Eleven Questions For 2011: Red Sox Spring Training Report

    Sunday, February 27, 2011, 11:57 PM [General]

    Here come the Red Sox and here comes the 2011 season Boston!  Well OK, it's only Spring Training, but try telling that to folks buried in up to 12 inches of snow.  Football feels long gone, perhaps your basketball and hockey teams are mired in mediocrity and March Madness is a few weeks off, just seeing some semblance of spring brings a smile to your face. 

    As we embark on the 2011 season there are eleven questions surrounding the 2011 version of the Boston Red Sox.  Back in 1911, back even before Fenway Park, those Red Sox led by Tris Speaker, Harry Hooper, Duffy Lewis and Smokey Joe Wood finished fourth in the American League, going 78-75 under Patsy Donovan.  It's fair to say this year's version has much higher aspirations than that Huntington Avenue Grounds crew.  Though the 1911 Sawx did lead the league in home runs and ERA.

    11.) Can They Win 100 Games?

    Only three times in their history have the Boston Red Sox ever finished with over 100 wins in a season.  The first coming in the inaugural season of Fenway Park when the club won  franchise best 105 games en route to a World Series title.  The other two resulted in a Series victory in 1915 and defeat in 1946.  While some may be skeptical of a team coming off an 89 win season bouncing back to win 100 in the AL "Big" East, it has happened and quite recently.  The 2008 New York Yankees won 89 games and in 2009 went on to win 103. 

    10.) How Many Runs/Steals From The Top?

     These aren't your father's Red Sox.  Oh sure they can still go big fly, but they will most assuredly be flying around the base paths all summer long.  For some perspective, my first Red Sox game in 1993 that team's leading base stealers were Scott Fletcher (16) and Billy Hatcher (14) and that squad didn't have one player with over 90 runs scored.  Heck even last year's squad was led by Ryan Kalish with ten swipes.  Now factor in new addition Carl Crawford, who has led the league in steals and triples four times, including a league leading 13 last season.  Then add a healthy Dustin Pedroia, who prior to last year's injury shortened campaign led the league in runs scored in 2008 and 2009 with 233 combined.  Following that there's also Jacoby Ellsbury, who led the junior circuit in steals in 2008 and 2009 with a combined 120.  One has to figure they're good for a combined 130 steals and 320 runs scored if healthy.  Pretty scary.

    9.) From Speedy To Gonzalez

    In 2010 Boston's most productive offensive player was named Adrian.  For 2011 they're banking on another player named Adrian to lead the charge.  So it's out with Beltre, in with Gonzalez.  Adrian Gonzalez will certainly be a welcome sight for what was an injury riddled club last year.  During the past four campaigns, Gonzalez has played in 160 games or more and in 2006 he appeared in 156 contests.  What is scary about Gonzalez is here you have a guy who in 2009 despite walking a league high 119 times in a paper-thin lineup at a renown pitcher's park in San Diego, still clubbed 40 home runs.  Gonzalez carried the Padres last year with 31 dingers and 101 driven in.  Now batting in Fenway Park, most likely in front of Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz, the only question is if Gonzalez can handle the pressure cooker of Beantown.

    8.) Can Their Catchers Handle The Staff?

    There's a job site out there that touts itself as "long name amazing results."  With Jarrod Saltalamacchia presumably the starting backstop, the Red Sox have themselves a catcher with a long name and suspect results taking over for V-Mart and V-Tek.  A career .248 hitter, all Salty needs to do is handle the staff and keep opposing runners honest.  Oddly enough the Red Sox and Yankees could actually help each other given the Red Sox pitching depth and the Yankees at the catcher spot.  Fat chance of that happening.

    7.) How Much Does Papi Have Left?

    Last year folks were writing off David Ortiz in April... April Fools.  All Big Papi did after that was lead the club in Home Runs and RBI and made his sixth All-Star Game.  Ortiz eclipsed 30 homers and 100 RBI for the first time since 2007 and still proved a force in the Red Sox lineup.  Boston would be thrilled if Big Papi could duplicate those numbers in a contract year.

