Friday, February 27, 2009

Manny to Dodgers: 'No Deal Again'


This is just getting absolutely ridiculous. It has been reported late Thursday that Manny Ramirez has once again turned down the Dodgers most recent contract offer. The latest contract called for a 25 million dollar deal in 2009 with a player option of 20 million for 2010. This has been the 4th offer rejected by Ramirez and agent Scott Boras. This latest offer has also been the best Ramirez has received, giving him full control over his 2010 status. The original offer from LA, while the same in dollar amounts, called for a club option on the 2010 season.

Frankly this just makes me angry. I don’t know who I’m more annoyed with, Manny or the Dodgers. I just want to scream at Manny, telling him to stop turning down a potential 45 million dollars to play 2 seasons of baseball, when there’s people all across this country who are losing their jobs and homes. Manny needs to stop being so goddamned greedy. He’s made more money in his career than most people can imagine, as has Scott Boras I’m sure. The two of them need to wake up and realize the economy isn’t improving and maybe they should be a little sensitive to that. In a time when people can’t get jobs they need to stop turning one down that pays 25-45 million dollars.

As for the Dodgers organization the first thing they need to realize is that they can win the NL West without Manny. Of course with Manny they would probably coast to the division title but they don’t necessarily need him to get to the top. They did lose their best pitcher Derek Lowe to free agency but they’ve made a number of nice moves to improve the club. They’ve replaced Lowe with left hander Randy Wolf who is coming off a strong season splitting time between Houston and San Diego. Also 21 year old phenom Clayton Kershaw should be greatly improved following his debut season in ‘08.On the offensive side they have brought in second baseman Orlando Hudson and super utility man Mark Loretta. Adding Hudson, allows them to move Blake Dewitt to a utility role. Combining with Loretta the two provide solid bats and both are capable of playing every infield position, giving LA an extremely deep and versatile bench.

If the Dodgers do continue to negotiate and finally relent to Manny’s demands, it basically makes Manny the god of LA. The worst part is, he’ll know it. Secondly it will make the Dodgers essentially powerless in any future negotiations with clients of Scott Boras. I really wish the Dodgers would walk away from Ramirez and Boras and just let them go to that ‘mystery team’ Boras keeps hinting at and see if they can find a better offer. My guess is there is no other team with serious interest and I know they won’t find a better offer out there. Manny would have it all in LA. He'd be on a serious playoff contender, he'd be the lone superstar on the team grabbing all the love from the Dodger faithful and most importantly he'd get his money. The Dodgers offers have been well beyond market value and well beyond generous. I implore Dodger owner Frank McCourt and GM Ned Colletti to make one final take-it or leave-it offer and remind Manny that he needs the Dodgers more than the Dodgers need him.

-Robb Lennahan

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Best Rotation in the Game?


CC Sabathia, Chien Ming Wang, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte, and Joba Chamberlain. Not a bad starting five. In fact, I challenge you to name a better starting five. Sabathia, the best left handed pitcher in baseball the last two seasons, and Wang will be good for a minimum 15 wins each with an era in the mid 3’s. Burnett and Pettitte will be good for 12-15 wins each with an era in the low 4’s. And Joba, if he stays healthy he will dominate, albeit in limited innings, I’m hearing around 150. What starting five can top this? Let’s try and find one.

Exhibit A
Boston Red Sox

Beckett, Matsuzaka, Lester, Wakefield, Penny, Smoltz, Buckholz

This rotation is very top heavy, yet very fragile. Beckett must stay healthy to lead at the top of the rotation. You should get solid years from Matsuzaka and Lester once again, but the remaining arms are very spotty. Wakefield is going on 43 years old and has a tendency to be inconsistent. Penny and Smoltz were top of the rotation starters in years past, but both are coming off of major injuries and cannot be counted on until the second half of the season. Buckholz has shown flashes of brilliance but is not ready to become a regular member of a major league rotation.

Exhibit B
Tampa Bay Rays
Kazmir, Shields, Garza, Sonnanstine, Price

Young, hard throwing, and durable. That describes how the front four performed last year. But that was last year. Can they repeat solid 2008’s and prove they are consistent big league pitchers. Price is the X factor. He looks to be a can’s miss prospect. His showing in the postseason was nothing short of phenomenal in relief. But being a big league starter is a whole other animal. Also, the oft-injured Scott Kazmir will be a key as the Rays don’t have much depth in the starting rotation should he or someone else go down with an injury.

Exhibit C
Chicago Cubs
Zambrano, Harden, Dempster, Lilly, Marshall

The Cubs rotation was among the best in the game in 2008. However, expect a slight drop off this year. The combination of Harden’s health and whether or not the Cubs get repeat performances out of Lilly and Dempster, who each tallied 17 wins last year will be the key to Chicago’s success in the rotation this year. Zambrano should bounce back from a down year to lead this formidable five.

Exhibit D
San Francisco Giants
Lincecum, Cain, Johnson, Zito, Sanchez

The Giants rotation will be key for them competing for a division crown in the weak NL West. Cy Young Tim Lincecum should only improve this year. Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez have immense talent and are young and hungry. The veteran lefty duo of Randy Johnson and Barry Zito will also contribute. Johnson is looking to reach the magical 300 win mark while Zito showed he may have figured out how to pitch again, as he went 6-5 while holding batters to a .232 average in the second half of last year.

Honorable mention: Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Arizona Diamondbacks.

While arguments A-D were compelling, I would still take the Yankees rotation going into 2009 above anyone else’s. No other rotation boasts the same type of power and guile that the Yankees do. With an established ace who is coming of off back to back brilliant seasons, a sinkerballer who posted back to back 19 win seasons in 2006 and 2007, a flame thrower who wants to prove he can be a consistent winner, a wily lefty who still has what it takes to get batters out, and a 23 year old fire balling phenom, I sure do like their chances. Only time will tell if my argument will hold true.

-Favad Ali

2009 World Baseball Classic Upcoming


Will the World Baseball Classic ever be as popular as The Soccer World Cup, Olympic Basketball, or other high profile International sporting events? Only time will tell. But that doesn’t mean we didn’t enjoy the last installment of the classic or that we aren’t looking forward to this year’s tournament. With that, I give you my bold predictions for the 2009 World Baseball Classic which gets under way on March 5th.

-The United States will reach the semifinal only to be knocked out by the Dominican Republic.

-Chinese Taipei, The Netherlands, South Africa, Italy, and Australia will combine to win 1 game (Someone has to win when South Africa and Australia squares off against one another).

-Bernie Williams will go deep for Puerto Rico.

-A big name MLB pitcher will go down with an injury.

-Japan will repeat as tournament champions.

Click here for Rosters and Schedules.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Let the Games Begin!

Spring Training games began today! Just over a month until the real games begin. Here’s a little run down from the start of the spring:



Yankees defeat the Blue Jays 6-1
The big news from this game is of course the solo home run by Brett Gardner. Also homering for the Yanks was some guy named Alex Rodriguez, maybe if this guy has a good spring he could be a September call up. Other offensive standouts for the Yanks was a double and 2 runs scored by Robinson Cano and a double by top prospect Austin Jackson. On the hill Brett Tomko got the start going 2 innings and allowing just 1 hit without any runs, walks, or strikeouts. We also saw the return of Kei Igawa who went 1 scoreless inning giving up one hit and striking out one. Game two of the spring is Thursday against the defending AL champion Tampa Bay Rays. Hopefully this spring meeting will be a little less hostile than last years.



Mets defeat the Orioles 9-3
It was a great start to the spring for the Mets. The guys in the lineup with the biggest question marks attached to them started the spring games red hot. Luis Castillo, Ryan Church, and Daniel Murphy all had 2 hit’s a piece. Castillo added 4 RBIs while Church chipped in 3 RBIs with his 2 doubles. Outfield prospect Nick Evans added 3 hits and 3 runs scored. Darren O’Day and Brian Stokes both pitched perfect innings of relief. Last seasons workhorse in the pen Pedro Feliciano got the win pitching 1 1/3 of scoreless ball giving up 2 hits and striking out one. Duaner Sanchez also appeared giving up 1 run in 1 inning on 1 hit and 2 walks.

