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May 30, 2003

by Larry Mahnken

Hey, look, we're in first place, they're in first place again! I'm still waiting for them to send me a contract.

Although, to be fair, wins against the Tigers should count half, and losses double.

There were good things tonight, Giambi had a couple of homers, and his BA is up to .230, in fact, he has an OPS of 1.281 over the past nine games. I think he's definitely out of his slump now, and none too soon. Giambi on a tear might be enough to carry the Yankees through June. Also, Contreras pitched pretty well, although it was the Tigers. I don't think the Yankees should use this as an excuse to bump Weaver from the rotation, but I'm sure they will. Vörös works for Boston, so the Yanks front office probably won't look far past the ERA. .357 BABIP??? Oh man, I have no idea what's going on...

But, this was Detroit, and in the end, this was more or less an ordinary game by the Yanks, without any exceptional performances by anyone but Giambi. Nothing to get excited about.

Boston made a major deal yesterday that will have a huge impact on this pennant race. They traded Shea Hillenbrand for Byung-Hyun Kim. I didn't realize how absorbed in the stathead community I have become until I saw the non-stathead reaction to this trade. This is mostly because Hillenbrand is a high BA player, who always look better than they are, and Kim failed miserably in the two most important games of his life. But in reality, the Red Sox got the better end of this deal, and that's even before you consider context. Kim is simply better than Hillenbrand, especially going forward.

But in context, this really looks like a major deal for Boston. I can see the benefit to Arizona, Hillenbrand isn't much better than an average third baseman, but he's still better than Matt Williams, and it also cuts a couple million dollars off their payroll. But for Boston...well, they don't lose anything at third--in fact, Mueller has been the most productive 3B in the AL so far this season. More than that, it stop Grady Little from inexplicably using Hillenbrand at first instead of Ortiz, Millar and Giambi. They're already better BEFORE you add Kim. Add BK to the rotation, and you have a young pitcher with the potential of being a good starter, with an outside shot at turning into an ace someday. Stick him in the pen, and there's your "ace reliever" that Bill James has advocated. Bring him in for the high-leverage innings, and suddenly the BoSox have a lot more confidence in their bullpen.

This doesn't spell doom for the Yanks, or even doo. It might make the team make a foolish trade for a reliever who won't help much, but as it stands, I think the Yankees are still a better team than the Red Sox when Bernie and Nick come back.

Here's my All-Star Ballot for this week:

1st Base C. DELGADO
2nd Base A. SORIANO
3rd Base B. MUELLER
Catcher J. POSADA
Outfield M. BRADLEY
Outfield M. RAMIREZ
Outfield M. MORA

1st Base T. HELTON
2nd Base J. KENT
Shortstop R. FURCAL
3rd Base S. ROLEN
Outfield B. BONDS
Outfield A. PUJOLS