Monday, April 4, 2011

Around the Division

The Yankees have won their first series of the year, which has been great, but so have the Blue Jays putting them in direct contention with us for the second place spot after 3 games. Second place I say? Well, the Orioles are off to a hot 3-game start after sweeping the Rays (tied for last). I was excited to see David Price pitch, but I was reminded that these players are not in midseason form. Also not in midseason form are the umpires. In the first game of the season, Upton was caught in a run down between second and third. Upton was racing for third when the ball was thrown to the catcher covering the base, but before Upton could turn around to run back towards second, the Orioles pitcher jumped on his back a clear violation of playground rules. Upton, not expecting to have a full grown man jump on his back, fell to the ground, but not before the catcher placed the tag on him and he was called out by the umpire who witnessed all of this from about 10 feet away. Upton argued that it was interference to have the pitcher jump on him like that. Maddon ran out and argued for it too. But the umpire could not be convinced that a full grown man jumping on a base runner in the middle of a run down was interference. Maybe its just me, and I might still be a little bitter from Armando Galarraga's perfect game thievery, but when you're only job is to watch a game and make a call and you get a simple call wrong, its hard to swallow. I can understand the close tags at home, or balls hitting centimeters near the foul line, or even balls and strikes that are inches near the zone. Its a tough job and I don't expect perfection. But the only person who thought that the pitcher jumping on Upton wasn't intereference was the umpire. Just like the only person who thought that guy was safe at first last year against Galarraga was the umpire. 2 outs in the 9th! Get the call right! He was like 3 steps from the bag!

But anyways, one interesting development of the weekend was Boston getting swept by the Rangers. Now the Rangers are already a good team, and when Ian Kinsler hits 3 homeruns in 3 consecutive games against you, you know things aren't looking good for you. Its still the beginning of the season, and it shouldn't be too much of a shock that Lester and Buchholz got knocked around. Lackey took the brunt of the Rangers offense as he lasted just 3.2 innings and gave up 9 runs.

Everyone believes the Red Sox are a far superior team to the Yankees, but I think its much closer than anyone thinks. Is their rotation better? Yes. Lester and Buchholz should be pretty good for them, but Matsuzaka, Beckett and Lackey are just as big a question mark as Nova, Burnett and Garcia. But I'll concede the rotation because ultimately I don't trust the health of Garcia, and Nova's too much of a rookie to know how he'll turn out. I do think Burnett will out pitch Beckett but I don't know if Hughes will out pitch Buchholz. Buchholz quietly posted a 2.33 ERA over 28 game starts last season, Hughes was no where near that. Sabathia and Lester had oddly similar numbers last year, and Lester is younger. So as I said, I concede that the rotation is better, but not by much. Matsuzaka, Lackey and Beckett will still lose plenty of games for them. Then we talk about the offense. Even with the additions of Crawford and Gonzalez, the Red Sox just basically caught up to what the Yankees had. I'd take A-Rod offensively over Youkilis, Cano over Pedroia, Martin over whatever plan B catcher the Red Sox found, Swisher over Drew, Jeter over Scutaro, Granderson over Ellsbury. I'll take Crawford over Gardner though I think we may be getting a surprise from Gardner this year, and Ortiz gets the nod over Posada considering the power Ortiz put up last year. That takes us to Gonzalez vs. Teixeira. This one I'm not sure about. Gonzalez is a great hitter, but he's made his career in the NL West. Teixeira is a career American Leaguer with a few years of AL East experience under his belt. Not to mention that Teixeira is a good hitter himself. Both are off to great starts. But whichever way you go with this, I just don't see the Red Sox offense being superior to the Yankees. I think this season could be close.


Anonymous said...

Great analysis, and I have to concur with you on Yankees v. Boston.

Jon Roberts said...

I expect them to play each other to about .500. I think you're not giving AGon enough credit. He put up his numbers in the west in Petco. He was essentially the only elite hitter in the division nevermind his team. It looks like their lineup is going to be deep, but the Yankees should have a lot more power. Youkilis is a great hitter, for example, but he's a doubles machine who hit 19 home runs last year. I think Arod might hit 50 this year with a respectable amount of doubles.

Of course this is all washed out if the Sawx hit a slide and fold like a cheap suit like they do from time to time.

Fernando Alejandro said...

Yeah, Gonzalez could prove to be as advertised, but I don't want to assume he will be. Switching to the best division in baseball has a way of messing with you. He's off to a good start though so if he can keep this up, he'll be in good shape. I was talking with a Red Sox fan yesterday and they were telling me how they weren't too confident about their team this year. They brought up the hesitations they had about their rotation, but then they made a good point about their offense. They said that they didn't really upgrade all that much from last season since they added Crawford and Gonzalez but lost Beltre and Martinez. The power is a net loss for them. I hadn't even considered that.

Jon Roberts said...

I was talking to a Sox fan and was going to make that point, but they beat me to it. I think they're pessimists by nature. The munchkin was injured last year as was the ugly man formerly at first. They should be better. But Beltre was really good. That's tough to replace.

It's going to come down to pitching, duh. If the Yankees' pitchers hold up they should have a playoff spot. Unless the Orioles go undefeated, then it's a crap shoot.