Other notes around the league
-Travis Ishikawa hit 2 Home Runs and Tim Lincecum pitched a scoreless inning in the Giants 10-7 victory over the Indians.
-Jake Peavy went 1 scoreless innings for the Padres in their 4-3 victory over Seattle in 10 innings.
-The defending World Series Champion Phillies started the spring 0-1 with a loss to the Pirates 8-2
-Hanley Ramirez homered in Florida’s 5-5 tie with the Cardinals.
-Defending AL champion Rays lost 7-0 to the Reds. For the Reds Edison Volquez and Johnny Cueto both pitch 3 scoreless innings with 3 strikeouts. Very surprising to see the Reds let both of their best young pitchers go 3 innings in the first game of the spring.
-Finally my White Sox lost to the Angels 12-3.
-Robb Lennahan

A-Rod Goes Deep

A-Rod went deep in his first spring training game against Toronto today. A-Rod and the Yanks better hope this happens about 40-50 more times this year for A-Rod, and another 5 times in October if they hope to drown out this story. Good Luck.

Body of Lies

Today marks the first day of Grapefruit League play. The Yankees will suit up to take on division rivals, the Toronto Blue Jays. But, this of course is not the story. As usual it’s all about Alex Rodriguez and how he will be received by the Blue Jays fans in Denedin, FL. You must be thinking to yourself, when will this story go away? I, myself have been thinking the same thing for about two weeks now. But the reality is its not going away. Many fans feel for the fallen star, but he only has himself to blame.

I’m not trying to take shots at A-Rod. I actually believe he has been unfairly targeted throughout all of this. His rights to anonymity were violated while 103 others got off scot free. He has been torn to shreads by the media even though he is the first big name user to come out and admit it and apologize for it as soon as they were caught. But the person who has done Alex Rodriguez the least amount of favors throughout all of this has been Alex Rodriguez.

This story is going to drag on and on as new revelations are made about the countless lies that have spewed from the mouth of A-Rod. He has lied about his age when he took it, and used it as an excuse, he has lied about not knowing what the drug was called, he lied about it being available over the counter in the DR, and the list goes on. Now, it has been revealed that during his (according to Alex) “best year”, 2008, he worked with banned trainer Angel Presinal throughout the length of the season.

His cloudy stories and explanations to the media have given them too much to work with when it comes to checking his stories and investigating him further. He now needs to simply shut his mouth and play the game. That is until Selena Roberts’ book, "A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez" is released on April 14, when again I am sure, A-Rod will have some more explaining to do.

-Favad Ali

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Veteran SS still looking for work


A 34 year old Shortstop, who has played 140+ games for 8 consecutive seasons, a career .274 Batting Average, 2 Gold Gloves, a World Series Ring and a single season high of 71 strikeouts over a 12 year career. This is the resume for one Orlando Cabrera. Can someone please explain to me why, a day before spring training games are set to begin, he hasn’t been signed. Yes I understand teams covet youth like never before and signing Cabrera will force a team to forfeit a #1 draft pick to the Chicago White Sox. I know all about the possible questions concerning Cabrera’s ‘negative’ attitude in 2008. But there’s got to be one team out there that could use him, isn’t there? Even though, he’s pretty old in the baseball world, he’s still been remarkably consistent over his last 3 seasons. If we look at his averages since 2006 we get a stat line of 635 At-bats, 183 Hits, 37 2Bs, 96 Runs, 22 SB, a .288 BA, and he still remains a solid defensive SS.

The A’s had expressed interest earlier in the winter. Cabrera would be a definite upgrade over current SS Bobby Crosby, but the A’s have reportedly been courting Nomar Garciaparra of late. He would certainly be useful for the St. Louis Cardinals. Cabrera would be a massive upgrade from newly acquired Khalil Greene and also be a nice table setter at the top of the lineup for Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick. He would be a nice one year shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds in their quest to compete while rebuilding. There’s got to be a few other clubs with at least mild interest as well.

Now I’m sure money was a major factor earlier in the winter. But it’s now late February and like other recently signed free agents Orlando Hudson and Bobby Abreu, Cabrera should realize it’s in his best interest to take a one year deal at market value in this depressed market. Hopefully for Cabrera’s sake he’s not holding on to the hope that he’ll get a contract similar to the head scratcher the Giants gave Edgar Renteria (2yrs-18 mil). It’s hard to believe Cabrera won’t be playing in 2009 but if it is about the money and he doesn’t realize the Renteria deal is the anomaly of the winter than we might not see Cabrera on the field come early April.
-Robb Lennahan

Monday, February 23, 2009

Nats say goodbye to Perez


Can someone please remind Odalis Perez that he’s Odalis Perez. The left handed pitcher was released by the Washington Nationals on Monday for failing to show up to their spring training camp. Perez was reportedly upset with the minor league contract, worth $850,000 if he made the major league roster that he signed on February 5th. He said he would not show up to camp until his contract was renegotiated. After not returning messages left for him by Nationals GM Jim Bowden and manager Manny Acta the decision was made to release the disgruntled pitcher.

This is an extremely odd move by Odalis Perez. The first question of course is why did he even sign the contract? It’s possible that he wasn’t 100% pleased that all he got was a minor league deal but he still agreed to the contract. In ‘08 the lefty made 30 starts posting a 4.34 ERA, he did however allow 182 hits in only 159.2 IP. Regardless, pitchers are always in demand especially left handed pitchers. I’m sure he had a few teams inquiring about his services. Of course this is pure speculation but I wouldn’t be surprised if he had at least one major league contract offer on the table, yet he choose the Nationals offer. Secondly, Perez’s holdout most likely has put him in an even worse position than he perceived he was in with the Nationals. With spring training games starting on Wednesday does Perez honestly believe he’ll find a better deal for himself now? I could envision a team offering him slightly more money but I would find it hard to believe that a team would be willingly to give Perez a guaranteed roster spot at this point in the spring.

Barring a purely awful spring he was pretty much assured of making the Nationals roster regardless of his contract. The smart move for him would have been to stay with the Nats, if he remained mildly productive he could of drummed up some trade interest and might have been out of Washington by August 1st. He might think he got what he wanted with his release. He’s just overlooking the fact he’s a marginal pitcher who now has a bad reputation. I think I have a better shot at getting a Major League contract than he does this spring.

-Robb Lennahan

Sunday, February 22, 2009

MLB Weekend Notes




-The Minnesota Twins signed Third baseman Joe Crede to a 1 year contract. The deal has a base salary of 2.5 million with incentives the deal could total 7 million.

The key to the Twins success in recent years has been pitching and defense. Crede is among the top defensive 3rd baseman in the game so he should provide some much needed stability at the hot corner in the Metrodome. Offensively Crede gives the Twins the right handed power they desperately needed for the middle of their order. If Crede can stay on the field this should prove to be a great signing by the Twins.



-The Texas Rangers signed pitcher Kris Benson to a minor league contract. Benson has a career record of 68-73 with a 4.34 ERA over 7 big league seasons. He has not appeared in a big league game since 2006. Benson missed all of the ‘07 season and in ‘08 made 11 starts for the Phillies AAA team going 1-4 with a 5.52 ERA before being released.

This is basically a no lose situation for Texas. Benson is someone who has all the talent but has never been able to translate it to success on the field. Peter Gammons once even proclaimed him a future CY Young award winner many years ago. Texas is in dire need of any sort of reliable pitching. Their projected #5 start Brandon McCarthy has only been able to make 27 starts the last 2 seasons due to injuries. If Benson proves capable Texas can slide him into the #5 slot in the rotation and if not he’ll just go pitch in AAA. The Texas farm system is extremely deep so the Benson signing is nothing more than a stopgap or an attempt to catch lightning in a bottle for a season. I’m sure if Benson can give them 10-15 starts with an ERA around 4.50, Texas will feel like the signing paid off.



-The Oakland A’s have shown interest in signing free agent Nomar Garciaparra. Nomar struggled through an injury plagued ‘08 batting only .264 in 55 games for the LA Dodgers.

This could prove to be another shrewd move by Oakland GM Billy Beane. While Nomar is no longer the same player from his glory days in Boston, he has still proven himself to be a quality major league player over the last few seasons. Garciaparra could move the offensively disappointing SS Bobby Crosby into a more limited role as well as providing a backup for the oft injured 3rd baseman Eric Chavez.I’m sure nobody in the organization is na├»ve enough to believe Garciaparra will take over as the full time starting SS, but he is certainly an upgrade offensively over Crosby and he provides some depth in the lineup to go with newly acquired Matt Holliday and Jason Giambi.



