Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Fantasic Favre? Get a grip ESPN...

This slight departure from MLB is because we needed a little filler now that the Hot Stove has cooled off and spring training awaits...

For those of us without a horse in the race, the Saints are probably the team you have been and will be rooting for come Super Bowl Sunday. But more to the point, most of us were rooting against Favre this past weekend.

The hope is that he’s finally resigned himself to the fact that he will end yet another season with an interception. But the reality is that he had one of his best seasons ever especially from a statistical standpoint. Favre has become more than that bad rash that just won’t go away. He’s now herpes. Now we hear his return is very unlikely. Um, hey Brett, we’ve been paying attention. Cut the crap. Don’t retire, just disappear.

Even the biggest donkey on the planet has had enough...

There have been many great players who have played past their prime. Jordan was absolutely amazing in his prime. But he’s stint with the Wizards diminished his image. It became “all about Mike” as he had something to prove – that he could still play at a high level at age 40. Great, you can. Move along...

But Jordan and others also had what Favre does not. Integrity. You can’t believe anything the guy says. He puts his selfish interests before his team. He’s a fraud. How many more offseasons does he need to prove this?

It’s sickening that ESPN loves this guy. There is so much ball-washing going on it makes you want to throw up in your mouth. Whether or not you like Tom Jackson, you now have to question his credibility. The following quote is simply mind blowing:

“That’s the thing about Brett Favre, he’s not afraid to throw an interception. That’s one of the things I most admire about him”. (This quote is not taken out of context.)

Uh, what? You admire that he has a tendency to throw a back breaking and game changing interception to lose a big game? Shouldn’t your biggest fear be to turn the ball over at the most critical point in a game?

Jackson rants on and on about his “courage” and how he “kept bringing his team back” and how he “almost” led his team to victory. Seriously? Freaking “Almost”? Yeah, I “almost” drove to Bristol, CT to put my foot in your ass.

Hey Tom, let us all know once you get those incriminating pics back from Brett. Maybe we'll take your word again at some point... But good luck with your next career in janitorial services, at least you'll look good doing it...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Congratulations to Veruca Salt, uh, I mean the Yankees...

Well it finally happened. Congratulations. Welcome to the 21st century.

After an offseason of spending an unprecedented $500 million dollars, obtaining the 3 biggest free agents available, all while compromising an entire neighborhood and taxpayers, they did it.

Yankee fans are again beaming. But how does it feel to beat a hollow chest?

After not making the playoffs for the first time in a long time, the new Steinbrenner’s were embarrassed enough into spending a fortune in the offseason. This gluttony reared its ugly head at the same time many Americans were struggling and out of work. Great timing boys. If you didn’t think it was possible for more people to loathe the Yanks, well, keep telling yourself that.

All that aside, winning a championship is very difficult. Just ask the Phillies who had to twice trot out a Pedro Martinez we let go five years ago. But quite frankly, it would have been a monumental blunder if the Yanks didn’t win it all this season. Girardi would have been tarred, feathered, and probably banned from the state of NY forever. Cashman would have been handed his walking papers, and George probably would have stroked out.

Now you can say that there are many teams - including the Sox - that are considered “the have’s”. However, the Yanks still outspend this “group” by $70-$80M every season. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the Yankees are the “rich kid” of the class that everyone loathes. They get what they want simply because they have money.

“I want an Oompa-Loompa NOW Daddy!”

Oh, but you ask why is this year different if the payroll is the same? Well smarty pants they were able to grab the top 3 free agents on the market which included a #1 starter, a #2 starter, and one of the best hitters in the league. Who can’t win a championship by doing that?

The Yanks have screwed the pooch in prior years by overpaying all stars on the back 9 of their careers, and typically grabbing one big free agent per year. Those contracts are crippling especially in those players last couple of unproductive seasons. This trend isn’t going away. But the Yanks have enough money to survive these bad deals on the back end. If any other team had these resources, the additional $70-$80M per season would be spent on 4-5 all star and/or impact players. Who couldn’t win with that much talent?

No, but really, enjoy it. Who knew it was the most expensive trophy on the planet?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's a Steroid Spring Training...

