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Let's start with the big Yankee-Pirate trade, the one that sent Xavier Nady VI and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for a few prospects and a few major league arms. That's how most observers, myself included, saw the deal: one-sided in favor of New York. Raise your hand if you thought the biggest news out of this trade would involve the two lights-out starts by P Jeff Karstens? First he shut out the Cubs, then goes to Arizona and comes within ONE OUT of a perfect game! His ERA is 0.00 and he's given up just 7 hits in 15 innings. How can you not root for a guy like that with all the injury trouble he's overcome?
Nady has also not disappointed, unless a .357 average with 4 HRs and 11 RBIs somehow falls short of expectations. But Marte, the other player in the trade, the lefty specialist, has been awful, even atrocious. His ERA with the Yanks is 9.53, and he may have pitched even worse than that number would indicate.
Another ex-Pirate, Jason Bay, is lighting up the scoreboard in Boston, hitting a sizzling .423 since the Manny Ramirez trade, with 11 RBI in just 26 ABs. As I immediately pointed out when the trade was made, Bay's righty bat is a great fit in the Red Sox lineup. He's been everything Boston fans could possibly have expected.
Manny Ramirez has taken to Hollywood almost as much as La-La Land has fallen for him. In 23 at-bats, he has 4 HRs, 9 RBIs and is hitting a mere .565 with a slugging percentage of 1.130. My only regret is that none of it has come against the Mets, but hopefully that will change. How about a nice Manny bomb to knock New York out of the playoffs? Call me a dreamer, but it's the stuff dreams are made of.
Mark Teixeira was traded from Atlanta to the Angels, and he's already won a game for them with a late-inning grand slam against the Yankees. He's hitting .286, and the Angels may only have him for the rest of the year, but it's the playoffs where the Angels will be looking for Teixeira to make a huge difference.
Only Junior Griffey, moving from Cincinnati to Chicago, has failed to make an impact. No homers yet, only 4-16 at the plate, and I don't expect much from him down the stretch either.
LaTroy Hawkins, exiled from the Yankees for his penchant to do things like give up hits, walks and runs at an alarming rate, has found a new home in Houston. He's struck out 6 and given up only 1 hit in 4 appearances. Everyone deserves a second chance, even Hawkins.
Yankees in midst of a brutal 10-game road trip. They split the first 4 games in sweltering Texas, where the gametime temperature for a 7:00 start was 101 degrees the first game and then 98 last night. They play Anaheim the next 3, then Minnesota, and they will have to get by for at least 2 more weeks without Joba Chamberlain, not only their best pitcher but hands-down their most exciting player period. And it's not like there's a lot of time to waste now, what with only 47 games left in the season and the Yanks at 63-52. Time's a wastin', with Tampa and Bosox well ahead of them in their own division and the Twins right there in the wild card mix.
Problem is, the pitching match-ups are all in favor of Anaheim this weekend, as you would expect from an Angels team that stands at 71-43, 12 games up in their division. Once-heralded Ian Kennedy (0-4, 7.41 ERA) returns to the Yankee rotation tonight versus Jered Weaver, and then it's John Lackey (9-2) and Ervin Santana (13-5) going Saturday and Sunday for the Angels. But Yankees fans needn't worry, as New York is countering with Sid "The Squid" Ponson and Dan "Wise" Giese. Actually, Ponson has been much better than expected, and Giese has pretty good numbers coming out of the pen for his 32 innings.
This has been a season of attrition for Yankee fans like few other in history. Not only all the injuries to key players, but we lose another old legend, Bobby Murcer. I'm not breaking any new ground by telling you how their history has been marred by more tragedy than most other baseball teams combined. From Lou Gehrig to Thurman Munson, on-field success has almost always been balanced by off-the-field heartache. Almost like we're seeing some life lessons being mixed in by a higher power who may or may not be a Yankees fan. If you've got a better explanation, I'm all ears, metaphorically speaking of course.
Yankee fans would take a split of the upcoming 6 road games right now. Then it's home to catch their breath with 3 games against the Royals, before another 6-game trip with stops in Toronto and Baltimore. For a team that has been counted out multiple times already, even by hardcore fans, we'll know a lot more about their playoff chances by then. Time is funny like that.