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July 26, 2004

by Larry Mahnken

Did the Yankees open the door and let the Red Sox back into the AL East race?  No.  But they did miss an opportunity to put the Red Sox away, maybe knock them out of the playoff race, and eliminate a dangerous postseason opponent.

But then, so what?  If they don't have to play Boston in October, then they have to play Anaheim, Oakland, Texas, Minnesota or Chicago -- all quality teams, all just as capable of knocking off the Yankees as the Red Sox.  Yeah, if the Yankees lose to the Red Sox, it would be especially painful, but it's gonna suck if they lose anyway.  Boston might be the toughest potential opponent for the Yankees, but there aren't any easy opponents.

Saturday's game was a terrible disappointment in the end, but considering that I had expected them to lose, I got over it pretty quickly.  I think Joe Torre managed the game poorly, as if they had to win, and finally got bit in the ass for overusing the back end of the bullpen.

The brawl was idiotic, and if Alex Rodriguez gets suspended a single game for his participation, I'll be pissed.  Varitek escalated the incident from words to violence (A-Rod said "come on" to Varitek, but you don't say that except in response to a threat), and Rodriguez's actions were as justified as Pedro's were last October when Zimmer charged him.  Varitek should get a suspension, Sturtze should get a suspension, and perhaps Trot Nixon, too (though I really don't care all that much, I'm a fan of anyone who kicks Sturtze's ass).

Sunday, Jose Contreras turned back into a toad, putting the Yankees out of it before the game had hardly begun.  They did almost come back, but Derek Jeter killed a rally in the eighth by running on the wrong side of the line (See?  He ain't perfect!).

The really bad thing was that the Yankees' pitching was exposed badly.  Not that it surprised anybody, and Boston's isn't a typical lineup, but the Yankees had Saturday's game in hand, and couldn't hold on.  They need more starters, and they need more middle relief.  The first problem will be alleviated by the return of Brown and Mussina, and the second perhaps by the demotion to the pen by... well, it's probably going to be Contreras, but might be El Duque or Lieber.  The eventual return of Karsay, who had a "setback" in not being comfortable throwing in back-to-back games should help, too.  This setback doesn't seem too bad to me, if the Yankees can only use Karsay every other day, that's enough to please me, but he probably won't be around for a few weeks at the very earliest anyway.

A trade would really help things, but the Yankees don't have much of anything to trade for anybody who would really help.  Bringing in a new lefty reliever and taking The Run Fairy out into the woods would help, and is probably the most likely trade to happen.

And they may need a new first baseman.  Best of luck, Jason, take your time.