Monday, July 23, 2012


Justin Upton, Shane Victorino, and Denard Span were the outfielders most closely associated with the Yankees as the trade deadline approaches. Instead, they got a 38-year-old Ichiro Suzuki.

Don’t get me wrong… Ichiro isn’t a bad player. He’s just a bad hitter. His .261 batting average is not to stellar, especially with a .288 OBP and only 4 home runs.

The upside to Ichiro is that he can still field his position solidly and he can still run decently. He has a Fielding Percentage of .995 and 15 stolen bases.

On a positive note, the Yankees got him for practically nothing. DJ Mitchell is a good AAA pitcher and Danny Farquhar was picked up off waivers in June. That’s not Major League talent right there.

Ichiro will be hitting ninth for the Yankees tonight in Seattle.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


As Phil Rizzuto used to say Holy Cow!  Down 9-0 with 2 outs in the sixth and the Yankees go wild in Boston! Tex hits a solo home run and Swisher hits a Grand Slam and the Yanks are back in it!  When the smoke cleared, the Yankees were, unbelievably, the 15-9 victors in this slugfest with the Sawx.  You don't see ball games like this every day!

The 3 Stars of Yankees-Red Sox Game, Saturday, April 21, 2012

3. Red Sox SP Felix Doubront: 6IP, 4H, 1ER, 3BB, 7K

2. Yankees RF Nick Swisher: 3-6, Double, HR (Grand Slam), 6RBI

1. Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira: 3-6, Double, 2HR, 6RBI

Rotation Woes
While Yankee hitting seems to have caught fire, they're having issues with two of their starters, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia. Hughes has an ERA of 6.75 through his first 13.1 innings of 2012, while Garcia's ERA is 9.75 through 12 innings this season. Luckily, they have replacement options for both pitchers even without Michael Pineda for a while.

David Phelps, currently a long reliever out of the Yankee bullpen, could replace one of them almost immediately. Going into Saturday's game against the Red Sox, he had pitched to a 1.08 ERA in 8.1 innings while striking out 9 batters.

Though, the likelihood of Phelps moving to the rotation seems slim, as Joe Girardi said during the game on Saturday that he hasn't considered it at all. That is my one problem with Girardi, the fact that he is so set in the way he ranks players.

Also, Andy Pettitte will be returning in a few weeks to take over for Hughes, assuming he doesn't right his ship in a hurry. The odd man out may be Hughes anyway, as we know that Girardi considers CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda locks in the rotation and Ivan Nova has started the season 3-0.

Bowden for Byrd:
Earlier on Saturday, the Red Sox traded relief pitcher Michael Bowden to the Cubs in exchange for Outfielder Marlon Byrd. The Cubs will send the Red Sox some cash consideration to cover a lot of the $6.5 Million left on Byrd's contract.

Byrd, 34, is basically a player on the decline, as his number of home runs, doubles, and RBIs have declined each year from 2009 through 2011.

Bowden, 25, could make a solid middle reliever for the Cubs over the next few years.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


AL East Winner: Yankees
The American League East will come down to the wire in 2012, but ultimately the division title will go to the Yankees. They have enough rotation depth to make it through the season, they have an explosive offense that should improve (with a healthy Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter), and the best bullpen in the American League, with David Robertson and Mariano Rivera at the back end. In 2011, the Yankees pitching staff ranked fifth in the American League in ERA and first in strikeouts. On the offensive side, they ranked fifth in batting average and ranked third in On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage and Stolen Bases. They ranked second in runs scored and first in Home Runs and walks. They may be baseball's most complete team.

AL Central Winner: Tigers
This one is clear. With 2011 AL Cy Young winner and MVP Justin Verlander leading and the likes of Doug Fister and Max Scherzer, the Tigers should have a scary rotation, but the offense is even scarier. After Victor Martinez was injured, taking him out for the year, the Tigers added slugging first baseman Prince Fielder to the lineup, to go with Miguel Cabrera. Not to mention the fact that All Star Catcher Alex Avila, Center fielder Austin Jackson, and power hitting left fielder Delmon Young could all have solid years in 2012.

AL West Winner: Angels
The Angels are going for it this year, as they signed both Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson to large contracts this offseason. With Pujols, Mark Trumbo, and Howard Kendrick leading the offensive charge, the Angels have the offense to compete with anyone. Their starting pitching is remarkable; they have four pitchers who could be top of the rotation starters elsewhere (Jered Weaver, CJ, Wilson, Ervin Santana, Dan Haren). The rotation will lead them past the Texas Rangers in the AL West in 2012.

