Monday, August 07, 2006

Nice Problems To Have...

Finally, an intelligent attempt by a New York columist to figure out the disparity between the leagues. Thanks Bill Madden.

I think the Sox-Yankees rivalry reasoning is something worth probing. When you have two very smart, savvy front offices who have the finances to match their smarts, it forces every one else to bring their A games when they're trying to compete for a pennant. You have to add the Angels and Tigers to that mix as well. It means that GMs whose teams don't have the same revenue flowing in like the Chi-Sox , Twins, A's, Jays, Indians and others have to find new ways to stay in the game. Creative scouting can only get you so far when you're dealing with smarts and deep pockets.

What does it mean for the game? A higher, more competitive brand of baseball being played and the fans are the beneficiaries.

The National League has never had a scenario like that occur in the Senior Circuit. The two standard-bearers for the league over the last decade, the Cardinals and Braves have smart GMs in Scheurholz and Jocketty. But neither teams' owners were willing to do the sort of spending that the Red Sox or Angels do... Much less the Yankees.

The Mets can possibly be the standard-bearer for the NL the Braves and Cards weren't. They finally have a GM the Wilpons are willing to trust with their team and they're opening their pocketbooks as a result. Smart trades and free agent signings..along with the development of home-grown stars Wright and Reyes, has the Mets as the new big dogs of the league. I don't think they have enough pitching to win it all (even before the Sanchez injury). But they're certainly on their way to making their first fall classic since 2000..if only because the rest of the league is so horrible. If Maine and Pelfrey continue to progress and/or they're able to sign someone like Zito in the off-season, they'll be one of the favorites to win it all next year.

God that was painful to write. Someone take the sword out of my stomach, please?

My point being, is that if they're able to make a sustained run of playoff appearances, it will force their competition to find different ways to stay in the game up their pocketbooks on occasion. When that happens, you'll see an NL renaissance.

Until then, expect the interleague and October beatdowns to continue until morale improves.

Two weird days at Camden Yards this weekend. On Saturday, the Yanks get one hit by a rookie Southpaw in a year where they've destroyed leftties. And Sunday, Jaret Wright pitches the best game by a Yankee starter as the Yankees win the rubber game 6-1.

The more I see Abreu play, the more I like him. I didn't watch him regularly as a Phillie, so I didn't see him dog it or take plays off like the fans there say he did. And I probably bought into some of the bad press that he got in the past few years.

And I know it's only been a week, but what I'm seeing right now is a more athletic, more powerful version of Paul O'Neill without the temper tantrums. I know that's sacriledge to say in these parts right now. But his game reminds me a lot of Paulie's. He works counts, hits to all fields for average and power and he's a much better basestealer than O'Neill ever was. He also has a powerful arm in rightfield with decent range.

Does he have that same fire and will to win that Paulie had? We'll find out in October. But I'll say this much, I wouldn't be surprised if Bobby stays in the three hole even if Sheff and Matsui get back. Here's the potential lineup I see if they return.


It gives Torre his lefty-righty-switchhitter mixes that he likes and it puts a .300 avg/.400 OBP guy in the two of the first three spots in the lineup which gives the 4-5-6-7 guys more RBI opportunities. And it spreads the wealth throughout the lineup and takes some of the pressure off of Sheff and Matsui as they get back into game shape.

Does it put our best defensive team on the field? Nope. But at the end of the day, pitching decides who gets to kiss the girl. And this team should score enough runs to compensate for a few errors. And with our strengthened bench, we can make defensive replacements late in games and still have some offensive punch as well.

Two games up. Now it's off to Chicago for rematch with the ChiSox and then back here for four game set versus Anaheim. Brutal. I liked the way Torre gerrymandered the rotation so we have Wang, Johnson and Mussina pitching in Chicago. It gives a chance to send another message to the champs. It makes us vulnerable in the first two games against the Halos, but I'm willing to take that chance. The Angels have a chance of winning the West but right now, Chicago is the wildcard leader. This could be a first round playoff matchup.

The problem with beating up on Chicago means that it helps Boston and Minnesota. But those are nice problems to have. Deal with them when you play them.

Cano is back but Cairo is gone for a while. Another nice problem to have provided Cano's doesn't do a Rickey Henderson.


Blogger FenwayParked said...

The rest of August and September come before October.
Two games ahead and you're already setting our post season line-up?
Nice to see you haven't lost your touch while languishing in second place.
As the guy in the Motel 6 commericals says "We'll leave the light on for you" so you'll be able to find your back into second place.

2:54 AM  
Blogger Darth Marc said...

We haven't seen second place in 10 years. How is it back there?

3:07 AM  
Blogger Shea Gadfly said...

Bobby Abreu is a'll see and you'll regret comparing him to PO as I wouldn't even compare him to Raul Mondesi. Sure his OBP. is great but what wins pennants? Pitching, defense, and timely hitting? Not timely walks? Right? Bobby Abreu will pull off more balls than he catches...just wait and watch. Paul O would never consider the wall before he considered whether he could catch a fly ball. That is just stupid dude. he's barely been on the team one week.

7:44 AM  
Blogger Darth Marc said...

Walks and hits start rallies. If I remember correctly, O'Neill's walk versus Benitez started the rally that tied Game 1 of the 2000 World Series vs the Mets. A game we won in extra innings? Paulie fouled off a million pitches before walking. You know what happened next.

I like what I see from Abreu so far and nothing you say will make me think differently. I love his approach at the plate.

8:02 AM  

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