Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Red Sox v Yankees
Round 2 - checking in on the rivalry

Way back in January, when Randy Moss was still a Raider, Peyton Manning still had a point to prove and 99% of America had yet to see Matsuzaka pitch, I received an email from a chap in New York called Jerry. He wrote;

Jerry, Riverdale, New York
''Why do you even bother? Have fun writing about the Red Sox in August when they are ten games back of the Yankees. The Red Sox are a joke.''

That got me thinking, subjectively, who has the better team? I decided to go down through the positions one by one and eventually came up with a rough score of 8-3 Red Sox, which I was happy with that the time. Naturally that provoked further discussion and rebuke from all corners of the baseball galaxy. However, on reflection, I feel I got it pretty right. However, it is time for an update!

Jason Varitek v Jorge Posada

Posada has been hitting well so far, but, particularly in the weekend Boston series, seems to let his concentration slip defensively mid game. A couple of times with runners on base against Boston he simply let pitches right through his legs. Varitek is superior defensively and has, as usual, got the most out of his pitching staff.

Doug Mirabelli has been very useful in limited backup time whilst Yankee backup Wil Nieves looks completely lost offensively at the big league level.

All things considered, you can't ignore Posada's hot start at the plate, this one is close.

Previous advantage: Red Sox
Advantage now: Tie

First Base
Kevin Youkilis v Jason Giambi

You could say Kevin Youkilis has done his job so far for the Red Sox. Can you say the same about Jason Giambi? Youkilis is a great two-spot hitter, as commented on by the Yankee commentators over the weekend. His superb eye leads to an impressive on base percentage and plenty of runs scored ahead of Papi and Manny. On top of that, he plays his position very well, frequently scooping throws in the dirt for the out.

On the flip side, Giambi has not got going yet. I wonder if what's happening in New York with the Mets club house guy snitching like a twenties gangster to the steroids inquiry panel is playing on Giambi's mind? He is a poor defensive first baseman which means New York has to use light hitting replacements in his stead.

Right now, who's doing their job better?

Previous Advantage - Yankees
Current advantage - Red Sox

Second Base
Dustin Pedroia v Robinson Cano

No change here - Cano is as advertised, a skillful defender with a good eye and the ability to win a batting title. Pedroia, well, he's just borderline lost right now. The only thing going for Boston at second base has been the sensational back up play of veteran Alex Cora.

Previous Advantage - Yankees
Current Advantage - Yankees

Third Base
Mike Lowell v Alex Rodriguez

Previously I argued that Lowell's defence, solid hitting and value as a clubhouse leader made him as valuable as A-Rod and his flaky ways. Mr April sure blew that argument out of the water.

Even having said that though, he did so with a few caveats. His defence was reasonable, but nothing special. He made a couple of errors and didn't remind anyone of Mike Lowell. Mike Lowell 2006 I might add. Who is that guy playing third for Boston right now? Lowell seems to have traded in a little defence for some added hitting.

Mr April had a stunning April, for sure, however, ask yourself, take away those two home runs in the loss to Boston, and what did Mr April contribute in the big games against the Yanks arch rivals? Answer? Very, very little.

Score one for the Yanks, but watch this space as the games get more meaningful and Mr April clocks up the hours with his shrink (That's not a flippant joke by the way, he actually does see a shrink regularly).

Previous Advantage - Red Sox
Current advantage - Yankees

Julio Lugo v Derek Jeter

Well now, before the start of the season, who would have guessed Jeter would have considerably more errors than Lugo? For all the talk about Jeter's gold glove and Lugo's propensity for throwing the ball away, it's Julio who has played the more solid defence while putting up good offensive numbers. Having said that, Jeter is matching him offensively and those errors will, let's face it, probably even out.

Until Lugo really gets going with the bat, this position still goes to the Yanks.

Previous advantage - Yankees
Current Advantage - Yankees

Left Field
Manny Ramirez v Hideki Matsui

You can see Manny beginning to heat up. His huge, opposite field bomb against the Yanks on Sunday put a nail in the coffin for that game and Manny has also been very quietly playing excellent left field. Matsui, by all accounts, simply hasn't started playing yet. He is struggling horribly at the plate. No change here from the earlier prediction so.

Previous Advantage - Red Sox
Current Advantage - Red Sox

Center Field
Coco Crisp v Johnny Damon

Damon still has the arm of a weak ten year old girl, but is getting on base, scoring runs, and catching fly balls. Coco is showing signs of getting started offensively but is still behind Damon so far this season.

