Ah, baseball optimism. It springs eternal in those endless, freezing winter months. Here were my prognostications regarding the 2008 Yankees, surely bound for glory, before cruel reality could intervene. Hindsight wisdom located within parenthesis. Special props to Fire Joe Morgan, the forerunners of this journalistic style… I guess. Whatever.
I believe this was written sometime in December, or maybe even later, like February. Either way, I probably should have pressed delete somewhere after the first sentence. Instead, I just kept typing. Hilarity ensues.
Last year, with assorted journeymen and busts eating tons of innings out of their rotation, Igawa, Rasner, Karstens, De Salvo and the like, combined with an aging and nicked up Mike Mussina, the Yankees still managed to win 94 games. [Quite an accomplishment, yes]
If you look at it from that perspective, all Hughes and Kennedy really have to do is pitch average baseball. [It would have been great] What are the chances, given their immense talent, that both totally flop? [Far greater than my feeble mind could have recognized, apparently. Did you know that I thought Ian Kennedy was way better than Jon Lester? Ouch, babe]
And that said, what are the chances that they exceed expectations, an optimistic view that could really apply to either? [In retrospect, you could have replaced optimistic with delusional]
Kennedy is ready to throw 200 innings and Hughes finished great last season. [True] I mean, should I not be excited by Hughes’ September and October? [Yes, you should have been] Is this not indicative of the kind of potential he holds, or his current ability to consistently get professional hitters out? [I thought so] It happened. [IT HAPPENED] He’s already pretty much proven he can be a league average starter. Homey did that on one leg. [Homey? The hell? Cracked ribs and vision problems would conspire to destroy Hughes in 2008, making both me, and Brian Cashman, look really, really dumb. Good thing I can’t be fired for being so amazingly wrong. I mean, it’s not like I have a job.]
Damon will be better, and will provide excellent defense in leftfield. [Yes! Score one for me]
One of the dumber things I’ve heard this Spring is that Damon’s range in left should concern the Yankees, which couldn’t be further from reality to anyone who actually watched the guy play the position last year. He did a great job. I’m not expecting an old school Damon season, but something in the range of his 2002 with Boston shouldn’t be out of reach. [Yet I was ultimately wrong]
Abreu, who is terrific condition this season, is going to be way better. [Keeps avoiding getting therapy for his wall phobia, unfortunately] Better shape equals a hotter start; his counting numbers will be far prettier this season, across the board. [Slightly] And at 34, there’s no reason to anticipate a sudden and sharp decline in his game. [Salient observation]
Alex Rodriguez will be a monster. [When the bases are empty] I expect him to make a legit bid for the Triple Crown. [Damn injury] His hitting mechanics are just sick right now. My hat goes off to Kevin Long. A-Rod’s swing couldn’t be more compact. [This is true, but Alex gives away too many AB’s guessing wrong to ever have a real gaudy batting average. True Yankee fans know what I’m talking about. He starts nodding his head like a guy with OCD in between pitches, ferociously chewing his gum, obviously deciding that the cowardly pitcher wouldn’t dare challenge him, before striking out on heat right down the damn middle]
Think .330, .340 in 2008. [Think not]
I know spring training doesn’t mean anything, but Alex is just pulverizing everything right now. Again, his mechanics are pristine. If they stay that way, he’ll avoid long 0-Fer slumps and his average will jump. Just watch. [Yeah, if he just let his natural talent takeover. Instead, he tries outguessing pitchers for some bizarre reason. He’s my favorite player, but this infuriates me to no end.]
Posada will drop off, but still provide excellent power and on base skills, especially for a catcher. [Too bad his shoulder exploded] Cano’s second half adjustments in pitch selection will work him into more favorable counts and equal a higher power output. If a guy is operating with a good approach, he’ll see far more cripple counts, therefore, more fat pitches. This especially applies to Robinson, because pitchers often throw him junk early in the AB. If the better pitch selection from the second half was a legitimate improvement made by a still developing player, he can hit 25 homers. [I will never again put so much stock in a guy who relies entirely on fickle batting average to provide value. The future of Cano? I have no clue. You have to assume it gets better next year]
Jeter needs to avoid nagging leg injuries, but can be counted to do what he does. [Wow, simplified that one. Actually, he will be hit by a pitch in May and fail to drive the ball with any consistency for the rest of the season. There we go] Now, that is a phenomenal offense, and that’s not even covering Giambi, who has looked great this spring, [another win] or Shelley Duncan, who combines great power with a solid plan at the plate. [Another loss. Cue laugh track]
Add in Melky’s game changing arm in center, [You reach, logic will teach] and that is a strong front nine, and actually, pretty decent defensively, [Do I hear that laugh track again?] depending on where you stand regarding Melky’s D. I think his arm makes up for his average range, which should get better with experience. [Wow, what a load of BS]
No matter how bad you may want the Yankees to win 87 games, it simply isn’t happening. [This is true. They probably won’t win that many games] The offense is going to be ridiculous. [Ridiculously disappointing] The rotation will be better than last year. [Vomits at the sight of Sidney Ponson]
I mean, I can guarantee you that. [Want some used cars?] Everybody’s down on Wang, but his strikeout numbers DID improve last season. His changeup has looked very good this spring, and he’s always healthy. [Cries] Why can’t I pencil him in for 17-20 wins? [Why not? What’s he going to do? Get hurt running the bases in an interleague game? HA!]
Is the DIPS monster going to suddenly devour his career? [Actually, some infield dirt did the job just fine, at least this messed up season]
Add Chamberlain as both a set-up man for the first half and a replacement starter in the second, [Good call, but he would get injured too… Man, this season has really sucked] with attractive bullpen options waiting in the minors, [Kind of] and tell me, how do you figure their record drops by ten games?
I’ll tell you point blank. [Don’t say it]
They will be way, way better than last season. [Oh, man]
I’m very, very confident and can’t wait for the season to begin. [Pride comes before the fall] They will get off to a fast start and just might bury everybody. [Just themselves] I’m counting the days. [Kind of like I’m doing right now…]
[So, if everything happened the way I thought it would have happened, the Yankees would have won about 115 games. This world must exist, somewhere. I will make it my mission to find it. Roads? Where I’m going… I don’t need any roads]