Playoff preview: oh, please
Enough of this playoff preview stuff already. That seems to be the theme a lot of writers and broadcasters are taking to describing the Yankees-Rangers series this weekend at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Except that it really isn’t.
Yes, if the season ended today the Yankees and Rangers would oppose each other in the American League Division Series. Yes, there is a good chance the Yankees will win the AL East and the Rangers the AL West. There are still four weeks left in the season. A lot can happen. The Yankees may have to settle for a wild-card berth, which would mean an ALDS date with the Twins instead.
Yet even if the Yankees and the Rangers are destined to meet in the playoffs, this series is no preview. A big to begin with is that Texas is currently without its best player, center fielder Josh Hamilton, who probably won’t play in this series while still recovering from a strained left ribcage. Hamilton just happens to be the leading candidate for the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
The Yankees’ rotation is another clue that this is no playoff preview. Does anyone believe for a minute that Javier Vazquez, Friday night’s starter, or Dustin Moseley, the projected starter for Sunday, would be in the rotation for a playoff series? Heck, the way he is going lately, Saturday night’s scheduled starter, A.J. Burnett, may be considered iffy as a post-season starter as well.
Yankees regular catcher Jorge Posada, who has been cleared to play after tests for concussion symptoms were negative, was available as a pinch hitter only and probably just in an emergency situation. Andy Pettitte, one of baseball’s top post-season pitchers, was to report to Texas Saturday after an encouraging start at Double A Trenton Thursday night. The lefthander will need to make one more minor-league start or simulated game before returning for major-league action not before Sunday, Sept. 19, at Baltimore.
It cannot be much of a playoff preview if that many significant players who could be major factors a month from now are missing, so let’s tone down the rhetoric.