. Otherwise, they'll never get into that groove they're itching to get into.
Friday night, good pitching matchup as Johnson goes against Halladay. Then Wang on Saturday, and a Pavano-Lilly rematch. Pavano may be getting his act together - let's hope the Jays stop that.
It's only been a few weeks into the year, but the O's have the third-best record in baseball, and, as a team, are batting .303. Their lineup is one of the best in the game. Roberts and Mora on top are arguably the best 1-2 combo in baseball. Then you hit the big boppers: Tejada, Sosa, Lopez, and Palmeiro. At the bottom of the order, Gibbons, Matos, and Bigbie aren't great, but they're tough outs.
The issue with the O's is their starting pitching. Rodrigo Lopez is looking pretty good in the early going, and shut down the Junkees a few weeks ago. But after that, it's very spotty. Erik Bedard and Daniel Cabrera are supposed to be good someday, but it hasn't happened yet. Ponson is too busy causing trouble off-the-field, and you can't expect a whole lot from Bruce Chen.
What I'm hoping for is that the O's are still in the hunt come July, and can trade for a decent pitcher. Offhand, I don't know who will be available. The Royals have nobody, Sheets just got an extension, and Oliver Perez isn't going anywhere. Unless some other team tanks, it doesn't look like there are any high-quality arms out there. But unless the kids develop quickly, the O's must get someone decent to have any crack at the playoffs.
The team they remind me of now is the late-90's Indians. They also had a lineup full of tough outs (Thome, Belle, Ramirez, etc.), and were able to make it in spite of spotty pitching. Throughout their run, they had a team ERA well into the 4.00's(4.73 in '97), and never really had a great starter. Their bullpen was excellent, though, led by Mesa and later Mike Jackson. The O's pen is pretty good too, led by BJ Ryan and Jorge Julio.
The big difference? The Indians were playing in a division with no competition. The Tigers and Royals sucked, the White Sox always managed to mess up come September, and the Twins were still building their team. If and when the Junkees and Sox get it together, Baltimore may be headed back to bottom of the AL East, where they've been for a good few years. But if their lineup keeps hitting the way they are now, that won't happen too quickly.
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
So A-Schmuck, keep hitting those homers in April till you've got nothing left for October. Let's see some more April games on YES Classics. Cause October hasn't been too great to the Yanks lately. Savor that incredible Giambi homer, savor this moment, and pray that Reggie comes out of retirement.
Another Boston loss, but after last year, it's hard to worry. Many people forget that these guys sleptwalked through most of last season, but still were able to win it all. Only thing is, you can't blame it on Nomar this year.
Are the Yankees starting to fall apart? It seems every time you think they've made headway, they start stumbling again. After they beat up the Jays in that 2-game set, everyone thought they were back. But the hot-hitting Rangers showed Yankee fans that the back end of their rotation is shot. Especially now with Wright out for 4-to-6 weeks. And Yankee fans shouldn't get too excited about beating up retread Pedro Astacio on Sunday. And though Johnson pitched well, his velocity is still down.
Unless he comes back and goes 10-0 down the stretch, I think we can officially put Wright on to Cashman's list of dumb signings. The guy couldn't pitch well when he was healthy, and now the Yanks are stuck with a suspect front of the rotation (RJ, Pavano, and Moose have been inconsistent so far) and a terrible back end of the rotation (I expect nothing out of Chiang Wing-Meng).
And Sierra's loss hurts the lineup, making the Yanks put in the punchless Tino and Giambi every day. I don't care if Andy Phillips had 2 hits on Sunday. I bet in a couple of weeks, the Junkee fans will rather have Jason Phillips.
Sturtze is coming back soon, but he was starting to look shaky before the injury. I think after Chiang Wing-Meng gets rocked a few times or Brown gets hurt again, Snorre will have to put Sturtze in the rotation, further thinning an awful bullpen.
And yes, I know, things ain't much better for the Sox. Wells (no longer better than RJ) is injured and so is Mantei. But hell, I'll take the good with the bad.
