Posts Tagged ‘Yankees’

Red Sox Officially Out

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

For the last few weeks, the Boston Red Sox were hanging on to the slimmest of hopes to remain in the playoff hunt.  But as the New York Yankees were able to win a few games recently, the magic number has finally reached zero.

With a chance to end up with 90 wins this season, the Sox are going to finish third in the very tough A.L. East.  There record with five games to go in the season has them in a dead heat with the Texas Rangers in the West and five games behind Minnesota in the Central.  But that is the curse of playing in the toughest division in baseball.  Without a doubt the wildcard will be either New York or Tampa Bay as they are half a game apart, and Minnesota also vying for home field advantage.

I know that I’ve stated this before, but it was impressive that the Sox made it last this long.  I thought for sure that they would have been eliminated a while ago after having key player after key player either be lost for the season or have a stint on the DL.  Yes, of course I get the fact that a team like the Red Sox who had $168M in salaries (including players who were on the books but on other teams) should be able to to have other players on their team who should still be better than the more frugal teams.

And I also know that I have brought this up earlier, but in the end it was the pitching that did them in.  Very highly paid starters had terrible seasons:

Player Salary
(millions)
Starts W L ERA
John Lackey $18.7 32 13 11 4.47
Josh Beckett $12.1 20 6 5 5.77
Daisuke Matsuzaka $8.33 24 9 6 4.72

Jon Lester $3.75 31 19 8 2.96
Clay Buchholz $443K 28 17 7 2.33

The first three cost over $39M this year (add about another $8.5M for the amortized posting fee for close to $48M) and combined for a 28-22 record.  On the other hand, the saving grace hasn’t been the pitchers acquired via free agency or trades, but the two homegrown kids who totaled a record of 36-15 while hardly a burden on the ownerships’ wallets at just over $4M.  Lester will end up around second in the league in wins and fourth in ERA, and Buchholz will finish second with his ERA just a few points behind leader Felix Hernandez.

The bullpen was spotty as well as the season progressed.  When Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t blowing saves (similar to Sunday night against the Yankees), he would make the outing an adventure; there never seemed to be an easy 1-2-3 ninth for him.   Daniel Bard provided some energy in the setup roll, and is apparently the heir to the closing roll.  For the most part, the rest just weren’t good.

To go along with all of these issues were some bad loses down the stretch.  From September 10th, Boston lost two-of-three games in Oakland, to Toronto and to Baltimore (a .395 team they were 9-9 against this season).

But the injuries definitely was thing that kept them out of the postseason.  They played a good chunk of the season with Mike Lowell at first, Bill Hall at second, newcomer Ryan Kalish in the outfield, and a slew of other minor leaguers to fill in.

And we that, the baseball season in Boston will go quietly into the night, with nothing more than gobs of trade and free agency rumors that will over saturate the airwaves and blogosphere… I’m sure I will be writing one soon anyway.

Was Randy Moss Really Out?

Monday, December 28th, 2009

To clinch the AFC East division championship, the New England Patriots routed the Jacksonville Jaguars 35-7.  In the game, Randy Moss caught only four passes for 45 yards.  But three of those catches were for touchdowns.  This is just the second game after the Carolina Panthers claimed that they knew that if they shut down Moss, he would just give up on the field.

In that game, Moss caught one pass for 16 yards.  And the post-game talks were about how Moss mailed in the second half because he was frustrated.  Some “experts” said that he didn’t and was actually shutdown by the defense, and others said that he gave up.  One tiny fact wasn’t really talked about through all of it: The New England Patriots won the game 20-10.

And all the talk probably awoke a sleeping giant in the Brady/Moss combination.  The next game in Buffalo, Moss went 5-for-70 with a touchdown.  And then home against Jacksonville, a team that needed to win to keep their playoff hopes alive, they again went to the tandem utterly destroyed the Jags.

