Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.
Freddy Garcia, Jesus Montero, the Red Sox, the races and Jose Reyes
We have new playoff brackets:
AL: Yankees (1) vs. Detroit (3), Texas (2) vs. Boston (4)
NL: Philadelphia (1) vs. Arizona (3), Milwaukee (2) vs. Atlanta (4)
Thoughts: The Rangers' victory over Seattle, combined with Detroit's loss to Baltimore, flip-flopped the AL's two and three seeds. And it begs the question for the Yankees: Whom would they rather face?
Your first reaction is, they'd rather face Texas, right? Because the Tigers have Justin Verlander, the type of starter pitcher you'd prefer to not encounter in a five-game series, and the Rangers don't have anyone in that class.
For what it's worth, however, Verlander doesn't have a history of dominating the Yankees like Cliff Lee did last year when Lee pitched for Texas. Verlander put up a 4.50 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season. For his career, he has a 3.97 ERA in 10 starts against the Yankees.
The Rangers, meanwhile, have a better offense than Detroit, and a deeper starting rotation.
And with Tim Wakefield and John Lackey starting the doubleheader today? If the Yankees sweep the Red Sox, and if Tampa Bay beats Toronto, then we'll have a tie for the AL wild card. And if the Angels beat Oakland in the above scenario, then they'd sit just one game behind with three to play.
Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com asked me if I had spent much time around the 2007 Mets, and when I said yes, he asked me to compare these Red Sox with those Mets. I said these Red Sox looked much worse, that with the Mets, it was just a matter of an immense pitching malfunction, not a system-wide breakdown.
Or to put it another way, the way Jon Lester has looked lately is far more shocking than the way Tom Glavine looked in September of '07.
When you look at the Red Sox's offensive breakdown for this month, though, you see that plenty of guys are hitting well. Like the '07 Mets, it's primarily the pitching.
As for Garcia...after that outing yesterday, he has to be the new favorite to start Game 3 for the Yankees. We've talked all year about the dangers of starting someone like Garcia - a savvy guy, rather than a stuff guy - in the playoffs, during which batters have more preparation time.
But if Phil Hughes turns out to not be ready and the choice comes down to A..J. Burnett, Bartolo Colon and Garcia? I'm going with Garcia. You know he isn't going to get rattled out there, and maybe he has a little left in the tank.
--Jesus Montero had an excellent day. I asked Joe Girardi yesterday, before the game, if Francisco Cervelli's injury was making them consider a roster construction in which Montero would be the lone backup catcher to Russell Martin. Girardi said, essentially, yes. Not what I figured, when we were discussing this the other day. That would leave Montero's fellow rookie Austin Romine as the odd man out.
--Excellent piece on Yankees Game 2 starter Ivan Nova by Kimberley A. Martin
--The Yankees honored Roger Maris yesterday, as we approach the 50th anniversary of the day (Oct. 1) Maris hit his record-breaking 61st home run of the 1961 season.
--For my Sunday Insider, I wrote about the Rays' interest in Jose Reyes (earlier this season, in a trade), the future of James Shields, the Phillies, Ivan Rodriguez and Derek Jeter.
--Darryl Strawberry advised Reyes to stay. I do think, at the risk of sounding like a New York snob, that for guys like Strawberry and Reyes who grow up and thrive with a New York team, it can be a letdown to go elsewhere.
But Strawberry is forgetting that he created much of his own trouble with the Dodgers. It would be very surprising if Reyes experienced many of the problems that Strawberry did in such a transition.
--The Mets swept the Phillies.
--Self-promotion alert: I'll be on "Sports Extra" on Fox 5 in New York at 10:30 tonight, hanging out with Duke Castiglione.
--Have a great day.