Saturday, March 30, 2013

Thoughts about the Yankees before Opening Day

Well, we have our roster.

Starting Lineup
CF Brett Gardner
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Robinson Cano
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH Travis Hafner
LF Vernon Wells
1B Lyle Overbay
SS Eduardo Nunez
C   Francisco Cervelli

Presumably, but we might see a different DH on Opening Day with Jon Lester on the hill.  This is really going to take some getting used to, but at least things will look better by May.  Derek Jeter shouldn't be out too long, and Granderson and according to Tex himself, Mark Teixeira, will be back in May some time.  The Yankees totally overreacted to what looks like an easy April, but at least the bench is younger (but not better).

C  Chris Stewart; IF Jayson Nix; OF Brennan Boesch; OF Ben Francisco

I really wish Ronnie Mustelier made the team - a bone bruise kept him from that, but he should be an early call-up if needed. Ben Francisco will definitely be the first cut when Jeter is back, but at least he'll get his signed ball added to the Yankee Stadium Museum.  I would also enjoy either Ramon Hernandez over Chris Stewart.

Starting Rotation
SP CC Sabathia
SP Hiroki Kuroda
SP Andy Pettitte
SP Ivan Nova
SP David Phelps

No worries 1-3 to start the year.  Hughes should hopefully only miss 1 start based on early April travels. I am slightly worried about 4&5.  Nova's spring fell apart towards the end and as much as I am a Phelps fanboy, he can't seem to get past the 5th inning. At least there is some depth there.

CL Mariano Rivera
SU David Robertson
SU Joba Chamberlain
SU Boone Logan
SU Cody Eppley
SU Shawn Kelley
LR Adam Warren

I wanna know this: Why did David Aardsma get cut in favor of a RHS in Cody Eppley and a pitcher with minor league options in Kelley? I get Warren to sub in Phelps or Nova's LR role for now, but considering Aardsma'a a former closer with a CHEAP $500,000 salary, I don't get it.  Rapada starts the year on the DL but the back-end is just fine.

The Yankee haters forget the fact the pitching staff is relatively intact, and a top 5 in the AL overall.  They'll keep them in contention until the heavy hitters are back.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Figuring out the mess that is the Yankees Offense

Finally got around to doing another blog post - it's been weeks, literally. Lotta stuff coming up personally and in finishing school, so my time is fairly limited, but glad to be back. Lots of Yankees news since then, particularly surrounding the offense. Let's recap:

  • We've added some more injuries: Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter will begin the year on the disabled list, but Jeter's stint will be backdated so he should only miss about a week.
  • We've removed some competition: Matt Diaz has been released, and minor leaguer Zoilo Almonte has been sent down. 
  • We've added some competition: Rivera likely becomes the everyday first baseman (ugh), which adds more OF competition: Brennan Boesch has been signed, Vernon Wells has been traded for, and Lyle Overbay and Ben Francisco have also been signed. 
So, the one positive is that the pitching staff is intact. Even with Hughes being on DL for his first start, Nova/Phelps will be fine. Clay Rapada will likely start on the DL, but ST sensation Vidal Nuno has all options remaining and profiles as a lefty bullpen guy in the MLB, so for a few weeks, lets see what he has. Figure trade acquistion Shawn Kelley or Cody Eppley will fill in for the other bullpen spot temporarily, but the top of the rotation and the back of the bullpen are all good to go, so let's try and figure out what's gonna happen with the offense.

Who's not in jeopardy:
  • CF Brett Gardner
  • RF Ichiro Suzuki
  • 2B Robinson Cano
  • 3B/1B Kevin Youkilis
We know they'll be in the lineup everyday. The question is, how do we fill out the rest of the team?
  • Catcher: It's 95% likely it's Stewvelli. Now, if Ramon Hernandez becomes available, I would dump Stewart in a heartbeat for him.  But, unfortunately, the Yankees are comfortable with this: let's pray Austin Romine crushes AAA pitching and gets a summer call-up.
  • Corner IF: I expand this because I want to include Ronnie Mustelier. The Mustelier fan club includes this guy right here; I love the fact that he has raked at each level in the minors and in ST. But, Juan Rivera has hit as well, and we know the Yankees: they're going with the veteran...always. Dan Johnson is a non-factor with a .063 average. I also doubt Lyle Overbay will make the team, too. Offensively, they'll be better with Mustelier at 3B and Youk at 1B, but is that going to happen? Not likely. I expect Rivera here.
  • IF: The Jeter DL stint just flat out sucks. Now, Jayson Nix will make the team, but once Jeter comes back, what do the Yanks do? Send Nunez down? Cut Nix? Tough, but Nix makes the team for now.
  • Outfield: Ugh. Well, Gardner and Ichiro are set, so who makes the cut? I don't see how its not Boesch and Wells, right? Mesa hasn't hit a lick at the plate. Thomas Neal should function as AAA depth, but Ben Francisco has had a good spring. Let's hope he'll stay on that minor league deal.
  • DH: Pronk's due to get hurt anyway, but if he doesn't hit, I'm going to Boesch every day.
C: Cervelli, Stewart
IF: Cano, Youkilis, Nunez, Nix, Rivera
OF: Wells, Gardner, Boesch, Suzuki
DH: Hafner
SP: Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Nova, Phelps
RP: Rivera, Robertson, Joba, Aardsma, Logan, Nuno, Kelley

