Curt Schilling, one of my least favorite baseball players of all time, said, when asked about returning to the game "Absolutely, I'll come back." He wants to play for a team with championship caliber that hasn't won recently....or ever. His top choices are the Rays and the Cubs right now.
Johan Santana has a sore left elbow. In other news, CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Melky Cabrera all have no current injuries...
Via PeteAbe we learn that Jorge Posada was scratched with shoulder discomfort. They say it isn't too serious, but when the guy we're expecting to catch 120 games for us has a sore shoulder, you can't help but be worried. If I were Brian Cashman I would be having periodic conversations with Indians' GM Mark Shapiro, Angels' GM Tony Riggans, Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik, Texas GM Jon Daniels, and Colorado GM Dan O'Dowd about the availability of Kelly Shoppach, Jeff Mathis, Jeff Clement, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Max Ramirez, Taylor Teagarden, and Yorvit Torrealba in case Posada can't catch and we need someone who can catch and hit at the major league level.
Amen Joba Amen
AL East: New York Yankees
AL Central: Chicago White Sox
AL West: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Al Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays
The Yanks will win the East because they have the best rotation in baseball now. They also have a pretty darn good offense. I also see a more motivated team this year, missing the playoffs sucks, and Derek Jeter isn't going to deal with that two years in a row. Also, on the team chemistry component everyone(other than A-Rod) is pretty classy. Sabathia is one of the world's most renowned "nice guys." Derek Jeter is a natural leader. Nick Swisher has fun, but not carelessly, and has been called a "grinder." Johnny Damon is a great guy for the clubhouse, I mean who doesn't love Damon? Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are classic Yankess who know how to lead by example and not let the press get to them. Mark Teixeira is a professional kind of guy who obviously has a great work ethic, and is a no-nonsense type of guy. The manager, Joe Girardi, has a year managing in New York under his belt, and has shown he's going to be even better this year through his honesty on injuries so far with the press, and his epic "pool tournament" outing with the team. The Yanks are the team to beat in the East.
The White Sox will win the Central simply because they have the best pitching. The Tigers have too many question marks in the rotation, the only established guys the Royals have in the rotation are Gil Meche and Zach Greinke. The Twins have some talented pitching with Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, and Kevin Slowey, but their offense is so weak (outside of Mauer and Morneau) that I don't see them holding up. Lacking a veteran ace is also problematic (although Tampa didn't have any true vets in their 08 rotation). The Indians have a great offense, but their pitching scares me. Cliff Lee won't repeat his super human 08, and Anthony Reyes won't be anywhere near as good either. And Aaron Laffey and Fausto Carmona are real question marks. Also, they signed some guy named Pavano, word has it he's one of the worst people to ever walk the earth and one of the worst players to ever enter a ballpark, not to mention he's a compulsive liar. Kerry Wood could be great, however he usually has trouble keeping healthy, with only one year under his belt as a closer who knows how he'll do this year. Chicago, however, has the following players that could fill rotation spots:Mark Buehrle (a veteran ace), Jon Danks (a proven young arm), Gavin Floyd(another nice young arm), Bartolo Colon (a former Cy Young winner), Jose Contreras(a questionable quantity nowadays, but he used to be one of the best in Cuba), Jeff Marquez (former Yankee prospect), Lance Broadway( young prospect), and Aaron Poreda (pormising young prospect). With Buehrle, Danks, Floyd, and Colon, Chicago could have a pretty great rotation. They've got a decent offense with power(Jermaine Dye, Jim Thome, Paul Konerko, Carlos Quentin), speed(Alexei Ramirez), and athletic young players (Jayson Nix, Brent Lillibridge, Ramirez, Josh Fields, Jerry Owens, etc). Add in a phenomenal closer named Bobby Jenks and a veteran catcher (AJ Pierzynski) and you have a team that can dominate the AL Central.
The Angels will bring in the West simply because of pitching. Texas has practically no starting pitching, Seattle has too many question marks and underachievers, and Oakland's rotation has too little experience. The Angels however have John Lackey, Joe Saunders, Ervin Santana, and Jered Weaver who all have experience and talent. Add in some young talent with Nick Adenhart and Dustin Moseley and you have a strong rotation. They have a decent 'pen even without K-Rod, and a managable offense with Vlad Guerrerro, Bobby Abreu, Torii Hunter, the versatile Chone Figgins, and possible breakout candidate Howie Kendrick. Add in the fact that they have baseball's greatest manager (Mike Scioscia) and the team is headed for good things.
The Rays will win the Wild Card because, well how can that team not make the playoffs? Carlos Pena, Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria, Dioner Navarro, BJ Upton, Pat Burrell, they make up a great offense. A rotation of Scott Kazmir, James Shields, Matt Garza, and David Price is pretty scary too. Add in Joe Maddon's ability to make his pen work extremely well, and you have a recipe for success. The Rays could win the East, but it'll be close between them and the Yanks. For anyone who wants to know why I'm not saying Boston will make it...here's why. David Ortiz and JD Drew are too big of injury risks. They'll feel the loss of Manny's bat this year, no matter how good Jason Bay is, he'll never fill Manny's shoes. Josh Beckett's ERA was over 4 in 08. Dice-K's lgERA, park adjusted, was 4.62 this year, so don't expect another strong season. Tim Wakefield is 42 years old. And then Brad Penny and John Smoltz are too big of question marks. Also, there's no way that both Youkilis and Pedroia repeat their phenomenal 08 years, and Lowell has hip issues. They'll still be a good team, but not as good as the Yanks and Rays.
