Poll: The Biggest Threat

9/6-9/9 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Right now, the Grandyman can't
(AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

Despite last night’s win, the Yankees are still in the middle of a borderline disaster ten-game stretch that has seen them go just 2-4 in the first six games. Their big and comfortable AL East lead has disappeared and right now they’re just one game up with 26 to play. We’re used to the Yankees battling the Rays for the division crown, but the Orioles are new to the mix this season after 15 years of being non-competitive. Because of that recent history, it’s easy to write them off. Heck, I did it pretty much all season up until about two or three weeks ago.

In a lot of ways, these current Orioles are similar to the 2008 Rays, who just snuck up on everyone and became good all of a sudden. I think the young talent on that 2008 Tampa team — Evan Longoria, Jamie Shields, David Price, B.J. Upton, Carl Crawford , etc. — is way more impressive than what they have going on in Baltimore, but Buck Showalter has his team in the race in early-September and they deserve a ton of credit for that, even if Nate McLouth is batting third.

It’s obvious this four-game weekend series with the Orioles has enormous division title implications, but we can’t forget that the Rays are right there as well. They’re three back in the division, one good weekend from taking over first place. All three of the AL East contenders have different strengths and weaknesses, and yet they’re all essentially in the same position with roughly four weeks to go. The Yankees are fortunate that because they’re currently in the lead, they control their own destiny and theoretically don’t need help from anyone else.

Anyway, with a few hours to go before first pitch tonight, I figured it was a good time to see who you folks consider to be the biggest threat to the Bombers in the division race. Both the O’s and Rays are dangerous but I personally believe one of those two clubs is more dangerous than the other. You might feel differently, so let’s find out…

Who is the biggest threat to the AL East crown?
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9/6-9/9 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles
Right now, the Grandyman can't
  • Syrio Forel

    It’s the Os. The Rays struggle to score runs. If our offense had been able to do anything we could have won Game 1. So they got shut out by Felix, everyone does, but then they get shut out by the Royals and Darvish and Carlos Villanueva. The Os can score, they have a better all around lineup than Tampa.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      Was it Yogi that said that 90% of the game is pitching and the other 50% is hitting?

      • Mike

        The quote is “90% mental and the other half is physical”.

        • Jose M. Vazquez

          I know that. I just made that up. I have Yogi’s book “I Didn’t Say What I Said”.

  • Betty Lizard

    Rays. Rays. Rays. And Rays.

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    No other team in the East has the pitching that Tampa possesses. Even with Niemann out they still have a formidable staff including Wade Davis who pitched last night and could be a #2 on any staff. Moreover they have shutdown lefty and righty relief. Their only weakness may be the hitting and it is adequate for their pitching.

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      Did I mention that their closer has been pretty good this year.

    • CS Yankee

      Wade Davis could be #4 on the majority of staffs, but wouldn’t be the #2 on any playoff team in the hunt this year.

      He is decent but clearly not a #2, heck he isn’t the Rays sixth choice to start.

      • Laz

        Yea, wade isn’t a #2 on most staffs. He was a top prospect, around #15 in all mlb when he came up. He never really worked out.

        • Jose M. Vazquez

          Would you settle for Price, Moore, Cobb, Hellickson and big game James Shield and Niemann + Wade as your sixth and seventh starters. Wish we had a staff like that.

          • Jose M. Vazquez

            Shields.

          • FIPster Doofus

            Yeah, but that doesn’t make Davis a No. 2 on any staff. He’s not even close to being that good.

            • Tom

              +1

              Wade Davis had the 3rd worst fWAR and FIP/xFIP in major league baseball in his past 2 years as a starter (2010/11, qualified starters). He also had an ERA over 4, pitching in a pitcher’s park in front of one of the better defenses.

              For some reason any young pitcher who puts a Rays uniform on is perceived as a topline starter.

              Wade is a back of the rotation starter who will be a very good bullpen arm. He would probably be a 5 for a lot of teams, maybe a 4 on some weaker staffs. Randy Wolf had better ERA’s and advanced stats in that timeframe… is he a #2 in most rotations?

  • Travelbug83

    Why is Andruw Jones not an option?

  • Cy Pettitte

    Rays this year and the next few years going forward.

    I think the O’s will be kind of like the 2010 Padres. 6 game west coast trip and finishing the season with three at the Trop knocks them out of the playoffs. (this may, of course, be wishful thinking)

  • KLitke

    The Rays are the better team, but with so little time left and the Orioles being slightly closer, I went with them.

    • Nick

      This. We’ve been writing them off all season and I think we’ve now reached the point where their momentum and the adrenalin in most of the players that haven’t been here before will carry them to the line.

      • River Ave Bipolar Disorder

        This betrays a lack of understanding of momentum in both physics and baseball.

        Baseball momentum begins and ends with the starters each night.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I picked the Rays, but this is mostly meaningless. They’re both right behind the Yankees, and there are a buttload of games against both teams left. The Rays are the bigger threat because we’ve seen them do exactly what they’re doing for several years now. The “lesser threat” could still just as easily pull it off. We want them to turn back into a pumpkin, and I still think they will. Midnight may just be 2013.

    • Jim Is Bored

      I do think the O’s won’t repeat this next year, but I think “pumpkin” for them is going to be around .500, not the 63 win teams of years past. Their pitching is much, much better right now than it has been in years.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I agree.

      • Laz

        Sure their pitching is better, but I really don’t see it being nearly enough with average offense.

        • Jim Is Bored

          Better pitching + average offense should end up being around a .500 team.