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

First Base Options- Chris Carter

Chris Carter- Houston Astros

Chris Carter has recently been traded from the Oakland A's to the Houston Astro's in the Jed Lowrie deal. We all know the Yankees need a first basemen, and he seems to be available. The astros said that they would part with either him or Carlos Pena. Carter is younger and has a much bigger upside. He is only 26, and hit 12 home runs in only 250 at bats. So that translates to about 24 home runs for a full season. Also, he is right handed and the Yankees need some right handed power. He will not kill you in the field with his glove, but he is not Mark Teixeria. So my theory is why the heck not? They just brought in Vernon Wells, and he is slated to be the starting LF. Do with that what you may but, if their willing to try on Wells, what about a younger player to play a position you need. If it were either him or Pena, I would take Carter, mostly because he can at least hit over .200 and isn't going to kill you with the glove. Plus if Teixiera comes back healthy and ready to go in month, you can always DH him, use him as a power bat off the bench, or if he performs trade him for some young pieces.
Just something to think about, and sources have led us to believe that the Astros will trade him, and not for extremely bulbus amount.

Follow me on Twitter- TheDonnyFinkle

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Grading the Giants Offseason so far

Needless to say, the Giants season followed the continual trend of Super Bowl hangover. After winning it all in 2012, the Giants beat themselves out of a playoff spot. Now, as I examined a few weeks back (Giants Offseason Guide) there are positions which need to be addressed, most notably on the defense. Now, the Giants still need to look at a few things, so let's take a look at what has changed.

David Carr could still be back, but he's not a priority. Ryan Fitzpatrick would be a great target as a backup. Again, not a big priority. UPDATE: Carr is reportedly re-signed. Grade: B

Running Back
I would still like to see a veteran for depth. There are many options, but ensuring Andre Brown does not sign an offer sheet with another team is important, and Ryan Torain has been resigned. Michael Turner would be a great signing. Grade: C+

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Martellus Bennett is gone, and Domenik Hixon and Ramses Barden are UFA's. I would like to see Hixon back, particularly in the return game. The Giants signed WR Louis Murphy for some reason, but at least he's speedy and adds depth. They must sign Victor Cruz to an extension; a 1st round tender will scare away teams but he's crucial to the team. For tight end, the Giants have 3 options: internal with Adrian Robinson, external with a Brandon Myers/Fred Davis or draft via Zach Ertz or Tyler Efert. I would like Brandon Myers as a pass catcher; tight end in the 1st round is a waste of a pick with bigger needs present.
UPDATE: Brandon Myers has signed withe Giants. New grade to the right: Grade: B-

Offensive Line
LT Will Beatty was resigned, thankfully, but work needs to be done. I do not love Kevin Boothe, but the Free Agent O-Guard market is not pretty at all, so he's a priority. I want David Diehl cut, but it looks like the Giants will only restructure his contract. The Right Tackle market is loaded, so the Giants could make a splash, but the safe route would be signing Sean Locklear back and have him and Jim Brewer compete at RT. Grade: B

Defensive Line
At DT,Shaun Rogers had a clot and missed the season, but was resigned. Cullen Jenkins was signed from the Eagles. They're solid vets who do their perspective jobs well (Rogers run stopping and Jenkins pass rushing). I would like to see some more depth, particularly with a run stuffer (Alan Branch or Casey Hampton would be nice, particularly Branch). DE needs some work. Tuck looked slow last year, and rumor has it Dwight Freeney might want to play for the Giants (he's from CT): as a pass rusher, its a great move. Also a great move: move Mathias Kiwanuka back to DE. Grade: B-

Total overhaul needed. Even if Kiwanuka stays here, 2 starters are needed. I don't want to see Paysinger or Williams compete for 1 OLB job: they're not good enough. Keith Rivers has been resigned and I would like him to compete for a starting gig. Newly signed Dan Connor makes total sense as a MLB starter, but since the LB market is still saturated, the Giants could take a look at 2 more free agent starters, particularly Karlos Dansby or Rey Maualuga. Grade: C+

Defensive Back
Let's start at Corner: they're letting the bottom feeders go, thankfully. Aaron Ross is back as a depth piece (so he can get burned deep toiling in mediocrity again) and Corey Webster took a pay cut to not get cut (should be packing his bags, though). There are plenty of veteran corners available: Quentin Jammer would be a fantastic pickup as a short-term starter, but the Giants must go here in the draft. At Safety, no worries with Antrel Rolle, but Kenny Phillips is gone and Stevie Brown is an RFA. Brown needs to be back. Signed was Ryan Mundy from Pittsburgh: will he start at SS? Who knows? Will the Giants go with some quasi-rotation with Mundy in run support, Brown in pass coverage and Will Hill? We will see, but Quintin Mikell would be an excellent signing. Grade: D+

Special Teams
Lawrence Tynes will be replaced either by Josh Brown or David Buehler, presumably Brown. Brown's a solid kicker. Weatherford is a solid punter. I do wonder who will be doing kick-offs with David Wilson starting at RB. Using Rueben Randle on Kickoffs would increase his versatility, and since he does punt returns already, why not? Looking for a speedy return guy would be nice in the draft, but not a priority. Grade: B+

Yikes. Work is needed, but since free agency is only a few days old, the Giants have plenty of time until the draft rolls around in 5 weeks to will some needs, but so far? Grade: C+

Friday, March 15, 2013

Old Timer's Day Redone: Doin' Timer's Day

My brother and I stumbled upon this amazing idea. One day, we were talking about older Yankees, particularly ones who were recently arrested and played during our youth (essentially mid 1980s on). We stumbled across a great idea: the Doin' Timer's Day. We're going to take Old Timer's Day, the classic Yankees game of former players, and do a team of former Yankees who have been arrested. It'll be in a prison and we'll call it The Doin' Timers Day game. So, what qualifies you to make the team? There are a few requirements.