With one game left on the schedule, at Houston, the Pats don’t need to win.  They are assured a home game during the Wild Card weekend, and will either be in the third or fourth spot (depending on what happens with Cincinnati).  Coming out of a really tough stretch of five games of Miami and the Jets at home, and Indy, New Orleans, and Miami on the road, going 2-and-3, the Pats have won three in a row.  They are now 10-5, with all five loses coming on the road.  And with all home games played, they are definitely a tough-team-at-home.  Unfortunately, they will only have one game in the playoffs at home (barring some big losses by Indianapolis and San Diego).

But it was good to see the Patriots put together a nice string of wins using both offense and defense.  Many of the games that were lost were close games where one or two plays by the defense (or completions by the offense) in the fourth quarters would have made the difference.  Perhaps having a defense on the up-swing and an offense with a hungry Randy (and hopefully a complete set of running backs), this could be a fun postseason to watch.

Game 6 Between the Yankees and the Phillies

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Tonight is the sixth game of the World Series between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies, and I am torn on what the outcome could be.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not nor would be a fan of the Yanks winning, but I don’t want to be too optimistic that the Phills can pull it off.  Yet with just a three-man rotation for New York, it might be the linchpin that could make the whole thing fall apart.

My friend Mike and I were talking during game five about the wisdom of Joe Girardi starting A.J. Burnett on three days of rest.2009 World Series_250x188

He said that Girardi should have started Chad Gaudin in game five.  This would have allowed full rest to Burnett and could still have C.C. Sabathia in case for game seven with Andy Pettitte (think 2001 World Series with Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling to combine to win in game seven).  They could have seen how far Gaudin took them into the game and start using the bullpen to get through the rest.  Why waste the game in a National League park where they would have to have the pitcher in the batting order when strategy at some point down the line would have him leaving the game for a pinch batter.

I agreed with Mike for the most part.  My logic was, being up three-games-to-one, waste a whatever pitcher, and get home with your best lineup.  Sabathia may be able to pitch a few games in a row on short-rest, but Burnett and Andy Pettitte might not.  Now with the way it is setup, a fully-rested Pedro Martinez will go against Pettitte and and even more tired Sabathia against a fully-rested Cole Hamels.

Mike’s point, being a Yankee fan, was that it was all rationalized because of fears from the 2004 Red Sox-Yankees ALCS, where the Yankees just needed to win one more game but couldn’t.  Girardi is managing to win this game and worrying about the next one later, because it is all over if they do just win this game.

Another interesting comparison, at least to me, is the 2007 ALCS between the Sox and the Cleveland Indians.  Ace C.C. Sabathia lost game one against ace Josh Beckett looking like the Sox were going to run away with it.  The Sox then went on to lose the next three games (one at Fenway and the first two at the Jake). So being down 3-1 in the series, it looked as if the Indians were the ones who were going to win.  That was followed by Manny Ramirez making noise in the news by saying it didn’t bother him that they were down 3-1, adding that losing wouldn’t be the end of the world.  The Sox then won game five behind their ace Josh Beckett, and went on to win games six and seven.

Yes, the home-field advantage was reversed compared to the 2009 World Series, but it still seems like an interesting look at the past to see if something might be repeated.  (This is my hope of using the Pats/Rams Super Bowl outcome when New Yorkers used it in comparison to the Pats/Giants a few years later.)

(And no, I looked it up, and Cliff Lee was not on the 25-man roster at that point.  He had been sent down to Triple-A in the middle of the season because he wasn’t performing well.)

In the end, the Yankees don’t want to lose this game six, because game sevens, especially in the World Series, are a complete unknown.  There is nobody on that 25-man roster that isn’t available since there literally isn’t a next game for which to plan.  Yes it would line up to be Sabathia (another 3-days rest, but certainly a better option than Chad Gaudin or Kevin Brown (sorry), and they’re going to ride him like the Marlins did with Beckett in 2003) versus Cole Hamels (full-rest, but mentally checked out), which on paper would go the Yankees way.  But the “what-ifs” become more intriguing.

What if Sabathia pitches 3 2/3 innings giving up 5 runs.  What if Hamels gets his pitches to actually work.  What if Ryan Howard starts hitting pitches?

Too many questions.

But, chances are Pedro will have issues tonight, and the Yankees will unfortunately win and end up with their 27th title.  And I will have to catch slack from all around.  Really looking forward to it.