Tagged: New York Yankees

So much for AL East parity

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The bulk of this year’s winter meetings were pretty
uneventful, but it was certainly bookended by some craziness out of Beantown.

After officially acquiring superstar first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the San Diego
Padres on Monday in a blockbuster deal, the Boston Red Sox again turn heads by
unexpectedly signing
one of the preeminent five-tool players in the game in outfielder Carl Crawford
.  The deal is worth a staggering $142-million
over the next 7 years and when combined with the expected extension for
Gonzalez, the Red Sox have unofficially committed around $300-million to two
players.  I guess John Henry isn’t
hurting from purchasing Liverpool.

Crawf.jpgThe surprising part of this deal is not that Boston signed
Crawford, nor is it that he was signed to the second richest contract ever to
be awarded to an outfielder.  The
surprising part is the timing.

<– “Look what I caught,  $142-million, BITCH!!”

While most teams interested in Crawford (such as the Angels,
Yankees and Rangers) were waiting for Cliff
Lee
to make his decision before committing funds to Crawford, the Red Sox
stepped in and made the deal happen. 
They were the only team said to have real interest in the athletic
leftfielder who did not have interest
in Lee, allowing them to swoop in a steal Crawford from under their noses.  Something Crawford will be doing a lot of in
Boston.  Oh yes, I made a pun.

But this was supposed to be the year that the AL East evened
out a little.  The Rays were/are expected
to take a giant step back and both the Orioles and Jays were supposed to be
rising teams ready to take the next step toward contention.  Reality has set in quickly.

The Red Sox, at least right now, have to be considered the
favourite while the Yankees will become co-favourites if they’re able to sign
Lee.  If the Yankees don’t sign Lee,
there could be an opening for one of the other three teams to jump into Wildcard
contention (probably not Baltimore), but they still have to be considered at
least the second favourite team even if they lose out on him.

By the way, the Red Sox projected lineup as of right now:

  • ·        
    CF  Jacoby
    Ellsbury
  • ·        
    LF  Carl
    Crawford
  • ·        
    1B  Adrian
    Gonzalez
  • ·        
    3B  Kevin Youkilis
  • ·        
    DH  David
    Ortiz
  • ·        
    2B  Dustin
    Pedroia
  • ·        
    RF  J.D.
    Drew
  • ·        
    C 
    Whothehellcares?
  • ·        
    SS  Marco
    Scutaro

Not to mention that they still have Clay Buchholz, Jon
Lester, Josh Beckett, John Lackey, and Daisuke Matsuzaka as their projected
5-man rotation.

That’s just not fair, dammit!

There’s one more negative aspect of the Crawford deal from
the perspective of the Jays; the Red Sox are still interested in lefty reliever
Scott Downs, who is, like Crawford,
a Type-A free agent.  If he signs in
Boston, the Jays will not get the Red Sox first round pick as compensation as
that now goes to the Rays.  And, oh yeah,
the Jays STILL have to face Crawford 18 times this upcoming season.  Bad day.

This by no means tempers my excitement for the 2011 season,
it just seems to signal another 3rd or worse season for Toronto.

UPDATE:
Apparently the Angels made an offer to Crawford of 7 years and $108-million
according to a Tweet by Mark
Feinsand
of the New York Daily News.  Werth definitely
drove up that market.  Way to go Rizzo.

UPDATE #2:
Apparently Ken Rosenthal
reported
that Lee received a 7 year offer from the Red Sox.  Signing Crawford does make that unlikely, but
apparently I was wrong about their interest in Lee.

2010 New York Yankees Preview

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yankees.gif2009 Record: 103-59,
1st AL East, WS Champs

2009 Prediction: 95-67,
2nd AL East, Wildcard Champs

2010 Prediction: 2nd AL East

 

Impact Player: Mark
Teixeira

Impact Pitcher: C.C.
Sabathia

Top Prospect Player: C
Jesus Montero

Top Prospect Pitcher:
RHP Zach McAllister

 

Manager: Joe Girardi,
3rd Season (192-132, .593)

 

Significant Acquisitions: CF Curtis Granderson, DH Nick
Johnson
, OF Randy Winn, RHP Javier Vazquez, LHP Boone Logan