  • paul a

    As long as the Yankees take care of their own buisness it dosn’t really matter whose the biggest threat.Lets hope yesterdays team meeting is the turnaround point, and by the way if its true that it was A-Rod who called for the meeting, then why do the Yankees even have a Captain, isn’t it the teams captains responsibility to take care of these things.

    • CS Yankee

      Yes, its item #5 in the job description…
      #4…Decide which restaurant the Rook’ needs to make reservation for.
      #5…Call team meeting when the “suck” is present.
      #6…Find out which girls are working in the club tonight.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        #7 – Sort through the bucket of fried chicken before anyone else (Varitek only)

        • MannyGeee

          Semi Relevent:

          “We Shoulda got the live chicken…”
          – Willie Mays Hayes

  • Travelbug83

    On a more serious note, I am worried about both teams but probably a little more about the O’s. They’ve exceeded all expectations and don’t have much left to prove. With all teams having glaringly obvious weaknesses (Rays – hitting, O’s – Pitching, Yankees – …both?) it might just be that little bit of momentum that will give the Orioles the edge.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Pitching isn’t a glaringly obvious weakness for the Orioles anymore.

      If Hammel is ready to go, Hammel/Chen/Britton/(Gonzalez/Saunders/Tillman) is a perfectly fine top 4 for a playoff run.

      • Jim Is Bored

        It’s obviously not the Rays, but then again, outside of Washington, no rotation is as good as theirs.

      • Travelbug83

        Ok, I agree it’s not glaring. Still not exactly a strenght.

        • radnom

          Disagreed. Pitching is their strength.

  • rondd5

    ….it’s the rays….they have the better closer….

  • CUYanks

    I think that even if you consider the Rays are the better team, are they 2 games better (over a 26 game stretch) than the Orioles? You have to factor in who is closer in the division.

    • Laz

      The Rays starters could easily go out and shut down the opposing offenses. The O’s are all dependent upon timely hitting, and winning close games.

  • CS Yankee

    O’s, due to remaining schedule.

    Yankees have the easiest remaining, O’s about the same (as the Yanks)and the Rays have like 3-4 more games with teams above .500.

  • blake

    I keep waiting for the Os pixie dust to wear off…..hopefully itll be this week.

    • Mike

      The O’s need to just aim for 0.500 for the rest of the season, the Yankees are defeated and there is no clear indication of how they can turn things around now that JoeG has repeated that they won’t alter their approach. They’ll keep trying to hit homeruns to score runs.

    • Brett

      hopefully Toronto killed tinkerbell last night…

  • Mike

    I find it hard to believe that any NYY fan would have the O’s written off three weeks ago, considering that the NYY have sucked since the all star break. Heck, they’ve just had one really good month and it was against the NL during june, the NYY are barely playing above 0.500 vs the American League.

    And while the O’s have not been playing excelent baseball, they surely are playing far better than the 0.500 the NYY have been playing mosst of the year (months of 13-13, 14-14 and 15-13 to go along a 13-9 and a 20-7 month).

    Then again, as long as JoeG dismisses the idea of the Yankees using small ball to score runs, this team is once again doomed and would be better if they don’t make the playoffs than to suffer yet another embarrasing exit in the playoffs.

    • Jim Is Bored

      I would rather make the playoffs and lose than not make the playoffs.

      100 million times out of 100 million.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Absolutely. To think otherwise makes no sense to me.

      • Syrio Forel

        Right. Because as long as you’re in anything can happen. Any team that gets in can get a couple hot pitchers and win it all. Our 2000 WS club won 87 ballgames and went on to win the WS.

        And Joe did bunt last night with Nix. Jeter stole 3rd. I don’t know how much more small ball they can play with aging power hitters who aren’t very fast. They won, isn’t that enough?

  • Pasta Stumbling Sojo

    Not that these numbers should be treated as gospel, but they show that it’s relatively close.

    According to Coolstandings:
    Chances of O’s winning the division – 17.2%
    Chances of Rays winning the division – 23.0%
    Chances of Yanks winning the division – 59.8%
    Chances of Red Sox winning the division – <0.1%

    (I included that last one just for fun.)

    • Bobby two knives

      THAT is fun! O’s will fold under the pressure, Showalter notwithstanding. They’re having a great run, but all the games will most likely be close from here on out, and the pressure will be too much, IMHO.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Well, do they have a decent methodology? Never been there.

      I love me some Nate Silver, but he’s not exactly doing baseball anymore.

      • Pasta Stumbling Sojo

        It’s pretty reasonable. Doesn’t take into account injuries and trades and changing rosters, but otherwise is decent.

        I think the Baseball Prospectus one takes current rosters into account, and they give the Yankees a better chance, and give the Rays and O’s equal chances of making it.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Cool. I should check it out more.

  • OldYanksFan

    If you look at Run Differential:
    NY: 85
    TB: 79
    Os: -21

    That’s a HUGE differnce between the Os and the other 2. Can they keep it up?
    Maybe. But statistically, especially wih Longo back in the lineup, you have to give the Rays the edge.

  • Big Members Only (formerly RI$P FTW)

    Themselves.

    /Thread over

  • OMG! Bagels!

    Everyone here said from day one that the Orioles were a mirage. We have kind of enjoyed first place despite all the injuries and many times in spite of ourselves with RISP issues etc. The Orioles have done the slow and steady kind of thing and we were basically ignoring them expecting them to return to what the Orioles are supposed to be and for the Yankees to continue being the Yankees.

    I don’t know if we were really that good or just caught a bunch of breaks. Right now I have no idea what to think. I had hoped we’d be cruising the first week of September and not fighting for first place. I’m sure lots of people (esp Sawx fans) are enjoying the slide. I just hope they get their crap together very very quickly.