Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Does It Even Matter?

by: Mr. November

As I watch the Yankees take on the Devil Rays (5-0 Yanks after 3 innings), I wonder if all this fuss about catching the Red Sox for first place even matters. On one hand, it matters to me, since if the Yanks do finish first, my friend Rob (grew up in Long Island, but a huge Sawx fan - go figure) will owe me $100.

But does it really matter to the Yankees themselves? Torre has come out and said that, though they will still play to win games, once the Yanks clinch a playoff birth, he will be more concerned with getting the rotation in order and the veterans healthy than he will with winning the AL East. And I can't really blame him. As it stands right now, if the Yankees take the wild card, they'll face the Indians in the ALDS - and the Indians couldn't beat the Yankees all season.

But I'd argue that winning the division does matter. Not as much as it did in 1978, when overtaking the Red Sox for the division title meant not only making the playoffs, but also keeping he Sawx out of them. Today, with the advent of the wild card, winning the division means a bit less (even if you get to choose the amount of days off for the first round). But it does mean something when it comes to the mental aspect of the game.

If the Yankees can catch the Red Sox for 1st place after being back as many as 14 1/2 games this season, it would give them a psychological edge over their rivals going into the postseason. No one wants to "back into" the playoffs, even they have one of the top 2 or 3 records in the majors. If the Red Sox do manage to only claim the wild card this season, it will feel like a huge loss to them before the second season even starts. And any huge loss for Boston is a huge win for New York.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Jumping the Gun?

Posted By: Miss October

With only about two weeks left in the regular season, I realize that the Yankees are a long shot to win the AL East –honestly, after the trials and tribulations of this past year, I’m thrilled that they are still playing meaningful games at this point in the season. Radio personalities across the dial (even the extremely loyal John Sterling) indicated that after Saturday’s loss to the Red Sox, the Yankees should basically forget about winning the division and only focus on securing the wild card.

With a Red Sox loss last night, the Yankees are only 3 ½ games out, with 12 to play. The Boston Globe reported today that Red Sox “ace” "Daisuke Matsuzaka’s next start has been bumped back until Saturday as the Sox align their rotation for the playoffs (and give Matsuzaka an extra three days' rest)." I’m not sure it makes sense to take Dice K out of his normal cycle of pitching days/off days so close to the post-season – especially when starters are often called upon to pitch on short rest during short playoff series.

In any case, it will be interesting to see just how “hungry” Francona is to win the division, if the Yankees keep creeping closer. He might actually persuade Manny to play in a game before the end of the season, instead of just “leaving it up to him.”

Friday, September 14, 2007

48 and 124

Those are the stolen bases numbers for and against the Toronto Blue Jays this season. Yet, for some unknown reason, Bobby Abreu chose to not attempt to steal second in the top of the 9th inning of last night's game. Alex Rios did steal second in the bottom of the 9th, eventually scored, and the Blue Jays won the game.

Let's assume for a moment that Abreu's pretend steal attempt would have been successful. If the rest of the inning played out the same as it did, he would have scored on Cano's deep ground ball up the middle. Then, fans would have seen Mariano in the 9th, as opposed to Chris Britton.

Did Abreu have the green light? Was he waiting for Torre to give him the go-ahead from the dugout? Not sure...but we are sure of what kind of result comes from not taking an obvious chance.

The Future Looks Bright

Posted by: Miss October

When the Yankees’ season got off to a rough start, Yankee fans were growing impatient. My Dad went so far as to say in mid-May – “trade all the high-paid starting pitchers, forget about this season, and bring up the kids from the minors and give them a chance.”

Injuries to the starting rotation almost forced the Yankees to do just that – turning to the likes of Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo and Jeff Karstens to fill in the gaps. When things got really desperate, phenom Phil Hughes was called up earlier than the Yankees would have liked – in an attempt to stop the bleeding.

Several months have passed, and while Clippard and DeSalvo have been sent back to pay their dues in the minor leagues – a couple of new Baby Bombers have been making their mark – and keeping the Yankees playoff contention. I can talk all day about Joba Chamberlain, but Ian Kennedy’s stellar pitching performance last night was just another encouraging sign of great things to come. Hopefully the days of paying millions of dollars for so-called “proven” pitchers who just don’t have what it takes to make it in NY are over. I’m looking forward to seeing these 20-somethings strut their stuff and hopefully watch them have long, successful careers in pinstripes.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

100 wins

The Yankees need to go 22-0 the rest of the season in order to win 100 games. I'm here to say it won't happen. It's just like me to go out on a limb.

I will, however, use this space to guarantee a playoff spot. The Mariners showed that, even if they decided to call up the entire state of Washington on September 1st, they simply don't have the manpower (especially in the bullpen) to make a playoff run. The Tigers have slumped and the Blue Jays are essentially a non-factor (regardless of what hopeful analysts and Toronto fans want to think).

So, the Yankees are in. But, can they go the extra mile and make up the 6 game deficit in the AL East? Stranger things have happened.

by: Mr. November