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The Pope Messes up Yankees’ Schedule

If you’re an MLB freak and have taken a look at the schedule for the opening month, you may have noticed that the Yankees are getting shafted. They’re essentially on the road from April 8th-28th, a span of nearly three weeks. That’s pretty bad, though not too shocking given typical MLB road trips. But one oddity you’ll notice is that the Yanks have a two-game homestand against the Red Sox on the 16th and 17th, before the Yanks venture to Baltimore to play the O’s and get right back on the road. Why is that the case? Pat Lackey has the answer at FanHouse:

Turns out Pope Benedict XVI is coming to Yankee Stadium to say a mass on April 20th, which required that weekend’s series with the Orioles to be flipped from New York to Baltimore. Since schedules are apparently incredibly delicate things, MLB didn’t flip any other series to accommodate the Yanks. The result is a schedule that requires them to be in Tampa on the 15th, New York in the 16th, and Baltimore on the 18th. That’s a bad week.

If anything, you’d figure the Pope were in town to catch the Yanks/Sox, no? Maybe he’s flying in a few days early to catch the clash. Oh well, not like it’s the end of the world for the Yanks — they’ll have another 130 games to make up for it, with many of them in the Bronx.

History Is Made: Player Chooses Tampa Bay Rays over NY Yankees

Yes, a headline that will literally make you do a double take. In case there was ever a question, Troy Percival most certainly is not in it to win it. The man already has a ring from his days with the ’02 Angels and apparently he’s not looking to get his other fingers fitted. The recently retired closer who made a comeback mid-season last year, has reportedly spurned the Yankees for perennial AL East cellar-dweller, the Rays (doesn’t feel the same not being able to say Devil anymore). Much more than winning and making the playoffs, it seems like ego is the biggest factor at hand for Percy.

Troy Percival is signing a two-year deal worth $8 million, and possibly up to $10 million with escalators, according to Ken Rosenthal. The decision by Percy “reunites” him with former Angels bench coach, and current Rays manager, Joe Maddon. No doubt that was a key factor for the man. Most importantly, Rosenthal says Percival chose the Rays because they are going to let him close, while the Yanks were asking him to setup for Rivera. Alright Troy, as the first known man to spurn the Yanks in favor of the Rays, I have to guess two factors are at play: ego, and, well, I guess ego. We’ll see how Troy does, considering Al Reyes was pretty damn effective last year. Think he’ll be regretting his decision when he’s trying to get out Jeter, A-Rod, and Matsui next year? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

The Angels Own the Yankees

Since Joe Torre took over as manager of the Yankees in 1996, only one Major League team has a winning record against his New York club. And if you can’t guess who it is based on the title of this post, then someone needs to hit you over the head with a tack hammer because you are a moron. That’s right, you guessed it, the Angels. My gutty, gritty Angels baby. 56-52 against the Yanks since Joe Torre took over — haunting him in his sleep. If that’s not enough, the Angels have also extinguished the Yanks from the playoffs twice in that span. And last night in the Bronx, the Angels proved once again, that they OWN the Yankees.

A 10-6 win, and Jered Weaver wasn’t even that sharp. It’s like some sort of magnetic effect; the Yanks draw out the best in the Angels offense — no matter who it is, no matter how bad they are slumping. Witness Chone Figgins: prior to Friday night’s game, he didn’t have a home run in 75 at-bats. But on Friday, he went 1 for 5 with a dinger. Or take Casey Kotchman: prior to Friday night’s game, he only had 3 home runs in 142 at-bats. In Friday’s game, he went 3 for 5, with a death blow to deep right. It may sound crazy, but I honestly wish the Angels played the Yanks 50 times a season. That would guarantee them a spot in the playoffs every year.

Yankees Will Follow Clemens to the Playoffs

No question in my mind about it. I never wavered when it came to my expectations for the Yankees, regardless of whether or not they were in last place. The Yanks still have an incredible lineup, and their pitching has grossly underachieved — thanks in large part to injury. With Wang and Mussina back healthy, the rotation will finally have some stability. Come June, the rotation will have gone from OK to start the year, to horrendous, to OK, to pretty good. Couple that with their lineup, and you’re talking about a playoff team.

Big time props to my dad who’s been saying for weeks now that the Yanks were going to land Clemens, and that his price tag was ascending with each start a Yankee pitcher couldn’t get out of the 5th inning. It’s a $28 million prorated contract, meaning Clemens will probably score around 18-19 mil by my guess. When you’re the Yankees and money ain’t a thing, the contract is completely worth it. Now all of a sudden, you can legitimately talk about the Yanks as a World Series team. I’ll take Clemens, Pettitte, Wang, and Mussina in the playoffs any day. Certainly I’d prefer Schilling, Beckett, and Dice K., but what the Yankees will have going on isn’t shabby at all.

