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Let's start with who will not win the Cy Young. Carl Pavano. He is having an impressive year at 17-11 with a 3.60 era in Minnesota. Baseball writers would be afraid that Yankee fans would shoot Carl on site, for having been the worst dog in franchise history. To have been with the team for like 5 years and never actually play. He is another Kenny Rogers cannot play in a large market. He really wasn't a legitimate candidate, but I needed to get that dig in.
The most impressive pitcher of the bunch with the best stuff is Felix Hernandez of Seattle. I saw him shut the Yankees out 6-0 at Yankee Stadium, with an outing reminiscent of Pedro Martinez or a young Dwight Gooden. He is electric and may be the best pitcher in baseball for years to come, but not just yet. A 12-11 record does not make one the MVP of pitchers which is the Cy Young award. Cy Young was known for his wins above all else and Hernandez, just does not have them. An ERA title is not always synynmous with Cy Young. You have to have wins as a starter and be a workhorse.
Clay Buchholz of Boston has an impressive Era, 2.39 and a nice win record 16-7, but he does not have the innings pitched only 165; coupled with the fact that Boston is a distant third in the American League East. Jon Lester of Boston? Stats similar to Buchholz, but Boston is not going anywhere. Trevor Cahill of Oakland, yea they are in a tight pennant race. That leaves David Price of the Devil Rays and C.C. Sabathia of the Yankees. Sabathia has three more wins and has been the workhorse of the contenders, while Price has a better ERA. Both Tampa and NY are still neck and neck in the pennant race with the Yankees leading by a game and a half. In their last head to head match up, it was a draw with neither pitcher giving up a run in Tampa. Fittingly, Sabathia and Price match up again tomorrow night at Yankee stadium with the division title within the grasp of the Yankees. Whoever wins this matchup should walk off with the Cy Young award. Let's Play ball.
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Thursday, September 23, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
Why do I think the Yankees will win their 28th World Championship? Yes, they do have the best record in baseball, but the main reason is how they have accomplished that record. This is not a team that has sweated anything, even though they have been neck and neck with the Tampa Devil Rays all season. Yesterday for instance, the Yankees have added to their first place lead with Ivan Nova throwing great for 5 innings and lapsing in rookie land with a purely mental breakdown. Two middle relievers that were brought in next Boone Logan and Chad Gaudin promptly continued the wildness streak and began to make the game interesting.
The point being here is that Joe Girardi has been running the Yankees like it is still Spring training; this is a good thing. He has for the last month been determining who is going to be the guys that make the post-season roster and who can trusted in crunch time. I guarantee you, it will not be either Logan or Gaudin; they failed their audition tonight. Although the starting pitching of the Yankees is no where nears as strong as the late 1990's group of Pettitte, Wells,Hernandez and Cone.
This group has 2 solid starters in C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. Both Pettitte and Sabathia are having career years and both have won in the clutch. You throw in head case A.J. Burnett, who may just show up in time for the playoffs and the Yankees are actually in better shape pitching wise than they were last year. The Arizona Diamondbacks have recently shown that you can win the World Series with just two top starters, they carried the team to Nirvana with Randy Johnson and Curt Shilling's performance in the 1998 against the Yankees.
The Yankees bullpen is loaded this year with much less question marks once the roster is cleared of all the riff-raff that is competing for the last spot or two in the bullpen. It turns out that the dog that everyone loves to kick, Javier Vasquez is a very competent reliever in long relief.He is great when the Yankees are pitching from behind and they need a reliever to go 3-4 innings to cover the starter that got kicked out of the box early. This has some value, because of the Yankees potent offense; the Yankees have a knack for coming from behind to win. This has been true over the course of their entire history. The Arizona series in my mind was lost because the Yankees failed to sign lefty specialist Jeff Nelson. The Yankees over-used Mariano Rivera, forcing him to go 2 innings rather than his usual one during the pennant stretch. Come World Series time, Rivera's arm was a bit tired and the Yankees lost on a broken bat base hit. Penny wise and Pound foolish they were that year, not wanting to splurge the extra million on Nelson.
This year the secret addition to the club is former stud starter Kerry Wood, who has been the most reliable set-up man since well, Rivera in 1995. Wood is carrying a 0.42 ERA since joining the Yankees. Do you think this guy wants a Championship having languished with the Cubs his whole career? Joba Chamberlain has also been performing better this season after finally shaking off the great Starter experiment. Chamberlain is becoming the phenom again of his rookie season where he was tabbed as the heir apparent to Rivera as the Yankees future closer. He is a high-strung personality that loves to lay it all out for 2 innings. His makeup is not geared to be a starter. You could make a case that the Yankees have the best bullpen ever, with Wood, Chamberlain and Rivera, With Vasquez in long relief and rookie Ivan Nova. His stuff is way too good not to include on the postseason roster and if you eliminate his middle innings meltdown as a starter, you have another version of Chamberlain.
The new addition of Curtis Granderson is starting to pay off. His swing has been re-worked by the team hitting coach and his is learning plate patience and beginning to understand he does not have to carry the team like he did in Detroit. He has speed, a big upgrade over johnny Damon and he has been hitting in the clutch over the last month with two homers last night against Tampa Bay. Lance Berkman another Kerry Wood type, this man hit 41 homers in Houston last year and wants to win. He looks like a Yankee and I expect big things from him in the post season especially against the National league pitchers he has faced his whole career.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010
Taylor Martinez reminds me of a young Michael Jordan or a Joe Montana. He has that cool presence under pressure that Montana had. He has all the tools as good a running Quarterback this side of Michigan's Denard Robinson and potentially solid passer as the best of the A-list, such as Jake Locker of Washington or Boise State's Kellen Moore. Al McGuire the former Marquette coach said when watching Michael Jordan as a freshman for North Carolina that he was going to be the best Basketball player ever. Martinez already has a nickname T-Magic and it is fitting as watching him is like watching any of the greats. The amazing part is that he will get better, much better and I am going to predict that you will see a BCS title game against Alabama, who is the Nebraska of 1995. Nebraska on the defensive side has an excellent pass defense having destroyed two top-tier Quarterbacks in the last two weeks in Idaho's NFL bound Nathan Enderle who threw 5 interceptions and was removed from the game. Washington's Jake Locker did not fare much better 4-20, 79 yards and 2 interceptions with a third called back because of a marginal holding penalty on Nebraska side. Locker has been projected to be a top 5 pick in the upcoming draft. Locker may be a good NFL quarterback, but what you may be witnessing with Nebraska is the development of one of the best passing defenses ever.
Taylor Martinez has thrown his hat in the ring as a potential Heisman trophy candidate. Certainly at this point Denard Robinson is the leader with an unbelievable display at Notre Dame, but for him to hold up the entire season and carry Michigan on his back may cause a late season breakdown. Martinez does not have that problem as he plays within a system that has many weapons. Coach Bo Pelini is the real secret to Nebraska's success where he turned a porous defensive squad into the number one defensive team in college football. His defense has gotten better from game to game. Expect this defense too get even better, and with the return of Will Compton within three weeks; their run defense should improve. My prediction is that Nebraska will beat Alabama in a title game in a role reversal of the 1984 Orange Bowl, where the heavily favored Cornhuskers were upset by the upstart Miami Hurricanes with the Pro-set offense. The superior skills of Bo Pelini and the magic of Taylor Martinez will be the difference. In the final game against Georgetown, Michael Jordan hit the winning shot to win the NCAA title game. I believe that we have the same type of player with Martinez who wears the number of the great Bambino who was probably the most magical player of all-time.