    6.) Going... going... Papel-gone?

    With phenom fireballer Daniel Bard and his 1.93 ERA and 76 K's in 74.2 innings waiting in the wings and ex-ChiSox closer Bobby Jenks in the mix, how many early short circuits will it take for the Sawx to swap out Jonathan Papelbon?  Despite having 37 saves, Pap's ERA ballooned to 3.90.  Though in his last two "odd" year's, Papelbon has pitched to an ERA of 1.85.  If one looks at the rest of his stats outside of the ERA there's not much of a difference overall.  It wouldn't shock me if a team like Texas took a run at him.

    5.) Can The Numbers Three Through Five Starters Be Consistent?

    Injuries, inconsistency and keeping Tim Wakefield gainfully employed.  That's what one might read from looking at Josh Beckett, John Lackey And Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Lackey has only won 14 games more than once in his career and had his highest ERA since 2004 and highest total of hits allowed since 2003 last year.  Matsuzaka had a decent bounce back but was nowhere near his 2008 level.  As for Beckett, he endured his worst campaign in a Boston uniform since 2006 with a 5.78 ERA and only six victories.  Mind you with the emergence of Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz at the head of the rotation, Boston hardly needs the latter three to be dominant.  But is it too much of a stretch to ask them to average between 12-15 wins apiece?

    4.) Youkilis For MVP?

    Batting cleanup in this lineup, what's the over/under of Youkilis driving in 130 runs?  Youkilis now can take comfort in playing third every day and can focus his attention to run production while opposing pitchers are focused on A-Gon and Crawford, Ellsbury and Pedroia on the bases.  Youkilis a true grinder who garnered two straight top ten MVP finishes before an injury shortened 2010 campaign, could really cash in much like Jeff Kent did with Barry Bonds in San Francisco.

    3.) The Starting Shortstop is?

    Marco Scutaro was third on the team in hitting at .275 and led the Red Sox in runs scored with 92.  Then there's the young Jed Lowrie who showed signs of being able to stick as a regular while filling in for Dustin Pedroia, batting .287 with nine home runs.  Is Lowrie ready for every day action or does Scutaro hold down the fort long enough for Boston to make a deal at the deadline for say a Jose Reyes? 

    2.) What Will The Boston Batting Order Look Like?

    Do the Red Sox put all of their speed guys with Crawford, Ellsbury and Pedroia at the top?  Or does Ellsbury serve as a "double-leadoff" hitter in the nine-hole?  It looks as though Gonzalez and Youkilis will handle the three and four spots, with either David Ortiz or J.D. Drew in the five and six holes, with Scutaro, Salty and Ellsbury rounding out the order.  Though one could make the arguement for slotting Crawford in the three hole with Gonzalez and Youkilis at the four and five, though that would break up the left-right, left-right setup.

    1.) Who Is The Wild Card For This Team?

    Will Daniel Bard step into the closer role?  Does Ryan Kalish supplant J.D. Drew?  How do their new big guns in Crawford and Gonzalez adjust to the pressure cooker?  Can Clay Buchholz duplicate his dominance?  Does Jed Lowrie emerge at short?  How will they fair with a new pitching coach?  Can they stay healthy?  If so, Boston looks stacked in 2011.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Phillies Hope For Summer Of Rotation Domination

    Sunday, February 20, 2011, 11:33 PM [General]

    There are several juicy story lines heading into the 2011 MLB season.  Will the San Francisco Giants repeat as World Champions?  Are the Boston Red Sox with the additions of Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford favorites to win 100 games for the first time since 1946?  Could the Oakland Athletics and Milwaukee Brewers be this year's versions of the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds?  And where will Albert Pujols ultimately end up if he doesn't re-sign with the St. Louis Cardinals?