Thursday, April 21, 2005
In terms of career numbers, there's no comparison. Johnson is a future HOFer, and the Boomer has no chance of getting to the Hall; he'll get 2 votes his first year on the ballot, and that's it. But let's forget about the past, and focus on 2005, so far. RJ's ERA? Up there in the 5.00s. Wells? A solid 3.65. And last night was the biggest proof that he was back. Facing an Orioles offense that gave Yankee pitching lots of trouble this past weekend, Wells put their bats to sleep, throwing 8 scoreless innings. While his last start against the AAA-Rays didn't prove much, this start was big. Bob Ryan has a great piece on Wells' start last night. As for RJ, he had trouble with the lowly Rays, and is giving up homers like he's Eric Milton. And word is, his velocity ain't what it used to be. We've still got a season to find out how well both RJ and Wells hold up. But as of now, Wells is the better pitcher.
If Wells is back to old form, the Yanks can beat the Jays all year long, but they'll be in big trouble come October. The Sox already have Schilling and Wakefield, two guys who have proven they can beat the Yanks, and if Wells is in good form and Wade Miller can contribute, the Sox will once again have the pitching to send the Yanks home.
Lots of other good news for Yankee despisers yesterday:
-- The Yanks are paying $30 million in luxury taxes this year. Hey, if this is what stopped them from getting Beltran, that's great. I'd rather a salary cap, but the luxury tax is a start.
--Javier Vazquez pitched great for Arizona last night, getting his first win as a D-Back. And Buster Olney's blog talks about how Wily Mo Pena is looking very promising as a Red (38 HR in his last 370 AB in the bigs). In case you don't remember, Pena was traded by the Yankees for the immortal Drew Henson. Good job, Cashman.
-- While Despiser has compared this year's Yankee team to the '04 Mariners, Vic Ziegel of the Daily News goes back in time to compare them to the '65 Yankees, another team that got old in a hurry. Good stuff.
-- Speaking of which, the Yankees depth got tested yesterday, as Bernie and Sierra go down with minor injuries. With an aging team, you know guys will get hurt. It'll be interesting to see how this affects the Junkees.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
So last week it was a lineup shuffle, this week was George's rant. What's next, Snorre pulling a Dusty Baker and putting holy water on Carl Pavano's arm?
The Yanks sure crashed back down to earth tonight. And I didn't expect it. Even Buster Olney was saying it looks like a blowout, the Yanks facing Nomo. On three days rest, mind you. Only thing I was thinking was, hey, the last time the Yanks won 19-8 against someone (Game 3 of the ALCS), they crashed afterwards. So hey, maybe, it'll happen again.
And Nomo did a helluva job outdueling Randy. Johnson kept his team in the game, but come on; giving up homers to Eduardo Perez, of all people? Inexcusable. Things were close till the 8th. I think Snorre should've taken Johnson out before the start of the inning, but after Flush Gordon gave up a couple of hits, maybe Snorre was right, in retrospect. It kinda sucks when you spend $200 million and have no bullpen. Did I mention that the Grand Tanyon is on the DL? At least on this team, his replacement, 39-year old Buddy Groom, may actually feel young.
And now the Yanks face the pesky Blue Jays, who just beat the Sox in the 9th. It's Pavano and ex-Junkee Lilly in game 1, a pretty even matchup. Game 2 is the one I'm looking forward to, when the Jays send red-hot Gustavo Chacin to the hill. I don't think the Jays have the offense to give the Yanks as much trouble as Baltimore, but I hope they manage nonetheless.
----- Heard Charley Steiner doing the LA game today. Did a great job, by the way. When he doesn't have to deal with the pompous ego of John Sterling, he's a very good broadcaster. He did great on Sunday Night Baseball, and is again back to his old form.
Monday, April 18, 2005
So anyone who thinks this win means the Yanks are back, George's talk worked, etc. is full of garbage. This win don't mean a thing. The Red Sox cruised through that series against Tampa Bay over the weekend; the Rays were so bad, even David Wells was able to shut them down.
And with that in mind, seeing Jaret Wright struggle against the D-Rays was the highlight of the night. If he can't get these stinkers out, he's in for a long, long season.
