March 29th, 2013
Cy Young was born on today’s date, way back in 1867. The legendary right-hander won 511 games during his 22-season career, more than any other man in baseball history. Young ended up in Cooperstown. He set such a standard for pitching excellence that the award given annually to the best pitcher in each league is named after him. One of the pitchers to win that award was also born on this date, 77 years after Young. His name was Denny McLain and he actually won the AL Cy Young Award two times in a row. McLain was baseball’s last thirty-game winner and he’s also quite a character who battled both drinking and gambling addictions and ended up in jail.
A Yankee pitcher also born on this date never came close to winning thirty games in a season or a Cy Young Award. His name is Bill Castro. He was a very good relief pitcher for the Milwaukee Brewers for much of the 1970′s, winning 25 games and saving 44 more during his seven seasons with that team. The Yankees signed this right-handed native of the Dominican Republic as a free agent in February of 1981. Castro ended up pitching in just eleven games for New York during the strike-shortened season that followed, winning one and losing one decision. The Yankees then traded him to the Royals for third baseman Butch Hobson. When he stopped playing he got into coaching and worked for the Brewers organization until 2009. We know Castro won’t be following Cy Young to Cooperstown and let’s hope he never follows Denny McLain to jail, either.
2013 Yankee Regular Season Finish Prediction
I still can’t believe a New York Yankee team with a payroll that exceeds $200 million will be featuring the Opening Day lineup I’ve projected above. When the Yankees postseason ended last October, I was pretty certain that Nick Swisher would not be returning to New York this year and though I was hoping they’d re-sign Russell Martin, I knew there was a better than even chance that he wouldn’t be around the next Opening Day either. But I figured Cashman had to re-sign Raul Ibanez after his great postseason run.
Well the Yanks will open their 2013 season this week and in addition to Martin, Swisher and Ibanez, they will also be missing Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson from the lineup they fielded for Opening Day just one year earlier. Teixeira and A-Rod are recuperating from serious injuries that may keep them on the sidelines for much of this regular season. Jeter is still recovering from a badly broken ankle and the Grandy Man won’t be back till May, when a broken arm he suffered during his first spring training at-bat is fully healed.
Fortunately, New York’s starting pitching staff is mostly healthy (except for Phil Hughes) and relatively deep. Ditto for their very strong bullpen. So the task at hand for this skimpy patched together Yankee offense is to score enough runs to win enough games to keep New York within single digits of the AL East lead by June 1. Their record was 27-23 on that date last year. As long as they can keep it around the .500 mark this year, the returning members of the Yankee offense should provide the added boost needed to get them close to at least a postseason wild card spot. But I confess that I honestly have no idea if this new Yankee lineup is capable of doing that. A lot depends on how well their AL East opponents do. Toronto made the biggest roster improvements this off season and Tampa should again have the pitching quality necessary to keep the Rays in contention. I don’t expect Baltimore to digress and even Boston should be better because they no longer have their crazy skipper and added several positive pieces to their lineup during the winter.
Only the Yankee Opening Day lineup looks significantly worse on paper than it did last year so we need to remember that looks can be deceiving, at least until June.