Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Yankees Fantasy: Winter Edition #1 - Big Unit

I’d like to start a new winter feature here at COH, to appear off and on while we wait for pitchers and catchers. It is called Yankees Fantasy: Winter Edition. I tacked on “Winter Edition” because I kind of like the idea and hope to continue it even after the season starts. The winter version of Yankee Fantasy is kind of a wishful look at the season ahead and what many of us in Yankeeland hope happens. Anyone in their 30’s or 40’s now might remember the Marvel Comics series “What If?” I’m looking at this column as a kind of Yankees “What If?”

In the first Yankees Fantasy, I will tackle the dream scenario for Randy “Big Unit” Johnson, so with no further ado, I bring you “Yankees Fantasy: Winter Edition #1”.

October 6, 2006


After nearly missing the playoffs completely due to serious back problems, Randy Johnson made his scheduled start in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. Former Yankee, and all around bad guy, Kenny Rogers, opposed him. Rogers was spectacular, having bathed in pine tar prior to game time, and raged against the night, frothing at the mouth while doing so. Johnson, on the other hand, was hit hard. The second inning saw three consecutive singles open the frame, the third scoring Carlos Guillen to put the Tigers on the board first. After a Brandon Inge strikeout, Johnson got Curtis Granderson to ground out, scoring Ivan Rodriguez, but allowed him to steal second immediately thereafter. The stolen base would cost Johnson, as Granderson scored in the very next at bat, as the immortal Placido Polanco singled him home. 3-0 Tigers.

Johnson held his own until the 6th inning, when he lost control and gave up a walk, a double play, an infield single, and a pair of doubles to break the game wide open at 5-0. The Yankee bats never came alive against Kenny Rogers and it was curtains for the Big Unit. His final line:

5.2 IP
8 hits
2 walks
4 strikeouts
5 earned runs

For those counting, his ERA on the night was 7.94, and his WHIP 1.765. It became clear later that the 42-year old Johnson’s back injury was serious enough that it would require surgery. Of course, anyone who watched the Yankees in 2006 was not surprised by that at all, as the big man posted a terrifyingly bad 77 ERA+ on the season. His ERA sat at 5.00 and Yankee fans had all but given up on him as a useful member of the rotation. The 6’10” Hall of Famer with the bad back, bad attitude, and big contract was a New York bust, and most fans were just waiting out the end of the 2007 season when his contract would expire, and a new, younger pitcher could take his place.

Johnson had surgery on his herniated back October 26th, and his surgeon, who also performed Johnson’s first surgery 10 years ago, remarked that the surgery went fine. Johnson would report to Spring Training later than the rest of the pitchers and catchers, and started the season a few weeks late after some positive workouts in Tampa. Johnson remarked to reporters prior to joining the Yankees in the Bronx for their April 17th contest against Cleveland, “My back hasn’t felt this good since I was in Arizona. I probably should have had this surgery sooner. I look forward to testing things out with the club up North. I think you’ll see a stronger Randy Johnson this year, but we’ll take it game by game and see how things progress.”

Fans remained skeptical, but a strong first outing against the Indians saw the Big Unit strike out 7 consecutive batters at one point, while surrendering only a single run over 6 strong innings. Johnson spoke to reporters following the game.

“You just try to work hard, and get back into shape. Y’know? A lot of people want to write you off, and to be honest I don’t know what’s going to happen at this age on a game by game basis, but I feel strong and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Good night.”

With that the 2007 campaign for Randy Johnson began. It was smooth sailing for Johnson as he managed to finish the month of April 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings pitched. His victories included a blowout in Tampa Bay that saw the Yankees strike early for 10 runs in the first 4 innings, and a hard fought battle in the Bronx against Boston, where Johnson held the Red Sox to 2 runs over 7 innings, allowing the Yankees to scratch out 4 runs against Jonathon Papelbon, who looked great in defeat. The Yankees, 3 games up in first, had Johnson to thank for a spectacular open to the season.

Over the course of the next several months, Johnson combined with a solid rotation of Yankee pitchers to lead the American League in team wins and strikeouts. Johnson hit the All-Star break looking like a Cy Young contender with a record of 11-4 and a 3.75 ERA over 18 games. A few rough outings here and there kept doubt in the minds of Yankees fans, but each time he faltered, he bounced back to impress with a stellar follow up performance. Johnson was named to the American League All-Star team and pitched a 1-2-3 inning, striking out Chase Utley and Jason Bay, a getting hometown hero Barry Bonds on a deep fly out to the wall.