AL Wild Card Winner: Rays
The Rays' rotation will help them come close in the East, but it's not enough to overtake the Yankees. Their rotation is led by 2010 Cy Young runner up David Price and 2011 second runner up James Shields, they are followed by 2011 AL Rookie of the Year Jeremy Hellickson and super prospect Matt Moore. On the offensive side, third baseman Evan Longoria is primed to be an MVP candidate this coming season.

AL Wild Card Winner: Rangers
Though the lineup is stacked, the rotation is led by an unknown. In order to make a third straight World Series appearance, they will rely heavily on Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who's never pitched in North America, and former closer Neftali Feliz to anchor the rotation. If both pitchers succeed, the Rangers could make a deep October run, but if not, they may not even make the playoffs.



MVP: Albert Pujols

CY YOUNG: CC Sabathia

Rookie Of The Year: Matt Moore

Comeback Player: Phil Hughes

NL East Winner: Marlins
With four potentially huge acquisitions this offseason (Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Heath Bell, and Carlos Zambrano), the Marlins look primed to make a serious run this season. With a lineup led by Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton, it will all come down to pitching. The Marlins rotation is led by Josh Johnson, who missed most of last season because of an injury, and newly acquired Mark Buehrle. They have Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano to back them up. Those are all pitchers who have the talent to be at the top of a rotation.

NL Central Winner: Cardinals
Though they lost Albert Pujols this offseason, the Cardinals will be just as good this season as they were last, if not better. They won the 2011 World Series without Adam Wainwright, one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. If he comes back and pitches like he did before he got hurt, the Cardinals won't miss Pujols at all.

NL West Winner: Diamondbacks
The only pitcher in the Diamondbacks rotation who had an ERA above 4.00 in 2011 is Trevor Cahill, whose ERA was 4.16. They are led by star Center fielder Justin Upton, who could contend for the National League MVP award if he builds on last season's totals of 31 home runs and 105 runs scored. The pitching staff is led by 21 game winner Ian Kennedy and closer JJ Putz, who saved 45 games in 2011 while posting an ERA of 2.17. They are a well rounded team, but they don't look like they have what it takes to make a deep run, especially with the new playoff format.

NL Wild Card Winner: Phillies
Though the Phillies will make the playoffs in 2012, they won't have an easy time doing it, as they are a team on the decline. Chase Utley, Placido Polanco, and Shane Victorino missed a combined 119 games last season and it's looking even worse on the injury front this year as Utley and Ryan Howard will start the season on the DL. The Phillies will make it, but  only because they have a rotation with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Vance Worely.

NL Wild Card Winner: Nationals
With Stephen Strasburg at the top of the rotation and Jordan Zimmerman, Gio Gonzalez, and Edwin Jackson to follow, the Nationals rotation is stacked. The rotation will lead them to the postseason, but they likely won't get any further because of how young their team is. However, they will be fun to watch for years to come.

NL CHAMPION: Cardinals


MVP: Hanley Ramirez

CY YOUNG: Cole Hamels

Rookie Of The Year: Bryce Harper

Comeback Player: Johan Santana


Monday, April 2, 2012


Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine unveiled his starting pitching rotation for the season on Monday. Valentine included Felix Doubront and Daniel Bard as the 4th and 5th starters. Though the team will have a rotation full of hard throwing pitchers, there are many questions about the capabilities of the starters. 

After longtime closer Jonathan Papelbon signed with the Philadelphia Phillies this offseason, the Red Sox went out and traded for former Rookie of the Year closer Andrew Bailey to take Papelbon's spot. They also traded for Astros closer Mark Melancon to pitch the 8th inning. Though Bailey held opponents to a batting average of .218 in 2011, he had a number of injuries and only pitched 41.2 innings. On the bright side, he saved 24 of his 26 attempts, but many were close calls, and his ERA was a high 3.24.  Bailey also tends to give up a lot of fly balls, which could turn into home runs at the smaller Fenway Park.

Melancon was good for the Astros in 2011, posting a 2.78 ERA and saving 20 of 25 chances. He also walked only 26 batters all year and gave up only five home runs. The only question with Melancon is whether he will be able to remain effective in the American League East, believed to be a tougher division.

The Red Sox rotation also has a lot of questions awaiting answers. Will Bard and Doubront be able to pitch effectively deeper into games? Which Josh Beckett will we see -- the one who was phenomenal from April to July, or the one who was inconsistent in August and September? Will Clay Buchholz come back from his injury and pitch well? The only guarantee is Jon Lester, who I believe will contend for the AL Cy Young this coming season.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


Earlier today, Yankees manager Joe Girardi named his opening day rotation, shortly after the news about Michael Pineda's shoulder tendonitis was broken. Here is my evaluation of five pitchers slated to open the season.

CC Sabathia: Putting Sabathia first was a given. Sabathia, who is coming off another 19-win season in which he posted a 3.00 ERA and was ranked second in strikeouts and fourth in innings pitched. 