-The Atlanta Braves have reportedly reached a deal with Outfielder Garrett Anderson. The deal is a 1 year contract worth 2.5 million dollars. It is believed Anderson will move into a platoon role at the Leftfield position will Matt Diaz.

This is a move the Braves needed to make. Anderson is no longer a quality defensive outfielder but he will give the Braves a quality bat and provide the ever popular veteran leadership. Anderson’s number have been very consistent over the last 4 seasons, so he should be a safe bet to bat in the .290s with a little bit of pop. After missing out on Ken Griffey Jr. earlier in the week the Braves needed to add a quality veteran until youngsters Jordan Schafer, Jason Heyward, and/or Gorkys Hernandez are ready to join the big league club.

-Robb Lennahan

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hudson chooses LA for '09


The Los Angeles Dodgers are reportedly on the verge of finalizing a one year contract with free agent 2nd baseman Orlando Hudson. The deal calls for a 3.38 million dollar base salary with a additional 4.6 million in possible incentives. Signing Hudson also means the Dodgers will have to give the Diamondbacks a 1st Round draft pick in the June draft, due to Hudson’s Type A free agent status.

This is an extremely good move for Los Angeles. A move that could put them atop the weak NL West even if they don’t resign Manny Ramirez. On the field adding Hudson gives the Dodgers a Gold Glove 2nd baseman and combining with SS Rafael Furcal should give them one of the best double play combos in the league. The signing also allows them to move Blake Dewitt to more of a utility role. Combining Dewitt with free agent acquisition Mark Loretta gives the Dodgers two quality super-subs. Both Dewitt and Loretta not only provide quality bats off the bench but both are capable of playing every infield position.

Offensively Hudson seems to be the ideal player to pencil into the #2 spot in the order. Hudson, a excellent contact hitter with gap-to-gap power should combine with the speed of Furcal to give opposing pitchers fits and provide plenty of RBI opportunities for the 3-4-5 hitters in the lineup. Hudson and Furcal will also give the Dodgers two switch hitters at the top of their lineup, something that will give opposing teams a variety of matchup problems late in games.

With the recent signing of pitcher Randy Wolf and now Orlando Hudson the Dodgers are poised to repeat as NL West champs. While there is still questions about their pitching staff, especially after the loss of Derek Lowe, their offense should put them over the top. The signing of Hudson gives LA one of the deepest and most versatile squads in the league. If LA does manage to bring back Manny Ramirez, watch out because the Dodgers will be a force to be reckoned with come October.

-Robb Lennahan

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bernie Goes Boom!


Thursday at Steinbrenner Field there was finally a reason to smile. A player came into camp who truly defined the ‘Yankee Way’ of the glory days from the Torre Era. This player was none other than Bernie Williams. Bernie will be participating in the World Baseball Classic in March for his native Puerto Rico. He was invited by manager Joe Girardi to work out in the big league camp rather than going to the minor league complex which Williams’ originally intended to do. Bernie does say following the Classic if he still has the desire to play he would consider taking offers from other organizations. Thursday though, was all about the Yankees. He said it felt great to be there and even spent time speaking with owner George Steinbrenner.

Williams split with the Yankees prior to the start of the 2007 season was disappointing to say the least. After 16 season with the Yankees, General Manager Brian Cashman felt all Bernie warranted was a minor league contract. Williams’ decided to step away from the game rather than take what can only be described as a disrespectful and insulting offer from Cashman. Unfortunately for Cashman his replacement for Willaims the combination of Andy Phillips and Josh Phelps were anything but effective when on the field.

It’s extremely nice to see Bernie Baseball back in Yankee camp, even if its just to work out for the WBC. Bernie was and still is the epitome of Yankee baseball. He played the game the right way, never flashy on or off the field, soft spoken and respectful. Like Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera he led by example. Over his 16 Yankee seasons he hit .297, with 2336 hits, 287 Home Runs and 1257 RBIs. He was a 5 time All-Star and a 4 time Gold Glove winner. To top it all off he has 4 World Series Rings.

There’s no reason Bernie shouldn’t have gotten a major league contract in 2007. Bernie was well aware he was no longer capable of being an everyday player and was perfectly fine with coming off the bench as a pinch hitter or spot starter. Unfortunately like many Cashman moves in recent years he made a poor decision. Bernie should have been the Yankees 5th Outfielder for the last two seasons. Instead of preparing to offer his services to the 29 other organizations, Bernie should be preparing for Bernie Williams Day in New Yankee Stadium and having his #51 retired. Good luck to you Bernie, you’re a class act and any team would be lucky to have you.

-Robb Lennahan

Mo Better with Age


The 2008 season was a banner year for relief pitchers. We saw a plethora of amazing performances. The most heralded of course came from Francisco Rodriguez setting the new all-time record for saves with 62. We also saw a new record for the most consecutive scoreless innings to begin a career by Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler. Ziegler also posted the lowest ERA of all relief pitchers posting a 1.06 ERA. Philadelphia closer Brad Lidge went a perfect 41/41 in save opportunities while posting a 1.95 ERA. As an encore he led his team to a World Series Championship while remaining a perfect 7/7 in playoff saves with a 0.96 ERA. We also saw the emergence of Kansas City closer Joakim Soria who posted 42 saves with a 1.60 ERA and the continued excellence of Minnesota’s Joe Nathan with 39 saves and a 1.33 ERA. With all these amazing performances it’s easy to overlook the year of Mariano Rivera. Arguably the greatest closer in baseball history, Rivera goes about his business quietly getting the job done year in and year out. He’s not the most flashy player, he’s a quiet, soft spoken guy who doesn’t throw the hardest and who doesn’t strike out the most batters. The loudest part of his game is when ‘Enter Sandman’ blares from the Yankee Stadium PA as he takes the mound. What did all these things cause though? I believe it caused most to overlook Mariano’s 2008 season, which I believe is possibly the 2nd greatest season ever by a closer.

For starters lets first take a look at Mo’s 2008 season. He was 39/40 in save opportunities. In 70.2 innings pitched he allowed 41 hits while amazingly only walking 6 batters. He also struck out 77 hitters while posting a 1.40 ERA and a 0.67 WHIP. Rivera ranked first in the majors among relief pitchers in WHIP (0.67), OBP Against (.190) and Tough Saves with 5. His 1.40 ERA ranked 3rd among all relievers.
Now to stack Rivera’s ‘08 season up against arguably the best season by a closer of all-time. The 1990 season of Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley.



Clearly Eck had the more dominant year. Now lets match up Rivera’s ‘08 season with the best seasons from the great closers of the past and present.



I think the number that clearly sets Mo apart is the WHIP, or his Walks and Hits per Innings Pitched. Rivera’s ‘08 WHIP was .11 points lower than the next closest of 0.78 by Billy Wagner in 1999.
Why is WHIP such an important number? Well basically because it judges how many base runners have been allowed. As we all know, especially late in the game the more base runners you allow the less successful you are going to be. Looking at Rivera’s ERA of 1.40 it is the lowest of any of the closers of his era. Of all the closers his ERA in 2008 only trails Bruce Sutter’s 1977 season and Rollie Fingers 1981 season. Now without going into the pros and cons of comparing players from different eras of the game, the ERA differences can possibly be attributed to the drastic difference of the game from the late 70s to today. Clearly the parks are much more hitter friendly and without citing steroids, the players are more physically gifted than they were 30 years ago.

I think matched up against all these numbers Mariano Rivera’s 2008 season does stand out as the 2nd greatest season by a closer we’ve ever seen. Was his season overshadowed by K-Rods 62 saves? Certainly. Was Mo’s greatness, dwarfed by the Yankees failure to make the playoffs for the first time in 12 years? Of course. Will we ever here Mo speak out or look for praise for his historic 2008 performance? Absolutely not, and that’s quite possibly the greatest thing about him.

-Robb Lennahan

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Go Away, Jose


Jose Canseco is calling out baseball once again. This time it’s for an apology. The man who blew the whistle on steroid use in baseball, says he’s been called a liar and treated as an outcast. Now he wants the MLB to apologize and restore his “good name”. He also says that he wants to assist baseball in moving past the steroid era. He’s proposing working with baseball to help educate youth on the dangers of steroid use.