Significant Losses: OF Johnny
Damon
, OF Melky Cabrera, DH Hideki Matsui, OF Eric
Hinske
, UTIL Jerry Hairston Jr.,
OF Xavier Nady, LHP Phil Coke, RHP Brian Bruney

 

The Yankees followed up their first non-playoff year since
1993 in ’08 with a World Series title in ’09. 
GM Brian Cashman didn’t panic when the team appeared to be on the
decline; instead he added to his core by signing Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia,
and A.J. Burnett, and in the short-term,
those massive contracts appear to have been warranted.  Sabathia is the ace this team sorely lacked
and Teixeira is the middle-of-the-lineup bat that can hit behind A-Rod and be
extremely productive.  2010 looks to be
another championship contending year for the pin-stripers and with the addition
of Javier Vazquez to their rotation
and Curtis Granderson to their
outfield, the Yanks can and will compete with anyone in baseball.

 

Pitching

cc-sabathia-yankees.jpg

Sabathia has solidified himself not only as one of the best
pitchers in baseball, but also as one of the best big-game pitchers in the
game.  Last year, Sabathia “adjusted” to
pitching in the run-happy AL East by going 19-8 with a 3.37 ERA and finished
fourth in Cy Young voting.  He followed
that up by going 3-1 with a 1.98 ERA in the playoffs, with the only loss coming
against Phillies’ ace Cliff Lee in
the World Series.  After Sabathia is
Burnett who answered his critics (including myself) by pitching over 200
innings in a non-contract year; he also won 13 games.  Andy Pettitte
is back again after proving that he can still get it done in ’09.  Pettitte went 14-8 with a 4.16 ERA and was
once again great in the post-season going 4-0. 
With an 18-9 career postseason record, he might make it to Cooperstown
in spite of the HGH controversy. 
Admittedly, after those three, the Yankees were thin in starters last
year.  Joba Chamberlain was inconsistent
at best and the fifth starter was a proverbial marry-go-round with the team
using Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Phil Hughes, and Chien-Ming
Wang
.  Cashman attempted to alleviate
that situation by trading for Javier
Vazquez
who pitched for the Yankees in 2004 and won 14 games.  Vazquez was terrific last season in Atlanta
going 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA and finished fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting.  Those numbers will likely not be as good in
the AL, but there’s no denying that Vazquez is one of the most durable and
consistent starters in baseball.  The
Yankees will likely not re-sign Wang who remains a free agent so the fifth spot
will likely go to Mitre, Alfredo Aceves,
David Robertson, or one of the
projected bullpen arms Chamberlain, Hughes or Gaudin.  With four durable starters, don’t be
surprised to see the Yankees go with a four-man rotation in important stretches
of the year.

 

In the bullpen, Mariano
Rivera
is back again as closer and don’t expect a decline from the
40-year-old.  He’s still one of the best
in the game and last year proved that. 
Rivera had 44 saves and a 1.76 ERA in another All-Star year.  Hughes emerged as an elite setup man but
could still end up starting and it appears as though Chamberlain will at the
very least start the year in the ‘pen as the 7th inning man.  If he returns to his dominating self in a
late relief role, the Yankees could have the best bullpen back-end in
baseball.  Joining those three will be
Gaudin and lefties Damaso Marte and Boone Logan.  Logan was acquired from the Braves along with
Vazquez.  It was the second time in two
years that the two had been traded together after being sent to the Braves from
the White Sox last off-season. 
Robertson, Mitre and Aceves will vie for the long-relief job depending
on who ends up in the rotation.  Edwar Ramirez, Mark Melancon, and Jonathan
Albaladejo
will also be given a look in the Spring.