  1. They had to play for the Yankees in some capacity. Outside of a current prospect and a former prospect who was a bust, each player played for the Yankees at some point in their career.
  2. They have to have a verifiable arrest, either a mugshot that was released, a police report notice or a news clipping that can be traced (most papers have posted old, archived articles on the internet).
  3. Position, Name, Charge listed in order 

Let's take a look at who could be on the roster:


C   Jim Leyritz (Vehicular Manslaughter)
1B Joe Pepitone (DUI, Assault, Cocaine Possession)
2B Chuck Knoblauch (Assault)
SS Dale Berra (Drug Possession/Drug Raid)
3B Butch Hobson (Cocaine Possession)
LF Chad Curtis (Sexual Misconduct - inappropriately touching children)
CF Mel Hall (Rape - 12 year old girl)
RF Jose Canseco (What didn't he get arrested for? Reckless Driving, Battery, Loaded Weapon)
DH Darryl Strawberry (Drug Possession, Prostitution Solicitation)

OF Otis Nixon (Drug Possession), OF Andruw Jones (Assault), OF Rusty Torres (Sexual Abuse), OF Luis Polonia (Sex with underage girl), OF Austin Kearns (DUI), OF Shane Spencer (DUI), OF Karim Garcia (w/Spencer, beat up a Pizza shop owner), OF Claudell Washington (Drug possession/Spousal assault), OF Slade Heathcott (Top Prospect currently/DUI)

Starting Pitching

SP Doc Gooden (Assault, Battery, Drug Possession, DUI multiple times)
SP Brien Taylor (Did not play in majors/Bar fight, Child Abuse, Cocaine Trafficking)
SP Michael Pineda (DUI)
SP Matt Keough (DUI multiple times)
SP John Montefusco (Aggravated assault, terroristic threats)


RP Al Holland (May not have been arrested but suspended by MLB for Drug Use)
RP Shawn Chacon (Unpaid gambling markers)
RP Joba Chamberlain (DUI)
RP Jeff Reardon (Armed robbery, drug use)
RP Jason Grimsley (Drug raid)

The Deceased (may they rest in peace)

SP Hideki Irabu (DUI)
SP Rod Scurry (Drug Possession)
SP Pascual Perez (Drug Possession)
RP Steve Howe (Drug/Alcohol)

Pseudo Arrest - Steve Sax (in the classic Simpsons episode, Homer at the Bat)

What do you think? My biggest question is: Why are there so many outfielders?

Follow me on Twitter @jmflorio

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Spring Training: Part One

Spring Training has been a blast so far, so before I get to the first two games, here's a brief synopsis of the trip down. (SCROLL DOWN FOR THE GAMES/STADIUMS). I left school Friday morning and took the bus to Providence Train Station. I got off the bus a little too early and dragged my suitcase through some more snow than I wanted, but whatever. The train to Washington D.C. left around noon and I got into D.C. at about 6:45. No big complaints, except I had probably 4 different people sitting next to me at various points, including the biggest guy on my car (he had to be at least 300 pounds) and this girl who sat across from her sister and the sister's BF and didn't shut up. I did some Blockbuster closing hunting with my brother on Saturday: scored some ridiculously good deals. Sunday morning at 4 we left for Baltimore airport and I didn't get groped by TSA, which is really satisfying. First flight was to Denver - our pilot got us in like an hour early: totally kickass.  Weird getting used to the time zone changes and having lunch at 9:30 AM Denver time, but that Pizza Hut hit the spot. Flew out of Denver at 11ish and the pilot got us into Phoenix early at noon - awesome again. So, we went to get our rental car, which resulted in an experience close to this: (Seinfeld Car Rental). We went on our way to the first game and since then, after a hotel changeover and restaurant hunting, it's been solid since. I will also be featuring a random comeback player from my high school days at each game if I can)

The US has been quite in and out. I saw Dickey's clunker against Mexico. You know you're crap when getting your ass beaten by Eduardo Arredondo.  Who? Exactly. I did get to catch the Mexico/Canada brawl, which was awesome. My brother seems to think Jim Kaat is the common denominator because he broadcasted that game and the Yankees/Orioles fight of 1998. But, the US redeemed themselves with Wright's grand slam in game two and beating Italy and Canada. Gio Gonzalez starts tonight against Puerto Rico (which would be nice as the 51st state, right?). Hope the US goes to at least the finals.

