Wednesday, May 03, 2006

What Did Rick Sutcliffe Learn by Broadcasting One Game?

He was the color man for the previously mentioned Dave O'Brien masturbatory Red Sox-Yankees broadcast. So what exactly did he learn about both teams from watching one game?

What did I see in the first meeting of the year between the Yankees and Red Sox, and what did these two teams find out about each other?
When it comes to pitching, the Yankees are pretty much the same -- Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, Shawn Chacon, Chien-Ming Wang and Mariano Rivera.

Alright, so what Sutcliffe learned about the Yankees by watching one game is that the Yankees have many of the same players from last year on their roster.
The Yankees know all about Curt Schilling and Josh Beckett, two pitchers who have won World Series MVP awards -- both against New York (Schilling in 2001 with the Diamondbacks and Beckett in 2003 with the Marlins). They have seen Schilling and Beckett perform in October, and perform tremendously well.

But what the Yankees learned from Monday night's loss to the Red Sox is that the Boston bullpen -- which was its Achilles' heal last year -- is stronger than it's been in a long time. The depth of the bullpen is remarkable.

The Yankees learned that Boston's "bullpen depth is remarkable" based on 2 innings pitched against them by only two relievers - Boston's best two relievers - one of which was there last year and was their best in 2005? How exactly does seeing 2 guys show "depth"? Bear in mind that the two best Yankee relievers (Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera) did not appear.

Jonathan Papelbon is legit. He'll be the Red Sox's closer for the remainder of this year, but he'll be in the starting rotation next season according to general manager Theo Epstein. Keith Foulke is also healthy again. I talked with him before Monday's game and he said he's much better now. The key for him is just getting his rhythm back and pitching every second or third day. Mike Timlin is his usual self, and Julian Tavarez and Rudy Seanez are two quality middle relievers. If Boston has a starter who only goes four innings, the depth of that bullpen could hold a lead by using just one pitcher in each of the next five innings.

Although it wasn't a save situation, I love what manager Red Sox Terry Francona did in the ninth inning Monday. He already had Papelbon warming up before David Ortiz hit the three-run home run, and Francona still brought in his closer to pitch the ninth and test the waters with the Yankees. There are saves and then there are saves against the Yankees. It wasn't a save situation by rule, but Papelbon put a big exclamation point on that win.

The guy had a 4 run lead. David Ortiz was the one who put an "exclamation point" on the victory by extending the lead from one to four runs with a mammoth home run off of a lefty specialist.

Pitching was a problem for the Red Sox last year, everyone knows that. But they were also horrible defensively. When you look at their infield now (and when they get Coco Crisp back in center field), they are improved defensively -- maybe even more than they did with their pitching and that's saying quite a bit. Not only are the Red Sox going to hit the ball, but they are going to throw it better and catch it a lot better.

Rick, their infield offense is terrible. Loretta isn't the player he once was, Youkilis plays a power position but lacks pop, and just look at some stats for Lowell and Cora. They still have Ramirez and Ortiz, but is Crisp the hitter Damon was? When Wakefield pitches, Varitek - the only decent hitting infielder - sits because Ortiz is such a liability in the field that you can't think about DHing Varitek. I'd say their defense is better, but it comes at the cost of offense. I'm sure I could find a bunch of statistics based on win shares for all of the players involved, but that's not my job - it's yours - and I'm busy.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has seen one thing from each of the last three World Series champions.

I would think he's seen more than one thing.

In 2003, Florida's starting rotation was healthy and had depth. The Red Sox had five starters that won 10 or more games during the 2004 regular season. And the first thing that comes to mind about last year's White Sox World Series team is its starting pitching -- they led the league in innings pitched in 2005.

I'm glad that Brian Cashman was able to finally learn that having good pitching is important to winning a championship. Up until now he probably thought any old yokel would do. Those three World Champions really must have shown them.

Last year, Yanks manager Joe Torre used 14 different starting pitchers. This year, he has the chance to stay within seven or eight starters and run quality out to the mound on an everyday basis. And you know with owner George Steinbrenner, adding someone -- a la Roger Clemens -- is never out of the question.

This year is no different than the second half of last year. In fact you stated earlier that the Yankees pitching hasn't changed. But now, it's totally different. Good job Rick.

It's one win for the Red Sox, and some people might not think it's a big deal.

It's not.

But remember last year, the difference in winning the American League East and the wild card was one game (and the Yankees won the season series from Boston, 10-9). So, one game is big.

No, really, I assure you, it's not. It's one game out of 19 out of 162. It is worth exactly as much as every other game.

I used to watch Sutcliffe when he was a broadcaster for the Padres channel and always considered him a huge homer for the Friars to the point of idiocy, so really it should come as no surprise that he's a Red Sox homer now that he works for their network.

posted by Mr. Faded Glory @ 9:43 AM   3 comments


At 5/03/2006 8:20 PM, Blogger June said...

how very FJM of you. speaking of which: click here

At 5/04/2006 5:45 AM, Blogger lupe_velez said...

what's an achilles heal?

At 5/04/2006 5:56 AM, Blogger Mr. Faded Glory said...

Damnit, I can't believe I missed that


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