    All great questions, all interesting to see how they'll play out.  However all eyes will inevitably be focused on the Philadelphia Phillies and the summer of rotation domination.  How fitting in the 40th anniversary of the Baltimore Orioles boasting four 20 game winners, with Dave McNally winning 21 and Jim Palmer, Mike Cuellar and Pat Dobson each winning 20, that this impressive quartet put together in Philadelphia of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels has a chance at equaling that impressive feat in 2011.  Oh and let's not forget Joe Blanton who won 16 games for the Oakland Athletics in 2006.

    Just how spectacular and rare would it be for the Phillies to boast four 20 game winners?  Consider this, the last and only time in baseball history this was accomplished before the O's was when all they had was a four-man rotation, by the 1920 Chicago White Sox.  Red Faber won 23, Lefty Williams 22, Ed Cicotte and Dickey Kerr 21 respectively for the Pale Hose.  Even if the Phillies only had three 20 game winners, it would be the first time since the 1973 Oakland Athletics (Ken Holtzman, Catfish Hunter, Vida Blue) a team has done that and the first time in Phillies franchise history since 1901 when Red Donahue, Al Orth and Bill Duggleby all turned the trick.  And in 1931 when the Athletics played in Philadelphia, Lefty Grove, George Earnshaw and Rube Walberg all won over 20, with Grove winning 31.

    Of course the resume for this group is quite impressive.  Between the Phillies starting five they have combined for three Cy Youngs, 13 top-five Cy Young finishes, a World Series MVP, two LCS MVP's, 13 trips to the Mid-Summer Classic and oh yeah six 20 win seasons.  Three of the top six active pitchers in winning percentage reside on this staff, Halladay (first), Oswalt (fourth) and Lee (sixth).  Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Hamels are also a combined 20-8 when it counts in October.

    But does it guarantee a title?  Just ask the 2010 San Francisco Giants who knocked off all four last October.  In fact the aforementioned Orioles lost the World Series in 1971 to the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Chicago White Sox were beat out by the Cleveland Indians for the AL Pennant in 1920.  Though the 1973 A's did defeat the New York Mets in the Fall Classic.  And what of the Atlanta Braves of recent vintage?  The trio of Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz won the 1995 World Series over the Cleveland Indians.  Yet their first year together, the only with two 20 game winners in 1993, they fell in the NLCS to the Philadelphia Phillies.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Baseball On The One's

    Friday, February 18, 2011, 3:05 AM [General]

    Welcome to baseball in 2011 folks.  Looking back at the year’s that ended with a one, how did it bode for Major League Baseball and more specifically the New York Yankees?  A look back at baseball on the one’s.

    1901: Ah 1901, the first incarnation of the New York Yankees, the Baltimore Orioles, under Manager John McGraw went 68-65 and finished fifth in the American League.  The squad featured the Hall of Fame battery of “The Duke of Tralee” catcher Roger Bresnahan and pitcher “Iron Man” Joe McGinnity.  It’s not quite as good as Steve Carlton winning 27 games with a 1.97 ERA for the 1972 Philadelphia Phillies who only won 59 games, but in 1901 McGinnity won 26 for the 68 win Orioles.  The team hit a whopping 24 homers or basically what Curtis Granderson did in 2010, which ranked seventh in the league, though they did lead the AL in triples with 111.  In 1901 the Chicago White Sox captured the Junior Circuit with a mark of 83-53.

    1911: As mentioned in a previous post, the 1911 New York Highlanders went 76-76-1 and finished sixth in the American League under skipper Hal Chase.  Chase also played first and batted a robust .315 for the Hilltoppers.  That team like the one in 1901 also led the league in triples with 96.  Birdie Cree led the club with 22 and batted .348 with 48 steals.  Their staff was headed by 22 game winner Russ Ford.  Ford had an almost Chien-Ming Wang/Jim Bouton type Yankees career and really 1911 would be his last shining season record wise.  During that season the Connie Mack Philadelphia Athletics with Frank “Home Run” Baker, Eddie Collins and “Gettysburg Eddie” Plank went 101-50-1 to win their second straight World Series, defeating McGraw’s New York Giants in six.