Hiroki Kuroda: Though the 13-16 record didn't show it, Kuroda had a great year for the Dodgers in 2011, as he posted an ERA of 3.07 and only walked 49 batters in 202 innings pitched. In addition to having a number of different pitches in his arsenal, he also throws pretty hard. According to, Kuroda's fastball and sinker averaged 92 MPH in 2011, which isn't bad for a 37-year old-pitcher who has been in professional baseball since 1997.

Phil Hughes: Last spring, Hughes came to camp overweight and unprepared to follow up his solid 2010 season. This year is an entirely different story, as Hughes is slimmer and has regained the velocity he lost last season. He has only given up 3 earned runs this spring as of today.

Ivan Nova: Nova, who is going into his sophomore season, hasn't looked very good this spring after a solid rookie year in which he went 16-4 and posted a 3.70 ERA without losing a single game in the second half. We will soon find out whether the infamous sophomore slump has hit him.

Freddy Garcia: One of the biggest surprises in baseball last year was Garcia who posted his lowest ERA in 10 years at 3.62. He began to fade as the season progressed and posted a 4.45 second half ERA. It looks as if he will be the first pitcher sent to the bullpen once Pineda returns.

Though I do like this rotation, I prefer one with Pettitte and a healthy Pineda. The only question is who will be bumped when Pineda and Pettitte return.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


There has been a lot written about Tim Tebow becoming a New York Jet, and the effect it would have on current Quarterback Mark Sanchez. Some believe Tebow's presence will hurt Sanchez mentally, therefore hurting his performance. Others believe the competition with Tebow will push Sanchez to perform better. I believe that no matter who starts and who is the backup, they complement each other nicely.

Aside from the fact that Tebow is a better runner than Sanchez, he has other qualities such as his leadership skills and the fact that he seems to improve in the second half of the game.

In the first half, Tebow threw for 400 yards on the season, but in the second half, he threw for 1,291 yards including 961 in the fourth quarter alone.

Sanchez, on the other hand, stays pretty constant throughout the game, but his completion percentage slips from 62.7% in the first half to 50.9% in the second half. Also, his QB Rating goes from 82.9 in the first half to 73.5 in the second.

Though the better quarterback is easily Sanchez, he may not be better overall than Tebow. Jets coach Rex Ryan has openly spoken about Tebow's versatility and his ability to play positions other than quarterback. Maybe we'll see Tebow as a Halfback or a Tight End at some point this season.

I might go so far as to say that Tebow might compete for the starting Quarterback job this coming season, though the Jets continue to deny it. 

Monday, March 19, 2012


Once Andy Pettitte announced his return to the Yankees, the whole dynamic of the starting rotation changed. The only things we know are that Sabathia, Pettitte, and Kuroda will start, but everything else is up for grabs. The way the rest of the rotation looks will determine how effective Pettitte will be this season.

Ineffective Scenario:

1.     CC Sabathia
2.    Andy Pettitte
3.     Hiroki Kuroda
4.     Ivan Nova
5.     Freddy Garcia

Effective Scenario:

1.     CC Sabathia
2.     Hiroki Kuroda
3.     Ivan Nova
4.    Andy Pettitte
5.     Michael Pineda

The only way Andy Pettitte will be successful is if he pitches from the back end of the rotation. He doesn’t put up numbers like he used to -- like 17 wins and pitching 200 innings per year -- which are needed from a number two. What can be expected, is a solid number four who can average 5-6 innings per start and allow about 3 runs in those innings.

The middle of the rotation should go to younger pitchers like Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda who have better stuff at this point in their careers, but they have had their own issues with fastball speed and control. The reason for saying this is that it isn’t out of the realm of possibilities that the Yankees will expect too much from Pettitte and play him in the number two  slot, the way he was able to do when he returned from Houston to the Yanks in 2007.  Five years later, he’s just too old to expect that much from.

Thursday, February 23, 2012


I’m a huge hockey fan, so you’ll be seeing periodic posts about hockey on this blog.  Hope you enjoy them!

Some background: The New York Rangers have the best record in the NHL’s Eastern Conference and look like the prohibitive favorite to represent the Conference in the Stanley Cup Finals, though it didn't come easy. The team hasn’t made the playoffs since 1997. The reason for their lack of success was that GM Glen Sather began to sign older players who were past their prime, such as Pavel Bure, Theo Fleury, and Bobby Holik. Following the lockout in 2004-05, the Rangers changed their approach by developing young players and not trading them for overpriced stars. They preached defense and goaltending instead of a lot of scoring.

Among the players whose talents were developed by the Rangers during this time were Henrik Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky, and Marc Staal. In more recent years, players like Michael Del Zotto, Dan Girardi, Artem Anisimov, Carl Hagelin, and Michael Sauer developed into solid players who have been vital to the Rangers success.

