Posts Tagged ‘Yankees’

Reaction to Derek Jeter’s announcement.

Posted: February 13, 2014 in MLB
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I always wondered what life would be like when my favorite childhood players would all retire.

My parents and grandparents and all other older family members tell stories about players from their childhood, who made a big impact on them, and served as role models for them. They ranged from Reggie Jackson to Mickey Mantle, from Wayne Gretzky to Bobby Orr, no matter the sport.

One of those players I get to tell my kids about is Derek Jeter.

I remember my first Yankees game growing up, July 18, 1999, at the old Stadium. I remember the date, because the game was historic, with not a single Montreal Expos batter reaching base, with David Cone throwing a perfect game. But among the names I knew leaving the ballpark, was Derek Jeter.

He was all my friends and I ever talked about during the 1998-2000 three-peat. Everyone wanted to be like Jeter, making those jump-throws and hitting the ball all over the field. He became the household name for a success story since day one in pinstripes. Growing up surrounded by other Yankees fans my age, we all loved Jeter.

Over the years, I’ve attended many other Yankees games, at both the old and new Stadium. Jeter had played in most of them, and some times he delivered his usual clutch single or home run every now and again to spark the team. I watched his heroics on TV nearly all the time. I remember where I was when he dove into the stands against the Red Sox, and I remember where I was when he deposited hit number 3,000 in the left field bleachers.

Jeter is the last one left of the Core Four, a group of players including Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada, who were the backbone of the Yankees from 1996-2010, teammates for 15 years (save Pettitte’s 3 seasons in Houston). I grew up watching those 4 guys and knowing they’d be there to save the day. I never gave thought to reality that they were human too, and they wouldn’t play forever. I never thought I’d see the day where they won’t be there to bring the Yankees a win.

When Jeter announced that he’s ending his illustrious career after this season, or whatever he makes of it at least, it hit me, that it’s an end of an era. An era with a standard of excellence that’s just ludicrously high. An era where the expectation is World Series or bust every year. Every year the Yankees didn’t make a title run, it was a disappointment. No one can live through those standards for nearly 20 years, especially in New York, where it’s always “what have you done for me lately”? No one, except for Jeter.

There have been other players who have contributed to this dynasty of excellence, too many to list here. Every one of those guys had their moments in the spotlight. Yet, with many of those guys, if they start to falter, the Yankees faithful wouldn’t think twice about turning on them. Think about Alex Rodriguez. After his trade to the Yankees, he had MVP caliber seasons, and helped them win a World Series in 2009. But every other year, he was viewed as a goat, because he didn’t come through when they needed him to, or got into trouble off the field, and subsequently booed mercilessly.

Jeter was one of the few that could do no wrong in New York. No matter what he did, the fans just shrugged it off and said, “It’s ok, he’ll get the next one.” It takes a special player for that to happen. Guys like that come once in a lifetime.

He says he wants to settle down and live a normal life after his first-ballot Hall of Fame career is wrapped up. He’s always been quiet and to himself on a personal level. He doesn’t want to bask in the glory of being one of the best ever for one of the most iconic names in sports. He’ll get his day, when the Yankees unveil his #2 monument in Monument Park. He’ll get standing ovations wherever he goes, and it might turn into a bit of a farewell tour, much like Mariano Rivera’s last year. But that’s not the Jeter way.

Yankees fans, like myself, are going down memory lane recently, thinking about everything he’s done for us and the city of New York. It’s hard to sum everything up. But when he’s gone, and the Yankees have someone other than Jeter at shortstop regularly, we’ll be missing him like hell.

I’m still kind of curious what it’s like to recant tales of my favorite athletes growing up. At least I know I’ll be able to tell over stories about a legend of the Yankees, of the game of baseball, and the entire sports universe. Thank you Derek Jeter, for everything you’ve done, and everything still to come.

The MLB off-season is coming to a conclusion this week, as pitchers and catchers are set to report, and Spring Training games are just around the corner. This will give us our first look at some of the big new acquisitions in their new homes. We would like to figure out who won free agency, which we won’t actually know until the season is well underway. But we can speculate, and we will do that here:

Winner: Robinson Cano – Obviously the most sought after free agent this season, he demanded a historically large deal, 10 years and upwards of $200M, and got one. At age 31, his old team, the Yankees, were very hesitant to give him the long term deal that he desired. The gap was wide and nearly impossible to bridge, with the Yankees wary of the $189M luxury tax threshold. That’s when the Mariners jumped in and gave him the numbers he wanted. Most, if not all experts agree that the deal won’t be worth it over the term of 10 years, with his value doomed to diminish with age and a more pitcher-friendly home ballpark. But Cano got what he wanted, and won’t have to work another day in his life after he’s done raking in this dough.

Loser: Seattle Mariners – They locked up $240M over 10 years to Cano, which makes sense, considering he’s the top player in a premium position of second base. However, they bolstered their lineup around Cano, with Corey Hart, who’s missed the last season with an injury, and Logan Morrison, who has yet to hit his potential with the Marlins, which is saying something. With all the money they spent, they could have used it on more depth, as opposed to just spending most of their budget on one player. They are supposedly in on Nelson Cruz, which would probably get them out of the loser category, but as of now, they spent a lot of money on a little bit of improvement.