    1921: The 1921 season marked a historic one for the New York Yankees as they clinched their first American League pennant going 98-55 and appeared in their first World Series.  They lost the first “Subway Series” to McGraw’s New York Giants 5-3, not that either team had to travel far considering every contest of that series was played at the Polo Grounds.  Is anyone noticing a John McGraw theme here or what?  In 1921 the Yankees were first in attendance, drawing 1,230,696 fans in total.  The ’21 squad was also first in home runs with 134, runs 948, slugging .464, OPS .838.    Their pitching was also up to the task finishing first in wins with 98, ERA 3.82, complete games 92, and strikeouts 481.  In 1921 Babe Ruth swatted 59 Home Runs, knocked in a career high 171 RBI, scored a career best 177 runs and led the league in six other offensive categories.  It was in the 1921 Fall Classic that Ruth clubbed his first Series Home Run off Phil Douglas in a 4-2 Game Four loss.

    1931: The 1931 season ushered in the first year of the Joe McCarthy era in New York.  “Marse Joe’s” squad won 94 games and finished in second place behind Connie Mack’s 107 win Philadelphia Athletics, which featured Mickey Cochrane, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons and Lefty Grove.  As for the 1931 Yankees, they led the league in runs, hits, homers, steals, batting average, slugging, OBP and OPS.  Lou Gehrig slammed 46 homers, also led the league in runs, a career high 184 RBI, a career high 211 hits, and total bases 410.  Yet Gehrig only finished second to Cochrane in the MVP voting.  Babe Ruth also tied the “Iron Horse” with 46 homers that year and led the league in walks, slugging, OBP and OPS.  Lefty Gomez also won 21 games for the Yanks that season.

    1941: The 1941 season perhaps best known as the last summer of innocence and for Joe DiMaggio’s 56 game hitting streak as well as Ted Williams being the last player to bat .400, hitting .406.  Those 101 win Yanks won their fifth championship in six years.  From 1927 to 1941 the Yankees played in eight World Series and won all eight.  That 1931 club led the league in homers with 151 and was paced by their three thirty homer outfielders, Charlie “King Kong” Keller (33), “Old Reliable” Tommy Henrich (31) and “Joltin Joe” DiMaggio (30).  Joe Gordon also popped 24 homers as the Yanks second sacker.  The 1941 season also introduced us to “The Scooter” Phil Rizzuto.  Weren’t nicknames so much better back then?  To culminate that season the Yanks defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first “real” Subway Series 4-1.

    1951: The “Golden Era” of New York baseball, 1951 saw the emergence of Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays and the last hurrah for Joe DiMaggio.  Yes the “Giants won the pennant, the Giants won the pennant” over the Brooklyn Dodgers on Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round The World,” off Ralph Branca.  However it was the New York Yankees in the middle of winning five straight World Series titles, taking home the crown in six over the Giants.  The ’51 Yanks won 98 games and their third straight title under Casey Stengel.  Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra took home his first of three MVP awards with 27 homers, 88 RBI, batting .294 for the Bronx Bombers.  Those Yankees with Berra being the only player to hit more than 20 Home Runs, still managed to lead the league with 140 in total.  It was pitching that really guided the ’51 Yanks.  They led the league in shutouts with 20, strikeouts 664, Vic Raschi and Eddie Lopat won 21 games each, while Allie Reynolds added 17 to his ledger.

    1961: Some legendary teams are known for their nicknames, “The Gashouse Gang,” “The Big Red Machine,” “The Swingin’ A’s,” “Murders Row.”  But the Yankees well known for their numbers, perhaps no team is better associated with a year than the “’61 Yankees.”  For obvious reasons there was the Home Run chase between Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle, with Maris breaking Babe Ruth’s single season Home Run record hitting 61, while Mantle clubbed an impressive 54 of his own.  In addition to hitting 240 homers, those Yankees won a lot, 109 times to be exact.  The first year of Ralph Houk’s reign resulted in a 4-1 World Series victory over the Cincinnati Reds.  Elston Howard, Bill “Moose” Skowron, Yogi Berra, Mantle and Maris all blasted over 20 homers and Johnny Blanchard their third string catcher popped 21 off the bench.  Turning to a four man rotation, Whitey Ford recorded his trademark Yankee season, going 25-4.  In addition to his record breaking season, Roger Maris won his second straight American League MVP.