LF Johnny Damon
SS Derek Jeter
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
DH Hideki Matsui
C Jorge Posada
RF Nick Swisher
2B Robinson Cano
CF Melky Cabrera
CF Austin Jackson
SS Derek Jeter
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
LF Matt Holliday
RF Nick Swisher
DH Jorge Posada
2B Robinson Cano
C Austin Romine
Chien Ming Wang
CF Austin Jackson
SS Derek Jeter
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
LF Matt Holliday
RF Nick Swisher
C Joe Mauer
DH Jesus Montero
2B Robinson Cano
Chien Ming Wang
"The Rockies are on this list for one reason: failure to get adequate return for Matt Holliday. Colorado traded a 29-year-old career .319 AVG/.386 OBP/.552 SLG hitter who's signed for 2009 at $13.5 million. What did they get in return? Carlos Gonzalez (pictured), a toolsy outfielder with questionable makeup who's shown no ability to adapt to advanced pitching. They also got a starting pitcher (Jason Marquis) with control issues and a below-league-average ERA, and a closer (Huston Street) with health concerns and platoon weaknesses. The Rockies didn't help themselves, now or in future seasons."
Dayn. Jason Marquis was on the Chicago Cubs, not the Oakland Athletics. He was traded for, and is a Rockie, but not in the Holliday deal you idiot. Marquis came in a deal for Luis Vizcaino. The starting pitcher the Rockies got from the A's was Greg Smith. So, FoxSports, why do you employ this guy?
Only join if you are going to be attentive to your team and do all you can to win.
It's a 5x5 league, that will be played Head to Head style for each week, but we switched up the stats a little for fun. So the stats we'll record are HR, SLG, OBP, SB, XBH and ERA, WHIP, IP, K SVHD. So we basically got rid of the typical RBI's, Run's and AVG and replace them with slugging percentage, extra base hits, and on base percentage, as those are all better indicators of a player's ability. And we also dropped Saves and Wins, replacing them with Innings pitched and Saves plus Holds. This allows players to have a bullpen, rather than just closers, and innings pitched measures a pitcher's ability much better than wins, which are largely a result of runs from a pitcher's teammates, rather than his true ability.
We'll have an online live auction style draft at some point before the season. You might have to clear a few hours of free time (most likely on a weekend) so that we can have the draft.
We sent out emails to some other Yankee bloggers, with a few responding and others not yet, so you might like to know that you will be playing alongside a team run by me (Kevin) a team run by Conor, a team run by the guys at Jersey Hardball, and a team run by Dan at Pinstripes PA. Anyone that wants to participate is invited to participate, but if you have a baseball blog we'll give you priority over others. Make sure to send Conor or I an email if you are indeed interested.
Right now we aren't thinking about a prize for winning the league, but we'll consider it depending on who is in the league when it officially starts up.
Just remember, in the spirit of being Yankee Fans....
"If you ain't first, you're last."
It regards Brian Giles.
Brian Giles is a man who is accused of beating his former girlfriend. This girlfriend was pregnant with Giles' child, and she claims his beating of her caused a miscarriage. Giles is in a public dispute with her, that could cost him $10mm. By the way...he's counter suing, saying his girlfriend abused him. He is a professional athlete, and he says he was beat by his girlfriend....
The 38 year old outfielder will make $9mm in 09. He hit 12 home runs in 08, his lowest total since 1996. He stole 2 bases in 4 attempts. However, he did have a .306/.398/.456 line in 08. He also hasn't played in the American League since 1998.
But, Giles said that if he were to be traded, he would want to be sent to the Red Sox, Yanks, or Angels. Well, if one of them has a starting job for him. The Yanks most likely can't fit him in anyways (Damon, Cabrera, Gardner, Nady, Swisher), but a 38 year old outfielder with a $9mm salary, no power, and no speed who beat his girlfriend is not someone I want to trade for even if we do have a spot for him. So if you are going to try and argue in favor of trading for Giles at any point, I will have to say you are crazy. There are so many other better in-house candidates, and if worse comes to worse, there are still lots of better trade candidates.
Just a note on the PED mess....
The AL MVPs of the2000, 2002, 2003, 2005, and 2007 seasons, the NL MVP of the 2001-2004 seasons, the 2001 AL Cy Young winner, and the NL Cy Young winners of the 2003 and 2004 seasons have been involved in the PED mess, either through the Mitchell Report or, in A-Rod's case, The Selena Roberts story. That's somewhat ridiculous when you think about it.
"I think that the A-Rod situation, it was a little bit tough for the game," Ortiz said. "Talking about the best player all the way around. At the same time, people have to give the guy credit because he came out with what he said at the point of his career where he had done it all. On top of that, that was what? Six years ago? The guy has put up numbers his whole career. It was one thing that he said that caught my attention was that he was young and at the time. . . . sometimes you make the wrong decision like he did. He's been playing clean and he's still producing. He's still been the best player in the game. If I'm a fan and I had to judge the guy, I would put that in the past and move forward. The guy, he works hard, man. He's still doing his thing. He's still got nine more years on his contract where he's definitely gonna do some damage still."
