I haven't written as much lately, not out of criticism but from other obligations.
I haven't put up the 'Panic Button' JPEG all season (as far as I can remember), because there hasn't been a reason to panic. In 2004 the Red Sox had a flawed team and the GM corrected the problem with defensive acquisitions in Orlando Cabrera and Doug Mientiewicz. This year, the team has shown consistency concerning inconsistency, as they can be world-beaters or invisible.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Julio Lugo, and Coco Crisp have given the team some offensive dimension they have never had (at least in my 45 years of watching), real speed. When any of the three get on, you just sense that they are running. And Remy correctly points out (between cashing in scorecard money) that Ellsbury steals not only with speed, but technique. The franchise wants to manage expectations on Ellsbury, but you have to see what is out there, too. Yes, he does have some holes in his swing, but we hope that he can cut them down.
Toronto simply stuffed them with terrific pitching, and having Crisp and Youkilis out of the lineup makes a difference, as both work pitchers, especially Youkilis.
If somehow you could magically subtract Lugo's o-fer streak, then he's had a serviceable season. Drew has shown signs of life, but for the most part looks Nixonian against lefties. If you had to have Kielty or Gabe Kapler for a season, who is probably the better all-around player. I'd guess Kielty.
Are they a better overall team with Ellsbury in left, Crisp in center, and Drew in right than with Manny in the lineup? I'd love to hear what the pitchers think.
Worries? Of course, as fans we always have concerns. I try to distinguish 'better players' versus playing better.
C Posada versus Varitek (edge Posada offensively, Varitek defensively, overall Yankees)
1 Giambi versus Youk (edge Giambi offensively when healthy with performance aids, Youk defensively) neutral now
2 Cano versus Pedroia (edge Cano at the bat, Pedroia with the glove), overall Cano
SS Jeter versus Lugo (Jeter at the plate, defensively not much difference as Jeter overrated defensively) edge Jeter
3 A-Rod versus Lowell (A-Rod MVP offense, Lowell better defensively), edge A-Rod
LF Manny/Ellsbury versus Matsui (edge Manny offensively when healthy, Ellsbury defense) overall neutral
CF Cabrera versus Crisp (offensively similar, defense edge Crisp) overall slight advantage Crisp
RF Abreu versus Drew (edge Abreu offensively, Drew defensively) edge Abreu
DH Damon versus Ortiz (major edge Ortiz)
The Yankees had a better lineup in 2004, too, but it's all about the pitching. Beckett should get the Cy, and Schilling has been working with diminished stuff, and Lester has pitched better. Is Matsuzaka's problem mental or physical, as he hasn't gotten the calls all year, and does that result in fatigue. Wakefield looks hurt.
Oh yeah, the first round is Cleveland or LAA. I'd rather have LAA, as I don't want to see Sabathia and Carmona back-t0-back.