    1971: Beyond the glory days and just pre-George Steinbrenner, the 1971 Yankees finished up at 82-80, fourth in the AL East under Ralph Houk.  This squad boasted a young Thurman Munson and was headlined by Roy White, Bobby Murcer and Mel Stottlemyre.  How different was the world in 1971?  The Pittsburgh Pirates defeated the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 in the World Series.  It was the first time the Yankees had posted back to back winning seasons since 1963-1964.

    1981: A strike-shortened season saw the Yankees capture their fourth pennant in six years.  It ended up being the last great run for the franchise until the most recent dynasty.  It was the first year for Dave Winfield and the last for Reggie Jackson in the Bronx and just prior to Don Mattingly.  Dave Righetti took home Rookie of the Year honors going 8-4 with a 2.05 ERA.  The 1981 Yanks beat the Milwaukee Brewers in five in the ALDS and swept Billy Martin’s Oakland Athletics 3-0 in the ALCS, with Graig Nettles batting .500 and winning ALCS MVP honors.  However in the reverse of the 1978 World Series, after taking a 2-0 lead in the series the Yankees dropped four straight to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

    1991:In 1991 the Yankees were in awful shape at the Major League level.  Just prior to the Buck Showalter era, this squad went an abysmal 71-91 under Stump Merrill.  They only had one pitcher with more than ten victories, Scott Sanderson with 16.  Matt Nokes led the team with 24 homers.  It was also the rookie season of one Bernie Williams.  On a positive note the Yankees Double A club in Albany took home the Eastern League title that year.

    2001: A bittersweet year and the end of an era so to speak, the last Paul O’Neill, Scott Brosius, Tino Martinez and Chuck Knoblauch would all be together in the same uniform.  The 2001 Yankees took home their fourth straight AL pennant under Joe Torre, going 95-65.  That club had nine players hit double digits in homers that season.  Roger Clemens went 20-3 and won the AL Cy Young.  Mariano Rivera notched his first 50 save campaign to lead the league.  After the tragedy and horror of 9/11, the Yankees helped to lift the spirits of the city.  They rallied from down 2-0 in the ALDS to topple the Oakland Athletics.  Of course everyone remembers the Derek Jeter flip play in Game Three, coupled with Mike Mussina’s brilliant pitching and Jorge Posada’s solo shot to keep the series alive.  Then it was on to a rematch of the 2000 ALCS against the 116 Seattle Mariners and the Yankees for the most part dominated that series, taking it 4-1.  Alfonso Soriano and Bernie Williams hit some dramatic homers and Andy Pettitte won two games to take home the ALCS MVP.  The World Series was one for the ages with the dramatics of Tino Martinez and Scott Brosius during the ninth inning of games four and five at Yankee Stadium and Derek Jeter became Mr. November.  Unfortunately it wasn’t to be for the Bombers in Game Seven out in Arizona.

    So there you have it, three World Series titles and six AL Pennants for the New York Yankees in every year that ended with a one.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Eleven Questions For 2011: Yankees Spring Training Report

    Tuesday, February 15, 2011, 1:51 AM [General]

    Here come the Yankees and here comes the 2011 season New York!  Well OK, it’s only the tease of pitchers and catchers reporting with some b-roll footage of some bullpen action popping the mitts and a few position players down early to field a round off the fungo bat.  Football feels long gone, perhaps your basketball and hockey teams are mired in mediocrity and March Madness is a few weeks off, just seeing some semblance of spring brings a smile to your face. 