Is apologizing for steroid use now a right at Yanks spring training? For three years running it’s been Giambi’s puzzling speech, a contrite Pettite, and now a less than believable A-Rod. Made you forget all about Jaba’s DUI huh?

It can’t get much lower can it? After spending $430M in the offseason you would think things would be looking up. There won’t be any business as usual in Tampa. Cashman was quoted as saying "If you want to use the analogy that this is Humpty Dumpty, we've got to put it back together again." Girardi is the one with this daunting task, and don’t be shocked to see him go if things aren’t going well. The questions will keep coming especially when they travel to a new city. Think there will be any tension in the clubhouse? Yikes.

Some may argue that the support shown by some of the players will help galvanize this squad. I would normally agree, but that only works if they like the guy they are supporting. If the questions keep coming, distraction and resentment will build.

Through all of this, the bottom line is that A-Rod is not believable. He’s a transparent phony. The more he speaks, the less credible he is. He does not deserve credit for admitting and apologizing. There was no other choice. Just ask Clemens, Bonds, and Marion Jones. While he wouldn’t have their legal issues, he would be just as vilified.

There are many parts of his news conference that just don’t make sense. The “young, naïve, and stupid” thing just doesn’t fly as he was 26, 27, and 28 in those seasons. He heard that “Boli” was an energy boost you could get over the counter. But “captain contradiction” first stated he didn’t think he did anything wrong for all these years. But shortly after said he knew he wasn’t taking tic tacs and that it could potentially be wrong. So which is it?

Boli supposedly accounts for the Primobolan (steroids) but you also tested positive for testosterone. So what else did you take?

You told Gammons last week you didn’t know what drugs you took, so what made you remember Boli & Ripped Fuel all of a sudden?

If you didn’t think it was banned or wrong, why were you so terrified to ask or consult anyone?

If you weren’t sure it was working or being administered properly, why did you continue to inject twice a month for six months over 3 seasons?

How often did you take the drug that tested positive for testosterone?

Are the things available “over the counter” in Mexico or the Dominican available in the US?

Does this cousin really exist?

Even Yanks announcer Suzyn Waldman was a skeptic. She said A-Rod won’t even eat a snickers or a cookie. But not investigating a substance he’ll inject himself with is something that just isn’t believable. Cashman was blunt about the young and naïve comment, stating his actions were simply stupid. Johnny Damon’s best attempt was that he didn’t commit murder. Not exactly dazzling support on the home front. Just ask the NY papers what they think...

For those of you clamoring about the remaining 103 players, they will all come out in time. Just doing the simple math, there would be between 3-4 players from each team in the majors. So if you think your favorite team is in the clear you are kidding yourself. Remember too that the Mitchell Report listed almost 90 players associated with HGH, steroids, testosterone and other banned substances. Don’t be surprised if a fair number of them are included in the 103. So the number of new names might not be as dramatic as first thought.

There are many reasons why everyone is picking on A-Rod. The Katie Couric interview probably did the most damage. Torre’s book painted him as a version of Single White Female in his pursuit of Jeter. His journey through the tabloids has been ugly, and he’s widely thought of as a phony. He tries to hard to fit in and doesn’t. It’s truly a sad commentary for a guy that had the world at his feet.

So if you are asking will we be as harsh to “one of our own” if the names come out, the simple response is “no”. It will also depend on how the player responds to it. But A-Rod has provided a blueprint of how not to do it. You have to think that anyone following him will learn from his mistakes.

A lot of you just want to move forward which is understandable. But the problem remains that players are still cheating. There currently is no test for HGH and probably for other designer drugs. The league needs to implement blood testing. It should be stored and when tests become available via technology, the samples should be retested. Until then, people will still be cheating and A-Rod is the figurehead.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Yanks continue shameless spending spree, land Teixeira

All aboard the Yankee hating express...

"The Yankees do not want to compete, they want to be coronated." That quote by Wallace Mattews of Newsday sums it up nicely. You would think that the Steinbrenners adopted Varuca Salt. I want an Umpaloompa NOW!

This move was predicted in the last entry back on Dec 15th. It just made sense for them to do this. That being said, to spend over $420M in the current economy is simply disgusting. The sad part is that they aren't finished. After grabbing the top 3 available free agents, they will still add another starting pitcher and more. They have more revenue ($100M from new stadium alone) and a payroll that is still less than last year. They obviously have complete disregard for anyone else, so why would they stop now?