These things we heard from Alex, that was the last thing you want to hear about the baseball game. The guy came out -- and he didn't wait until they took him to the Congress and all that. He was honest."
I got to say, David Ortiz is a class act. He talks about how A-Rod is a great player with a great work ethic. He says that obviously A-Rod made a mistake, but has produced way above average while clean still. He also then gives A-Rod credit for coming clean. Ortiz is a Red Sock and all, but it isn't hard to see why people like him. He takes a strong stand against steroids, which is great, but doesn't trash on players who have made the mistake of using them.
This video has this among other topics in Cafardo's interview with the Boston designated hitter.
These things we heard from Alex, that was the last thing you want to hear about the baseball game. The guy came out -- and he didn't wait until they took him to the Congress and all that. He was honest."
That pause at the end was kind of ridiculous. I couldn't tell if he was sad, or laughing, or smiling or what. I think a lot of people thought he was choked up, but it didn't look like that to me in the video. It was strange because the pause was between "And to my teammates...." and "Thank You." Anybody think he didn't want to thank them? Don't get me wrong, I think this was handled very well by him, but I just don't get exactly what he was thinking during that pause.
Bryan Hoch -There's a chance, but Brian Cashman said recently that he's in the mode of offering non-roster invitations only – all the money is pretty much spent from the budget and they're going to cut it close to last year's $209 million figure after signing Andy Pettitte. Really, I lean the way of thinking that the Xavier Nady-Nick Swisher talk is a little overblown. It served a purpose for Cashman to work the phones a little and see what might be out there for either guy, but obviously no one was coughing up the family farm because both players are still with the Yankees. At this point, why open yourself up to a scenario like the one you just mentioned? They'd be well served to hang on to both players at least until exhibition games start and see what develops. Maybe some team suffers a crippling outfield injury and absolutely must have Nady or Swisher, and the Yankees can hit the jackpot. Or, what if there's some shallow fly ball in – say, Dunedin – and all of a sudden Johnny Damon, Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner is on the disabled list for a long period of time? You just never know. Spring Training is a gauntlet to get guys to the finish line healthy and it doesn't always work out that way.
CC- One player we haven't heard much about this off season is Chien Ming Wang. Wang has taken on the role of ace for the past few seasons, and now he will be the third starter as CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett have taken over the top two slots. Will Chien benefit from the lessened pressure on him, or will he start to throw like a third starter rather than the ace he is?
BH- I don't know that Wang can have any more pressure on him than he does right now. Here's why – every time he takes the mound, it's a national event in Taiwan. If you think the tabloids go crazy shooting Alex Rodriguez's every midnight dalliance, imagine what it must be to be Wang in Taiwan, where the microscope is about 100 times closer. Pitching for the Yankees is actually a great escape for Wang, because people in the United States don't zero in nearly as much on him as when he's at home. If Wang is healthy, people around the Yankees expect that he'll be able to turn in his usual performance, with no after-effects of that freak injury. For Wang, that's about 19 wins, a ton of ground balls and not many strikeouts. The Yankees would take it.
CC- Mariano Rivera's contract expires after the 2010 season. Will Mo hang 'em up after '10, or could he try to get 1 or 2 more years in? If he keeps pitching the way he has been, what kind of deal would the Yanks offer him if he wants to return past 2010?
BH - Good question. I tend to think that this is probably Mo's last contract – Jorge Posada has already strongly hinted that he's done after 2011, and you can tie those guys together as 'old-guard Yankees' who locked in for one last big deal after the 2007 season. What Rivera did last season while hiding a painful injury for almost all of the season was nothing short of amazing. He's still a joy to watch and you just hope that the day comes when he can leave on his own terms. There's nothing sadder than a fading hero who can't get it done anymore, and Rivera strikes me as too proud to pitch when he is diminished in that way.
CC - With the current composition of the bullpen, should the Yanks expect the same amount of success as last year? Will the promotion of Mark Melancon along with a healthy season from Brian Bruney make this a 'pen to be feared? There has been a lot of specualtion about the Yanks adding Juan Cruz because he would only cost them a 4th round pick rather than the 1st rounder he would cost most other teams. If he comes cheap is he a smart investment, or is he just an extra piece that the team doesn't need?
BH- Poor Juan Cruz, the victim of a flaw in the compensation system. Frankly, I'm surprised the Yankees didn't make a run at him, but they're putting a lot of stock in Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte. I actually think Bruney will have a very good year and that Marte will be much more effective than some of those lefty options the Yankees have trotted out there in the last few years – Mike Myers, Ron Villone, etc. We'll see what happens with Melancon. I wouldn't be stunned if he opened the year at Triple-A, but there are a lot of people in the organization who'd like to get a look at him sooner than later. The setup innings will probably go to Bruney and Marte in April, but the back end of that bullpen is wide open. I don't see any reason why a guy like Melancon couldn't eventually displace the likes of Edwar Ramirez or Jose Veras.
CC- Many writers have debated whether Joe Girardi should bat Teixeira 3rd and A-Rod 4th, or vice versa. What's your take? Who needs the protection more?
