Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Post Finally--Things to Come

Where to start? We've been very lame about posting and now the 2008 season is over. I finally got inspired to write since the winter meetings are ongoing and the Yankees are close to signing CC Sabathia to a 7 year deal. I'll share my thoughts on that in a bit, but I'm just going to do a bulleted list of my thoughts on random baseball stuff in here.

  • Phillies win. No one expected the Phillies to win the World Series and to my fellow Philly sports fans who are in a class of their own, congrats (belated). Droughts of championships in cities like Philadelphia tend to wear people down and make them easily aggitated, so I sure hope this win does the trick. Now you just need the Eagles to do something right.

  • The Offseason. Since baseball's my favorite sport to watch, this is the time of the year I get a little in the dumps although football makes up for a lot of it. Now that the winter meetings are going on there's certainly some action. There is a pretty good group of free agents out there and already some big names are changing teams with signings and trades (ie Holliday on the A's). We've also seen two great right handed pitchers retire--Mike Mussina and Greg Maddux. Maddux is a sure first ballot Hall of Fame pitcher, but there's some debate on Mussina and I want to give my two cents on that.

  • Mike Mussina. Most people are going to say Mussina is not a Hall of Famer. They use criteria such as not getting 300 wins and that he wasn't "dominating" when he pitched. He also never won the Cy Young award or won a World Series. Now he retired with 270 wins and won 20 games once in his career. 270 is pretty good these days to me because if you look at the overall wins leaders winning let's say 250 or more wins, the majority of them are pitchers who used to pitch the entire game. Wins is a very overrated and deceptive category though especially because a pitcher could leave a game down 2-0 and get the loss eventhough giving up 2 ERs is a pretty good day. So while I won't do this research, I wonder of the seasons Mussina came close to 20 wins (he had two 19 win, two 18 win, and one 17 win seasons) was because he got no run support or the bullpen blew the game. But let me get in to a few reasons why I think Mussina is a Hall of Famer:
  1. Career Rankings: 270 wins (33rd all time), win/loss % (38th all time), strikeouts (19th all time), 7 Gold Gloves.
  2. AL East: Mussina played in one of the toughest divisions in baseball and I'd argue that it became tougher from 1994 onward. He played more years with the Baltimore Orioles who from 1993 (his rookie year) to 1995 were an pretty good team, from 1996 to 1997 were a very good team and through 2000 were not good at all. One could argue that with the Yankees he could have pulled out more wins, but he joined the Yankees and 32 years of age and around 2004 onward was on the decline.
  3. He was very durable: Which says a lot about pitchers these days who are on pitch counts and are lucky if they pitch seven innings. Out of 18 years of baseall, he pitched less than 200 innings six times and he lowest innings pitched total for a season was 164 (I'm ignoring his rookie year). I believe he only had major arm problems once after he beaned someone while on the O's and got in a fight.
  4. Very smart pitcher: Mussina was a Stanford grad but more importantly had a lot of pitches (like the knuckle curve) that he used well. After his fastball flamed out the last few years, he started relying more on the soft stuff and location--becoming Jamie Moyeresque in 2008. Therefore he was able to adjust his stuff and still get hitters out. Overall though, he didn't rely on one pitch to get someone out which is different from the majority of pitchers who rely on one or two pitchers to get batters out.

A couple other points. Mussina pitched in the era when only a few pitchers got over 300 wins--Roger Clemens, Greg Maddux, and Tom Glavine (and soon most likely Randy Johnson). All these pitchers have continued to pitch well into their 40s, which is certainly not the norm when considering pitcher life spans. Mussina retires at 39 and basically said he doesn't just want to pitch another 3 years or so just to reach this 300 win total because even if he gets 10 wins in each of those 3 seasons, that doesn't even look impressive. This goes to say that he on out there will be few if any 300 win pitchers anymore and the Hall of Fame needs to consider other criteria.

  • Sabathia. Finally, it looks like the Yankees will get their pitcher CC Sabathia for 7 years. Had a written in November, I would have said I did not think Sabathia would pitch in New York because he wanted to be in California and did not seem to be a guy to go for all the dough. But it seems since Cashman flew out to San Francisco this week that he changed Sabathia's mind. I'm sill very concerned about a few things though.