    As we embark on the 2011 season there are eleven questions surrounding the 2011 version of the New York Yankees.  This much we do know, they will not be finishing in sixth place as Hal Chase’s 1911 New York Highlanders did, going 76-76-1. 

    11.) Can the Yankees Defend their Wild Card Title?:

    I say this in jest as most prognosticators already have the Boston Red Sox parading down Yawkey Way.  Honestly folks the greatest source of competition for the Yankees will be coming from the American League East, shocking I know.  One could make the case that every team in the East is going to win 80 games or more. 

    10.) Cops and Robertson’s:

    OK not really a question but one guy who looked like he was going to be a successor to Mariano Rivera had a bit of a drop off last year.  After a flawless and impressive 2009 post-season, Robertson’s ERA in 2010 ballooned to 16.20.  Chalk it up to a bad early season start, pitching through injuries or adding to his work-load, but there were times Robertson looked like he was out of gas.  Mind you David was one of the more reliable relievers for the Yankees in 2010, but going from 63 K’s in 43.2 IP to 71 K’s in 61.1 IP has to serve cause for a slight alarm.

    9.) So What’s Your Job-a Now?:

    I honestly wanted to see Joba Chamberlain get another crack at the starting rotation.  I believe he has more value to the Yankees as a starter at this juncture and if Phil Hughes could do it why not Joba?  Personally I believe that Brian Cashman’s plan was to give Chamberlain another shot at being groomed for the closer spot, which was derailed by the Rafael Soriano signing.  One guy Joba may want to look at as an example to follow is former Yanks hurler Bob Wickman.  Well one thing’s for sure, if Mo shows his age and Soriano can’t handle New York, Joba suddenly becomes very important.

    8.) Hit-hit Jorge, Every Day?:

    Jorge Posada has been the Yankees DH over 89 times in his career, the most coming in 2010 with 28 games there.  It is certainly one thing to play the outfield or even a corner infield position and shift to DH, but quite another to be involved in every play behind the plate and keep yourself mentally sharp coming off the bench three to four times a game.  One thing that has never come into question is that a healthy Jorge is a hitting Jorge.  Sado still popped 18 homers in 2010, so if he can make the adjustment there’s no reason why he can’t better that total this campaign.

    7.) Jesus is Just Alright, but is Russell Martin?

    I hear a lot coming out of Yankees camp about players having to earn their spots on the roster.  So why then has Russell Martin who hit .248 last year for the Los Angeles Dodgers while recovering from off-season knee surgery the anointed starting catcher already?  Is he 38 or is Jorge Posada?  On the flip side Jesus Montero more than proved he can handle International League pitching, now the question remains if he can handle a pitching staff.  Just an opinion but if you weren’t willing to trade the guy for the likes of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee, etc. but he’s not good enough to start over Russell Martin, what exactly are you doing?  Maybe Martin turns out to be another Joe Girardi, or maybe we have another Tony Fernandez/Derek Jeter situation circa 1996.

    6.) Will # 11 Bat # 1 In 2011?

    You can beat me up on this one if you’d like and tell me that Derek Jeter still scored 111 runs last year, his most since 2006.  Batting mostly at the bottom of the order in 2010, Brett Gardner scored 97 runs.  The OPB for Gardner .383, Jeter .340.  Gardner also had 47 stolen bases to Jeter’s 18.  Look I’m not saying you should bat Jeter ninth or even second but there is a superb argument for Gardner to set the table for the 2011 Yanks. 

    5.) Yes He Can-o Hit Third?

    Arguably your best hitter will hit third and personally I don’t care about the contract or past, right now Robinson Cano is the best hitter on the New York Yankees.  What I love about Cano is while he doesn’t walk a lot, he makes contact an awful lot.  It’s not just the 200 hits, which helps, but you know that Robinson is going to put the ball in play.  Compared with Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez who usually K over 100 times a year, imagine what havoc and pressure one could cause on opposing defenses with Jeter and Gardner at the top and Cano constantly making contact.  Aside from Gardner, Cano had the highest OBP on the club at .381.

