Too Early And Just In Time

I hope everyone enjoyed their New Year festivities.  At the gerbil house, it was burgers and an assortment of craft IPAs enjoyed while watching movies.  Crazy stuff.  At least this year I actually made it to midnight; last year I think I was asleep by about 10 pm, but that’s what new borns do to one’s new years.  The gritty, plucky resolution made by yours truly was to write the first post of the YFSF blog for 2008.  Lofty were my aspirations, and I am glad to have met them head-on.  Now I can kick back for twelve months.

Dayn Perry, in an article for Fox Sports, poses the sixty-four thousand-dollar question for the first time seen by me in this brand-spankin’ new year.  Yep, that same chestnut that will be the point of dozens upon dozens of ultimately meaningless speculative articles to be written between now and when play resumes: "which American League East power, the Yankees or Red Sox, figures to hold sway in the division this season?"

Ignoring those pedants that would remind us that the answer could be "neither", Perry offers the risky possibility of "both", but concludes that the smart money is on the Sox.  To arrive at his answer, he provides brief comparisons of the lineups, rotation, pen, defensive capabilities, and managerial staff.  I’m more than a little ticked he called Robi Cano a "sub-optimal" defender.  I’m totally annoyed he mentioned the fact that Kei Igawa is the only lefty reliever because of the totally annoying fact that Kei Igawa is the only lefty reliever.  It truly breaks my heart that he said the Yankees need better numbers out of Melky because of the heart-breaking truth that the Yankees need better numbers out of Melky.

All the same, reading his article and arguing with the screen got the blood good-and-angered up, just what I needed to prod the anticipation for the start of the season to answer these and other burning questions.  Nothing like some good flamebait to keep hearth and home toasty during the long winter of wagging.

14 comments… add one
  • The Cano thing bothers me as well since I think of him as good out there. But, in general, I can’t say I disagree with much. I do entertain an irrational hope that the Sox bullpen falls back to earth and that Edwar, Russ and Kei somehow manage to bolster ours.

    Nick-YF January 1, 2008, 4:30 pm
  • > I can’t say I disagree with much
    Me neither, Nick. The strange thing is that last year, when wagging about the final standings before the season began, I wrote “let’s just say I’ve got a Han Solo-ish bad feeling about this when thinking about the Yankee rotation.”
    For some strange reason that has no basis in any verifiable reality, I feel like I can tell Han to take a powder.

    attackgerbil January 1, 2008, 4:37 pm
  • “which American League East power, the Yankees or Red Sox, figures to hold sway in the division this season?”
    It depends on which (or if any) team gets Santana.
    Johan is a title changer.

    SoxFan January 1, 2008, 4:39 pm
  • What struck me reading that article is:
    How on earth did the Sox suddenly become a defensively imposing team?
    Julio Lugo and Manny Ramirez are the only players thought of as sub-par defensively (and Lugo was better than advertised, I thought), and everyone else is at least above average with the glove. Seven of nine positions. That’s just crazy.. Crazy!
    I agree with SoxFan in the sense that it’s kind of silly to say, “The rosters are pretty much set” when both sides have offers on the table that could add the best starter in baseball in return for players expected to make the rotation/lineup next season…

    Paul SF January 1, 2008, 5:53 pm
  • > How on earth did the Sox suddenly become a defensively imposing team?
    Theo’s secret and relentless strategy maybe?
    From 2004:
    c: Tek, locked up…Still very good despite the mileage.
    3b: Mueller->Lowell. Better.
    ss: Nomah->OCab->Renteria(ok, he tried)->AGon->Lugo — staying solid-to-great, bailed quickly on Rent.
    2b: Bellhorn->Graffanino->Loretta->Pedroia. Consistently, relentlessly better.
    1b: Millar+def replacement du jour->Youk. Way better. Remember, he picked up JT Snow as Youk’s backup during the transition too.
    IF bench: Theo signed Pokey, then Cora — keeps the center solid even while guys are rested.
    OF: Manny/Damon/Trot -> Manny/Coco/Ellsbury/Drew. Probably a push or slightly better from 2004 to 2007, but Theo handled the aging/injuries of Damon and Trot very deliberately and generally maintained/ upgraded. Key exception: Wily Mo.
    Some of these were probably lucky (Lowell and Youk better than expected), but bad gloves are kept to the foul lines and not tolerated long if the production isn’t there (Bellhorn, Millar, Pena, Hinske. Manny is, well, Manny).
    The improved defense up the middle is particularly striking and it likely helps out the pitching a lot.

