April 9, 2007


Yankees' Bench Shows Disregard for Depth (STEVEN GOLDMAN, April 9, 2007, NY Sun)

Alex Rodriguez can't do it alone. For some, this will be a stunning statement, given that it implies he was doing "it" at all — it being the dirty business of winning ballgames. Now, Rodriguez hasn't always deigned to immerse himself in that business, particularly last year, and even in the first few games of the 2007 season when he was stranding runners with his usual style. It was only on Saturday that the old MVP form reasserted itself, with two home runs, including a walk-off grand slam.

What's less certain is how long the MVP form will stay, and even if it does, if the Yankees have given themselves the offensive and pitching depth to sustain a long run of winning. On paper, the Yankees are solid and should score liberally while maintaining decent if unspectacular pitching. Already, though, this whole equation has been thrown into question by injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Hideki Matsui, and Johnny Damon, as well as poor performances by all of the starting pitchers in the first games of the season.

While it's too early to be truly concerned with the Yankees' 2–3 record, the sight of Miguel Cairo starting in left field should be of great concern. For all of Brian Cashman's manifold strengths as general manager, when it comes to the major league bench he has always had a cavalier attitude bordering on neglect.

The bench is obviously a liability for a team this old, but the fact their only major league quality starting pitcher is at AAA and the only reliever is an arm-weary closer has to a bigger worry.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 9, 2007 1:25 PM

If you keep pretending that Wang and Mussina, who are better than any starting pitchers the Sawx have with major league experience (see stats, last season), aren't "major league quality", do you think that will make it come true?

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 9, 2007 2:05 PM

Wang is the clasasic sinkerballer with low k rates who had his little run and now starts his Carlos Silva years.

Mussina was a fine pitcher five years ago.

We in the Nation hope and pray the Yanks stick with this staff.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2007 2:34 PM

Years ago? Check out Mussina stats for last season.

Silva throws a 96 mph sinker? More like Wang is Tommy John with a better sinker. He'll be the Yanks # 2 for a decade, anchoring the staff behind Hughes.

While I wanted Hughes in the rotation asap, the Yanks even now have more than enough pitching to win the East. Bottom line is the Yanks have at least 2 if not 3 quality arms at the top of the rotation, the Sawx only 1 and he's an untested MLB rookie. Not to mention their anemic offense.

It's the Jays arms that worry me. Looks like another 3rd place year for your lot.

Posted by: Jim in Chicago at April 9, 2007 4:21 PM

RedSox are 3-3, Yankees are 2-3. Don't the Sox always take an early lead?

The RedSox have no better of a pitching staff than the Yankess. Julian Tavarez in the rotation?

The Sox offense is far weaker than the Yankess one.

My preseason preditiction still looks good, Yankess win and Boston finishes behind a Central team and out of the playoffs.

Posted by: Bob at April 9, 2007 4:33 PM

Jim in Chicago:

You ever consider some substantial bet with OJ about who wins the AL East? You guys keep arguing about this stuff every year and the Yankees keep winning the division. Free money!

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 9, 2007 6:25 PM


I won five hats from these guys last year.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2007 6:57 PM

Silva doesn't anymore, which is the point. It's the Gary Gentry gamble. You can let a pitcher who'd possibly be marginal otherwise throw improperly because he gets guys out that way, or you fix his mechanics and pitch selection and risk him not getting guys out. With the former you at least get a couple years from him. In the case of a David Cone you even luck into many, though Sid Fernandez and Gentry himself are closer to the norm.

Mussina illustrates another principle: luck. Number studies have revealed to us the surprising role that sheer dumb lkuck plays in much of baseball. So a mediocre hitter may have a few more hits than normal fall in and seem to have improved his hitting. Or a pitcher may follow several years of 4.50+ ERAs with a year where the ball finds guys gloves more often--due to nothing he's done--and appear to have had a good year. But, it being baseball, guys revert to the norm over time.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2007 7:04 PM


So they're obviously not betting you on who would actually win the East, which would seem like the bottom line, at least as far as the regular season is concerned. The way you talk about this year after year, you'd think the Red Sox would have won the division going back into perpetuity. I'd like to goad Jim into making this bet with you because I think you'd take it. Would I be right?

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 9, 2007 7:30 PM

Of course.

The Yankees haven't won since last century.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2007 9:48 PM


A World Series, certainly. But the last year they didn't win the AL East was 1997. If history is any indication, your usual pattern of talking down the Yankees as opposed to the Red Sox and Blue Jays ought to end in the Yankees once again owning the division at the end of the year. What happens after that could be the subject of a different bet.

Jim would've been wise to make this bet with you over the past few seasons.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at April 9, 2007 11:29 PM

Except that serious fans are well aware how weak the team is. No one bets on Mike Mussina.

The difference between Yanks and Sox fans is the latter are quite vocal about their teams flaws while the former play make-believe, rhetorically at least.

Posted by: oj at April 10, 2007 7:34 AM