Friday, June 12, 2009

Snakebit? More like suck

The Yanks aren't snakebit against the Red Sawx, they just suck. The problem is the Yanks like their shiny baubles -- the high-ceiling emotional flakes; the Red Sawx are tough. This has been the tale of the two teams since 2004, when the Yanks procured A-Rod, Kevin Brown, and Sheffield and let Pettitte go, while the Red Sawx obtained Schilling and dumped Nomah in mid-season. Since the 2004 ALCS, the Yanks have lost all three playoff series they've played; Bahstin has won the 2004 and 2007 World Series.

The Yanks have lost to the Sawx in nearly every way imaginable: they've blown 8th and 9th inning leads (game 1, game 8), they blew a 6-0 lead to lose a slugfest (game 2), they've been outpitched (game 3), they've been dominated (games 4, 5, 6) and from the fourth inning of game 2 until the 7th inning last night, they NEVER EVEN LED after the completion of an inning for five straight games against their biggest rival.

The Redsax toughness is now the stuff of legend: they scraped by the Yanks in games 4 and 5 of the '04 ALCS (one of which Mo blew, one of which Joe Torre blew) and never trailed in games 6 and 7; they fell behind Cleveland 3-1 in the '07 ALCS, then pounded the Indians 7-1, 12-2 and 11-2; they fell behind Tampa 3-1 in the '08 ALCS and 7-0 in the 7th inning of game 5 and extended that series to seven games. This is the toughness that the Yankees had from 1996-2001 -- the teams that were on the brink of defeat against Texas (1996, down 1-0 and trailing in the 9th in game 2 of a best-of-five series), Atlanta (1996, the '96 Yanks were the first team to win the World Series in 6 games after losing the first two at home), Oakland twice (2000 ALDS game 5 in Oakland, trailed 2-0 in ALDS in 2001), and even Arizona (ninth-inning miracles in games 4 and 5).

This is why signing AJ Burnett was a mistake (high-ceiling, Yankee-killer, injury-prone, complete flake) and the Yanks should have signed Derek Lowe (7-3, 3.44 with the Braves), who has started 32-35 games in each of his seven seasons as a full-time starter, cracked 200 IP five times, has five seasons of 14+ wins (Burnett has one) and who pitched six innings of one-hit ball in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS on TWO DAYS' REST. That's the kind of toughness the Yanks used to display.

The Yanks made two good moves this offseason by signing Teixiera (1.081 OPS, 3 HR, 7 R against the Sawx this year) and Sabathia. Tex is tough and has singlehandedly improved the Yankee defense by an order of magnitude. Sabathia pitches long, well and hard. He stayed in a batter too long last night. Burnett is going to be a 16.5M/yr bust, even if he averages 13-11, 4.60 each season. Joba has the requisite toughness to win (see his 1-0 win at Fenway last year), but the team as a whole is in a morass thanks to too many flakes (Cano, Cabrera, A-Rod) and bouts of plain stupidity (Swisher).

The Monk worried less when the Yanks fell behind Bastin in their season series 1-5 (2007), 1-4 (2006), and 1-5 (2004) because those teams tended to start slow, always played well against the Sawx the third time around (the Yanks won 9 of 10 v. Bastin at one point in 2006), had Torre at the helm (who managed every regular season game [tho' in 2004-07 not every playoff game] as if the Yanks needed the win; Girardi doesn't do that as well), and had taken their pound of flesh from the Sawx before the All-Star break. This year, the Yanks stink against Bahstin and won't get another change at redemption (the past three days were supposed to be the redemption) until August. At least in '97, when the Orioles were good and beat the Yanks like a drum, it was only 4-0 O's before the break and, even after the Orioles ran that series to 7-0, the Yanks immediately thrashed the O's four times in the final five games in the following 10 days (the one other loss was the two-game difference in the final standings).

There's no way to spin this -- the 0-8 start is a complete disaster.

Wongdoer is right about one thing, that ball two call on Pedroia last night changed the game a bit, but borderline calls are 50-50 propositions. Bad managing, bad execution, and bad character are not.

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