Winner: New York Yankees – Of course, the Yankees went on a spending spree. Last time they missed the playoffs, in 2008, they went and spent nearly $400M that off-season, and went on to win the World Series the following year. They missed the playoffs in 2013, and this year neared half a billion (with a B) in contracts signed during the winter. The notables include Masahiro Tanaka (7 years, $155M plus $20M posting fee), Jacoby Ellsbury (7 years, $153M), Brian McCann (5 years, $85M, option for 6/$100M), Carlos Beltran (3 years, $45M), and Hiroki Kuroda (1 year, $16M), along with a couple of smaller role-player acquisitions. It’s difficult not to improve when you go out and sign 4 of the top 6 free agents on the market (according to Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan). They got who they wanted, and prevented others from getting those guys. Oh yeah, and they aren’t paying A-Rod $25M

Loser: New York Yankees – Due to their spending spree, the Yankees once again eclipsed the $189M luxury tax threshold, something they were looking to avoid. Looking away from that, they spent lots of money on older players. The youngest players in the starting lineup, McCann, Ellsbury, and Brett Gardiner, are all 30 years old. Despite addressing big issues, such as Robinson Cano’s departure, they still have many issues to deal with. Their infield is full of question marks, whether you look at Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter returning from playing combined 32 games, Brian Roberts (missed 456 games the last 4 seasons) taking over for Robinson Cano’s departure, and the gap at third vacated by a platoon last year. The back end of the rotation includes a couple of players who haven’t started regularly in years, like Michael Pineda and David Phelps. Their bullpen includes David Robertson and a bunch of no-names. They have many issues that they didn’t quite cover.

Winner: Arizona Diamondbacks – Despite having a quieter off-season, the D-Backs made a couple of key trades, to improve their team subtly. The three-team deal between them, the White Sox, and the Angels landed them Mark Trumbo, a fearsome power hitter to protect MVP runner-up Paul Goldschmidt. They also got closer Addison Reed from the White Sox. Just yesterday, they signed innings-eater Bronson Arroyo for 2 years. None of these 3 are marquee names, but all of them are key pieces in improving this team. No one said you had to make large splashes in order to take a step ahead.

Loser: Cincinnati Reds – Another team with a quieter off-season, but they needed to make moves in order to gain back ground on the Cardinals and Pirates. They lost key players Shin-Soo Choo (Texas), Ryan Hannigan (Tampa Bay), and Bronson Arroyo (Arizona), and made too much noise not trading Brandon Phillips. To compensate for that loss, the Reds signed…well…not really anyone worth mentioning. They are calling up speed-demon Billy Hamilton to replace Choo in center-field. They are also considering putting flame-thrower Aroldis Chapman in the rotation. All of this will add up to the Reds missing the playoffs, and taking a step back in the NL Central.

Winner: Texas Rangers – The first big splash of the winter came in Texas, when Prince Fielder jumped into a swimming pool was traded for Ian Kinsler. The big guy will man first for the Rangers, while second base will be covered by top prospect of years past Jurickson Profar. Also coming to the Lone-Star State is Shin-Soo Choo, who will hit near the top of the order, and get on base for the big Texas bats to hit him home. Along with a few other smaller signings, the Rangers improved mightily and will put up a good fight against the A’s for the AL West.

Loser: Matt Kemp – With the emergence of Yasiel Puig in Tinseltown, the Dodgers’ outfield is now super-clogged with Puig, Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, and Matt Kemp. With no DH spot to platoon to, and with multiple injuries hampering his performance significantly, Kemp is likely the choice to be left out. He’s owed $128M over the next 6 years, so his albatross contract is not one easily picked up by anyone with a budget. There have been rumors fluttering about, but nothing significant has arisen. As it stands, Kemp’s playing time would be diminished gradually until he proves his worth over the other 3 outfielders.

Winner: The Fans – Baseball season is right around the corner. When you go outside after dusting the ol’ glove off and start throwing the ball around, you’ll see what I mean.

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This off-season included some massive shake-ups in the Majors so far, including big free agents, some trades, and injury news regarding those lost last season. But what prediction post is complete without some bold guesses? Here are some of mine.

The Yankees will miss the playoffs: I’m well aware of all the money the Yankees spent this winter, with numbers estimating close to half a billion dollars in total contracts. But last I checked, money isn’t the immediate solution for problems this day and age. The Yankees spent a good chunk of money on a new-looked outfield, including Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, more money on a new catcher, Brian McCann, and a Japanese import pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, all while watching as Alex Rodriguez got suspended for the entirety of the season. All those are good things, but here come the not so good. The entire infield is full of question marks. Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira are both coming off season-long injuries, with latest reports that Teixeira won’t even be at 100% this whole year. Patch-up replacements Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts aren’t strangers to the DL either. Along with that, the back end of the rotation as well as the bullpen are not as reliable as the Yankees would like. Also, their farm system is nearly non-existent. Money can’t solve those problems to the tune of playoffs this time around.

The Royals will contend for a wild card: For the first time in a while, the Kansas City Royals had a good season. 86-76 is a tremendous mark, for a team that’s been perpetually rebuilding since George Brett retired. But, now, they have one of the better up-and-coming cores of players including the likes of Alex Gordon, James Shields, and Eric Hosmer. The team had a fun vibe last year, celebrating with barbecue sauce and a light-up deer in the clubhouse. Their rotation took a hit, when Ervin Santana told them he won’t be returning, but still hasn’t found a new home, but that won’t deter them. They made a few smaller moves, picking up Nori Aoki, Jason Vargas, and Omar Infante, to go along with most of their club last year. Look for them to be that fun-loving team people can’t help but root for, because they are always underdogs. They may be a year or two away with the same group, but they are certainly on the rise.

