Why the Yankees suck and a World Series prediction

When the Yankees dropped out of the playoffs, I crowed. The implication was, the Yanks stopped signing players with character, and started buying the “best talent.” And you need more than talent to win the post-season.

Really, that’s nonsensical sentimental clap-trap. Jerks play good ball in the postseason. Chemistry is overrated. Maybe. Whatever. What makes me say this is perhaps the smartest one-paragraph summation of what makes winning baseball in October, and why the 2006 Yanks didn’t have it. It’s from a Bill Simmons email column:

In 1996-2000, it wasn’t just that they had great chemistry (which they did), they didn’t have nearly as much offensive talent so they were forced to play true October baseball. The current Yankee lineup isn’t built for the postseason. You just can’t rely on three-run homers with the great pitching in the playoffs, while you can in much of the regular season (especially playing Tampa and Baltimore 38 times). With a great set of contact hitters and speed guys –Damon, Jeter, Abreu, Melky, Cano — this team should be hit-and-running, stealing at every opportunity, taking extra bases, bunting, etc. However, with power hitters like Sheffield and A-Rod clogging up the end of the lineup (such as Game 4, when A-Rod hit eighth), they can’t. There is actually TOO MUCH talent. Are you honestly going to bunt with runners on first and second and no one out with the 25-million-dollar man up? Of course not. But if former eighth-place-hitter Scott Brosius is up, it’s a no-brainer. So it’s not just their lack of chemistry but the fact that playoff teams thrive off role players. Even if you take a loaded team like the Mets, they still have guys like Endy Chavez, Jose Valentin and Paul Lo Duca. Baseball front offices, regardless of the payroll, should build their teams like baseball teams, not fantasy baseball teams.

Sheer brilliances. It also explains the inability of the Billy Beane ballclubs to win playoff series. Beane-ball prohibits stolen bases and sacrifices, which, according to theory, consume valuable outs. Over the course of a season – when you play the Rangers, Orioles, Royals, and Mariners a bunch of times – you need these outs, because it’s less likely that in any given game the opposing manager will pull out all the stops to beat you. He’s not going to drop in his best starting pitcher, say, in the third-inning of a two-run game on two days’ rest. So you need to save up the outs, wear down the opposing starters, exploit weak middle pitching, and win a bunch of midseason 12-10 games.

In the playoffs, however, runs are more valuable than saving outs. It’s better to sacrifice your guy to second and play for the one-run inning. Because the other guy isn’t going to let you pile up a bunch of runs.

Incidentally, wasn’t the Cardinals – Mets series the most uneventful and least exciting 7-game series you’ve ever seen? I mean, I channel surfed during last night’s game seven. I channel surfed during a 1 – 1 NLCS game seven! Face it, if you’re not a Mets or Cardinals fan, the series was a snoozer. The most exciting thing about the games was Endy Chavez’ miracle double-play in the sixth inning of last night’s game, maybe one of the best postseason defensive plays of all times. (By the way, I love Mets’ pitcher Oliver Perez’ fist pump, like he’s saying “I’m the man!”) Check out the catch if you haven’t seen it yet.

Who thinks the Cardinals have a chance in the World Series? Not me. At 83-78, this is the weakest of the Albert Pujols/Tony LaRussa teams (since 2001, 563 – 508, 5 of 6 years in the playoffs). They don’t have the pitching to hold off Detroit. They don’t have much hitting outside of Pujols.

Here’s my bold prediction: Detroit in five.

  1. I had St. Louis losing to San Diego. I figured a team that regularly went on seven game losing tears had too many weaknesses to survive the playoffs. I did not figure Jeff Suppon for two wins. I did not figure Weaver to be so brilliant. Don’t count the Cards out. I hate ’em, but they are looking mighty good.

    I had the Dodgers playing the Yankees in the series. I’m retiring now.

    And wasn’t it laughable to see the A’s with runners on base refusing to advance them, hitting into double plays? Billy Ball has alot to offer – many of the statistical analysis numbers are useful, and Win Shares is like trignometry for baseball, but the thing about not stealing or sacrificing cost them. It wasn’t very bright. Maybe they fired the wrong guy.

  2. I just now read that the A’s fired Ken Macha! That’s crazy! Macha was Beane’s golden boy! What in tarnation…?

    As for Suppan and Weaver…let’s just say I’m with Bill Simmons generally when he calls the National League “Quadruple A” ball. Suppan was a mediocre starter in the AL, at best. And Weaver…?

    No, Detroit’s starters easily match up with St. Louis and their bullpen is AMAZING. Consider that a Mets’ squad with inferior pitching and suspect hitting took ’em to seven…

    You hate the Cardinals? I didn’t know anybody hated them!

  3. Hope you’re right.

  4. By the way, ‘hate’ is relative, as in ‘hating’ back seat driving. My only problem with the Cardinals is that they sit atop the NL Central where the Reds languish struggling to rise to average. The Reds actually got the best of the Cardinals this year, beating them nine of sixteen, and I thought the Cards had gone soft and were finally beginning to crumble. Now I’m not so sure.

    People have the Tigers winning without throwing a pitch. That’s a bad sign.

  5. Oops. Open my big, fat mouth and the Cards take game one and nearly tip over Detroit in the 9th in game 2.

  6. Cardinals are worthy, dammit.

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