The end is near, and so the beginning of the end  begins.

     I predicted the Yankees to lose today (to a coworker), not just because I wanted them to do so, but because AJ Burnett was on the mound.  After all, he had been nothing short of dominant lately.  Eight straight quality starts for a team that is out of contention, which may take away some of the recognition, but not when he directly affects one’s team (Red Sox, Yankees).  He has good stuff, no question about that.  But does not make enough starts, due to injury, to earn the money that he makes.  Which, by the way, is too much for a guy that has made 21 starts in year one of his contract, and 23 as of now, in year two.  Could be worse, I guess.  It isn’t as bad as Pavano’s problems, or someone like Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, etc.  But if he is healthy for a full season the Blue Jays may actually be in contention until the last day of the season.

     Burnett didn’t end up pitching today, Jesse Litsch did though.  And on paper, had I known Litsch was starting, the Yankees would have been expected to win this matchup.  They were throwing their "Big Game" pitcher in the form of Andy Pettite, and were at home in addition to their pitching advantage.  Now, it wasn’t really that big of a game, but they haven’t clinched yet.  And although I, and many others expect them to do so, they haven’t.  So in a sense the game does have meaning, because the future is unknown.

     The Red Sox had a dramatic win on Saturday, followed up by a disappointing loss on Sunday.  They got to Al Reyes once, and could not do so the next time.  They ended up taking two of three from the lowly Rays, a team who I really want to be the general manger of.  I feel as though there are obvious moves that could be made to improve this team, and a lot of other people feel the same way.  It isn’t that difficult to understand, they need pitching, they have plenty of bats.  Make a trade.  And I understand that they have some young impact pitching that isn’t quite there yet, and still working in the farm system.  But I don’t know exactly how good these pitchers are, as the GM does.  But really, if nothing else, Rocco Baldelli should have been traded, and still should be.  Even if it is just for some questionable arm to throw in the pen.  An arm that may help some, or may only be average at worst, not questionable as in possibly terrible.  They should also get rid of Elijah Dukes.  Do it now!  Intangibles do matter.  A player doesn’t necessarily have to bring his teammates up to have value, but bringing them down is not acceptable.  He is in the minors now, but just rid of this nuiscance.  Send him to the Padres to hang out with Milton Bradley so they can wallow in their own internal asylums.  But I am not one to pass judgement on this.  Hopefully they can get help with whatever problems they are encountering.  But I would rid of Dukes if I had control of this team. 

     Speaking of Bradley, what he did was something he has done before, and that is lose control of his emotions.  No matter what the umpire said, he didn’t need to react like this.  And he has had breakdowns before, so it isn’t unfair to place blame on him.  No one knows exactly what was said, but we saw Bradley act like, well…himself.  But the topic has exhausted itself already. 

     Coming soon…My awards.  I am going to wait until the end of this season of course.  But have an idea of whom some of these are going to go to already. 

     Bill Simmons does not have confidence in this Red Sox team.  I listen to his podcasts and read his articles regularly.  And if that is the way he feels, then fine.  And he knows a good amount about baseball, he is NO expert though.  And I detect a little more bias then I like to, from someone that is writing articles that I read.  But without this bias, he wouldn’t be the same, entertainment wise.

       Anyway, Simmons seems to be basing this off "feel" rather than knowledge.  I am not saying that I have no doubt this team will win it all, because that would be a lie.  I have some confidence though.  But after Beckett and Schilling, which starter steps up?  Matsuzaka [might].  Wakefield [could].  And is the offense going to be [completely] shut down against great pitchers?  I honestly do not want to see Sabathia.  I fear him more than any pitcher that will be in the postseason.  And after watching Carmona destroy us earlier in the year, I am not entirely confident about facing him either.  But Beckett counters CC better than any other pitcher that will sniff a postseason roster.  And I definitely have confidence in Schilling giving us a good chance to win. 

     I actually am not as worried about the bullpen as a lot of fans seem to be either.  I think we have enough capable arms out there that they should be effective.  Maybe not as great as they should or could be.  But Papelbon is still out there.  Delcarmen is good.  Timlin is decent.  Corey has been pitching well.  Okajima is the question mark.  And Gagne too, but we don’t need Gagne as much as we do Okajima.  I guess I just like run differential.  But that isn’t where my confidence has come from.  It will be a fun postseason that is for sure. 

