Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A new baseball season

  The 2011 baseball season started 2 weeks ago and the Yankees look to be a good but not quite good enough team, the same as last year. There are a few differences. Andy Pettite is gone and Phil Hughes has seemingly melted down but no able replacements have stepped up. The Yankees bought the scrapbooks of Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia, but Garcia has only pitched an inning and Colon has given up a lot of runs in his first 2 appearances. I have some hope that both can contribute. Colon has eaten himself out of the league but he has struck out 10 batters in 6 innings and may pitch great in his quest for one last big payday. Garcia is a professional pitcher and he can contribute innings if nothing else. But Hughes was supposed to challenge to be the best pitcher in the league instead of the worst. He looks like he’s hurt to me and that would be a big blow. The hitting and bullpen should be good enough to win with any average pitcher, but you can’t win in October without top shelf pitching.

  Speaking of top shelf pitching, the bullpen has been outstanding. Mariano Rivera has been unhittable even at the age of 41, Chamberlain has been great now that he is not pitching in high-pressure situations, and Rafael Soriano has been very, very, good except for one bad inning against the Twins where he walked the bases loaded. Most of the Yankee fans were drooling for Cliff Lee, but Soriano was the guy I wanted them to buy. Lee pitched good against the Yankees, but he wasn’t so hot in the World Series against the Giants when he was expected to carry the team and I don’t think he could be successful in New York. By getting Soriano, the Yankees took a hard to replace closer away from the rival Devil Rays and they get a year to see if he can pitch in New York and replace the great Rivera. You can’t really replace a once in a lifetime pitcher like Rivera, but Chamberlain wilted as the set up man last year and if you buy a closer that can’t pitch in New York the season could be shot before June. I was very impressed with the way Soriano bounced back from his bad outing against the Twins to help with the win 2 days later.

  It’s too early to tell about the offense. Cano is still an All-Star and Rodriguez is off to a good start, but just like last year the outfield doesn’t have the pedigree of a world champion. Gardner hasn’t hit well since June of last year, Swisher doesn’t inspire my confidence, and top backup Andruw Jones is a guy who no one wanted for the last 3 years. After his fine playoffs last year, I was expecting Granderson to get off to a hot start, but it is another slow start. I don’t know what to make of Jeter. I had no problem with the Yankees paying him whatever was necessary to keep him in the pinstripes, but facts are facts and the facts say it is time to think about a replacement. It is hard to think of the Yankees without Jeter, but Jeter isn’t Jeter anymore.

  Despite all the Yankees problems, the season is only 9 games old, they are only a game out of first, and ahead of both the filthy Red Sox and the pesky Devil Rays. I'm sure both teams will be back on top of the standings battling the Yankees before long. I’ve been catching a lot of the games on the radio via mlb.com. It is the best bargain around. For 14.99 a year, I get access to every team’s radio broadcasts. Younger fans like the MLB.com TV internet package, but I’m used to getting my baseball on the radio where you can be doing something else and almost listening to the game in the background, letting the announcers voices clue me in to pay extra attention.

  I’m not as much of a baseball fan as I am a Yankee fan, but the cool thing about baseball is that your favorite team is playing 6 days a week as opposed to football when each game is almost a national holiday because you have to wait another week for the next game.