• Personal Thoughts Coming Into This Season

    Posted by on February 20th, 2006 · Comments (3)

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited about the upcoming baseball season. I’m always excited about the baseball season. And, as a Yankees fan, I’m excited to know that soon I can watch Yankees games, etc.

    A Yankees game is perhaps one of the most comfortable back-drops in everyday life for me. There are so many good feelings that I link up to it. The span from November to March, without having that (almost daily) visit from a “friend,” seems more like a year than 5 months.

    But, I’m not excited about the Yankees chances to win the World Series this year. I expect them to do well – and win more often than they lose – and have many, many, thrilling moments this season. But, it’s not the same feeling as most of the recent years – where I thought “OK, this team should win a ring this year.”

    From 1997 through 2001, each Spring, I thought the Yankees would win the World Series that year. Starting in 2002, through last year, I was not sure about it. But, this season, I’m 99% convinced that the Yankees need something like a dozen things to go right in order for them to be the last team in baseball this year to win a game. And, what are the odds of that?

    After the World Series of 2001, the ALDS of 2002, the World Series of 2003, the ALCS of 2004, and the ALDS of 2005, and seeing bad things happen because of short-comings in the Yankees game, I guess I’m starting to get conditioned – in a way.

    Maybe that’s good? Now, if they do win, it will be as pleasant as that ring in 1996? Things always do seem to taste better when you’re starving.

    Comments on Personal Thoughts Coming Into This Season

    1. hopbitters
      February 20th, 2006 | 11:18 am

      There are problems with the team, certainly, but I think they’re addressable problems. My biggest concern is Torre and whether he’ll actually let the players that are performing keep playing and leave the high-salaried busts on the bench. If the new coaches can convince him to play the guys that deserve it, I think they just need a solid backup utility guy and for two of the pitchers to step up (or trade for someone who can). They’ve got enough as is to get into the post-season, where it doesn’t matter who your five starter is, because you’ll never see him if the first two guys come through.

      This is not a team for the ages, but it’s a team that could do well with a few moves and decent management/coaching.

    2. baileywalk
      February 20th, 2006 | 1:36 pm

      The old cliche in sports is that it’s a game of inches. And it’s true. From ’96-’01, the Yankees had plenty of breaks and some near-miracles. From ’02-’05, it seems like they have a black cloud over their heads. I guess you can make the argument that they’re not getting those clutch home runs anymore, but more so it just seems like the Yankees — once the team that had God on its side — has the worst luck in the friggin’ world.

      But those losses over the last three years make me think that the Yankees can win any given year. They should have won that 2003 World Series. Beckett pitched out of his mind, but if Wells doesn’t go out in the first inning of that game, we would have beat them (all of those games were close and Giambi’s knee also probably had something to do with our stale offense). There will probably never be another situation like ’04 — where a team wins four straight to win the series. I still can’t believe it happened. But that year illustrates something: we had lousy pitching and came without a few outs of going to the World Series. Moose and Lieber were steady, but Brown and Vazquez were awful. If a team with a Moose-Lieber-Duque-Brown-Vazquez staff can make it to the World Series, why not one with a RJ-Moose-Pavano-Wang-Chacon staff? I lay the blame of game seven of the ’04 ALCS at the feet of Joe Torre. Why was Kevin Brown pitching to the Red Sox in the most important game of the year after he couldn’t get out of the first inning in two tries against them that year?

      And in ’05, if Bubba and Sheffield don’t crash, the Yanks probably would have won that series, and, in my opinion, gone on to beat the White Sox (who had no offense).

      So they were close these last few years and only a few freak things kept them out. If they had the breaks they had in years past we might be looking at three World Series visits and maybe a few wins.

    3. DownFromNJ
      February 20th, 2006 | 1:55 pm

      In my mind, the Yankees had the following strengths and weaknesses last year:

      Strengths – Front-end hitting (top-3 hitters), Middle hitting (top-6 hitters), Back-end Bullpen (top-2 relievers). Considering everything, it’s a wonder that they managed to win 95 games.

      Weaknesses – Back-end hitting (bottom 3 hitters), Bench, Middle Inning Bullpen, Overall defense, Minor League Pitching Depth, Minor League Hitting Depth, Flexibility, Starting Pitching.

      Cashman has improved this offseason quite a bit:

      - Middle Inning Bullpen, Back end hitting, Minor League Pitching Depth, Starting Pitching (No major additions, but Chacon, Wang, an improved RJ, etc for a year)

      And Cashman has improved a little bit:

      - Overall defense (Damon, rebound defensive year for Arod), Bench (Phillips over Sierra, Cairo over Womack).

      So, modified strengths and weaknesses:

      Strengths – Overall deep top-down lineup with strong Front-end hitting and good back-end hitting, Overall bullpen depth and strength, Minor League Pitching Depth

      Average – Starting Pitching, Overall Defense

      Weaknesses – Flexibility, Bench, Minor League Hitting Depth.

      The situation looks a lot better to me right now. World Series? Eh, maybe. A World Series team really needs to have a break go it’s way regardless of how powerful the starting roster is. The only team on paper that is better to me are the Oakland Athletics.

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