So before we talk about how the Yanks are back, A-Schmuck is hitting, Tino's heating up, and all that junk, let's see how the Yanks fare in the series to come after this joke, when they face the half-decent Blue Jays and Rangers. Then we'll really know if these Yankees are going anywhere.
Battle for the Basement between the Junkees and D-Rays tonight. Go TB!!
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Tino, Sanchez, and Stanton: These guys helped out a ton during the dynasty, so George figures that bringing them back will somehow turn things around, despite the fact that both these guys should have retired two years ago! Tino's hitting .185, and Stanton did a nice job Sunday coming in to a 6-4 game and walking in a run. And Sanchez was the Luis Sojo of 1997, so he comes over, even though the Devil Rays didn't want him!
Womack and Randy: '01 Diamondbacks, beating New York in the World Series. Womack is at .220 and RJ is has a majestic ERA of 4.74.
Jaret Wright: '97 Indians, beating the Junkees in the ALDS. Has gotten lit up so far.
Pavano: '03 Marlins, beating New York in the World Series. Also lousy this year.
This means that nearly one-third of the roster is made up of guys that George got based solely on the past. Hey George, get over it. Forget about trying to hang on to the glory days of yesteryear. Live in the now!
Then again, if it messes up your team, it's good for me, so on second thought, keep doing what you're doing.
But I think if Yankee fans ought to place blame on someone right here and now, it's gotta be Brian Cashman.
George is right. For $200 million, this team is a pathetic joke. To have the same record as the D-Rays, who have about a tenth of the Junkees' payroll, is pathetic. To be beaten by Bruce Chen, who's taking the Dave LaPointe/Mike Morgan tour of the major leagues (and that's not a good thing), is pathetic. To have no legitimate lefty in the pen is pathetic. And all those pricey righties in the pen, and still have bullpen issues? Pathetic. More holes in the lineup than the Orioles, who actually get something out of the Luis Matos/ Larry Bigbie types at the bottom of the order? Pathetic.
Cashman has all this money, and no depth. Giambi has a couple of homers, but is no longer a threat and is a DH-only. And the 1B, Tino, is all-field and no-hit. I was expecting the Yanks to get Delgado this winter. I think Cashman regrets not doing that.
And Bernie in CF has been awful. No-hit, no-field. The guy's washed up. With a guy like Bernie out there, Cashman should've made sure to have an adequate backup out there, not just Bubba Crosby. Even if Cashman didn't want to spend on Beltran, he should've tried for a decent second option. And second base. Womack and Sanchez are the best he can do? Junkee fans should've been screaming for Nomar or Jeff Kent during the winter. They've had better careers than Carl Pavano.
And the starting pitching. Cashman bet the field on two one-year wonders and a 41-year old starting to look his age. And speaking of age, holdovers Mussina and Brown have their best days behind them. Cashman could've done better; much better. Hell, Jon Lieber is 3-0 with a 2.49 ERA in Philly! But no, better spend it on Mazzone miracle Jaret Wright. And by the way, Brad Halsey is doing pretty well in Arizona.
And that bullpen. Full of old, expensive, declining arms (Stanton, Gordon, Quantrill, Rivera?),and question marks (Karsay, Rodriguez). The Twins have less than half the payroll of the Yanks, and a much scarier bullpen with Romero, Rincon, and Nathan. Hell, the Yanks have nobody to get lefties out, now that Stanton is shot. Not a good situation for facing David Ortiz.
Ultimately, Cashman is to blame for the lack of farm system. Stick Michael built the championship Yankees by combining veterans like O'Neill, Boggs, and Jimmy Key with young home-grown talent like Rivera, Bernie, and Pettitte. Who do the Yankees have left, Andy Phillips? Look at Minnesota. Every time a player leaves, there's another youngster to take over.
The Yanks have no young talent anymore; it's unbelievable. And with an old team, you better have depth, because someone's bound to get injured. But if a Yankee goes down, who'll take over? Rey Sanchez? Bubba Crosby? Sierra in the OF for the first time in nearly a decade? Ching Wang-Weng in the rotation? For a team of $200 million, such lack of depth is pathetic.
