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July 30, 2006: Dirty Words

Today, I’m just going to be a fan. So get ready for some venting. I’m wearing my lucky Mike Mussina jersey and currently watching the Yankees beating the Devil Rays 3-2 via Michael Kay just announced that the Yankees have a deal that is imminent with the Phillies–the Yankees would be giving up a pile of minor leaguers for Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle.

Here’s how I know I’m thinking like a fan and not like a writer. The first thing I did when hearing this was not look up Abreu’s stats, but shout “Cory &*%^$ Lidle!!” and then start wondering which of my beloved Yankees will be benched to make room for Abreu. Ostensibly he’ll play right field, no? So does that mean that Bernie will move to DH, Giambi back to first, and Andy Phillips will ride the pine? Or will Bernie?

I don’t friggin’ WANT you, Bobby Abreu. I want my valiant, struggling, heart-filled Yankees to triumph in the face of adversity. Bernie has exceeded all expectations, the “kids” and the bottom of the lineup have been getting the job done–by all measures the hitting is really going quite well.

Want proof? Okay, here come the stats. Only one team has scored more runs in the major leagues than the Yankees thus far this year: the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees are also in the top 5 in batting average, walks, team OBP, etc… In other words, there is nothing “wrong” with this lineup.

What’s “wrong” is that the Red Sox are right there, too, essentially neck and neck, and the Blue Jays, even, are right in that same pack. In order to “beat” these teams, the Red Sox especially, we need an offensive edge, right?

Wrong. What we need is better pitching. Those runs will count for a lot more if we could keep other teams off the board. That’s how the Tigers are doing it, with a team ERA of 3.70, far and away much better than any other team (the next closest is the Mets at 4.03, and that’s in the NL with no DH). Interestingly, if you look at the team pitching stats you’ll also see both the Red Sox and the Blue Jays doing worse than the Yankees, as well. But the race is still pretty close. If we could get better, more consistent pitching, Matsui and Sheffield could take the rest of the year off and we’d be fine.

So, we need pitching. So we’re getting… Cory Lidle? Insert fannish squeal of frustration here. I remember when he was with Seattle. And Oakland. And I seem to remember he wasn’t that great…

On the other hand, could he be better than Sidney Ponson? My squeal of frustration over Lidle is nothing compared to the sound I made when I heard Ponson was headed to the Bronx.

Are we really that desperate, Mr. Cashman? Is it really that bad? Sigh. I guess it is, or they wouldn’t be bothering. I know Cashman has the same ultimate goal as the fan in me: we want the Yankees to win. But I was really beginning to like the story that was shaping up this season, about the plucky, can-do Yankees who pioneered their way through the jungle of the American League East while a couple of superstars held together a team of rookies, cast-offs, and rejuvenated players.

Put simply, adding Abreu smacks of desperation, not destiny.

Maybe, just maybe, Abreu will be this year’s David Justice, and Lidle will be this year’s Chacon/Small. Maybe in a couple of weeks I’ll be writing about how shrewd they were to make this deal. But at the moment, I write to record this moment in time, when Lidle and Abreu are dirty words in my house.

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