The Nationals will make a title run: I’ve been behind this notion for a couple of years, but this year seems like the window is wide open for them. The deepest rotation in baseball got deeper with the acquisition of Doug Fister from Detroit, to go along with phenom Stephen Strasburg, reliable Gio Gonzalez, and up-start Jordan Zimmermann. Young guns Bryce Harper and Anthony Rendon are another year older and experienced, and will begin to really tear up the NL East with their youth along side veterans like Ryan Zimmerman, Jayson Werth, and Adam LaRoche. The bullpen is also solid, with Rafael Soriano, Tyler Clippard, and Craig Stammen. There isn’t really a weak spot on this team, and they are among the most complete teams in baseball. Expect big things from DC this season.

The Reds will miss the playoffs: This one’s tough, mainly because the group that they have has the look of a playoff team. But an off-season loaded with questions has me questioning their playoff possibility. The departure of Shin-Soo Choo is a big one, leaving a massive hole in centerfield, as well as in the lineup. The Reds are looking for help in speedster Billy Hamilton, but as a rookie, he will have his mistakes. Another question that will hover over this team is at second base, Brandon Phillips. The question isn’t how he’ll play, but how long he’ll play in Cincinnati. Questions rose all over the winter about whether he would be traded, with the Yankees seemingly as the top destination. If the Reds struggle, the calls to trade Phillips will get louder, which is bad news for the Reds, likely triggering an impulsive move. The team also is in limbo about what to do with Aroldis Chapman, the fire-throwing closer, whether to keep him or put him in the rotation. Last time a team had that question, they were following the Joba rules. If the Reds don’t keep pace with the Cardinals and Pirates, expect them to be on the outside looking in come September.

The Mariners will miss the playoffs: Last year, I wouldn’t call this bold. This year, they decided to dust off their wallets and spend some money, bringing in Robinson Cano, Corey Hart, and Logan Morrison. Despite having a great 1-2 punch in the rotation, with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma, the rest of the rotation is filled with younger guys with little to no experience on a major league mound. Also, the lineup has exactly one name in it that would scare people, and that’s Cano. With a team that was just recently assembled, it’s hard to judge. Look at last year’s Blue Jays. They scored the big off-season move, trading for the Miami Marlins, and finished well behind the other 4 teams in the AL East. The Mariners are likely destined for a similar performance in the West, with the Rangers, A’s, and probably the Angels still ahead of them in terms of talent and veteran know-how. They showed some life by spending money, but they are still a year or two away from making noise again.

In the January 20th issue of Sports Illustrated, writer Michael Rosenberg wrote a piece describing a brief recap of Alex Rodriguez’s career beyond baseball, as told on December 10, 2018. For those of you who may have glossed over it, here’s the article:

OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10, 2018—Baseball star Alex Rodriguez announced today that he would “humbly accept” the Nobel Peace Prize that nobody has offered him. Rodriguez said he deserved “the trophy, or cup, whatever it is,” because he had “ended the war” with Major League Baseball executives who suspended him five years ago for using performance-enhancing drugs.

“My dispute with them was overblown and foolish, and I apologize,” Rodriguez said, “on their behalf, as well as mine.”

When told that MLB executives had not apologized but had in fact released a statement calling him “the vermin that feeds on skunk poop at the bottom of a rat-infested pond of nuclear waste,” Rodriguez said, “I’m just glad we have all moved on.”

The press conference was televised in the United States on the A-Rod Network, a channel he has called “excessive,” even though he owns it. The New York Post reported that every time a viewer turns on the A-Rod Network, Rodriguez’s phone buzzes. It must buzz a lot, because A-Rod has remained a source of endless fascination—and not just to himself.

His career took off when it ended, in January 2014. That is when arbitrator Fredric Horowitz reduced his suspension from 211 games to 162. Rodriguez said then, “No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected.”

Rodriguez has tried to protect the rights of his fellow players by suing MLB, former commissioner Bud Selig, the New York Yankees, Horowitz, the Yankees’ team doctor, a New York City hospital, the players’ association, six former teammates, two nurses who did not find him attractive, and a court stenographer. In one famous mix-up Rodriguez accidentally sued himself. When that suit was dismissed, Rodriguez declared victory.

A-Rod has fought a p.r. battle on several fronts. When fellow Yankee Derek Jeter retired in 2015, Rodriguez frantically scrambled from one midtown Manhattan hotel to another, trying to locate the press conference. He found it, burst in, put his arm around a startled Jeter and told the media, “Jetes is the best teammate I ever had, and I look forward to our numbers being retired together.” The Yankees called the police.

The next year Rodriguez’s number 13 did indeed appear in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, along with a plaque saluting Rodriguez as “the most popular Yankee of his era.” The Yankees were on a road trip at the time.

In 2016, Rodriguez endorsed both major presidential candidates, saying he wanted to bring people together. He released a cologne called Justice, a deodorant spray called Fairness and a scented bathroom candle called Nothing Happened Here. He appeared on the pro-wrestling circuit as the Innocent Man, saying he did it because he “enjoyed the competition.”

In 2017, Rodriguez said he would pay funeral expenses for Selig, who, of course, is still alive and well.

Rodriguez also built a church in his hometown of Miami, though religious scholars have wondered why the statue hanging from the church’s 47-foot-tall crucifix is wearing a Yankees jersey. In Oslo, Rodriguez was asked what the inside of the church looks like. He paused, then said, “I close my eyes when I pray.”

Rodriguez then personally distributed chocolate hazelnut coins with a peace sign on one side and his face on the other.

Rodriguez finished by vowing to attend Yankees’ spring training in Tampa, where he hopes to resume his playing career. He said he is “in tip-top shape” and is “looking forward to leading the young guys again,” even if it means violating the Yankees’ restraining orders against him.

“This is a great day for America and for the game we all love,” Rodriguez said. “I’m so happy this farce is over.”

