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Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pride of the Yankees

In 2004, the Boston Red Sox humiliated them, setting a baseball precedent in doing so by coming back from a 3-0 deficit in the ALCS en route to winning their first World Series in 86 years.

In 2003, the Florida Marlins, the fish with a bad fan base, beat them in the World Series, led by a 23 year-old pitcher and a 20 year-old outfielder. The symbol of the Yankees' problems was a 42 year-old portly portsider whose balky back caused him to miss a key start in the World Series.

In 2002, the Anaheim Angels bludgeoned them in the AL playoffs, reducing the Yankees' vaunted pitching staff into a pile of smoldering arms.

In 2001, their ace reliever proved to be vulnerable, and in Game 7 the Arizona Diamondbacks beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series, thanks to a seeing-eye single by Luiz Gonzalez.

That's four straight years of disappointments to owner George Steinbrenner, although, truth be told, if these were the results in your city, you'd probably take them.

But not in the Bronx. And, after last season, a season in which the BoSox called his franchise the Evil Empire and basically called out the Yankees in public -- only to succeed -- the Boss vowed revenge. He didn't make a public demonstration the way he would have say twenty-five years ago where he was only slightly less hotheaded than his frequent manager, Billy Martin. He steamed behind the scenes, and he put his people to work to improve his team.

His front office has all but inked the prize free agent hurler in this year's crop, Carl Pavano, and just pulled off the trade that all Yankee fans have been waiting for, trading Javier Vazquez and two prospects to the Dodgers, who send Shawn Green, Brad Penny and a pitching prospect to the DBacks, who send the Big Unit, yes, Randy Johnson, to the Yankees. Click here and read the Newsday scoop all about it.

And the bet here is that they're not done, that they'll try to figure out how to rid themselves of Jason Giambi, how to sign Carlos Beltran and then move Bernie Williams to DH. But, even if they stand pat and do nothing further, let's compare their starting pitching staff to that of the Boston Red Sox.


Randy Johnson
Mike Mussina
Carl Pavano
Kevin Brown

Red Sox

Curt Schilling
David Wells
Tim Wakefield
Bronson Arroyo

Each team, seemingly, has one starting pitching slot to fill. The Red Sox really could have used Tim Hudson, for whom it appears the Braves gave up very little. Now they'll probably have to overpay for Matt Clement, unless they can swing a deal for another front-line pitcher. I gave them a pass earlier for not signing Pedro Martinez, but that assumed, of course, that they were going to sure up their starting pitching staff in another way. Now, with the Yankees' apparently getting Randy Johnson, the urgency at Fenway Park is more pronounced.

I called the Mets lemmings earlier today because they weren't strong enough to resist the temptation to sign an aging star with much less than a full tank left. That said, what do you call the Yankees and Red Sox, except obsessed to spend each other into Chapter 11 in order to keep on winning world championships?

It's crazy, isn't it?

But it's certainly fun to watch.

Only two months until pitchers and catchers report!


Blogger Greg said...

Looking at those starting pitchers, I don't think either team is really that well off. Johnson and Schilling are great when healty, but both are one bad delivery away from retirement. Mussina and Brown were good once, Wells may have one or two decent seasons left and you can argue that Wakefield was never that good. So, the Yankees are left with Pavano, who really has had one good season and the Red Sox with Arroyo, who may end up being the best of the bunch. If the Yankees get Beltran they will be improved but otherwise, I will have to see it to believe it.

10:56 AM  
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