Thursday, October 30, 2014

New York Yankees: Five gruesome months of A-Rod talk ahead

As soon as the San Francisco Giants secured the final out of the 2014 World Series, New York Yankees third baseman (or first baseman, or designated hitter or dumpster fire) Alex Rodriguez was back on the club’s 40-man roster after fulfilling his yearlong ban from the game due to his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

Seconds after the Giants' celebration began, there were plenty of A-Rod supporters and detractors on Twitter reminding everyone how blessed quiet it has been without him. Now we’ll be subjected to five months of chatter about his health, his demeanor, his ability to play at a major league level and whether or not he is clean before he begins stretching out with his teammates in Tampa.

I’ve been very open about the fact that I think he will be worthless to the team in the end. I just don’t see how he’ll be able to overcome the year off, after having minimal plate appearances in 2012 (181) and reconstructed hips. Despite A-Rod’s work ethic, he's 39 and well I don’t care how much one works at it, once a player approaches 40, he’s not going revert back to his prime as many misguided souls believe.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What to look for in tonight's World Series Game 7

Is there anything better than a World Series Game 7? A marathon season that begins in mid-February and runs through the end of October, comes to an end with a winner take all contest.

After rolling through the first three rounds, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants will face off in Kauffman Stadium tonight with the winner securing a ring. The Royals are looking for their first title since 1985, while the Giants are attempting to grab their third in five years.

A certain contrast in drama. With a win, one team erases decades of misery for their fans and the other builds a reputation as arguably the best team since 2010 for theirs.

With a championship on the line, here are some things to look out for in Game 7.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Enough 'baseball is dead' talk

If baseball is dead, then I must be a zombie.

As the television ratings continue to get watered down with every new cable outlet, each ridiculous reality show, along with various dramas and sitcoms, combined with the DVR society in which we live, Major League Baseball’s national prominence has been brought into question.

It’s crap.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yankees finally reshaping organizational roles in farm system

As the Kansas City Royals are set to host Game 1 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night, the New York Yankees are knee-deep in organizational changes surrounding their farm system.

The Yankees, long scrutinized by farm system experts, have named former hitting coach and scout Gary Denbo their next senior VP of baseball operations replacing Mark Newman, according the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand. The Yanks also removed Pat Roessler who was the team’s director of player development since 1995. Newman was in his role for 15 years.

The Yankees have stated since last season that they would be taking a different approach where it concerned the farm system and this seems to be the first step in that direction. It is also believed that the Yankees will split the responsibilities into four distinct areas; pro scouting, amateur scouting, international scouting and player development as described by New York Post columnist George A. King III.

Splitting the responsibilities makes absolute sense. The fact that this was not the case is telling, considering the Yankees inability to create stars through their system, whether to place on their own roster or use as trade chips. It’s possible the team’s failure to structure the department Denbo is taking over caused overlap which reflected in poor decision making. Nothing is assured in scouting players but placing emphasis on a single aspect for one or two executives could help the Yankees gain some ground in each sector.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yankees should replicate Royals' bullpen scheme

The New York Yankees could learn something from the Kansas City Royals -- how to lengthen the bridge from starter to closer and make it as secure as possible.

For much of this season and particularly in the postseason the Royals have marched out a three-headed beast from the sixth inning on. The trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland have made manager Ned Yost’s job fairly easy. The hard-throwing combination has been lights out in the playoffs, virtually untouchable at times.

Besides providing a better chance to win, the Yankees have another reason to try to replicate the strategy. It would cut down on the innings pitched of their starters. The game has just a few players who can go end to end anymore and there isn’t one on the Bombers who necessarily can do that on a start by start basis.

Much of the issue is with the starters coming off injuries or simply trying to prevent them. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova missed much of 2014 and both will try to come back from major surgery. Masahiro Tanaka is one throw away from Tommy John surgery. No one knows when his UCL will completely tear, but it is going to happen at some point. Michael Pineda missed a chunk of 2014 as well and has had his share of maladies in years’ past. Whoever holds the final spot in the rotation; Brandon McCarthy if the Yankees sign him, or one of the young arms in the organization, either would benefit from minimized innings.

So, if the Yankees want to develop the same strategy, who are the players they’d turn to?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New York Yankees: Easy does it Mr. Lupica

Since the New York Yankees recently extended the contract of general manager Brian Cashman, there have been a slew of articles written by those “in the know” -- namely the Bombers beat writers and others in the New York print media -- about how the Yanks will fare in the upcoming season.

Today, I’m going to delve into the work of one of the most well-known members of New York’s (and the nation's) sports media, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, and provide my commentary on his observations and remarks from an article published Oct. 11.

Somehow Yankees continue to perpetuate Bronx tale that they are close to winning World Series every year — they’re not

First off, good lord that’s some headline. And I struggle for pageviews.

For all those that despise the Yankees and relish in their “demise,” this is Lupica in his finest I can’t stand the Yankees rant. His dislike and the simple narrative actually makes it easier for me to counter.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How Hardy’s deal with Orioles impacts Yankees’ shortstop plans

The Baltimore Orioles might have put a kink into the New York Yankees offseason plans to fill the hole left by the retirement of Derek Jeter. Thursday afternoon, the AL East champs agreed to a three-year, $40 million contract with a fourth-year vesting option with J.J. Hardy according to multiple reports.

With Jeter gone, and not a single player ready in the minor league system, the Yankees will likely look to the free agent market. Of course they could swing a trade, but trying to determine who fits with what team is a crapshoot. I’m not privy to internal discussions so why speculate?

