Saturday, April 28, 2007
Could Rivera be done?
Last night, I'm told by a friend in the NY area, Al Leiter remained silent on Rivera as his partners in the booth tried to minimize what was going on (1/3 IP, 3H, 1 BB, 4 ER, failed to get out of the inning against Boston, at home). That's telling. Leiter is a good announcer, and knows something about pitching. Rivera is not intimidating anyone, and is throwing a very hittable cutter.
It's most likely that Rivera is still a very good closer this year, but more mortal.
The reason that there's a possibility that this is the end, though, is that he has been so dependent on one amazing pitch.
Ordinarily, a guy like Rivera, who's been very good and very tough for such a long time, is able to outthink hitters even as his stuff becomes less dominant-- think Pedro Martinez or Curt Schilling. But if Rivera's cutter deserts him entirely-- which I don't think will be the case, not this abruptly-- then that could be it.
Meanwhile, rumors are, in the Post and the Times, that Torre's job might be in jeopardy if the Sox take another couple from the Yanks this weekend. So, there's some extra incentive to root, root, root for the good guys and get Torre fired.
Now, I've felt since seeing Beckett and Matsuzaka in spring training, and since they moved Papelbon to the pen, that the Sox are the favorites in the AL East this year.
That said, it's April. The Yankees are 8-13. They've overcome poor starts to win the division recently. Their pitching staff this season will never be great, but right now, it's really banged up. Neither of those things are Torre's fault.
The Yanks are the highest-scoring team in baseball. Once their pitching is somewhere near average-- which will happen-- gravity will reassert itself, and the Yankees will be a top AL team for the millionth year in a row under Torre.
Or, the Boss can hit the panic button, and make it that much more likely that the wheels will come off.