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An Evening With The Whitless Wonder, The Yankees and The Master of the Obvious
April 29, 2009 - John Whittaker
Five years ago, Yankees-Red Sox in April was a chance to preview what looked to be that season's American League Championship Series.
Fantasy Baseball Corner
Friday night, I was on my way over to pick up the News Gal, trying to pick up the Yankees-Red Sox game on radio.
Unfortunately, no game.
So, I decided to listen to ESPN Radio to get updates until we could get back to my house and the safety of my TV.
So, waiting on my Yankees news, I hear this gem from Eric Karabell, one of ESPN.com's fantasy gurus -- try to pick up Cole Hamels while he's still working his way into form and don't pick up Dave Bush after his near no-hit performance on Thursday.
That's why you're a fantasy guru?
How is that not a 10 on the no poop-o-meter? Thanks for that newsflash, buttknocker. In case nobody knew, the sky's blue, water's wet and Eric Karabell is dumb. He only has the job because Beavis was busy getting smacked around.
Tell you what, wonderboy -- get on the radio and give me something I can use -- is someone about to get demoted? Is there a hot pitcher about to come up from AAA that we should know about. Is someone's velocity down enough to warrant sitting him on your bench because he's about to get shelled? Did you hear about the latest injury to a mid-level player that might be on your team?
How is it, with dozens of mainstream, free fantasy sports Web sites out there, that we're stuck with this drivel?
So, in a sidebar spot regardless of what blog is up on this space this year, we'll be talking some possibly helpful fantasy baseball news. Post comments if you'd like, and let's try to start a useful fantasy baseball spot here in our corner of cyberspace. We'll try to update it at least twice a week, and it'll be more if people leave me comments to debate.
God knows, it can't be worse than what ESPN Radio is throwing out there on a nightly basis.
And, if you wake up with a horse's head (or butt) in your bed, Eric, be forewarned. The Whitless Wonder is ready to take this feud to the mattresses. A hex on your house, you butthead.
In other fantasy baseball news -- after my team started off hot, spending parts of the first two weeks in first or second place, we've slumped to the middle of the pack. Injuries to Vladimir Guerrero, Ichiro Suzuki and Jose Guillen haven't helped me at all. Geovany Soto not hitting an anorexic supermodel's weight hasn't helped either, and Kelly Johnson and Howie Kendrick, my middle infield combination that I was counting on for a few home runs and runs, are a combined 4 for their last 1,070,300 at bats.
So, it's trade time.
The Whitless Wonder traded Joba Chamberlain (this one hurt, but I'll get Joba back next year) for Chris Young, an underperforming but solid outfielder from Arizona, and Chase Headley, a third baseman-outfielder who has been one of the Padres top prospects for the last few seasons. Thankfully, Franklin Gutierrez, Wladimir Balentien and Michael Cuddyer can go back to the waiver wire where they belong, and hopefully, I'm not too far behind in runs, home runs and RBI to keep me from finishing in the money this year.
Meanwhile, we're turning down a trade with Teddy and Charles - I just can't deal Victor Martinez right now. With three decent catchers, I was hoping to be able to turn one into something good, but Magglio Ordonez isn't enough to pry Victor loose. We'll work on something for next week.
Also, the Sultan of Sweat has sent over an interesting offer that I'm considering: Geovany Soto (who is hitting Kate Moss' weight right now) and Chris Young for Jared Saltalamacchia and Jeff Francouer. Now, for you fantasy players out there, here's a thought. Soto is largely unproven. He was a great player last year, but after his hot start, he was kind of ordinary at the plate. How long do you stick with him now? Conti's trying to buy low, hoping that Soto rebounds. If he does, it's a great trade for him. Meanwhile, Soto's killing my offense right now, and I'm tired of seeing Soto go hitless every night. Seriously, doesn't something have to fall? Nick Green had two hits the other night, for crying out loud.
Well done, Conti - I think you might have yourself a trade there.
If you're looking for anything to take away from this, I'll say this: I think it may be time to give up on Geovany Soto, Michael Cuddyer will never get back to his form of three years ago, and Finn was right about Kelly Johnson (let's just say, I missed on that one). If those guys are on your team, try to get rid of them.
Now, it's a battle of two flawed teams that could both miss the playoffs. That's right Boston fans - you're not a lock this year, I don't care what that little 10 game winning streak says about your team.
Both teams have holes -- the Yankees pitching hasn't yet begun to live up to advanced billing and the bullpen is shaky, especially if Brian Bruney is out for any length of time. As for the Red Sox, David Ortiz and Jason Varitek have aged worse than Elizabeth Taylor.
That isn't stopping the Whitless Wonder from bringing you a running diary of Sunday's Yankees-Red Sox game on ESPN.