Caution: the Yanks are in the no lose zone. By June, they’ll be one of the top teams in the league.

Roger Clemens Is Now a Yankee

Reporter Mike Moriarty joined John Fricke and Marques Johnson on Fox Sports Radio moments ago and said Roger Clemens was in George Steinbrenner’s box for Sunday’s Mariners/Yankees game and announced the news that he is now a Yankee. Roger addressed the fans during the 7th inning stretch telling them

Thank you all. Well, they came and got me out of Texas. And I can tell you it’s a privilege to be back…I’ll be talking to you all soon.

No financial terms have been made available just yet, but Clemens is expected to make a few minor league starts before joining the Yankees.

Yankees Are In LAST Place

(Everyone quick, point your fingers and laugh at the Yankees)

And yes, when you have the highest payroll in the game, by FAR, that is totally newsworthy. Sure, it’s only 19 games, and there are 143 to go, but all be damned if this ain’t makin’ the Yankees sweat. How long before Mt. Saint Steinbrenner blows?I want to do a little comparison here…because I can. Taking a look at the 2007 MLB team payrolls:

AL EAST

  1. Red Sox 12-7, $143 million (2nd)
  2. Orioles 11-9, $95 million (10th)
  3. Blue Jays 10-10, $80 million (17th)
  4. Devil Rays 9-11, $24 million (30th)
  5. Yankees 8-11, $195 (1st)

Yes, (insert joke about entire Devil Rays roster being cheaper than A-Rod, and almost less expensive than Jeter and Pettitte).

Talk about some serious bang for your buck, the Devil Rays are 1/8 the price of the Yankees, and they have a better record!

And as my dad likes to point out, the price for Roger Clemens goes up by the day. I’m guessing it’s around a cool half-mil for every starter who doesn’t get out of the fifth inning. By the time the Yanks are done dealing, it’ll be a $220 million team.

*I still am confident the Yanks will be in the playoffs, no panic button here. But it’s always fun to play with Yankee fans when they’re struggling, just like the way they mess with A-Rod’s head.

Baseball Preview: New York Yankees

Last year’s record and finish are in parenthesis with projected improvement/decline indicated by plus or minus.

New York Yankees (97-65, 1st in the AL East) -1 game

Get Crunked: Where do you start? Where do you finish? OK, it’s like the best all-around lineup since the mid-90s Indians teams. Aside from Doug Mientkiewicz, there are sluggers at EVERY SINGLE POSITION. Everyone except Dougie can pop 20, some can pop 40, and everyone can hit .300. This definitely ranks up there as one of the best lineups in baseball history, enough said. Mariano Rivera is still an elite closer, and Kyle Farnsworth is pretty good as a setup man. Mike Mussina bounced back last year to have a Mussina type of year.

Party Foul: The pitching doesn’t come close to matching the hitting, but of course they’d need Santana, Halladay, and Kazmir in addition to Pettitte and Mussina in order to do that. Still, with an injured Chien-Ming Wang, it doesn’t look pretty. Pavano just simply isn’t very good, Rasner’s got nothing, and Kei Igawa is a wild card. Pettitte and Mussina are reliable, but not stellar.

Mariano Rivera, still the most clutch closer in baseball

What’d my GM do: It was the most quiet off-season in the Bronx that I can remember. It looks like Cashman’s trying a different approach in order to avoid being saddled with crappy contracts (e.g. Pavano, Jaret Wright). Kei Igawa was signed for 5 years at $20 million, which is such chump change for the Yanks they can afford to have him suck. He signed Doug Mientkiewicz to a one-year deal at first base. As long as Doug can help get A-Rod’s head on straight, he’ll be worth his money. I think the Yankees off-season has now become July; they will head into the year content with their team, ready to take on contracts (or Roger Clemens) at the trade deadline if they need arises.

Lay it on me Straight: You could choose the No. 5 starters from 5 of the 6 last place teams, have them start for the Yankees, and I’d put money on it that the Yanks would still win 90 games. Yes, their lineup is that good. The pitching is quite obviously the weak spot, but man, that lineup is so good, it was MADE for the regular season.

So where my boys gonna finish right now: They’ll be right around 95 wins or more like usual, but I think Boston’s a better all-around team and good enough to overtake the Yanks for the division.

Can we be better than that: If the starting pitching does well 1-5, they’ll win 100 games. But that’s not likely to happen.