Angels vs. Dodgers (Random Comeback player of the day: Chad Cordero/Willy Taveras)
The first game we went to was the K.C. Royals vs the L.A. Angels at the Royals/Rangers home park, Surprise Stadium in Surprise, AZ. One of the newer parks (2003), and really nice. You can see it above. We got seated in the geriatric section apparently, because we brought down the average age by about a decade by being the only ones under 50. Fortunately, the older gentleman next to us was a lot of fun to talk to. He knew his Angels really well and baseball in general. There was also an older gentleman who was a Royals fan that was WAY TOO into it: clipping insanely hard after each hit. The park lacked some actual food food, mostly snacks available. On to the game:
We got there in the 3rd inning, due to a few delays, but this was a doozy. The Royals won 17-11. Up to when we got there in the end of the 3rd, the Royals scored 5 off Tommy Hanson and the Angels 2 via a Vernon Wells HR.
This game was full of errors. Hank Conger was AWFUL: he made the same error 3 times: a snap throw to first that went wrong. This game featured a total of 7, 7 errors with 6 by LAA.
So, we watched Ernesto Frieri relieve Hanson and had a stat line of 1/3 of an inning, 5 hits, 1 BB and 5 earned runs allowed - awful. But, it was cool to see Chad Cordero not only rail thin but really effective with a scoreless inning and 2 K's. I hope he makes the team. Offensively, Pujols and Conger hit bombs that I saw. Vernon Wells has decided to hit and my boy Kole Calhoun got on base all 3 times. I hope some team picks him up as a starter in OF or at 1B.
Kansas City offensively continued to be torrid. All of KC's starters got at least 1 hit. Bruce Chen was bad, giving up 5 runs and Aaron Crow was shaky. Bueno (one of KC's relievers) esta no bueno. Random comeback player Willy Taveras had a hit in one at bat. But, nevertheless, a fun game to watch a ton of offensive output. Not to mention one of my favorite lines of the spring, "Time to go back to the drawing board, Scioscia!!"

Dodgers vs. Brewers (Random comeback player of the day: Bobby Crosby)

This game was much more of a regular baseball game. The Brewers won 3-2, with all of the offense coming in the 4th inning. This was Maryvale Baseball Park in Phoenix-Maryvale area. This opened in 1998 and outside of the weird white overhangs which are ugly, another great park. Lots of grass area in the outfield, with a very weird CF wall. The scoreboard in left-center was pretty large. The food here was really good, I had the chicken tenders with a spicy breading, and there were a lot of choices available. Here, we changed it up and sat in the grass: everyone should give it a shot at one game.
I discovered that out of the every day lineup, only Norichika Aoki hits lefty. Wowzers, indeed. He also made a great catch in RF. Offensively, Rickie Weeks did most of the damage with an RBI Triple and he scored the tying run with Blake Lalli bringing him home for the winning run. Weeks also had 2 boneheaded plays at 2nd and OFs Carlos Gomez and Khris Davis made poor plays as well: Gomez's error led to LA's 2 runs. Starter Mike Fiers was okay but the bullpen was shut down: only 3 hits over 5 innings. Fiers also came out and signed for the fans but I didn't have a pen (damn). The clubhouse tunnel is exposed for fans to come over and ask for signatures. Bobby Crosby had 1 hit but is trying to make it as a utility man.
The Dodgers looked out of it. Hyun-Jin Ryu started for Zack Greinke and gave up all 3 runs. Mark Ellis, AJ Ellis and Yusiel Puig, top OF prospect, did the offensive damage. Puig looked impressive. Skip Schumaker misplayed Weeks' ball and give him his triple. Unimpressive game by them.
Fun parts of this game: Chris Narveson (MIL P)'s mom was in front of me in line at the Team Store. I wore my Seattle Pilots (who became the Brewers after 1 year of existence) jersey and I got SIX, count them, SIX individual compliments, including "Best jersey here today" by 1 guy. The Brewers store cashier even got the player I was wearing correct: Jim Bouton. Most popular dude at the game. Sweet.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Cactus League Trip

As I am posting this from my iPhone, I am sitting in the Providence Train Station. For a capital city, this place is tiny. My home station in New Haven looks like Grand Central compared to this. Nevertheless, I am flying out to Arizona on Sunday for a week of Cactus League games with my brother. Really, really looking forward to this. Not just the baseball, but going with my brother. I only get to see him like once or twice a year, so I am really looking forward to it. We're hitting all 10 stadiums in 6 days, so we have a full schedule ahead. Ill be posting updates all week. Happy trails!!


Sunday 3/10 - LA Angels vs. KC Royals/Surprise
Monday 3/11 - LA Dodgers vs. Milwaukee Brewers/Phoenix-Maryvale
Tuesday 3/12 - KC Royals vs. Oakland A's/Phoenix-Municipal (Afternoon)
Tuesday 3/12 - LA Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds - Goodyear (Night)
Wednesday 3/13 - Colorado Rockies vs. Chicago Cubs - Mesa (Afternoon)
Wednesday 3/13 - Milwaukee Brewers vs. Arizona Diamondbacks - Talking Stick (Night)
Thursday 3/14 - Chicago White Sox vs. LA Angels - Tempe (Afternoon)
Thursday 3/14 - WBC vs. San Diego Padres - Peoria (Night)
Friday 3/15 - Texas Rangers vs. San Fran Giants - Scottsdale (Afternoon)
Friday 3/15 - KC Royals vs. LA Dodgers - Glendale (Night)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: New York Yankees

