Friday, July 31, 2009

Slow Trade Deadline in NY

The non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone in new york and neither the Yankees or the Mets have decided to make any impact moves. The Yankees added Jerry Hairston Jr to the mix but his impact will be minimal. He can play all Outfield positions and secondbase. He will provide more depth on the bench. However how much better is he then Ramiro Pena?

The Yankees did not add anyone to coverup their biggest weakness; lack of depth in the starting rotation. with the next best option being Kei Igawa in the minors the Yankees are extremely thin at the rotation and an injury to any of the starters would be a killer.

They didn't have to go out and get Roy Halladay, the asking price was crazy, but they should have (and can still just not as easily) added another pitcher. Cashman did right not taking Jarrod Washburn as Seattle wanted Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or Jesus Montero. I would have loved to hear that phone call. But the reports say that they possibly could have had Brian Bannister but they wanted the Royals to pay for the remainer of his salary. When has 650k ever stopped the Yankees before?

The Yankees head to August leading their division and one game behind the Dodgers for the top record in baseball. But their league just got a whole lot better their #1 rival just added a big slugger in Victor Martinez and the White Sox added Jake Peavy. Yankees Universe will have to hold their collective breath as they have to hope no pitcher will join Chien-Ming Wang on the dl. Andy Pettitte Tage) and Joba Chamberlain (never done this before) and even AJ Burnett (history) could all be one pitch from ending up there. Also the Yankees are faced with an innings limit problem with Joba Chamberlain and there doesn't seem to be a public plan on how to handle this.

A 200 million dollar payroll shouldn't have to make moves to keep ahead of its competion and its unclear if a move was totally necessary. But a move for a pitcher would have calmed a lot of minds by adding some depth to a spot of weakness.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Revisiting an article from Feb 2009

This article first ran on BleacherReport back on Feb 11th 2009. It was in response to being asked about who else I thought was on the 2003 steroid list.

When asked to write an article on the most likely guy in the major leagues
to be on the 103 person list of people who failed a 2003 steroid test, one
name popped into my head. I know this is going to sound like a bitter
Yankee fan, and I know it's against the rules to have a Red Sox player
named or tested for steroids, but this is my guy: David Ortiz.

Ortiz was basically a failure in baseball. Following a couple big homerun
years in the minors where he cranked out 30+ homeruns, Ortiz floundered in
Minnesota where he hit around 50 homeruns over his career. He was even
released by the Twins following the 2002 season. He was basically done in

This is the article that I wrote back on 2/11/2009. It was following the
A-rod revelations. I was asked to write who I believe is the most likely to
be on the steroid list. My answer was David Ortiz. Today's NYTimes article
and Ortiz's poor play have confirmed this.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009 Pinstripe Preview

Here we are on the eve of the start of the 2009 Regular Season so lets take a quick look at what to expect from the New York Yankees this season.

On paper the Yankees look to boast another strong team and with a 200 million dollar payroll they should always be in contention. The additions of CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, Mark Teixera and Nick Swisher bring a lot of excitement to the season.

The Yankees again boast another strong- even without A-Rod for the first few weeks. Most teams would kill to have the names of Jeter, Damon, Teixera, Nady, Cano, Posada but in New York if A-Rod's name isn't included people are concerned.

The Yankees lineup does have some question marks heading into the 2009 compaign. First of all who knows what the psyche of A-Rod will be following his topsy-turvy off season. (From steroids to madonna to an injury to kissing himself in a mirror.) They also have to find out if Robinson Cano is a 330 hitter or a 280 hitter and if Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada can return to their old form. Also Bret Gardner brings some needed speed and athleticism to the team.

When looking at the lineup tomorrow Yankee fans will notice (or already probably noticed this weekend) that there is a major change. Derek Jeter will be batting leadoff and Johnny Damon is batting second. The flip-flop could be an attempt at protecting Jeter who has hit 40+ doubleplays the last two years; and 15 of those were in the first inning. Now this only protects him in the first inning but it might be one of a couple changes Jeter sees in his role. There has been a lot of talk about Jeter and his contract following 2010. A lot of this is just to grab headlines as last I checked Jeter batted 300 last year while being injured. He is the face of the Yankees and baseball and on the verge of being the first Yankee to obtain 3000 hits. He still gets the job done and leads the team.

Onto the pitching staff the Yankees feature their best rotation since atleast 2003. With Sabathia, Burnett, Chien-ming Wang, Andy Pettite and Joba Chamberlain the Yankees 1-5 is as strong as anyones. The fact Wang, Pettitte and Chamberlain will matchup with other teams 3-5 starters gives the Yankees an edge. Who would you favor Pettitte or Sidney Ponson? They also have reinforcements for when someone gets hurt, and someone will, in Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, and Ian Kennedy.