BH - If it was my lineup card, I think I'd bat Teixeira third and have A-Rod fourth. Can you imagine an opposing manager trying to pitch around Teixeira to get to A-Rod? There's a legit argument on both sides – if you flip it, A-Rod is on base for Teixeira to drive in a whole lot more. But I think Teixeira will get on base so often that no one is going to look longingly for Bobby Abreu's patient approach. Mike Scioscia put Teixeira third in front of Vladimir Guerrero and that worked like a charm. But really, A-Rod needs someone behind him hitting with authority to make sure he sees pitches to hit. That's part of the reason they've got to cross their fingers and hope Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui are ready to answer the call.
CC- Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera are expected to fight it out during the spring for the starting center field spot. What have both players done thus far this winter to prepare for the upcoming season, and who do you see winning the position battle?
BH - Robinson Cano says that Melky Cabrera is working out hard down in the Dominican Republic, and Brett Gardner got to camp very early and has been running around the Minor League complex. I think Cabrera has a slight edge because of his contract ($1.4 million) and his lack of options, so if all things are completely equal, the Yankees will carry Cabrera. But a good spring from Gardner changes that. They're going to give him a legit opportunity to win a job and we already know Girardi likes his speed a lot. People haven't given up on Melky but he has something to prove after taking a step back.
Kevin Seefried- With the recent revelation of A-Rod's failed steroid test, how do you think that will affect him both mentally and performance-wise in the upcoming season?
BH - This is going to be the biggest challenge of Alex's baseball life. His legacy is in tatters and, 20 years from now, people will be judging him over how he handles the next few seasons. Alex's baseball talent is tremendous and that won't be washed away by any Sports Illustrated story or Selena Roberts' book due out in April. But they will be giant, ugly distractions and the roller-coaster is just beginning for him. There are going to be issues down the road and his teammates may get tired of answering questions for or about Alex. I keep thinking about 2007, when Alex basically told the world to butt out and put in his iPod headphones. He kept distance in '08 as well, but injuries put a dent in those numbers. He's never going to be warm and fuzzy for the media, and that's his decision to make. If he takes it out on American League pitching and Alex can avoid saying silly things, the Yankees will be pretty happy.
KS- When Jeter's contract is up, it is not out of the question that the Yanks' might prefer to move him to center field. Since Jeter is such an icon, would the organization actually ask him to move as part of the contract negotiations, or is there a chance he might pull a Cal Ripken Jr., and move to do what is best for the team?
BH - Who knows – maybe Gardner and Cabrera are complete busts and Jeter sees center field late in 2009? No, I don't actually see that happening, but you can't rule anything out. Ideally, you'd want his heart to be in it, if you're going to cross that bridge. The number of positions where you can actually consider moving Jeter are limited because of the long-term deals the Yankees have committed to – actually, one of my first thoughts when they signed Teixeira was, where are they going to play Jorge Posada? Brian Cashman bluntly said in an interview that the '09 Yankees are a bad defensive team – he's admitted that outright. The thinking is that CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Joba Chamberlain will strike out so many guys that it won't matter. Either way, there's going to be some tough decisions to make after '10. You don't want to see Jeter cracking his 3,000th hit wearing a Rays uniform or something. But the Yankees have a way of taking care of their own and, trust me, I don't think they'd ever let that happen.
I would like to discuss the proper following of the world's fastest growing religion, Chamberlainity. To start you on your journey to conversion, here are The Ten Commandments of Chamberlainity.
1. Thou Shalt not call our dear 6 pound 8 ounce lord Joba a reliever.
2. Thou Shalt not accuse the the Savior of substance abuse.
3.Thou Shalt not suggest our Savior be moved to the bullpen.
3. Thou shalt not question the personality of the Almighty, for he is "pretty much boys with everybody." Including, the Patron Saint of On-Base Percentage, Nick Swisher, and the Patron Saint Of Jolly Dedication, CC Sabathia.
4. Thou Shalt not argue that the Savior and leader of the finest human race, Yankee fans, should ever consistently enter games after the first inning.
5. Thou shalt forgive the Savior for his solitary mistake regarding the driving of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol. As we must remember, this action was the fault of a demon representing the official baseball team of Satan, and provoking the strong competitor within our Savior.
6. Thou must not ask our 6 Pound 8 Ounce Lord to pitch in relief, or suggest he pitch in relief, or falsely claim that his team would be better if he pitched in relief.
7. Thou shall laugh in the faces of any individual who claims that the likes of Jon Lester, Clay Bucholz, Justin Masterson, or Michael Bowden are superior than our Lord the Savior, Joba. They are being guided towards John Henry's inferno, and have obviously failed in the mortal world if they made such comments as those.
8. Thou shall cheer each time the Savior is announced as the starting pitcher in a competition of any sort, for it is clear that is the one and only way he shall enter baseball games.
9. Thou shall cheer for each member of the New York Yankees, as they are the disciples of the Savior and shall share in the victories he earns for the greatest franchise know to man.
10. Thou shall never ask for our dear 6 pound 8 ounce baby Joba to be a reliever, or you shall face the wrath of Joba's most vehement supporters.
