Posts Tagged ‘New York Yankees’

The Wild, Wild, Wild Card…

May 21, 2011 Leave a comment

This is it, mark this day on your calendar… May 21st 2011.  The end of days, the day that everything we’ve known that is good and pure will come to an end.  The beginning of the end for all… The last day that the Boston Red Sox will not be the atop the American League East.  Ok, ok, I jest; surely it’s possible that the Rays defeat their Florida neighbors to hold off the Sox for another day and I guess it’s somewhat (albeit far less) plausible that the Cubs actually defeat the Sox, but you don’t need to scour the bible and use complicated mathematics to see that the Sox are finally performing as we thought they would and that the AL East is theirs for the taking.

As for the Jays, for a season in which they’ve lost Bautista for 8 games, Lind for 12,  Hill for 17, Jayson Nix for 20(ish), and in which Halladay has yet to pitch for them (what? Some people think the moon landing was staged, I can’t conveniently forget that Doc was traded?), you have to be happy to see them sitting only 2.5 out.  As I said above, I think the Sox are about to grab the East crown from the Rays’ head and run away with it.  Like a big brother bullying his little sister, I expect that the Sox are going to run farther, faster, leaving everyone else in the division standing in the mud crying for Mom.  What the Jays can hold out hope for, is that the Wild Card looks to be exceptionally winnable this year.

Here are the Wild Card standings through last night’s games:

American League
Boston 24 20 .545 15-9 9-11 201 194 +7 Won 7 8-2
NY Yankees 23 20 .535 .5 13-12 10-8 219 179 +40 Lost 1 3-7
Detroit 22 22 .500 2 11-8 11-14 193 192 +1 Lost 4 6-4
Kansas City 22 22 .500 2 17-11 5-11 200 206 -6 Won 2 4-6
LA Angels 23 23 .500 2 10-10 13-13 181 177 +4 Won 1 3-7
Toronto 22 22 .500 2 10-10 12-12 199 189 +10 Lost 1 7-3
Oakland 22 23 .489 2.5 11-12 11-11 165 157 +8 Lost 3 4-6
Seattle 20 24 .455 4 11-12 9-12 153 171 -18 Won 3 4-6
Baltimore 19 24 .442 4.5 10-14 9-10 171 218 -47 Lost 4 5-5
Chicago Sox 20 26 .435 5 8-13 12-13 177 197 -20 Lost 1 6-4
Minnesota 15 28 .349 8.5 4-11 11-17 145 227 -82 Lost 1 3-7

Every team in the American League, save the surprisingly atrocious Twins, is within five games of the playoffs.  That’s remarkable.  Last year for instance, only three teams on May 21st were within five games of the Wild Card leading Yankees.  In the last decade, only 2004 and 2008 had anywhere near as many hopeful teams on this date.  In 2004 the White Sox, Yankees, Twins and Rangers were all tied for the Wild Card lead, with Oakland, Detroit and Baltimore all within four games.  Of course, by season’s end, the Yanks and Twins had won their divisions, the Red Sox had won 98 games to take the Wild Card in a walk and the A’s (7 games back) Rangers (9), White Sox (15), Orioles (20), and Tigers (26) were all left wanting.

2008 was less dramatic, the Rays led Baltimore by a game and a half, Oakland by 2.5, the Twins by 3.5 and Minnesota, Texas, the Jays, and Cleveland by 4.5.  By season’s end, the Rays had pulled off the decade’s most shocking upset, the Sox were again the Wild Card, and the fast starting Orioles were once again more than 20 games out (26).

Of course, the difference between those years and this year?  Well, in 2004 the Red Sox and Yankees were absolute, no doubt about it, great teams.  In 2008 the same could be said for the defending champion Sox and – even if we didn’t know it at the time – the Rays.  This year?  Who’s great this year?  If we look at those Wild Card standings and replace the Sox with the Rays, then tell me who is going to run away with the Wild Card?

I don’t expect there to be nine teams within five games of the WC by year’s end: The Royals’ bubble is about to burst; the Orioles are better, but not that much better; the Mariners intrigue me because they can defend and in King Felix, Michael Pineda and Erik Bedard (if he’s healthy) they have the arms, but… come on?  They’ve hit Adam Kennedy cleanup three times this year (and Miguel Olivio cleanup 17 times… I can’t decide which is worse); all of which leaves the Rays, Yanks, Tigers, Angels, A’s and White Sox.  Are any of those teams capable of winning 65% of their games the rest of the way to approach 95 plus wins?  I don’t think so.

