Breathe Easy Boston

It’s not often that I go out of my way to console Red Sox fans. (Ok, this may be the first time) But, I think everyone jumping off the bandwagon should take a look at the schedule. First off, Boston plays a lot of games against Baltimore. Baltimore is really bad, chances are they should win a few of those.

More importantly, Red Sox fans might notice that the Yankees and Rays play each other seven times over the remaining 2-1/2 weeks. Since this isn’t hockey, only one of those teams can improve their playoff chances in each of those games. Boston will have seven chances over those games to either gain ground on the Yankees or widen their lead over Tampa. Since they only need to finish ahead of one of those two teams, the schedule is Boston’s friend. (I could also point out that the Rays’ odds of making the playoffs stand at 2.7%, but I am growing ill from writing about Boston and will turn my attention back to a more pleasant topic)

I think Yankees’ fans exhaled a bit when Mariano locked that game down last night. The timing of their four-game losing streak was good since Boston matched it, but it was a losing streak nonetheless. Part of the blame for it can probably be placed on a brutal stretch of games. Since the start of the month, the Yankees have played 11 games, 9 of those have been decided by one or two runs. I suggested the other night that the Yankees “took a knee” and I really believe that. Joe Girardi doesn’t want to burn out his relievers heading into the playoffs, so he let a game get out of hand in exchange for the chance to rest his bullpen. I can’t argue with that.

What I found fascinating in yesterday’s game was Girardi’s decision to put Romine behind the plate in place of Montero. Consider that Joe Girardi had said for the past 11 days that it would be unfair to put Montero behind the plate because he didn’t know the pitchers. Yet another rookie, Austin Romine, left his house at 4:30am to fly to Anaheim, arrived at the stadium in the middle of the game and was inserted into the lineup to catch those same unfamiliar pitchers. As they say, actions speak louder than words and the Yankees clearly do not think a lot of Montero’s catching abilities, no matter what they say. (And guess who is starting at catcher tonight with Martin and Cervelli shelved? Hint, it’s not Montero.)

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. The Yankees will probably go into the offseason insisting Montero is a catcher, but I hope that is simply a stance to drive up his trade value. (I’m not suggesting they trade him either, but it never hurts to see what he might bring back) They should send him to winter ball with an outfielders glove in his bag and see what he can do there. Nick Swisher’s option will almost certainly be picked up in 2012, but after that right field will be pretty empty.