I do hope that you all shall follow this gospel through the remainder of your lives, as it shall guide you to greatness,
"If you ain't first, you're last"
The Royals Ace, Gil Meche, pitched 210.1 innings last year, with an ERA of 3.98 and 183 K's. He isn't CC Sabathia, but he pitches lots of quality innings. Then they have Zach Greinke, who had a 3.47 ERA with 183 K's last year in 202.1 innings. Greinke's only 25, so expect him to keep performing well. Behind those two there are Brian Bannister, Luke Hochevar, Kyle Davies, and Horacio Ramirez. None of those guys are great, but they can all be good. Bannister performed remarkably in 07, his rookie season, with a 3.87 ERA. He performed terribly in 08, but if he can bounce back he'll be a steady member of the team. Hochevar was the first overall pick of the 06 draft, and with almost a full big league season under his belt (129 innings) he should be used to playing at the highest level of competition, and can perform up to his potential. Kyle Davies and his 4.06 ERA in 08 is an accpetable guy to have at the back end of the rotation. These guys don't have the best rotation, but it will be decent. And don't forget there are always trades that can be made mid-season if they are in contention. Also, Ben Sheets is planning to return mid-season, he could perhaps be picked up.
The Pen: The Royals have an awesome closer, the Mexicutioner. Joakim Soria is lights out in the 9th, he's 24, had a 1.60 ERA last year, struck out 66 in 67.1 innings, and converted 42 of 45 save opportunities. You have to feel good having that guy closing games for you. Then KC has Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Mahay, Robinson Tejeda, and Doug Waechter to set up for Joakim. Farnsy isn't the best pitcher around, and the contract he signed is ridiculous, but he is at worst league average. Farnsy throws fast, gives his best every time he goes out, and is clearly a great teammate, as we found out when he was traded midseason and the whole team was truly sad to see him go. Having a vet like Farnsy on the team certainly can't hurt. Ron Mahay is one of the best left handed set-up men around. He had 49 K's last year in 64.2 innings, and played to the tune of a 3.48 ERA. Mahay's not one of those lefties that you bring in just for left handed hitters. Though he held lefties to a .255 batting average, he was even better against righties, holding them to a .250 avg. Tejeda struck out 45 in 45.1 innings last year, how can you not like that? They also had Waechter, who had a nice 3.69 ERA in 08. Basically if the Royals' starters can go 6 innings each time out, they can count on their 'pen to bring home the victory a good part of the time.
Lineup: The Royals are going to have a fine offense next year. Dayton Moore overloaded on first basemen, but that means that somebody will have to work out for them. Personally, I say that somebody will be Ryan Shealy his 08 . 604 SLG and .354 OBP are fine numbers to work with. They traded for Mike Jacobs, who has 30 home run potential, but gets to first base less than the nerdy kid in high school who sits at his computer and only speaks in binary. His .299 OBP in 08 was atrocious, but if he can keep his power up, that might not be all that important. I say even though KC also has Kila Ka'aihue, Billy Butler, and Ross Gload, Shealy and Jacobs should be their first baseman and DH they should have on the roster opening day. If Ka'aihue can perform in the spring, then he might drive one of them out of a job. Moore needs to shop some of his excess firstbaseman, perhaps he could get some starting pitching in return. Then the Royals have Mike Aviles and Alberto Callaspo up the middle. Callaspo's .305/.361/.371 line is respectable. He struck out just 14 times in 213 at bats, which shows he has a good eye, patience, and doesn't often swing and miss. Kansas City could upgrade over Callaspo (Orlando Hudson anyone?) but he isn't someone to worry too much about. Aviles had a line of .325/.354/.480 over 102 games, in which he hit 10 home runs. The guy can clearly hit for average, with one season under his belt we should see him he keep playing at a high level. They also have Alex Gordon manning third base. The Kansas City outfield of David DeJesus, Coco Crisp, and Jose Guillen should be great. Crisp brings the speed, Guillen brings the power, and DeJesus brings a little of everything. But, don't forget the Royals also have Mark Teahen trying to work his way into the starting lineup. Then they also have two subpar catcher in John Buck and Miguel Olivo trying to fight for the starting job. The team has a ton of potential, they just need to harness it and perform.
There are some smart transactions the team could make right now to become performers listed below.
Sign Orlando Hudson. The Royals' first round pick is protected, so signing Hudson would just cost a second round pick, but they still don't want to lose that. Here's what I say, stop valuing your draft picks like their the blood and body of Christ, Hudson is an established star with offense and defense, who will come at a bargain price, and you are worrying about giving up a second round draft pick for him? You don;t even know what player that would mean you are losing. And you don't know how good that player will eventually be. Look Kansas City, you aren't that good at developing your players in case you haven't noticed. John Buck, Mark Teahen, Alex Gordon, they aren't the stars you thought they might be, so do the right thing and sign O-dog.
Trade Mark Teahen and John Buck to Oakland for Kurt Suzuki and Rajai Davis. Teahen doesn't have a set spot in the lineup anymore, and really nor does Buck. Billy Beane has always loved Teahen, and I'm sure Buck's .080 difference between AVG and OBP will entice Beane. Suzuki is a nice upgrade behind the plate, and Davis can be the speed on the bench to step in late for the slow sluggers.