The second half of the season proved to be equally impressive for Johnson. In his remaining 14 starts, the Big Unit showed his Hall of Fame form by leading the charge to another division title and the best record in baseball. In his final start, with a record of 19 and 8, Johnson needed only one win to join the 300 club. His opponent that night, a Baltimore Orioles club without slugger Miguel Tejada, long since eliminated in the AL East. The final days of the season had grown very cold and Camden Yards was windy and frigid. The always appreciative Baltimore fans were severely outnumbered by Yankees commuters, who always make the trip and give the Yards a Yankees Beltway feel.

On this kind of night, the Bombers have always known how to make a party start early. Johnny Damon led off the game with a booming double to the gap. Jeter followed by hustling out another double, scoring Damon on a wild throw from Corey Patterson that missed the cutoff man, and allowed a digging Jeter to slide in just under the re-directed throw. Bobby Abreu walked. Alex Rodriguez came up with two men on, no one out, a one run lead, and history in the making. Rodriguez, who led the American League with 51 home runs in 2007, stepped to the plate against Daniel Cabrera. Fans rose to their feet, as had become the tradition for Rodriguez in a redemption season for the embattled third baseman, Cabrera threw the first pitch inside on A-Rod pushing him off the plate. The second pitch was wide, outside. Taking the third pitch, A-Rod saw the count move to 2 balls and a strike, and his eyes fixed on the mound. Cabrera, clearly shaken, reared back and fired a high strike that Rodriguez crushed into the night. The ball cleared the wall at Camden and landed on the street beyond. The Yankees led 4-0 before a single out had been recorded.

For his part, Johnson was excellent. He worked out of a jam in the 5th inning, by getting Kevin Millar to ground into a bases loaded, inning ending, double play. Other than that, no one could touch Johnson on his big night. He pitched 7 strong shutout innings, leaving to a standing ovation, and a 9-0 lead. His 300th victory in the books, a 20 win season, and a chance to avenge his past playoff failures in pinstripes seemed to loom large on the horizon. Johnson was handed the ball for Game One of the American League Division Series against the wild card Twins. Johan Santana was set to oppose him.

The build up to the ALDS had an electric atmosphere. Yankee Stadium was charged with a new life, as the team had come together in a way that we had not enjoyed in recent years. The rotation managed to hold together all season, and the offense was clicking on all cylinders, scoring at a clip of 6.25 runs per game. Alex Rodriguez was a shoe-in for MVP, leading a pack again made up of Manny Ramirez (45 home runs, 135 RBI), David Ortiz (44 home runs, 112 RBI), Travis Hafner (38 home runs, 126 RBI), and Vladimir Guerrero (.355 average, 31 home runs, 118 RBI). But, that’s a story for another day.

Johnson and Santana squared off in chilly October conditions at the Stadium. The crowd gave Unit a standing ovation when he walked to the mound in the first inning. As usual, Johnson was oblivious to everything around him. No one had spoken to him in two days, and the media couldn’t get a word about the upcoming start. The headline of the NY Daily News read, “Unit of One.” The Post wrote a piece describing Johnson’s desperation to go out with a championship in pinstripes, and the pressure that he was feeling in his final go round in the playoffs. Mike Lupica wrote a story in which he described Johnson as the worst 20 win pitcher in the history of the game, “a surly and unlikable fellow that you just can’t help but root against. He will be remembered as much for being another washed-up Steinbrenner boy toy who couldn’t live up to his big contract, as anything. He and A-Rod. It’s probably all A-Rod’s fault.”

A suspenseful game unfolded in Game One, as Johnson and Santana opened the first four innings with almost mirror results. 4 innings pitched, no runs, 2 hits, one walk, and 4 strikeouts. It was apparent that neither pitcher was going to blink. Yankee fans began to buzz in the stands as the bats just couldn’t crack an opposing pitcher when it counted. That is, until Derek Jeter led off the bottom of the 5th with a solo shot into the bleachers. The Stadium erupted into a frenzy and “Let’s Go Yankees!” could be heard all the way from the Bronx to Battery Park. Johnson would run with the lead until the 7th inning, when Joe Mauer singled to center. With Mike Myers and “Everyday” Scott Proctor warming in the pen, Torre elected to keep Johnson on the mound to face Justin Morneau. In retrospect, it was a bad idea. Morneau lined a double deep into the right field gap, plating Mauer and knotting the score at 1 apiece. Johnson’s night was over and he fumed as he walked to the dugout amidst a chorus of cheers and a standing ovation.

