John Tomase is a sports columnist in New England. Perhaps he should consider writing for The Onion.
Three games into the 2015 season, Tomase put on his Red Sox cap in the wee hours of the morning and cranked out a pro-Red Sox, anti-Yankees op-ed column for the website of WEEI, the Red Sox flagship radio affiliate. Less than four months later, the article is so incredibly incorrect it defies logic that it was written by a professional.
Let’s read how the Red Sox Fan Embarrasses Himself paragraph by paragraph:
- PHILADELPHIA — The Yankees can’t spend their way out of this one.
…perhaps the only thing ACCURATE in this story is that Tomase might have been in Philadelphia when he wrote it.
- Years of mismanagement and a blatant disregard for the future finally have caught up to the Bombers, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better.
…after beginning the season 1-2, the Yankees had improved to 7-7 by April 21st. They are currently 53-41, 5-1/2 games in front of Toronto – first place in the AL East.
- The Red Sox open a series in New York on Friday, one day after the Yankees fell to 1-2 following a 6-3 loss to the Blue Jays.
…ok, Tomase wrote TWO accurate things.
- While the Red Sox bask in the glow of perhaps the best offense and minor league system in baseball, the Yankees are more bloated than a beached whale.
Through yesterday’s results, the Yankees have scored 434 runs – the Red Sox 389. Down on the farm, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre leads the International League in both team batting average (.272) and runs scored (441). Pawtucket is dead LAST in both categories (.236 and 336).
- Shortstop Didi Gregorius is the only regular in his 20s. Catcher Brian McCann and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury already look like potential free agent mistakes. Alex Rodriguez is a (bleep)-show unto himself. The rotation could be the best in the division, but is just as likely to lose Masahiro Tanaka to Tommy John and CC Sabathia to osteoporosis.
…so far McCann has 15 HRs and is doing an incredible job with the Yankees pitching staff. Ellsbury, just back from the DL, is batting .308. A-Rod is having a “pretty good” year as the full-time DH. Tanaka has started 13 games, Sabathia 18.
- The Yankees are built for the wrong era. Back when steroids coursed through the game like Alaskan crude, building around 30-somethings wasn’t just a worthy gamble, it was smart. Why bet on someone unproven when you could get an All-Star with the knowledge that his prime might stretch to 37?
…using the ’96 playbook seems to be working out just fine so far (six innings for the starters, hand the ball to Mariano and Wetteland), with Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller shortening the game this season. On the hitting side, 30-something Brett Gardner is having a career year so far.
- Not anymore, though. The best teams recognize that it’s hard to win without at least a complement of 20-something regulars. Mixing them with veterans is fine, as long as your aging stars aren’t tripping on walkers en route to first base.
…the “old men” are out-hitting the youngsters by a slim .002 margin. Luckily they can jog the bases with their sizable 123-to-87 HR advantage.
- Just consider the respective lineups. The Red Sox start a pair of 22-year-olds in Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, as well as 28-year-old Pablo Sandoval. The catcher was supposed to be 24-year-old Christian Vazquez, but even with Vazquez done for the year, 23-year-old Blake Swihart waits in the wings should a need arise.
Bogaerts is the only Boston starter hitting over .300 (.306). Betts is struggling at .267 with more strikeouts (49) than RBI (45). Sandoval has making headlines with his social media exploits and NOT with his bat (.260, 46Ks, 7HRs, .304 OBP). Swihart has played just two games in July, batting .237 in a three-way share for the catching duties.
- Yes, there are guys in their 30s like Dustin Pedroia, Mike Napoli, Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino and, of course, David Ortiz, but the Red Sox can augment them with players such as Rusney Castillo, Deven Marrero and Garin Cecchini in the short term, and Yoan Moncada, Rafael Devers and Manuel Margot down the road.
…Pedroia (.287) is having an average year, but Napoli (.206, 11 HRs, 84 Ks), Ramirez (.263, 19 HRs, 55 Ks), Victorino (.247 in just 101 plate appearances), and Ortiz (.234, 17 HRs, 58 Ks) are having the steriods-era type season, not the Yankees. Castillo is platooning with Victorino in RF, but the rest have done nothing at the big-league level to pin anything but a “potential” moniker on.
- The Yankees are built like a 2008 All-Star team, and that’s not a good thing. In addition to the aforementioned vets, they also start Carlos Beltran (37), Stephen Drew (32), Brett Gardner (31) and Chase Headley (31 shortly), a third baseman they signed to a four-year deal because they knew A-Rod was done there, despite being owed as much as $94 million.
…so far, Beltran, Gardner, and Headley are doing just fine. Red Sox fans already know that Drew is nothing more than a utility infielder, but this year’s Yankees can afford one batting stiff in the lineup and he’s it since the recent roster-move demotion of rookie Rob Refsnyer (wait, I thought the Yankees didn’t HAVE any rookie prospects?)