Granted they have improved their team significantly, but this in no way guarantees them anything. If nothing else you would think they have learned that in this new century. The huge advantage in payroll has not worked. Cashman has not been able to grow the farm system, so they have gone back to overspending. Ask last years Tigers how that worked out.

The reports about the Sox being surprised are simply nonsense. The Yankees have used this same tactic with Jose Contreras, A-Rod, and Damon. How'd that work out for ya by the way? The Sox did not have to make this move. It would have made them better yes, but they set a price and didn't go past it. If they were really "desperate", you don't think they would have ponied up another $12M over 8 years? They would still be way under their payroll number from last season.

The offseason has a long way to go. The Yanks will add more pieces. But it will be much more entertaining when they come up short again. Just like the A-Rod signing and defeat in the ALCS. Sweet.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is Cashman a drunken sailor?

It’s official. Money has now become no object in Steinbrennerland.

If AJ Burnett had been a consistent top of the rotation guy, then this would be a reasonable deal. But it’s a matter of when this guy breaks down, not if.

If you hadn’t noticed, this is eerily similar to the Pavano deal, but with two additional seasons attached. Pavano had a great year for the Marlins going 18-8 with a 3.00 ERA, by far his best season ever before coming to NY. He was often injured and only managed to win more than 12 games once in his 9 year career. He only managed to pitch more than 200 innings twice in that span as well.

The good news is that Burnett has been better. But only marginally. He’s taken nine trips to the DL in his 10 seasons. NINE. He’s pitched more than 200 innings in only three seasons, two of which were contract years, which tells you something. He’s also only won more than 12 games once in his career. He had arguably one of his best seasons ever last year, but still managed only an ERA over 4.

But getting to brass tacks, he is a good pitcher (not great) when he’s healthy. However, his health is the x-factor. The Yanks know that they are not going to get full value from this guy. Nor does he have any postseason experience to draw on. And based on his history, he’s not going to get stronger or less injury prone at age 32. They probably think he’ll average between 20-25 starts per season with a 3.75 ERA which is optimistic at best. Fact is, he may not last into years 4 or 5 of the contract anyway.

Because the Yanks have the money, this isn’t much of a gamble. Assuming they sign a Lowe, Pettite, or Sheets, they still have Hughes and Kennedy waiting in the minors to fill in when needed. But they need that depth to further insure Wang and Chamberlain. That gives the Yanks a formidable rotation and makes them a viable contender. If they have enough depth to cover injuries, they’ll be in the mix in Oct.

Up next is the probable trade for Mike Cameron. Once consummated, that brings the Yanks 2009 payroll into the neighborhood of $175M. They’ll add another arm (Lowe/Sheets/Pettite) for let’s say $15M, bringing them up to $190M.

Many baseball executives feel that the Yanks spending is simply irresponsible, especially in light of the current economic conditions. Some writers think that there is nothing wrong with these expenditures because their payroll will be lower than last season. First of all, let’s put things into some perspective…

There is no salary cap in baseball, and the luxury tax is not having the desired affect. Until the rules are changed, the Yankees are allowed to spend whatever they like. If you don’t like it, change the rules. The Yankees are taking full advantage of the economic conditions because they can. They now have $100M more in revenue per season to draw from, due to the new stadium. Smaller market teams have to worry about filling seats while the Yanks are exponentially increasing the gap between the “haves and have nots”. Is it completely unfair? To most of the league, absolutely. But, all the blame goes to MLB for letting it happen.

On the other side of the coin, the Yanks should not be applauded for lowering their payroll. Why would you give credit for having $85M in bad contracts come off the books, but then adding $65M in bad contracts back in? Yup, that’s right, we mismanaged $20M less than last season…

Lastly, what is stopping the Yanks from grabbing Texiera? Nick Swisher is a nice player for $3.6M, but he hit a whopping .219 last season. There have been rumors of Manny in pinstripes, but he’s going to cost over $20M per. I guess you could platoon him with Damon and Matsui in LF / DH. But you’d probably only pay a few million more per season for Texiera. If you’re going to spend $210M with Manny, why not spend $215 with Tex? It’s still less than they spent in 2007, but now with more revenue. You have a place for him at 1B. It’s a no brainer isn’t it?