The bullpen is still fortified by the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera and the bridge to him will still be a key to winning ball games. Brian Bruney last season quietly had a similar 2008 as Chamberlain had in 2007. Phil Coke had a great September and Spring and has looked very promising. Coke and Damaso Marte give the Yankees some important lefty arms. They also have Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez to help eat up some innings.

The big offseason debate has been whether Joba Chamberlain should be a starter or a bullpen man. He is a starter now and should be a starter. But if he fails there or an injury to Rivera or Bruney forces him into a bullpen role he will be fine.

The big weakness on this team is on defense. The addition of Mark Teixera will save some errors in the infield as it is believed he saves 40 runs a year with his glove. Jeter and Rodriguez's range will be an issue on the left side of the field. Cano has the talent to win a gold glove but his effort needs to be there. As for the outfield Gardner covers a lot of ground and Damon is an above average defender but has no arm. Xavier Nady in rightfield is probably a drop off from Bobby Abreu (except he will go within 20 feet of a wall.)

The outlook for 2009 is bright for the Yankees but to win #27 they need to hope certain things happen. Playing in the AL East will be tough with the Red Sox and Rays arguably the other top 3 teams in baseball. The Yankees need to hope no major injuries occur and that they improve their hitting with runners in scoring position. 2009 should be an exciting year in the New Yankee Stadium.

Checking out the New Digs

The Eliassportsblog spent the past weekend checking out the new home for the New York Yankees. We were lucky enough to get tickets for both games and spend both days moving around the ballpark and checking everything out. The anticipation of getting insdie the Stadium really felt like the anticipation on Christmas before you open your gifts. There was not enough to check everything out as the place was huge but here are some first impressions.

First of all the place is just massive. You really feel like you are walking into a cathedral. It just has a feel that its something special. However while in your seats you don't feel that it is a huge ballpark. It really feels close to the action

The history of the Yankees really jumps out at you when you enter the Great Hall. The pitcures of the past greats really gives you goosebumps.

When you finally see the field, the first thing you notice is the gigantic scoreboard in centerfield. Gigantic doesn't even cover it. The screen is massive and has a great picture. Its better then any HDTV you have ever seen.

The best part of the Stadium is that it looks and feels like the old one across the street. From some angles everything really looks the same. There are even some of the same advertisements on the walls. The dimesnsions are the same and just looking at the field its tough to tell a difference.

The Stadium looks like the old one but feels like all the modern parks that have opened. There are wide walkways that allow you to see the field from anywhere. You can stand and watch the game from anywhere. There are plenty of places to eat and drink and go to the bathroom. Hopefully this means waiting on lines will be a thing of the past. The food is upgraded as there is everything that you can imagine, from sushi to italian food to garlic fries. The Mohegan Sun Sports Bar or the bleacher cafe in centerfield provides a very nice view of the whole place. It will be a great location to hangout eat and watch the game.
It seems that the new park will be a hitters park. The Yankees hit 7 homeruns in two games in early April. This is a time when hitting is supposed to be difficult. It really makes you wonder how it will play when the air heats up in June. The ball got to the gaps very quickly and I am sure this made the hitters extrememly happy and the pitchers nervous.

The only negative is the crazy ticket prices that are being asked for some of the best seats. However the only problem with it is that companies can't afford them this day and that those great seats might be empty most days. It's not like the average fan is losing out because they usually didn't sit there. There are (well were they are likely sold out for the year) in the Terrace and Grandstand levels. Also the obstructed view or standing room seats are a great bargain because you have access to everything in the park.

All in all this is going to be a great place to watch a ballgame and a place that everyone will enjoy.

Hope Springs Eternal

Just received this text message from a friend: "its finally here. Best night of the year." That about sums up the way today is. The games finally count and all the prognasticators, writers, and talk show hosts can finally be quiet and we will let the teams decide who the best is on the field.

For the first night since October 29th, the games begin to count tonight. It is very fitting to see the first game of the year being played in the same place the last game was played. 2009 should be a very exciting year as you can make the case for at least half of the league to have a shot at winning the pennant. And after the Rays last year, every team has hope to make a dream run.

There are lots of story lines. From two new ballparks in NY, to the A-Rod saga, to new faces in new places, and finally to the games continued tranistion to younger, athletic players. This is easily seen with teams giving the nods to top prospects such as Jordan Schafer in Atlanta, Colby Rasmus in St Louis , Dexter Fowler in Colorado, and Trevor Cahill in Oakland. Teams are deciding to give the young guns a shot instead of paying money for an older player who wont produce.

