Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Pitchers & Catchers Blues

to be

Happy New Year everybody. With the Holiday festivities coming to a close, the endless college bowl season leaves me (a die-hard Rutgers alum) excited yet bittersweet due to the Scarlet Knights' potential BCS bowl-hopes being spoiled by a heartbreaking loss to West Virginia. An overpowering, dominant performance against Kansas State in the Texas Bowl allowed me to ask myself what if?

(And just as I write this blog at 12:35am January 2nd 2007, the Boise State Broncos have staged a momentous collapse and even more improbable hook-and-ladder play with :13sec. remaining to tie Oklahoma and cause overtime. They then run a Tight-end pass on 4th and 2 in OT for a touchdown, and go for 2 and get the win on the Statue of Liberty play. This is the type of David versus Goliath jubilation I was dreaming about - only the red Rutgers helmets were running crazy not the potato-farmer blues of Boise.)

Yet, whenever a "what if" finds its way into my skull, I begin to think about the simple beauty of opening day. Spring and rebirth and rejuvenation and all that stuff. If my choice for first base becomes a reality then I would shape the rest of the starting lineup as follows:

CF === Johnny Damon
SS === Derek Jeter
RF === Bobby Abreu
3B === Alex Rodriguez
DH === Jason Giambi
LF === Hideki Matsui
C ==== Jorge Posada
2B === Robinson Cano
1B === Mark Loretta

Although Torre has become accustomed to placing A-Rod in the 5-spot, I believe the idea of lefty-righty is better suited with Alex hitting cleanup and Giambi hitting fifth. Ideally, Torre would be able to create some separation between Arod and Giambi in order to avoid consecutive strikeouts victims, but this doesn't seem to be a possibility.

I do like the bottom of the order as it stands even if the 5-8 hitters are lefty, lefty, switch, lefty especially because of Matsui and Cano's ability to hit left-handers. I know Loretta is 35 years old, but I like his versatility and professionalism as a hitter because he provides a seamless transition from the 9 hitter to Damon at the top. If the Randy Johnson trade finally comes to fruition and Roger Clemens is Bronx bound, the starting rotation could look like this:
Roger Clemens ===== 2.30 ERA - 1.04 WHIP
Chien-Ming Wang === 3.63 ERA - 218 IP
Andy Pettite ======= 4.20 ERA - 2.80 ERA in 2nd half of 2006
Mike Mussina ====== 3.51 ERA - 1.10 WHIP
Kei Igawa ========= 3.15 ERA, 1.24 WHIP Japan career avg.

Young Arms on MLB brink:
Phil Hughes.
Humberto Sanchez.
Tyler Clippard.
Jeff Karstens.
Darrell Rasner.
Micah Owings. (Unit trade)
Ross Ohlendorf. (Unit trade)
Ian Kennedy.
Joba Chamberlain.

This is an exceptionally strong crop of young pitchers to combine with a potentially top 5 type MLB rotation. If Britton, Bruney, Proctor, are joined by a Mike Gonzalez or Scott Linebrink via trade, this would be one hell of a collection of talent. Talent that is not completely dominated by aging all-stars.

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