March 17 -- The Happiest Place on Earth

9:48 AM

(2) Comments

Boy, if anybody's still checking this site regularly, let me just say: I AM SORRY!

It's been weeks since I updated this blog, and the reasons for that are many. First, I was back home in NJ, where there's no big-league ball happening these days. Second, I've been a little obsessed with the college basketball tournaments the past couple of weeks. And third, and most importantly -- I got a job!

Starting April 1, you'll be able to read me on a different site, where I'll be doing some baseball, some basketball and a whole lot of football, believe it or not.

Meantime, though, I've been back in Florida for a few days, checking out some Grapefruit League action. I was in Fort Myers on Sunday for Orioles-Red Sox, and I did some chatting about those teams Monday on ESPN2's "First Take." I was in Tampa yesterday for Phillies-Yankees, and I (or my voice, at least) will be back on "First Take" this morning chatting about Cole Hamels and Chase Utley and their injury issues.

Today, I'm checking out the Mets and the Braves here at Disney. I'm in the press box right now while the Braves are on the field warming up, so I'm going to head down soon to see who's around to talk to. The big Mets story today seems to be Johan Santana pitching in a minor-league game back in Port St. Lucie, while Jon Niese starts here in his continuing bid for the No. 5 starter's spot.

So I'll try to get back on later with some Mets stuff for ya. Meantime, Yankees. It was weird being back there with A-Rod gone. It seems a lot more relaxed, as you might imagine. But there's a lot of stuff bubbling up around this team. They said the news was good on the Damaso Marte and Robinson Cano MRIs, and Cano plans to play Friday, but the fact that those dudes came back from the WBC with any injury issues at all is another glitch in the Yankees' grand plans to return to the playoffs. Marte is an important part of the bullpen, and Cano returning to his 2006-07 form is absolutely essential to the Yankees' efforts to score runs.

With A-Rod out, they are going to struggle to do that, no question. Mark Teixeira looked like an awesome complementary bat for Alex when they got him, but now he's going to be all alone in the middle of that lineup -- the one real power threat they have. And even when Alex does come back, it's safe to assume he's going to be limited by a hip problem that they already admit will require additional surgery at year's end.

To be clear: The Yankees' plans don't involve Alex Rodriguez toughing out the pain, getting himself into the lineup and doing the best he can regardless of injury. The Yankees built their team around the idea that Alex was the best player in baseball, and would perform as such. If he's missing for a month or two, and if he's not himself when he comes back (for reasons physical, psychological or both), then they're already at Plan B. And in this year's AL East, there's no margin for error.

Do the Red Sox have injury issues too? Sure. Mike Lowell's a question mark, and Dustin Pedroia came back hurt from the WBC. But in talking to a few of Boston's players Sunday, I got the real impression that they think so highly of their own pitching that they believe they can withstand almost any injury to a position player, especially if it's a short-term one. Boston's pitching does look to be awesome. Clay Buchholz started for them Sunday and looked great, and he's what? Their No. 7 starter? No. 8?

Tampa Bay has plenty of pitching too, in case you forgot from watching last year's playoffs. If everybody's healthy, I think the AL East has the three best teams in baseball. But a couple of things have happened this spring that make you start to think it's the Yankees who might be the most likely to have a total collapse and fall out of it. We'll see what happens, of course, but there do seem to be many more red flags in that camp than there are in Fort Myers or Port Charlotte so far.

2 Responses to "March 17 -- The Happiest Place on Earth"

testanator said :
March 17, 2009 at 11:30 AM
Congrats on the job, Dan. We miss you at the Ledger!
Az said :
March 17, 2009 at 12:46 PM
Hey Dan - Great news on Fanhouse. Smack Mariotti around once in awhile, will ya?

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