Thursday, June 21, 2007

Red Sox v Yankees - Grading by position

At the start of the 2007 MLB season and after about a months worth of games, I went through the Sox and Yanks position by position, and tried to pick out who had the advantage at each spot. Just as a disclaimer, remember, I am picking who is playing the best right now, not overall in their career or anything like that, right here, right now.

Let's chop it up.

The catchers
Jason Varitek v Jorge Posada
Edge: The New York Yankees
You can't ignore Posada's numbers. He is having a superb 2007 season. Batting .342 with 9 home runs and 43 batted in, Posada has been on a tear since day one. Varitek, however, is also having a decent offensive season, with 7 home runs of his own and 31 runs batter in. He is batting .265 which, frankly, the Red Sox will take. Why is that? Because Varitek does such a superb job with his pitching staff. You have to ask, does Posada have the same effect on the Yankee stable of pitchers as 'Tek? Doesn't seem that way, as both staffs are going in opposite directions right now. For our purposes here though Jorge's numbers are superior right now, so advantage Yanks.

The shortstops
Julio Lugo v Derek Jeter
Edge: The New York Yankees
Check out the rbis, runs and stolen bases and it looks like Julio Lugo is having a great opening season for the Sox (34/32/19). Check out the batting average (.201) and it looks like Lugo is having his one and only season in Boston. Meanwhile, Derek Jeter has knocked in 34 runs, scored a whopping 50 and is batting a robust .343. So what if he is the most over rated defensive short stop in baseball? He will still be given a Gold Glove, he is Derek Jeter! Acerbic bitterness aside, this one is no contest. Jeter over Lugo in a messy landslide.

Second base
Dustin Pedroia v Robinson Cano
Edge: The Boston Red Sox
At the start of the season the big mouthed pundits of the baseball world had a bunch of clichés the liked to throw out there every few minutes. One of those was 'you know, one of these days Robinson Cano is going to win a batting title.' Well, when exactly, Rick Suttcliffe, and associates? When? How long do I have to wait? Will I be drawing a pension? He is batting .270 with 3 home runs. Should I be waiting with breath held? You guys let me know, thanks.

Or, hang on, did you fellas mean Dustin Pedroia? He's batting a whopping .323 and has an adult-rated swing for a little guy. Pedroia gets to absolutely everything at second, turns the double play well and is now batting second in front of Boston's big bats. I'll go with the little guy with the upppercut swing and the big, fat, juicy batting average.

Third base
Mike Lowell v Alex Rodriguez
Edge: The New York Yankees
While looking forward to Mr April's choke job as the Yanks lose ground in the wild card hunt in late September, you certainly have to tip your hat to the chap right now. The stats he has logged thus far would probably get most players a meaty, multi year contract. 73 runs batted in, in June? Holy mackrel, what's the projection for a year? 200 rbis? Ironically Mike Lowell is having a superb year too, with 50 rbis of his own at this early stage, however there is no hiding from Mr April's almost unbelievable numbers.

Thank Jeebus we have his late season swoon to look forward to.

First base
Kevin Youkilis v several Yankees
Edge: The Boston Red Sox
So, where is Jason Giambi? What's up with that? Is he actually in a holding cell or is he just at home playing playstation counting stacks of cash and reading copies of 'Which steroid' monthly? Youkilis is doing everything Boston wanted and so, so much more. He is batting .332 and has scored 45 runs, while blasting 8 bombs with 35 rbis. Andy Phillips? Minty? No competition.

Left field
Manny Ramirez v Hideki Matsui
Edge: The Boston Red Sox
Quick tip of the cap to Matsui. He has delivered when many of the Yankee stars have either disappeared or are struggling. Plus, he is hard-as-nails. I still cringe remembering his broken hand incident in left field. Ouch.

Meanwhile, have you actually seen Manny's stats lately? He is now batting .300, with 11 long balls and 41 rbis. That was sneaky eh? The old cliché is true. When the weather gets hot, so does Manny.