 

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ROTATION

Age

B/T

C.C. Sabathia

29/0

L/L

A.J. Burnett

33

R/R

Andy Pettitte

37/8

L/L

Javier Vazquez*

33/4

R/R

Sergio Mitre

29

R/R

 

 

 

BULLPEN

 

 

Mariano Rivera (CL)

40

R/R

Phil Hughes

23/4

R/R

Joba Chamberlain

24/5

R/R

Chad Gaudin

27

R/R

Damaso Marte

35

L/L

Boone Logan*

25/6

R/L

Alfredo Aceves

27

R/R

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

David Robertson

25

R/R

Edwar Ramirez

29

R/R

Mark Melancon

25

R/R

Jonathan
Albaladejo

27

R/R

 

 

Lineup

mark-teixeira.jpgThe Yankees did a lot of tinkering to a lineup that scored
the most runs in the AL last year, but with players like Johnny Damon and Hideki
Matsui
getting older, Cashman did a nice job bringing in some younger and
more versatile players.  In centerfield,
the Yankees acquired a true five-tool player and terrific clubhouse presence in
Granderson who can do a number of things within the lineup as well, from
leadoff to hit in the heart of the order. 
Granderson did see a decrease in his average and on-base percentage last
year in Detroit but still hit 30 HR and stole 20 bases.  The corner outfield spots will be split
between three players: Nick Swisher,
Brett Gardner and recent acquisition
Randy Winn.  Swisher will spend the most time in
rightfield after hitting 29 HR and posting a .498 slugging percentage in his
first year in New York.  The Yankees
would like to see him hit higher than .249 but his on-base percentage was still
a solid .371 last year.  Gardner and Winn
will probably platoon in leftfield with Gardner’s versatility and speed being
more of an asset off the bench.  If Girardi
can’t find enough at-bats for him, the Yankees may explore trading him for a
fifth starter.

 

Team captain and shortstop Derek Jeter is coming off one of the best seasons of his Hall of
Fame career finishing 3rd in MVP balloting.  Jeter hit .334 with 18 HR and 66 RBI and
started pulling the ball more than in past years (which means higher power
numbers); he also proved his critics wrong by posting a 3.8 RTot^ rating,
winning a Gold Glove.  The rest of the
infield returns as well with Teixeira at first, Robinson Cano at second and Alex
Rodriguez
at third.  Teixeira led the
league in both HR (39) and RBI (122) while Cano became a more complete player
in ’09 adding a much improved defensive game to his unbelievably solid numbers
at the plate.  Cano went .320/.352/.520
and hit for power with 25 HR and 85 RBI. 
A-Rod seems to have put the steroid scandal behind him (until it’s time
for him to be elected to the Hall of Fame, that is) and recovered from
early-season hip surgery to post 30 HR and 100 RBI and should be back to his
40/120-type seasons now that he’s back to full health.  He also seems to have put his ineptitude in
the postseason behind him after several big hits in October.  The catcher will once again be Jorge Posada who’s a DH in waiting, but
can still hit.  The DH will be Nick Johnson who’s back after a six
year absence and is coming off his first fully healthy year since 2006.  He split time with Washington and Florida
last year and only Albert Pujols had
a higher on-base percentage in the NL. 
Girardi plans on using him in the 2-hole behind Jeter, but he could end
up lower in the order.

 

On the bench will be the off-day outfielder along with
utility-infielder Ramiro Pena,
backup catcher Francisco Cervelli
(who is being groomed as a possible long-term replacement for Posada along with
some other very good young catchers in their system), and either first-baseman Juan Miranda or outfielder Jamie Hoffman.

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Pos.

 

Age

B/T

SS

Derek Jeter

35/6

R/R

DH

Nick Johnson* (1B, LF, RF)

31/2

L/L

3B

Alex Rodriguez

34/5

R/R

1B

Mark Teixeira

30

S/R

2B

Robinson Cano

27

L/R

CF

Curtis
Granderson*

29

L/R

RF

Nick Swisher (1B, LF)

29

S/L

C

Jorge Posada

38/9

S/R

LF

Brett Gardner (CF)

26/7

L/L

 

 

 

 

 

BENCH

 

 

INF

Ramiro Pena (SS, 2B, 3B)

24/5

S/R

C

Francisco
Cervelli

24

R/R

OF

Randy Winn* (RF, CF, LF)

35/6

S/R

1B

Juan Miranda

26/7

L/L

 

 

 

 

 

POSSIBILITIES

 

 

OF

Jamie Hoffman (RF, LF)

25/6

R/R

C

Mike Rivera* (1B)

33/4

R/R

 

 

The Yankees could be starting a new dynasty and they will
contend for a World Series again in ’10. 
Cashman has been focusing more in the past few years on player
development and scouting which has led to an improving farm system which should
help this team contend for years to come. 
Sabathia will be this team’s ace for the next several years and players
like Chamberlain and Hughes are being groomed to either replace older starters
or replace Rivera in the ‘pen.  As it is
in seemingly every other year; the only thing standing between the Yankees and
another World Series appearance are the Boston Red Sox.

