Wednesday, March 26, 2008

It is time to get serious.

I've cleaned up my room and almost finished packing for opening day in NYC.

All the fun of Tampa is behind me now, and I think we really have to consider where the team is for the 2008 campaign.

I'm in the camp that this Yankee team does not make the playoffs. Here are my worries:

1. The fact that Jason Giambi is our best option at first base is frightening. It puts a major point of weakness in our defense. He doesn't throw well. His fielding is slightly below average. His offense "upside" is unknown at this point, due to aging, performance fall-off and injuries of last three seasons.

2. Our outfield is shaky, too. Oddly enough, Abreu is likely the most solid guy at the moment. Melky has shown plenty of promise, but which way will he go as the league gets to know him better? We still see little power from him.

3. Damon and Matsui should be fine as interchangeable parts, but both have lost a step on defense.

4. Shelly Duncan as back-up to the other four outfielders provides; possibility of " hot streak" power if he plays a lot; marginal defensive speed and glove; excellent arm. However, how effective will he be playing sparingly?

5. Catching is fine as long as Jorge ducks the aging thing and injury thing for another season.

6. Infield is good. Wilson Betemit is a pretty decent back-up player.

7. The real worry is pitching:

A. We really don't have an ace.

B. Chin Ming has shown erratic performances, and one wonders how is head is dealing with post-season collapse.

C. Moose is bound to wear down as the season progresses. Andy is already wearing down.

D. Hughes is not impressing me as the next Roger Clemens. Not based on Spring training outings. He may become great. Or, he could be 9-10.

E. Kennedy can't seem to start a game without giving up a quick four runs. We know how that wears on a team.

F. Joba, let's face it, has not yet come close to pitching like he did last season with the Yankees. I think he had one quality outing.

G. Why did LaTroy Hawkins get an automatic seat on the bus? He always walks the first two batters he sees. Haven't we lived the last two seasons with bullpen guys who do exactly that?

H. Farnsworth will be no different than he was last year, despite the magical relationship Joe G. purports to have with him.

I. The best reliever in Spring Training was this guy ( Patterson? ) who had never pitched above A ball, right? So he won't get a MLB job now.

J. There has only been inconsistency from Bruney, Henn, Vargas, Edwar, Olendorf, etc. Nothing to excite.

L. The Alan Horne and Jeff Marquez "cups of spring coffee" were pretty uneventful and unimpressive.

8. So, where is the light? I know we should be able to score runs with our offense. But that won't do the trick. We have no team speed. Defense is OK but not a great asset. And highly shaky pitching.

Most importantly, the Giants won the SB in a magical year which, to this moment, none of us believe really happened. The Ying and Yang of Giants/Yanks seems calibrated to burn the NYY this year.

The good news is that the Southern Mexico Independent League has a brand new all dirt field. I will spend a lot of time there scouting, and looking for Edwar and Bruney to regain their command, while adding new pitches to their arsenals.

Edwar told me he may start throwing lefty. Bruney wants to play some third base, but
feels " blocked" by A-Rod.

Who knew?


Anonymous said...

It's hard to judge our problems in relation to other teams' problems. For example, as bad as we might have it, we still have A-Rod, Jeter, Damon (who I think will have a good year), Cano and Melky (both of whom could emerge) Abreu, et al. We also have a group of young pitchers on the doorstep. By July, somebody is going to emerge, and it might not be the names we've heard.

We've always had a big stone coming through the snake, with pitching, and it should be ready to harvest this year. Last year, we had three. We could easily have three more. (Melancon, Cox, Sanchez, Horne, Betances...)

I'm not happy with Giambi at first. I think Girardi is giving Jason a chance to succeed, extending him a lifeline, and I think Giambi will give it everything he's got. It won't be enough. But it's almost something we have to go through before we can move on. I do believe Duncan will be our 1B soon, and if he fails, we'll get somebody in June. It's a long season.

If Pettitte's back is really screwy, that's a major setback.

But I have a theory about hot starts.

If you start red hot, that means you wasted hits in spring training. Same with pitching. Throw a shutout, and it just means you wasted an outing. Better to start slowly and build into a hot streak, so you get the entirity of the streak, not just half of it.

That's my story and I'm sticking with it.

I'm Bill White said...

You had me at "It's hard to judge our problems..."

Wailin' Suzyn said...

Warning! Warning!

As a fan of a small-market team since I was 10, when you use the words "could emerge" you are on very, very shaky ground.

They won't emerge.

No one ever emerges.

You're doomed.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand your point.

It's true: Melky and Cano could emerge.

Buhner's Ghost said...

It's good to see you guys talking about baseball again. Unfortunately for you, your team has more holes than a three-course Putt-Putt, too many to fill unless all your young pitchers and "emergin" players actually perform. Forget the Red Socks, you'll be lucky to stay ahead of the BJs and Tampa. I'd love to see a return to the 80s--I had hair then!

Wailin' Suzyn said...

I don't mind letting the BJs catch up to me now and then.

Anonymous said...

Pessimistic bastards... I, GARLAND, SHALL KNOCK YOU ALL DOWN!!!

Wailin' Suzyn said...

Wasn't "Pessimistic Bastards" a band that played CBGBs in November 1977?