Tuesday, May 08, 2007

We're Coming

Red Sox fans have been reveling in the idea that their team is 6 games up on the Yankees and that Clemens is a desperation move that the Bombers made to salvage a lost season. They act as though they never wanted him, and that they wouldn't have been snuggled up in the latest #21 "feetsy" pajamas with "Rocket" bobbleheads at the head of the bed. It's such a farce.

What escapes the attention of those fans is that the Yankees have righted the ship. If not for a blown call by an umpire to be named only by drunken sailors in wharf barrooms, the Yankees would be staring at an 8 out of 10 game stretch in which they outscored opponents by 60-33. Still, over that 10 game stretch we've won 7 of 10 and outscored teams by 60-35. Over that time, not coincidentally, we've seen great performances by Wang, Mussina, and Pettitte. We've also seen a glimpse of our minor league depth with strong showings by Hughes, Rasner, and DeSalvo. By the time we meet the Red Sox again we should be able to counter their pitching with our own frontline guys. By the we will have completed 9 of the 19 games between the teams at the end of May, with some important showdowns in the stretch run. The scary part of the final 10 games is that we will have Clemens and Hughes to add to the rotation. Matching up the pitchers from June forward, the rotations look like this:

Wang - Schilling
Mussina - Beckett
Pettitte - Matsuzaka
Clemens - Wakefield
Hughes - Tavarez (flavor of the month)

Certainly, in a head to head series you'd only see 3 or 4 pitchers at once. The thing is, we should be able to make up ground on the Sox with wins in the 4th and 5th spots of the rotation alone. June, July, August, and September give us something in the neighborhood of 30 games started by Clemens and Hughes that will be countered on the Sox' side by Wakefield and Tavarez. There's always the possibility of a big trade, or an injury of some kind, but we'll be making the Red Sox margin of error very thin by fielding this kind of team. It would be stupid to get too excited about the Yankees with a 6 game deficit in the standings and a very good Red Sox club capable of pulling away as much as falling back. We could just as easily find ourselves 10 games back in two months time, wondering what happened.

My point here is only that we are healthy now, and fielding one of the best rotations in baseball in a very short time. Anything is possible. Even if we had to settle for a wild card, we'd be the scariest wild card team ever.

As for Andy Pettitte's start, I think it's important to note that he has been beyond brilliant this season. He had a rough last outing against the Red Sox, but let's put that aside for a moment. In the 41.1 innings he's pitched (leaving out that game) he has posted a 1.74 ERA for the Yankees. The K:BB isn't pretty, and the K-rate is below 5 per 9 innings, but he's dominated every team he's faced. As long as he stays healthy, he should give the Yankees every penny of that contract he got from Brian Cashman. Add in the incentive that his signing gave Clemens to join us, and you have to forgive a handful of other boneheaded moved that Cash Money has also thrown at us from the offices of Yankeeland.

We're coming. See you tomorrow. Go Yankees!!