The Red Sox have been getting a lot of attention at this site for good reason. Their 2-9 start is among the many just plain odd developments of the early season. In addition to the Sox's woes, the first couple of weeks of baseball has featured sub .200 batting average lines from Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and Carl Crawford. At the other end, the Cleveland Indians are a juggernaut, the Baltimore Orioles might be better than we thought and Chipper Jones is healthy.
Whether these things will remain this way is anyone's guess (hint: they won't, so says Math), but it isn't irrational or silly to react with emotion to them. If I were a Sox fan right now, I would be anxious. Strike that, I'd be posting mid-game comments cursing the heavens. I would also chafe at people telling me to act all zen about the math at the core of baseball. This start has undeniably hurt the Sox's chances to make the postseason. At the very least, it has changed their pre-season projections from a sure-fire postseason entrant to a not-so-sure thing.*
*By the way, I know the Angels had a WTF offseason, but has anyone else noticed their rotation? Weaver, Haren and Santana are about as good as any top three in the league. I wonder if it could carry them past the Rangers. I also now wonder if the wildcard comes from that division. My point is I wouldn't be so cavalier as to say that the Sox, even if their projected now to win something in the low 90's, are still a solid bet for the wildcard. Digression #1 finished.
If I were an Orioles or Indians fan, I'd be excited. Yeah, I know it might be temporary, but even so, there is something about being the talk of baseball for a few weeks. It feels good, and who knows? Maybe our young players have arrived a year or three earlier than expected.
But I'm somewhere in between angst and happiness. All is so-so. The Yanks have given me reason to be excited and reason to be "Oh shit! We're doomed!"
First, there are the very good signs. The most encouraging part of the team has been the offense. That's been its strength forever. What's noteworthy, however, is that there are signs of bounce-back years from veterans who seemed to decline last season. I'll throw out the stats for right now just to point out that Alex Rodriguez is looking quicker and more locked in than he did at any point last season. I'm not alone in this observation as Yankee fan blogs, announcers, cliche-producers, everyone you know, is saying this. A-Rod looks poised for a big season. The early results show that.
Then there is Mark Teixeira. He's gotten a hit in April. Basically, that means his numbers will be better than last season's. Teixeira has been text messaging (does Sterling still say crap like this? One of the good thing about moving from the States has been not been hearing the man) the rightfield bleacher creatures with hard hit baseballs (he's been hitting homers, to explain the mixed metaphor). And the rest of the offense, with the exception of a few vets and a second-year starter, seems strong.
That includes the bench, which probably is the best since the late 90's years.The early returns suggest that. Andruw Jones and Eric Chavez are no longer great, but that doesn't mean they can't be great bench players.
The pitching is not such a happy thing. But let's get the Mariano and CC part out the way first. Mariano Rivera is Mariano Rivera. I can think of no greater compliment than that. And he remains so. How can you be Mariano Rivera for so long? It doesn't seem possible. CC is maybe not the best ace in the league, but he's pretty high on the list. He's always a good bet to have the Yanks in a position to win. This year's start is his best with the Bombers since he arrived.
I don't trust AJ. That's not very fair because he's been decent, but let's not kid ourselves. Am I encouraged by the performance? No. It's more a wait-and-see thing. Speaking of which, anyone else get a weird feeling about Rafael Soriano? I don't care for the contract. I know this because I'm rooting for the opt out. That's not a good sign. But getting past that and the onfield performance, already with that poop-the-bed against Minnesota game, Soriano isn't exactly inspiring me with the body language and faces. I know this is anathema to a site like this, a site that is more about stats and getting away from the grizzled beat reporter making snap judgments about player's characters based on a hunch. But I'm doing it because I'm a fan mostly and these are impressions and rooting is rooted in emotion sometimes. I'm not getting a good feeling about this Soriano guy. He looks despondent that he's setting up. He looks less than excited that he's pitching the 8th inning. Doesn't he know what the 8th inning means to people here?! Joba, the Once-Brilliant, he once pitched the 8th! So did Phil Hughes!
Ugh, Phil Hughes. I had to bring him up some time. So does everyone agree? Toast? He's going the route of Ian Snell, Scott Kazmir and Sam Militello. TINSTAPP. Young pitchers always break your heart. Yeah, me too. It's a freaking nightmare. So that means we have Freddie Sanchez and Bartolo Colon to pick up his ruinous innings. Yay! Maybe Ivan Nova can make it to the 5th inning once!
The pitching is an issue. You have Sabathia pitching into the 7th and then the rest of the squad is unable to qualify for wins. I'm going to assume a trade happens sometime this season. Or maybe Carlos Silva can come to rescue.*
*Carlos Silva was cut by the Cubs. That's a glowing endorsement right there.
And now I need to bring up the emotional thing issue that is the decline and fall of Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada. Honestly, Jorge's decline is not so emotional for me. Posada has been unwatchable for the last couple of years behind the plate, so much so that Russell Martin has me giddy. Martin's been kicking ass with the bat, but what's most exciting to me is that he can catch a major league pitch. With his glove. That's it. He can do that and he can hit a little. That's a revelation. So Posada has annoyed me for a couple of years. I love him for everything he's done, but I'm not especially thrilled that he's the designated hitter and the Yanks are fortunate that this is a period when most teams don't seem to care too much who is hitting out of that spot. But even with that said, it will be interesting to see what the team does if his bat is as slow as it seems. Again, this is just based on observation, but Posada's hitting looks like it could be in serious decline at this moment. Obviously, let's wait and see. No reason to sound the alarm just yet! Get yourself together, but what if he's batting .225 with a dismal OBP and no slugging and it's late May? Jesus?
Feck that. Derek Jeter is just doing this for dramatic purposes. There is no chance he is done. None.
Oh, I'm not too thrilled by Brett Gardner right now. But he's proven me wrong in the past. I still can't believe he's able to get on base with so little power. He is an impressive player.
We're only fewer than 10 games in, so a few of these impressions could be wrong, I guess. But this is what I'm thinking. Things are good. Things are not so good. So so-so in the end.