The Baseball Notebook

July 20, 2010 7:34 AM

Keep Pettite's Injury In Perspective

Pettite.jpeg With Andy Pettite's groin injury on Sunday, the talk of a big trade for a starting pitcher and more laments over missing out on Cliff Lee are being heard in the New York media and amongst Yankee fans. We are told this is Joe Girardi's biggest challenge of the season and now opens up new possibilities for other contenders. I think the concerns are being overblown. Like all exaggeration, there's a kernel of truth in them. Yes, this is Girardi's biggest challenge of the year, but the biggest challenge for the Yankee manager is a little different than the biggest challenge for the Pirates manager. Yes, Cliff Lee would've have been great under any circumstances and even more perfect now. And yes, I suppose this does mean Tampa and Boston have better chances in pursuit than they did on Sunday morning.

But perspective is important. Pettite's not out for the rest of the year--not even close. Projections have him missing 4-5 weeks, or less than half of the remaining games. New York is operating with a cushion. The most important lead the Yanks have right now is not the one on the Rays, but the one on the Red Sox, which is for the wild-card berth. NYY is 6 ½ up on its rivals to the north. Finally, New York has more than its share of arms. They still have Sabathia at the top of the rotation. They still have young Phil Hughes, who goes tonight against the Angels. And if A.J. Burnett could get his act together they'd have a reliable third. Bottom line? There's hopes for Tampa to win the AL East because of this, but absent a real push from Boston--who's not without injury problems of their own--the only way it's life-or-death for the Yanks is if Pettite's not healthy for the postseason. Bullpen remains the bigger pitching problem as the trade deadline is now 11 days out.

Last night's action...

The other New York team is reeling out West. Coming off losing three of four in San Francisco, the Mets were hammered 13-2 by the Diamondbacks. Former Yankee Ian Kennedy tossed five solid innings and Mike Pelfrey was knocked out in the second inning. And their NL East rival in Philadelphia fared little better in St. Louis. After a quick 3-0 lead, the Phils coughed up three fifth-inning home runs, one of them to Albert Pujols. The possibilities of the wild-card coming out of the East have taken a hit since the All-Star break and the Cardinals have been flying. That's five straight wins now and doing it over the Dodgers & Phillies. The worse news for Philly is that they've yet to see one of St. Louis' Big Three of Carpenter, Wainwright and Garcia.

Daisake Matsuzaka is unpopular in Boston for reasons that have never been fully clear to me. They're even less clearer now, after Dice-K came up with a big start in Oakland, working into the seventh inning and outdueling Ben Sheets for a 2-1 win that Boston had to have to keep pace with Tampa in the wild-card race. The Rays are in Baltimore and took full advantage last night in an 8-1 rout.

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