7:45 p.m.: The News Gal is camping out on the couch with some work she brought home from over the weekend, a Stewart's root beer and some Triscuits and sliced cheese. Yep, she's all set to go. As for the Whitless Wonder, we're snacking on some cookies and a bottled water. It's an exciting life we lead, isn't it?
8:00: Our first pitch is a strike from Andy Pettitte. Always a good sign when Andy starts things off well. I'm less enthused with that single to centerfield by Jacoby Ellsbury on his second pitch. But, in all seriousness, I like Pettitte pitching this game. With as long as he's pitched for the Yankees, seeing him on the mound gives you that warm feeling deep down in the coccels of your heart.
Our announcers tonight are Jon Miller, who speaks like he's reading from a broken teleprompter; Joe Morgan, who drags out obvious points for 10 years at a time; and Steve Phillips, the former Mets general manager who never met a mirror he didn't love. I get a break from Michael Kay for one night, and this is what I get? Can I sue ESPN for sodomizing my ears for three hours?
8:19: Alright, maybe I can deal with Steve Phillips. After Pettitte starts Dustin Pedroia with a pitch on the outside corner, Phillips starts talking about how Pettitte has reinvented himself over the last 14 years -- working the outside corner more, using the cut fastball inside less and trying to keep hitters off balance more often. Nice point from the former Mets GM - and a possible saving grace for this broadcast. But, Morgan ruins the point by babbling on about it for another two and a half minutes -- and adding nothing noteworthy. Thanks Joe. Nice to see we can count on you. Meanwhile, Pettitte gets Pedroia to fly out and then a double play lineout by David Ortiz to end the inning. So far, so good.
8:27: Robinson Cano, who's hitting a tidy .381, taps a ground ball toward first base - and fails to run the ball out. Thanks Robby. It's mental lapses like that one that make you wonder if Cano will ever live up to his potential. On the plus side, he wasn't at risk to pull his hamstring.
8:29: Did anyone know Joba Chamberlain isn't throwing as hard this year? Did you hear that the Yankees bullpen hasn't been very good? Good grief - leave it to ESPN to hit the most obvious things about a team. As if it hasn't been all over SportsCenter, First Take and Baseball Tonight for the last two weeks. I think I'm coming down with the swine flu.
8:32: Kevin Youkilis comes up. Wait for it … wait for it … there's the replay of his 11th inning homer on Friday off of Damaso Marte. Yep, I'm definitely coming down with something now. If it's possible to hate someone you/ve never met, well, I hate Youkilis. I hate his stupid batting stance. I hate his fricking goatee. I hate the fact he's hitting something like .900 with 7,000 home runs against the Yankees.
Speaking of Youkilis, Phillips starts to explain why Youkilis starts each pitch with his hands split on his bat (he finished the night with 10 solid points that I didn't notice before). Nice point. Good job by Joe Morgan of beating Phillips' original point into the ground like he's swinging a sledgehammer. Good old Joe Morgan - can we just nickname him Mr. Master of the Obvious right now?
8:42: Best piece of footage all night - and I missed it grabbing something in the kitchen. Apparently, ESPN pans to a shot of Jason Varitek, who promptly spits all over himself. This needs to show up on YouTube. I demand it.
8:47: Hideki Matsui leads off the third with a single to left off of Justin Masterson, a rookie getting the start in place of the menstrually disabled Daisuke Matsuzaka. That single, going the other way, is a great sign for Matsui. When he's pulling everything, he grounds these nifty 72-hop ground balls to second base. If he's using the whole field, he's a useful player.
Next up, Melky Cabrera, who groundsa seeing-eye single to left field. Angel Berroa follows with a perfect sacrifice bunt, and Brett Gardner brings home the game's first run with a sacrifice fly to left field. Jeter gets on when Mike Lowell can't handle a ground ball, and the Yankees have two on and two out for Mark Texeira … who quickly pops out to right field.
"Way to go Texeira. Jase wouldn't have stranded the runners,' quips the News Gal, who still hasn't come around to the Mark Texeira Era. Can anyone spot the Jason Giambi fan in the room?
Meanwhile, I think the game might have turned right there. You can't miss chances to score against Boston (see, Friday night's extra-inning loss and Saturday's bullpen implosion.). I have a bad feeling.
8:58: And now that bad feeling comes to fruition. Berroa muffs a leadoff grounder by Nick Green. After Jacoby Ellsbury reaches on a fielder's choice, he steals second and moves to third when Berroa throws a ball in the dirt (who'd think we would be missing CODY RANSOM right now?). Two on, one out, and Daivd Ortiz hits a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game. Even decomposing, Ortiz kills the Yankees. Pettitte limits the damage by catching Pedroia stealing. I'm just waiting for Joe Morgan to talk about how Pettitte has the best pickoff move in the majors, but he doesn't. Wow. I'm so shocked right now.
9:15: Cano reaches on a bloop single before Matsui just misses a two-run home run. Cue Stewie Griffin voice - BLAST. Matsui singles, but Melky Cabrera grounds out to second to end the inning. Remember what I said earlier about missing chances? Call this foreshadowing.
