Checking in on the Sox and Yanks
SIX WEEKS DEEP OR DEEP SIX?
We’re six weeks into the baseball season and, with the Yankees playing a doubleheader in Cleveland yesterday, the top three teams in the American League East, the Yankees, Orioles and Red Sox have played the same number of games. It’s a good time to check in on how the local favorites are faring so far and what their prospects for the remainder of the season might be. The Mets have one big question, and it has nothing to do with October tee times. They’ll have more than enough lead time to get the best ones. The question is what to do with Zach Wheeler. The Mets, you may recall, were going to have, perhaps, the best young pitching staff in the National League. Dillon Gee and Jon Neise have put a different spin that and what they have is “Mystical Matt from Mystic” and four games between his starts not even Mets fans care about. Wheeler, meanwhile, is in his third minor league season of showing big time big league potetential and his callup at some point in the first half was almost a foregone conclusion. Now the Mets have to wrestle with this issue. How much longer can you keep a kid like Wheeler, who wants that big league tenure, down on the farm? The Mets have fewer wins than Yankee closer Mariano Rivera has saves and it’s going sour in a hurry at Citi Field. Do they want to bring Wheeler into that kind of atmosphere? The expectations for the Yankees are so high right now because nearly half of their original 25 man roster is on the disabled list and they keep right on winning. On paper it can only get better when the A-team gets back. While the Red Sox were struggling through a 2-5 homestand that saw them fall from first to third in the American Leaque East, the Yanks were going from third to first behind a 6-2 road trip behind a lineup of heros that includes Red Sox castoff Lyle Overbay, Vernon Wells, who’s contract is being paid almost in total by the Angels, who couldn’t wait to get rid of him, a third stringer at both corners named Jayson Nix, and guys you never heard of, Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, Corban Joseph. But here’s an interesting prospect for the Yankees the rest of the way. What if it has nothing to do with star quotient, what if it’s all about a bunch of determined overachievers with good chemistry and things fall apart when the regulars get back? At the start of the season much of my feeling about the Red Sox prospects for the season were based on John Lackey being the number three starter behind almost sure things Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. If Lackey could have a decent season the rotation could take the Sox a long way, certainly much further than all those last place predictions. The more I think about it now, the less confident it must make Red Sox fans to realize their hopes for the season probably rest on Lackey. My own feelings about how far he could propel them with a decent season were formed before we knew the Sox may never find a closer this year and how questionable Ryan Dempster may be as the number four starter. Stick around baseball fans, the best, or, at least, the most interesting, may be yet to come. With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.