Should anyone be surprised that we’re are hearing from Canseco a day after Alex Rodriguez’s press conference to clear the air about his steroid use? Absolutely not. While maybe Canseco has turned out to be truthful in his two books about steroid use in baseball, he was so in the least noble way. Regardless of his statements about writing the books to ‘help the game’ or ‘open people’s eyes to the problem’ it was pure and simple all about the money. If Canseco truly cared about the game, he could have gone to Bud Selig or gone to the media. He didn’t do this however, he opened the door on steroid use with a blatant cash grab. Now Canseco is calling for an apology and offering to help out baseball with his problems.

Actually, Canseco is looking to get his name in the papers and likely looking for a job. We all know the immense financial trouble he’s been in of late. These latest statements are just an attempt to sell more books or make more public appearances. I don’t think baseball owes anything to Mr. Canseco. He made his money in the game and now all he’s trying to do is bleed the game for more. While he has been honest about steroid use in baseball, he is a completely transparent person. When I hear him speak all I hear is someone desperately seeking the all mighty dollar.

-Robb Lennahan

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A-Rod's Press Conference Leaves us With More Questions

If you were unable to see Alex Rodriguez’s press conference today I’m sure you’ve already seen countless clips on Sportscenter and/or read all about it online. A-Rod did go into more detail about his steroid use, where he got it, who supplied it, and how many times he did use from 2001-2003. Rodriguez states his cousin supplied him with an over the counter drug from the Domincan Republic known to him as ‘boli’. This drug was intended as an energy booster and Rodriguez states he injected it roughly twice a month for 3 years.

Rodriguez claims that he did feel more energy but its was “ hard to say” if the drug was actually effective. This was one statement where I feel Alex was not particularly honest about. Why inject something roughly 36 times in 3 years if its not having a positive effect on you? I definitely feel the drug had a positive effect on him, whether it gave him more energy or it helped him recover day-to-day from the grueling heat of a Texas summer is pure speculation but obviously the drug did something good for his body. I really don’t think this drug enhanced his performance on the field a great deal.

I don’t want to get into the debate of whether or not steroids truly enhance your on field play, but if Alex is being honest that his use was only confined to 2001-2003 then we’ve seen him put up 10 great clean seasons. You do see a slight decrease in his home run totals since 2004 from his 3 year average in Texas. But you could contribute that from leaving an excellent hitters park in Texas and moving to Yankee Stadium a bad place to hit for right handed batters.

One thing I’ve noticed is a lot of the media has been questioning A-Rod’s refusal to give his cousin’s name. In the press conference, when asked what his cousin’s name is Alex states he didn’t think it was necessary to reveal his name and that Alex made the mistake himself and he was there to take the blame. Media members, especially WFAN’s Mike Francesa was not pleased that Alex refused to name his cousin. He questioned Alex’s honesty for not giving the mans name. This is something I applaud Alex for. Why would Alex want to drag his cousin into this media circus and also possible legal trouble. Yes, Alex’s cousin did commit a crime and bring an illegal drug into this country but would anyone actually rat out a family member for something they were primarily involved in. This was not a violent crime and as far as we know they weren’t operating a drug ring, it was 6 years ago so this mans identity is not relevant.

Another thing I have heard people questioning Alex on is his statement that he never saw any other players using performance enhancers. Well, of course he is going to say that! Even if he did see others in the game use he is not going to essentially blacklist himself among other players. Alex as we know already struggles with his popularity in the clubhouse, naming names would basically destroy any respect from current and future teammates for the rest of his career. I also believe if he were to identity players who have used it could be potentially harmful to him on the field. He would almost assuredly face being thrown at or spikes up slides at third.

I do commend Alex for coming out with the information that he used the supplement Ripped Fuel while in Seattle. This is currently a banned substance but at the time was sold over the counter at GNC. He claims he has never used HGH.

Overall, I was as satisfied as I guess you can be with Alex’s press conference. I share the same sentiment as Alex where I just want to put this behind us and get to playing baseball. I do believe he was honest about his years of use to an extent. I don’t think at this point he would risk committing career suicide if it came to light that he used performance enhancers in any other seasons. All anyone can ask for in this situation is the truth, and I think we got as much of it as we are going to get. Although, sadly for Alex his omissions of the truth and holes in his story mean that this won't be going away anytime soon. Especially if Selena Roberts' book on A-Rod, which is due to be released in April has factually accurate information that conflicts with what A-Rod has or has not been telling us.

He won’t be penalized by the MLB, his numbers wont be taken away, there’s nothing that can be accomplished by dragging this issue out any further. I don’t think Alex was correct when, speaking to his teammates, he says “It will be the best season of our lives”. I do agree with him when he stated “ Baseball is bigger than Alex Rodriguez”. He’s absolutely right. Spring training is here, so lets leave this drama behind and play ball!

-Robb Lennahan

Exclusive Photo of Yankees Players at A-Rod Press Conference

Among those pictured: Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Derek Jeter, Jorge Posada, Joba Chamberlain, Mark Teixeira, Brian Bruney, Chien-Ming Wang...HEY who's that old dude seated to the left of Mariano Rivera ???

Worst Message Board Comment of the Week

This little piece of ridiculous comes from the Mets Message Board on ESPN.com courtesy of poster ‘cdaur’. His post titled "Trade with Yankees" is as follows:

'swisher and cano for Schneider and Castillo plus a prospect. And sign Pudge Rodriguez. This would end the stupidity of reyes hitting 3rd and have a very flexible and dynamic offense…’

He goes in to give a mock lineup among a few other blurbs. I don’t even think the Mets could swap Schneider, Castillo, and a prospect for Swisher or Cano alone. Possibly the deal could get done if the Mets threw in Fernando Martinez, Jon Niese, and took on all of Swisher and Castillo’s contracts. This post makes me wonder if this guy even knows what baseball is. He certainly knows nothing about the players he’s suggesting in his trade. My advice to ‘Cdaur’ look up some stats or watch a game before you start playing GM.

Link

The Circus Has Arrived


Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages. The New York Yankees proudly present to you the saddest drama in baseball, ALEX RODRIGUEZ! Although it is not the least bit likely, lets hope that after todays press conference, A-Rod and the Yanks can put this soap opera behind them and get down to business. A-Rod just needs to get through today without putting his foot in his mouth (like calling that "Selena Roberts Lady" a stalker).

However, I am very curious to find out if A-Rod will go a little deeper into what exactly he used and where he got it from, as will everyone else. He will be asked about these burning issues, whether he will address them or not is another story. In order for Rodriguez to put these questions to rest, he will have to do a better job of answering them. If he doesn't, they will surely follow him around all season long.

His manager and teammates have come to his aid and have proclaimed they will be behind him at the press conference and will be behind him all season long. The only way A-Rod can repay his mates for their support is to put this story to rest and produce on the field. Lets just hope A-Rod doesn't wilt under the Tampa sun, much the way he does under the October lights.

-Favad Ali

49 year old, Oil Can Boyd: "I can still pitch!"



Is pitching in demand right now in baseball? Of course, the Mets just gave Livan Hernandez a minor league contract as proof for the need of pitching. Is there a market for a 10 year veteran with 78-77 record with a 4.04 ERA in 1389.2 innings pitched? You’d think so. But what if he’s a 49 year old veteran, who hasn’t pitched in the big leagues in 18 years. It's true, ex-Boston Red Sox pitcher, Dennis ‘Oil Can’ Boyd is throwing his arm into the free agent pool.

Children who were born the year Boyd retired, 1991, are driving now. The country has seen 3 new Presidents enter the oval office since Boyd last threw a pitch. Why does he want to come back now? Aside from saying his shoulder has never felt better and he’s still throwing in the 90s, his main reason is his idol, one of baseball’s all-time greats Satchel Paige. He says he’d like to emulate his idol who didn’t break into the game until his 40s and pitched well into his 50s. Boyd has stayed active in recent years playing for the Brockton Rox of the independent Canadian-American League in 2005 and playing with an All-Star Traveling team in 2007 consisting of former big leaguers Bill ‘The Spaceman’ Lee, Marquis Grissom, and Delino Deshields. All Boyd is asking for is 15 minutes of time from a team. He says “Give me 15 minutes and I’ll show you I can still pitch”.

Of course, the likelyhood that Boyd can still pitch effectively in the majors is very slim but not impossible. In 1999, 35 year old Jim Morris made his MLB debut pitching for the Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays. Like the Morris story, Oil Can Boyd would be a tremendous feel good story and there’s nothing the game could use more right now. I’m rooting for Boyd and I hope some team at least gives him a shot. Baseball desperately needs some positive press right now, let’s hope Oil Can Boyd can provide it.