9:20: Mr. Master of the Obvious strikes again. "The Yankees really need Alex Rodriguez back.ã Really? Did you think of that all by yourself? Either Morgan, or the swine flu, is making me bleed from my eyes.
9:25: Here is an interesting discussion. Curt Schilling is a borderline Hall of Famer, in part for his postseason brilliance. What about Andy Pettitte? He has four championship rings, pitched one of the most memorable post-season games in the 1996 World Series (that nifty 1-0 shutout in Game 5) and now has more regular season wins than Schilling. How's that for food for thought? While the debate's going on, Pettitte strikes out the side, sandwiched around a walk and stolen base by Jason Bay. If a borderline Hall of Fame player can be underrated, then Pettitte's that guy.
9:55: Pettitte starts the inning with a leadoff walk to Jason Varitek, which really hurts. Green strikes out (there's the Nick Green we all know and love) before Ellsbury walks. After Pedroia flies out to centerfield, Ortiz doubles to deep left, scoring Varitek and moving Ellsbury to third. Stupid Ortiz. I swear he was hooked up to Dr. Kevorkian's machine between innings, and he drills a double to give Boston a lead. Is it any shock that Jacoby Ellsbury stole home after that? He just saw David Ortiz resurrected between innings to drive in a run. I'd be ready to steal home too. 3-1 Boston after 5.
This inning is why you can't miss chances to score against Boston. Their lineup is too deep to come up empty when you have runners in scoring position. And, they're making the little plays the Yankees used to make. I think I just coughed up a lung - damned swine flu.
10:13: After Nick Swisher flies out to start the sixth, Cano singles, followed by a walk by Jorge Posada. If the Yankees are going to get back into the game, it's right now. Terry Francona brings in a rookie, Hunter Jones, who gets Matsui to line out to right (at least the ball was hit hard) and Cabrera to strike out swinging on a pitch in his eyes. BLAST!
10:15: Pettitte comes out for the sixth and gets two groundouts before Green singles. What is Nick Green doing playing for the Red Sox? What, was Marty Barrett not available? Jerry Remy finally had the big one? Pettitte catches Green trying to steal to end the inning. There's the Nick Green we all know and love. Pettitte's final line - 6 innings, 65 strikes, 51 balls, three earned runs, and still staring a loss right between the eyes. It wasn't his most dominant start, but he kept the Yankees in the game. Its' not his fault they can't hit rookies.
I'll be honest with you now - I kind of checked out on this game after this. There was no way the Yankees were coming back from a three run deficit. The only reason this diary doesn't end right now is Mark Melancon was warming up in the bullpen, and I was curious to see what the kid has. For some reason, the Yankees just don't have the ability to come back from more than one run in the late innings. I don't know why. I can't explain it. All I know is, if they're down 3 runs in the seventh, change the channel.
10:30: We get our first look at Mark Melancon (pronounced Melansin), a prospect who could turn into Joba: Part II. Nice seventh inning from the kid. I'm encouraged. He gets Ellsbury to ground back to the pitcher, then Pedroia to fly out to center and Ortiz to pop out to second, all in about eight pitches.
10:37 (after quick offensive inning from the Yankees): Melancon loads the bases with none out in the eighth, then wriggles his way out of the jam. I know Brian Cashman's worried about putting too many innings on the kid, but he's better than at least three-quarters of the guys throwing in the bullpen right now. He gets Mike Lowell, who torments the Yankees, to ground into a fielder's choice and cut off the run at home, then struck out Varitek and got Nick Green to ground out to second. This kid's pretty good - live fastball, nice tight breaking ball, didn't get rattled when he loaded the bases. Is there anyone better to handle the eighth inning for the Yankees right now? That's what I thought.
With that, I really did check out - the Yankees go quietly in the ninth against Takashi Saito, ending a 4-1 loss.
What I'm Taking Away From This Series
Honestly, it's hard to be emotionally drained by the sweep. First of all, it's Boston - I hate losing games to the Red Sox. It's like getting kicked in the junk repeatedly by someone wearing steel-toed boots.
The Yankees had the first game in the bag before Mariano Rivera had one of his "I am not a robotã moments and left a fastball up and away from Jason Bay.
Saturday's game was winnable, especially if you score 11 runs. They led 6-0 in the middle innings Saturday before A.J. Burnett decided to light himself on fire on the pitcher's mound, followed by every relief pitcher the Yankees threw out there having an epiliptic seizure on the mound.
Lastly, on Sunday, Pettitte was victimized by bad defense in the third inning, the resurrection of David Ortiz for three RBI and the offense's inability to do anything against a rookie.
In the end, it's three losses that drops the Yankees a game under .500. It's also a sign that we're right there, with some tweaking. So, call me an optimist, but I see this cup of pee as half full.
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