Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Now for the's what I said in April:

I think Vazquez is going to be outstanding, this year and beyond. Brown's going to be strong as well, better than Clemens...but I'm still a little worried about his health history. They're going to be the aces.

I don't think Mussina's comfortable as the ace. Once he realizes that he's only the third best pitcher on the staff, he'll be fine. He'll continue to frustrate with his occasional rough stretches and his proclivity for giving up the longball, but he'll have a typical season by his own standards.

Contreras is going to be an issue. He'll have a pretty good year, because he'll have flashes of brilliance like last year, but just like Armando Benitez, he's only capable of stepping on ants. Good hitting teams always seem to figure him out eventually (Chicago so far this year, Boston and Toronto last year). Come postseason, he's going to be a liability as the #4 starter.

The #5 spot is going to be a real problem. I don't think Lieber's going to give the Yankees much, but if he can just bounce back from injury and be an average pitcher, that's all they'll need. Let's not forget that the 2001 Yankees trotted Ted Lilly and Randy Keisler out to the mound every 4th and 5th day while El Duque was hurt. Speaking of whom, I don't think that he's the answer either, and God forbid if DePaola continues to unimpress and they end up having to use Osborne as the #5.

Overall, I think the Red Sox have a marginally better rotation, but not by as wide a margin as the people who overrate Lowe and Wakefield would have us believe.
Well, what can I say? I was way off the mark with my assessment of the 2004 Yankees starting staff.

Vazquez was not outstanding this year, although he might still turn out to be the pitcher who, not only I, but most people expect him to be. My thinking is that it was a pretty major surprise, to just about everyone, how poorly Vazquez performed this year.

Kevin Brown is another story. I went way out on a limb in predicting that he'd be better than Clemens. I think what I meant when I said this was, "better than the Clemens of 2003". Who would have predicted that Clemens would have such a tremendous year, let alone win his seventh Cy Young award? Brown had a better season than Vazquez, but given his wall punching incident and his postseason meltdowns, he has to rank as a bigger disappointment.

The assumption that Vazquez and Brown would anchor the staff, coupled with the reality that neither could be counted on in the postseason, pretty much sums up the Yankees' season.

Mussina, on the other hand, had a much more frustrating season than even I expected, yet turned around and proved me wrong by becoming the team's indisputable ace in the postseason.

Despite my dubious prediction regarding Contreras, he actually failed to perform as well as I forecasted. He showed a few flashes of brilliance, but often struggled mightily, even against weaker opponents. He continued to display his inconsistency even after being shipped out of New York.

Lieber gave the Yankees much more than I expected. He was still a little inconsistent during the regular season, but ended up tied for the team lead in wins (14), and was easily their second most effective starter in the postseason.

Orlando Hernandez turned out to be much more of a factor than I anticipated, although his age caught up with him, and he ran out of gas late in the season. Despite his late season struggles, he turned out to be an key figure in holding the staff together during a second half stretch in which it seemed he was the only pitcher whom the Yankees could count on.

Despite my correct assessment that Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield are vastly overrated, the Red Sox turned out to have more than a marginally better starting rotation than the Yankees.

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