Friday, May 05, 2006

On Tap: The Rangers

I frequent a handful of Yankees sites daily, not in an effort to expand my knowledge of the team, but to observe what other fans think about our beloved team. This means reading the comments following the posts. And while there are lively discussions taking place at many sites around the net, I’ve found myself parked at Pinstripe Alley for most of the season. There are two major reasons for this:

1) It’s always a lively, diversified argument. There people of all ages arguing and discussing on that board, some of which are statheads, others of which who have never heard of VORP. But regardless of who is speaking, there is normally an understood degree of respect.
2) There aren’t hundreds and hundreds of comments on each post. I used to partake in the discussions over at RLYW, but since there are literally 120+ comments on each post, it’s discouraging to see something I say get lost in the fray.

There is one poster in particular, going by the name of "lee," with whom I routinely disagree. We have various talking/arguing points, but can never seem to hit a compromise. But at least we can agree on what’s in store this weekend in Texas.

the "inconsistent hitting" is more about good pitching beating good hitting than anything else. at LAA they lost to Escobar (ERA 3.41) and Santana (3.73), but beat Colon (7.07). at Minnesota they lost to Baker (4.40) and Rincon (2.70), but beat Radke (7.29). as i've said before, they have no problem beating up on poor pitching, but they have a heck of a time winning when they're up against good pitching.

Note: while Rincon pitched one inning to get the win, we did get to Santana in the game he’s talking about, posting four runs over 6 1/3. ANYWAY.

On tap this weekend are the pitching-starved Texas Rangers. And while their lineup can smack the ball around with the best of ‘em – even the Yankees – their lack of starting pitching has led to failure after failure. It even forced them to vastly overpay for Kevin Milwood and Adam Eaton, neither of whom is pitching this weekend (Eaton is on the DL). So here are the match ups:

Vincente Padilla (3-1, 4.04, 1.37) vs. Mussina (4-1, 2.31, 1.08)
Loe (1-2, 4.15, 1.33) vs. Chacon (3-1, 4.56, 1.44)
Robinson Tejada (1-0, 3.60, 1.80) vs. Wang (1-1, 4.89, 1.51)

In essence, there’s no top-notch pitching to worry about, so the Yanks should be able to slug their way to a series victory should the back end of the rotation falter. However, there is one problem the Yanks haven’t faced well: relatively newbie starters. You know, kinda like Robinson Tejada.

Look, we all know the Yanks can and likely will crush Kameron Loe. He may be a large, intimidating man, but I don’t think he has the stuff to contain the likes of Derek Jeter and Jason Giambi. And with Matsui and A-Rod seemingly righting themselves, this specemin in mediocrity should be taking an early shower on Saturday night. Padilla and Robinson, while ostensibly harmless, pose a different threat.

Padilla has been a career National Leaguer to this point, meaning he’s faced the Yankees maybe once, twice at the most, in his career. And honestly, he doesn’t have terrible stuff. He’s not an ace, but he served the Phillies well in the middle of the rotation. As such, I fully expect him to go Scott Baker on us. Same goes for Robinson Tejada, who just made his first start of the season on May 2. This isn’t to say that these outcomes are a certainty, but that should they happen, I won’t be shocked.

I’ll be pissed, however. The Yankees need to take full advantage of the forthcoming situation and run up the score against these mediocre pitchers. Of course, that’s much easier to type than to execute. But it’s frustrating to see a team that normally makes its living off getting guys on base falter against middle and back of the rotation guys, using the “we haven’t seen much of them” excuse. Well, you know what? Other teams haven’t seen much of these pitchers either, yet they beat up on them. That’s how we know they’re mediocre, because they get rocked most of the times they’re on the mound.

The Rangers may be atop the AL West, but there is absolutely no reason the Yanks can’t take all three this weekend. As always, I’ll be happy with two of three. Wang has been horribly inconsistent and could implode at any point. And Chacon has that nasty habit of allowing guys on base before he bears down and gets outs. This becomes problematic with the Rangers lineup, as they can slug, slug, slug. That, however, means that they’re relatively aggressive, which should play right into Moose’s hands.

Hope they’ve got a new shipment of lumber ready for Saturday and Sunday; we might need all the help we can get on the offensive side.