The exception to this rule is in New York. Following the opening of 2 billion dollar worth of Stadiums. The two New York teams have decided to go out and add the top free agents. CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixera now call the Bronx home while the Mets have tightened up their 2007 and 2008 achilles heals by adding Fransisco Rodriguez and JJ Puts to tighten up the bullpens. We will see if these investments pay off.

AL East Champ: Yankees
AL Central: Indians
AL West: Oakland
AL Wildcard: Red Sox

NL East: Mets
NL Central: Reds
NL West: Dodgers
NL Wildcard: Cubs

Suprise teams: Royals, Rangers, Reds, Giants

As of now everyone is 0-0 and everyone has a chance, well maybe not the Pirates. But everyone, even the Royals have a chance to be good and win their division. Fans are figuring out which breaks they need, who needs to stay healthy or take the next step to help their teams contend.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Curious Case of Jonathan Papelbon

With arbitration case season just ahead of us there are some interesting cases out there. The first is obviously Ryan Howard who threw out one of the largest requests in the history of arbitration with an 18 million dollar request. The Phillies counter offer of 14 million is completely fair and should be what is awarded. Albert Pujols makes that and he is 10 times the all around player that Howard is.

But the most interesting case is for a guy who has already signed back with his team to avoid the arbitration hearing. This case is the case of Jonathan Papelbon. He recently took a 6 million dollar offer for the upcoming season. He is using a different tactic then fellow teammates Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis.

Papelbon is willing to take this year to year and not buyout any arbitration years or free agency years. He is taking a risk on his health by trying to get to free agency quicker.

However he is the one guy who should not be willing to sign for anything less. He is also the one guy who should never sign with the Red Sox for a home town discount. If anyone has already sacrificed for the good of the team it is Jonathan Papelbon.

Papelbon was groomed to be a starter as that is what he did his whole career. However when he was called up in 2005 the Sox had a weakness in the bullpen and the team asked him to move to reliever and eventually closer. This move has led to a world title in 2007 and three allstar appearances in his three years as a closer.

His success and dominance in the role of closer doesn't make up for the amount that Papelbon has sacrificed. He has agreed to take a role on a team that is not in his best career interest. Closers do not make as much money as starting pitchers. Look at what K-Rod made and what CC Sabathia or Derek Lowe just signed for. Also he has taken on a position that leads to more injuries and shorter careers. Mariano Rivera aside, most closers are dominant for a short period of time and not long lengthy runs of dominance. Closers are usually abused and overused while starters are coddled and cared for.

Papelbon is also one of the top closers in the game. Him and Mariano Rivera are in a separate class of closers as they routinely have gotten their team more then 3 outs. Papelbon is willing to come in and get 6 outs if needed. Something that most closers won't do. He also has post season success as he hasn't given up a run in October. If K-Rod got 12 million a year, Papelbon should get more then that.

The Red Sox have put him in a position that worsens his economic standing and makes him more prone to injury. He has done this for the team and the team should step up and pay him accordingly. He should be paid top dollar right now as the abuses his arm takes closing might not allow him a lengthy career and the full monetary value he would earn if he were a starter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Santa Returns to the Yankee Christmas Tree

It appears that Santa Claus forgot to drop off all of his early Christmas gifts that were ticketed for the Bronx. Less then a week after dropping off two expensive pitchers, Santa returned and dropped off the top hitting prize on the market. The Yankees must have been extra good this year despite missing the playoffs to be rewarded like this.

The Yankees will be bringing in arguably the three top prizes on the free agent market. In a move that nobody saw coming the Yankees were able to pull off a huge coup and steal Mark Teixera from the Red Sox.

The Yankees were always mentioned as being obsererves of the Teixera situation but never really serious contenders. It appeared all winter that Teixera would either be a Red Sox and a nemisis to the Yankees or go to the Nationals and be irrelevant for his career. Instead he chose to follow in the footsteps of his idol Don Mattingly and play in the largest stage in baseball.

Brian Cashman played the 2009 free agent market perfectly. He set the tone on CC Sabathia and let the rest of baseball know that they shouldn't even think about signing the big lefty. He let Sabathia know his level of interest early and show how sincere he was. He then went and paid a visit to the lefty's home and got his wife onboard.

Cashman used a different tactic with Teixera. He met with him early in the offseason where I believe he expressed his interest and asked Teixera to give the Yankees a chance to make an offer before he signed. That was news to his agent Scott Boras as he loves to keep the Yankees hanging around to raise prices. Cashman always denied his interest and the possibility of brining in the young firstbaseman. Cashman kept the price low enough and swoopt in and took him in the last minute.

Now you are going to hear everyone complain about the Yankees spending but in reality their payroll will still be lower or about the same as last years payroll. The Yankees are swimming in money and should not be expected to hold on to it. They bring in a lot of money from the YES Network and the opening of a new stadium. It would be worse if they made this money and didn't put it back into the team. The Yankees only commitment is to their fans who are paying big money to see them play. They must do their best to put the best show on every night for the fans.