Sign Pedro Martinez and Mark Mulder. Pedro isn't the pither he used to be, but this team needs some star power, someone recognizable to put fans in the seats. Mulder is coming off injury, and will most likely be a bargain, a nice low risk, high reward signing.
Trade Mike Jacobs to the Giants for Noah Lowry. The Giants need a power bat, and have a full rotation (Lincecum, Cain, Johnson, Sanchez, Zito). Lowry is coming off injury, but has been a great pitcher when healthy.
The team would then have this lineup
These rotation candidates:
And a bench of:
That seems like an improvement to me.
As Conor said Bobby signed with the Angels. One year $5mm. Abreu is class act and a phenomenal player. He's got a great work ethic and never causes any trouble. He isn't exactly a clubhouse leader, but if you believe in leading by example, then he's one of the best. I saw his phenomenal showing at the Home Run Derby in 05 at Comerica Park, it was just stunningly impressive. Abreu is one of those players you can't help but root for no matter where he goes. Best of luck to you Bobby.
Ken Griffey Jr. seems to be approaching a deal to return to Seattle.
Obviously, having these guys off the market gives the Yanks some leverage in trade talks regarding Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher. I'm not against keeping both, but if we could get some position prospects from the Braves (Gorky Hernandez anyone?) by trading X-Man, I'd say it is a good idea.
In other news, I can smell the freshly cut grass in the air. I can taste the relish covered hot dogs. And I can hear the cheers that will greet the 2009 Yankees as they take the field at the New Yankee Stadium. Players are reporting to Spring Training complexes as we speak, and soon baseball season will be underway. We'll see new faces, new stars, and a new stadium, but we'll still see the most storied franchise in sports enthrall millions all year long. Personally, I just can't wait.
David Price, Rays. We saw him dominate in last year's postseason as a reliever, and he'll dominate as a starter this year. Remember how Joba was a phenomenal reliever, and then we realized he is an even more phenomenal starter, we'll see that to a similar extent with Price. Both guys have always been trained as starters, but debuted as relievers because of their teams' needs. Price is dirty, and could end up being more valuable to the Rays than Scott Kazmir, James Shields and Matt Garza.
Matt Wieters, Orioles: The Uberprospect is supposed to end up being phenomenal. He might not come up until May, but that's what happened with Evan Longoria last year, and we saw how impactful he still was. Wieters hits for average, and power, and was described as "a switch hitting version of Joe Mauer, only with more power." That's someone anyone would want to be compared to.
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: Texas moved all star Michael Young to third base so that Andrus can play short. He's got a great glove, and speed, and is only 20 years old. If they are moving a perrenial all star away from his native position for this guy, he has to be pretty good.
Dexter Fowler, Rockies: The five tool player will likely see time at the big league level this year. With Ryan Spilborghs and Brad Hawpe likely manning left and right Fowler could end up in center. On a young team, but one that has such professional players as Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton, Fowler is set up for success.
Tommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson's name came up a lot in the Jake Peavy trade talks, and he is expected to be a star. With phenomenal minor league stats the 22 year old right hander could make an impact at the big league level this year behind Javy Vasquez, Derek Lowe, and Jair Jurrjens. If Hanson is as good as they say he is, this could be a dominant rotation.
Jeff Samardzija, Cubs: Samardzija showed his skill in his time in the bigs last year. He was a two sport athlete at Notre Dame, his other sport being football where he was a wide reciever, and his vast athleticism should pay off and he will likely team up with Kevin Gregg to set up Carlos Marmol.
Mark Melancon, Yankees: Melancon is expected to be the next Yankee closer when Mo's era ends. He has dirty stuff and will almost definitely be an important member of the big league 'pen this year.
Chris Davis, Rangers: In just 300 major league at bats in 08, Davis hit 17 home runs with a line of .285/.331/.549. He is expected to be a big bat for Texas this year, with MLB predicting him to hit 37 homers this year.
There are obviously a lot of young players with immense talent, and not all of them are named above, we will see lots of other young guys make a big league impact this year, but these guys above are some of the cream of the crop.
The fixed 1919 World Series and Prohibition: People consistently broke the law during prohibition and would drink all the time. See The Great Gatsby as evidence. Alcohol was part of the culture, despite its illegality. The World Series was fixed despite it being against the rules. A huge scandal in the eyes of many Americans, the 1919 series mirrored the nation-wide disregard for rules and the law.
Babe Ruth and the Roaring 20's: The 20's were a time of immense changes in culture, from the Harlem Renaissance to women's rights. Babe Ruth challenged the conception of a traditional athlete. He enthralled the nation and brought baseball to a bigger national stage, changing the game forever with his tremendous home run power. You could say the roaring 20's changed America forever as the independence of all Americans, specifically women increased forever. The power to challenge the traditional and to be an individual was present both in America and in baseball in the form of Babe Ruth.
Jackie Robinson and the breaking of the color barrier and the Civil Rights movement: Jackie broke the color line famously in 1947, beginning the integration of major league baseball. By integrating America's heroes, this helped integrate America's people. The trouble that Robinson and Larry Doby and all the black players changing to MLB from the negro leagues endured, was similar to that of black activists in the 60's. Jackie's move to MLB foreshadowed the American move towards integration.
