Monday, March 26, 2007

How Baltimore Can Win The East Part III: The Case Against the Yankees

OK, let's poke holes in the original Evil Empire:

1. The Rotation is in Shambles

Perhaps a bit overstated but...Chien Ming Wang is your number one starter? Are they high? Expect a dramatic fall back to Earth in Wang's results. Why? 76 Ks to 52 BBs. Wang needs to learn how to strike guys out or improve his control to Bob Tewksbury levels if he want to repeat last year's success. Wang keeps the ball in the park and induces lots of ground balls. If he had better defensive player in the middle infield, I would say that he would be OK but Cano and Jeter are not great defenders up the middle...

(A slight digression so I can rant about the bogosity of Jeter's most recent Gold Glove award. The eye tells you that while Jeter can make a nice play occasionally, his range is not great. The numbers have backed that up for most of his career. The first number I look at for a middle infielder is their Total Chances (TC). TC is Putouts+Assists+Errors, it's basically how many balls a player gets his glove on the ball. I mean, you can't make a play if you don't even get there right? Jeter is historically at the bottom of the league on TC. Last year, Jeter had 610 TC, exceeded by Miguel Tejada, Jhonny Peralta, Michael Young, Carlos Guillen and three other AL shortstops who played in at least 145 games. Juan Uribe had 604 TC in only 132 games! His fielding percentage was worse than 4 of those guys too! Bogus! So Wang has a gaping hole to his right rear named Derek. OK, resume original post...)

...I can't find anybody with Wang's type of game who succeeded for long in the Majors. If there are, that club's very restrictive Wang, so don't tell 'em you're Jewish. (edit: since starting this post, Wang has been sent to the DL. That would be disappointing if Carl Pavano wasn't the replacement starter...)

Mussina is old but I don't see any signs of him falling off yet. I don't think he will sport a 3.51 ERA again though and should slip closer to 4 this year as he did in 2004-2005.

Andy Pettite did not have a great year in Houston and is already having back problems. Carl Pavano? Who knows? Igawa? An unknown. This rotation doesn't look very intimidating to me. Roger Clemens is the only man who could save it. (A distinct possibility)

2. Posada is Old

I've got to come up with five of these? Jorge Posada will be 35 this year and although this is a bit of a rehash of Boston's situation, this is the age where catchers begin to break down and when they do, they lose it fast. Posada is a prime candidate for a severe dropoff at the plate this year.

3. Jeter is a Boob

OK, I'm out of ideas. The bullpen looks solid, the outfield could be one of the most dangerous offensive outfields in the AL and A-Rod should rebound nicely even if Jeter falls off a bit from last year. A healthy Robinson Cano will wear out AL pitching from the bottom of the order. The only weak spots could be first base and DH, a problem the Yanks deep pockets can address during the season.


The only issue with this team is age but they aren't that old. O's fans could hope for some key injuries or declines in production with a crew that has starters all over 30 this year, save Cano.

But the pitching has the potential to be abysmal. This is not the Yankee juggernaut of past years, not even the team they were last year. I still say the door is open for someone to catch the Yankees before they open up the cash box to right the ship at midseason.

So while the division may be tough, it is not an insurmountable task to catch these guys or maybe steal a wildcard from the rest of the AL.

Just don't ask me if it's possible once June rolls around...

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