In a piece for the New York Times, Jonah Keri makes a rather interesting and detailed case for the Yankees to get younger next season.
While the dangers of complacency are numerous, he highlights the 2002
Anaheim Angels as the classic cautionary tale for what Yankees general
manager Brian Cashman faces in the coming months.
After winning the World Series in
2002, the Angels replaced just two players during the offseason, a
roster that was largely built on a house of cards due to small sample
sizes from the likes of Scott Spiezio, Adam Kennedy, Ben Weber, Russ
Ortiz and Jarrod Washburn. In 2003, the Angels lost 22 more games,
finishing below .500 and in third place in the American League West.
Obviously the Yankees are a much
different case, with an ability to absorb a few bad contracts, but Keri
sees danger in the Yankees standing pat going into 2010. He writes that
few players are more likely to see a regression than those in their
late-30s following a bounce-back season. Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon
and Andy Pettitte all played key roles in New York’s championship run
in 2009, however they are all 35 or older, with regression to the mean
far more likely than repeating their previous success.
Though he doesn’t offer alternatives to the players mentioned above, Keri argues that the Yankees should
try to add younger players to avoid such regression. As of now, it looks like the Bombers won’t heed his warning, as they hope to retain Damon while Pettitte is also expected to return. To Cashman’s credit, Matsui, the biggest injury risk due to his surgically-repaired knees, is on the back burner.
Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.
The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.
For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.
Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.
The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.
Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.
It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.