I was laughing most of the article, obviously meant to be facetious, but it might open up a little more of how ridiculous this case has gotten. A-Rod had actually sued everyone in baseball, both the league and the players association. There was outcry from several anonymous players to kick him out of the union, but to no avail.

One way or another, this article shows us that this story is all a wild goose chase, and we should stop taking things so seriously. The arbitrator levied the punishment. Now it’s time to argue about how the Yankees are spending too much money again.

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Was anyone surprised? Duh, no, it’s the Yankees.

Early today, it was announced that Masahiro Tanaka signed a massive contract with (who else, but) the New York Yankees, for 7 years and $155 million. The Yankees beat out the likes of the Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Arizona Diamondbacks for the Japanese stud.

But what can we take away from this deal? There are 3 parties here to look at.

Masahiro Tanaka

Yes, he had a sparkling 24-0 record in Japan this past season. Yes, his numbers are mind-boggling. But most Japanese pitchers weren’t as successful in the States as they were in Japan. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Kei Igawa, both highly sought after, flamed out rather quickly. Hiroki Kuroda took a couple of years in Los Angeles’ friendly pitcher environment to really get going. There will always be exceptions to the rule, like Yu Darvish or Hisashi Iwakuma, but you can never bet on that happening. The transition is always a question mark. That being said, Tanaka is the big winner of this deal. $22M approximate average annual value for 7 years, to throw a baseball in front of many bordering-on-depression Yankee fans? That’s enough money to buy earplugs or language barriers or other excuses to ignore the ravenous New York media. Sure, the Yankees are paying him for what should be the prime of his career, but we don’t know what his prime would translate to in the AL, let alone the hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium. But the point for Tanaka, is that the Yankees are paying him top dollar.

New York Yankees

Starting pitching was a big issue for the Yankees last year, with Andy Pettitte being the most consistent pitcher with the team (aaaaaaand he’s gone). The Yankees rotation, now outside Tanaka, includes CC Sabathia, coming off his worst statistical year of his career, the aforementioned Hiroki Kuroda, who showed lots of wear and tear toward the end of last year, and Ivan Nova, who’s rather inconsistent. The last spot now is a dog-fight among several unproven talents, like Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and a kitchen sink. But then again, signing virtually any serviceable starter is a good move for any franchise. Now, will it help them make their way back to the playoffs? Arguable. Tanaka only impacts the games he pitches, which would max out around 32, provided a seamless transition and perfect health. If he’s as good as advertised, he can definitely help the Yankees more than anyone else currently in their “system”.

The rest of MLB

First, and foremost, no one else could reap the benefit of Tanaka besides the Yankees. Second, the Yankees are not entirely incompetent anymore in the AL East. Expect a decent showing from the Bombers.

However, that’s not all that will happen. The ripple effect from this signing will finally open up the gate for the market of starting pitchers. Guys like Bronson Arroyo, Ubaldo Jiminez, Matt Garza, and other big-name starters on the market will finally bring in some money and a place to call home, likely to teams who lost out on the Tanaka sweepstakes. That will be the biggest immediate impact that Tanaka will have on MLB.

The race is over, and I guess the Cubs didn’t outbid everyone like they said they would, and the Dodgers let the Yankees be the Yankees for a change. We all saw this coming. No one is surprised that this signing happened. Now all that’s left to see is where the remaining pitchers will land, and what Tanaka does in pinstripes.

Alex Rodriguez spoke with the media for the first time since getting handed his suspension for the full 2014 season. I know that it’s not fair to scrutinize everything one player has done, but this is news, so it’s going up on the site. A-Rod was quite unhappy when given his lengthy suspension, and was screaming “Justice should be served!” at anyone who he thought would lend an ear. Today, 4 days later, he addressed the media in Mexico, with this to say, via ESPN:

“It’s a very sad story,” said the three-time AL MVP, who appeared somber as he spoke in Spanish at a press conference to open a gym he’s affiliated with in Mexico City. “And we hope we can take it out of the newspapers and I hope we can start concentrating on all the good things the big league is doing with all the young players moving forward.”

“I think that in the year 2014, the league could have done me a favor because I’ve played 20 years without a timeout,” Rodriguez said in his first public comments since his suspension appeal was rejected last week. “I think 2014 will be a year to rest mentally and physically prepare myself for the future and begin a new chapter of my life.”

This is an extremely different A-Rod than what we saw earlier this week. Again, and I can’t stress this enough, A-Rod does have a case. The guy who came out and gave him the proof is a known liar, and told “the truth” because he was paid to do so, in every interest imaginable. The arbitrator ruled that there was sufficient evidence for suspension, and we know that there is little to no way that his suit will help his cause. It’s understandable that he would be angry and/or frustrated.

But this seems more relaxed, more accepting. He seems to know deep down, that this is happening, and MLB got the best of him. Not to say MLB is right, nor that A-Rod isn’t using this acceptance blurb as some kind of ploy to help his cause. But it is a bit unexpected to see him flip-flop as quickly as he seemingly just did.

He did not mention the suspension, or upcoming lawsuit vs. everyone he thought was against him, at least in the strict sense of the words. For that reason, this leaves a bit of an open end to this piece.

However, he did say he wanted to take this story out of the news outlets. Well, sorry, old friend. You gotta pay me a bit to stop writing about you.

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Now that we’ve seen all of the negatives of the Alex Rodriguez story, lets look at the positive to come out of this ruling. The New York Yankees have reclaimed the $25 million salary that they were supposed to pay Rodriguez and are now free to spend it however they please. With that in mind, here are three ways the Yankees could decide to use that money that would benefit them.