FINALLY. It is here. All 30 teams, previewed and reviewed. Today, we finish with my New York Yankees. I'll make it simple to start off with: Russell Martin, Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez are gone offensively, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson will miss the start of the season and in their place will be Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Juan Rivera/Matt Diaz, most likely. The pitching staff is pretty much intact. Let's examine the 2013 Yankees

Starting Lineup
SS Derek Jeter
RF Ichiro Suzuki
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Kevin Youkilis
DH Travis Hafner
LF Juan Rivera/Matt Diaz (Curtis Granderson, who'll move up to the 4 hole upon return)
C   Francisco Cervelli
CF Brett Gardner

This is the opening day lineup in my opinion. Jeter and Eduardo Nunez will likely switch on and off at SS at the season's opening with Jeter at DH against lefties until his ankle is truly sufficient. I'm not worried about Jeter's bat; he'll be fine and the Yankees are always conservative with injuries and its not like he's Ozzie Smith out there defensively. I did not want Ichiro back; outside of last September, he's stunk since 2011. I would have rather seen a Nate Schierholtz/Scott Hairston platoon at a cheaper cost, and potentially more productive. My biggest problem is the 2 years. 2 years? Why? It's all about the $$, baby! Cano will be his usual beast self and I believe the Yankees will work out an extension with him long term, as well. Tex really has to step it up. He's the cog to the lineup until Grandy's back. Hopefully, the WBC will help him get that bat going. Youk was also not my choice to replace A-Rod, but, if he plays and this new stance works, for one year, I'll deal with it. Hopefully David Adams rakes in the minors and replaces him next year. Hafner is a low risk signing and as long as he stays healthy, I hope he revitalizes himself and launches a few HRs. He should hopefully be better than Raul. Rivera and Diaz will play LF until Grandy is back and whoever is performing better will keep their roster spot. I believe Cervelli wins the catcher's job with his improved defense and his better bat and Gardner has been en fuego during Spring Training: let's hope it carries over. This offense is definitely going to be different and likely less productive, but fingers crossed.

Starting Rotation
SP CC Sabathia
SP Hiroki Kuroda
SP Andy Pettitte
SP Phil Hughes
SP Ivan Nova

Let me be briefer here: if they're healthy, they're fine. CC and Hiroki are great but just watch their workloads. Andy will get hurt at some point but they have David Phelps to step in. Hughes will try and put together a monster season for that nice $$ in free agency. Nova, according to Stewart, has a new arm slot which'll help his repetition and location. The 2011 Nova would be great. The young depth is nice and Pineda is back post AS break, so this rotation is enough to be solid contenders.

CL Mariano Rivera
SU David Robertson
SU Joba Chamberlain
SU Boone Logan
SU David Aardsma
LHS Clay Rapada
LR David Phelps

A very solid bullpen indeed. Mo's back and healthy and his arm is just fine, which is what matters. Robertson is an elite set-up man. Joba will look for that $$ as well, so he will want to produce, as will Boone Logan, also a FA, as is David Aardsma. Money motivates, that's for sure. Rapada reestablished himself as a quality lefty specialist and Phelps was solid as the swing man. He pitched to an ERA under 3 as a reliever. The Yankees have a ton of bullpen depth in the minors, particularly with Chase Whitley and top prospect Mark Montgomery on the way.

I'm thinking second place and a Wild Card birth is an order. I think Toronto's improved themselves to win the division if healthy but a lot of people are counting the Yankees out. It's important to realize the Yankees lost some important offense, but gained better role players and contact hitters while retaining the same bullpen and a rotation who could be better this year.

Kyle Lohse and the Yankees: A Marriage Made in Heaven?

For reasons completely related to Scott Boras and a MLBPA agreement, Kyle Lohse is still unsigned, the only 'marquee' FA that is still not on a team. So, the hot topic in the blogsophere is where he should sign. As a completely biased Yankees fan, I'm going to make the case why Mr. Lohse should consider shacking up in  Trump Tower for the next three years. So, let's get right to it.

You baseball nerds know Kyle Lohse's history: came up with the Twins, traded to the Reds, also went to the Phillies briefly and spent the last few seasons with the Cardinals. Lohse was pretty much garbage in Minnesota, and revitalized himself in St. Louis. Lohse is 34, so he's got a few years left in the tank, but not young. His agent is Scott Boras, which means he'll hold out for the best deal and often overvalues his clients. Lohse is also tied to draft pick compensation. The new MLBPA agreement does not divide between "Type A" and "Type B" compensation. Now, a team must offer compensation for a FA and if they decline it for free agency, the team gets a compensated 1st Round Draft Pick. So, Lohse declined it (looks bad in hindsight) and has a draft pick attached to him. If a team with one of the worst records in the league (1-10) signs Lohse, they do not lose the pick. (Thanks to Dayn Perry of CBS Sports for the info)

