David Ortiz says he was humiliated by the Red Sox in the offseason

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David Ortiz is having a fantastic season, though one frequently interrupted by complaints about some thing or another. The latest: he thought the Red Sox wanting to go year to year with him this past offseason rather than give him a two-year deal was humiliating, and he didn’t hesitate to tell USA Today about it:

“It was humiliating. There’s no reason a guy like me should go through that,” Ortiz said. “All I was looking for was two years, at the same salary [$12.5 million].

“They ended up giving me [$2.025 million] more than that , and look at my numbers this year. Tell me if they wouldn’t have been better off. And yet they don’t hesitate to sign other guys. It was embarrassing.”

Well, yes, in hindsight a two-year, $25 million deal will probably have been better than Ortiz’s $14.575 million he got this year plus whatever he’ll get for 2013.  But it’s not like it was some snub by Boston. It’s pretty reasonable — always pretty reasonable — to assume a player of Ortiz’s age and skill set doesn’t have a full tank left. Eventually he’s gonna fall off a cliff.

He didn’t this year. Because of that, he’s going to get much more for 2012 and 2013 than he would have had he gotten the deal he wanted. A deal which, for some reason, I get the feeling Ortiz would be grumbling about being too big a bargain for the Sox had he signed it.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.