Monday, April 18, 2005

It's Getting Late Early

The writers and analysts are having a field day with the Yankees slow start. However, this time the press may be on target and Yogi may be right. "Its getting late early" The Yankees seem to have some inbred problems, namely aging players who are on the downslope. For the position players the only ones who seem to be functioning at their best and compose the core of the team are Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, Hideki Matsui and to some extent Ruben Sierra. The rest are either over the hill or underachieving.

Alex Rodriguez is perhaps the biggest underachiever. He had opportunities in the early games to come up with big hits that would have turned around games and hasn't produced. We are finding out that the greatest player in the game should have said the greatest player in Texas and maybe Seattle but certainly not the Big Apple of New York. He has not produced in the clutch and both of his homers this year were meaningless.

The aged trio of Giambi, Martinez and Bernie Williams will be fortunate if any of them hit .250 this year. Martinez and Williams have an excuse. They were big time producers who don't have time on their side anymore. Giambi is a steroid-less player who refuses to go to left field when the opposition is guaranteeing him two bases. He will be lucky to hit 25 homers this year, is horrible in the field and is making $13.4 mil a year. Jorge Posada is now paying for those games he led the league in catching. He too may have trouble hitting .250. As for Tony Womack. Why? We had Miguel Cairo who hit .292 and fielded his position well and would have continued the chemistry of the team. Torre said he is the fastest player he ever had. So far this season he has been gunned down by both Boston and Baltimore trying to steal second, is hitting .220 and his fielding is spotty.

The pitching is another story. With the exception of Kevin Brown the starters look ok. Johnson and Mussina are both big game pitchers even though Mussina has never won the big one. Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright have been so so, but both seem to have the fortitude and tools to make it. But why Wright instead of Jon Lieber? Lieber was putting it together with a fine year in '04 and showed he could pitch in NY. Again the chemistry thing.

The bullpen is another puzzle and this could very well be the Achilles heel for the Yankees. Mariano Rivera is no longer The Mariano Rivera. He is walking too many batters and lefthanded batters who couldn't touch him before are now hitting him. Tom Gordon is another sore spot. He gets ahead on fast ball and gets walloped on his splitter or curve which doesn't cut it. (Pardon the pun) Tanyon Sturtze has the potential and the skills, but the brain trust has to decide how they want to use him. He could face too many innings and that will kill his effectiveness. Paul Quantrill was overworked last year and is underworked this year. Felix Rodriguez has to develop another pitch or two besides his fastball and Mike Stanton walks too many batters, almost always lefties, to be truly effective. Steve Karsey is coming back from a serious injury and with work could be effective but Torre seems reluctant to use him.

Why are the Yankees carrying twelve pitchers? Cut two of them even though they are under contract and get two more substitutes. Bubba Crosby and Rey Sanchez need work but somehow can't get it with these underachievers. And the staff has some problems also. Any other hitting coach but Mattingly would be crucified by now and does Stottlemeyer have too many pitchers to handle? Perhaps most of these problems would not have appeared if The Boss had signed Beltran and paid the extra $40 million to the league. It may take more than that to rebuild this dynasty. Can the Yankees win it all? Of course they can. Will they win it all? Maybe. But the underachievers have to play up to their exorbitant salaries. Otherwise, like Yogi said, "It's getting late early".

Monday, April 11, 2005

I May Be Wrong.......But

If the NHL doesn't return for 05-06 or goes with replacement players for '05 the NHL will never regain the status of a major sport and will have to fight arena football for news space or go the way of indoor soccer..... Steinbrenner did not want to shell out the extra $40 million to the league for Beltran but how much is it going to cost him to get a good center fielder to replace a Bernie Williams who's skills are rapidly declining. How much will it cost if the Yankees don't win it all or don't even make the playoffs. This could be the year that neither the Yanks or Bosox don't make the playoffs. Yankee and Sox pitching are both suspect, however the Orioles seem to lack a closer to make a run for it.....Watching ARod play I am amazed that he is considered one of the greats of the game. I can't remember one crucial Yankee game that he has come up big. Granted he is playing a new position but fast balls seem to bother him. Sure he will hit a lot of homers but how many will be game breakers and no way will he break DiMaggio's record for most homers in a season by a right handed batter, 46.....So now we see the campaign themes of 2006. The Republicans would like to get private Social Security accounts, restructure the Income Tax, drill for oil in Alaska, make permanent the Bush tax cuts and the Democrats would love to topple Tom Delay from congress.....You know the NHL is in trouble when Larry Brooks is writing baseball stories for the NY Post. Larry is without a doubt the premier hockey writer. Has been on target throughout this whole fiasco.....Now that negotiations have broken down does this mean that the players offer to cut their salaries by 24% get erased or is it firmly etched in Bettman's plans never to be discussed anymore.

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