The Red Sox fans will complain, but they should only blame their team management. They let 14 million dollars over 8 years stop them from signing a guy they coveted. Tell me if a team worth about a billion dollars (including the Stadium and NESN Network) should really let that stop them from getting a guy they want.

The Red Sox are not done by and large stretch. They are still a team who were a few outs away from a second straight World Series. They will need David Ortiz and Mike Lowell to bounce back from injury plagued years. They will also need Josh Beckett to return to being an ace and see how Jon Lester bounces back from his first full season. If they need to sign someone there are a lot of cheaper guys on the market who can help them: Bobby Abreu, Adam Dunn, Milton Bradley to name a few.

Teixera might not be a top ten guy in the league (a point I have made before) and he might not be worth the money he is getting. But there was no way the Yankees could find a guy of his talent, skills and youth other then Teixera. He does a lot of things very well and the Yankees really couldn't pass on the chance to get him. They have a lot of money off the books this year and next year (Matsui and Damon most notably.) Plus next years free agent class is extrememly weak and the Yankees don't look to be big players in it.

This move is actually a positive for baseball too. Sure it looks bad to have one team spending all that money but now every game the Yankees play will be sold out, at home and on the road. They will bring in more money for visiting teams then they make the rest of the year. The Yankees will also be a must see team and every game on national TV will bring in big audiences.

This move and offseason didn't win the Yankees the World Series or the AL East but they have greatly improved on a third place finish. They will likely be the new favorites to win it all but they still have to play the games in the toughest division in baseball. These moves did show the Yankees will always look to improve the team and how badly they want to win.

To Play or Not to Play

Around this time of year in the NFL you continually hear writers and announcers say that teams should rest their players for the playoffs and not give it their all in the seasons final game. This has been brought up again with the Giants already clinching the best record in the NFC. Oh how quickly they forget.

Last year the Giants whole turnaround on their road to the Super Bowl was the confidence they built up by challenging the Patriots even though they had "nothing to gain." The majority of pundits wanted the Giants to lay down and not play. But Tom Coughlin and Eli Manning decided to go for it and proved they had a lot to gain. They gained immence confidence and proved to themselves they can play with and possibly beat any team.

The Giants rode that momentum to the Championship and yet the same pundits are saying the same thing this week. Luckily Tom Coughlin isn't listening to them again. He plans to play the team that gives him the best chance to win and build momentum towards the playoffs. The Giants have a bye week and can rest players there.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Giant Fall for Burress

In early February Plaxico Burress was on top of the NYC sports world. He not only had one of the best performances in NFL postseason history to help the Giants win in Green Bay but he caught the game winning touchdown in the Super Bowl. He was arguably one of the three most popular Giants. Even after signing a new contract Burress was causing minor problems for the team. He was missing practices and acting out.

From February 2008 fast forward to December 2008 and check to see how far Plaxico has fallen. Now instead of Giant fans seeing highlights of his previous game on Monday, they were subjected to seeing him taken in handcuffs following his bizarre incident Friday night at the NYC nightclub Latin Quarters. As you all know by now Burress accidentally shot himself in his thigh as he was carrying an illegal hand gun.

Burress is rightly facing a lot of public heat. Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the full book thrown at the star wide-receiver. The minimum sentence would be 3.5 years, it is doubtful he sees a sentence that long with a plea deal. Bloomberg is correct to go after Burress as a message needs to be sent to people about what happens if you were caught with an illegal handgun. He should get just as harsh or even harsher treatment being a celebrity and someone people look upto.

Burress is extremely lucky he only shot himself and not an innocent person. I will never understand why he needs to carry a loaded weapon into a NY nightclub that is in the middle of the city. It was in a very good area. The idea that he needs it for protection because of all the jewelry and bling he had on is ridiculous. Does he need to bring all that with him? And if he wants to, higher a body guard. Packing heat is a dumb dumb idea. It's one thing to have a gun in your house for protection but to carry it out in public is a bad move.

When is the last time you heard of the athlete with a gun shooting two robbers or thugs and saving himself? Let me know because it will be the first. Having a gun will not end well for these guys. They should be allowed to go out and have a good time but they need to be smart and know not everyone likes them. They need to control themselves and not bring attention to themselves. Don't put yourself in a situation where you would need a gun.

This problem with Burress is not only affecting him but also anyone else who was involved in the situation. Antonio Pierce is the Giants emotional leader and he maybe facing jail time or a suspension. He did drive an illegal gun across state lines. His good reputation will hopefully help him out as I am sure he panicked. He doesn't seem like the type of guy to be involved in this stuff. The hospital workers who covered up for Burress also are going to be in trouble. Along with Giant staffers who may have been contacted.

