Commentary

Tune in to the C.J and Albert Show

Reality is, Yankees fans can scout Wilson and fantasize about Pujols during Series

Updated: October 19, 2011, 11:46 AM ET
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com

The World Series gets under way Wednesday night in St. Louis, and if you are a New York Yankees fan, you would probably rather sit through a "Say Yes to the Dress" marathon than watch two other teams play for a prize that you believe rightfully belongs in the Bronx.

Believe me, you are not alone. I spoke with Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Tuesday morning, and while he will, grudgingly, watch the Series, the Yankees will not be sending a scout to any of the games. "Call it our silent protest," he said, with a rueful chuckle.

But there are reasons for a Yankees fan to peek in at the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers, even if it's from behind fingers shielding eyes. Two reasons, as a matter of fact: C.J. Wilson in Games 1 and 4, and Albert Pujols, every night.

This World Series is less than a target-rich environment for Yankees free-agent shoppers, which is why there will be no real organizational presence at these games from the House of Steinbrenner.

But Wilson, who will be far and away the best starting pitcher on the free-agent market this offseason, and Pujols, far and away the best overall player for sale this winter, are prospective Yankees, even if Cashman continues to publicly pooh-pooh the chances of Phat Albert wearing pinstripes in 2012.

And remember, there have been other players, a lot less talented than Pujols and who also did not seem to fit, who the Sons of Steinbrenner have overruled their GM on before. Rafael Soriano, anyone?

The Yankees, of course, will make a big push for Wilson, the Rangers' lefty who, fortuitously for him, is coming off the best season of his seven-year career (16-7, 2.94 ERA, 206 strikeouts) as he heads into free agency.

Unfortunately for Wilson, he is not having a postseason to remember, going 0-2 with an 8.04 ERA in three starts against Tampa Bay and Detroit.

But no matter. Wilson, who made $7 million this year, will command a lucrative, long-term contract this winter as the best available arm. And the Yankees, once again in need of at least two starting pitchers for 2012, will take their shot.

So if you haven't already, you might want to familiarize yourself with the 30-year-old from SoCal whose Twitter handle is @str8edgeracer, a reference to his adherence to a somewhat controversial lifestyle that is said to have caused some friction in the Rangers' clubhouse.

The Yankees, of course, are quite familiar with Wilson, having faced him 21 times as a starter and reliever since 2005 and never having lost to him in three decisions. They scouted him extensively throughout the season and during the American League Division Series between the Rangers and Rays, believing (incorrectly, it turned out) that they would be facing the winner in the AL Championship Series.

C.J. Wilson
Michael L. Stein/US PresswireThe Yankees need starting pitchers, and C.J. Wilson will be the best available this winter.

The Cardinals, of course, have Pujols, a game changer on any roster but a player the Yankees say they can't afford. (You can stop laughing now.) Pujols, of course, is a first baseman, like Mark Teixeira, and a third baseman, like Alex Rodriguez, and hates the idea of being a DH, a position at which the Yankees have a stockpile of talent.

Still, this team has splurged on extravagances before, and to believe the Yankees won't even consider kicking the tires on Pujols is to believe that A-Rod can walk past a Bentley showroom without at least looking in the window.

As a fan, you owe it to yourself to squint your eyes and imagine how good a guy like that would look in pinstripes, especially at the plate with the bases loaded in the seventh inning of a one-run game that you absolutely have to win.

There are other players in the World Series who could possibly be Yankees next year, although the chances are remote at best.

There's Cardinals right-hander Edwin Jackson, on his sixth team in nine seasons but talented enough to have thrown a no-hitter last season. He made $8.75 million last season, and although he will be a lot more expensive as a free agent, at 28 can he really be much more of a risk than Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon were for the Yankees in 2011?

And there's Yadier Molina, of the Catching Molinas, remembered fondly by Yankees fans as the man who killed the Mets' championship hopes in 2006. Since Russell Martin is coming back, it is highly unlikely the Yankees would spend what it would take to bring in Molina as a backup, a job he isn't ready to take anyway.

In reality, as far as Yankees fans are concerned, this World Series is basically the C.J and Albert Show.

If that isn't enough to get you to abandon your own personal silent protest, you can always spend the next nine days watching reruns of "Cake Boss."

Wallace Matthews has covered New York sports since 1983 as a reporter, columnist, radio host and TV commentator. He covers the Yankees for ESPNNewYork.com after working for Newsday, the New York Post, the New York Sun and ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
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