Sunday, May 13, 2007

New Focus

I'm resetting the focus here at COH, because it's too frustrating to continue basing hopes and dreams on winning the AL East. I'm going to pretend that the division race is over. I know that it's way too soon to concede anything with a talented bunch of ballplayers and 4.5 months of baseball in front of us. The Red Sox are simply far superior to us now, and show no signs of collapsing anytime soon. Beckett's blisters aside, that club is hot and we are blowing every available opportunity to close in on their 8 game advantage. I'm done hoping for that. If we eventually overtake them and sit atop the division, I'll crack some champagne and shake my head at the amazing run that put us there. At this point, hoping for it ends up leaving too many fresh scars after each dismal defeat.

Instead, I'm going to watch the wild card race. We're behind the following clubs as of today (games back in parentheses):

Cleveland Indians (4.5)
Oakland Athletics (2.0)
Chicago White Sox (2.0)
Seattle Mariners (1.5)
Minnesota Twins (0.5)
Baltimore Orioles (0.0)

As you can see, the Yankees are in the mix of the early wild card race. Unlike the nuclear hot Red Sox, these teams are plagued with problems that rival our own. The Orioles are just bad, and are without Kris Benson and Jaret Wright for the year. The Twins have serious concerns about Joe Mauer's health, and are without him indefinitely. The Mariners are fielding a fairly awful pitching staff that only seems to make the Yankees look bad. King Felix aside. The White Sox are former champs, but they have mediocre pitching and an offense at the bottom of the league OBP leaders. The A's seem to hang around every year. They have good pitching, and a few surprise performers on offense, but lack the punch necessary to go on prolonged winning streaks. The Indians are the toughest team to critique. They have the biggest lead on this group, because they're actually a good ballclub. In order to make up 4.5 games on Cleveland, the Yankees will quite simply have to continue pitching as well as they have and hope Abreu and Cano will wake up.

We don't see Cleveland again until August, so we have to make up the games against other teams. I expect we'll be able to leapfrog the O's, Twins, and Mariners within a week's time. We get the White Sox next and can help ourselves with a big sweep against them. If we can manage that, we will probably also put together enough of a hot streak to pass Oakland in the process. Realistically, a good stretch of games over the next two weeks would help us to close in on a better record, a tighter WC race, and just maybe a few games in the AL East if we're lucky.