This situation is luckily only bad for Burress as he did not accidentally shoot anyone else or hurt anyone else.

The Not-So-Hot Stove Update

Some quick thoughts on the current state of the MLB Hot Stove. But first I would like to apologize for the lack of updates. Between the holidays and starting a new job I have been very busy and haven't found the neccessary time to put some real thoughts down on paper. Hopefully things have settled down and I can continue to give my opinions on the sports world.

* Yankees offer no aribitration to anyone- This is a sign of the current economic state of the world. The fact Bobby Abreu didnt get offered arbitration is a huge surprise. All year it was understood that Abreu would be offered abritration and the Yankees would either get draft picks as compensation or they would get Abreu for 16-18 million for the 2009 season. Either was looked at as a win-win. But with the current economic state of things Abreu isn't getting any offers anywhere near 16million and he definetly would have accepted. Which means Yankees would have paid him a lot more then his economic value.

* Besides Mark Teixera, CC Sabathia, and probably AJ Burnett who is going to get big money? The markets seem to be very dry and there isn't the big money everyone was hoping for. Will players like Adam Dunn and Rafael Furcal accept the low offers?

*When will the players start signing? I would expect around the winter meetings in a couple weeks. Everyone is waiting for Sabathia and Teixera to set the standard and then the dominoes will all fall quickly.

* Where is the outcry over the Red Sox begining an international conflict? The Red Sox signing of Japanese amateur pitcher Tazawa is going to open a whole new can of problems for MLB. There had been a gentleman's agreement between the MLB and Japan Leagues not to pursue eachother's amateurs. Well that is clearly gone and now it is expected that Japanese Teams will offer America amateurs big money to leave and go play there instead of in minor leagues. This could turn into a major problem. Imagine the outcry if the Yankees did this? ESPN would have a new special every hour.

Same Old Jets

Just as the world was starting to worry that it was coming to an end, everyone can take a deep breath as we found out that the Jets are not the best team in the NFL. They are probably not even the best team in the AFC.

There had been talk of a NY-NY Jet-Giant Superbowl all week leading into the Broncos game. People were counting on a home playoff game following a bye in the Wild Card Weekend. Apparently everybody had forgotten that this was the NY Jets and not a normal organization. Brett Favre and Kris Jenkins had done a good making everyone forget about the previous 40 years. They had given everyone hope and made everyone think that the Jets had changed.

Ah, but you can change the players on the team but you can't change an organizations terrible history. No the Jets aren't terrible like the Lions but they have their own history of blown chances and crushing losses. In fact recent years have seen the Jets often make the playoffs. But the fan base wants to see their team make the next step and get to the Super Bowl. Especially after last season's Giant Super Bowl Victory made all Jet fans hungry to see their own ticker tape parade.

Jay Cutler and the Broncos had other ideas as they came into the Swamp and exposed almost all of the Jets weaknesses. The Jets couldn't tackle, couldn't cover anyone in the passing game. The offense had no real rhythm. The Jets didn't look like the same team who went into Tennessee and dominated the Titans.

Now with 2 west coast trips in the next 3 three weeks, the Jets season is at a crossroads. Either the team takes the wakeup call and gets better. Or even Brett Favre cannot keep the teams fate of collapsing from happening.

Monday, November 17, 2008

NY Sports Preview Week of 11/17

This week should be a little less hectic for NY sport fans as they can still revel in their football teams big wins and a winning week for both the Knicks and Rangers.

In terms of baseball both Met and Yankee fans can look forward to their teams being aggressive in the free agent market. K-Rod and CC Sabathia have been given offers and each team is waiting for a response. The Mets and Yankees are differing in their approach, the Yankees are looking to blow teams out of the water and surpass their offers and the Mets are trying to be competitive with others and raise them when needed. We will see what works best.

As for the Knicks they face the defending champs Boston Celtics and then get some easier games versus the Bucks and Wizards. The Celtics should be a tough game to give the Knicks a realistic view of where the team stacks up.

The Rangers have two games vs the Senators which sandwhich a game versus the Canucks. The Canucks game will be a great battle between Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundquist.

Another big event in NYC will be the Coaches vs. Cancer college basketball tournament which will feature two of the top programs in the country Duke and UCLA. Should be a fun two days at MSG as everyone hopes for the championship game between those two schools.

The New York Football Giants will head to the desert and the site of their Super Bowl Championship as they take on MVP favorite Kurt Warner and the Arizona Cardinals. A win here gives the G-Men a good grip on the #1 Seed and home-field advantage.