As we all saw last weekend, the Yanks have started their long, slow decline and it’s not going to be pretty.  The names that made them great: Jeter, ARod, and Posada are showing the signs of age (the exception of course is Rivera, but we can’t predict exactly how he’ll age, aliens might have longer lifespans than humans).  If you thought the Posada debacle was ugly, just wait until Jeter’s On Base Percentage is still mired around .313 in July… Plus, it’s hard to see the Yanks as a juggernaut when their starting rotation is: CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova, and Freddy Garcia.  Baseball’s a funny game, but if those five pitchers are the backbone of a 95 win team, then Arnold Schwarzenegger’s an upstanding gentleman.

The Rays are obviously very well managed (both on the field and in the front office) and today they would be my guess to win the Wild Card, but they do have a sketchy bullpen, Johnny Damon batting 3rd and Matt Joyce hitting about a 100 points better than anyone could reasonably expect.  They will be there at the end, but I doubt that end is the 96 games they won last year.

As for the other teams, the Angels acutally thought it was a good idea to pickup all of Vernon Wells’ contract and he’s rewarding them with a .527 OPS (Nobody predicted that one… cough-sarcasm-cough).  The Tigers are being hauled to .500 by the shear greatness of Justin Verlander, but they look very much like a 85-87 win team (which might ultimately win the AL Central, sorry Tribe fans).  The White Sox are hard to predict, because Kenny Williams is so proactive that you never know when he’ll pull off a deal for Hanley Ramirez, but the problem with parity is that nobody’s selling off assets if they think that they can contend.  And the A’s, well the A’s are like a glorified version of the Mariners.  They have better arms, which is what keeps them in the conversation, but Josh Willingham is their cleanup hitter.  I think National fans can tell you how that works out.

All of which brings me back to the Jays.  Right now, it looks as though 90 wins might actually take the Wild Card, are the Jays capable of winning 90?  Well, no probably not.  To get to 90, they would have to win 68 of their remaining 118 games, or 57%.  Since they are exactly .500 today, that’s a tall order, but then if Lind were to get healthy, Hill start hitting the ball over the fence, Brett Lawrie come up from AAA and perform like the young star he is, well… Like I said, baseball’s a funny game.  I don’t think the Jays are truly in contention, but I also wouldn’t be terribly surprised if in the middle of July they were only 3.5 out, and at that point, well at that point it only takes one really good run; one stretch of games where every bloop hit finds a hole, where every line drive off the opposing team’s bat hits leather, where every hitter starts to feel good and every pitcher’s locked into the zone.  A stretch of games where you rattle off 15 wins in 17 games, or 17 wins in 23, or something that propels you from booking exotic holidays in October to playing meaningful September ball.  It’s possible.  It might be almost as surprising as the World ending today, but it’s possible.


Thanks (for) Hank…

February 21, 2011 Leave a comment

Honestly, as someone who dislikes the Yanks by nature, can there be anything better than the Steinbrenner brothers?  They are the gift that keeps giving and as a fan of any other team, you just hold out hope that they will begin to meddle more and more and more…

Today, Hank felt it important to tell media about what brought down the Yanks last season.  It wasn’t just that they ran in to a pitcher who was so good that they were willing to offer him 150 million a few short weeks later.  And it wasn’t that they have a team that’s getting a little older and – as teams getting a little older tend to do – is slowing down, if ever so slightly.  And, it wasn’t that they had a very successful season, winning 95 games and just happened to lose 4 of 6 in October to a team playing great ball.


It was, at least according to the razor sharp analysis of Hank, that the Yanks are spending all their time building mansions.  Seriously,

“I think, maybe, they celebrated too much last year,” Steinbrenner said Monday. “Some of the players, too busy building mansions and doing other things and not concentrating on winning. I have no problem saying that.”

That makes sense.  I mean, when the Yanks season went down the crapper, it wasn’t April or May, June or July.  Heck, it wasn’t even August or September.  I mean, in those months, the first six of baseball after they won the World Series, their distraction over celebrating meant that they actually only bothered to win 59% of their games.  So, sure they were the best team in baseball, but like vapid school girls, their concentration was on projects other than winning.  Still, it wasn’t until October that this level of distraction really cost them.