The Yankees would go on to win the ballgame on a 2 run 8th that sealed the victory and earned Mariano a victory in 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.

Johnson had held his own, and the Yankees had taken Game One. The rest of the series went more easily as the Yankee bats swept through the Twins and looked to a match up with the AL Central champion Detroit Tigers. Revenge was on everyone’s mind. Rather than Kenny Rogers in Game Two, the Yankees would send Johnson to the mound against Justin Verlander. Verlander had won 18 games in 2007, and looked to be a perennial Cy Young candidate with his improving command. The Yankees owned another one game lead in the series, thanks to bats that had showed up against the animated Kenny Rogers, minus pine tar. Chien Min Wang had held the Tigers to 4 runs over 8 innings, and the Bombers managed to pull out a 6-4 victory. Game Two would be even easier.

Verlander was shaky to start the game, much as he was in 2006, but this time the bats took advantage and staked Unit to an early 3-0 lead on a Jason Giambi blast. Johnson gave two runs back in the 3rd inning, after losing Magglio Ordonez on a 3-2 count Carlos Guillen took the 6’10” ace deep. That was all she wrote, however, as Johnson kept Sheffield in the park on 2 strikeouts and 2 infield flies. His complete line was 7 innings pitched, 2 runs, 5 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts. The Yankees would go on to win the series 4 games to 1, and enter the World Series against the Mets in a revival of the wildly popular 2000 Subway Series. Johnson would again start Game One against Barry Zito.

The press was really pushing Johnson for comments on this start. All the major media outlets were playing up the notion that this could be the Big Unit’s last start before election to Cooperstown, and for once he was biting. Johnson uncharacteristically talked about his feelings prior to the game. It wasn’t a lot, and none of his comments were earth-shattering news to anyone, but the fact that he spoke at all, with a nostalgic look in his eye, and a softer tone in his voice, made headlines. The New York press gave Johnson a tremendous write up, marking a turn in the many contentious years he had spent at odds with them. Everyone knew that it had been a magical, perfect season in New York and Johnson had been one half of the story. A-Rod being the other.

Johnson was nervous to open the Series. The pressure of the moment was evident on his face and he swallowed hard during the singing of the national anthem. Cameras caught him mumbling to himself, as he mentally prepared during his warm up tosses. His eyes glared in at Jose Reyes as the flashbulbs popped and the biggest stage of all beckoned. First pitch, fastball, high. Ball one. Second pitch, slider, low. Ball two. Posada stands up, signaling with his palms to calm down. Pitch three, fastball, right down the middle. Strike one. Pitch four, slider, outside corner. Strike two. Pitch five, fastball, high. Ball three. Posada runs through the signs again. Johnson shakes off one, two, three, four, five time. Posada out to the mound.

Yankee fans had been electric in the atmosphere of the Fall Classic. The Stadium expected a win. The full count on Reyes had sapped some of the electricity from the fans, and Johnson was again swallowing hard, pacing around the mound, and mumbling to himself. Posada arrived. Johnson, glove over his mouth, stared into Jorge’s eyes, nodding and listening intently. Posada’s fire was apparent, as he gave Johnson that look. “You gotta listen to me. Throw me what I ask for, and let’s go!” Johnson agreed and Posada returned to the plate. Reyes dug in. Right foot twisting lithely in the dirt in the batter’s box. Hips swaggering. Posada throws down the sign. Johnson nods. The pitch, a splitter in the dirt. Reyes swings and misses. The ball rolls behind Posada, and Reyes takes off. The crowd rises slightly in their seats. Posada fires. Out by a step!

That was the first batter of the last game of Randy Johnson’s career. The Yankees went on to win that game 4-1 on a final game worthy of Cooperstown for the Unit. 8 innings pitched, 1 run, 3 hits, 12 strikeouts, 1 walk. Of the 35 games Johnson started in 2007, including the playoffs, he went 22-8. The capper on the year was a World Series victory, a Cy Young award, and the loudest cheers at the tickertape parade in the Canyon of Heroes.

