Greetings from the Queen City. It's been an interesting couple of days since I've been home. The job situation is still effectively in limbo, and unfortunately, the bill collectors do not really have much sympathy. So, I'm kind of a bum in a nice apartment. However, because I just graduated like three days ago, I'm just gonna go ahead and mark this up under the "I earned it" column. I don't even know where to begin...wait, yeah I do.
This is probably the easiest time, possibly ever, to be a Sox fan. Seriously, how can you not be loving this right now? I know that there is pretty much no chance that things will stay the way they are right now, but still, I'm taking time out to really cherish this, because this does not happen every day. The Sox are simply dominating right now, having won five in a row coming off losing two of three to the Bombers. Things are going to be rough for the opposition when Julian Tavarez is arguably the guy with the best stuff right now. Also, when you consider that this team is only going to get better the rest of the year, the pipe dream of dominating the East and the AL is now turning into a reality. With all the talk about Roger coming back to the Yanks, you don't get to hear too much about the resurgence of one Jon Lester, who is eying a return to the lineup possibly sometime in June. Lester has looked terrific so far, and reportedly hit 95 on the gun in his last appearance. If the Sox can get Lester to pitch the way he is right now and stretch it out for the rest of the year, forget it. You can absolutely forget about catching us. I don't care what the Yankees do. Also, I know that this has happened before, and the Yanks have overcome it ('78), but this time around, we just have too much going for us. Also coming back soon will be Mike Timlin, who will add to what is already the best bullpen in baseball (actually, by the numbers, they're second to San Diego...still not backing off of what I said though).
So I'm watching YES right now, and, as usual, the Yankee fans are theorizing what George and Co. should do to right the ship on "Mike and the Maddog." I'm not sure if people really understand how baseball works. Just because they're the Yankees, they can't perform the kind of magic these people are suggesting. Here's the dumbest things I've heard so far:
- A trade involving Bobby Abreu, who is having a terrible year, for Ichiro
- Melky Cabrera and a couple of the "young guns" for Roy Oswalt
- "The Yankees need a Theo Epstein-like guy, you know, one that works with a small budget."
- "Billy Beane keeps winning with a $30 million payroll." (2007 Oakland payroll: $79,938,369)
- Fire Brian Cashman. Not right now, but as soon as the last pitch is thrown for the Yankees this season, they should give him a handshake, a pink slip, and say "thanks for the memories." It's not as though he has said anything to make him look arrogant, but it's more like the things he has done (and hasn't done) that have spoken to the kind of GM he has been, basically just throwing money at problems instead of analytically breaking down what the team needs. The Yankees have too many egos in the clubhouse now, and have diverted from what made them great. Also, they have taken too many risks in terms of starting pitching. Getting Pettite is obviously working out, but there are only so many times you can take chances on a guy who has previous injuries. When you look at Carl Pavano and Jaret Wright, these were guys who were good. This was the pitfall that ultimately claimed Dan Duquette's job in Boston, and should spell the end of Cashman in New York.
- Trade Robinson Cano for pitching. I say pitching because they need everything. Cano is basically the one guy who has trade value right now. Everyone else is either old, hurt, bad, or has so much baggage that no one wants to deal with them. Cano represents a valuable commodity because he is young and hits for average. He represents a guy who would be a nice leadoff hitter for another team. To go after a superstar pitcher like the aforementioned Oswalt, you're probably looking at Cano and a couple of top prospects to even get people to answer the phone. To me, that's a little pricey, so I would go after a guy who is heading out the door next year, like a Bartolo Calon (I know he's had some injury troubles which makes that sound a little hypocritical on my part in terms of getting guys who are banged up, but keep in mind the fact that he won the Cy Young two years ago...he's worth the risk in my estimation) or even Carlos Zambrano (that's a stretch). Or, if they went the reliever route, which they definitely need because I think Proctor's arm is going to fall off by August, a guy like Scott Linebrink would be a welcome addition, and represent a much smoother bridge to get the ball to #42. Obviously, when you trade Cano, a void will open up at second, which I would fill by:
- Trading for Jeff Kent. Ok, he's old...I know this (40 for those of you scoring at home), but he represents the kind of pop from a second baseman that is rare in today's game. Also, he brings a positive presence in the clubhouse, which is something that is definitely lacking right now. This will be a short-term solution, so if you're looking at the future, I think Juan Uribe would be a good pick-up in the offseason. It doesn't look like the Yanks have too much in terms of infielders in the minors that can play everyday at "The Stadium," and also, Uribe can play short and third, so if you need to give Jeter or A-Rod (assuming he's still there) a day off, you can plug Uribe in there, and then use a utility guy, like Miguel Cairo, to fill in at second.