    CT ball fan -SF January 1, 2008, 9:13 pm
  • Well, according to one of the stats he says he checked (DER):
    Cano > Pedroia
    Lugo = below average
    Matsui = above average
    Cabrera = Crisp
    Abreu >> Drew (Abreu above average – Drew below average)
    For an explanation of the stat see (well worth it):
    Otherwise, what’s here we didn’t know already? Yankees have the better offense (though people said it would decline last year). Sox have the better rotation (though they’ll be relying on youngsters too if their 40 year olds get hurt). Sox have the better bullpen (but can you ever expect anything from a bullpen besides the closer?). Sox have the proven manager (though the Yanks did last year and what did that matter?). The only thing Perry adds is that you can’t evaluate a bench on January 1st. I’d probably respect him more if he did his homework rather than acting like he did.
    Nick – don’t despair on Cano. Not only is he better than Pedroia, but he makes as many plays outside of his zone as the best 2B’s in the game (Utley, Uggla, Hudson, Hill).

    Mike YF January 2, 2008, 12:03 am
  • One correction based on how I wrote that: Cano’s defense is behind only Kinsler, Utley, and Hill when you combine DER (they call it RZR) and OOZ (plays made outside of zone) as they suggest.

    Mike YF January 2, 2008, 12:12 am
  • One thing that I get from reading some Sabermetric-oriented blogs is the importance of defense–especially outfield defense–in terms of run prevention.
    In fact, one easier way to make up for mediocre pitching is to have a great defense, particularly in the outfield.
    Defense is a thing that is still underappreciated by many Major League teams, though “sabermetric” teams seem to have caught on quicker–and made the appropriate changes in roster construction.

    SoxFan January 2, 2008, 1:45 am
  • On the whole, good defense is a result of attentiveness. Bad defense is the lack thereof. Maybe giradi can do a better job than torre did in reminding arod, cano and abreu of that. Otherwise, I think all three are very good defensively.

    RS Fanbase January 2, 2008, 9:36 am
  • “On the whole, good defense is a result of attentiveness. Bad defense is the lack thereof.”
    I think that theory applies primarily to Little League where your RF’r is usually picking dandelions. Not so much on the ML level.

    John - YF January 2, 2008, 1:16 pm
  • I didn’t get a lot out of the Perry article. Of course, not a lot has changed in the composition of the two teams since the end of the season … except that the Yankees may be relying on a rotation that’s essentially 60% different, depending on Moose’s preformance and whether Hughes/Chamberlain/Kennedy provide the bulk of the team’s starts, after Wang and Pettitte.
    My modest New Years’ hope for the Yankees is that they manage to get through 2008 using fewer than the 14 starters they used in 2007. The Red Sox only used eight starters in 2007 and got all but four starts from six of them. If the Yankees can get the bulk of their starts from their six prospective 2008 starters, the offense should basically be there, and the team should perform better.

    yankees76 January 2, 2008, 4:38 pm
  • I remain hopeful for 2008, because even considering the fact that the Yankees used 14 starters, of which 9 were rookies, and 1 was Kei Igawa, totaling 26 starts from starters not named Kei Igawa or Phil Hughes, and 12 starts from Kei Igawa, they still won 94 games, and their Pythagorean record was 97 wins.
    Now, granted about 40% of the Yankees’ starts will come from rookies in 2008 if things work out, but it’s hard to think those rookies (Phil, Ian and Joba) will do worse than all starters not named Phil Hughes in 2008. Plus, their replacements (Horne, White, Marquez) – if needed – are probably better than Tyler Clippard, Matt DeSalvo, Jeff Karstens, and Chase Wright.
    I just keep telling myself all Boston sports have to go is down.

    AndrewYF January 2, 2008, 9:14 pm
  • Of course, I meant all rookie starters not named Hughes.

    AndrewYF January 2, 2008, 9:16 pm
  • “I just keep telling myself all Boston sports have to go is down.”
    Amen. This Boston sports success is really starting to wear thin. It cannot be allowed to continue.
    It’s time to restore order in the sporting universe and return Boston fans to their traditional misery. ;)

    yf2k January 2, 2008, 10:19 pm

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