And Cashman has made tons of mistakes in the past. Buster Olney, in the excellent "Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty," recounts how George gave it to Cashman for not trading Bernie for Edmonds before the '01 season. In fact, Bernie had a slow start and Edmonds a quick one that year, so every day a seething George would show Cashman the boxscores and give it to him for not getting Edmonds. (Wish I could be a fly on that wall.)And I wonder how George feels about that now, considering how Edmonds is one of the stars of one of the NL's best offensive and defensive teams, while the Yanks struggle in both areas. Yeah, and check out the archives for a whole piece I wrote last September documenting many of Cashman's mistakes.
In the generation that has given us incredible GMs like John Schuerholz, Billy Beane, and Terry Ryan, who win while making do with limited payrolls, Brian Cashman is an embarrassment. Junkee fans have put up with his crappy performance for long enough. Sure, some moves are pushed by George, but Cashman has plenty of leeway. Or, he should be stubborn and give it to George the way Stick Michael used to (see Olney's book). If they weren't so delusional, they'd be calling for his head.
And to top things off, my favorite Yankee hurler, Kevin Brownout goes tomorrow. Pull out the brooms, baby!
Friday, April 15, 2005
-- Snorre's genius lineup shuffle update: Womack, Jeter, A-Rod and Williams combined to go 2-for-17 last night. Wow, what a success.
-- I'm starting to like the Dodgers-Giants rivalry almost as much as the Yanks-BoSox, if not a little more. All the focus on the off-field crap like the Sheffield incident is too annoying and distracting. I like to focus on the game on the field, especially when the Sox manhandle RJ and Flush Gordon. Plus, watching the incredible Vin Scully on Wednesday night sure beat being stuck in the car listening to Sterling and Waldman last night. (Funny stuff from Mushnick about that duo.) Anyone want to buy me that XM gadget? Please?
Thursday, April 14, 2005
Now I know you guys will come up with excuses - it was freezing, he was only brought in for October ... the way he's pitching now, who knows if there will even be an October for the Yankees? And the idea that the imbeciles in the front office giving him a 2-year extension. The guy wanted out of Arizona so badly, you didn't need to give him an extension! But George panicked, so there you go. And I'm sorry, he was not that impressive in his first start. He walked a few batters, and didn't have his usual crispness.
I'm beginning to like what I see....
1) It was one friggin' game! Is this going to last? Do you really think the Yanks will score lots of runs with a .319 career OBP guy in Tony Womack leading off? Sure, he got on base twice last night, but I don't see him doing that too often. Bernie had a good night as a result of the shuffle, but do you see him breaking out of his slump now? If the Yanks score a bunch of runs every game for the next week and go a big hot streak, then I gotta give Torre credit. But if the Yanks have one or two good games following the shuffle then start sputtering again, then I don't think Snorre deserves credit for getting one measly win in April.
2) It was Schilling's first start following his injury. I wasn't surprised that he tired in the 6th, especially after hitting the 100-pitch zone. I wasn't expecting vintage Schilling last night, and I don't think anyone reasonably was. If Schilling was on his A-game last night, you think Juice-on Giambi and Bambi Williams get homers off him? I think not. And then I don't think you hear all those dumb Snorre accolades. With a tired Schilling in there, batting order doesn't have much of an impact.
3) Furthermore, it was a close game. Wright was wild and iffy, and was lucky that Jeter and Womack made some fine defensive plays. But he got the job done, which is all that counts. But if Wright got bombed again like on Friday, the Yanks' 5 runs would've been ignored. He deserves a lot more credit than Snorre.
A few more points:
--It's not too often that I agree with "Intangibles" Jeter, but he was right on with this quote last night: "With this lineup you can put anybody anywhere and it doesn't make a difference," said Derek Jeter, who was dropped from first to second to make room for Tony Womack, who was elevated from ninth to first.
--Where's Jayson Stark when I need him? With Bernie "$13 million" Williams in the 9-hole, is he the most expensive #9 hitter ever? (Not counting pitchers in the NL) I think that's more than the Royals' 1-4 or something. Ridiculous.