32 comments:

Henry said...

I just added Matsuzaka, Drew and Lugo. Other Players Redsox that redsox added this offseason. I just finished playing the game mlb2k6 on all star mode and simulated whole season. The Final standings for Al east were

1)Redsox -97-65
2)Bluejays- 88-74
3)Yankees - 86-76
4)Orioles - 75-89
5)Devilrays-64-98

Mike Plugh said...

That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Perhaps ever.

The Red Sox winning 97 games is not only an impossibility, but the Yankees only winning 86 with a 6+ run per game offense is patently absurd.

CCdv69 said...

Something doesn't smell right?



Is it just me or does something not appear right about the D Mat signing by Boston? $8.6M/year contract when previously Boras wanted a $17M/year contract ($100M/6 yr).

It wouldn't suprise me if there is some back door deal going on with the old Japanese team with the posting fee paid by the Red Sox. I know that MLB said that Seibu could not pay part of the posting fee to D Mat, but I wouldn't be suprised if they end up giving D Mat a 10M bonus for all his years of serivce or some other back door deal.

Something weird is going on which hopefully will come to light.

Also suspicious - Why does Lucchino need to go to Japan to meet with his old team for 3 days when the Red Sox make their intitial offer? I think to set the parameters for this back door deal. They knew that they would not be able to get this done without some kick back from Seibu so Larry the Snake went to talk. It is too odd.

Doesn't suprise me - all of ESPNESN's experts said that Seibu would kick some back to make the deal happen - And since the 51.1 is almost spent over there they needed to get something done.

I for one cannot wait to see the Yankees tee off him. Welcome to the big leagues soon!!

Gil Meche - 11M per year

Vincente Padilla - 10M per year

Adam Eaton - 8M per year

D Mat - 8M per year

What??????????????



And don't give me that "free agent" argument because these contracts are the current MLB market.

rabid stan said...

Video game season sims are always good for a chuckle.

I don't own 2K6, but I wonder if the game rates Schilling and Beckett as top-tier pitchers. After all, game rosters and player builds are set before the season. No doubt both are capable of that, but Schill at 40 and Beckett doing what he did last season, we'll see. I remember in MVP 2005, Randy Johnson still threw 99 MPH. In Madden 2006, Brett Favre had a 94 OVR.

Since we're looking into our crystal balls...

1) Yankees 96-56
2) Red Sox 93-59 (WC)
3) Blue Jays 86-76
4) Orioles 71-91
5) Devil Rays 65-97

Breaking this projection down as it concerns the Yanks/Sox, the only teams we care about, the rotations:

Wang vs Matsuzaka
Moose vs Schilling
Pettitte vs Beckett
Randy vs Wakefield
KP/KI/PH vs Papelbon

I see one solid rotation and one potentially great one. Which is which is obvious.

Certainly the Red Sox rotation will be no worse than the Yanks next year, and could be much better. Except they have no bullpen. The offseason is long, so we'll see what happens, but there's no low hanging fruit in the reliever market. An interesting deal the Sox could make would be for Brad Lidge, but it's only interesting because it'll be a risk. Relievers off a down year, even really good ones, don't bounce back very often. Houston would try to gouge them anyway, thanks to the market they've created.

The Sox will need to fix their bullpen before they have a good chance to take the division. The Yanks are still the better offensive club by some margin, and a solid rotation with that offense behind it can easily win 95 games.

rabid stan said...

As much as I would've gotten a thrill out of seeing Boras wring an $80 million dollar contract out of the Sox, I'm not surprised they got pretty much what they first asked for. Mats wanted to pitch here and no party was interested in ruining the posting system (though there may now be incentive to reform it). The Sox had all the leverage unless Boras was really hell bent on breaking the system, and had Matsuzaka on board.

Sean J. said...

I'm looking forward to the season. I think the Yankees rotation is solid and, while I don't expect them to be spectacular with a top 3 ERA in the league, I expect them to be much better then anything we have seen since 2003. A solid pitching staff with this offense, especially with a rejuvenated Alex Rodriguez, should sail to the post season. What happens there? I have no idea.