-Robb Lennahan

Monday, February 16, 2009

Papi Speaks out Against Users


The latest person to throw their two cents in to solve the problem of steroid use in baseball is non other than Red Sox slugger David Ortiz. Following the opinion of White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, Ortiz also believes players who test positive for steroid use should be suspended for one entire season. Within the current MLB drug policy players who test positive once are subject to a 50 day suspension, followed by a 100 day suspension for a 2nd positive, and a lifetime ban for a 3rd positive test.

Ortiz coming out and calling for a one year suspension for steroid users is not the real story here. We’ve heard things like this ever since steroid use became such a problem in the game. From former and current players, the media, and the government, everyone’s been suggesting a number of solutions. The real issue with Ortiz is what happens if his name is on the infamous ‘list of 104’? Would he actually admit to his mistake, or better yet, voluntarily sit out an entire season? Obviously, because he has been one of the best hitters in the game and because he only became consistently productive after 2002, there will always be suspicions of steroid use.

As long as his name remains clean, with maybe 5 more productive seasons, he should merit a place in the Hall of Fame. However, if it does come to light he did use steroids, or was even associated with a steroid supplier, his numbers on the field will mean nothing. Especially after his one year ban proposal, I’d be surprised if Ortiz even got 5% of the votes for the Hall. I hope for his sake he has been clean, because if his numbers are tainted, his image will never recover. One question remains though if it surfaces that he did use. Would Ortiz dare set foot on the field of New Yankee Stadium and face the wrath of 50,000+ Yankee faithful? I guess he wouldn’t have a choice, and it would be very interesting to see.

-Robb Lennahan

Nady & Swish to Battle it Out

In Jerry Crasnick's ESPN.com article looking at the top 9 position battles to wacth out for this spring training, coming in at #4 were the battles in center field between Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera and right field between Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher.

I wanted to delve into the right field battle between Nady and Swisher a little deeper.

Let's go to the tale of the tape...

Nady is 30 years of age. He is a versatile player who can play both corner outfield positions as well as first base. He is also coming off of a career year split between the Pirates and Yankees last year.

He comes into this year with the following career totals:
BA: .280 OBP: .335 SLG: .458 OPS: .793


Swisher is 28 years of age. He is an even more versatile player, as he is able to play all three outfield positions as well as first base. He is also a better baserunner than Nady. He is coming off of an extremely disappointing year with the White Sox, in which he hit a putrid .219.

His career averages coming into this year are as follows:
BA: .244 OBP: .354 SLG: .451 OPS: .805

While both men should see playing time in the outfield and at DH at times, to the naked eye it may seem that Nady should get the bulk of playing time when looking at the numbers and how the two fared last season. However, in my opinion it should be Swisher who should be given the starting nod over Nady. Why, might you ask? Swisher is the younger and more athletic of the two and can contribute to the team in more ways than Nady can, whether it be taking walks, stealing a base, or superior play in the field.

More so, Swisher’s lack of production last year can be attributed by a few factors. While he did rack up 497 AB’s last year with the White Sox, it was at 5 different positions while batting in every position in the lineup except for the number three spot. If he is given some consistent playing time at the same position in the field and in the lineup, his numbers should improve. Also, Swisher just might have been the unluckiest hitter in the Major’s last season.

JJ Stankevitz of Examiner.com, who also does an excellent job of covering the White Sox has this take: "Swisher's 2008 line drive rate of .204 was the highest of his career, but his BABIP (Batting Average of Balls put In Play)—which, if a player is neither lucky nor unlucky, should be .120 higher than his LD rate—was .251, just 0.47 points higher than his LD rate. That's not just unlucky—that's ridiculously unlucky."

All of these factors including the fact that Swisher has shown more consistent power numbers compared to Nady throughout their careers should make the choice easy for manager Joe Girardi. However, how the two players fare during spring training will weigh heavily on Girardi’s decision, no doubt. Which, in my opinion, is not the best way to judge how a player will perform during a long season, but I digress.

-Favad Ali

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Pudge to Land in Queens?


The Associated Press reported Sunday night that catcher Ivan Rodriguez may sign with the Florida Marlins, Houston Astros, or New York Mets. Pudge is a 14 time All-Star, 13 time Gold Glove winner, and won the AL MVP in 1999. He played for Detroit in 2008 before being traded to the Yankees the final two months of the season.

My instant reaction when seeing Pudge list the Mets as a possible employer for the ‘09 season was, why not? The Mets have been floating Ramon Castro’s name around in trade talks, so Pudge Rodriguez would seem to be a perfect fit as a backup catcher. The biggest hurdle aside from parting with Castro would be getting Rodriguez to agree to a limited role of maybe 50-60 games behind the plate. 

There’s no question Pudge is right about at the end of his career but he is still a major presence behind the plate. He is still a strong defensive catcher who threw out 31% of base runners last season, the 6th highest percentage in baseball. Offensively he is very similar to Castro, though has much less power but should hit for a better average. 

Pudge also has the intangibles GM’s love, the veteran experience along with 153 postseason at bats. Castro has yet to reach the postseason. Aside from Pudge’s monetary demands I don’t see a reason why the Mets shouldn’t pursue him. He seems like the perfect fit for this veteran team that needs to win now. If I’m Omar Minaya I unload Castro and bring Pudge into camp ASAP.

Robb Lennahan

No Need for Fuss about Joe's Book


First and foremost, you haven't seen a blog on the infamous book co-authored by Joe Torre here at Jersey Hardball because we wanted to hold our thoughts until we read the book. Now that that has been taken care of, here goes.

The most knowledge, die-hard Yankee fan I know is Jersey Hardball’s own Editor in Chief, Favad Ali. After years of gushing praise over longtime manager Joe Torre, just prior to Torre’s book release amid the ‘A-fraud’ comments and claims Torre broke the clubhouse code, Favad referred to Torre as ‘Clueless Joe’ and wanted to talk about his pre-Yankee record as a manager. His sentiment was shared by thousands of fellow Yankee fanatics who felt betrayed that the current LA Dodger manager was just trying to cash in and dirty the always good name of their beloved Yankee team. Well fret not Yankee fans because when you read his book he’ll win back you’re hearts. Torre has nothing but gushing praise for the 4 championship team era and it’s original core. Players such as Jeter, Bernie, Posada, Mo, Pettitte, Cone, Tino, Brosius, Knoblauch, and O’Neill are shown in nothing but the most shining light and you’ll probably discover a new found respect for these great players. Not being a Yankee fan myself, I certainly did. Does Torre speak in a negative light about some players? Yes, the same ones the fans have been more harshly bashing for years. 

Other than his words on Carl Pavano, he still remains constructively critical for the most part about players such as Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, and Gary Sheffield just to name a few.
The one person who I felt Torre was looking to go after in this book was none other than Yankee owner, George Steinbrenner. I wouldn’t describe the way Torre speaks of him as attacks. I don’t think the way he speaks of him was a cold calculated maneuver. I think it was just a subconscious way of getting back at Steinbrenner for the 12 years amidst the lack of trust in Torre, the firing rumors, and essentially being in the middle of a dysfunctional front office and the team on the field. 

In Torre’s final two seasons with the Yankees he paints a picture of Steinbrenner, the great Yankee owner who brought them to the forefront of the baseball world, as basically a sad, aging man wilting away to be almost functionless. Whether this is true or not is really not the matter at hand. The issue is that regardless of the way he ran his organization or treated his employees in now his waning days he most assuredly deserves more than that. Regardless of your personal feelings of Mr. Steinbrenner, he wanted to win at any cost, and at least deserves to be thought of in this light. Not being a mere shadow in a meeting or being barely able to carry on a conversation. 

These are things the readers do not need to know. I believe Torre should of just left these kinds of things out, just maybe not of said anything about the man from those last two seasons. Just leave Steinbrenner unspoken of, let the fans think he’s the same old George, too old to travel but still in Tampa watching his team and going nuts. Don’t let the fans know he’s actually down in Tampa withering away.

As for all the hype about his talk about Alex Rodriguez in the book I think people will be disappointed. Yes, Torre does say the players referred to him as A-Fraud and that A-Rod desperately wanted to emulate Jeter, but is this really a surprise to the true fans? Everyone knows A-Rod has a plastic personality, that he’s not a true leader especially not for the Yankees. If you didn’t realize this all you had to do was watch A-Rod in an interview speak about the team and you’d be able to see right through him. Arod’s on the field ability is praised in the book. Torre says in the book on Arod “Nobody has ever worked harder in my memory..” and “Nobody’s in better shape than Alex”.