- On the pitching side, the Yankees are your ultimate boom-or-bust group. In addition to Tanaka’s elbow and Sabathia’s body, there’s also the shoulder of big right-hander Michael Pineda. The Red Sox might not have an ace, but they’ve got depth. The Yankees’ hopes are hanging by a thread, though their bullpen is absolutely a weapon, particularly with the left-right tandem of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances closing things out.
…the only starter pitcher injured on either team so far is Buchholtz. Pineda is having a great comeback year (9-6, 113 Ks, 15 BBs) and would easily be Boston’s best pitcher. The return of Ivan Nova (2-3, 3.34) and the turnaround of Nathan Eovaldi (9-2) are also working out just fine.
- But age and injury are just the start. Then there’s money. It turns out the Yankees have financial limits, and they’re up against them, thanks to some of the worst contracts in baseball. A-Rod is signed through 2017, when he’ll make $21 million at age 42 to complete a $275 million disaster. Ellsbury ($153 million) and Tanaka ($155 million) are signed through 2020. McCann and Headley are inked through 2018. Sabathia has a vesting option that could keep him in pinstripes through 2017. Beltran remains on the books through 2016.
…the Red Sox have a team payroll of $166.6M, fifth highest in MLB and the highest team with a losing record. A-Rod makes $5M more this year than Big Papi, who is also on the books through 2017.
- In the days of Kevin Brown, Roger Clemens, Gary Sheffield and Jason Giambi, the Yankees could live with such deals, because they knew the players would continue, um, producing. Now they’re anchors.
…Sandoval has $19M/year coming his way for five more seasons, Ramirez has $23M/yr coming his way for four. Porcello (5-10, 5.79, 18 HRs) will get $20M next year, so perhaps we should hold off on the comparisons just yet.
- The Red Sox figured this out, which is why they let Jon Lester walk, signed Ramirez for four years, and recently extended right-hander Rick Porcello for similar terms. They’re not going to let themselves land in a Yankees situation, where they’ve got little choice but to wait for their horrible contracts to expire before they can even begin to think about rebuilding.
…it’s been a while since we’ve said something nice: Red Sox fans could have it worse – they could be rooting for the Phillies to turn it around.
- Those deals have a secondary effect that’s just as onerous, however. Since many of the above players arrived via free agency, they cost the Yankees high draft picks. Twice in the past four drafts, the Yankees haven’t picked their first player until the 50s (though to be fair, they had three first-rounders in 2013). The players that should’ve restocked their system either didn’t sign (Gerrit Cole), didn’t produce (Slade Heathcott, anyone?) or may as well not have existed (their 2010 draft has delivered a combined WAR of minus-0.1). Their farm system generally ranks in the bottom third of the game, even after a $17 million spending spree in the international market last summer.
…Heathcott batted .353 in his six-game stint with the Yankees earlier this year, so perhaps we can hold off on sending him down the Jackie Bradley (.113 in 14 games) “Bust Highway” just yet .
- The Red Sox, meanwhile, boast one of the two or three deepest farm systems in the game. They’ve refused to deal their prospects, have done a better job developing them, and now boast potential big leaguers throughout the system. Third base alone is packed, for instance, with Sandoval blocking the path of Cecchini, Sean Coyle, Devers, former first-round pick Michael Chavis and maybe even Moncada down the road.
…according to Baseball America, the Yankees have seen significant progress from their two top prospects—RHP Luis Severino and OF Aaron Judge—who each moved from Double-A to Triple-A. On the other hand, the Red Sox spent more than $130 million in bonuses and taxes to purchase the services of two Cuban players; 27 year-old Cuban OF Rusney Castillo – who has struggled so far this year at Pawtucket, and 20 year-old 2B Yoan Moncada – who returns to baseball after an 18 month defection hiatus.
- They’ve also got a number of pitchers with potential, including lefties Henry Owens, Eduardo Rodriguez and Brian Johnson, the last of whom tossed five shutout innings Thursday night in a season-opening win for Triple-A Pawtucket.
…Brian Johnson looks to get “Back In Black” after he gave up four earned runs in five innings in his MLB debut, a loss. Rodriguez has given up 7 HRs in 54 innings so far with the Red Sox, and Owens is struggling at Pawtucket.
- As crazy as it sounds, multiple evaluators consider the Yankees at least three years away. The Yanks need to turn over an aging core without succumbing to the allure of quick fixes in free agency, but also without upper-level prospects to fill the void.
OR… perhaps they’ll win the AL East THIS year.
- If they’re impatient, they could land in free agent jail, a lot closer to the Jets and Knicks among the Big Apple’s sporting woebegone than anyone would’ve imagined.
…doesn’t seem likely. Just saying.
- So when the Red Sox open on Friday, take a good look. This might be the closest the Yankees get to first place all season.
At eight games under .500 and 12 games behind the first-place Yankees, THIS might be the closest the Red Sox get to first place for the rest of the 2015 season.
Red Sox Fan Embarrasses Himself