    4.) Is Curtis Granderson This Year’s Nick Swisher?

    One year of playing in New York under his belt, coupled with an off-season working with Kevin Long, can a healthy Curtis Granderson carry over the good habits from the end of 2010?  For one thing he’s already ahead of Swish as far as October is concerned, batting .357 overall in the playoffs last year.  To be fair, Granderson in 165 less at bats had only six fewer homers than his last year in Detroit and one less triple.  More so than his bat, Granderson’s defense may be even more important to the pitching staff.

    3.) They May Be Raggedy But Who Replaces Andy?

    The Yankees could have lived with A.J. Burnett as their fourth of fifth starter, but alas Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte are not Yankees.  Welcome to the rest of baseball Yankees fans.  Now if Burnett flips his record and goes 15-10, you’d sign up for that in a heart beat.  If you want something to hang your hat on with A.J., since 2004 his ERA is lower in odd years than in even.  As far as the rest of the rotation goes, I’m really excited to see what Ivan Nova can do.  If nothing else if Nova can only give you five-six innings, the Yankees have the bullpen to pick him up.  With the fifth spot if a guy like Freddy Garcia who won 12 games last year or Bartolo Colon can pitch to the scoreboard with this offense as a place holder until the Yankees either make a trade or deem one of their top prospects ready at mid-season, there’s no reason they can’t survive and advance with that scenario in the early going. 

    2.) Decline or Determination For Derek?

    Was 2010 an abberation for Derek Jeter or will he make adjustments needed to thrive in 2011?  To me it’s the nagging injuries that get the best of Jeter.  For instance in 2008 after getting hit on the hand in a game against Baltimore, Jeter basically played hurt for a long stretch and eventually got healthy enough to where he finished at an even .300.  Last year he had a lingering knee injury which didn’t help.  Which of course is where Manager Joe Girardi comes in as far as knowing when to rest Jeter as stubborn as he may be.  I don’t know about 200 hits but I would bet on him having another .300 season at the dish.

    1.) Who Is The Wild Card For This Team?

    Is this player even on the roster?  Will it be a top flight pitcher acquired at the trade deadline?  Or is it Montero?  Perhaps a youngster like Dellin Betances, Hector Noesi or Andrew Brackman emerges on the staff.  I just hope they aren’t afraid to let their top prospects flourish, give the kids a shot.

    4.1 (2 Ratings)

    Pettitte’s Playoff Performances: Hall Worthy

    Sunday, February 13, 2011, 1:45 AM [General]

    Much like in a political campaign where your opponent attempts to bring you down by hammering away at your greatest strength to turn it into a weakness or non-factor, such seems to be the case with Andy Pettitte.  With Pettitte retiring and the debate beginning on whether the lefty deserves a spot in Cooperstown, the anti-Pettitte crowd is tearing him down for his playoff record.  One can argue whether or not Pettitte is hall worthy but going after accomplishments in post-season play is absurd.

    Their chief reasons are Pettitte pitching for a dynasty Yankees team (never mind his helping pitch the Houston Astros to their first Pennant) pitching in the “Wild Card Era” with one more round (I guess all those writers still believe Babe Ruth’s 60 homers in a single season is still the record) and the amount of times Pettitte was able to pitch in the post-season, as though he had any control over any of those factors.

    However championships are championships and while Andy Pettitte may not have always won on style points, the numbers are certainly there in the playoffs.  But one can’t always rely on numbers alone.  So let’s look inside the numbers on those playoff starts.

    WINS: The 19 post-season wins are a Major League Baseball record any way you slice it.  Pettitte’s career regular season ERA is 3.88, in the playoffs it’s 3.83.  In a way Pettitte gets burned much the way his former Yankees teammate Bernie Williams gets hurt in the playoffs, having great numbers in the ALDS and ALCS but not as dominant in the World Series.  Of course it’s still the playoffs and you still have to get to the World Series to win the World Series.