     Donovan McNabb was incredible yesterday.  And the way he performed was impressive no matter how bad the Lions defense played.  And they were bad, trust me, I watched.  The spacing the Eagles receivers had was a little ridiculous.  The Redskins and Packers did ten times the job, then that of the Lions.  I expected to win this game though, maybe not like this, but still expected to beat this Lions team.  I wasn’t sold on them.  Detroit may have some offensive potential there, and they showed that in the passing game.  But to be fair, we were without Lito Sheppard again, and Brian Dawkins.  Not to mention the fact that our tight end LJ Smith was absent also (making the blowout even more impressive).  But the Lions were pathetic.  And maybe they will win eight games, but eight games in the NFC does not make a team "good."  However, the Eagles are still in a hole, and need to beat the Giants on Sunday to even their record at 2-2. 




    now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

    my favorite quote of churchill’s

    it would have been appropriate for the yanks at about the time of the all-star break.

    welcome back with a great post; you make a lot of good points about the rays;i think i’d like to see you manage them.

    the yanks phoned in their game today; it was really dull to sit through, and you’re right;nothing has been clenched yet. even if all the sites have the yanks getting in the PS at 99.9%.

    a couple of questions…who is bill simmons and about your awards…did you give them out last year?

  2. joseph

    Bill Simmons is “The Sports Guy. A New Englander who writes for ESPN now. He actually currently lives in Los Angeles. He is entertaining, but not as entertaining if you are a Yankees fan.

    I posted a couple messages on my fantasy football site about who I thought the MVP’s from each league were last year. This was before I discovered MLBlogs. But this season I will post it here of course. It will be similiar to my midseason awards in format, nothing too spectacular.

    I would love to be the GM of any baseball team but obviously the opportunity would be very hard to come by. And I am sure it is much harder then it looks.

  3. J

    I agree with your assessment of the bullpen and the part about not being as worried. These pitchers have carried the Red Sox a long way this season and I’m pretty confident about most of them going into post-season. More of my concern, and disappointment for that matter, is on the offense- the batting overall seemed to have dropped as of late.


    is he one of the columnist you have to pay for to read? that annoys me about ESPN; that you have to pay for those “insider” articles.

    i’m sitting here watching joe nathan about to put the second to last nail in the tiger’s coffin.

    oh and glad to hear your football team got a win

  5. joseph

    J, I am a little worried about the offense too, as they seem inept at times. But if Ellsbury plays center and leads off with Manny and Youkilis back I will not be as worried. I just do not think Coco’s offensive upside is as good as Ellsbury’s, even with Jacoby’s lack of experience. Either way we will have a good OF coming off of the bench, a commodity.

    Mike, I actually pay for ESPN Insider, so I don’t have to worry about it. I am almost positive that Simmons’ articles are free. He is right on the main page to the right and down a little. But he writes a lot about football. I actually had to hear his opinions on the Red Sox through his podcast with Erin Andrews.

  6. joseph

    Yea, I chose the Eagles when I was 10. Uncle Raoul knows, we watched the Eagles dismantle the Cowboys on Christmas day last season (as he is a Cowboys fan). But the Cowboys unexpectedly dismantled the Bears…on the road last night.


    “Dude, how is a dyed-in-the-wool New Hampshire lad like yourself rooting for the Eagles? Does Uncle Raoul know about this?…”

    He was dropped on his head as a child.

    Actually, ‘Raoul’ is a made up name and Joe has about ten uncles. How he knows who I am is pretty funny.

    When he was a little kid he was all wrapped up in MLB( kinda like now)and every summer I’d come to NH and he’d bug me about who my favorite ball player was.

    I told him Howard Twinkletoes. He would scan his entire card collection (this was before the internet) he’d ask his dad.

    Since his dad and I are 6′ tall and he was only like 3′ tall, it was easy to fool him.

    I think he was only about 70% sure Twinkletoes was fictitious.

    Anyway, it was the same every summer until he stopped asking, and that was decades ago.

    So, this season I discover who Joseph is and say,

    Joe it’s me, Howard Twinkletoes!


    I remember that day.
    At the top of the slide you were saying,

    “Wee….. Steve Grogan!”

    When we got to you after you fell, you were mumbling,

    “Ron Jaworski… Ron Jaworski….j a w s…”

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