-- rubber match tonight: RJ v. Arroyo. I think it'll be another close one. I'm hoping the Sox figure out RJ and Shemp doesn't steal any homers this time. And even if the Junkees win, there's reason to believe the Sox will come around. They have too many good players to just go bust suddenly. I don't think that's true about the Junkees.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
Time to compare the Yanks and Sox' batting orders, 1 through 9.
1) Jeter vs. Damon -- similar numbers here. Damon batted .304, his best since 2000, and had some pop with 20 HR to go with 19 steals. As for Jeter, he hit .292 (his lowest since '97), but had a little more power, with 23 HR and 23 SB. Both are guys who have come through in the clutch- Damon had 2 HR in game 7 of the ALCS last year.
2) A-Rod v. Nixon -- much as I hate A-Rod, I gotta be honest: Though his numbers have dropped since putting on the pinstripes, he's still one of the AL's best hitters. Nixon is solid, but nowhere near A-Schmuck's league.
3) Sheffield v. Manny: Both guys put up MVP-caliber numbers almost every year, but Manny's numbers are slightly better (.308, 43 to .290, 36). Plus throw in the fact that Manny's got a few good years left, while Sheff, at 36 and following shoulder surgery, is questionable.
EDGE: RED SOX
4) Matsui v. Ortiz: Again, 2 guys who are arguable MVP candidates, and both are guys you want up there in a big spot. Shemp is a given for .300 and 30 HR, but whether he can match his power numbers in Japan is still unclear. Until Shemp's a lock to hit 40 like Big Papi is, you've got to give Ortiz the edge.
EDGE: RED SOX
5) Millar v. Giambi/Sierra: On both sides, a big drop from 4 to 5 in the order. But Millar can hold his own: he's got a .291 career average, and is good for 20 HR a year. Giambi has been awful so far, and might be done. Sierra is better as a pinch-hitter these days, and can't play every day anymore.
EDGE: RED SOX
6) Renteria v. Posada: This one's a tough one. Posada is a .270 hitter, good for 20 HR, and gets on base a lot (.379 career OBP). Renteria has less power (about 10 HR a year), but his career .288 average is better than Posada, and he unlike Georgie, he can run. Renteria's lower OBP (.345 career) makes this one a draw.
7) Varitek v. Martinez/Giambi: Like the 5-hole, this is a sure deal v. a couple of question-marks. Varitek's numbers are solid but unspectacular (about .270, 20 like Posada, but lower OBP), but you have to wonder whether Tino and Giambi can put up even those numbers at this point in their careers.
EDGE: RED SOX
8) Williams v. Mueller: not even close. Both of these guys have won batting titles, but Williams' was way back when Bill Clinton was in office. Mueller won one in '03, and hit a solid .283 in '04, compared with Bernie's .263.
EDGE: RED SOX
9) Womack v. Bellhorn: one thing Bellhorn has over Womack: a track record of decent success. Mark has had an .370 OBP in two of the last three seasons, and can give you 15-20 HR. Womack has a .319 lifetime OBP, has a lot more steals than Bellhorn, but last year's 26 were his lowest ever in a full season. Speed is nice, but doesn't help much if you don't get on base.
EDGE: RED SOX
In today's New York Post, there were three articles that expressed a lot of worry about the current state of the Yankees. Mike Vaccaro's "Trouble in Paradise" deals with the many issues the Yankees are currently facing, and the Yankee fan's ultimate fear that (gasp!) they eventually won't make the playoffs (try telling that to the Brewers fans, who'd love to see their team crack .500). And then there's Joel Sherman's piece, about how the Sox were afraid of another A-Schmuck situation when they got priced out of Beltran, and how in the end the Yankees cheaped out. Sherman talks about the negative impact the Yanks' non-move has had on their hole-filled lineup. Finally, beat writer George King talks about the general issues of this struggle: the lackluster hitting, A-Schmuck and Giambi's iron gloves, the bad starting pitching, and the disappearance of Mariano.
