Game 138: Building a team around pitchingBy
It’s simply not something we Yankees fans are used to. The Tampa Bay Rays, since the return of Scott Kazmir on May 4, have used the same five guys to start every single game. James Shields, Andy Sonnanstine, Edwin Jackson, Matt Garza, and Kazmir. They’ve only used seven starters all season. The Yankees have used 11 starters, 12 if you count the game Bruney started because of the potential rain delay.
Fun facts about the Rays starters. They’re all 26 or younger, the eldest statesman being James Shields. Save for Sonnanstine, they all have ERAs under 4.00. Each one of them is under team control through at least 2011, when Jackson becomes eligible for free agency. Kazmir has a 2012 team option, and Shields has one for ’12 and ’13. Sonnanstine and Garza didn’t even have a full year of service time heading into this year, though they could be Super Twos this winter — Garza almost certainly will be.
This, I think, is what the Yanks have been angling for. The difference, of course, is the sacrifice. The Rays have been terrible since entering the league. Prior to this season, their record for wins in a season was 70. That means lots of high draft picks, which they’ve used wisely. They didn’t have to take the signability or injury guy later in the first round. They were guaranteed premium talent. The Yankees are trying to do this without sacrificing the present. You have to admire that, though who knows if it will work.
So you can envy where the Rays are now. Kind of like you could envy where the Yankees were in 1995/1996. The difference is that the Rays lived with a decade of being the worst team in baseball. The Yankees had a few bad years in the 80s and early 90s, but only finished below .500 five times from 1982, the year after they had appeared in the World Series, through 1992, the last year to date they’ve finished below .500.
1. Johnny Damon, CF
2. Derek Jeter, SS
3. Bobby Abreu, RF
4. Alex Rodriguez, 3B (why does my spell checker continue to put a red line under “Rodriguez”?)
5. Jason Giambi, 1B
6. Xavier Nady, LF
7. HIdeki Matsui, DH
8. Robinson Cano, 2B
9. Jose Molina, C
And on the mound, going for his seventeenth victory, number thirty-five, Mike Mussina.
Notes: Caught this on the Star Ledger Yanks blog: The City of New York could lose out on $141 million if the Yanks fail to make the playoffs. C’mon, Bloomberg. Light a fire under this team’s ass.