New York sporting unfamiliar faces

The Yankees starting pitching was much better in 2003 than it was when they met the Red Sox in 1999.

Updated: October 8, 2003, 10:44 AM ET
By Jim Baker | MLB Insider
The Yankees and Red Sox are hours away from writing another chapter to their long history of animosity and unrequited success. The last time they hooked up in the postseason was 1999, when New York took four of five on its way to its second consecutive World Championship. On Tuesday, we compared the Boston lineups of this year and that, and today will do the same for the Yankees.

Catcher
1999: Jorge Posada/Joe Girardi
2003: Jorge Posada
For Posada, 1999 was the worst year of his career but he was still the much better half of the catching duo with Joe Girardi. Now Posada has gone from spare part to one of the elite of the league and is a good bet to finish in the top three in the American League MVP voting. He is at an age when catchers begin to break down but he seems to keep getting better. How can this be? For one thing, he didn't play his first game in organized ball until he was nearly 20 and did not really start logging a ton of innings behind the plate until he was 29.

First Base
1999: Tino Martinez
2003: Jason Giambi/Nick Johnson
Joe Torre's lineup in Game Four was interesting and clearly the product of a manager thinking about the immediate rather than the established. Leading off, he had a player who walks about once every four games (Alfonso Soriano) while batting ninth was a man who is a good bet to walk almost every game in the person of Nick Johnson. They scored eight runs and clinched the LDS though, so it worked out just fine. Martinez had one of his more passable years in '99 but he is obviously no match for Giambi, even with his batting average blackout in 2003. Johnson was very productive in duty limited by injury. Let's clear something up, too. Going one for 13 in four games as Johnson did in the LDS does not qualify as a "slump." Things are so magnified in the postseason that something like that has a way of getting blown out of proportion.

Jim Baker is an author at Baseball Prospectus and a frequent contributor to Page 2. You can e-mail Jim at bottlebat@gmail.com.

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