One of the best sidelines to the upcoming New York Yankee vs. Los Angeles Angels American League Championship is that each team will go against one of their former players. Mark Teixeira was traded for by the Angels last season, hoping that his acquisition will lead them to the World Series.
While Teixeira did his part against the Boston Red Sox last season, his team once again lost to the Red Sox in the ALDS and was eliminated. Teixeira left the Angels after his 55 games in Angel red, opting for the greener pastures made possible by the Yankees’ wallet.
Bobby Abreu was also traded by his former team, the Yankees. Acquired along with Cory Lidle for a bunch of junk, Abreu was all the Yankees had hoped he would be in his two and half seasons in the Bronx.
He hit for a high average, had a good on base percentage, stole bases, “worked the count” in traditional Yankee fashion (albeit just those dynasty years of 1996-2001), and played good defense in right field. Plus, he had a strong and accurate throwing arm from right field, having 10 outfield assists in both full Yankee seasons.
The one knock on Abreu was he was afraid of running full speed into the right field wall while chasing deep fly balls. I never understood this criticism of Abreu not wanting to end up like Pete Reiser. How many times did this type of play occur in the course of a season? Maybe 10?
Anyway, the Yankees signed Teixeira away from the Angels (and the Red Sox who also wanted his defense and OBP at first base). He reportedly declined the Angels’ offer of around $160 million, and rejected playing for the Red Sox and hometown Orioles. His Yankee signing changed the balance of power in the AL East, and he is a serious MVP candidate this season.
Abreu, meanwhile, could be the MVP of the 2009 Angels. It has been widely reported that Abreu has taught the young players of the lineup patience. Not necessarily talking pitches for the sake of taking them, but to choose THEIR strike to attack, not the pitchers’ strike. Not necessarily known by sabermetricians, BABIP can be improved by swinging at better pitches.
One negative of Abreu with the Angels is that he has not yet conditioned Vladimir Guerrero on patience at the plate. But after yesterday’s game winning two-run, ninth inning single by Vlad, not many Angels fans are complaining.
It will be interesting to see how Mark Teixeira and Bobby Abreu act and play going against their old teams. But we won’t see that until Friday night. That is so stupid. Why do we need to wait a week to see the start of the ALCS? The ALCS should start TWO DAYS after the last game of the ALDS. That means the games should begin on Tuesday night.
The Angels were already on the East Coast. Adhering to the original schedule gives both teams too much time between games. Come Friday, proposed Angels Game One starter John Lackey will not have pitched in a game since last Thursday. And CC Sabathia will not have pitched since last Wednesday.
Major league baseball needs to be flexible in this type of situation. It is not like the two teams’ best starters will not be available. Both Lackey and Sabathia would actually be closer to regular rest. And if the two aces were not available on short notice, too bad. It is about who has the best team, not who has the best two starting pitchers.
Back in 1951 when Bobby Thomson hit his “Shot Heard Round the World,” the New York Giants did not have much time to celebrate their winning three-game playoff series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. They had to begin the World Series the next day with the New York Yankees, and they won the first game behind Dave Koslo on the mound.
This is not football, where they need a week between games. Baseball is a game to be played every day, with at most one day in between.
Beginning the series earlier than Friday will help get the Championship Series done sooner, and maybe the World Series can start sooner.
As I said earlier, MLB needs to be flexible in these types of situations, especially with the Colorado Rockies still playing and Minnesota playing in an open air stadium next season.
With the weather the way it has been the last two days in Colorado and Minnesota (snow and extreme cold), imagine a World Series game played there in early November?