Tough Road Ahead
The Yankees are hot right now to put it mildly and they seem to be putting up a touchdown and a field goal every game. While they may look like the best team in the bigs, they have sixty four games left entering today's action and have dug themselves a bit of a hole. I was at a BBQ this Sunday and baseball starting getting discussed. I never miss a chance to jump into some baseball talk so I dipped my toes in the proverbial pool. Of course it was a meat headed Yankee fan blow hard-ing about how easy their schedule was with 28 games against under .500 teams to start the second half and how they were going to win the AL East.
He did make a true statement in regards to their schedule, but I wanted to point out that the Red Sox do not exactly have it hard with twelve! games coming against the hapless Rays in the second half and many more games against Baltimore and Toronto. To which he replied, "I guarantee they finish first...the Yankees are the best team money can buy." I tried to go beyond that and how historic their comeback would be, but he kept repeating his previous statement and being very dismissive to whatever anyone tried to counter with. It was just another failed attempt at constructive baseball talk with a Yankee fan that was stunted by ridiculous statements serving as the basis of an argument that really cannot be countered.
While it would not take much of an argument to prove the Yankees are in fact not the 'best team money can buy', their bigger problem seems to be consistency. They are hot now, but they probably will not remain so for the remainder of the season.
Games 01 through 21: .381 winning %
Games 22 through 32: .727 winning %
Games 33 through 50: .278 winning %
Games 51 through 67: .824 winning %
Games 68 through 78: .182 winning %
Games 79 through 98: .750 winning %
While the Yankees are clearly in a better position now than they were in the beginning of the year with their rotation picture setting up nicely, they still have bullpen issues and they will not outscore their opposition by double digits every game. They need to make up a lot of games and need their bullpen to help out in a big way and they have no room for error at this junction.
If the Yankees go 42 and 22 (.656 wining %) for the rest of the season and Boston goes 35-28 (.556 winning %), Boston still takes the AL East. The Red Sox would have to have a .524 winning % with the Yankees owning a .656 winning % for them to take the East. In short, it is not likely. If Boston simply maintains their current pace, the Yankees will finish four games out with a .656 winning %. An admirable comeback for sure, but it is not getting it done. Furthermore, New York would have to have a .734 winning % to take the East if Boston continues at the same pace.
But we are not just talking about the AL East and we are including the Wild Card. If Cleveland (.586), Detroit (.608), Seattle (.563), Los Angeles (.582), and Boston (.606) each play out the rest of the season at their current winning % while the Yankees play .656 ball, the Yankees miss the playoffs by one game. If we assume Detroit continues looking like the team to beat and Cleveland is the favorite for the Wild Card, they would have to play .556 ball from here on out with the Yankees playing .656 ball to slide into the playoffs over them.
However, that scenario ignores the AL West altogether and Seattle can finish in front of the Yankees in that scenario with a .621 winning % while LA can finish in front with a .594 winning %. Overall, the Yankees' playoff odds have improved and they now have a 1 in 5 shot of making the playoffs. However, a lot has to go right and a lot of teams have to falter. The Twins are also on their heals which adds in another dynamic.
Most scenarios that include them taking the Wild Card have them winning a lot more games than they lose with a lot of other teams playing worse than they have all season. Chances are, there will be quite a few teams that play better or the same rather than worse with the Yankees playing not quite up to the level of a .656 ballclub. That is just too hard with their bullpen as it is currently constructed. Can they do it? Obviously, but it is still unlikely.
One NL team official praised Double-A first baseman Mike Carp yesterday, saying, "Carp's a really good-looking young hitter. He's 20 years old out of high school and he works the count and does everything you want in a young hitter." As of yesterday, Carp, who turned 21 last month, was hitting .268 with six homers and 29 RBIs in 54 games for Binghamton.
He may be working the count, but he is not walking all that much nor flashing much pop in a hitter's league. Being first baseman, that is simply not good enough. He knocked 17 homers in a pitcher's league last year and looked to be on the precipice of becoming a top notch prospect and heir to Carlos Delgado, but his stock as undoubtedly fallen a bit.
As for the Mets' prospects, another NL team official praised Pelfrey, despite his major-league struggles this season (0-7, 6.12 ERA), calling him "everything you look for."
One AL team executive, asked if Pelfrey had lost value because of his struggles or whether that was too small a sample, said, "That's a good question. I would say some of these guys are more famous when they're not in the big leagues. The Baseball America buildup seems to carry a little more weight than when these guys are in the big leagues."
"When you get a month without playing, when you get four at-bats in a month against closers, the best in the league, I don't think anybody's that good," Franco said yesterday before the Braves played the Giants at AT&T Park. "I don't think anybody is good enough to have four at-bats in a month against closers and be successful at it."
Point taken, but there was a whole lotta unproductive at-bats that led to that point.
The Braves have given Franco more of an opportunity, with little to show for it so far. On July 18, the Braves picked up Franco off waivers; in his first game, July 19, he stroked a two-run single in a 10-1 victory over the Cardinals. He then went hitless in his next 10 at-bats.
That sounds about right.
"If there's someone that knows how to use me and get the best out of me, it's Bobby [Cox, the Braves' manager]. Coming back here, I only have good memories."
A manager cannot production out of a player who does not have the ability to produce in the bigs anymore...not even the great Bobby Cox. I'm still shocked the Braves thought he would be a value add to the club.
Lastings again last night consistently had good at bats and he just punishes the baseball when he makes contact. He topped off his night with a monster shot and I loved how Keith asked Willie about getting him more playing time even when Alou comes back. Randolph said that he would try while working everyone in and apparently Willie is still the only one who doesn't get it. As Gary pointed out, he has eleven hits and eleven RBIs. Lastings can make things happen and can greatly help this team out with his bat, glove, speed, and arm.
One thing that I was not all that thrilled about was when he got hit in the elbow and did not move. However, the problem is that everyone does it and I think the umps should start taking a stand. It is hard to get aggravated with him specifically because I've seen the scrappy and ever intangible David Eckstein to superstars to unknowns do it. Of course, I'm sure someone will blow that out of proportion along with his little homerun dance with Profesor Reyes.