One being, this is a very long deal taking Sabathia through his age 35 season. I'm surprised Giambi didn't call and say, "don't go, the aura and mystique are no longer in New York, it left there in 2004." It's actually strange to me that no one has reported that a bunch of Yankees called Sabathia to say how great New York is (you can't use the we'll win a World Series several times over arguement anymore).

The second is Sabathia's high pitch counts. The guy can pitch forever it seems and close out games himself, but it will wear on him at some point. I suspect he'll land on the DL a couple times while in New York. The other arguement for this is his weight problem. While very athletic, his weight will certainly take a toll on his legs and being a power pitcher that will not help his pitching.

So yes, I'm a bit negative on Sabathia eventhough I do love the guy as a pitcher ever since he was a rookie. I'm also a bit disillusioned that Sabathia would get more than Santana who's arguable the better left handed pitcher in the game today--but that's how baseball works, everyone's upping the ante and the Yankees had to since they desperately need pitching.

Some final thoughts on the Yankees offseason--don't sign Burnett, he's a head case and arm case and overrated. I hope they go for Lowe instead and resign Pettitte giving them Sabathia, Wang, Lowe, Pettitte, Chamberlain, and Hughes/Kennedy/?. At this point I do not suggest they get Texiera but do resign Abreu so that they'd play Swisher at first. The could also take a look at Raul Ibanez as well if they don't go for Abreu.

That's all from here, I'll post again when there's more to discuss.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

It's Over

Yes, it's been a couple months since my last post and in that time the Yankees have managed to not be in the playoffs for the first time since 1995 and Yankee Stadium is no more.

The beginning of this season I fell into the trap of assuming the Yankees would make it to the playoffs again. I figured the offense would be as good as it's always been and the pitching would hold up. Both failed to deliver although I would say 89 wins considering what happened is not too bad, but this is the Yankees and so this is a huge failure. On all accounts though, this day was bound to happen. The Yankees have aging players--I would even argue Jeter is among them--and no coherent plan to build things up from the farm system.

On that point (the farm) I do want to say the Yankees can learn a lot from some recent teams that have made the playoffs with strong farm system teams--the Indians, Rays, Brewers, and even the Red Sox. We are seeing some light in the changes Cashman has made since 2005 in building the farm with arms like Hughes and Chamberlain and even Cabrera, but no "stars" yet.

But it will be interesting to see how the Yankees move forward. First off, they need pitching...badly. Assuming Pettitte and Mussina retires, that leaves Wang, Hughes, and questionably Chamberlain and Kennedy in the rotation. Seeing that Sabathia is a free agent I am expecting the Yankees to go after him hard--especially since they didn't bid on Santana last year, something Hank Steinbrenner seems to regret. They may need to sign or trade for a #3 starter on top of that as well. On the offense side, with Giambi most likely leaving and no 1st baseman to replace him, the Yankees may go after Texiera.

This will be a lot of money. Sabathia will likely get top dollar either matching or surpassing Santana's deal and Texiera is obviously very costly as well (especially since his agent is the greedy Scott Boras). These moves will continue the spending trend the Yankees have bolstered since 2001 something as Buster Onley pointed out in a recent article on ESPN has stunted the player development growth.

But back to missing the playoffs. Any way you cut it, the AL East is even more competitive than ever before. I personally did not see the Rays doing what they did and figured they'd have another losing season, but they are for real and honestly I think that's great. The Red Sox are solid because they have balanced great player development with key free agent signings and the Blue Jays seem to be over .500 these last few seasons on the verge of being in contention for the Wild Card. The point is, for the Yankees to compete they will have to either win the division or have a good enough record for second place to take the Wild Card and 2008 is an indicator that this is harder to do.