Of course, it's never too early for the Junkees to get worried. Hell, this is the same team that fired Yogi Berra and Bob Lemon one month into the season back in the '80's! (Although Joe Snorre has no worries about that. King George isn't stupid enough to alienate all the Snorre-loving Junkee fans.)
The Yanks have struggled previously in their championship run, but this is starting to look different. Back in the day, you knew things would work themselves out. Guys like O'Neill and Brosius would start hitting, and pitchers like Cone and Pettitte would start stepping it up once they got into a groove.
But this year, can you really see some of these guys stepping it up? Bernie looks done. So does Tino. Juice-less Giambi can't hit or field. These guys are not going to get much better as the season progresses. Not to mention one-year wonder Tony Womack and 33-year old catcher Jorge Posada, who's still waiting for his first extra-base hit.
And Wright and Pavano are question marks. So far, we haven't seen the '04 versions of these guys (though Pavano was good in his first game), and there's reason to believe their '01-'02 forms will pop up. Moose is 36, and his best days are behind him. And RJ might finally be declining.
As for the bullpen, if Rivera can't beat the Sox, they're in trouble. Flush Gordon and Felix Rodriguez won't be nearly enough. And PR-move Mike Stanton was a disaster waiting to happen. The Yanks need a decent lefty in the pen to get Ortiz, Varitek, and Nixon out.
The past few years, a Junkee fan could look at his team struggling in April and say with confidence that things would come together. Not this year.
Monday, April 11, 2005
And what a job by Wakefield again. It’s a crying shame that for all the great starts Wakefield has had for the Sox the past few years, he’ll always be the one remembered for giving up the dinger to Aaron Bleepin’ Boone. Wake deserves a better fate.
I can’t wait for Schilling to start on Wednesday. Maybe his return will get the Sox on a hot streak, and will put the Yanks to sleep. And after this series, we get a Yanks-O’s rematch at Camden Yards. The O’s are really becoming fun to watch, and one of my favorite players on that team has got to be Brian Roberts. He went 7 for 15 against the Junkees over the weekend. If he keeps getting on in front of Tejada, Palmeiro, and Slammin’ Sammy, the Yanks will be in trouble. I’m liking this, man.
Sunday, April 10, 2005
For me, the best thing to see was "The Grand Tanyon" Sturtze get lit up. Sure, Yankee fans will say that it wasn't his fault; he came in during an emergency situation. But still, this was good. When Sturtze came in the other day, Michael Kay couldn't contain himself. He was talking about how amazing it was that Sturtze was signed to a minor-league deal last year and turned out to be a great pickup for the Yanks. The way he was talking, you'd think Sturtze was the next Ron Guidry. I'll admit, the guy's been decent, but give me a break, he's not about to become the next Brad Lidge or anything. This is the same dude that once lost 19 games in a season! Maybe he's finally coming back down to earth.
All in all, three bad pitching performances make for a good weekend for this Yankee-hater. As for Boston, I think Wells is shot (and Theo will be shopping for someone in June), and these 9th-inning losses are annoying. The Sox and Yanks both losing 2 out of 3? I guess we'll call this one a wash.
Saturday, April 09, 2005
- Jaret Wright proves that he is another Leo Mazzone wonder kid. When will teams learn? Every time a pitcher leaves Atlanta (with the exception of Jason Schmidt), he stinks up the joint. Denny Neagle was awful, Millwood was supposed to be a #1 guy and had to sign a 1-year deal with the Indians to prove that he's decent, Steve Avery was nowhere to be found for years until he turned up as a Tiger a year or two ago.... And the list goes on. Okay, okay, it's one start, but there's no track record to prove that he's going to be great. He had ONE GOOD YEAR, last year, and before then, he was lousy.
- Randy Johnson got knocked around pretty good on Saturday. Again, can't get too excited because he was good on Opening Night, although even then, he wasn't his crisp self. At 41, it's very possible that this is his dropoff year, and he has another two years to go (at $16 mil per!), so we'll keep an eye on that.
- In general, there doesn't seem to be a Yankee mystique (not that there ever was one), and even if they don't turn into the '04 Mariners, they look very beatable right now.
All in all, it's a good time to be a Yankee Despiser!