The team also has made better trades and free agent signings. Some of these acquired players are Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Brian Boyle, and Brandon Prust. All of these players have been great for New York this season.

In baseball, the theory of Moneyball, has helped many teams become competitive even with major budget restrictions.  It has done so by using statistical theory and analysis of players, overlooking certain intangibles such as player age and team chemistry.

The upside of Moneyball is that it helps teams with budget restrictions find \ways to be competitive.

The Rangers, along with every other NHL team has to deal with something similar to budget restrictions: a salary cap.  The Rangers also have had to settle for a lot of picks in the middle of the first round, where there aren't many superstar talents remaining.  Yet the Rangers still manage to make the most of these picks and add talented players who fit their needs. 

The Ranger approach differs from the MLB Moneyball teams in that the Rangers have selected players mostly for qualities that are considered intangible – ability to work in a team and contribute to it.  They look at statistics but, based on their team personnel, don’t live by them.

In fact, there is no Hockey Moneyball and it would be hard to put together a meaningful set of Hockey Moneyball indicators.  Each player and each team has its own set of intangibles based on style of play and team strategy. Maybe more important, hockey is such a team-oriented game that there is a tradition of developing team chemistry and team spirit. 

As a result, hockey franchises still rely on the tried-and-true technique of tireless and highly professional scouting.  A great team of scouts gets to know every player in every significant league, watches their developments and bases decisions about which ones continue to grow and learn and show NHL-promise based on sometimes years of observation.

As a result of developing one of the best scouting organizations in hockey, the Rangers have been able to draft wisely from the non-elite draft choices available to them and build a highly competitive team on a budget.  The fact that the NHL has a different champion almost every year, while the MLB seems to always have the same teams contending, shows that this method works best.  No pure Moneyball baseball team has ever won a World Series, even with no salary cap, but generations of MLB teams like the Yankees have dominated decade in and decades out.

It seems obvious that statistical analysis of athletic performance remains very limited and no one has come up with a substitute for professional scouts carefully observing up-and-coming talent.

Monday, February 20, 2012


The Yankees have a choice to make, and it must be made over the course of the next few months. They must decide who will replace longtime closer Mariano Rivera. This won't be an easy task, as Rivera has helped the Yankees win five World Series Championships over the past 15 years, while recording the most saves in Major League history. 

The obvious choice to replace Rivera is David Robertson. He had the season of his life last year as the setup man, posting an ERA of 1.08 and giving up a total of one home run all year. He also seems to be cool under pressure, seeming to thrive when the opposing team had runners on base. Also, he has the stuff for the job as his fastball topped out at 94-95 miles per hour, with a good cutter and curveball. The soon-to-be 27-year-old seems like the perfect fit.

On the other hand, Rafael Soriano, the other candidate, went through an injury-plagued 2011 after a stunning 2010 as the Rays closer when he posted a 1.73 ERA. It may be hard for Soriano to go back to being a closer after two years as a setup man. Also, by the time Rivera retires, Soriano will be 33 and past his prime. Besides, Soriano has never pitched well in a big market.

It seems as if the right choice is clear and the Yankees must start preparing Robertson right now. 

Friday, January 13, 2012


The Yankees just made their offseason splash, as they acquired pitcher Michael Pineda for prized catching prospect Jesus Montero. The other two players involved were relief pitcher Hector Noesi and pitching prospect Jose Campos. Here's my analysis of this trade:

Mariners side:

Jesus Montero: Montero has an amazing bat with the potential to be a .300 hitter with 35-40 home run power and has tremendous ability to hit to all fields. The only problem with Montero is that he's not a very good defensive catcher and has trouble throwing runners out. I think if Seattle uses him as a first baseman or as a DH, he will thrive.


Hector Noesi: Noesi did well in limited Major League time in 2011 as he pitched to a 4.47 ERA out of the bullpen. He doesn't throw hard but has a great sinker and good control. He will probably do well in Seattle in a large ballpark which will give him more breathing room in terms of giving up fly balls.


Yankees side:

Michael Pineda: Through the first half of 2012, Pineda was the leading Rookie Of The Year candidate. Overall, he went 9-10 and posted a 3.74 ERA in 2011. The highest batting average against him for a single month was .235, .209 overall for the season. His fastball velocity tops out in the upper 90's and he has a changeup in the mid 80's. This combination will help him be a solid number two starter behind CC Sabathia in the Yankees pitching rotation in 2012.


Jose Campos: Though he's only 19, Campos is already drawing comparisons to Pineda. In 14 starts at A- ball last season he posted an ERA of 2.32, averaged over a strikeout per inning, and held opponents to a .210 batting average. I wouldn't be surprised if he winds up being a solid big league pitcher for a longtime to come.