That’s because, when they should have been competing against the Rangers, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez were off building mansions.  It’s true.  Jeter was the foreman, he had a yellow hard hat and carried the plans with him everywhere.  ARod was his right hand man.  He ran all the errands that Jeter needed completed; grabbing coffee, scones for the crew, and handing out the paycheques.

It wasn’t just them.  Mark Teixeira was there too.  He was carrying bricks.  CC Sabathia had a Batman lunch pail, and Robinson Cano brought his own hammer.  Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, and Andy Pettitte sat to the side, smoking cigars, and playing cards with the Union rep.  Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain weren’t actually invited to work on the project, but like most men, when they walked past the construction site, they just stopped to watch the work happen.  So, sadly for the Yanks, it was only Brett Gardner and AJ Burnett that actually showed up to play against Texas.  You can imagine how that played out.

Oh well, fear not Yanks’ fans.  The results will be different this year.  There wont be any more mansion building.  The World Series is in the bag.  How do I know?  Well, Hank’s seen the team,

“I was just saying, maybe they were riding the wave of ’09 a little too much, and it happens sometimes,” Steinbrenner said. “This year in spring so far, from what I’ve seen and what I’ve been told, they’ve come in with a real, new drive and determination — the kind they had in ’09.”

Phew, we must all be grateful that three days into camp Hank can see a “real, new drive and determination.”  That’s good news.  Thanks Hank!

Ending the Jeter Madness…

December 5, 2010 Leave a comment

And just like that, the hostage situation ended. Thank god; I simply cannot imagine the turmoil that poor New York Yankee fans must have been suffering. Watching as their franchise threw their iconic captain under the bus, day after day, with all the balls that can be mustered by “unnamed sources.” Being subjected to wildfire rumors of their captain wearing the enemies uniform, and suffering sleepless nights as they wondered whether Derek Jeter would decide, ‘F*** this, I’m taking my talents to the Bay Area.’ Finally, they can rest easy, the Yankees have re-signed Derek Jeter. What remains confusing is, how the deuce did this get so ugly?

I mean, I could understand why the Yankees thought that 45 million for three years was reasonable, and I can understand that they felt it was bad for their organization to be spending 50 odd million yearly on a 123 year old left side of the infield, but what I couldn’t understand was the constant pot-shots at Jeter. I mean, I guess that the Yanks were trying to win a PR battle in the off chance that Jeter left, but really it just seemed petty, petulant, and puerile. Of course, each of those words would seem to describe the Steinbrenner sons, which perhaps explains the smear job.

Did the Yanks overpay Derek Jeter? Well, yes. And did they give him more than any other team would have? Well, yes, but that’s not exactly the point here. Derek Jeter isn’t worth more because he’s Derek Jeter, and the fastest way for a top team to succumb to the middle is to overpay for past success, but what exactly would the harm have been if they’d stepped out immediately and offered him say, 60 for three? Jeter surely would have wanted a fourth year, so the negotiating team of Randy Levine and Brian Cashman could have wiggled and bartered a fourth year based around the same parameters that they did for this contract. Sixty for three would have kept Jeter’s decline-years salary in line with what he’d made with his last contract. While it wasn’t the 25 he was looking for, it would have kept him in the glorified 20 million club. Most importantly, it would have saved the undermining of Jeter’s status with the franchise.

From Jeter’s perspective, I can understand his confusion over the Yankees taking a hardline stance, even one that empirically was fair. Two years ago the Yankees dropped 423.5 million on three players who together had been to no World Series, won only one playoff round, and had a combined 78.4 career WAR. At the same time, Jeter had been to six world series, his team had won four. He’d also been integral to them winning 17 playoff series, and he had a career WAR of 62.3 all by himself. Of course, this negotiation was all about logic, and logic dictates that Jeter can’t get extra credit for what his team accomplished and that he shouldn’t be paid for how good he was. Instead, Jeter should be accepting a contract that pays him requisite to what the market would pay him now during the decline phase of his career…

Except, three years ago the Yankees gave Alex Rodriguez a 275 million 10 year deal that will take him through his age 42 season. The contract pays him 31, 29, and 28 million over the three years that Jeter’s new contract runs, then it pays him another 86 million over the following four years. Just like Jeter now, nobody in 2008 was offering ARod within a hundred million of that deal. Nobody. So why’d they pay ARod three years ago and not Jeter today?