Friday, April 08, 2005
One thing that's given the Junkees an advantage is the O's horrid pitching. You have the underacheiving Sidney Ponson, and a bunch of kids in Daniel Cabrera, Erik Bedard, etc. In the past there was also the occasional washed-up veteran, like Pat Hentgen.
But last year, the O's got Ray Miller to take over as pitching coach. Tim Kurkjian points out that for the 93 games when Miller was coach last year, the O's had the second-best ERA in the league. And he's been getting some of the kids to work on change-ups, etc. So maybe they can beat the Yankees this year.
And in terms of offense, the O's lineup is as good if not better than the Yanks. Brian Roberts is solid as a leadoff hitter. Melvin Mora, traded by the Mets in '99, is making Steve Phillips look like a bigger moron every day. And then you have all the power bats: Tejada, Palmeiro, Lopez, and of course, Sammy Sosa. And guys like Luis Matos and Larry Bigbie are due for breakout years soon. Unlike the Yankees, the O's don't really have any holes in the lineup.
But ultimately, I think the Yanks will prevail again. I see the O's struggling against Wright, whom most of them haven't seen yet. RJ will be RJ again, and maybe the O's salvage a win against Pavano.
But that doesn't bother me. They won't be facing Baltimore in October.
Thursday, April 07, 2005
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
If the Sox really have figured out Rivera, and it sure looks like they have, then they have a definite edge in any series against the Junkees, especially a postseason series. Come October, especially with a healthy Schilling, these teams will be playing close games. And it will come to down to the relievers, and if the Yanks are on top, it will come down to Rivera. Rivera has often been called the MVP of the Yanks, and with good reason. As John Sterling has said about a million times, he makes it an 8-inning game. But against the Sox, that’s no longer true. And Foulke, though not perfect (as yesterday’s game showed), has been much more effective against the Yanks than Mo against the Sox.
Basically, if Mo can’t beat the Sox, neither can the Yankees.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
-- OK, Pavano had a solid first start as a Yankee. Then again, so did Hideki Irabu and Javier Vazquez.
-- Every blown save by Mariano is a treat. I don't know if he's losing it yet, but the day can't come soon enough.
-- Seeing Jason Giambi strike out against Embree. Wait till the first of his few HR for the Yankee fans to hyperventilate and say, "you see, he's back!" But will Mr. April be back when it really counts?
-- Red Sox 6-9 in the batting order: 6-16; Yankees 6-9: 1-14. The Sox have depth. The Yanks don't. The only way they improved the bottom of the order was by dumping Tony Clark, but they didn't replace him with much. Tino is like Mintkiewicz at this point in his career: good D, not much hitting.
-- It's friggin' April! Unless the Sox do like the '88 O's and go 0-21, I'm not gonna worry. The Sox sleptwalk through half the season last year (till they traded Nomar) and still won it all. In the words of Fred Hickman, if the Sox bring home the bacon this year, that's all that matters to me. I don't need no 125 wins.
Look at the Indians, for example. They're shaping up to be like the old A's and the Twins, a small-market team that has the home-grown chips to put together a trip to the playoffs. The small-market Padres might be looking at their first trip to October since '98, back when Kevin Brown was able to go two months without a trip to the DL. And the AL West might have 4 competitive teams, as will the NL East (if the Schmets' bullpen ever puts it together) and NL West (especially with Bonds on the DL). And perennial losers like the Orioles and Tigers are just a few players short of contending. So perhaps it's time for this blog to go - the Yankees can't be that bad, right?
But the fact remains, the Yankee payroll is still over $80 million higher than the Sox, and much higher than anyone else. This winter, the Yanks added payroll in guys like Johnson, Pavano, Jaret Wright, and Tony Womack, while maintaining such huge contracts like Giambi, Bernie, Jeter, A-Rod, and Brown. Cashman was supposed to shed some contracts this winter (ok, he got rid of Vazquez), but instead is stuck with players nobody wants.
And it remains to be seen how defeatable the Yanks will be this postseason. Even if Pavano and Wright don't pan out, you will see Cashman get his guy in July (Clemens?). And once the Yanks realize Bernie Williams has lost it, as well as Tino, and that Womack didn't really have it, you'll see the Yanks revamp their offense come July.