Boston clearly improved themselves by getting Matsuzaka but I think its more of a long term move then anything. I would be shocked if he posts an exceptional year his first year in the bigs. As much as I believe that he is a great player and will be one of the top 5 pitchers in MLB in the coming years, you don't go from the pacific league to the AL East and post the same numbers no matter how good you are. I expect a year long adjustment period.

The one thing I can say, however, is I'm really not sold on the Red Sox offense. Outside of Ortiz and Ramirez it does not seem to have improved much and I feel almost like they may be a new version of the Houston Astros. They will win a good amount of games against the NL and the dredges of the AL but against top flight teams they are going to have trouble scoring and keeping a lead after their starters leave (especially considering I don't see Schilling or Wakefield lasting very long).

juke of url said...

I never hated the Red Sox. In almost 50 years as a NYY fan, I appreciated Boston's history & the Yankees' victories.

That all changed when the Evil Empire tag was stuck on the NYY by those hypocrites. Strike 2 was the Neanderthal Varitek in full body armor sucker punching ARod. The third strike & the most deplorable, was the death of a young Boston woman in the mob celebration. NYC with the awful reputation, in 30+ championship seasons, never did that.

How many of the Rat Sox from 2004 are left on their roster? How many ' strictly business ' moves have they engineered since? From the depths of Lucchino's & Henry's conscience came the appelation most appropriate for their own beknighted organization.

The worst person I have ever known, moved from the NY Metro area to Boston. They will never win another World Series. They are the Evil Empire. May they live in interesting times. . ..

Fetera said...

I think the last seconds when Bidding for matsuzaka ends; The Redsox somehow alter and change their bid from between $20-30 million to $50 million.

Jan said...

What pitcher on Yankees pitching staff can matchup against Dice-K?

Also, Who is that pitcher on the Yankees staff have The similar stuff and reportiore like Matsuzaka?

Milo said...

What kind of hitters that gives Matsuzaka trouble handling?
Low ball hitter or High ball hitter? thanks.

Anonymous said...

Mike,

Just wonering. If this is Yankees fantasy, why not the Sox instead of the Tigers in the ALCS?

Good post though. Would certainly be an incredible seaon.

Veritas said...

How many World Championships do we have to show for the past 6 years? We can't just keep on "waiting 'til next year" and waiting for the young arms. Next year, the rest of our position guys are yet one year older. Damon, Jeter, ARod, Abreu, Matsui, Giambi (how long will his back last), Bernie (poor old-timer Bernie), Posada.. (knees will be gone), etc etc etc. WE HAVE TO WIN NOW, before it takes us years more to get younger at all of our position posts as well.

The year we should have won was 2006. We didn't. We HAVE GOT to bolster this starting rotation and BIG TIME, or we will be looking at the same situation again, if not worse.



It's time to sign Zito and Win Right Now. This is not kansas City and Pirates waiting for young arms to develop. The Core of Yankees Dynasty are getting older and soon their skills will be diminished.

fatgiambi said...

the red sox are a better team than the yanks come playoff time. this blows. cash has got to do something, pettite is not the answer. not only are they good in their rotation (might be best in majors) but theyre young. its even more important now to trade arod for santana and shields and prospects.

Anonymous said...

Look, the problem is that we have always been playing with a philosophy of "win now." We've doing that since 2001. We have never been waiting on young arms because there weren't any to wait on.

If you want to trade away the dynasty cashman is trying to build to maybe get results in 07, you are a fool.

Gardo said...

[b]Yankees' minor leaguer suspended[/b]

[quote]NEW YORK: New York Yankees pitching prospect Hector Noesi was suspended Thursday for the first 50 games of next season after testing positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance under baseball's minor league drug program.

http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/12/14/sports/NA_SPT_BBL_Noesi_Doping.php

mars2001 said...

Mike -

Lay off the pipe man... Johnson (as much as I love him) is no longer the ace that destroyed the Yankees in 2001 - and I highly doubt that he'll put up numbers remotely resembling what you've put together. Although the 2007 PETCOAs aren't out yet, I believe what you've predicted is easily beyond his 95th percentile for next year.

Alternatively (if you want to stick to your guns), please include the heartwarming story of RJ's promise that he made prior to his WS start to the Stony Brook Hospital - that he'd win tonight and stikeout 10 guys.... and then the miraculous recovery of everyone from the H5N1 virus after his performance - As the camera captures them carrying RJ to Cooperstown on their shoulders as the credits roll and the lights come back up...

