Meet the Yets

The Best of New York Baseball

Right Field: Paul O' Neill. Hold your nose and vote for Paulie. Oh for eight over the weekend, he earns only the narrowest of nods over Timo Perez, who is proving himself to be that legendary no-tool prospect, while Benny Agbayani and Shane Spencer both have the scab factor working against them big time. Joe Torre probably knows something that I don't, but a quick look at Paulie's range suggest that the world—and the Yankees—would be better with David Justice in right.

Pitching: Roger Clemens. The 7-1 record at the tale end of a Hall of Fame career makes this pretty much a slam dunk. But even if he were having a Cone-esque nightmare of a season, he'd get the nod, just so we could see who throws what at—I mean, to—whom the first time he and Piazza converge at first on a bunt play.

Rick Reed. God, it hurts to put a scab on this team. But baseball's played between the lines, and Sunday's rocky outing notwithstanding, Reed has been the best pitcher in town this season, with an ERA a full run and a half better than Clemens, while allowing a Rivera-esque 8.0 base runners per nine innings.

Crouching Jorge, Hitting Piazza
photo: Pete Matthews
Crouching Jorge, Hitting Piazza

Andy Pettitte. Quiz time. Name a pitcher who has a better career-winning percentage than Greg Maddux; since 1996 has won more games than Maddux, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and only two fewer than Pedro Martinez; and put up an 8-4 postseason record. And yet he's made the All-Star Game only once, and never won a Cy Young award? Don't tell me. It's on the tip of my tongue. Tall guy . . . lefty . . . God Squadder . . .

Al Leiter. Clutch hitting aside, Leiter (46-26, 3.33 ERA, .236 batting average against) has actually been better than Mike Mussina (42-32, 3.60 ERA, .255 average against) over the last three seasons. And he's $53.5 million cheaper over the course of his contract. After all, this is all about fiscal responsibility, right?

Steve Trachsel. Just seeing if you're paying attention. Mariano Rivera. As constant as the North Star, Rivera has become marginally stingier this year, lowering his on-base percentage allowed from .294 over the last three seasons to .227. Who's the most underpaid player in baseball? You're lookin' at him.

Armando Benitez. Who can resist a good bench-clearing brawl every now and then?

Manager: Bobby Valentine. Give Joe Torre his gold watch and his golden parachute, and then we can say we've seen something rarer than a perfect game: a Yankee manager leaving on his own terms. Watching Valentine manage the Mankees should be much more amusing than a George Dubya Bush presidency. Just keep him away from the red button.

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