Previous advantage - Red Sox
Current advantage - Yankees

Right Field
JD Drew v Bobby Abreu

''The '07 Red Sox lineup is shaping up to be a monster, and JD Drew fits in very nicely with his tool-set of speed, patience, power and average.''

Well now! In the previous piece, Tom Kelley took great umbrage to my selection of Drew over Abreu. He wrote in;

''I just had a look again and saw that you picked JD Drew over Bobby Abreu? NO WAY DUDE!''

Well, 'Yes way, dude!' Right now this isn't even close. Drew has been hitting, providing good protection for the Ortiz/Manny combination and playing solid defence. Abreu is mired in one of the worst slumps of his career. So much so that he is attempting ridiculous bunts, while batting in the three-spot, which has to be driving Joe Torre crazy. Read it and weep Tommy Kelley, Drew by a landslide.

Previous Advantage - Red Sox
Current advantage - Red Sox

Designated Hitter
David Ortiz v the entire remaining Yankees bench

Previous comment:

'' This is the weakest and thinnest Yankees bench I have seen in a decade. Andy Phillips? Melky Cabrera? Miguel Cairo? Who is going to DH and do it with authority? Whoever it is, they will be no Big Pappi. Gary Sheffield, Yankees Nation turns its lonely eyes to you!''

No change here. Big Papi is off to a good start, while the Yankee fans can only pine for Sheffield and his big bat as he plies his trade in Detroit.

Previous Advantage - Red Sox
Current advantage - Red Sox

Starting pitching rotation
Sox: Matsuzaka, Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield and Tavarez
Yanks: Pettitte, Wang, Kaarstens, Igawa, Hughes, Pavano, some hobo off the street, Ron Guidry??

Previous comment:
''Meanwhile the Red Sox have quietly built what could possibly be the best rotation in all of baseball. If the top three pitch to potential and Wakefield does his usual 14-9, 200 innings, the Sox will be in excellent shape''

This aspect of the rivalry is turning out as expected, well as expected by everyone except the Yankee front office and the Yankee fan base. The rotation in the Bronx is an out and out shambles. The only bright spark has been a solid outing by Igawa against the Red Sox in odd circumstances. The Yanks are praying Mussina comes back in good shape and also that they can cajole Roger 'Me me me and I' Clemens back out of retirement and into pinstripes.

Meanwhile, the Sox rotation is off to a dream start. Schilling, Matsuzaka, Wakefield and even Tavarez are off to fine starts. Josh Beckett has simply blown out of the gate, tossing up a quick 5-0 and pitching like the team ace many hoped he would eventually become. If he keeps this up...

..well, no reason to jinx the lad, but he is off to a superb start.

Previous Advantage - Red Sox
Current advantage - Red Sox


Previous comment:
''Bottom line, the Sox will actually be working with a vastly superior bullpen than the Yanks in '07''

Boy oh boy, this one is even more a dramatic separation of talent that I initially thought. The Yankee bullpen has mirrored the rotation in its sheer inconsistency. Scariest of all for Yankee fans, Mariano looks nothing like his former self. The Sox had their way with him and even Marco Scuttaro, the light hitting Oakland infielder, has a walk off shot off him in '07.

Meanwhile, Okajima, Papelbon, Donnelly and Timlin are working towards being the finest bullpen in the American League, battling it out with maybe Anaheim and Minnesota for the title. Papelbon in the ninth has now become essential viewing for all Red Sox fans. The kid is just sensational.

Previous Advantage - Red Sox
Current advantage - Red Sox

Tito v Torre

At the time I wrote the first piece I was chastised by Tom in Dublin for leaving out this section of the battle.

''You forgot one important comparison: Joe Torre v Francona. Torre in a landslide. Manny's late season injury exposed Francona's weak managing skills.''

Well, Tom, in Dublin, I am adding it in now, and I am handing this one to Boston too. Francona has hit all the right buttons, juggling his bullpen in particular with skill and understanding of who fits in where. Tito seems to be enjoying himself and seems to genuinely believe his team is destined for a chance at greatness.

Meanwhile, the New York media is asking if Torre should get the sack. Tom, that's Tito, in a landslide.

Current advantage - Red Sox

So, Jerry, by my count, this time that's 8-4 Red Sox with one tie. You can't really argue with the best record in major league baseball, can you? Tune in around the start of June for another update on the Sox v Yanks scorecard!


The Omnipotent Q said...

Has this guy "Jerry" forgotten 2004 already? He's the joke.

Typical Yankee fan.

The Omnipotent Q said...

PS Good analysis of both clubs, Cormac...

Cormac said...

Thanks! It's very interesting comparing the two sides! Should be even more interesting to see how it all pans out.

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

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