The player that Torre does bash in his book and it should come as no surprise, is Carl Pavano. He paints Pavano as a glass player with a weak mental makeup and a surly attitude. Among other incidents Torre reveals Pavano fired his agent over not getting him an extra $50,000 in his Yankee contract even after the agent offered to give it to him out of his commission. Torre also doesn’t shy away from the way Pavano was viewed by the players, he states “The players all hated him. It was no secret”.

Yankee fan or not, this a great book. Beyond all the pre-release hype and controversy is in my opinion one of the better baseball books in recent memory. What you have in ’The Yankee Years’ is essentially Yankee baseball, all the triumphs and failures mixed with two other recent books on the game ’Game of Shadows’ and ’Moneyball’. With ’The Yankee Years’ you get an in depth look at the beginning of the Steriod Era as well as the Moneyball Era and beyond. The book provides not only an interesting look inside baseball’s most storied clubhouse, but an insightful look at the inner workings of the front office. The evolutions in scouting and player assessment are discussed thoroughly, though Torre describes the Yankees as a team severely lacking in both areas, citing them as reasons for the recent postseason failures. 

All in all I must say this is a book that needs to be read by any baseball fan, especially Yankee fans so you can fall back in love with Torre all over again.

-Robb Lennahan

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yanks Need a Fast Start


You can hear it now, The boos raining down from the upper deck of the brand new Yankee Stadium.  That's precisely the sound we will hear if Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees don't get off to a hot start. The zoo like atmosphere that will ensue during this first week of spring training can only be left behind if the Yankees, and especially A-Rod have a fast start. Otherwise, the media circus concerning steroids, big money free agents, and Joe Torre's, and not to mention Selena Roberts' new books won't be leaving town anytime soon. 

The only way out of this for the Bombers will be to win. Win now and win fast. Sabathia and Burnett must be the Aces they were signed to be. Teixeira must combine with A-Rod to become the one-two punch in the middle of the order the Yankees were missing last year. Role players like Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano must come into their own and prove that last year's dreadful performances were abberations. Joe Girardi must prove to the fans and management that letting Saint Joe Torre go was the right decision. Even Derek Jeter has something to prove coming into the season. There has been much talk about his decline both offensively and defensively throughout the offseason.  Jeter must bounce back from last year and prove the critics wrong.  

Will all of this happen? Not likely. However, enough of it must in order for the Yankees to play out the year while leaving behind the circus like atomsphere we have seen throughout the offseason and we will continue to see during spring training. The Yankees have a lot to prove, no doubt about it. If they start off slow, don't expect them to recover. The division is too good. They cannot afford to fall behind or they face the same fate as last season. Only this time it could mean Girardi's and Cashman's jobs. 

Yankees News and Notes from the AP:
Posada, coming off shoulder surgery, isn't likely to catch in exhibition games until mid-March, Girardi said. He probably will catch 100-110 games during the regular season if there are no setbacks, down from Posada's September estimate of 120-130. ... With spring training expanded by a week to 7 1/2 weeks because of the World Baseball Classic, Mariano Rivera isn't likely to pitch in exhibitions when they start Feb. 25. Rivera, coming off minor shoulder surgery, has a preference to pitch eight-to-10 innings each spring training. ... Matsui, coming off left knee surgery, probably will be a DH for much of spring training. ... Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner was in attendance for part of a pre-spring training workout at the minor league complex that included Posada, SS Derek Jeter, 1B-OF Nick Swisher and RHP Chien-Ming Wang. Burnett arrived two days before the first official workout for pitchers and catchers and played catch in the outfield with reliever Brian Bruney. ... The highest number, 94, was assigned to RHP Kanekoa Texeira.

Mets add Another Candidate for Fifth Spot


Reported on Saturday, the Mets have agreed to a minor league contract with veteran pitcher Livan Hernandez. If added to the 40 man roster Hernandez will earn a salary of 1 million dollars, with the opportunity to make an additional 1 million in performance bonuses.

Can someone please explain this to me? While Hernandez was once a very capable starter, a three time 15 game winner and always someone you could count on for 200+ innings a season, his last 3 season have been progressively worse. Since 2003 his ERA has increased every year going from 3.20 to 6.05 last season. Also his strikeout rate has declined steadily since the 2004 season going from 186 strikeouts to just 67 last year. This signing makes absolutely no sense. I don’t want to hear that bringing in Hernandez gives the Mets extra depth or the veteran presence. I don’t want to hear he’s been throwing good in the offseason and he could revert to his old self. 

I’ll buy those justifications for the Mets recent signing of Freddy Garcia but not Livan Hernandez. Garcia’s been fighting to overcome various injuries, Hernandez has been on the field. He’s just been fighting to overcome all the hits he’s given up. This is a pitcher who’s given up more hits than innings pitched in 4 straight seasons with a declining strikeout rate. Simply put this should have been a huge sign to Omar Minaya to stay away. It’s really not even a money issue either. I wouldn’t touch Hernandez for the league minimum if I were the Mets. This is not a rebuilding team looking to put in a stopgap while they groom their youth. This is the big budget New York Mets, who need to win now especially after ‘07 and ‘08. The Mets have a ton of possibilities for the #5 spot /long man out of the pen. They include former Expo Tony Armas Jr. Brandon Knight, Jon Niese, Bobby Parnell, and Brian Stokes. 

Everyone of them will cost the Mets less money and most likely less runs allowed. This isn’t even counting Tim Redding who they signed for 2.25 million dollars or Freddy Garcia who should push all of these players back to the minors or to mop up work in the pen.

I understand Hernandez signing the deal because I don’t imagine he got any other offers. As for the Mets explanation to this, Minaya stated “Livan can give you innings, he can pitch in different roles.” Maybe I just don’t get it?

-Robb Lennahan

Stupidest Messageboard Commenter of the Week

ESPN.com MLB General Messageboard

Imac7065

Saturday night on the MLB General Message board a post was made questioning what teams cap Robb Nen would wear if he were to make the Hall of Fame. First off I had to inform this sad soul that Nen was on the ballot in ‘08 and only received 2 votes, thus ending his Hall of Fame bid after only one time on the ballot. The most ludicrous statement of all made by this apparent 'fan of the game' was that Nen was the most dominant closer in baseball from 1995-2002, better than even the great Mariano Rivera. He doesn’t stop there with the stupidity he goes on to state among other things Nen had a better career than Bruce Sutter, he calls Rivera’s cutter a gimmick pitch and states Nen is the better pitcher because he featured a greater number of pitches in his arsenal.

Check out the entire post for yourself. I don’t know whether to be totally furious or just deeply saddened by his sheer stupidity. Enjoy



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bobby Abreu, California Dreamin'


Reports surfaced Tuesday that the Los Angeles Angels have come to an agreement with free agent Outfielder, Bobby Abreu. The deal is believed to be a 1 year contract for 5 million dollars, with incentives the deal could reach up to 8 million dollars. Obviously, with the loss of Mark Teixeira and Garret Anderson, the team needed to add another impact bat to slide in between Vladimir Guerrero and Torii Hunter. The Angels are a team built to win now. With an extremely strong pitching staff, the signing of Abreu should provide them with just enough offense to stay on top of the AL West.

While Abreu has never been the biggest star, or the most well known name, he has been one of the most consistent players in the Majors over the course of his 13 year career. He has put together 8 seasons of over 100 runs and walks and 7 seasons of over 100 RBIs. Also he is one of three players in the history of the game to have 200 Home Runs, 300 stolen bases with a .400 on-base percentage. The other two, 2008 1st Ballot Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson and All-time Home Run King Barry Bonds.

At 35 years of age and entering the latter part of his career, Abreu has still been one of the most productive players in baseball. His statistical averages over the last 3 seasons have ranked in the top 25 in baseball in several key categories. He’s ranked 8th in BB (94), 12th in Runs (107), 14th in 2Bs (40), 15th in Stolen Bases (26), 17th in OBP (.387), 20th in RBIs (103), and 25th in Hits (171). Not only that he has also averaged 157 games played over the last 3 seasons. This is a great signing for the Angels, that should greatly increase their chances of playing some important games come October.

