Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Blogger be Damned Update

I'm back from the wild wild West. I don't mean Cali or Arizona, but rather the relative West as is is situated to my current home in Japan.

Blogger technical issues are cramping my style, but I won't let that stop me. The Canyon of Heroes march must go on. To quote the Lord Rakim, "It's been a long time. I shouldn't have left you, without a strong to step to...."

What's happened in the 2 weeks since I last worked my magic at COH. Lightning style, we'll talk about the Bombers fortunes.....

1. As I predicted at Bronx Banter, the Red Sox and Yankees sandwiched the All Star Break with drubbings of the Chicago White Sox. Something told me that the White Stockings weren't up to the task of taking on the AL East, and my suspicions were right. I think they're an outstanding team with good pitching that has been masquerading as great pitching. Garcia, Buehrle, Contreras, Garland, and Vazquez are all serviceable starters that can dominate any game they enter on the right night, but I'd be hard pressed to call any of them as good as Schilling, Johnson, or Mussina. Beckett is on top of his game right now too, and the ChiSox are not. The White Sox 5 starters all post WHIPs in the mid 1.3's and have batting average againsts of .270-.275 or so. Contreras is the lone exception, but he was long overdue for a regression to the mean.

2. I went to the Seattle vs. Yankees matchup of Unit against Meche. Meche was brilliant, throwing a perfect game into the 5th inning. Unit was also stellar, striking out 11 over 8. Both guys threw into the 100s and Unit probably was in a little too long at 129 pitches. When Torre came out to talk to him he convinced the manager to leave him in and promptly disposed of Richie Sexson for his 1tth K. The crowd gave him a nice ovation, and the only thing between him and a victory was the dominating plate performance of Ichiro Suzuki who scored all 3 Seattle runs. That team is so far from good it's scary. What a waste of an All World talent. It's unfortunate that Ichiro will likely spend the next 5 or 6 years on a poor or mediocre ballclub. It wouldn't surprise me if the Mariners never made the playoffs again, while he was on the team. That division is leaving the Mariners behind, and the AL East and Central 1 and 2's are too strong to concede the wildcard to the West.

3. A-Rod has been absolutely putrid. I have been defending him and supporting him, but he's only gotten worse. That doesn't faze me though. He'll be fine, and once he's weathered this storm in his career will carry the team at some point late in the year. That will be his "clutch" redemption and you'll see the papers and fans finally say something positive about the guy. They'll still be wrong for booing him, and the press will still be a bunch of neanderthals for suggesting the Yankees trade him, but at least they'll be off his back.....for awhile.

4. The trade deadline is approaching, and I don't expect the Yanks to make a big splash. Matsui will be back mid-August, and Sheff may return in September. Melky continues to improve, even as Andy Phillips has been sliding below replacement level. The pitching could use an overall boost, but I think you'll see Cashman pick up on some mediocre 5th starter somewhere to eat innings for the club. Ponson was one such guy, but he needs to try a little harder. In the playoffs that player won't factor into the outcome much, as we'll still be leaning on Moose, Unit, and Wang (which sound like a roster of porno All Stars). The bullpen saga of Octavio Dotel is what it is, and I would also doubt that we'll see anything more than a marginal talent added. My suprise, Christmas in July, trade would be a couple of 2nd tier minor leaguers and cash for John Lieber. The Yanks and Phils have had dialogue about Abreu for sure, so you know Cashman has the phone number.

5. On my trip to the US, I dropped by Coliseum Books across from the NY Public Library, and bought two Baseball Prospectus books. I saw autographed copies of Alex Belth's "Stepping Up", and smiled to myself. I'll have to get an autograph on my copy when I see him. I did buy an autographed copy of "Mind Game" and squinted to make out Cliff Corcoran's squiggly signature. Both books are must reads, and I'll try to do a couple of reviews during the next off day, if I can. I also bought "Baseball Between the Numbers" which is next on my list.

6. The Yankees hired an associate scout by the name of Shoichi Kida, who is a former Japanese ball player, and high school teammate of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka has been tinkering with a two seam fastball to add to his already lethal arsenal and plans to unleash it on the 26th against Orix. He has been quoted as saying he has his eyes on the majors next year, and the perfect confluence of events seems to be pushing him to the Yankees. Let's not have a letdown.

7. I have debuted a new blog, dedicated to a 19 year old Japanese pitcher named Yu Darvish. His story is fascinating, and while he's not Major League ready or eligible, he's a guy to keep an eye on for the future. Please drop by Darvish Watch to support the blog, and keep yourself posted on this young phenom.

That's it for now. More later. My apologies again for the lack of photo support on all my blogs today. One day Blogger will get its head out of its backside and provide more reliable service. It is free after all, so we can only count our blessings. Go Yanks!