 

It is no secret that Yankees are well below the championship caliber team that fans expect. They (officially) no longer have a starting third baseman, Mark Texeira is returning after missing the entire 2013 season, and Derek Jeter is a shell of his former self.  With all that being said, the number one thing the Yankees need right now is starting pitching. CC Sabathia struggled mightily last year, finishing with a 14-13 record and a career high ERA of 4.78. In addition, Ivan Nova was up and down all of last year and Hiroki Kuroda is 38 and also lost some of his momentum in the second half of last year. To make matters worse, the Yankees don’t even have a set #4 and #5 pitcher right now. Now they can look at this two ways.

The first way to look at this is to go for the big splash (in true George fashion) and sign Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In 28 starts last season, the former Rakuten Golden Eagle went an astounding 24-0 with and ERA of 1.27. At only 24 years old, Tanaka has the potential to be the Yankees number one starter going forward. However, Tanaka does not come without risk. As the Yankees know, a lot of Japanese pitchers have struggled with their transition to the MLB. Daisuke Matzusaka, Hideki Irabu, and Kei Igawa are all perfect examples of that. Of course that doesn’t mean that Tanaka will not be the next Yu Darvish, it just means that he could also be the next Hideki Irabu.

If the Yankees decide against the Japanese star, they definitely have other things they can do with that money. One hypothetical scenario would be bringing in a solid starting pitcher with a solid relief pitcher for a total of less money than Tanaka would cost. Two starters that are immediately available are Matt Garza and Ubaldo Jimenez. Both have struggled in the past couple of years and are both likely to command no longer than two-year contracts. Garza in particular, with a career ERA of 3.84, but past AL east experience with his time with the Rays, would cost only around 8-12 million on a year for a short amount of time. With no need for commitment, either of these pitchers can be a good temporary fix to the starting pitcher problem.

As far as the relief pitchers, there is once again a decent crop of short contract players available. Grant Balfour, Fernando Rodney, and Fransisco “K-Rod” Rodriguez could all be had on 1-2 year contracts for about $12 million. These would all be good temporary players for the Yankees to have if they want to make a chase for the playoffs.

Now this third option may scare most Yankee fans. I is a terrifying notion that will be a new concept to those who love the pinstripes. Save the money. The 2015 free agent market is going to be filled with significantly better crops. Asdrubal Cabrera, Chase Headley, Max Scherzer, and James Shield will be highly coveted players who would fit the Yankees perfectly. Not spending money this year will all but guarantee no playoffs this year, but it may be worth it in the long hall.

What should the Yankees do? Go after Tanaka? Get some short-term player? Maybe save the Money? Let us know what you think it s comments.

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Before I give you my opinion, I do not condone what anyone claims to have or have not done in this case.

I say this, because this entire situation has been people just shoveling piles of crap onto a large steaming mountain of more crap. It continued last night, when Anthony Bosch, the owner and chief operator of the now defunct anti-aging clinic Biogenesis, interviewed and opened up to 60 Minutes’ Scott Pelley.

This interview is coming off the heels of Alex Rodriguez, the New York Yankees’ most expensive mistake and third-baseman, receiving a 162 game suspension by federal arbitrator Frederic Horowitz, a shortened version of MLB’s original 211 game ban.

To really get into the details of why everyone’s neck deep in verbal sewage, let’s get to the heart of this matter and work our way out.

Last year, a report broke out that this clinic, Biogenesis, was serving MLB players a variety of banned substances from baseball’s Joint Drug Agreement. 13 players were included on the short list of customers, notables included Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Ryan Braun, and Alex Rodriguez. MLB began an investigation on Biogenesis, this shortly after Braun won his appeal due to a flawed positive drug test to overturn his suspension. As this investigation began groping around for details, A-Rod began trying to cover his alleged tracks, by buying documents from the clinic, among other things to try and burn the evidence.

Bosch was uncovered by the media, and denied vehemently the entire thing.

In late July, MLB then issued suspensions to all 13 players who were involved with the clinic. 11 players were given the standard 50 games for a first offense, Ryan Braun was given 65 games (the remainder of the season) for the same reason plus the fight he put up, and A-Rod was given 211, which was to cover from that date until the end of the 2014 season.

12 players accepted the punishment, and issued apologies to everyone with their heads hanging low and tails between their legs. One player did not.

A-Rod immediately challenged the ruling, and played the rest of the season under protest, all while still accruing as much legal stance as he could gather, to avoid any suspension.

After the season, a series of trials were brought to court, ending with A-Rod’s storming out of court when Bud Selig wouldn’t testify, in front of arbitrator Horowitz.

That brings us to Saturday, when the hammer was lowered and A-Rod was suspended for all 162 games this year, for his involvement with performance enhancing drugs (all sans a positive test), and his continued fight against the league. As he did before, Alex filed another suit, appealing his suspension again.

This time, it’s different. This time, a federal arbitrator made the call, not MLB. So the court he decides to go to must find some wrinkle against the arbitrator to see if there was something fishy. The chances of this are apparently slim to none, and A-Rod is fighting a lost cause.

That’s when Tony Bosch interviewed with 60 Minutes, revealing many disturbing details, involving A-Rod paying him to lay low, A-Rod asking him to leave the country, threats for his life by A-Rod’s people, the fact that nothing at all goes on without A-Rod’s consent, and the most important detail that people wanted, “proof” that A-Rod did steroids.

 “I was very good at what I did. I had a track record. I have been doing this for many years.”

“If you had the knowledge that I had, the experience that I had, and you know the truth about the testing and the flaws, it was almost a cake walk actually.”

