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October 23, 2003 12:00 am
Dear Aaron Boone: It was a home run, not diplomatic immunity. Love, Joe Boone, whose Game Seven home run won the ALCS and sent the Yankees to the World Series, has been swinging at pitches he has no hope of hitting ever since then. I looked it up, expecting to see that Boone has taken about four pitches in the World Series. It turns out that he'd actually let 25 baseballs go by in the first three games, just shy of half of the 51 pitches he'd seen. He's pushed counts to 3-2 in a number of at-bats, so it's hard to make the argument that he's not being patient enough. That said, he was horrific last night. The Yankees' three biggest chances to win the game landed in his lap, and he approached his at-bats as if it were fifth-grade gym class or a co-ed softball league with some goofy rules like "swing or you're out." Against Carl Pavano in the second inning, with the bases loaded, one out and the Yankees down 3-0, Boone swung at the only two pitches he saw and flied to center field on the second one. Sacrifice flies down three runs with the pitcher coming up aren't team baseball, they're a lifeline for the opposition. Boone got another chance in the ninth, after Ruben Sierra's triple tied the game. Boone again went up hacking, fouling off the first and third pitches he saw to fall behind 1-2, then grounding out weakly to shortstop after two more foul balls. Finally, in the 11th inning, Boone again batted with the bases loaded and one out. And just as he had against Pavano and Ugueth Urbina, he made Braden Looper's job easy by hacking at fastballs up and in, pitches he doesn't have the bat speed to hit. Boone swung at six of the seven pitches he saw, looked completely overmatched, and struck out. Three at-bats, two pitches taken out of 15 seen, three times falling behind in the count, three outs. Boone needed to have a solid approach last night, and his mental effort was completely lacking, leading to wild swings that gave the pitchers all the leverage they needed to get out of jail.
One of the biggest questions this off-season has been what Major League Baseball will do with the Montreal Expos.
One of the biggest questions this off-season has been what Major League Baseball will do with the Montreal Expos. With owner/saboteur Jeff Loria jumping ship to take over the Marlins in last winter's game of musical chairs, the Expos became wards of MLB, with the other 29 teams taking over control of the Expos franchise in the expectation that the franchise would die as part of Bud Selig's ill-conceived contraction scheme.
Omar Minaya was named GM of the Expos, and to MLB's credit he was allowed to make moves as he saw fit to try to improve the Expos, with one restriction: payroll could not be increased. Minaya managed to add a couple of significant players (and salaries) by insisting that salaries balance in the deals that he made (which is why Lee Stevens was part of the package going to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon and why Carl Pavano and Graeme Lloyd went to Florida in the trade to acquire Cliff Floyd). The Expos fell short in 2002, but at the very least it was an interesting summer in Montreal where the team was trying to win.
The 2002 season is over, and now MLB has to figure out what to do with the Expos in 2003. Minaya is back as GM, and the team is slated to play a significant number of "home" games in Puerto Rico. But the big question is how much will the Expos payroll be in 2003? Rumors have the brain trust of MLB, in its infinite wisdom, pegging the Expos' payroll in 2003 at $40M, pretty much the same as it was in 2002. To determine what kind of position that puts Minaya in, lets take a look at what the payroll for the Expos roster projects to be in 2003.
Guys guaranteed money in 2003:
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Placed RHP Al Levine on the 15-day DL (shoulder tendinitis), retroactive to 6/27; recalled RHP John Lackey from Salt Lake. [6/28]
I don't disagree with the idea of bringing up John Lackey to move into the rotation. Lackey is the organization's best upper-level prospect, and he's obviously ready to go.
Recalled RHP Matt Wise from Salt Lake; optioned RHP John Lackey to Salt Lake. [6/25]
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