Thursday, June 11, 2009

And The Streak Continues

"Yankees Folding." "Fenway floppin'." These were the headlines in New York this morning after the Yankees dropped their seventh straight game to the Red Sox. The 6-5 loss marks the first time since 1912 that Boston has won their first seven games of the season against the Yankees. Makes you wonder just how close these two teams actually are.

Now calm down, Faded Dynasty fans. No one here is saying the Yankees are a bad team. They aren't; most other fanbases would kill to have the talent that New York fields on any given night. But the straight truth is that right now, Boston is better. Their rotation is better by a bit and their bullpen is light-years ahead of the Yankees at this point in the season.

Last night was a clear example of that. Once again, the Yankees' starter couldn't get out of the third inning. And their bullpen gave up what turned out to be the winning run. Meanwhile, Okajima and Papelbon once again shut down the opposition. And Ramirez, despite an off-night where he gave up two runs, only saw his ERA expand to 1.86. That tells you how effective he has been this year.

And despite all the money New York has spent this year on their starting rotation, are they actually better than the rotation in Boston? Here's the starting five in New York based on number of games started (flipping Hughes and Wang, since NY made that choice):

C.C. Sabathia: 12 starts, 5-3, 3.56 ERA, 3 Quality Starts
Andy Pettitte: 12 starts, 6-2, 4.22 ERA, 2 Quality Starts
A.J. Burnett: 12 starts, 4-3, 4.89 ERA, 0 Quality Starts
Joba Chamberlain: 11 starts, 3-1, 3.79 ERA, 4 Quality Starts
Chien-Ming Wang: 5 starts, 0-4, 14.34 ERA, 0 Quality Starts

And here is Boston's starting five:

Josh Beckett: 12 starts, 7-2, 3.77 ERA, 6 Quality Starts
Tim Wakefield: 12 starts, 8-3, 4.50 ERA, 7 Quality Starts
Jon Lester: 12 starts, 5-5, 5.09 ERA, 4 Quality Starts
Brad Penny: 11 starts, 5-2, 5.85 ERA, 4 Quality Starts
Daisuke Matsuzaka: 6 starts, 1-4, 7.33 ERA, 0 Quality Starts

Look at those numbers and then tell me with a straight face that New York has a superior starting rotation. You can't; if anything, the argument would favor Boston. And how much is Boston spending on their rotation as opposed to New York?


NOTE: Aviv has pointed out that my quality start numbers are off. And, looking at ESPN, it appears he is right. I was using Baseball-Reference for my numbers and it looks like they haven't updated certain stats for some reason.

Here are the right ones: For Boston; Beckett 9, Wakefield 8, Lester and Penny 6. For New York; CC, Joba, Pettitte and Burnett have 6 each. Of course, by my calculations that gives Boston 29 quality starts as opposed to New York's 24. Add in the salary costs for each rotation and my point is still valid; if there is a superior rotation here, it's Boston's.

Nevertheless, my apologies for the faulty stats. And I think I'll start using ESPN more from now on.


The one thing I have to say is that Joba is getting it done as a starter. I still contend he is more valuable in the pen for New York as he can influence more games, but he's the best starter they have right now.

Now, you look at this and the obvious question is "Why is Boston only one game up?" I think part of it is that Boston simply matches up well against New York this year. But another part is that the Sox have already made two west coast trips this year. New York has yet to make their first trip. The furthest west the Yankees have gone this year is Texas for three games. They don't hit the west coast until July 10. And how do you think they'll fare in August when they have to play seven straight on the coast before coming back to face Boston for three at Fenway? Everything evens out...except the wins in this series.

And then there is the idea that David Ortiz is, as Aviv put it, "DONE." As I have been pointing out the past couple of days, we all may have been premature in saying his career has gone off the cliff. Yes, last night he was 0-2...with two walks. Which is as good as a single. For the month of June, Ortiz has an OBP of .345 and a .538 slugging percentage. Will he ever be the Papi of old again? Most likely not. But if he can give the Sox 25-30 homers and around 100 RBI, which isn't a reach given his recent uptick in productivity, then that allows the Sox to focus elsewhere as far as trades go.

But what eats at Aviv and the Fans of the Faded Dynasty is that the Sox are now the superior franchise. They have won more titles in the 21st Century. They have a better and deeper farm system. And when holes appear in the rotation or lineup through injury or poor performance, which team is more suited to fill them internally or make a trade without damaging their future? I think we all know the answer to that one.

Look at the fact that Boston can entertain the idea of trading Penny because they have three pitchers who could easily take over the fifth spot. Can the Yankees entertain trading anyone on their team right now? If needed, the Sox could trade one or two prime pitching prospects in their farm system and have two or three more arms ready to step up. New York isn't close to that kind of comfort zone.

So while it is, admittedly, an anomaly that the Sox have been sweeping the Yanks, it is not an anomaly that they are winning the head-to-head series. Boston is the better team right now. Period.

Tonight the Yanks try to salvage their dignity with CC taking the mound against Brad Penny. It looks like a mismatch, but Penny's ERA has a lot to do with his bad April. And if Yankee fans go back to the last time they saw Brad (think Marlins, guys), then you know Penny has no issues with facing New York.

As for CC...2-4 lifetime with a 3.91 ERA against the Sox. He could win or he could lose. Add in the pressure on him right now and it is no guarantee that CC can salvage this game for New York.


Aviv said...

Dave, of course we can't look at those stats and tell you New York has better starters -- because they are wrong. It would help if you used correct stats to draw your twisted conclusions. Your quality starts are way, way, way off.

For the Sox: Beckett 9, Wakefield 8, Lester and Penny 6.

For the Yankees: CC, Joba, Pettitte and Burnett each have 6.

Yep, that's just a HUGH difference.

A little too cocky there, just like your team.

Dave said...

No, not cocky. I was at Baseball-Reference using their numbers. It's not like I was making them up or something. However, it looks like you are right and I will note that in the post. However, it doesn't change the fact that Boston's rotation is out-performing New York's at this point. Nor does it change the fact your team can't buy a win against Boston right now.

You're getting a little short, Aviv. Can't handle being second-best?