*lafs*
May the Curse be with You.

Anonymous said...

Let's go Red Sox...

Mike Plugh said...

mars....

Dude, it's called Yankees Fantasy. It's in no way grounded in reality. I expect RJ to win 20 games and a Cy Young about as much as I do Jaret Wright. The point of the whole thing is to suspend disbelief, abandon logic, sit back and imagine a perfect world.

As for why the Tigers and not the Red Sox in the ALCS...precisely because this is Yankees Fantasy, the Red Sox don't get to make the playoffs.

Last, to those people who may or may not be Red Sox fans posing as panicking Yankee fans....we're still better than you despite Matsuzaka. You may have an edge in the pitching staff....MAY have an edge, but you don't have the kind of lineup we do.

BrnxBombers said...

Mike and the Mad Dog challenges Clueless Joe


says Joe "there's no problem here" has to sit Jeter and Arod down in spring training and tell them they're not leaving the room until they settle whatever tension there is between them.

also Mike and the Mad Dog said they have to get rid of the old unit as soon as possible because he's a cancer.

jR said...

Theo is f*ucking Liar. "He lied in Matsuzaka's today press conference, He said that We Been Following Dice-K and scouting him since 1998". Where is the proof Theo? Craip Shipley who scouted matsuzaka sinced last year not 1998. Redsox just bid $52 million on him and payed $100 million.

Gerald said...

Hidden Message to Damon

This may sound weird, but is there a hidden message to Damon in this deal for D-Mat? This past spring, the Red Sox gave David Ortiz a 4 yr/52 mil dollar extension, which is the SAME contract that the Yankees gave Damon. I shrugged the idea of a hidden message and instead thought of it as a coincedince (sp?). Now, Dice-K has just been signed to a 52 mil dollar deal. Not only that, but he is #18. I find this weird and I am starting to wonder if the Sox did this on purpose.

Goob Job Cashman, Redsox and Damon use the Yankees by letting Damon to free agency and Redsox knew that Damon's skills has diminish and gotten old of sudden. By Redsox not making the playoffs, It seems they are prepare making huge splash this offseason. Acquiring and signing Matsuzaka, J.D Drew and Lugo.

Johny Damon's brought the Curse of Bambino with him the Yankees and notice his back of his jersey number #18. How many years Redsox haven't won world series exception of 2004? It was 1918.

Damon, and Matsuzaka are both wearing #18.

Mike Plugh said...

Ugh. I may have to ask people to register for my blog soon.

There are so many thoughtless, and semi-incoherent comments piling up, I feel like I'm standing on the 1/9 platform at 168th street station talking to a bunch of drunken derelicts.

Who cares what the Red Sox are doing? They have zero advantage over the Yankees of note. They have a temporary advantage in the starting rotation....but not a huge one. When Phil Hughes comes up, and we sign a young, top notch guy like Carlos Zambrano, it will be gone. This year our lineup will carry us, thanks to a very solid starting rotation.

yankz said...

Oh sh1t, one season of his video game projection means the Yanks don't make the playoffs? They shouldn't even bother to actually play the games.

Michael Pacson said...

henry,

Please stop posting stupid comments. You make every Red Sox fan look bad with your 3rd place prediction for the Yankees.

As I see it right now I think the Red Sox are still a good closer away from being a World Series contender. The Yankees will probably win the division but the Red Sox have atleast guaranteed themelves the wild card and a fighting chance in the division with their additions.

With our rotation of hard throwing young arms, I think we have a very good chance of advancing in the playoffs.

Providing Theo can get us a good closer, I think the 97-65 record is doable. In 2004 we had a record of 98 - 64 with a very good Curt, a less than stellar Pedro, an ok Bronson, and a below average at best Wakefield and Lowe. It was during the playoffs that they stepped it up.

Michael Pacson said...

Mike,

As a Red Sox fan, I just wanted to thank you for your Matsuzaka coverage. The information you provided was very helpful. I was unsure about Daisuke at first but you sold me on him. I'm looking forward to your coverage of more state bound Japanese players. It will be exciting to see the Red Sox and Yankees competing on this new front.

Bill said...