    CLINCHERS:  Pettitte’s first playoff win was the 1996 ALCS clincher in Game Five at Baltimore.  The following season Pettitte started Game Five of the ALDS at Cleveland when David Cone couldn’t give it a go, kept the Yanks in it but wasn’t good enough and he was tagged for the loss.  His first World Series clinching win came at San Diego in Game Four in 1998, the culmination of a historic season.  Pettitte started the ALDS Game Five at Oakland in 2000, pitching on short rest he didn’t stick around long enough to record the win but pitched to the scoreboard nonetheless.  The next series clinching game pitched by Pettitte in the 2000 post-season was Game Five of the World Series at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets.  While Pettitte pitched exceedingly well to help the Yankees win, Mike Stanton once again added to his vulture status that post-season in getting credit for the win. 

    In the 2001 ALCS Pettitte capped off his ALCS MVP winning series with two wins including the Game Five clinching win over the 116 win Seattle Mariners at Yankee Stadium.  On the flipside Pettitte’s World Series that year against the Arizona Diamondbacks was brutal, with Andy getting rocked in a potential series clinching Game Six at Arizona.  In the 2003 ALCS, while all of Pettitte’s Game Two starts that post-season were solid, he could only pitch to the scoreboard and keep them in it until the bullpen imploded in a potential series clincher in Game Six at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox and ended up with a no decision. 

    Finally, of course most recently everyone knows about Pettitte’s clinching heroics in the 2009 post-season.  Pettitte won Game Three of the ALDS at Minnesota, Game Six of the ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels at Yankee Stadium and Game Six of the World Series on short rest against the Philadelphia Phillies at Yankee Stadium.  Overall in series clinching games Pettitte went 6-2 with three no decisions, half of those clinching wins came on the road.

    THE TEAM: A lot is made of Andy Pettitte not being the most dominant member of the staff or the fact that he was on such dominant teams that it overshadowed what he accomplished.  Yet the 2003 Yankees and 2005 Astros made the World Series, while neither did in 2004 when Pettitte then with Houston shut it down earlier in the season.  In 30 series, 19 of those times Pettitte pitched for the team with the better record.  Yet Pettitte as I mentioned earlier won his ALCS MVP against the 2001 Seattle Mariners who won 116 games.  Four times the team Pettitte pitched for in the World Series his team had an inferior record and three of those four times his team won, except for Houston in 2005. 

    HEAD-TO-HEAD: In the playoffs you’re facing the best of the best and while I know most pitchers will tell you they’re more concerned about the lineup they have to face rather than the opposing pitcher, the fact that the other pitcher is likely an ace adds even more pressure.  Hence the other pitcher really does matter a lot more in this equation.  Scott Erickson, John Smoltz, Rick Helling, Kevin Brown, Rick Helling, Brett Saberhagen, Kevin Appier, Aaron Sele, Aaron Sele, Aaron Sele, Brad Radke, Derek Lowe, Mark Redman, Tim Hudson, Carl Pavano, Joe Saunders, Cole Hamels, Pedro Martinez and Carl Pavano.  Those are the 19 pitchers Pettitte started against in his post-season victories.  Smoltz and Martinez are virtual Hall of Famers, Brown is borderline, Erickson, Lowe, Saberhagen, Appier, Hamels and Pavano have all had post-season moments and have pitched for championship teams. 

    Looking at the Yankees and Astros post-Pettitte, well the Astros haven’t sniffed the playoffs since he left and following his first departure from New York the Yankees won one playoff round before he came back.  That’s with pitchers like Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Kevin Brown. 

    The favorite argument of Yankees fans when it comes to the Hall of Fame is Don Mattingly vs. Kirby Puckett.  Both have similar stats, whether Donnie is a Hall of Fame player or not, Puckett gets the nod because of what he did in the playoffs and the fact that he has the rings.  Hence championships do matter and last time I checked, Andy Pettitte has five of ‘em.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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