I will write more when the Yankees make post season moves. In the mean time the playoffs start today and despite my lack of baseball watching this year, I'm looking forward to watching as much as I can. Here is my prediction: it will be the Angels vs. Brewers. Yeah, I'll go with an underdog in the NL, but I think the Brewers are on a good roll right now.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


Not only is it my birthday, but it's also the trade deadline today. Two years ago the Yankees got me Bobby Abreu. This year it's Ivan Rodriguez, Xavier Nady, and Damaso Marte. They finally got rid of Farnworth, Hawkins, and some minor leaguers. I'm happy.

These were some very good trades and very strategic. I-Rod will fill in for the catcher spot, provide great defense, and they he'll likely be gone after the season. Nady, who was a prospect years ago, has been having his best season by far, so hopefully he'll continue to milk that the 2nd half. And Marte is probably the best left handed reliever the Yanks have traded for in a long time.

The one thing I worry about is the bullpen at this point. Farnsworth was doing pretty good, but I never had much faith in him and he was going to start getting jacked at some point. Veras and Ramirez have been good, but Marte adds the strong left handed pitcher they've lacked for a long time (probably since Mike Stanton, his first time on the team).

But enough of the Yanks, Manny is gone (or as I'm calling Manny banning Manny). His situation in Boston just became ridiculous and the Sox had nothing to lose since they likely weren't going to sign him again. They had to give up a lot, a couple good arms, but Manny's attitude was piss poor. I'll let Doug give his thoughts on it though.

That's about all for me, I just got to NJ and it's late, I'll write more later.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Trade Talkin' Time

Having just read this article, I thought I'd throw in my two cents of what the Yanks may want to trade for this year.

I should first note that the article points out that the Yankees put Barry Bonds on the table as a possible player to sign. But it doesn't sound very serious, they were just noting that he could be a resource for the rest of the year. It looks like Matsui is done for the year, Damon is banged up and won't play much LF, so they need someone who can platoon and be willing to DH now and then. Is Bonds a solution? Sure. But that solution will come with lots of baggage. And honestly, can we see Bonds handling the NY media at all? It could be a potential disaster and huge distration should anything go down.

And now for the worst joke of the day, if the Yankees sign Bonds he'd finally be behind bars...get it, the pinstripes are like bars. I told you it was bad...

Besides Bonds in terms of priority here's where the Yanks need the most help:

1. Starting pitching. I don't even know the rotation anymore. Wang's out til Sept the earliest, Hughes and Kennedy are long forgotten, Igawa is never an option, and there's risk among the rest of them for injury due to age and just the long season. The article mentions Jared Washburn as an option--and he'd be a decent #4 starter. I think a starting pitcher who's a veteran and has post season experience would be my criteria. Which means I'd also look at Greg Maddux as well.

2. Relief pitching. There have been a good deal of injuries here too and no one's really made up for it. Edwar Ramirez has been tremendous and Farnsworth has finally been pretty good. Everyone else, I don't trust (except Mariano). If Kennedy or Hughes come back, they should go to the bullpen, but they could use some help down the stretch. A good middle reliever who can get outs is the way to go.

3. Another bat. The offense is fine, but there's always slumps in the dog days of summer. LF is a mess obviously, but so is catcher. Finding a catcher who can throw runners out is ideal, but it'd be nice to have them be able to hit some. That's a bit lofty since Posada has been one of the better offensive catchers the last decade, but they also don't need a guy who will hit below .250 the rest of the way. They're looking into Benji Molina. Or maybe Tony Pena could come out of retirement.

Don't expect a blockbuster trade. There isn't a crisis per say and the tone of trading has changed for the Yankees of late.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The All-Star Game/Rev Up for the 2nd Half

Elmo aside (see prior post from Doug), the All-Star game was fun to watch this year. Sure the AL won again, even with a DH the NL can't win. As I've mentioned in prior posts, I'm not big on the All-Star game, but since this one was at Yankee Stadium I had to watch it. What was interesting about the game was how fast paced it was up until the 7th or 8th inning when it reversed gears and went into slow motion. The best inning to watch was when Aaron Cook took over and Uggla made some very bad mistakes in the field subsequently loading the bases. But they got out of it with no outs on the board.

In the end, the game ended around 1:30am, which was a good thing since Kazmir was the last arm and everyone kept thinking back to that time in Milwaukee 6 years ago.

