Sunday, July 27, 2008

Can't win 'em all

The Yankees' eight-game winning streak came to an end on Sunday night at Fenway Park, and if you're like me, it didn't come as much of a surprise.

Sidney Ponson was on the mound after all, a pitcher with such a limited skill-set that it's amazing he's still kicking around in this league. If anything, Ponson's dreadful performance (4 IP, 10 H, 7 ER) provides general manager Brian Cashman with a clear reminder that as strong as the front end of the rotation is, the back end is equally as weak. In Ponson and Darrell Rasner, you have two AAAA pitchers, and question marks surrounding Chien-Ming Wang and Phil Hughes make it a hole worth filling prior to Thursday's trade deadline.

The Jarod Washburn deal has hit a snag -- the Mariners are wishfully thinking they can get a high-end prospect in addition to the contract dump -- but you get the feeling Cashman will get an upgrade done whether it's with Seattle or someone else.

The game featured a painful flashback to the first-half inadequacies of the Yankees offense, the wasted bases-loaded, nobody out opportunity in the fifth inning effectively deciding the game. In a related story, Xavier Nady remains tied with former New York Knicks forward Xavier McDaniel on the Yankees' all-time hit list. And though it didn't affect the final outcome, how does Johnny Damon not score from third on Nady's flyout to center in the fifth? Third-base coach Bobby Meacham hasn't been Mr. Popular in his first year on the job, and it's not just because he lacks the maniacal intensity of the completely insane Larry Bowa. This guy may need to go.

The Red Sox also reminded you tonight that they won't be pulling any 2006-style fadeout. I have a better chance of becoming the Yankees' fifth starter than Manny Ramirez does of getting traded away from Boston. The Sox would suffer a devastating blow if he were dealt, and as he proved tonight (three hits, two RBIs), Manny's stupidity is matched only by his offensive greatness. With Ortiz hitting in front of him and Lowell and Drew behind, the core of the lineup is deadly. The weaknesses lie in the bullpen -- not close to the unit it was a year ago -- and the bottom of the lineup, a light-hitting trio anchored by the Artist Formerly Known As Jason Varitek.

But all-in-all it was a fine weekend for the Yankees, and I'll sign off on two-of-three at Fenway every time. It was good to see a little edge return to the rivalry as well, courtesy of Joba Chamberlain's apparent distaste for noted crybaby Kevin Youkilis. A-Rod may need to start wearing full body armor if this bad blood rolls to a boil.

With the Yankees' recent moves, these are two teams that are evenly matched, and if Tampa Bay is somehow able to stick around and claim a postseason spot, baseball's greatest rivals will end up in a dogfight for their seasons, not just playoff positioning. I suppose this is a good time to point out that the Yankees next trip to Fenway is on the final weekend of the regular season.

That could be worth tuning in for, huh?

1 comment:

Mark said...

Great X-Man reference. Knicks rule!

I agree about Meacham. This guy is Luis Sojo part 2. I just hope his poor coaching doesn't cost us down the road. I mean come one...Ellsbury ahs the same arm as Damon. Stupid stupid stupid.

Good weekend all in all. The Red Sox have never particularly scared me. It's the Yankees play against the teams they should be dominating that is going to decide whether they play in October or not.

I'd also like to mention that as soon as I took over writing that weekend, the Yankees have been playing great. This is no coincidence, even though I'm a poor writer.