The Steroid Era and the Medical Help Era: We all blame baseball players for using PED's, and that is justifiable. But, in our society today we use drugs to solve almost all our problems. Have trouble concentrating? Take aterol. Have erectile deficiency? Get viagra. Stressed? Turn to marijuana. Overweight? Get a fat burner. With such a modern day emphasis on using drugs to try and solve our problems, we really shouldn't be surprised by baseball players turning to steroids. I'm not saying that that justifies it. And I certainly think that taking illegal drugs or prescription drugs that weren't prescribed is a serious crime, but with so much of America trying to find it's answers in a bottle of meds, it seems only natural that ballplayers would try to do the same.
Baseball is just a condensed version of life, and we are sure to continue to see these parallels between America and it's past time.
National League MVP: Hanley Ramirez. I think the Marlins have the best team in the NL East. With Ricky Nolasco, Chris Volstad, and Josh Johnson in their rotation, and Hanley, Dan Uggla, Cameron Maybin, and Jeremy Hermida in the lineup, I say this team wins the NL East. So there's the contender component. Next, we all know that writers always love the old school stats of batting average and home runs. Well, Hanley hit 33 homers in 08, and batted .301. In 07 he hit .332 and had 29 homers. For the writers that like newer age stats Hanley's OBP in 08 was .400 and he slugged .540. His defense improved and just being a shortstop ups his value. With the new trend of emphasis on youth and athleticism, Hanley gains more points. He swiped 35 bases in 08, and 51 in both 06 and 07. Hanley is a god in the eyes of fantasy owners, and we will see him carry that status to the national stage this year.
AL Cy Young: Francisco Liriano. We all saw Liriano absolutely dominate in 06. He spent most of 08 in the minors, after struggling in the bigs early on, but in August he had a 1.23 ERA, before a less impressive 4.66 ERA in 5 September starts. He has seen flashes of brilliance, and expect him to sustain that for his first full big league season. He is young and has already dealt with injuries, which means that like AJ Burnett claims he has done, Liriano has learned to keep himself healthy. With Joe Nathan as his closer, Liriano won't have to worry about the 'pen blowing too many of his wins.
NL Cy Young: Cole Hamels. Hamels showed his brilliance in the post-season as well as over the course of the regular season. He had 196 strikeouts in 08, with a 3.09 ERA. Hamel has proved durable and reliable, and is amiazingly talented. With Tim Lincecum's crazy delivery, it seems plausible that he might run into injury, which is why I suggest that Hamels will beat him out for the Cy. At 25 Hamels is entering his prime, and with the confidence of having shown he can conduct himself on the big stage, expect him to blow the league away in 09.
More Predictions to come....
All off-season I've emphasized the importance of non-big name players, and guys for the bench. RAB's Joe P writes about Mark Grudzielanek. I say he's a decent option, depending on what he costs. Since David Eckstein and Aaron Miles have both been signed, it seems like Grudzielanek is one of the most reliable possibilities still out there. The Yanks might explore Nomar Garciaparra, so they could have all three of the best shortstops from the late 90's, but I think Grudz is a more reliable choice. Personally, I'm still a Miguel Cairo fan, even if he was never that good. And there are surely other options available via trade. I just would rather have some certainity than relying on Angel Berroa and Cody Ransom to be able to fill the shoes of any player that gets injured.
The Yanks offered Andruw Jones a non-roster spot, which he declined. Good attempt at a low risk, high reward move, even if it didn't work.
Sooo many people have said that to me. They always say that the Yanks always buy their players and that other teams can't keep up. And they are wrong to hate the Yanks for that. Here's why.
George Steinbrenner bought the Yankees in 1973 for a grand total of $10mm dollars. In other words, he bought the entire team for less than half of Derek Jeter's salary. Sure there is inflation and whatnot, but still, a relatively miniscule amount. The organization is now worth $1.306 billion according to Cot's. Let me put it this way. Unless the Steinbrenners somehow lose $1.296 billion dollars they will have made a profit off the team. Thus, almost no matter how much money the Yanks spend, they earned the right to spend that money.
George was the man who made free agency what it is today. He offered multi million dollar contracts to free agents which led to the great salaries players recieve, as well as the improved economic state of baseball since the 70's. Although ballgames are more expensive to attend, ballparks are nicer, TV stations have better coverage, the game has greater attendance. Basically, through George's willingness to spend to win the game has been helped a lot. So, saying that the Yankees' spending is bad is ridiculous.
Through the merchandising agreements in baseball, the income from all attire items not sold at the stadium comes into a pool, which all teams get paid from equally. The Yankees sell more attire than any other team. So, they make money for the other teams.
Through the collective bargaining agreement, a luxury tax has been put in place for going over a certain payroll, with higher punishments for repeat offenses. The Yankees have paid $148.3mm in the six years of the luxury tax. That's almost $150mm that the Yankees have given to baseball to give to other teams. Again, the Yankees' spending helps other teams.