So if the Yanks have all the dough, and can get almost anyone they want, why is the game looking as competitive as ever? Simple. The other teams are lucky the Yanks have screwed up. A team that spends $180 million and still has a 4.70 ERA is very poorly run. If the Yanks had actually put together a pitching staff with money spent wisely, they could've put Oakland's old Big 3 to shame. But the fact they didn't made them much easier to beat, especially in the postseason. Basically, many teams (including the Sox) are lucky that the Yankees have screwed up so much.
This leads to another reason baseball's system is still unfair. While small-market teams have no margin for error, the Yankees can afford to make mistakes and still get new players. The Pirates were saddled with a huge contract like Kevin Brown's when they were stuck with Jason Kendall's huge contract, being forced to get the Raul Mondesi and Kenny Lofton table-scrap free agents that nobody else wanted. The Yankees have over $45 million invested in 3 big question marks for '05 (Giambi, Bernie, Brown), more than a few teams' entire payrolls.
The Royals invested long-term in Mike Sweeney and tried to build the team around the guy; it flopped, and now they're screwed. But if the Yankees make a big-money mistake like Kevin Brown? No problem, just spend another $15 million and get Randy Johnson. You can't tell me that's fair.
And as for the Twins and A's: this season, in my opinion, is the biggest test thus far of the "Moneyball" approach. And one of the successors of the Big 3, Dan Meyer, has already proved to be disappointing. And who knows if Blanton and Haren are more Hudson than Pulsipher? As the Schmets found out back in '95-'96, young studs don't always pan out.
And as for the Twins, guys like Morneau and Mauer are supposed to be huge, but what if they're not? And with Jacque Jones the next Twin to get overpriced, (after losing Guzman and Koskie last winter), you wonder if the team can keep affording to lose guys. The Twins have done very well, but they have no margin for error. If Johan Santana turns into the next Doc Gooden or Rick Ankiel or something, they can't just spend $15 million on an ace. They'll be in huge trouble.
So the game has gotten more competitive, I don't deny that. But is it more fair? I don't think so. On Opening Day, everyone has a shot. But come July when the Yanks are able to get the big names and fill their holes, we'll see just how fair things are.
Monday, April 04, 2005
For a second there. I was confused. I thought I was watching an old Ranger game on ESPN Classic or something. Where's Rafael Palmeiro? Where's Steve Buechele? Who's pitching today, Bobby Witt, Charlie Hough, or Nolan? I felt like it was back in Ruben Sierra's glory days, before he was traded for juice-boy Jose Canseco in '92.
Sierra had a hit in five tries yesterday, but his numbers have fallen big since those days. He's still solid as a pinch-hitter and an occasional role-player, but his days as a cleanup hitter are long over. In a big game, if Jeter and/or A-Schmuck get on, with 2 out, do you really want Sierra up there? You spend $200 million on your team, and a semi-washed-up 40-year old has-been is your cleanup hitter? Come on.
Between Sierra and Bernie, the Yanks have a few gaping holes in the lineup. And Sheffield and Posada aren't getting any younger. And let's see whether we see the '04 Tony Womack or the one that was cut left and right in '03. Not to mention the verdict is still out on Giambi. The Yanks scored a lot of runs yesterday off Wells, but will they get the job done in a big game in a big spot? Hmmmm.
Sunday, April 03, 2005
"What do you mean? Did you see the way they smacked around David Wells on Sunday night? Did you see how great Randy Johnson pitched? This is it, baby!"
As Manny Ortiz said the other day, one game does not a great season make. You have to play well throughout. I remember when the Junkees started out 18-3 a few years back, people said they'd win more games than any other team. Didn't happen. So Junkee fans, take it easy.
It's such a double standard. When the Red Sox swept them last April, the Junkee fans blew it off. "Ah, beginning of the year. They're saving their intensity for later on. Don't put too much stock into a meaningless series in April." Yet, the Junkee fans act like idiots when their teams wins one game against the Red Sox - on opening night! Get a life.