Thursday, September 01, 2005

Back On Track

How ‘bout dem Yanks? Or, should I say, how bout dem Yanks fans, who complained and complained about dropping to Seattle Tuesday night. Look, guys, it’s going to be okay (just say the goddamn words). You can’t win ‘em all, and sweeping a four game series is a rarity not to be taken for granted. Three out of four ain’t bad, or something like that.

Well, no one should be taking anything but a split for granted, considering who is on the mound today. Sure, I’m still giddy over Wright’s return to the rotation, despite his outing on Sautrday. But you can’t just pretend that start didn’t happen. In his post-game interview, Wright explained to reporters that there was nothing wrong; he had his stuff, it’s just that the ground balls found their holes (though he had an equal number of ground and fly balls, 7).

I still have confidence in Wright. His stuff is right where it was last year with the Braves, and from what I’ve read of his rehab experience, his confidence looks to be right along with him. So if he has his stuff and his confidence, we have nothing to worry about, right? Well, except the ground balls hitting the holes instead of the infielders’ gloves.

Confidence word count: 3.

Wright’s adversary tonight is the still disappointing Joel Piniero, who spent a portion of this year in Triple-A. Unfortunately for the Yanks, they have this problem with hitting mediocre pitchers (see: Jeff Harris, Jose Contreras, the entire Devil Rays staff). Though, Piniero might fall somewhere outside the lines of mediocrity.

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I just want to take this space to commend the Yanks for last night. Normally, on a night where the only two runs plated were solo blasts, things wouldn’t be looking so hot. But this came against a 19-year-old phenom who has drawn more than one comparison to Doc Gooden. King Felix fanned seven in eight innings, and really didn’t make too many mistakes.

This is why the home runs are big. It means that the Yanks – Sheff and Cano in particular, of course – took advantage of the mistakes the younger made. I’m particularly happy with Cano’s shot, because he had to adjust to the off-speed pitch, didn’t quite hit is squarely, but still managed to muscle it beyond the outstretched glove of Ichiro.

Capitalizing off mistakes: it’s one of the differences between the June Yanks and the August Yanks. Now if they can only fix that damn affliction where they can’t drive one in with bases loaded, none out.

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One last topic I wanted to touch on today is Matt Lawton. Sure, he only has two hits since coming over, but remember that one was in the bottom of the ninth Saturday against Kansas City, and the other was an insurance home run in the eighth against Seattle Monday. This can’t and won’t keep up, and I think the Lawton acquisition is going to be more crucial than some may think.

He’s not going to put up monster numbers, but that’s not what he was brought in for. Cashman dished for him – at a relatively cheap price, considering what Chicago gave up to get him (Jody Gerut) – to solidify the outfield. Remember back in June and July, when the Yankees brethren were screaming about nabbing a centerfielder? Well, the wish was granted. Lawton is so versatile that he can play any outfield position, which allows Matsui to patrol center when Bernie’s out of the lineup. And while Matsui may not be the quickest outfielder, he gets a great jump on the ball when he’s in center, his natural position.

Lawton’s hitting will come around, and he’ll prove to be the guy we were looking to acquire in Eric Byrnes or Randy Winn. In fact, I think Lawton is a superior option to either of those guys.

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Coming tomorrow: The Oakland Athletics team report. The first official series of the Second Season begins, and begins with a bang, baby!