The Jets and Bret Favre come off their biggest win in years after beating the Patriots on the road. And how are they rewarded? A trip to Nashville to face the Titans and their undefeated record. A win here and the talk will be about a NY-NY Superbowl. This game should bring the fans back to earth.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Breaking News- Nick Swisher to Yankees

The Yankees have acquired CF/1B Nick Swisher from the White Sox for Wilson Betemit and Jeff Marquez.

Quick thought: Swisher is a guy the Yankees should have been targetting. He is very versatile and fills the CF or 1B hole. He is a grinder in his hitting style. The only concern is that he didn't play in September or October as the White Sox thought they were better without him.

As for Betemit, he was what he was- a bench player with some pop who has never got a chance to play. Maybe this will be the right move for him. And Marquez was a guy the Yankees were high on but ultimatly a guy that couldn't stand in the way of the move.

Top 10 Free Agents

With the countdown to free agency about to hit 7 hrs lets take a quick look at the top free agents available right now:

1) CC Sabathia- What else can be said about the big lefty? He is in position to earn himself a big contact.

2) Mark Teixera- The top offensive player on the list is in high demand and should get himself a monster contract. As one of his friends said "its good to be Mark Teixera right now." How true.

3) Manny Ramirez- If not for his age or attitude he would probably be the top offensive player on the list. He could get A-Rod money but for how many years. It is doubtful he gets the contract that takes him to 42 like he wants.

4) AJ Burnett- Burnett is coming off a huge season, possibly the best of his career and he chose to opt out following it. This will all lead to a big payday.

5) Derek Lowe- Lowe showed once again that he is a big game pitcher by helping the Dodgers make the playoffs and reach the NLCS. He wants to move back to the east coast after 4 years on the west coast.

6) Fransisco Rodriguez- K-Rod had himself a huge walk year by setting the single season saves record. He also is lucky the Mets bullpen was atrocius last year as that will lead him right to Citi Field.

7) Ben Sheets- Sheets expected to be higher on this list following an All-Star game start but another late season injury has raised questions about his health and the need for a long term deal for him.

8) Orlando Hudson- There is a lot of interest in the slick fielding and solid bat. He is the best 2B option on the market.

9) Bobby Abreu-

10) Ryan Dempster- Dempster is coming off a career year and an all-star appearance. He also was the Cubs game 1 starter for the NLDS. It will be interesting to see where his funky windup will be pitching next year.

Guys To Watch:

1) Jason Varitek- Do the Red Sox bring him back or does he go somewhere else?


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thursday Night Showdown

So as we wait for Friday's free agent market to open up, lets take a look at Thursday's big game. First place in the AFC East will be up for grabs as the New York Jets travel to Foxborough to face their rivals the New England Patriots. (The word rivalry gives the Jets too much credit as they seem to never beat the Pats.)

This is the biggest regular season game the Jets have played in recent memory. This is definetly the biggest game since the 1998 AFC Championship game and it might be bigger. It could be the biggest game since Super Bowl 3. This game is for the Jets franchise. This is their chance to take over the AFC East. They need to prove to themselves they can beat the Pats. Their fans need it and most importantly the organization needs it.

Yes, the Patriots do not have Tom Brady, Adellius Thomas or their top 3 running backs, or most of their secondary; so everything seems stacked in the Jets favor. Everything but history. The Jets always seem to lose these types of games. And most Jet fans have a lot of hope for the game but they ultimatly know the worst will happen. Maybe Brett Favre is the right guy for this spot, he has won a lot of games and thrown a lot of big tds but he also has a lot of losses and a lot of bad interceptions. Favre is able to put everything behind him and move onto the next play. That is what the team needs this week they cant worry about Jets history or anything else other then the 11 patriots who will be lined up against them.

For the Jets to be succesful, Eric Mangini needs to establish Thomas Jones and Leon Washington and the run game. The weather is calling for rain and a sloppy field, perfect weather for the Jets new offensive line and for the gunslinger Favre to steal a win. As long as Favre isnt throwing 45 times a game. And Mangini needs to pressure Matt Cassell and get his jersey dirty. They can't give him time in pocket. The defense needs to GO GET THE QB.

If the Jets win they have a great shot at the AFC East title, if they lose they face a 6-5 record with the Titans coming up the week after. This game will also tell how the Jets franchise views itself for years to come.

Yankee Hot Stove: The Offense

Before getting into what the Yankees need to do this offseason to improve their offense a bit of news. The Yankees have signed Damaso Marte to a 3 yr 12 million dollar option. I was never a fan of acquiring Marte last year and still will not trust him in a big spot. However the move makes sense as the Yankees need a lefty reliever they can rely on (no more Billy Traber or Mike Myers please.) Phil Coke looked good last September but lets let him develop before we give him the 8th. (Remember how good Ian Kennedy was last September?)