“Alex is scared of needles, so at times, he would ask me to inject…”

He gave all that and more. MLB’s COO Rob Manfred mentioned that MLB payed for Bosch’s security and legal fees among other things to get information against A-Rod. He also mentioned that in front of legal court, under oath, A-Rod never denied usage of PED’s.

This whole entire fiasco was blown out of proportion, if you ask me.

A-Rod has long been known as an egotistical player. His main goal was to hit magical home run number 800. He wants to get his $25M salary in full from the Yankees. He doesn’t want his face shamed and painted as the face of the steroid era. He doesn’t want to be the bad guy.

Tony Bosch also has personal interests in mind. He was payed by MLB for information they wanted, by providing him with everything he wanted/needed, so that he isn’t in a life-threatening pickle anymore. He knowingly and willingly (according to his interview) gave MLB players illegal drugs, for his own profit. He isn’t even licensed medically.

MLB payed for all of this information, in order to clean their image. We all know baseball by nature is a flawed game. The system is a flawed system. Some of us enjoy that, many others don’t. In order to save that image of being a perfect game, they need to be clean of all PED’s, according to them. They were acting in the best interest of MLB, not necessarily baseball. Just ask MLBPA.

Adding all of this together; the fact that A-Rod had and still has the belief that he’s innocent until proven guilty, and should still play baseball in search of baseball immortality, the fact that Bosch was paid off by the league for information the league wanted, and that MLB wants to clean their image, I can’t find any ground to stand on.

There is nowhere to turn, despite lots of evidence, to side with the correct party.

One guy says that it isn’t true, while the other guy, who was paid by the company to say that it is true, says it’s true? That sounds like you won’t get anywhere to me. It makes this whole scenario a bunch of he-said/she-said, and it’s one person’s word against the other.

I know there are the documents and text messages and the fact that Bosch says that “it’s a cake walk” to pass drug tests. All of this points to A-Rod being proven guilty. But we don’t know this for sure, because Bosch was paid to say all this. I think A-Rod is guilty, and I think he should serve this ban, because he turned this whole case of baseball cleaning up into a dirty no-holds-barred Tables Ladders and Chairs match for this suspension that WWE would be jealous of.

But Bosch lied before. Who’s to say his “opinion” wasn’t influenced by some money and some more years to his life (allegedly)?

We may never know.

The Major League’s offseason is still going on, and Masahiro Tanaka is still singlehandedly plugging up the pitcher’s market. But lots has been done over the last few weeks, and we are going to check out which teams improved, and which teams took a step back.

Arizona Diamondbacks – Their 3-team deal with the White Sox and Angels landed them Mark Trumbo, who is little more than a power hitter, and a later deal brought in Addison Reed, who is an effective late innings pitcher. The cost was very high, as they traded prospects Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs to Chicago and Anaheim respectively. The question is, did it improve the team’s chance to win games? I don’t think it’s a step in the right direction, but it didn’t really hurt the team. Trending: Neutral

Atlanta Braves – They have been relatively quiet over the offseason, but they lost 2 of their key pieces in Tim Hudson to the Giants and Brian McCann to the Yankees. Their only acquisition worth mentioning is Gavin Floyd. They probably resigned themselves to losing both of those pieces, but it didn’t do much damage to them, with catcher Evan Gattis still on the roster. Trending: Neutral

Baltimore Orioles – The O’s roster took a few shake-ups the last couple of months, trading closer Jim Johnson to Oakland for Jemile Weeks, but most of the moves involved players leaving Baltimore. Nate McLouth went to Washington, Scott Feldman to Houston, and Michael Morse to San Francisco. I have to believe that next year will be tough for the O’s, with impending free agents Matt Wieters and Chris Davis to worry about. Trending: Down

Boston Red Sox – It’s tough to improve on a championship run, especially when one of your star players leaves to a rival team (understatement of the year). Jacoby Ellsbury was one of the most shocking moves of the year, going to the Yankees for 7 years. They also changed their catcher from Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Miami) to now another long last name, in A.J. Pierzynski. They didn’t improve, but they didn’t decline either. Trending: Neutral

Chicago Cubs – The Lovable Losers so far made a bunch of minor acquisitions, such as OF Justin Ruggiano and Casper Wells, C George Kottaras, and RP Jose Veras. They are also one of the big players in Tanaka, but that doesn’t mean they have him. Their farm system is loaded with talent, so big name free agents aren’t hugely important. But, I have to believe they will be on the rise soon, with or without Tanaka. Trending: Up

Chicago White Sox – The South-Siders were busy this offseason, picking up guys like 1B Jose Abreu (Cuba), and Mark Eaton. They did lose a couple of young arms, but they took a nice step in the rebuilding saga, trying to bring back competitiveness they had years ago. Trending: Up

Cincinnati Reds – They knew they were going to lose OF Shin-Soo Choo (Texas), and they have a serviceable lead-off replacement in Billy Hamilton AKA Speedy Gonzalez. They also lost starting C Ryan Hanigan (Tampa). They still have a great roster loaded with talent, and I don’t see them losing ground in the NL Central anytime soon. Trending: Neutral

Cleveland Indians – They signed a bunch of smaller contracts, notably OF David Murphy and RP John Axford, but they lost a ton of their effective bullpen, with Joe Smith, Clay Rapada (both Anaheim), and Chris Perez (other L.A. team) all leaving. Also, Scott Kazmir, their low-risk, high reward starter is gone to Oakland. It’s not going to be easy to keep up the level of competition in Rock City. Trending: Down