Why the Yankees are a fit

  1. Rotation Depth: The old baseball adage: You can never had enough starting pitching. Still applies here. The Yankees rotation will be better without Garcia and retains last year's rotation: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova. Last year's swing man is also back, David Phelps. And Michael Pineda returns after the All-Star break. The AAA team also has youngsters Adam Warren, Brett Marshall and Vidal Nuno. Looks solid, right? Sure, but Kuroda and Nova are the only starters to pitch full seasons the last 2 years. Warren got killed in 1 MLB start and Marshall/Nuno do not have MLB experience. You can never have enough SP's, period.
  2. Injury: I referenced this. Is Sabathia breaking down? He is getting older and missed time. Kuroda's been incredibly durable in MLB. Pettitte hasn't pitched a full year since 2009. Hughes is injury prone. Pineda had shoulder surgery. This team is already injury prone and while Lohse isn't the pinnacle of health, he adds another arm.
  3. 2014: The rotation for 2014 that is signed right now? Only Sabathia and Nova of the starting 5. Pineda and Phelps probably move into the rotation, too. That's 4. The Yankees need another veteran. Kuroda and Pettitte might retire and Hughes will cost a lot of money as a FA (I say he goes between Edwin Jackson & Anibal Sanchez - 5 years/$65 Million). Lohse will probably pitch around the same stats and for 3 years, isn't a deal breaker.
What makes him a poor fit? Well, people don't trust St. Louis pitchers post-St. Louis. The track record is bad: their K rates decline, ground ball rates decline, fly ball rates go up, aka the Dave Duncan effect. Busch Stadium is in the middle/bottom of runs factor, i.e. it pitches more towards a pitchers park than a hitters park. The AL East is full of hitter's parks. And strong lefty hitters. I do feel Lohse has made himself a better pitcher. His BB rate is impeccable, but his WHIP is about average due to the hits he allows. Lohse is not a perfect solution. He's likely a 3.80/4.00 ERA type. But, for a middle of the rotation starter on a discount? He's worth the draft pick for a 3 year, $36 million deal. That draft pick is not going to make the MLB in that time. Lohse can help now. The Yankees have 2 1st round picks left if they use their other one 1st rounder on Lohse. So, why not? Take a shot.

Monday, March 4, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Boston Red Sox

So, John Farrell's back, only this time he's fatter. Okay, this was a reference to Everybody Loves Raymond. Frank Barone's the man. Maybe it's just me, but I did not see the Red Sox' reason for bringing in Farrell. I understand the relationship he had with the pitching staff, but its not like Toronto was fantastic with him as a manager. Nevertheless, we saw some changes with the Red Sox this offseason. David Ross, Jonny Gomes, Ryan Dempster, Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew and Shane Victorino were brought in as free agents. Acquired by trade was closer Joel Hanrahan, SS Brock Holt and OF/1B Mike Carp. So, give credit to GM Ben Cherington for bringing in some new blood. Will it all work out? Let's take a look to see.

Starting Lineup
CF Jacoby Ellsbury
RF Shane Victorino
2B Dustin Pedroia
DH David Ortiz
1B Mike Napoli
3B Will Middlebrooks
LF Mike Carp
C   Jarrod Saltalamacchia
SS Stephen Drew

So, because of position battles and injuries, we need to break this down a little bit. Ellsbury will take his place at the top of the lineup. Ellsbury gets hurt on even years (2010/2012) and stays healthy on odd years, so because it's a contract and odd year, he produces well this year. Or gets hurt again. Victorino is going to be a waste of money, the next JD Drew albatross. Why spend the $$ when Jackie Bradley is not too far away? He's going to be a disappointment. Pedroia will be fine if he stays healthy: he's an elite player. I think this will finally be the year Ortiz starts slowing down. He can be productive, but age is starting to be a huge factor in recovery time from injury. Napoli's hip is a big cause for concern. The lineup is much worse with Carp at 1st and Nava in left. Napoli's swing is as perfect for Fenway Park as anyone in the game (his career numbers there are very good). I like Middlebrooks, but he must improve his plate discipline or he's destined to be Mark Reynolds. I think Carp platoons with Gomes in left because he can hit some homers. Salty wins the catcher's job with Ross backing him up. I like Drew a lot, but that ankle still worries me, but Brock Holt can at least hit for average. There's some good hitters but injuries are just as bad, if not worse than Toronto's  problems.

Starting Rotation
SP Jon Lester
SP Clay Buchholz
SP Felix Doubront
SP Ryan Dempster
SP John Lackey

Lester returns to form. He's too talented not to, so I'm not too worried about him. Buchholz has some talent but that back injury is worrisome. He looked much better post All-Star break, so hopefully, that's that Buchholz produces (3.76 ERA). Doubront, Dempster and Lackey all worry me. Doubront's inconsistency is big, but he strikes out guys. Dempster, I believe, will get hammered in the AL East. Lackey's return from TJS can go either way; he's in incredible shape, so hopefully it pays off. Franklin Morales provides depth, but this rotation's inconsistency worries me to place them high up in the division.

CL Joel Hanrahan
SU Andrew Bailey
SU Koji Uehara
SU Junichi Tazawa
LHS Craig Breslow
SU Daniel Bard

I like the depth for the bullpen: not listed are Alfredo Aceves, Andrew Miller, Clayton Mortensen, Chris Carpenter and Franklin Morales. Love the Hanrahan move, he's a good closer who should be fine in the AL East. Bailey should not have been worth Josh Reddick (Cherington blew that one). Like the Uehara pickup a lot, as well as bringing Breslow back. The depth here is key, if someone stinks, Farrell can get rid of them. Much better than last year.