Teams say that it is unfair that the Yankees' can spend so much on their payroll. However, how many of those teams wish the Yanks had let them sign Jason Giambi for 7 years, or Carl Pavano for 4, or Kei Igawa for 4 years along with a a $26mm posting fee? When the Yankees mess up and sign guys that don't pan out to be as good as projected, other teams don't complain, because it only means the Yanks wasted a roster spot, money on the player, and money in revenue sharing while the other team got to keep that spot and that money. Teams no are going to complain about the Yanks signing Burnett, Sabathia, and Texeira, but if those guys falter(knock on wood) those teams won't complain anymore.
People who say the Yanks buy all their players usually are speechless for a minute when my first response is just a list: Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Chien Ming Wang, Robinson Cano, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte (originally), Joba Chamberlain. Then they'll say, "well the Yankees paid money to keep all those guys." And I'll reply, Joba, Wang, and Cano are all worth more than they are paid. We almost let Pettitte go because he wasn't worth the money he wanted, but have always told him he is welcome as a Yank because he is a classy guy, and the Yanks are a classy organization. Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada are Yankee legends in my mind. The Yanks may have overspent for them, but they did so because they can, and they needed too. Those three guys are full of strong character, strong morales, strong work ethic, and strong mindsets. They are all very talented and bring more than just skills to the field. The Yankees paid for these guys because they felt they owed them, because it was the right baseball decision, and because the Yankees are an organization of respect and they respect players that deserve it. Sure, at some point loyalty falls out for smart baseball (see Joe Torre and Bernie Williams departures), but for the most part the Yanks take care of their own.
It may seem ridiculous that the Yanks spend so much money, and small market teams can complain all they want, but in the end, the Yanks aren't the only ones who can spend. The Nats' owner, Ted Lerner, is a billionaire and could certainly buy himself some better players, or pay to improve his farm system, but he hasn't done anything of remarkable proportions. Arte Moreno and John Henry, the owners of the Angels and Red Sox, can and have spent, and could most definitely spend more while truning a profit. The Marlins are penny pinchers, who make a huge profit every year, they could easily compete if their owners were more willing to pay their players the money they deserve.
According to Forbes, during the 06 season the Yankees made a net profit of negative $25.2mm dollars. Yes, that means they lost money and they were the only team to do so. You complainers about the small market teams have to stop, because the Marlins made $43.3mm, the Rays made $20.2mm, the Pirates made $25.3mm, the A's made $14.5mm, even the Royals made $8.4mm. So basically, the Yanks are willing to lose significant money in order to please their fans and to win, while other teams are more concerned about their owners' pockets.
Basically, it seems like the Yankees spend money that they have earned, have vastly improved the value of their franchise, and improved the game of baseball, treat their players with respect and do whatever it takes to win. If you want to hate on us, go ahead, but seems to me like the Yanks are doing everything right.
As a Yankee fan, I tend to take All-Stars and Hall of Famers for granted. In just the last two years the Yankees have signed CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixeira, and Roger Clemens, and re-signed Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, and Jorge Posada. I love watching these high caliber players, and I will always root for them; well, as long as they are in pinstripes). But I?ve always been more enthralled with the guys who?s destiny isn?t yet set, the guys who are still trying to make a name for themselves. It?s the Melky Cabreras, the Bubba Crosbys, the Brett Gardners who keep baseball in my blood.
I always seem to connect with the younger players who are still trying to prove themselves at the big league level. I quickly became an adamant supporter of Chien Ming Wang and Robinson Cano as they rapidly developed into integral members of the team, but it was Cabrera who became my favorite player. Melky is not an all-star, but it is always a blast watching him play. He just oozes energy, whether it be his bullets from center that save a run, his priceless handshakes with Cano, or his game-saving catch against the hated Red Sox, robbing Manny Ramirez of a home run. There is something about the youthful enthusiasm that he brings to the field every day that makes it impossible for me to stop rooting for him.
I had the same feeling with Bubba Crosby a few years back. One of my fondest memories of the Yankees is when he hit that walk-off homer against the Orioles. Sure, in the grand scheme of things it was insignificant, but in the moment it was one of the most exciting baseball events that I?ve experienced in recent years. He isn?t a star, he isn?t even a big leaguer anymore, but his excitement after that shot to left was a perfect example of why baseball is America?s past time; it is all about living out your dreams.
There?s just something priceless about watching those young guys fighting for a job, whether they are going to become stars or not. I think that everyone gets that feeling to some extent. Remember when Shelley Duncan started mashing home runs as soon as he made the team in 2007? Or when Joba surprised us all with his 0.38 ERA in his 24 innings in 2007? How about Aaron Small winning 10 games in 2006? Unbelievable! Even when Phil Coke was lights out last year, and when Gardner came up, he might have only hit .228, but everyone loved seeing him give everything he had, every time he played. As Yankee fans, we get so wrapped up in the All-Stars on our team, that we sometimes forget about the other guys who, in my opinion, truly complete the game.
I love watching the big name guys, but for me, there?s something about watching someone work his way onto a big league team that is even more exciting.
C: Jorge Posada
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
3B: Alex Rodriguez
SS: Derek Jeter
LF: Johnny Damon
CF: Brett Gardner
RF: Nick Swisher
DH: Hideki Matsui
Chien Ming Wang
This Roster doesn't have Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Jon Albadejo, David Robertson, Juan Miranda, Angel Berroa, or Xavier Nady. Let's hear revised versions in the comments.