Colorado Rockies – They made a ton of signings: 1B Justin Morneau, OF’s Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes, and pitchers LaTroy Hawkins, Franklin Morales, Boone Logan, and Brett Anderson. Their only key loss was OF Dexter Fowler, in the trade with Houston for Barnes and Jordan Lyles. They vastly improved their pitching, and their offense should be able to help that as well. Trending: Up

Detroit Tigers – The Tigers were extremely busy. They signed OF Rajai Davis and closer Joe Nathan, and traded for Ian Kinsler and Steve Lombardozzi. But the list of key losses is massive (not because of a certain 1B): IF Omar Infante (KC), RP Joaquin Benoit (SD), IF/OF Jhonny Peralta (STL), 1B Prince Fielder (TEX), and SP Doug Fister (WAS). They were trying to clear salary and they did. But it came at a massive cost. Trending: Neutral

Houston Astros – It’s hard for them to decline, with 3 straight 100-loss seasons. They made a bunch of small acquisitions at little cost, like OF Dexter Fowler, 1B Jesus Guzman, P’s Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, Matt Albers and Peter Moylan. They have improved, but most of their improvement is on the way still. Trending: Up

Kansas City Royals – Building on a great season in Royal standards last year, they’ve made some improvements to their roster for this year. IF Omar Infante for 4 years was the biggest move, which included OF Norichika Aoki and SP Jason Vargas. There is still word that they might deal DH Billy Butler, but it hasn’t happened yet, and seems to not be happening at all. Still, these guys should be the main contestants to the Tigers in the AL Central. Trending: Up

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim – Of course losing 1B Mark Trumbo is big, but they got a great return on all their moves this offseason. They picked up 3B David Freese, and SP Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs, plus DH Raul Ibanez, if for no other reason but to hit home runs. They still have too much tied into Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, so it’s tough for them to really do much else. Trending: Neutral

Los Angeles Dodgers – Most of their offseason was spent shopping (or not shopping) Matt Kemp, and resigning their players. They did pick up SP Dan Haren, to further improve a dynamite rotation, and RP Chris Perez to help the bullpen. As far as quiet offseasons go, however, the Dodgers found all the squeaky floorboards. Trending: Neutral

Miami Marlins – Their big fish (hehe pun) was C Jarrod Saltalamacchia for 3 years, and they also picked up 1B Garret Jones, while losing Justin Ruggiano (CHC) and Logan Morrison (SEA) from their outfield. Remember when I said it’s hard not to improve on nothing? The Marlins managed that. Trending: Neutral

Milwaukee Brewers – You’ll see pretty much the same Crew next year, minus Nori Aoki (KC). OF Corey Hart signed with Seattle, making that the only news in the offseason regarding the Brewers. Trending: Neutral

Minnesota Twins – They have vastly improved their rotation, from pretty much Samuel Deduno, to now include Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Also, they picked up C Kurt Suzuki to work with them. They seem to still be in the market for some more pitching, and it still will improve their staff. Trending: Up

New York Mets – The Mets made 3 signings, OF Curtis Granderson and Chris Young, and SP Bartolo Colon. 2 guys who will average somewhere between .220 and .240, and giving Colon a guaranteed year make me scratch my head, but anything is an improvement for the Amazin’s. Trending: Up

New York Yankees – My firm belief is that building a team can’t be from just free agents. I guess my philosophy isn’t the same as the Bombers. They brought in C Brian McCann, and OF Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and lost 2B Robinson Cano (SEA), OF Curtis Granderson (NYM), and P’s Phil Hughes (MIN), Boone Logan (COL),  Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera (retirement). Spending money isn’t the only way to improve this “team”. They need to clear the table and start over. Which in Yankee-land, is impossible. Trending: Down

Oakland Athletics – GM Billy Beane is always wheeling and dealing. This time, he got closer Jim Johnson, SP Scott Kazmir and Drew Pomeranz, and OF Craig Gentry. They lost a decent amount of players, like OF Seth Smith (SD) and Michael Choice (TEX), 2B Jemile Weeks (BAL), P Brett Anderson (COL), Bartolo Colon (NYM), and Jerry Blevins (WSH). Beane has something up his sleeves, as always, and the A’s will probably contend, like always. Trending: Neutral

Philadelphia Phillies – The Fightin’ Phils didn’t do much this offseason, signing just OF Marlon Byrd and SP Roberto Hernandez (Fausto Carmona) among others. Seems like they are standing pat with what they have, for the most part, even though they are older and falling apart. Supposedly SP Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee are on the trade market. I doubt, however, that either will be moved. Trending: Down

Pittsburgh Pirates – Everyone’s new favorite team made noise in October, but not so much after. They lost a couple of pieces in 1B’s Justin Morneau (COL) and Garret Jones (MIA), along with platoon man Marlon Byrd to Philly. They gave a flyer to Edinson Volquez, and for the most part kept what they had, which isn’t a bad move. They are still dangerous, and will probably be contenders for the NL Central for the next few years. Trending: Up

San Diego Padres – They didn’t lose a ton of names, because they didn’t have many names beforehand. But they brought in a couple in OF Seth Smith and P’s Josh Johnson and Joaquin Benoit. The Friars still have a long way to go before getting back on track, however. Trending: Neutral

San Francisco Giants – Their only to additions/losses were adding OF Michael Morse and SP Tim Hudson, in the hopes of last year being a fluke. Not a bad idea, but you would think that a losing record the year after winning the Series would set off some alarms. Trending: Neutral

Seattle Mariners – The M’s got the top guy on the market, signing 2B Robinson Cano away from the Yankees for 10 years, gobs of dough, and a beard. They also picked up OF’s Logan Morrison and Corey Hart, and are top players for OF Nelson Cruz and SP Masahiro Tanaka. They are making alot of noise, and with a purpose. Look for them to continue. Trending: Up

