Matsuzaka’s addition to the Red Sox adds some urgency to the Yankees’ off-season construction program, but it doesn’t change anything. The Yanks’ starting pitching was questionable and remains that way.
I keep thinking they’ll make a run at Barry Zito, but even the team’s Web site says that’s unlikely because of the heavy price tag he’ll come with. It’s hard to believe that George Steinbrenner would worry about the cost of the best starting pitcher still on the free-agent market, one who could win 20 games or more with the Yankee offense behind him, but apparently he does.
It’s also hard to believe that the Yankees think that a rotation that now looks to be Randy Johnson, Andy Pettitte, Chien-Ming Wang, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano — if he's healthy — is going to be good enough to even get to the World Series, much less win it. But maybe the Yankees are planning on adding Roger Clemens in mid-season, which could turn the balance of power their way, if — and it’s a large if — Clemens can stay healthy for the final three months of the season and the playoffs.
With or without Clemens, if I were the Yankees, I’d be concerned about the Red Sox rotation of Curt Schilling, Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett and Jonathon Papelbon, probably with Tim Wakefield bringing up the rear, unless Jon Lester proves to be fully recovered from lymphoma. That’s a better top four than the Yankees have — at least it will be if Matsuzaka lives up to the advance notice — mitigated by the fact that the Sox don’t have a replacement for Papelbon in the pen and aren’t nearly as deep there as are the Yanks. (Although the trade for reliever Brendan Donnelly on Friday helps.)
By that uncompromising math, the Yankees haven’t had a successful season since 2000, when they beat the Mets for their last championship. I’ve never thought that mindset is particularly fair to either players or fans; both should be entitled to feel good about winning the division and making the playoffs and looking back at 12 straight playoff appearances. That doesn’t exactly stink.
But I don’t set the goals, the team does, and if they want to look at sustained excellence as an unacceptable result, that’s their right. It is that mindset, after all, that has inspired the team to spare no expense in the eternal quest for greatness that generates so many columns and so much spirited debate. It also sells a lot of tickets, not just in the Bronx, but in every stadium the Yankees visit.
ATLANTA (AP) - Matt Harvey pitched six hitless innings, John Buck homered and the New York Mets held off another Atlanta comeback, beating the Braves 4-3 Tuesday in the first game of a doubleheader.
Taking a look at some of the greatest catchers off all time.