Monday, May 28, 2007

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That's right, I'm risking the wrath of the baseball gods

I've been holding off on the baseball posting for the first two months of the season, because, well, it's the first two months of the season. With Memorial Day weekend, however, comes a quick glance at the standings, and hey, what do you know, the Red Sox have an 11 1/2 game lead in the AL East and a 12 1/2 game lead over the Yankees.

Longtime Red Sox fans will recall 1978, in which the Red Sox frittered away an even larger cushion. However, over at Baseball Busings, David Pinto thinks history is unlikely to repeat itself:

Sure, nothing is set yet, but a big difference between now and 1978 is that New York was a lot of games back, but they were still a winning team. Today, the Yankees are much closer to Tampa Bay, Kansas City and Texas than they are to either Boston or wild card leader Detroit.
I'm a tad more wary than David: if you look at runs scored and runs against, the Yankees should have a better record than they do (UPDATE: In a later post, David re-evaluates his own position). And, for the record, the Red Sox ain't a .700 team either. With the wild card, the Yankees still have a fair-to-middlin' chance of making the playoffs (just like the Red Sox in 2004). The difference is that the Yankees can't experience another stretch like the past two weeks, or their season is done.

Fortunately for the Olde Towne Team, many of the intangibles have been going in the Red Sox direction:

1) Yankee manager Joe Torre has lost his magic touch at right around the same time that Terry Francona acquired greater quantities of management acumen. Now a lot of this is luck, but some of it is Francona managing the bullpen better than Torre.

2) Opposing players are ripping Yankee fans and praising Red Sox fans (to be fair, the player in question used to play for the Red Sox). This rant provides some supporting evidence.

3) Red Sox Nation is expanding into China.

4) Seven words: back to back to back to back.

5) For a savior, Roger Clemens is taking his own sweet time getting back to the majors. It now apeears that he is going to miss the Sox-Yankees series later this week. With only six games remaining between the two teams after this week, one wonders just how much of an impact he can have.

6) In sharp contrast, the Red Sox "savior" is a 22-year old cancer survivor who, in the span of six months, has gone from undergoing chemotherapy to throwing curveballs. When he returns to the team, he's slotted as the fifth starter.

Those last two points highlight the real reason the Red Sox are doing so well -- they have a more good, young pitching at their disposal and in the pipeline.

The best long-term news, however, is contained in this AP story:

Despite constant speculation about manager Joe Torre's job, New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner says someone else also needs to deliver as the team looks to reverse its floundering start: general manager Brian Cashman.

"He's on a big hook," a spirited Steinbrenner told The Associated Press in a rare interview from this Tampa office. "He wanted sole authority. He got it. Now he's got to deliver."....

"The boss is the boss,'' Cashman said before Friday night's game against the Los Angeles Angels. "There are no surprises here. He's said this to me privately."

Cashman agreed with Steinbrenner's assessment.

"I'm on the hook. You can't describe it any better than that," Cashman said. "It's my job to figure it out.

Please, please, pretty please with sugar on top, let George fire Cashman. He's made some short-term mistakes as GM (I believe Cashman is officially the only person in the known universe who believed that Carl Pavano would be healthy all season -- and this includes Pavano). Long-term, however, he's started to restock the farm system and shed grumpy old ballplayers. The best thing that could happen to the long-term plans of the Red Sox is if Steinbrenner fires Cashman in favor of a Steinbrenner toady. At that point, I bet you that the new GM would trade Philip Hughes, Jose Tabata, and Melky Cabrera for Johan Santana.

In which case, there will be seven fat years for the Sox, and seven lean years for the Yankees.

posted by Dan on 05.28.07 at 09:27 AM


I agree with your last two paragraphs 100%.

posted by: David Pinto on 05.28.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]


As a Mets fan I agree whole-heartedly with about 98% of what you're saying (though, with all the bandwagoners, Red Sox Nation is about as insufferable as Yankee fans these days).

However, the last two lines...

If the Yanks could get Santana for those three guys, that would be a boon for them. Santana is hands down the top starter in MLB and is only 28 yrs old.

Sure Hughes could be good, but his peak is Santana. Why resist trading the guy who could be Sanatana FOR Santana? Melky Cabrera is probably gonna end up a marginal starter. He has basically no power and plays a corner OF position. Plus, his body is so big that he's gonna lose his reasonable speed pretty quickly. In 6-10 years, you're looking at a poor man's Raul Ibanez. Tabata's alright, but you gotta give people up to get the best starter in the league.

Seriously, you think that would be a bad deal for the Yanks?

posted by: b.schac on 05.28.07 at 09:27 AM [permalink]

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