St. Louis Cardinals – The Redbirds made a trade with the Angels, picking up OF Peter Bourjos for 3B David Freese, and signed 2B Mark Ellis, and OF Jhonny Peralta. They also lost closer Edward Mujica (BOS) and OF Carlos Beltran (NYY). Tough to say they made the right moves, but the Cards usually know what they are doing, so trust them. Trending: Neutral

Tampa Bay Rays  – The Rays made a couple of moves, mostly resigning. They did manage to bring in C Ryan Hanigan and RP Heath Bell. Some minor pieces left, but it’ll still be the same Rays you’ll see, being pesky and run-by-Joe-Maddon-y as ever. Trending: Neutral

Texas Rangers – Their 2 big splashes of 1B Prince Fielder (not a fat joke) and OF Shin-Soo Choo were very good for the Rangers, who lost a bunch of pieces like C A.J. Pierzynski to Boston (who they replaced with another initials guy J.P. Arencibia), 2B Ian Kinsler and CP Joe Nathan to Detroit, and OF David Murphy to Cleveland. They still have some pitching questions, but their offense will be dynamic next season. Trending: Up

Toronto Blue Jays – After last season’s trade for the Marlins, the Jays didn’t do much this offseason, besides wave goodbye to Josh Johnson (SD) and Rajai Davis (DET). That being said, them doing nothing won’t help them in the AL East. They are still well behind the other 4 teams. Trending: Down

Washington Nationals – The Nats brought in SP Doug Fister to bolster an already outstanding rotation, and Nate McLouth to platoon in the outfield. They lost just Dan Haren (LAD) and Steve Lombardozzi (DET), which they are completely ok with. They are a team on the rise, and a bump in the road last year won’t prevent them from being dangerous this year around. Trending: Up

There are still tons of moves still to come, as pitchers and catchers report in 2 months. Until then, Happy New Years!

 

484px-Masahiro_Tanaka

The Ratuken Golden Eagles of NPB (Japanese League) was reportedly posting pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, and he will become a free agent, available to the 30 Major League teams. The posting limit is at $20M, as per the settlement, thus opening the floor to almost every team, and it gives us a fair fight, as opposed to a bidding war between the clubs with money (you know who you are).

It seems like everyone is in on this pitcher, as he’s been all over the news in MLB, and has single-handedly stalled the starting pitcher’s market.

So what’s all the hype about this guy?

To start, over the last 3 seasons with Ratuken, Tanaka has posted a mind-blowing 53-9 record with an ERA of 1.44, striking out 593 hitters. Just last year, he went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 183 strikeouts. His 7-year career WHIP is 1.11. That alone is worth looking at, rubbing your eyes, then looking again to see if you were seeing things funny.

His age is another thing to look at. He just turned 25 years old, seemingly about to enter the prime of his career.

Mechanically, he seems sound as a bell. His pitching motion is comparable to Hiroki Kuroda, or really any Japanese pitcher, but more fluent and simple. Also, thankfully, sans the waiting for the pitch like Hideo Nomo or Daisuke Matsuzaka.

His pitching repertoire includes a low-mid 90’s fastball that tops at about 96 with near pinpoint accuracy, a mid 80’s slider with bite and control, a low 90’s shuuto (2-seam fastball), an apparently nasty splitter/forkball in the high 80’s,  a low 90’s cutter with sink, a low 70’s curveball that he seems to be slowing down, and a traditional low 80’s changeup.

So, to sum it up, we have a reliable young arm, with a million different looks, and a history of taking the ball and giving his team the chance to win every night.

Now, what team will he end up with?

There are two major players that have emerged, the New York Yankees and the Chicago Cubs.

The Yankees were the obvious favorites from the get-go. They are a notorious free-spending team (despite what they say about their “budget”), with a desperate need for consistency on the mound. Their offense isn’t exactly clean as a whistle either, but they spent on their outfield and brought in a veteran catcher who can work with pitchers well in Brian McCann. But their rotation is in shambles. CC Sabathia had a below-average year, going 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA, Hiroki Kuroda started strong but fell off in the end, and Ivan Nova has been good, but inconsistent. The remaining spots were vacated by Andy Pettitte to retirement, and Phil Hughes to the Minnesota Twins. Now, the 4 and 5 spots are being fought over within the system by David Phelps, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno, and Michael Pineda, who started a combined 17 games last season. They clearly have money still left to spend on Tanaka, and are always on the lookout for more star-power to fill seats in the Bronx.

Then, there are the good ol’ Cubbies. They have already made it public knowledge that they are going to go all out to get Tanaka, and with the Yankees on a “spending leash”, the Cubs might actually be the favorite. They spent a good amount of their offseason proving trade rumors wrong about staff ace Jeff Samardzija. The rest of their rotation is a work in progress, with Travis Wood and Edwin Jackson still with the team. The farm system of the Cubs is one of the tops in baseball, thanks to the work of Jed Howyer and Theo Epstein at the helm. Wrigley Field and the team seem like they are still under construction, and could become a big bad machine within a few years, and adding Tanaka would be a big step in the positive if they can get their paws on him.

If you ask me, I think the Cubs will get him in the end. They have more expendable cash than the Yankees (shocker!) with less locked up on their roster, plus a better ballpark for pitchers, and a better future. The Yankees system isn’t widely known for nurturing young players as it is bringing in the big name, and if Tanaka were smart, he’d head to the North Side of the Windy City, because the Lovable Losers might sneak up on people soon.