So now the second half is underway and there are going to be some great races in the AL East, AL Central, NL East, NL Central, and a very weak NL West. I exclude the AL West because assuming the Angels don't get an injury bug, they are surely going to win the division. Once again:

  • A Mets-Phils rivalry is beginning (if there's a Mets fan and Phillies fan out there start blogging daily) again--start the smack talk folks.
  • Can the White Sox keep up their offensive prowess and keep Ozzie Guillen calm?
  • Do the Sabathia and Harden trades start an arm race?
  • Will we have a repeat 2005 season in the NL West where one team finished above (barely) .500?

For the Yankees, last year they had the best record during the 2nd half. Off to a 5-0 start they'll be in the hunt for the Wild Card or division. While they're offense is good, their starting pitching is not, and it will be interesting to see if they trade for a good #3 or #4 pitcher. This year they got their wish at first base having just claimed Richie Sexson off waivers. I'm not sold on Sexson at all though as his batting eye and power skills are sliding away quickly. But he holds the promise of resurrecting it all. Look for Robinson Cano to have his tremendous 2nd half surge and Derek Jeter will get it going too.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

It's All Over (And You Only Half-Realize It)!!

A point-by-point rebuttal to the delusional ramblings of a Yankees fan:

While it's true that the Yankees will contend for the Wild Card with the Rays, the notion that they can "contend" with the Red Sox is like saying Elmo could contend with Wolverine. While Elmo's teaching kids how to love and hug and share or whatever, Wolverine's busy carving them up with his razor-sharp adamantium claws.

Hughes and Kennedy will be too busy running for City Council in Trenton to put on a uniform after labor day.

Papelbon not only eats Mo Rivera's lunch, he eats his breakfast, brunch, dinner, and that piece of pie he left in the fridge he was going to eat as a midnight snack. If Papelbon, armed only with a kilt, was to face off again Rivera, armed with his cut fastball, Jason Giambi's mustache, a bazooka, and a hive full of live bees, Papelbon would take him down faster than Mo could blame it on the rain.

Have a super all-star break!

It's Half Over (Already)!!

Yikes, we're at the half way point in the baseball season already. Time flies, I can't figure out how to slow it down anymore with the exception of work some days, which is not how I like spending 40+ hours of my time most weeks.

I just wanted to put a few thoughts/notes/whatevs down here on the season so far, which again as I will point out, I haven't followed as intensely this year.

  • For one, the Yankees have a better record than they did last year at the break. But it's not all that good now that they have the Rays to contend with as well as the Red Sox. They're only 6 games out and had a good run a couple weeks back. The pitching is worrisome still, but Hughes and Kennedy will hopefully get straightened out for the stretch run.

  • In other news, the NL Central made some bad ass trades. I was suprised Sabathia was traded to the Brewers. My bet is that he will end up somewhere else this offseason--the Yanks could be a contender if they get rid of Mussina and Pettitte reconsiders retirement. Plus with Giambi likely leaving, the $$ are flashing. The Red Sox will be in there too, probably the Mets, Phils, and Dodgers. The other player traded was Rich Harden, who has already been on the DL once this year. Yet the Cubs, even after the disasters called Prior and Wood, traded some of the farm for an arm that's only pitched one full season. If Harden can be Harden and stay healthy--great trade--otherwise I'm somewhat pessimistic on this one.

  • All-Star game is on tonight and I'm actually going to watch this one--yes, only because it's at Yankee Stadium. I watched part of the HR derby last night (I usually don't watch any of these things) and it was one of the best I've seen. Josh Hamilton has an incredible swing, strength, and it again confirms that it's good he was able to play baseball again.

  • Speaking of the game, what's up with Jonathan Papelbon. I got what he was saying, wanting to close and all, but he didn't say it very well. Almost a bit cocky--Rivera is the greatest closer of all-time Papelbon, you're just getting started still.

My goal this second half is to try and watch more games. I'm not only wasting my MLB TV subscription, but it's just weird not feeling in the loop. Have a good All-Star break people!