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.