Final Prediction:
95-67, 2nd AL East, AL Wildcard

 

 

^ – RTot rating is a defensive calculation which measures
the amount of runs above or below average a player contributes to his team in
the field.  A rating of 0.0 is considered
at the league average.

Why Ejecting Pitchers Ruins EVERYTHING

Okay…twice this weekend I have seen something in baseball that I absolutely HATE.

I hate it when a player gets hit by an inside pitch and the pitcher immediately gets ejected even though it’s pretty damn obvious that he was NOT intentionally throwing at the hitter.

Case 1:
Yankees vs. Red Sox. It was late in the game and the Yankees were up by two with one on and one out.  Ramon Ramirez was on the mound for the BoSox and plunked A-Rod on theramon ramirez.jpg shoulder with a changeup.

Now, I know we all hate A-Rod (don’t lie Yankees fans, you do too), but come on.  First of all, who hits someone with an offspeed pitch that isn’t easy to control?  If you’re intentionally hitting someone, you throw a fastball.  Secondly, if you’re an umpire and you’re going to throw someone out of the game, you should have to warn them first.  A few pitches earlier, Ramirez gave Mark Teixeira some chin music, which was clearly not intentional, and certainly no reason to be warned…which he was not.

There’s no way that Ramirez was throwing at A-Rod…not in that situation.  A taxed Sox ‘pen had to scramble and put in Enrique Gonzalez who promtly allowed A-Rod to score.  Red Sox manager Terry Francona was understandably pissed.

Case 2:
Cardinals vs. Pirates.  Matt Capps hit Albert Pujols on the back late in a close game…got ejected…same deal

Here’s the BIGGEST problem with this.  It prevents pitchers from pitching inside.  Obviously they’re going to shy away from it given that if they miss…even a little, they could be tossed from the game.  And really people; what’s baseball without pitching inside?  I don’t know…but it ain’t what I want to watch.

Will Jake Peavy be traded? If so, where?

jake-peavy.JPGThe talk all offseason was whether or not Jake peavy would be traded from the San Diego Padres.  The Friars were/are changing ownership and like most MLB franchises were unsure of their financial future.  Of course, the trade never happened and the Padres have broken camp with their ace in toe.  The Braves, Cubs and Yankees were all said to interested in Peavy, and why not?  He’s one of the best in the game and has a hall-of-fame trajectory. 

The deal with the Braves fell through after they refused to give up highly-touted prospect Tommy Hanson, which the Padres said was a prerequisite for a deal for Peavy.  The Yankees lost interest after they were able to sign both C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and the Cubs were curiously unable to secure a deal.  So this begs the question, will Jake Peavy be a Padre for the entire ’09 season?

The Padres ownership situation is still in limbo and that appears to be the biggest snag as to whether or not a deal will be done.  Peavy loves San Diego but has made it clear he would prefer to play for a contender.  SO let’s play devil’s advocate.  Peavy gets traded, but where?

The Cubs
Chicago seems like the most likely destination.  They want a fifth starter and Peavy would give them the best rotation in baseball with the likes of Zambrano, Harden, Dempster, and Lilly.  The Cubs also have the minor-league talent to make a deal, but lack the true blue-chip pitching stud that the Padres want in return.  If the Cubs were to get Peavy, a third team might have to be drawn in.  That might be a further hinderance to a deal.

The Braves
If the Braves contend this year, their tune may change in regards to Tommy Hanson.  As of now, they are coming off a 90-loss season and want players like Hanson to secure a strong future.  If the Braves are contending by June or July, they might be more willing to deal Hanson to make a push well into October.  It seems as though Hanson is the only thing the Padres want from the Braves, however, so if they still refuse to deal him, Peavy won’t be a Brave.