Let's hope not. Gee, still wonder why no one likes the Yankees?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Yanks land the offseason Whale…

All 290 pounds of him… The desperate Yanks became bidders against only themselves and raised their original bid from $140M to $161M to land their new ace Sabathia.

Let’s not pretend that this was not a good signing for them, it was. It simply makes them a better team. However, if you put value into the argument it’s clearly not. He’s not even the best pitcher in New York but he’s the highest paid. It now makes the Mets signing of Santana a great deal and even more baffling why the Yanks didn’t get involved.

There are some red flags with this deal. Rumblings were that CC was looking for a reason NOT to pitch in NY. He clearly preferred the West coast, but the Yanks made him an offer he couldn’t refuse – an additional $21M on top of the original $140M that no one else had matched. He’s also getting them to include a player option after 3yrs, and also a no trade clause. So, he can bail out of NY after 3 seasons and also block any potential trades. Handing over that much control to a player simply shows how desperate the Yanks were to sign him.

More Starters?
This is only step one in the Yanks buying process. Sabathia will essentially replace the season the now departed Mussina had. They now have their staff ace but still have several question marks throughout the rotation. Wang & Chamberlain have been injury issues, while Hughes and Kennedy have essentially been no shows. They still need to acquire more starters.

The latest rumor is AJ Burnett for 5yrs and $85M. Talk about desperation. He’s 31 and has only thrown 200 innings in three of his ten seasons. And two of them have been in contract years. Since joining the AL, his best ERA was 3.75. What’s his arm going to be like at age 36? He’s a good pitcher (not great) when he does show up. But will he be another Pavano?

They are also in the mix for Derek Lowe. He had a terrific season with a 3.24 Era. But at age 35 and return to the AL you can expect that to jump significantly. For a guy that had “late night” issues I’m guessing Manhattan isn’t the best environment. Issues aside, he’s probably a better option than Burnett. But you’d still expect diminishing returns on a 39yr old arm.

Position Players?
The Yanks are rumored to be going after Mike Cameron (buddy of Sabathia). He’s certainly an upgrade of the fading Melky Cabrera, but he’s 35. He’ll probably give them .250 / 20 / 75 which is only marginal. It will cost them Cabrera AND a minor league arm.

They have been quiet on the Texiera front, but you’d think they would be all out on this one. It wouldn’t be a shock for them to swoop in at the last minute. They overpay for everything else, so why not. Even if they acquire Burnett & Lowe, they can still fit his $20+M in the mix. What’s a $230M payroll with a new revenue driving ballpark? Why wouldn’t they jump at a chance to overpay a player who will be on the decline in the last 2-3yrs of their contract? It’s standard operating procedure.

Haven’t they learned anything?
With all of these top flight signings (Type A free agents), they continue to surrender first round draft picks. Trading for a 35yr old Mike Cameron? AJ Burnett will be 36 when his contract is up, and CC will be 35. They are trying to win in “the now” and bastardizing the future again. The reason they were so successful in the 90’s is because they had a great core of players come up thru their system. All they needed to do was add a few pieces via free agency. You can't rebuild your system without first round picks. Most current players on the team are past their prime. Here are the impact players at 30 or under: Cano, Nady, Swisher (or replace w/Texiera who would be 38 at the end), and Cabrera who is about to be traded for a 35yr old. The clock is ticking and the window is closing, especially with Tampa Bay now as a factor.

Is it irresponsible?
The Marlin’s President seems to think the CC contract alone was inappropriate & irresponsible based on the current economic climate. He has a clear bias as a small market team, but he does bring up an interesting point. Are the Yanks unaffected by the current economic conditions? Reports say that the new ballpark will generate an additional $100M per year. So yes, the Yanks are not affected. Whether it is inappropriate or not depends on your point of view. The Yanks don’t care either way, as they are doing what they feel is best for business. Any small market team will tell you it is irresponsible and always unfair. Is it time for a change? Possibly. The luxury tax seemed to have no affect. But that’s a discussion for another day…

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Sox oust bitter Angels...

