With the big series starting tonight (big, or bigger?), Edward Valentine from PinstripeAlley.com and I chatted for a bit today regarding both teams and the pivotal series.
After the fisticuffs broke out for a bit, it was actually a really good chat. See what Ed has to say about the how important this series is to the Yankees, whether or not C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira have been worth the money and how great Hideki Irabu really is.
Thank you to our sponsor, Google, for supporting the chat. I <3 Google.
Me: Here's a big umbrella question: how important is this series for the Yankees? We know it's huge for the Sox, but what about NYY? Is there the same impact?
Edward: I don't think so at this point. To be honest, I judge by the fact that I don't even really care that it's the Red Sox this weekend. The Yankees have been incredible for a while now, and I just want to see them continue to play well.
One more thing. I wouldn't mind seeing a sweep and seeing the Yankees bury the Red Sox playoff hopes.
Me: Bury the Sox's playoff hopes, huh? Well they have been playing well recently (7-3 in last 10 games). As far as how big it is for the Sox well, that is obvious. A sweep would be amazing, but 2 out of 3 wouldn't be too shabby either. The Sox will have a work to do with their Nos. 3, 4 and 5 starters doing the work on the mound.
Edward: It's funny, because starting pitching was supposed to be this area where Boston had unmatched depth. I guess it hasn't worked out that way.
Me: No it hasn't, not when Dice-K goes into Hideki Irabu-mode and John Smoltz pulls a post-Dodger Kevin Brown. The good thing is that Josh Beckett and Jon Lester are two of the best and while it'd be nice to have three aces in the playoffs, two could probably do the job as well. How are those starters doing in NY?
Edward: Well, Sabathia has been amazing of late, and Burnett is much better than I thought, even if he is the king of the wild pitch. Since the All-star break, Joba Chamberlain has shown once and for all why the Yankees want him to start. Pettitte has also been good. As for the No. 5, Mitre has mostly gotten to the 5th, 6th inning and that is enough. There is also Chad Gaudin to make some spot starts, so it's been real good.
Me: Speaking of Sabathia and Burnett, and now that we're in August, looking back to the offseason, has Sabathia, Burnett and Mark Teixeira been worth the money so far? Obviously that was the hot talk over the offseason, but do you think they've lived up to first-year expectations?
Edward: Without question, yes. Of course, in New York it's all about October (as it is in Boston), so no matter what they do in the regular season they will be judged by the playoffs.
Edward: I think Teixeira, though, is probably the biggest factor in the whole Yankee-Red Sox thing. The Yankees got him, Boston didn't as we know. And we know what merry-go-round first base has been for Boston, and they have had a hole in the middle of the lineup. Plus, Tex is a wayyyy better defender than I ever thought.
Me: The Red Sox's first base situation really hasn't been a merry-go-round because of any negative reasons, though. They brought in Victor Martinez, who gives the Sox depth and, of course, Terry Francona has to find a way to play him (almost) every day. Kevin Youkilis, if you consider him the Sox's full-time first baseman (he has split a lot lately at third), has actually been our best hitter all season.
Me: As far as that hole in the middle of the lineup ... yes. Definitely. Teixeira's performance would definitely look nice in the middle of the Sox's lineup, but the past is the past. Thankfully, Theo Epstein made a move for Martinez and he's been hitting lights out so far. He's not Teix, but he's a legit hitter -- something I was skeptical of at first, I will admit.
Edward: last thing then I have to run. I believe in my heart that this is the best Yankee team since pre-2004. Starting pitching, bullpen, lineup, versatile bench. The year hasn't gone the way you would like for Boston thus far, but how do you feel about the team's chances overall. Sox are still scary with Beckett and Lester if they get to the playoffs.
Me: I'm feeling ... better. I really have that gut feeling that the Red Sox have gone this far and still haven't clicked yet. Whenever the pitching is on, the offense is off. Whenever the offense is smashing the ball, the pitching falters. There will be a stretch where everything, from top to bottom, is working really well all at once. I think we'll see that before the season is over and I hope the Sox can carry that momentum into the postseason.