Tuesday, April 29, 2008

How The Orioles Can Win The East 2008: The Case Against the Yankees Revisited

We all know that for the Orioles to do well this season that other teams in this division will have to slip up along the way. I figured I'd revisit some of these pre-season predictions (wishful thinkings) along the way to see how the rest of the division is stacking up.

First up, the Yankees

Like Last Year, the Pitching Staff Will Be a Problem

Chien-Ming Wang is pitching like the ace the Yankees need. I thought Pettite would be just average this year but he has pitched very well. Mussina has been inconsistent but has been able to keep his ERA below 5.00. The kids, Phillip Hughes and Ian Kennedy, have struggled mightily.

I'll stick by my pre-season prediction that Wang will be good, Mussina will finish with an ERA closer to 5.00 than 4.50 and that the kids will continue to struggle, at least until the All0Star break. The only wild card here is Andy Pettite as he is fully capable of continuing his current production.

On the whole though, the Yankee pitching staff has been a problem thus far.

Jorge Posada Falls to Earth

Posada has only played in 18 games and has hit rather well (.302/.333/.476) for a catcher. The problem is that he can't actually play catcher right now. Posada just went on the DL for the first time in his career and has made it clear that he will not return to action until he is ready to field his position:

"I’m not playing first base," Posada said. "I’m a catcher. We’ve got seven first basemen."

Posada's shoulder injury is not considered season ending but just the fact that it is being discussed in those terms means the Yankees catcher will be missing a significant chunk of the season.

The old catcher is breaking down, just as I predicted.

Derek Jeter is the Worst Fielding Shortstop in Baseball

Depending on which defensive metric you choose to believe, Jeter is either in the middle of the pack or completely dreadful with the glove. I'll give this one another month to allow the number to draw a better conclusion.

Who's On First?

The batting line for all Yankee first basemen this season: .194/.309/.419

That's an OPS of .728 for what is a premier offensive position. That production puts them in the bottom third of the league...right down with the Orioles (ugh).

Nobody's on first.

Melky's the Man?

So far, yes. Melky is OPSing .852, already has 5 homers and is playing a pretty good centerfield.

Well, they can't all go your way.


Before the season I said:

If things are dicey early in the year, this team could literally implode. Youngsters manning crucial positions in the lineup and the pitching staff, surrounded by fragile old veterans who may not deliver the results their reputations promise.

Yeah, that's pretty much what's happening.

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