July 26, 2006
How to Win the Pennant(s)
With the Mets currently running away with first place in the National League East largely because they play in the worst division in Major League Baseball (sorry Mets fans, but if you disagree, you're only kidding yourselves), and the Yankees still struggling to find consistency, I'd like to offer my two cents (well, it's more like a buck fifty) on how I'd fix my favorite ball club. It's really quite simple: add some power to the outfield along with a quality starting pitcher and then fix the bullpen.
Now this remedy has two intentions, the first being to get the Yankees into the playoffs for the umpteenth straight season (13 I believe, but hey who's counting?) and the other to ensure that they play the Mets in a repeat of the subway world series because I'd like to see my Mets-crazed brother-in-law Greg go on another blitzkrieg around his parents living room, resulting in several large holes in the wall.
Yes, the fall of 2000 is better known in our family circle as the great sheet rock debacle. God, those were some great memories. I haven't spoken to my father-in-law in six years because of that World Series (it was his house where the whole spectacle occurred), so I was actually doubly blessed that day. I may have been partially to blame for getting the animals all riled up considering that I kept repeating the phrase, "you waited 14 years to see your team get to the World Series . . . for this!" But hey, if you can't take a joke in the most critical moment of your team's season, then screw you and the orange, blue and white jersey you rode in on.
With Hideki Matsui and Gary Sheffield, two of the Yanks top hitters, both out for the remainder of the season due to injury, Melky Cabrera has been a pleasant surprise in leftfield albeit he has less pop in his bat than Gene Monahan, the team's trainer. This guy has only three more home runs than I do and I'm not even on the team!
Reserve outfielder Bubba Crosby, the all defense/no offense scrub looks like a deer in headlights whenever he's at the plate and after injuring himself with a batting average hovering near the Mendoza line a little more than a month ago, manager Joe Torre was overheard in the dugout saying something along the lines of "Thank you Jesus," to which nearly a third of Yankee Stadium's male occupants chimed back in unison, "You're welcome Joe."
And what is with that name? Bubba! That is a name that just screams power hitter right? When I hear the name Bubba, I think of the film Deliverance. No, actually I picture a large free swinging slugger that chews tobacco by the bagful, hits lots of home runs and strikes out twice a game. Instead, we get a sub-.200 hitter who has trouble reaching the outfield in batting practice. Not a proper replacement for a future Hall-of-Famer is it? And now that Crosby is back from the disabled list, we can look forward to more of the same guano from him.
So how do we get more pop from the corner outfield positions? Read on my friends. First, you offer some middle-of-the road prospect to Pittsburgh for Jeromy Burnitz and Roberto Hernandez. Burnitz is a prime time power hitter that thrives in a good lineup. He'd bring 310 career home runs to the lineup a .483 career slugging percentage and most importantly, he'd teach the younger guys that opposing pitchers are "meat." Hernandez is a solid hard throwing reliever who has had success this season and could be a help to bridge the gap to Rivera.
If you watched Sunday's game against the White Sox, you now are certain that Farnsworth is not the answer. The guy might throw old Mr. Spalding 98-miles an hour every pitch, but he throws it straight and hitters tee off on it. If I had the chance, I'd personally tell him that he sucks in the role of setup man . . . then I'd run away. Have you seen what this guy looks like? He's a poster boy for human growth hormone if there ever was! Why aren't they testing him?
Then you get a great, great player by trading for Phillies outfielder Bobby Abreu. This guy is a perfect fit for the Yankees. He's a great contact hitter, has plenty of power, runs the bases with the best in the league, has a cannon arm and is still fairly young. If they can't land Abreu, New York should focus on reacquiring Washington's Alfonso Soriano, a big-time hitter who now finally plays the outfield. Yes, I know he can't field very well, but if you score 10 runs a game, it's very hard to lose.
Next thing up is to fix the Yankees disgusting bullpen. The carnival of crapola that has passed through the pinstripes pen this season has been nothing short of abysmal. Aaron Small, Scott Erickson, Tanyon Sturtze, Farnsworth, Colter Bean, T.J. Beam. Please, would someone grab the pooper scooper!
But we can remedy this quickly. Flame-throwing reliever Octavio Dotel is due to make his first appearance of the season soon and workhorse Scott Proctor is bound to bounce back once he's not used every single game, but adding someone along the lines of a Ray King, Bob Wickman, Tom Gordon or Joe Borowski would give the pen a huge lift.
They could also solidify the starting staff by moving some prospects for a quality starter such as Giants ace Jason Schmidt, Greg Maddux (plays in a hitters' park), Jon Lieber or possibly the great John Smoltz. Am I the only one that feels comfortable with the rotation now that Randy Johnson and Jaret Wright seemed to have found their stuff again? I'll go one step further . . . I believe the recently signed Sidney Ponson could be the answer to the Yanks rotation woes. Let's just hope they keep him away from the all-you-can-eat buffet.
So there it is. Feel free to pass along these ideas to the Yankees brass. I'll keep my fingers crossed for the Subway Series. Go Mets! Oh, and Greg, if that does indeed occur I'll be sure to bring the spackle.