Scott Gray Sports Commentary, Friday, August 22nd, 2014
BASEBALL’S SEPTEMBER SONG
September isn’t always about September in Major League Baseball. For many teams September is about February, and who they’ll bring to the dance in April.
Granted, all but a dozen of the 30 teams are legitimately still in the hunt for October, courtesy of the second wild card, but even many of those teams will look quite different next spring, having pieced together late season rental packages ahead of the trade deadline to fill glaring holes, believing they can still draw a bead on the playoffs. Then there are the Red Sox.
Barring a miracle run in September, in which they’d have to win 80% of their games, they’re just trying to give loyal fans an idea of what they’ll be packing in April. Right now it doesn’t look promising. As Boston Globe Sox beat writer Peter Abraham, formerly of the Norwich Bulletin, pointed out this morning, the parade of youth hasn’t produced a plethora of promise.
It could just be that the Sox went into austerity mode after getting a World Series title, by letting some high priced talent move on while promoting from within. It’s an old Sox trick that the media annually buys into, making young talent appear better than it is. Xander Boegarts and Jackie Bradley Jr. were deemed ready to replace Stephen Drew and Jacoby Ellsbury, both with barely a half season of experience at the AAA level. Bradley was just sent back to the minors. Mookie Betts, with less AAA experience than the others, was brought up twice in hopes he’d be the spark that would start a surge, the fans buying into the team produced hype and forcing the Sox’ hand. The sizzle never materialized but Betts is back for a third go round, this time to help play out the string.
All three should still factor in Boston futures, but this time they should be accompanied by more realistic expectations, that, with Dustin Pedroia coming off a down year and the pitching staff in shambles following the deadline ejections of Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and John Lackey, the future may take a bit more rebuilding this time.
In New York, the Yankees, still on the outskirts of the playoff race, took a different approach, but they have similar issues, needing at least three fourths of an infield and a regular backup at first, now that Mark Teixeira has declared his days of full time play are behind him. They need at least one corner outfielder due to Ichiro’s age and Beltran’s fragility. But the Yanks made the best deadline deal of the season, bringing Brandon McCarthy over to fill a rotation down to just one original starter. With Michael Pineda already back and MasahiroTanaka expected back for September, the acquisition of one big free agent would make C C Sabathia the fifth starter and Hiroki Kuroda the sixth, with the Yanks hinting they may be ready to go that deep. With Dellin Betances and David Robertson in the bullpen they will have one strength to build those other moves on.
Six weeks to go and it’s not just about this season anymore, not for two local favorites.
With a comment from the sports world, I’m Scott Gray.