The Sox closed out the favored Angels in dramatic fashion. It’s been a while since we’ve seen a walkoff win of that magnitude. Let’s hope it just getting started…

You could say the baseball gods were smiling down on the Sox after the botched suicide squeeze, but it was simply poor execution. The replay clearly shows the out call was correct. The inning before, a passed ball allowed the tying run to score on a single. And in the ninth the ball took an Angels bounce into the stands on an all or nothing dive, which could have turned into an inside the park homer. Even the pop up that allowed 3 runs to score in game 3 didn’t blow it for the Angels .

No curses. No controversies. No excuses.

The Angels simply didn’t execute as well as the Sox on either side of the ball. When you are 8 for 40 with runners in scoring position combined with an ERA over 4, you aren’t going to pull off many series wins. And boy were they pissed after game 4. Lackey proclaimed the better team lost, then proceeded to throw teammates under the bus for his shortcomings. Classy guy. Hey Lackey, your only win came in a 12 inning dogfight caused by your team's 3 run gaffe. In what way were you better you mental midget?

The Sox were clearly the better team in every facit. Lester was masterful, yielding only 1 unearned run in 14 innings. The bullpen was very good and the defense was solid. And could you be any happier to say “Manny who”? Jason Bay was simply awesome hitting over .400 with 2 homers and 5 RBI’s, including the huge double to help wrap up the series. The Sox didn't make any major mistakes and the Angels did, bottom line.

You can also thank the Yankees. Yup, I said it. All those wars and grind em out games have given this team a real grit and swagger. They just don’t get rattled and no matter what happens, they keep coming at you. Contributions come from up and down the lineup. Theo also gets a pat on the back for his deadline & waiver pickups.

The amazing thing is that only 5 years ago we were waiting for the other shoe to drop, especially late in games. Now with 2 championships under their belt, we’re waiting to see the other teams fold under the pressure. Don’t believe? Ask the Cubs who were head and shoulders above the NL all season.

Up Next, The Rays...

I think the winner of this next series is going to win it all. It should be a great series and more than likely will go to 7 games. There is going to be much debate about the Sox starters and who goes when – before the game starts on Fri. But when you break it down it actually seems simple.
There is no reason to run any pitcher out there on less than normal rest, which eliminates Lester from game 1. It probably also makes sense to give Beckett additional rest based on his last outing and recent oblique injury. Using that logic you open with Dice-K who will be on 6 days rest already. He was very effective last season with extra rest and holding off until game 3 would be 9 days. Beckett gets an extra 3 days, and Lester goes on normal rest.

Here’s the schedule:

Game 1 – Fri the 10th - Dice K (6 days rest)
Game 2 – Sat the 11th - Lester (normal rest)
Game 3 – Mon the 13th - Beckett (7 days rest)
Game 4 – Tue the 14th - Wake/Byrd
Game 5 – Thur the 16th - Dice K (5 days rest)
Game 6 – Sat the 18th - Lester (6 days rest)
Game 7 – Sun the 19th - Beckett (5 days rest)

If you believe the people who have been around the game for years like Remy or Schilling, home and road records get tossed out the window. So save the “he pitches better at home” mantra.

There is also the issue of flexibility to consider. If the Rays manage to make game 5 an elimination game, Lester can go on normal rest and Beckett can follow in game 6 on normal rest. Dice K then follows with all hands on deck in game 7.

So the only real debate is game 4. Wake has more upside but his poor postseason record is scary. Byrd is the safer option based on last years ALCS at Fenway. But it may come down to the wind. If it’s blowing out you would likely see Wake (similar to conditions of his dominating performance at Yankee Stadium). Otherwise I'd expect to see Byrd with Wake as backup.

Prediction? I like the Sox in seven. What it comes down to is which version of Beckett we’ll see. I think that he will right the ship especially if they give him the extra rest. Lester will continue to dominate, similar to the postseason Beckett enjoyed last year. That leaves Dice-K to win one of his two starts and Beckett to grind it out in game 7.

Expect to see some heated battles during this one. There will be some spill over from the regular season. The only downside is that we will see the replay of Coco charging the mound more times than the mention of the curse before 2004.

Buckle up campers, this will be a good old fashioned grind em out series. Hope you’re prepared to see midnight.