-Robb Lennahan

Big Donkey a National Treasure


As reported by ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Washington Nationals and Adam Dunn have agreed to a 2 year contract worth $20 million. The deal could be announced later today. If by any chance, you are one of the few people who hasn’t realized how badly the economy has effected the free agent class, this signing should do it for you.

In years past, a player of Dunn’s caliber has been able to essentially write their own ticket. Two short years ago, long term deals from a number of teams would have been something Dunn would have been fielding the moment he filed for free agency. Even though he is only a career .247 batter, this is a player with 5 consecutive seasons of 40+ homers, 90+ RBIs, and 100+ walks. Those are definitely numbers that can help any team.

Baseball Reference cites JD Drew as the 10th most comparable hitter to Dunn and he received a 5yr-70 million dollar contract from Boston in 2005. Troy Glaus, the 6th most comparable hitter through the age of 28, received a 4yr-45million dollar deal from Arizona in 2005. Unfortunately for Dunn, it’s 2009 and my how the times have changed. 2 years at 20 million from the lowly Washington Nationals was the best he could muster, less than 2 weeks from the start of spring training, mind you.

You might just think he held out for the most money he could get in a weak market. This could be true, but I think a player who’s never been on a winning team for his entire 8 year career (save his 44 games with Arizona in ’08 where they went 22-22) would take a few million dollars less to have a chance to at least be on a .500 team.

His signing with the Nats almost ensures his streak of sub .500 teams will run to an even 10 years. This is a great move for the Nationals, though. They get some pop, maybe generate a little fan excitement and sell a few more seats. For Dunn though, all he gets is $20 million and 2 more years of going home at the end of September.

-Robb Lennahan

Alomar being sued by Ex-Girlfriend, alleges AIDS

From the story in today's New York Post Kati Cornell wrote:

Former Met star Roberto Alomar had unprotected sex with his ex-girlfriend while he had full blown AIDS, a sensational lawsuit charges. In the $15 million action filed in Brooklyn Federal court, Ilya Dall, of Queens, said the ballplayer tested positive for HIV in 2006 and a doctor later told him he had AIDS.

Dall said she tested negative for the disease - but is claiming punitive damages for emotional distress. She also claims her children were exposed to the virus.

Alomar, 41, a 12-time All Star, who retired from baseball in 2005, began dating Dall in 2002, and began having unprotected sex with her a short time later, according to the suit.

Her suit does not claim that he knew he had AIDS when they were having unprotected sex - but he had reason to think he might because his doctors kept advising him to be tested. He procrastinated and told her he was disease free, the suit says. In 2004, she said, she noticed he had cold sores. The following year he was diagnosed with a blood disorder that's linked to AIDS, the suit says.

Also in 2005, Alomar told Dall that when he once was raped by two Mexican men after playing a Ballgame in New Mexico, according to the suit.

Other symptoms began to develop, she says, including erectile dysfunction , a chronic cough, and fatigue.

A doctor insisted that the longtime second baseman take an HIV test, but Alomar continually refused, the suit charges.

In January 2006, the suit alleges, he finally got tested and it was positive. Nine days later, doctors discovered a mass in his chest, and a spinal tap revealed that he had full blown AIDS.

Alomar's two seasons with the Mets were considered disappointing , but he is considered a possible Hall of Fame candidate and may be elected when he becomes eligible next year.

But he will forever be remembered for an ugly incident in 1996 when, as a member of the Baltimore Orioles, he spat in the face of umpire John Hirschback during an argument over a called third strike.

He was suspended for five games. At the time there were allegation that the ump used a slur against Alomar, but that was never proven. Alomar's father, Sandy, is the Mets bench coach. His brother, Sandy Jr., is a Met instructor.

[My take: And we thought A-Rod had it bad. This is just plain bizarre. ]

Favre Retires...Again

In non-baseball news, Brett Favre's agent has informed the Jets that he will not be returning and has decided to retire. What started out as a promising season for Favre and the Jets, turned out to be a total embarrassent. Too bad for Brett, he could have gone out on a high note such as this...




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Projected 2009 Standings

Baseball Prospectus just released the first set of 2009 projected standings (here). Rob Neyer of ESPN wrote about possible headlines about these standings (here). There is a brief description as to how BP came up with the projections, using what seems to be a very well-thought out scientific process. In light of this Jersey Hardball would like to release its first projected standings, which are, completely unscientific. Of course, with so many free agents still available, these are subject to change.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reinstate Shoeless Joe and Charlie Hustle

(Shoeless Joe Jackson, Pete Rose)


Baseball needs damage control. Just when you thought the whole Arod frenzy was bad enough today we are greeted with Miguel Tejada being charged with lying to Congress about steriod use in baseball. Not only that, if convicted he faces up to a year in prison. Can commissioner Bud Selig do anything to make the media and fans forget all this? Absolutely not.

He can provide a nice little distraction though to make the nearly 3 months to opening day a little less stressful on Major League Baseball. What is it, you ask? Simple reinstate Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe Jackson. Think about it Bud. Hold a press conference announcing that in light of the recent steriod problem in the game, you’ve made the decision to reinstate two of the best players in the history of the game. The decision on Shoeloess Joe should be an easy one. It should have been a decision made long ago. Banned from baseball for allegedly taking part in the 1919 Black Sox scandal, when members of the team participated in throwing the World Series, his performance clearly indicates his innocence. In the World Series his .375 batting average and 12 hits were the most from either team.

Pete Rose, on the other hand, is no angel. Banned for life for gambling on the game, Rose has admitted his mistake and after years of denial finally come clean. Yes, he says he did bet on his own team but he never once threw a game because he never once bet on his team to lose. Rose was a fiercely competitive player and he showed it on the field everyday. He played the game hard and he played the game to win. Evident by his three World Series Rings. In this steriod era that we are now in Rose’s statistical achievements are his greatest support for reinstatement. He remains the all time leader in hits with 4,256 and games played with 3,562. Also included in his resume are a Rookie of the Year award, 3 Batting Titles, 2 Gold Gloves, one MVP award, and 17 All-Star appearances.

We are in a time of the game where every player is guilty by association. Some writers are proclaiming to never vote a player from this era into the Hall of Fame. I think its time for Mr. Selig to reinstate Rose and Jackson and announce both of their names will appear on the next Hall of Fame ballot. Baseball can no longer keep two of its all time greats out of the Hall, when the greats of today have already confessed or been accused of cheating on the field. Nothing will make the fans forget the steriods and the lies but opening baseballs doors to Rose and Jackson , while long overdue, certainly will be a nice distraction.

-Robb Lennahan

Poll

Will 2009 be Amazin' for the Mets?


Mets fans should be thrilled that the team has addressed their ineffective and at times just plain awful bullpen from a year ago. But aside from the aquisitions of K-Rod and J.J. Putz, the Mets haven’t done enough to solidify their place in the NL East. After all, they do have to contend with the defending champion Phillies and the Braves, who have made major upgrades this offseason.

Omar and the Mets organization seem to have figured that their only problem last year was their dreadful bullpen and that two stellar relief pitchers will get the Mets over the hump. There have been other moves, but I don’t see how the signings of Alex Cora, Freddy Garcia, Casey Fossum, and Tim Redding has anyone in the National League having nightmares about facing the Mets this year.

The offense is essentially the same team as a year ago. Although, they scored the second most runs in the NL, you can't bet on Carlos Delgado to match last year's production. Furthermore, the bottom half of the lineup will be a concern considering Luis Castillo only had 15 more RBI’s then the pitching staff of the Mets last season. This year you can put the house on the pitching staff to drive in more runs than Castillo.

As for the starting rotation, the top four starters are the same in Santana, Pelfrey, Maine, and Perez. Tim Redding, Jonathon Niese, and Freddy Garcia will battle it out for the fifth and final spot. Not a bad group at all, however, Mets fans should have have their fingers crossed every time someone other than #57 takes the mound.

The Mets do have some young talent looking to make a splash this year. We may be seeing a lot more of Jonathon Neise who should find a role in the bullpen and as a spot starter. Fan favorite, Daniel Murphy should find himself in the starting lineup at one position or another. He had a solid debut in 2008 and will be looking to build on that. Also, fans should get their first peek at Fernando Martinez around September.

Burning Questions:

Will this be the year David Wright contends for the MVP award?

Will Carlos Delgado and Fernando Tatis find the fountain of youth once again?