Yankees needs to make a deal and Get Willis. Rj and Pavano are still a question mark. The Yankees have to battle for wildcard between Bluejays, Whitesox, Atheletics and Rangers if the Yankees don't go after Willis or sign Zito.

adamyorke said...

AL EAST is gonna be close one

Baltimore and Tampa will fight to reach 75 wins, while the other three teams will be busy beating each other up.

Boston, New York and Toronto have batting lineup that may be better than any NL team in my opinion. Boston has Ramirez and Ortiz.....2 of the best. New York is stacked with A-Rod, Giambi, Jeter, etc. Don't forget Toronto...a very solid lineup with Johnson, Overbay, Wells, Glaus, Thomas, Rios, Hill, Zaun......all solid bats that will do some damage.

I think it will be a close race. It will come down to pitching. Each of these 3 teams have their weakness in pitching. Bostons bullpen doesn't look to hot. The Yankees starting 5 are the weakest they've been in ages. Toronto can't pitch Halladay and Burnett every night. Boston has a glaring hole in a closer compared to Toronto and New York. BJ Ryan and Rivera..two of the best. Toronto has a weak #4 and #5.

Boston can't beat Toronto in past 2 yrs. Toronto can't beat New York in past 2 yrs. Boston vs New York is always close.

Will Clemens pitch in Boston? Will Toronto acquire a pitcher ? Will New York get some bullpen help?

My prediction to this point, which could easily change with some transactions. Its close to call.

1. Boston...94-68

2. Toronto.....92-70

3. NYY.....91-71

4. Tampa Bay.....75-87

5. Baltimore..... 68-94

Edwhitson said...

Matsuzaka Vs. Phil Hughes

Over the last 2 days, there has been a lot of moaning b/c the Red Sox landed Matsuzaka. The "sky is falling" crew lead by the Bronx Bombers troll seem ready to cede the season. That's wrong thinking and here's why.

Most people have seem to have forgotten about our secret weapon - Phil Hughes, who will be in AAA in April.

Phil is generally considered to be one of the top 3 prospects in all of MLB and arguably the best pitching prospect. I believe he is also 20 or 21. Phil has been compared to a young Roger Clemens / Curt Schilling, is built like a brick $hit house and has incredible stuff. He will also only cost us league minimum.

The Red Sox added Matsuzaka and a $100m commitment. Matsuzaka was big in Japan, which is generally considered a step above AAA, but a step below MLB. Call it AAAA. He is also has a small frame, has thrown a lot of innings, and has faced Japanese hitters, who are, generally a lot smaller physically than their counterparts in the U.S.A. Although a 94 mph fastball may blow away a 5'6, 150 Japanese hitter, I am not so sure that act will work just as well in the MLB.

As an aside, Hideki Matsui, a big guy for Japanese baseball hit about 50 home runs in 2002, but came here, had trouble adjusting at first (think back to April, May 2003 and all the double plays) and only hit 16 home runs in 2003. To date, he has come nowhere close to his power numbers in Japan.

In any way, my point is this....the Red Sox may have added the best player in Japan, but realistically, he is probably only 1 level above Phil (AAAA vs. AAA experience), who is the best player in AAA. Matsuzaka is also a lot smaller and with a lot more pressure on him.

If Matsuzaka is the goods, we counter by adding Hughes in June / July, who could be equally good, if not better (Clemens and Schilling are pretty good comps), pay him only $330k vs. $17m and still have another $16m to add another pitcher.

Not ready, you say? Well, many, many posters once argued Cano and Wang were not ready. Remind me how that worked out.

Finally, you could argue that Phil is not ready for the bigs....how do you know the AAAA pitcher, Matsuzaka and his $100m contract are ready?

All is not lost, my friends.

Mike said...

http://youtube.com/watch?v=K2zOf8mNwjc

Seung Yeop Lee 401th Homerun owns Igawa on this youtube clip

Gary Chen said...

As an international scout for the Red Sox, I've watched Matsuzaka for a while and I've to say that the reason we got him is because he was our last shot at getting any serious fan interest from Japan.

Fred said...

Why Did George Let go Mazzili so quickly? Mazzilli did great Job coaching outfield and helping Melky how to play outfield especially leftfield. Also, Mazzili Teaches Melky how to become a better outfielder and throwing the cutoff man.


I have question, Who will be Outfielder coach for the Yankees next year?

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