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.