Series Preview: Will “scuffling” Yankees spoil Boston’s aspirations for top-five draft pick?

The race for a top five draft pick is on, Sox fans!

Going into Tuesday night’s action, Boston’s record sat at 63-78 – four games better than Cleveland (59-81) in the pivotal “Loss” column for the fifth pick. Meanwhile, the third-worst slot was also well within reach as Colorado sits at 56-83 (five losses ahead of the Sox).

The faltering Red Sox (losers of nine of their last 10 games), it would seem, could be lining themselves up nicely for a top-five draft pick in the 2013 amateur player draft.

But leave it to the reeling New York Yankees to come to town just in time to spoil the party.

The first-place Bombers limp into town as they begin a three-game set with the Red Sox at Fenway Park on Tuesday night. The aging Yanks aren’t exactly forging ahead full throttle as they enter the season’s final weeks, which is likely to feature an eventual playoff staredown with fellow AL East contenders Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

And as usual, everything the Yankees do is quite obviously aimed at weakening the Red Sox.

In fact, both the manager and New York players confirmed that they will put their playoff aspirations on hold just long enough to hopefully bolster Boston’s win total and spoil their 2013 draft positioning.

“Yeah, there’s going to be a lot of pussy-footing around in Boston, I can promise you that,” said a distracted looking Joe Girardi. “Our at-bats will be submissive; our base-running tentative and our hustle uninspired.”

Girardi said further, “I’m going to set the tone here. I’m going to bat our worst on-base guy in the leadoff spot and I’ll probably unwittingly slot in our worst power-hitter in the key third spot of the batting order. Maybe I’ll pitch fragile-minded bullpen specialists like Joba Chamberlain for four games straight.”

The Yankees manager claims he is also working on disenfranchising franchise player Derek Jeter.

“I’ve got a few rumors I’m going to drop into some tabloids later in the week. None of them are really based in any truth, but the New York media should have some fun with them for a couple of days. You know…I think maybe Jeter’s ‘commitment’ to the club isn’t what it used to be. He doesn’t play as hard for me as he did for Joe Torre …ya know, that kind of stuff.”

“I’ll clarify myself before Friday night’s game against Tampa because we’re going to need to win that one if everything goes as poorly as we hope in Boston.”

Said slugger Curtis Granderson, “Joe’s told me to use a bat that’s already cracked through…I guess he doesn’t trust me not to swing for the fences up there and he figures this way even if I make contact the ball will go nowhere.”

Added Jeter: “I’m going to do that thing where I stare every good pitch right over the plate all the way into the catcher’s mitt. But I’m also going to swing at every pitch in the dirt and above my neck. We call it ‘Ciriaco-styling'”

For his part, lame duck Sox manager Bobby Valentine does not sound worried.

“Oh, we’ll see about that,” he laughed when apprised of Girardi’s comments about strategically tanking a few games with the bigger picture of 2013 and beyond in mind. “I may not be back here next season, but I sure as shit ain’t going to let somebody like Joe Girardi out-mismanage me. He thinks one little scrum with a USA Today reporter makes him a badass? This guy is way out of his league.”

Asked for specifics, Valentine remained coy, but did provide one telling piece of information.

“We haven’t made a final decision about whether to shut down Daisuke. But I think maybe his next session of long-toss could come while playing third-base during tonight’s game…”

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