Ok onto the offense: As we know Friday 12:01 AM will be a big day for the Yankees. Maybe even the biggest free agency day for the Yankees in their history. The offense was the major problem for the Yankees last year. If you take the same pitching last year with 2007's offense, the Yankees make the playoffs. Hopefully a healthy Posada will come back and restore some claught to the catching position. Arguably two of the top Yankee hitters last year Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu wont be back next year. They both had very good years last year. It seems any player on the team not named Jeter or A-Rod will be on the block.

Yankees have shopped Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon and have had some interest in both. The big name the Yankees can offer is Robinson Cano, now the tough move is do you believe that 2008 was just a bad year and he will return to his batting title form or is he a guy you need to get rid of? Cano could get you the centerfielder that you need as Damon definetly wont be there and there are doubts if Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera can handle the job. Cano for Matt Kemp of the Dodgers has been rumored for months and seems like a good deal. If Cano is gone look for Orlando Hudson to be signed to replace him.

I wouldn't mind seeing Abreu back for one year and having Gardner and Cabrera try to handle CF this season as there are no top guys to get to fill those wholes. For 1B, I am not a big Mark Texeira fan but he seems to fit their needs perfectly. Great Defense, Good OBP and Power. Texeira doesnt do anything great but does a lot good. He isn't as good as the money he will earn but thats the market and the Yankees need him. If I were Yankees I would see if Todd Helton and Ryan Howard were available. Howard doesnt seem likely to stay in Philly too long and he is very pricey maybe he can be had. If I were Cash, I would bring Giambi back on a cheap short contract as his OBP and OPS last year were very good and he had some nice #'s besides avg.

As for Manny Ramirez, I do believe the Yankees will have a chance for him. If they can move Matsui, Manny wouldn't be a bad DH for a year or two. Anything more then 2 yrs is a bad contract. I utlimatly believe Cashman wont sign him no matter how hard Scott Boras tries. If Cashman wants a CF he should see what Toronto wants for Vernon Wells and see if he is available.

So Abreu back, Gardner in CF, and Texeira at 1B is my pick. I will probably be wrong on all my ideas but I do know this: the next month will be very exciting to see what moves the Yankees make.

Post Season Awards Preview

With my renewed hope in the intelligence of the sports writers who voted on the MLB Awards here are my picks and who I actually believe will win it.

AL Cy Young: I would vote for Roy Halladay. He is truly a marvel to watch as he goes out and expects to throw a complete game every time out there. He also pitches in the toughest division in baseball and continues to be the top pitcher in the AL year and year out.
Who will win: Cliff Lee. Lee had a great year on an even worse team then Lincecum so giving the award to him is fine by me.

NL MVP: This was probably the toughest choice for me: as far back as June I thought Chase Utley had it locked up but as he slowed two candidates clearly emerged as the choices: Albert Pujols and Ryan Howard. The only argument against Pujols is that his team didn't make the playoffs. But he did keep them afloat into September. (Oh and he did it with a bad shoulder that needed surgery.) His other strike against him is that he puts up these crazy videogame like numbers every year. It isn't a shock to see him do this at all. Howard on the other hand got his team into the playoffs with big hit after big hit in September. He led the league in homerun's and rbi's. (Postseason does not count in the vote as they are voted before the postseason.) Sounds like the winner right? Not so fast, factor in his 250 ba and 199k's and you see some blemishes. I would vote for Howard (even Pujols said Howard should get it).
Who will win: Pujols finally gets his MVP. Again no problem with this choice.

AL MVP: It pains me to say this but the MVP of the AL is going to be the balding five foot tall secondbaseman of the Red Sox. The littleman swings a big stick and willed a banged up and below the usual standards of recent Boston teams into the playoffs. The team had no Beckett, Ortiz, Manny, or Drew for parts of the year yet Pedroia really defined the team. His hustle and effort on every play (take notes Robbie Cano take notes) was what defined this Sox team. He grinded and gutted out every at bat. And you know he does something right when I say he is one of the few Sox I would like to see on Yankees.
Who will win: Pedroia

Managers of the year: Joe Maddon (obviously) and Charlie Manuel.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Week in NY Sports: Week of 11/10

First order of business: Check out my article on BleacherReport.Com on the great choice Tim Lincecum was for NL Cy Young. I have been asked to write various articles for and will be sporadically doing them. Please look out for them.

A new feature here on the Elias Sports Blog, we will take a look at the upcoming week for NY teams and preview the biggest games for each team. What a big week this is coming up for NY sports. All teams in action will have big games and the NY teams look to be active in the MLB Free Agency frenzy starting Friday 12:01 AM.

Knicks: Mike D'Antoni's boys look to build on a hot 4-2 start as they go to San Antonio and face the Tim Duncan and the Spurs. A win here would be sure to give the team more confidence.