Ultimately, the contract that I suggested above and what the Yanks ultimately offered Jeter is a difference of 9 million over the three years. Nine million. Assuming that the Yanks maintain their current salary in the neighborhood of 215 million, that’s roughly 1.5% of the Yanks budget. 1.5%. Again, I have to ask what the point of this hardline contract negotiation was? What did the Yanks hope to gain? 1.5% freedom in their budget? Seriously, that’s bad math.

A Crack in the Empire?

October 20, 2010 1 comment

Given their history of postseason success, it would be exceedingly capricious to write the Yankees off down 3-1 to Texas in the ALCS, but… (don’t you just love a leading but) with two of the final three in Texas, Mark Teixeira’s hammy hanging by a thread, and Cliff Lee looming in game 7, the Yanks certainly look to be in dire straits. So, if this really is the end of the Yankee’s season, then an interesting question begins to emerge for the Evil Empire: where to from here?

The Yanks are the defending World Series champions, they have averaged 95.6 wins over the last five years and they have a seemingly unlimited payroll, but this series has shown that their foundation might be developing a few flaws. I don’t actually mean a two meter hole straight to the core of the Death Star kind of flaw, more of a who the hell allowed Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada to age past 35 kind of flaw.

When I was listening to Mr Tony yesterday, he was discussing how impressive Cliff Lee’s pitching performance was against the best offence in baseball, but as I’ve watched the Yankees this year, I’ve rarely thought of them as being the best offense in baseball, let alone the Murderers Row they once were.

This was the Yankees opening day roster:

1) D. Jeter ss
2) N. Johnson dh
3) A. Rodriguez 3b
4) M. Teixeira 1b
5) R. Cano 2b
6) J. Posada c
7) C. Granderson cf
8) N. Swisher rf
9) B. Gardner lf

And here is their lineup from Game 3 game against Texas:

1) D. Jeter ss
2) N. Swisher rf
3) A. Rodriguez 3b
4) M. Teixeira 1b
5) R. Cano 2b
6) M. Thames (L. Berkman) dh
7) J. Posada c
8) C. Granderson cf
9) B. Gardner lf

The second lineup is basically, give or take an adjustment here or there, what the Yankees preferred postseason lineup has been (I put Berkman in parenthesis, because obviously him and Thames split the position). So, right off the top I think we can all agree that the great Nick Johnson experiment ended exactly as we thought it would, with him on the DL after only 24 games. Now, Thames and Berkman have been fine in that role. Good even, but Berkman is Berkman is 34 and far removed from the man who once posted a 163 OPS+. And Thames? Well, he’s a solid platoon hitter, but uhmmm… seriously, it’s Marcus F***ing Thames?

Ok, good. Now, let me say that Robby Cano is a much better ball player than I thought and he had a hell of a season. He’s money baby. After that? If you read my Jays piece, then you know I think that Brett Gardner’s good, but he’s a plucky hitter kind of guy, not a stud with a stick. Nick Swisher? He’s good; a solid contributor and his 130 OPS + this year is nothing to sneeze at, but again, if I’m Cliff Lee I’m not quaking at the thought of facing him. Which brings us to Curtis Granderson, whom everyone says is the nicest guy. Of course, they also say that the writing’s on the wall and the dude, nice though he be, can’t hit a lefthander to save his life. Joe DiMaggio he ain’t.

All of which clears away the flotsam. So, lets get to the heart of the matter:

Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Mark Teixeira
Jorge Posada

Now, obviously we’re talking about three Hall of Famers* and a man who finished second in last years MVP voting, here. So there is nothing but grade AAA prime beef in front of us, but… has some of it past its ‘best by’ date?

*The more I think it about it, the more I think that Posada’s position, rate stats and rings eventually push him through the gates. And obviously with ARod I’m ignoring the whole steroid thing when saying he’s a Hall of Famer.

Lets start with Tex, because he’s the only one still in his prime. Obviously he hasn’t exactly passed his ‘best by’ date, but I do think we’re past the point where we can continue to think of him as one of the top ten (20, 30?) players in the game. A steady presence in the field and a switch hitter with a career 134 OPS+, Tex is a very good player. He’s hit 275 home runs in eight seasons, but this year his WAR (3.5) was 12th amongst first basemen. ONLY first basemen. Sure, some of the names above him you wouldn’t take, guys like Adam Dunn, Daric Barton, and Aubrey Huff are either too one dimensional, too young, or too fluky to pick over Tex, but the other names:

Joey Votto (7.4)
Albert Pujols (7.3)
Miguel Cabrera (6.2)
Adrian Gonzalelz (5.3)
Justin Morneau (5.3 – in only half a season)
Paul Konerko (4.2)
Kevin Youkillis (4.2 – in not much more than half a season)
Prince Fielder (4.1)

Maybe you say that Votto’s only really done it once, that Konerko’s too old, and that Fielder’s a meal away from his own zip code, but that still makes Tex the sixth best first baseman in baseball (fun fact: can anyone pick out the big name missing?). Again, good but not exactly Bernie Williams in the late nineties good.