- Be a bigger player next offseason. Again, yes, they need some revitalization in the minors, but when you're playing in New York, it's a results-first kind of atmosphere. There are going to be some major players hitting the market next year, including Joe Nathan, Zambrano, and yes, Curt Schilling. Also, when you talk about free agents, you do have to realize the Yanks will have to deal with some of their own people with contracts ending this year, including Jorge Posada and Mariano Rivera. Personally, I don't know if you can get rid of either, and more so, I think both really don't want to leave, since both have been staples on this team for a decade or so. So, I would say sign those two, and definitely make a run at Zambrano, because it appears like he's heading out of Chicago. They took it relatively easy in terms of getting free agents, and their lack of depth has cost them big time this year. So, they need to go out, add some quality arms, and perhaps most importantly, get a first baseman with power, because that has been a huge hole in the lineup for them this year. I know that he plays primarily in left, but there was a time not too long ago that Adam Dunn played first. This guy is 28 years old. You know what? I know he strikes out a ton, but when you have 40 homer power, and have the kind of lineup protection he would have in New York, Dunn could be the player that changes the fortunes of the Yankees from an offensive standpoint.
- Revert back to the old days. Don't bring in guys just because they have great stats. Bring players in that are quality not only on the field, but off it as well. The "Yankee mystique" is all but gone. If you bring in veterans who are hungry to win, and are not just out for themselves (like their strip club frequenter down at the hot corner), then the change will be immediate and drastic. The Sox have guys like Youk and Pap who are incredibly hungry to win, and don't get complacent even when they have a huge division lead like they do now. I just don't see the Yanks having any of that going on. Sure, they have their moments, but it's just not the same.
(note: the following may end up in the "Daily Gamecock"...I'm still trying to work it all out, but you never know)
The Duke lacrosse program had their season ended on Monday, as Johns Hopkins won their ninth national title in lacrosse with a 12-11 victory at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. Just one year after a scandal that rocked the very core of not only collegiate sports, but the entire country, there were the Blue Devils, who came in as the #1 team in the country, playing in the national championship game. What was ironic was that the flow of the game closely resembled how the actual case itself went. Hopkins jumped out to a 10-4 lead at halftime, and again, Duke, and its players, were backed up against a wall in a seemingly insurmountable deficit to come back from. As the allegations against the three former Duke lacrosse players came out, the public perception was immediately thrust against them without knowing all of the facts. It was a knee-jerk reaction for people to assume that the three were guilty, just as it was easy to assume that Duke was finished in that game. Then, as the accuser's questionable background surfaced, and more and more evidence came out proving the three men were innocent, the point of view changed about those players, much like the perception that the Duke team was "finished" on Monday started to change once the Dukies mounted a huge rally, capped off by a Max Quinzani goal with 4:37 left in the game, tying the score at 11. Ultimately, Duke did lose the game, but their resolve was put on display again, just like it has been for the last year and two months. With their entire 2006 season being canceled, and a black cloud hanging over their lacrosse program, Duke came up just one goal short of pulling off one of the most miraculous comebacks in sports history. For them to even reach the finals was miraculous in itself though, and when you consider they were playing for a new coach, and lost the three accused players and a few others who transferred once the program went under siege, Duke had a tremendous season, and should be commended as such. This is an encouraging sign for the future of Duke lacrosse. After a finals appearance, there stands reason to believe that they will be a major player in recruiting, and are positioned in what has become an up-and-coming region for lacrosse, a sport that has lacked exposure for some time, but now, has seen its popularity grow to enormous heights and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.
Well, that's all for now. I just need to recharge my batteries (figuratively), and then, more will probably come to me. Take care. Peace.