The Yankees
Anytime a high-priced talent is on the trading block, the Yankees have to be considered a strong contender to bring him in.  They have highly-touted young pitchers in the likes of Phil Hughes, Humberto Sanchez, and Andrew Brackman and if Joba doesn’t pan out in the rotation, Peavy would put the Yanks over the top.  This one’s not impossible, especially if Joba pitches in the ‘pen or if Pettitte or Burnett hit the DL for an extended period of time.

The Red Sox
Anytime the Yankees are involved in trade talks, you can go ahead and assume that their proverbial Joneses, the BoSox are in those talks too.  Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Lester are locks in the rotation, but if Smoltz, Penny and Wakefield can’t stay healthy/effective, the Red Sox might be in the Peavy market.  The problem is that they would likely have to part with Clay Buchholz and I doubt one of the brightest minds in baseball (Theo Epstien) would give him up.  If Smoltz, Penny, and Wakefield can’t stick, it’s likely that the Sox would just give Buchholz the chance he already deserves.

The Padres
Peavy is still young and has a lot more effective years to pitch; if Padres ownership is willing to pony-up the bills and can convince Peavy that they will contend within the next year or two, there’s no reason why an extension beyond this year can’t be reached.

The Blue Jays
Not a chance in hell.  But hey, a fan can
dream, right?  Imagine how good Peavy would look in the Flashback
Friday Powder-Blues.  Pretty great right?

The Next Carl Pavano?

aj-burnett-yankees.jpg5 years and $82 million.  That’s a lot of money to pay anyone in this league.  That kind of cash is normally reserved for the elite pitchers in the game; the ones who’ve done it year after year; the ones with, at the very least, some Cy Young mention, if not a few of the trophies in their multi-million-dollar mansions.

5 years and $82 million was paid to former Toronto Blue Jay A.J. Burnett.

When the Jays signed Burnett a few years ago to (at that time) an astronomical contract of 5AJ Burnett.jpg years and $55 million with an opt-out clause after three years, I wasn’t offended.  He seemed to be a pitcher who was on the rise; one who might have already won a Cy Young or two if only he’d been healthy, and what better place to get healthy than in Toronto, right?

Before the 2008 season, A.J. Burnett had a career record of 69-66 and had never won more than 12 games in a season.

In 2008, A.J. started off terribly, and was so bad that at one point around mid-season, he got booed off the field by the Toronto fans.  And trust me, we Toronto fans hopelessly cheer on the Maple Leafs…we don’t boo them, we don’t boo unless you REALLY deserve it.  A.J. famously tipped his hat to the crowd during that boofest, showing the surly, spoiled, cocky jackass that he can be at times.  Yes, A.J. went on a tear down the stretch to finish with an 18-10 record, but his ERA was the highest its ever been for a burnett.jpgfull,non-injury-riddled season and is it any coincidence that he stayed healthy and actually started pitching well when it came time for him to opt-out of his current contract and cash in somewhere else?  Methinks not.  The only times he’s pitched 200 innings other than last year?  2002, when he was eligable for arbitration at year’s end with the Marlins, and 2005, the year before he cashed in withw_burnett_195.jpg the Jays.

It’s not that I don’t like A.J.  He’s a good pitcher.  He’s got some of the best stuff I’ve ever seen and when he wants to be, he’s basically the best in the business.  Unfortunately, he has some attitude issues and only seems to try about half the time.  And a warning to Yankees fans: He’ll get injured…a lot.  Now that he has his contract those little elbow twinges, shoulder tightnesses, back-aches, blisters, foot problems…they might suddenly not be something he can pitch through…trust me, we’ve seen it up here.

The further downside for the Yankees is that in his contract year (2013), he’ll be 36 and most likely unable to pitch another “typical A.J. contract year.”

Add on top of that the fact that he’s now pitching for the Yankees.  Not exactly a picnic for even the most well-adjusted people.  If he tips his hat to a booing New York crowd, he’ll be run out of town.  New Yorkers don’t put up with cocky, belligerent baseball players, and their patience with A.J. will probably run out quickly.

While people were screaming for the Jays to try and resign Burnett, I was screaming to let him go.  Thankfully, A.J. didn’t want Toronto any more than I wanted him.

