It must be the chickadees singing in the late afternoon sun but I feel like talking baseball. Red Sox. Yankees. Baseball, my friends.
First, I would like to welcome the Yankees back. They are the team I love to hate once more. I have to admit that there was something ominously lackluster about the pinstripes schlepping their sorry asses into Fenway for yet another meaningless and, I should add, embarrassing 'contest.' Sure, we had A-fraud to make fun of but I actually felt sorry for the poor guy, incomplete as he was, struggling to do the one thing he always could do and failing, no, flailing to do so.
Well, they are back and I am glad.
And so are the Red Sox fans of old preaching doom and gloom. I don't miss them but here they are settling in the rafters of Fenway to watch grumpily like Statler and Waldorf as the Yanks walk away with another AL East Pennant.
Not so fast.
Look at what has happened over the offseason. Sure, Steinbrenner Lite has added a few arms and that is good but the fact is that there will be no Moose who quietly won 20 games last season. So that's a wash for either Sebathia or Burnett, neither of whom, I might add, won 20 last year. Consider that for a second. Sure, both pitchers are great. There's no question that they were quality acquisitions but what is the likelihood that they both will perform like last year? Prior to 2008, Burnett was a 10-game winner twice and finished the season at .500 the year before. Why all the fuss? He's a solid number two in the rotation.
"Welcome to Moe's!"
Anyone put that guy on a scale yet? He's not missing too many meals and the chances he puts in a start-to-finish effort this year are slim. In the post steroid era, there's no way that gordita's going to make it to September without losing a few beans along the way. But don't bet on CC making a pitch for SlimFast any time soon. He's got a fat contract to match his waistline and there are no shortages of restaurants in New York in case anybody hasn't noticed. Remember El Guapo?
The (oh no, I couldn't possible have another bite Sox) however, stay largely the same with a Beckett that is likely to fight like hell for that number one spot with the young Mr. Lester. Neither pitcher is fat, obviously, and both have something to prove this season. Go down that rotation and you get the impression that the Sox have a lot of good arms to throw at the 162 games that seasons tend to comprise. Matsuzaka, always an adventure, will win more than he loses but seldom get out of the 5th inning on anything less than 125 pitches. Wakefield might not make the entire season but there's Smoltz to consider as a legitimate devourer of innings (not enchiladas).
And then there's that all-important last third of the game when Matsuzaka comes out and Delcarmen, Okajima, Lopez or Masterson step in before Papelbon turns out the light and shuts the door.
Can you say that about the Yankees? From the middle of the game on its a roll of the dice and then there's always the big question of when the Sandman turns to dust and the Yankees are left with something like an ellipsis at the end of their games instead of that resounding period that is/was Mariano Rivera (period).
Talk lineups? OK. Will Big Papi come up big or will he be unable to handle that inside pitch? You know, the one he used to deposit in the right field stands one out of every eleven at-bats? What about the hole where Manny used to be? Good questions, I agree. But consider last year's results. A decidedly off year for many Sox batters (Pedroia excepted). Veritek, for one, can't have a worse season at the plate.
Then, of course, there will be a fire sale in Philly come July...
I think it's going to be a very good year for the Sox, folks. The Yankees will take a while to come together but it will be too late again. Red Sox will grab first, the Yankees, in a dog fight, will grab second and Tampa will finish an injury-plagued third.
Minnesota will get the Wild Card.