Greetings from rainy Fenway Park! As I type, the tarp is on the field, the sky looks more foreboding than the first time you see Albert Ganz in "48 Hrs." and Phil Hughes is playing catch on the leftfield grass. The forecast is not very encouraging.
If they play at all tonight, the game figures to be delayed. And if they get postponed, then a doubleheader Sunday makes sense.
--Anyway, the Mets. No announcements yet, but yes, as we've been discussing for quite some time now, Jerry Manuel is out, and Omar Minaya won't be running the baseball operations anymore.
Not much more to say at this point. I expect Jeff Wilpon to emerge early next week to discuss the state of the franchise, so before we dive into the Yankees' playoff run, we'll have some heavy-duty Mets stuff. Through the playoffs, there should be plenty of Mets news.
--With the Red Sox out of the playoffs, I asked Terry Francona how he would manage these games against the Yankees this weekend. And whether his approach would change from tonight, when the Yankees are playing for something, to...let's say that by Sunday's game, the Yankees have clinched either first place or second place and therefore no longer hold incentive to win.
"We’re going to try to win," Francona said. "We’ll try to win. We can only play who we can play. We can’t get (Adrian) Beltre…He was going to hit third, and (Yamaico) Navarro is obviously a lot younger and less experienced. We’ll do our darndest to play. We always do. We haven’t necessarily won the games, but it’s not for a lack of trying."
(I suppose this would be a good time to mention that Beltre left the team to join his wife, who is about to give birth, in the Los Angeles area. He very likely has played his final game in a Red Sox uniform.)
I followed up with Francona by asking him if he viewed the situation as honoring the Rays by playing hard against the Yankees.
"I don’t think it has anything to do with that," he said. "We’re supposed to win. We’re supposed to play the game and win tonight. Teams play themselves into a certain situation. We’ve played ourselves into a situation where we’re out of it, and we want to see some of our young guys. We also want to win the games. They’ve played themselves into a situation where they’re going to the playoffs. They just don’t know where."
I asked Joe Girardi about the situation. Here's what he said: "I think that Boston will be ready to play, and they’ll give everything they’ve got. That’s the kind of organization they have. It’s the kind of players they have. I think in the game of baseball, when you’re playing playoff-contention teams, that’s what you’re supposed to do. It’s the right thing to do.
'If you’re playing teams that aren’t in contention, and you want to see young players, that’s a different story."
I recall that in 2005, the Yankees were miffed on the season's final day when they were battling against the Angels for playoff seeding, and Texas (the Angels' opponent) lifted its regulars after one plate appearance each. The Angels indeed won homefield advantage and beat the Yankees in that American League Division Series.
Who was Texas' offending manager? None other than Buck Showalter. It's part of his genius that we suspected a conspiracy to hurt the Yankees. We probably weren't being paranoid, either.
--If Sunday's game is still relevant, in terms of fighting for the AL East lead, I'd expect Hughes to start and throw a few innings. If not...it could still be Hughes, just in a less intense setting. Or it could be Ivan Nova.
--Interesting item here, from Peter Gammons during an interview on WEEI: He floats the idea of a Daisuke-Matsuzaka-for-Carlos-Beltran trade. We know that Beltran wants out, that the Mets want him out and that the Red Sox think very highly of Beltran. Matsuzaka makes $10 million each of the next two seasons, and Beltran will make $18.5 million next year, so an even swap would have the Mets taking on $1.5 million, but would get $8.5 million of relief for 2011.
Would you do it, if you were the Mets? Matsuzaka has been a disapointment and an enigma the last two years. But when he's right, as he was last Sunday night against the Yankees, he pitches like someone who can be a frontline pitcher, particularly in the National League.
Balancing the Mets' needs on both the baseball and financial sides, Beltran's questionable health, Matsuzaka's questionable character and all of the dollars? I think I'd pull the trigger if I were the Mets. And then hire a strong pitching coach to work with Matsuzaka.
--Trevor Hoffman wants to close somewhere next year, but in this Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story, he seems to realize that no team is going to hand him its closing job. Or anything close to that.
--Have a great night.