Carl Pavano the sequel?  Don’t be at all surprised. 

The Integrity of Baseball

It doesn’t make me angry, it doesn’t
make me apathetic, it just makes me sad.

Football players use steroids like they’re Tylenol and no one cares because
it’s a game for giants; it’s a game for behemoths.  I watch football like
a drug between the months of September and February and I just fail to care
that the players use steroids because it’s so important for football players to
be ridiculous physical specimens.  That’s not to say that I don’t think
it’s wrong for football players to use steroids, but it’s just not something
that taints the game for me.

steroids_626_article.jpg


But baseball?  Baseball is an amazing game because of it’s appeal to
anyone.  It takes skill, intelligence, grace; it’s the thinker’s
sport.   Athletic ability is no doubt important and the truly great
players all possess an astounding amount of it.  But it takes more than
just that.  It takes a brain.  Many players have walked into the
spotlight of some of the great parks such as Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park and
used almost nothing but their intelligence to dominate their opponent. 
Greg Maddux, Ted Williams, Nolan Ryan, Tony Gwynn…these are some of the most
intelligent athletes on the planet.


I hear people all over baseball saying how great Alex Rodriguez is and how much
he loves baseball.  He watches it all the time and never stops thinking
about it.  That may be true, but he doesn’t love baseball.

If these allegations are true (and I think it’s important to acknowledge that
are just allegations, and they have not yet been proven true beyond any doubt),
then Alex Rodriguez doesn’t

love the game.  If these allegations are true,
Alex Rodriguez merely thinks of baseball as a way to make himself look good; a
way to feed his ego.  If these allegations are true, Alex Rodriguez sees
baseball as his ATM.  He loves it only as much as it gives him the
benefits he has come to enjoy. 

alex-rodriguez-picture-5.jpg



Another important thing to remember is that Rodriguez is not alone.  Too
many players have
come
to view baseball in this way; as their ATM, ready to spew out cash at the press
of a button, or the hitting of a ball. 



In a way, you can’t even blame him…or anyone.  This is the society we
live in.  Do anything to get an edge over your opponent; it’s the mantra
of capitalism; of the so-called “American dream.”  It’s just sad
that it has seeped into something that should be immune from all the bull-****
in society.  It has tainted baseball.



History will no doubt show us, however, that the game is bigger than these
small, selfish issues.  Baseball will prevail and it will move past the
steroid era and be better for it.  It should not forget this dark moment;
just like it will not forget the 1919 White Sox…or Pete Rose, but it will
move past it.  It will continue to provide us fans, and society, with a
reminder of just how great it truly is.



No one, not even the great Alex Rodriguez can ruin that integrity.

A-Rod used ‘roids too? I thought he was like Jesus.

alex rodriguez ap bill kostroun.jpgApparently A-Rod tested positive for steroids in ’03. 

Now I’ve never been the biggest A-Rod fan.  I find him to be kind of a baby.  A spoiled baby.  If you remember, he once yelled at a Blue Jays third baseman while rounding third a couple years ago pretending to be the short stop, causing said third baseman to back off the ball and let it drop on the infield.  The ensuing fights between the Jays and Yanks continued for almost a year.  He’s an ***. 

Having said that, he has ability as a baseball player that I have simply never seen before.  He’s probably the best hitter of all time and there are no real glaring holes in his game (except maybe World Series batting average).  Curt Schilling once said (and I think it was around the ’03 or ’04 season) that he was utterly disappointed by the use of steroids in the game and went on to praise A-Rod as being one of the true “freak” talents because he put up these numbers without the use of steroids.  WRONG.

Now I don’t want to jump to conclusions about his use but he certainly didn’t deny it when he was approached by reporters in a Miami gym. 
“You’ll have to talk to the union…I’m not saying anything.”  Sounds fishy.  I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for now…but I’ve been hurt before.

I really wish these jackasses would just stop with the performance-enhancing drugs already.  I don’t advocate the asterisks in the record book…what’s done is done, but just come clean and stop it already.  You’re ruining the best sport on the planet. 

What’s really dumb is that I’m sure almost every fan would forgive each and every ‘roid user if they’d just admit to what they did and stopped.  Too much to ask, I know.