I think Boston finishes 4th. That rotation worries me for now, as well as injuries in the lineup. They'll be much improved over last year, and it would not surprise me if they make a run, but for now, it's 4th place.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Toronto Blue Jays

So, the Blue Jays acquired Josh Thole and signed Mark DeRosa this off-season. Kinda quiet. That's only when you exclude the fact they also brought in an insane amount of minor league free agents as well. They brought in: Maicer Izturis, Jose Reyes, Emilio Bonafacio, Melky Cabrera, Josh Johnson, Mark Buerhle, and NL Cy Young Winner RA Dickey. Alex Anthropoulos wins GM of the Year, by a mile. Even if this all blows up in his face, he still wins. So, does Toronto have enough to win the division? I think they just might. Let's take a look:

Starting Lineup
SS Jose Reyes
LF Melky Cabrera
RF Jose Bautista
DH Edwin Encarnacion
3B Brett Lawrie
1B Adam Lind
CF Colby Rasmus
C   JP Arencibia
2B Emilio Bonafacio

This lineup can do some damage. Why? They have an almost perfect variety of hitters. Reyes can be an elite leadoff hitter who has decent power for a leadoff type. And he stayed healthy! (Sarcasm at its finest). Which Melky shows up? The 2010 Melky or the 2012 Melky? I do not buy the Melky of the last 2 years, as a Yankees fan, but maybe he'll prove me wrong. Bautista and Encarnacion are going to hit at least 40 HR's combined, healthy. I'm a big Lawrie fan; this might be his year, again, if he stays healthy. Lind needs to pick it up or he'll be replaced by David Cooper: he's got the talent, but the last few seasons have been tough to watch. Rasmus is garbage. Arencibia's got some legit power, as well. Trading d'Arnaud gives him some piece of mind and clearly the catcher's role. Bonafacio, presuming he beats Izturis, can be a great asset in the 9 hole. Health is the key: it was the downfall last year, and might be this year.

Starting Rotation
SP RA Dickey
SP Brandon Morrow
SP Mark Buerhle
SP Josh Johnson
SP Ricky Romero

The last few seasons' opening day starter is now the #5. That shows how improved this rotation is. Dickey's knuckler is nearly impossible to hit; he'll be fine in Toronto. Buerhle is a great veteran starter for the middle of the rotation. Johnson can be electric; he stayed healthy and finally pitched better in the 2nd half of last year - let's hope it carries over. I'm also a big Morrow fan; he made some adjustments to pitch more like a pitcher and not a strikeout machine. Translation? He's more effective. Romero was just off last year. I'm sure he found what was wrong with his mechanics to be a solid pitcher. I like this rotation's potential a lot; again, injuries are important here, particularly with Morrow and Johnson.

CL Casey Janssen
SU Sergio Santos
SU Steve Delabar
SU Esmil Rogers
SU Brad Lincoln
LR Brett Cecil/JA Happ

To end the Florio crushfest, Casey Janssen is also on the all-Florio team. He stepped in at closer and was fantastic. I can't see why he wouldn't repeat last year's success. Santos can also close: he's got electric stuff and back from injury. Anthropoulos found some amazing scrap heap pickups in Delabar, Rogers and Lincoln via trades. Delabar came in for Eric Thames (who might just be reacquired: I don't think he makes the Mariners), Rogers for Yan Gomes and Mike Aviles and Lincoln for Travis Snider. So, a remade bullpen for backups? Nice job, Alex. Rogers and Lincoln as converted starters are much more suited for the bullpen. Cecil and Happ battle Romero for the #5/Long Man spots. Another good pen.

I think Toronto wins it on paper. On injuries, they'll lose. But, bringing in some more, healthier players, will help. Their biggest downside might not be injuries, it might be new, albeit former manager, John Gibbons. He's had rocky relationships with players before. But for now, Toronto wins for now in the AL East.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Tampa Bay Rays

Fernando Rodney put together a record setting year. He had the lowest ERA of any pitcher ever for a single season at 0.60. He lowered his walk rate, increased his strikeout rate and closed 48 games. That's not happening again. I'm saying his ERA quadruples to a whopping 2.40, which is still great. The Tampa Bay Rays seem to make some sort of splash, and GM Andrew Friedman did so again, shipping out Wade Davis, James Shields and a prospect in 2 trades for Yunel Escobar, and propects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi and Mike Montgomery. Not too bad. Tampa finished third last year, and I'm predicting that again. Let's take a look:

Starting Lineup
CF Desmond Jennings
SS Yunel Escobar
RF Ben Zobrist
3B Evan Longoria
LF Matt Joyce
DH Luke Scott
1B James Loney
2B Kelly Johnson
C   Jose Molina

On paper, better than in the last few years. I like Jennings a lot: he's got a lot to offer as a hitter and he should be fine defensively in CF. But, last year was a pretty bad setback. He should (and must) step it up moving forward. Escobar adds a solid AVG guy to the top of the lineup and will not strike out a ton, as long as he and Luke Scott aren't jerks in the clubhouse. I don't understand the Scott signing; he's been pretty bad the last 2 seasons and will probably be bumped once Wil Myers gets promoted. I'm personally not a Zobrist fan, I don't understand the big deal about him, what's so great? In terms of positional flexibility, he's a perfect Maddon-ite. I do like Longo and Joyce. I think Joyce gets a little closer to 2011 than 2012 and Longo will produce when he plays: he's an elite player. I'm worried about the bottom of the lineup. Loney is the epitome of how not to improve with each year; maybe he has something left. Johnson has turned himself into an Adam Dunn type: three true outcomes of BB/K/HR. And Molina can't hit. This lineup can be exploited for sure.

