Tuesday, April 28, 2009

That’s What I Had in Mind

Yes, it’s only April. Yes, it’s too early in the season to get too excited about any one series. Yes, quite a few things went wrong this past weekend, in addition to all the things that went right. But, it really doesn’t matter. The Red Sox just swept the Yankees, and made them look bad in doing so. Even better? Two of the three games were nationally televised. It’s always nice when the whole country can see the Yankees cower in the corner. I know I’m a little slow to the draw, but there were a few things I thought I’d touch upon about the Yankees series.

The Red Sox depth was obvious. The Sox are using their third string shortstop at the moment. The fact that they’re still putting up a ton of runs is a great sign. The Sox are also without their #3 starter. All Justin Masterson has done to replace him is pitch two great games against division foes, and pick up two wins. Masterson wasn’t even the first choice in this role. If Buchholz had been healthy, it might have been him taking the starts. Masterson starting also takes him out of the ‘pen. The Sox would appear to have plenty of depth out there as well. Jonathan Papelbon pitched both Friday and Saturday, so was unavailable Sunday. The Sox turned to Takashi Saito to close out Sunday’s victory, which he did fairly easily. It’s nice when your back-up closer has 81 saves and a 1.95 ERA over the last three years. When the season started, it always looked like the Sox on paper, had lots of depth. It’s always nice to find out that the depth is there on the field as well.

It always amazes me that anyone can steal home. How can a player run 90 feet faster than someone can throw a ball 60? Pretty gutsy on Ellsbury’s part to try it with two out, and the bases loaded. If he gets tagged out, that’s a lot of explaining to do. I also love how a steal of home completely disrupts the announcers. They’re droning on about “here’s the wind-up and…” suddenly they need to change course and scream about this lunatic motoring down the baseline. They’re such a jumbled mess at that point, I still don’t know if a strike or ball was called. It was easier for them when Omar Visquel stole home against the Sox a few years ago without a throw.

It always bugs me when Mariano Rivera comes in and they talk about the Yankees record when leading after 8 innings. It’s like he’s such an elite closer, they don’t even need to finish the games when he comes is. But, really, don’t most teams have pretty good records when leading after 8 innings…other than the Mets? Don’t the Royals have a fairly decent record in the couple games they’ve actually led after 8?

Yes, it’s troublesome that Beckett looked lost on Saturday. If the Yanks had pulled that game out, there’d be a lot of discussion about what exactly happened to him.

It’s amazing to me that the Yankees spent all that money on pitching, and they give up runs like they’re going out of style. It looks like a vicious cycle at this point. The starters were bad, so they left games early. The bullpen had to pitch a lot, so they tired out and pitched awful. Since Girardi doesn’t trust the ‘pen, he leaves starters in too long. They get tired and pitch awful. So, the bullpen needs to come in, and the cycle is renewed.

I can never decide whether it’s a good thing that you get contributions from different parts of the line-up. Should it worry me that Ortiz is homerless, or should I be thrilled that other people are picking up the slack? I will say that the top of the line-up looks to be a “pick your poison” sort of thing. When you have Ellsbury-Pedroia-Ortiz-Youk-Drew-Bay-Lowell-Tek…at least three of them have to be going good at any given point, right? It covers up for slumps quite well. It’s a far cry from ten years ago when it was Nomar and nobody.

Sweeping the Yanks may not mean everything, but it’s better than the alternative.

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