Which brings us to the three geriatrics. First Posada: Look, I’m not going to mince words, if Jorge’s not your DH next year (and with his .248, .357, .454 line this year, I’m not entirely certain he’s a good enough hitter any longer for even that), then the Yanks are going to have problems. Never Johnny Bench behind the plate, he’s now become a giant liability. He couldn’t throw my grandmother out and his movement for pitches out of the zone is stiff and slow. All of which was fine when he was 35 and posting a 970 OPS, but that was three years ago and when next season kicks off, Posada will be a creaky 39 years old.

The Yanks may have an in house answer in Jesus Montero but two things give me reservations about the slugging catcher. One, nobody but the Yanks thinks he can catch, so if he breaks into the bigs next year, then the Yanks will be carrying two catchers, both of whom play thier position about as well as Granny. Two, oh I don’t know… call it Chamberlainshock. Phil Hughes had a good season this year, but I’ve just lived through a few too many great Yankee (and Red Sox for that matter) prospects to bite every time they’ve got the next great thing on the horizon. They might, but let me see him do it for 81 games in New York before I count my chickens.

Two down, Jeter and Arod left to go. The two best shortstops of their generation. Two absolute no doubt about it Hall of Famers. Mr. Clutch and Mr. Mirror. They are excellence personified, with a combined 177.4 WAR between them. Of course, they are also a combined 71 years old. Now, we all know that great baseball players remain great past the years of mere mortals, but we also know that in the post steroid era, ageing does occur and I think we can be sure that in the case of both these guys, it has.

I’m not saying they aren’t still good, but Jeter’s just publicly suffered through his worst professional season. Like Posada he’s playing a premium defensive position poorly (that might be an understatement), which was fine when he was a premium offensive player, but when his OPS+ is 90, that’s a problem. Bill Simmons keeps claiming that he expects a big bounce back year from Jeter, but I’m not entirely sure how much of that is real and how much of that is him trying to reverse jinx the Captain. Last year Jeter was great, a genuine MVP candidate, but the year before he was only average. That’s two mediocre years out of the last three. For a player deep into his 30s, there’s a pretty well trodden path that Jeter’s walking. According to Baseball-Reference, the top two comparable players to Jeter after this season were Roberto Alomar and Craig Biggio. When Alomar had his bad year with the Mets, everyone thought he’d bounce back the next year. Instead he bounced from the Mets to the White Sox, to the D-Backs back to the Sox, before bouncing right out of baseball. Biggio hung on longer, but his OPS never again topped 104. Of course those two were second basemen, what about shortstops you ask?

Well, after 36, Barry Larkin’s last four years he had OPS+s of 90, 74. 94, 101. Alan Trammel? 84, 32. Heck, even the Ironman himself, Cal Ripken, only had one other season with an OPS + above 100 after 35 and that was a season in which he only had 300 odd at bats. So, while Jeter may well have a bounce back year, I think we are talking about a bounce back to .300, .350., .400 not the .334, .406., .465 he posted last year.

All of which brings us to the big money man, Alex Rodriguez. Now, I’m already at 1600 words and half an hour away from my deadline, so I’m going to make this quick. ARod’s HR, OPS, and WAR over the last five years:

2007 – 54, 1.067, 9.2
2008 – 35, .965, 6.0
2009 – 30, .933, 4.5
2010 – 30, .847, 3.9

I’m no statistician and I don’t even play one on TV, but I’m pretty sure when numbers trend down like that for four years in a row, that’s indicative of something bad. Of course, this wouldn’t be that big a deal if ARod didn’t have 8 years and 174 million left on his current deal. If he’s in decline now, what’s he going to be in two years? Four? Six? Rodriguez’s decline phase is likely to be long and productive, but like the rest of the lineup, we are no longer looking at a monster hitter. He simply isn’t a batter that a pitcher like Lee is going to fear (and yes, I hate the Rice-ian “fear” argument, but you know what I mean).