Starting Rotation
SP David Price
SP Jeremy Hellickson
SP Matt Moore
SP Jeff Niemann
SP Alex Cobb

I think it would be a smart idea to trade Niemann (there was a Colorado/Tampa trade rumor at one point) because they have so much depth here. Price is a perennial Cy Young candidate. Hellickson stepped it up in the second half but he needs to work into games more. Moore was a slight disappointment as a rookie, but if the second half of 2012 is an indicator, he'll pitch closer to a 3 ERA than 4. Cobb is a solid back-end starter. It might be a smart idea to trade Niemann and free up a spot for Chris Archer: he's another strikeout type. This is a great rotation, young and talented with depth.

CL Fernando Rodney
SU Kyle Farnsworth
SU Joel Peralta
SU Jake McGee
SU Cesar Ramos
SU Brandon Gomes

I'm a little skeptical about this bullpen's performance. All of these relievers have been maddeningly inconsistent in years past. Sure, Rodney, Peralta and McGee were exceptional, but it's the exception, not the norm. I would expect more of the norm, not the exception.

I'm saying this is a 3rd place team in a competitive division. This rotation is certainly fantastic, but I'm worried about the lineup and bullpen. It's just enough to keep them out of the playoffs.

Friday, March 1, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Baltimore Orioles

We're entering the home stretch, folks. So far, we have examined 5 of the 6 MLB divisions. My predictions so far:
NL East: Washington
NL Central: St. Louis
NL West: Los Angeles
NL Wild Card: Cincinnati vs. Atlanta
AL West: Oakland
AL Central: Detroit

We finally reach the AL East. Time for some serious negative feedback. Last year, the Orioles surprised most of baseball by not only securing a 93 win season, but a Wild Card birth, winning the 1 game play in and beating the Yankees to get to the ALCS. Lots of improvements were made on the offense, but the pitching staff looked vastly better after changeover from 2011. So, can Baltimore repeat? No. See why:

Starting Lineup
RF Nick Markakis
SS JJ Hardy
CF Adam Jones
C   Matt Wieters
1B Chris Davis
3B Manny Machado
LF Nolan Reimold
DH Wilson Betemit
2B Brian Roberts

Again, getting creative with a lineup here. Markakis is more suited to the 3 hole, but look at these stats: in about half the games last year he batted 1st and put up this stat line: .335/5 HR/28 RBI with an OPS nearly .100 points higher. Hits AVG drops to .256 in the 3 hole. If it works, don't mess with it, right? I like Hardy and Wieters to rebound in the batting average departments, getting closer to the .270 range more expected from them. Jones has turned himself into the superstar the Orioles expected from him: he'll produce a similar season again. I feel like Davis will continue to get exposed: I buy the power like everyone else, but his plate discipline will keep him closer to Adam Dunn than Joey Votto at the plate. Now, I have concerns about the bottom of the lineup. Machado is talented enough to move to the next level, but we should see a full season from him before anointing him the next superstar slugger. Reimold is very talented, but he can't stay healthy. I'd rather see him over Nate McLouth's awfulness. Betemit should produce close to last year and who knows what happens at 2B. Lots of things need to go right, but plate discipline, consistency and injuries still allude their success.

Starting Rotation
SP Jason Hammel
SP Wei-Yin Chen
SP Miguel Gonzalez
SP Chris Tillman
SP Steve Johnson

I'm not buying this rotation 1 iota. Simply put, Hammel and Chen are 3-4 starters on average teams. They put together good seasons, and I think Chen can be a solid starter, but Hammel will likely revert to his 09-10 form. Is anyone buying Miguel Gonzalez? Hell no. Can you say flash in the pan? I can. Flash in the pan. Steve Johnson's minor league record suggests he's also going to revert closer to a 4 ERA. Positives? I think Chris Tillman put it all together. I also hold out hope Jake Arrieta puts it together: he's got electric stuff if he can harness it. Matusz and Britton would be better in the pen. They do have 2 great pitching prospects in Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman, but until they replace Gonzalez and Johnson and perform, I'm not buying this rotation.

CL Jim Johnson
SU Pedro Strop
SU Luis Ayala
SU Darren O'Day
LHS Troy Patton
SU Brian Matusz

I do like this bullpen a lot, though. I am admittedly a huge Jim Johnson fan and he was fantastic as a closer. Strop and Ayala were solid 7-8 guys and O'Day put it all together. I like Patton and Matusz out of the bullpen a lot. Baltimore has had success moving guys to the pen from the rotation, I think it happens again. I do not any qualms with this part of the team, but the bullpen loses more games than wins them.

Baltimore, for a 93 win team, had only a +7 run differential.....over the whole season. AND, that's because they went on a tear in September to make the playoffs. A lot of luck went into this team, including a record setting W-L record in 1 run games, which means the offense is good, the bullpen is good and the starting pitching stinks. If your starting pitching stinks, you go nowhere. I think the other teams are better, period. Baltimore is competitive, but a 5th place team this year.