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Young Rays have passed Yankees in standings and in talent

Having spent a little time being both, I feel qualified to say this: Being young is better than being old.

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Generally speaking, running is preferable to standing still, energy is better than entitlement and today is better than yesterday. Ripening is better than rotting, playing hard is better than punching a clock and, evidently, running over a catcher is better than running around him.

Also, it should be mentioned, the Rays are better than the Yankees.

We are not simply talking about the standings here. We are talking about the rosters. We are talking about reality. We are talking about Hank Steinbrenner having a rough, rough morning.

It was sometime during last week's games, when the Rays took three out of four from New York, that the notion arose. It began as a small idea, flitting around the eyes like a mosquito, then it grew into this question:

Brand names aside, would you trade the 25-man roster of the Rays for the 25-man roster of the Yankees?

Think of the audacity of the question. Throughout the entire history of history, such a question would have deserved only two answers: One: pointing. Two: laughing. That a person would even think seriously before answering says a great deal about the direction of both franchises.

At this point, the Rays are better.

Now, I don't mean they are a better bargain than the Yankees, although that is certainly true. I don't mean they happen to be ahead in the standings for the time being.

I mean they are better. Younger. Faster. Hungrier. They play the game so much harder that even Steinbrenner-the-sequel, the same guy who recently acted as if the Rays were kids who didn't appreciate their allowance, couldn't keep quiet about the embarrassment. You get the feeling Hanky the Yankee is ready to bowl over a Yankees catcher himself.

In other words, yeah, these Rays ought to finish ahead of these Yankees.

I know, I know. Any moment now, Yankee fans will hit you with their history books. And it is true: The Yankees have a glorious past. On the other hand, so did Constantinople.

At this point, however, watching the Yankees is kind of like watching the Rolling Stones. It's nice to see they can still strut around because everyone loves the oldies, but down deep, you find yourself hoping that no one breaks a hip.

Let's be honest: The emperor is wearing Perry Como's clothes. There were times last week you wondered if the Yankees wouldn't have shown more life if they strapped gloves on a few ATMs and placed them strategically about the field.

This is what you get for $207-million? Man, is this a rough economy or what? Never has yesterday's news come at such prices.

I don't know about you, but I can't wait for Steinbrenner to get loud. Eventually, he's going to have to wonder if this roster was assembled in a darkroom. Eventually, he's going to have to look at his payroll and ask for change. Also, his roster.

Eventually, he's going to have to walk into his front office and ask: So, how do these teams stack up?

This is what he is likely to hear.

PositionEdge
First base

Both Jason Giambi and Carlos Pena are off to dreadful starts. Giambi has more of a track record, but at 37, he's on the downhill slide. Put it this way: Which one would you wager will be employed by his team next year?

RAYS
Second base

The Rays' Aki Iwamura has made a seamless transition to second base, and he's starting to hit. Still, the edge has to go to Robinson Cano despite his slow start.

YANKEES
Shortstop

The Rays are delighted with Jason

Bartlett's range, but let's face it.

Bartlett has a lot of

proving to do before

he can be compared

with Derek Jeter.

YANKEES
Third base

Evan Longoria is

going to be a star.

Alex Rodriguez, who

should return this

week, already is one.

YANKEES
Catcher

Jorge Posada has caught only nine games all year, and by next year, he may be the Yankees' first baseman. Meanwhile, no one is grumbling about Dioner Navarro anymore.

RAYS
Leftfield

No question. Any general manager

in baseball would take Carl

Crawford over a 35-year-old

Johnny Damon.

RAYS
Centerfield

Not much question here,

either. Give me B.J. Upton

over Melky Cabrera.

RAYS
Rightfield

And isn't it nice to compare a Rays player other than Kevin Stocker to Bobby Abreu?

YANKEES
Designated hitter

Hideki Matsui's knees are healthier than Cliff Floyd's.

YANKEES
Starting pitching

Andy Pettitte is older than dirt. Mike Mussina is older than water. And the Rays are pretty darned good. Any questions?

RAYS
Setup and closer

Dan Wheeler and Troy Percival have been superb for the Rays. But the Yankees are pretty good, too, with Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera.

YANKEES
Middle relief

The Yankees don't have a left-hander. They also don't have J.P. Howell.

RAYS
Intangibles

The Rays play better defense. They have more speed on the basepaths. They are more athletic. On the other hand, the Yankees can take heart. Next year, they should have a higher draft choice.

RAYS

Young Rays have passed Yankees in standings and in talent 05/17/08 [Last modified: Monday, May 19, 2008 4:16pm]

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