The Yanks have one great hitter relative to position, Robinson Cano. They have two pretty good ones (Tex and ARod) and then they have a handful of good to decent guys, many of whom are going the wrong way with their skills. Yes, they are the Yankees and they’ve made the playoffs in 15 of the last 16 years, but there are flaws to their roster. Pieces of the puzzle no longer fit so succinctly and I no longer consider them a lock to win 100 games every year.

When I wrote that the Yankees seemingly had a limitless payroll above, I think that in the next three or four years, we’ll see just how limitless it truly is. Can they shuffle off the dead weight of Arod’s contract when it becomes onerous. How much does Jeter make and what happens when he’s a weak hitting right fielder instead of the Captain of Yore. Do they let Posada walk next year? Are they going to watch the Sox sign Carl Crawford, get anxious and dump a terrible deal at the feet of Jayson “I spell my first name wrong” Werth? And none of these 1800 words talk about a pitching staff that has some glaring holes (AJ Burnett anyone).

Now, obviously all these cracks can be spackled up with money (cough-Lee-cough), but when you’re spending a hundred million to cover up a hundred million mistake, at some point, eventually, maybe, (do I sound desperately hopeful here?) the cracks start to spread, the foundation starts to crumble and the empire comes crashing down…

The Impossible Dream…

September 25, 2010 Leave a comment

If I had to make a list of impossible things that would never happen right up near the top of the list, say behind me playing shortstop for the Jays, but ahead of Bill attempting a coup de grace on Kiddo, would be the Yankees blowing their 5 and a half game lead in the final week of the season; thus missing out on the playoffs. I mean, it just isn’t possible. They would have to lose five of their final seven and the team chasing them would have to win out. It’s beyond the realm of reality, like a world in which teenage vampires battle teenage werewolves and nobody just eats Kristen Stewart.

It’s so impossible, it would almost be like, oh I don’t know, the Red Sox climbing back from a 3-0 deficit in 2004. I mean, there was just absolutely no way that was happening. It wasn’t just that no team had ever come back from 3-0 down. It wasn’t even that the Yankees had won six of the last eight AL pennants, heck it wasn’t even that there was a curse prohibiting the Red Sox from winning important games. It was ALL of those things (well, except the Curse rubbish…). It just wasn’t possible, but…

Now, it’s not really like I would take great pleasure in the Sox storming back and ruining the Yanks title defense. I mean, the Sox beating out the Yanks is a little like finding out the Dr was able to cure your chlamydia by giving you gonorrhea. Sure, there’s no chance of blindness, but it still burns when you pee. Seriously, who wants the Sox in the playoffs. We’d have to listen to Bill Simmons pretend he didn’t throw the team under the bus two weeks into the season; we’d have to see all those ridiculous pink hats; and we’d have to watch Jimmy Fallon make out with Drew Barrymore again. It might be better than the Yanks making the playoffs, but not by much. So why am I hoping that a miracle happens?

The excitement of the whole freakin’ affair.

It’s not just that the Sox are chasing the Yanks, it’s that four of their final eight games are against the Bronx Bombers. It’s head to head baseball that would matter. And, frankly, we need some thrills to this season. Sure we had all those perfect games, the not quite perfect game and Jose Bautista doing his best Brady Anderson impression. And we had those two days in August when it seemed like Albert Pujols and Joey Votto might challenge for the triple crown, but beyond that? Yawn. Look at the standings. Where is the intrigue? Any intrigue? The White Sox made their big splash the last week of August when they acquired the great Manny Ramirez. Unfortunately, his talents seemed to get lost in translation and the Sox dropped faster than Lindsey Lohan’s nose towards a table lined with… (well you get the point).

The Twins are leading the Central by 11. The Rangers clinched the West tonight, which might have been a big deal, if they weren’t leading the division by 9 games. And in the NL? The Phillies have quietly broken the hearts of Georgia (you know, if anyone in Georgia actually cared about he Braves, which they don’t), while the Reds’ magic number is two. The only division in baseball that has any intrigue, is the NL West and at the risk of belying my East Coast bias… who cares. Really? Who? The Rockies have gone tits up, which means two of the three from the floundering Padres, floundering Giants, and foundering Braves will make the playoffs.

To the least loserish go the spoils.

A little intrigue. A little excitement. Some reason to check the box scores in the morning. It’s not too much to ask for, is it? What’s that? Dice-K takes the mound tomorrow night for the Sox? Sigh… oh well, I guess it is too much to hope for.

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