Rangers: The Rangers take on their cross river rivals on Wednesday for the first time since Martin Brodeur has been shelved. Following a great start the Rangers have only won once in their last 5 games. Has the European trip finally caught up with them?

Jets: The game of the week in the NFL features the Jets going up to Foxborough and taking on the Patriots in a battle for first place. This game is one of the biggest in Jets history and will show what this team is made of. (More on this game to come later in week.)

Giants: The defending champs will take on the Ravens at home this week. The G-Men sit at 8-1 and would need a Mets like collapse to fall out of the playoffs. The Ravens feature a superb run defense so this should be a good test for Brandon Jacobs and company.

Mets: The second team in NY looks to add a closer and another bat in free agency.

Yankees: The shopping spree begins just after midnight Friday morning. The Yankees are expected to be big players and to open up their wallets.

Black Friday Nears

Just about 72 hours seperate us from the free agency and the Yankees opening their giant wallet and seeing who will take their money. It is an exciting time to be a yankee fan as they are poised to be big players in this offseason. Hal Steinbrenner was quoted today saying that "they are ready for free agency."

Pitching Needs:
Everything I read and hear sounds like they will be making a giant run at CC Sabathia and they are willing to give him anything he wants. They would even "let him DH" from what Mike Francesca was told. I think the Yankees will make him a Godfather offer (an offer he can't refuse.) Who turns down big money anyway?

I also see the Yankees making a big run at either Burnett or Lowe and adding two of the big three to their rotation. If they strike out on those two they have Ben Sheets or Ryan Dempster as possible options.

I think Pettitte will be back at a sizeable discount and Mike Mussina will go off into the sunset with his only 20 win season. As for the bullpen no major needs and I think Cashman learned to build the bullpen with youth and not free agent signings. Bullpens are fickle and change year to year. I would expect Damaso Marte unfortunatly to be back and maybe a run at Juan Cruz to be added to the pen.

Offense Hot Stove Tomorrow

Hot Stove Heats Up

Now that the GM meetings are over the real fun will begin. While the GM's were busy working on their golf game or their bowling game, they managed to find some time and lay the ground work for some possible trades or free agent signings. This time of the year for baseball is possibly just as exciting as the actual season. Everyday there are new rumors and new possible deals coming out. One day you think its a lock CC Sabathia is going one place and Jake Peavy is going another only to read the next day that none of it was true and a third team has upped their offer. It is a fun time to sift through all the material and find the reporters who you believe. Some of the best to follow or Jon Heyman of SI and Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports; but the best in the business is Buster Onley (especially for Yankee fans. He seems to break all their major news.)

Right now it seems every team is interested in every player. This is especially true of the Yankees. It sounds like they are rumored to sign every player this offseason. A word of warning: Don't Believe the Rumors. They are just rumors. For every deal that happens there are 100 rumors. And usually the deal that happens, happens quick and is unexpected. For example:

Matt Holliday to the A's
This move was straight of leftfield. Everything I read seemed to point to the Cardinals or the Phillies. But Billy Beane swooped in made a giant offer and got a great hitter. I do not understand the criticism of Beane on this move. If he has proved anything, it is that he usually has a plan and knows what he is doing. He restocked the A's farm system last year in trading away Joe Blanton and Danny Haren. He had never been a fan of closers making big money so getting rid of Huston Street makes perfect sense. (Street is overrated as it is, but thats another story.) So worse case scenario for the A's now that they traded for Holliday is either A) They trade him in July and get prospects or B) They keep him make a run at the playoffs and get two draft picks for him when he leaves. Its really a win win, and why wouldn't you want Billy Beane to have extra draft picks? As for the Rockies they got a good young CF, two good young pitchers and another trade chip in Huston Street. This was a great deal for both sides.

A few thoughts:
1) What are the Royals doing? It seemed the Royals had a clue this season as they finally made some good draft picks and seemed to making a good step to being legit. Now they trade for Mike Jacobs, who is a solid player, but goes against their OBP plan. I just don't get it.

2) Was that the Nationals big move? I have been reading for days about the money the Nationals had and how they planned to make a move for Teixera, Adam Dunn, or Manny Ramirez. They believed they were a bat away from being in contention. Now they trade for Josh Willingham and Greg Olsen? Please tell me this isn't their big offseason move.

3) Where does Manny go? The whole Manny Ramirez offseason will be intriguing. Scott Boras orchestrated a player quitting on his team so he would be let out of his contract- that worked. Then said player has the best second half in MLB history and is lined up for a big pay day. Only one problem, no team wants to give him long term security b/c they are worried he will quit on them. I don't see Manny getting the contract he wants that will take him to 42. I think he will end up with Dodgers taking less then their offer of 25 million per year for two years and signing for three seasons.