Looking at options that are available on MLB’s open market and have tangible evidence to compare is easier to analyze and that’s what I’ll try to do here. This means I’ll also exclude South Korean power hitter Jung-ho Kang from this discussion since no one really knows how his body of work would translate to MLB.

With Hardy gone, the Yankees have a handful of players they could look at; Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew, Jed Lowrie and Hanley Ramirez.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why the Yankees don’t need a captain

Once New York Yankees icon Derek Jeter retired, there was a general sense of who might take on the role of captain and it's been discussed on the beat? Is it a player on the roster already? Or is it someone who will come up through the system? One thing is for sure, there is no need to jump from Jeter immediately to another named captain.

This isn’t to say the job Jeter did was not helpful. Rather, he would be the first to say the role was somewhat of a figurehead thing; in that there were others on the team who stepped up as active leaders on and off the field during his time as captain.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My MLB 2014 regular season awards revealed

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have the honor of being a part of the groups’ end of regular season award balloting.

The process runs similarly to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America where 10 players are balloted for the Stan Musial Award (league MVP), five for the Walter Johnson Award (league Cy Young), three for the Willie Mays Award (league Rookie of the Year) and three for the Connie Mack Award (league Manager of the Year). The BBA also votes for three players for the Goose Gossage Award (league Reliever of the Year). The BBA requires a written post to validate the ballot so here it goes.

I’ll provide a short snippet about the winner after the list. Please note that these ballots were also cast for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America of which I am also a member.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New York Yankees: Should Mark Teixeira bulk up or get back to basics?

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira should be commended for his work with Harlem RBI, a great program for kids in the Bronx. But, he should be called out for his comments that next year he’ll be stronger so he can be the player he once was.

In an interview during a golf event for Harlem RBI, of which Teixeira is a major benefactor and sits on the Board of Directors, Teixeira gave us this tidbit, courtesy of

"Coming off the surgery last year, I didn't feel like I was as strong as I needed to be. This offseason is going to be really working hard in the weight room and getting stronger and hoping to have a healthy and productive 2015."

Does he have a new offseason strength training regimen lined up?

"It's not that much different," Teixeira replied. "It's just being more focused on strength and making sure that power gets back. Because being able to play 150-plus games and being able to hit home runs, that's what I've done my whole career, so I want to get back to that."

Look Teixeira has been in a downward spiral since 2011. Here’s a stat line from his seasons in pinstripes.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Long time coming for Orioles and Royals fans

A chance to advance to the World Series is coming to a ballpark in Kansas City and Baltimore.

After barely winning the wild card play-in game, the Kansas City Royals swept the Los Angeles Angels, the winningest MLB team during the regular season. The Royals’ opponent, the Baltimore Orioles, beat the Detroit Tigers who strung together three straight Cy Young Award winners yet failed to win a single game in the best-of-five series.

Now two clubs, both certainly in the discussion at the beginning of the season among teams which could make some noise in 2014, yet not heavily favored, are four wins away from reaching the World Series. Neither of them has been there in three decades. One of them will advance and their championship starved fans will finally experience the excitement of a World Series game.

Friday, October 3, 2014

ALDS: Orioles exploit Tigers’ weaknesses in Game 1

It’s just one game in a best-of-five series, but the Baltimore Orioles put the Detroit Tigers on alert Thursday with a 12-3 thumping before 47,872 fans at Camden Yards.

This wasn’t just about a Tigers bullpen that’s been struggling all season, but about teams going in very different directions since the All-Star break.

Let’s be honest, the Tigers have not played superior baseball in months. Their vaunted rotation has been victimized by defense and luck while their bullpen is atrocious. The offense has been their saving grace.

The Orioles?

Thursday, October 2, 2014

New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner, mostly unfiltered

New York Yankees managing general partner and co-chairperson Hal Steinbrenner had a marathon radio interview on ESPN Radio 98.7 FM’s The Michael Kay Show Wednesday afternoon. In it he answered each and every question thrown at him by Kay and co-host Don LaGreca. Most of the questions were answered to the fullest with very few vague or non-committal responses.

During the 20-minute plus chat, Steinbrenner talked about everything from his disappointment in a second straight season missing the playoffs, Brian Cashman, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, the injuries, Joe Girardi and his coaching staff, the offseason signings and the need for integrating youth into the roster.

Here are some quotes and paraphrasing from the interview along with my comments.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Royals’ passionate fortitude pays off

The Kansas City Royals didn't seem to have any business winning Tuesday night’s American League Wild Card game after falling behind 7-3 to the Oakland Athletics. But, they brushed aside a managerial gaffe and pushed each other to an improbable 9-8 victory in front of a boisterous and wanting Kauffman Stadium crowd.

With “Big Game” James Shields on the mound, the Royals held a tenuous 3-2 lead in the sixth inning after being down 2-0 after one-half inning. With a bullpen which simply dominated much of the regular season waiting, Royals’ manager Ned Yost went to Yordano Ventura with two men on and Brandon Moss at the plate. Moss had already destroyed a Shields’ pitch earlier in the game for a two-run homer.

Ventura is a promising young right-handed starter. Yes that’s right; Yost went with a right-handed starter with a power-hitting lefty at the plate while he had a slew of experienced relief arms at his disposal. It backfired as Moss launched a massive home run to dead center field giving the A’s a 5-3 lead. The visitors tacked on two more runs and held the same margin heading to the bottom of the eighth.