Centre field
Coco Crisp v Johnny Damon
Edge: The Boston Red Sox (just)
One's going up, one's going down. While Damon struggles with injuries, perhaps as a result of playing pretty-tough centre field for so many years, Coco is starting to hit, and hit hard. Added to this, Coco's defence has been nothing short of spectacular. He has made several absolutely incredible catches this season, and has saved Boston many runs in the process. Josh Beckett says Coco is the best defensive centre fielder he has ever played with. Plus, he still has the coolest name in baseball.

Right field
JD Drew v Bobby Abreu
Edge: Tie
So, which underachieving right fielder would you pick? It is almost impossible to separate these guys. Both started out pitifully and both have started to hit lately. Drew has 2 more bombs (6-4) and, at a year younger, certainly has a slightly higher-upside. However, it is impossible to decide which player has disappointed more.

Designated hitter
David Ortiz v several Yankees
Edge: The Boston Red Sox
Anything to even discuss here? No, I didn't think so.

Starting pitchers
Schilling, Beckett, Matsuzaka, Wakefield, Tavarez
Mussina, Pettite, Wang, Clemens and question mark
Edge: The Boston Red Sox
On paper this should be closer than it is. Games are, however, not played on paper. Mussina looks old. Pettite started out well but has been hit hard lately. Clemens is a pathetic joke, a 'six-innings and that's it pitcher' who will probably break even at maybe 9-9 or say 11-8 for just 22 million dollars. Seeing as he only goes six innings the Yankee bullpen, which is uglier than the elephant man, will blow enough of his leads to make his 2007 season a joke, an expensive one at that. Wang is the only guy on that list who you could trust with a big game on the line. And even he is prone to horrific headlines, like, 'Texas pounds Wang'.

Meanwhile Boston's rotation could arguably be the best in the American league. The guys in the 4 and 5 spots, Wake and Tavarez, are pitching great. Tavarez, at 8-5, could be the best number 5 pitcher in all of baseball. The number six option? Jon Lester, who Baseball America called one of the greatest left handed prospects in baseball. The top three aren't doing too shabby either. Schilling will rest his shoulder and come back to give Boston Clemens like stats at half the price. Beckett looks like he wants the Cy Young. Matsuzaka continues to improve as he adjusts to Major League Baseball. His starts are entertaining, his stuff is downright nasty.

This one isn't close at all. The Red Sox starting five is vastly superior to the Yankee rotation.

The bullpen
Edge: The Boston Red Sox
What it all comes down to here is this, say you are a GM and your team is up 3-1 after six innings, who do you want going in the 7-9th inning for you?

Your choice? Glad you asked.

Either..

Bruney/Farnsworth/Vizcaino followed by Scott Proctor followed by Mariano Rivera
Or...
Timlin/Donnelly/Lopez followed by Okajima followed by Papelbon

The second option is, in 2007, much superior to the first option. Okajima is Japanese for 'Does not give up runs, ever, basically' whilst Papelbon was firing darts at 98mph in his last few outings. The Red Sox rarely give away late inning leads. Big edge, Boston.

The managers
Tito v Joe
Edge: Boston
Simply put, right now Boston are the best team in MLB. They have the best record of all teams. The Yankees are half way down the list. Go ahead, go to espn and click on MLB and standings, then click to view all teams and you can see all 32 MLB teams listed in order of record. The Yankees are half way down the last. Nowhere near the top. With a lineup that cost $50 Mil more to create, Joe Torre has not delivered.

Add to that the fact that everything Tito touches right now turns to gold. Move JD Drew to the leadoff spot? Bombs away, Drew starts whacking the long ball. Lean on Lopez more heavily? Hey presto, the lefty becomes invaluable as a second lefty out of the pen. Tito Francona is doing a better job in 2007, as mirrored by his sides continued success. Edge, Boston.

So there it is. 8-3 Boston with one tie in there too. As always, the real test comes down to money. If some Joe Punter walked up to you in the street today and said, 'I will give you $1 million dollars but you have to place it on the team you think will go further in the '07 MLB playoffs, Boston or NY', well, who would you pick?

The more thoughtful Yankee fans out there are nodding right now, their faces going slightly pale with the dull realisation that they would be idiots not to put that cash on Boston.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

where can you watch yankees or sox games in ireland?

Irish National baseball team

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

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

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