Will K-Rod and J.J. restore the bullpen?

Can Mike Pelfrey solidify himself has a number 2 starter?

Will we see another choke job in September?

-Eabad Ali

Monday, February 9, 2009

BOLD Predictions for the 2009 Season:

(Johnny Cueto and Edinson Volquez)


  • The Reds will eek past the Cardinals to finish 2nd in the NL Central and they will contend for the Wild Card. Youngsters Edinson Volquez and Johnny Cueto will become a solid 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation. Combined with their power bullpen, they and the Reds will finish with their first +.500 season since 2000.

  • The A’s make it interesting the AL West for a change. After winning the division by 7.5 games in ‘07 and 21 games in ‘08, the Angels, minus Mark Teixeira, Garrett Anderson, and Francisco Rodriguez will feel the heat from Oakland. I don't expect Oakland to win out, but they will sure make it a tight race.

  • The Rays have only improved and will stay on top of the AL East. Plus, they are still the most athletic team in the Bigs. The addition of Pat Burrell and a full year from David Price won't hurt either. I wouldn't consider this as that bold of a prediction but I know most others do.

  • Joe Girardi becomes the first manager fired. Entering a brand new stadium after spending $400+ million on the free agent market, he will fill the role of scapegoat when the Yankees are not leading the division come June.

    Of course this is as of right now, February 10th and with so many free agents still left unsigned I may want to retract these statements come April 5th.

-Robb Lennahan

A-Rod Talks With Peter Gammons of ESPN




Full Transcript of Interview

BREAKING A-ROD NEWS!

A-Rod Comes Clean in Emotional Interview with Peter Gammons

A-Rod reads Jersey Hardball!!! According to ESPN.com, A-Rod in an interview with Peter Gammons will admit to using PED’s from 2001-2003 on Sportscenter tonight at 6pm EST. This is refreshing news indeed. Not only for the fact that A-Rod is the first of the Steroids accused stars, to actually tell what seems to be the truth, but also because apparently A-Rod took our advice. See article below, from this morning…

Who wouldn’t want to take advice from these guys!

Rodriguez Should Come Clean


With his legacy and place in the annals of the game hanging in the balance, Alex Rodriguez has a difficult decision to make. Sooner or later he will have to answer to the storm of media scrutiny regarding his alleged failed steroid test in 2003. Alex Rodriguez was supposed to be Major League Baseball’s shining and guiding light that would lead them out of the steroid era. He is on pace to hit over 800 home runs for his career, which would have passed Barry Bonds and once again legitimized the most important and recognized record in American sports.

Suddenly, all of that has changed and Rodriguez has been exposed as a possible cheat himself. Although, he will never be looked at the same again, he may be able to save face a bit, and convince writers of his Hall of Fame status once his career is over. While not impossible it will be extremely difficult for Arod to pull off. Take for example, Mark Mcgwire, a player who hit 583 home runs in his career, good for eighth all time, saw his HOF votes decrease from a year ago. And we all know about Barry Bonds (All time HR King) and Roger Clemens (9th most wins all time), who not only have been vilified for their steroids scandals, but may also go to jail for perjury. While these examples do not help Arod’s case, I believe how he handles the charges may save his HOF status.

In my mind Rodriguez is limited to three real options of how to react to the allegations. He can take the road that Bonds and Clemens have taken, which is to vehemently deny the charges. As you may know, this hasn’t worked out well for the two of them. Both face possible perjury charges and could see jail time in the near future. Option two is to not say much of anything at all (see Mark Mcgwire and Sammy Sosa). While not saying anything is not exactly considered lying, the silence that Mcgwire displayed on the stand in front of congress might as well have been an admission to cheating.

In the end Arod’s final and best option is to come clean. He needs to tell the truthl; fully and completely. He needs to say he did it to legitimize his enormous contract, that he felt he had to because just about everyone else was, and to solidify his place as an all time great. He needs to say that it hasn’t happened since then as he has not failed any other tests administered since then and that it will never happen again. He needs to apologize to the fans and to everyone who has ever supported him. While he will never be looked at the same again, this may allow him to finish his career to play out with some sort of normalcy and become the first of the true superstars who have been caught up in the steroids scandal to come clean.


-Favad Ali

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jones Worth the Risk?


It has been reported on Sunday that the Texas Rangers will sign Andruw Jones to a minor league contract. I believe this to be an excellent move by Texas. Although Jones’ numbers have been in steady decline over the past 3 seasons and reports from his winter league play were far from impressive, I see this as a no lose situation for the Rangers. Andruw is still only 32 years old with 13 years of MLB service. This is a player with 10 Gold Glove awards, 9- 90+ RBI seasons, and something to prove.

The Rangers outfield/ DH situation projects out to be Josh Hamilton, David Murphy, Nelson Cruz, Marlon Byrd, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The one glaring thing about this group of players is that none of them are a true centerfielder, a position Andruw has played more than adequately in the past. Right now the starting centerfielder looks to be Josh Hamilton. Does Texas really want their best run producer playing 65-70 games (assuming he DH’s some) in their spacious centerfield at their furnace of a home ballpark? I wouldn’t think so, if they can help it. The rest of their outfield core, while definitely a solid group of ballplayers, are far from a sure thing for a team looking to compete in the weakened AL West.

Marlon Byrd, their most experienced player with 7 years in the league, has been injury prone throughout his career playing in 130+ games just once, in 2003. At 31 years of age I don’t seeing him becoming Mr. Durability anytime soon. He looks to be more of a solid 4th outfielder/platoon man, not someone you can count on to start all year long. Nelson Cruz, who at 28 is certainly not young by MLB standards, looks to be coming into his own, but is far from a sure bet. After a breakout season in ‘08 with a combined 44 Home Runs and 125 RBI’s between AAA and the big leagues, good things seem to be coming. Although you can’t ignore the fact that after 557 major league at bats he has posted a .251 batting average with a .312 on base. David Murphy, the projected starting left fielder is another player coming off a promising ‘08. Like Cruz though he lacks experience for his age, of 27. Murphy has posted a career batting average of .286 and an on base of .334 after 542 at bats. He is a line driver hitter with solid gap power. While he is the better pure hitter, he lacks the raw power of Nelson Cruz.

I definitely feel that Andruw Jones could make a positive impact on this team. Will he ever win another Gold Glove award? I doubt it. If he gets himself into shape I do think he is capable of playing a solid centerfield. Assuming the Rangers would like to use Hamilton as their centerfielder as little as possible, I see Jones being a very viable option for 80-90 games. Combining with Marlon Byrd in a platoon situation could allow the Rangers to keep Hamilton as their RF/DH.

The next question would be though, can Jones produce offensively? Like all questions about Jones it will come down to what kind of shape he’s in. I think if he can hit .250 with 20 home runs and 75 RBIs, similar to what Sammy Sosa did in his stint with Texas in ‘07, the Rangers would be more than pleased. If he pans out the Rangers are only on the hook for 1 million dollars which would include incentives. That’s a bargain these days for a 20/75 player. He still has to win a roster spot in spring training and prove he can still play. If he doesn’t work out, the Rangers can send him down to the minors or release him only owing him $500,000 if he does crack the big league roster. If he does work out though, the Rangers could be getting one heck of a deal.

-Robb Lennahan

Beyond Belief: The Josh Hamilton Story


I recently read this book and thought I’d share a little bit about it with you. We all know the plot of the story. Josh was the #1 pick in the draft out of high school for Tampa Bay (at the time Devil) Rays. A can’t miss prospect who becomes a cocaine addict, recovers, and was the feel good story of the 2008 baseball season. First and foremost this is not a book about baseball. This is a book about drug addiction with a backdrop of baseball.

After re-aggravating a back injury during the offseason of 2001 Josh used cocaine for the first time at the age of 20. This is followed by numerous suspensions from Major League Baseball, trips in and out of rehab, and the loss of family and friends. More low points include blowing through his 3.96 million dollar signing bonus and selling his wife’s wedding ring for crack.

On October 6th, 2005 after a 4 year spiral into the dark world of crack cocaine addiction, Josh started on the road to recovery with the help of his grandmother and his religion. Josh is still clean to this day and as I’m sure you all know is flourishing in baseball right now with the Texas Rangers. He led the AL in RBI in 2008 and also put on a memorable show at the HR Derby at the All-Star Game.

Being a fan of his is definitely an added bonus to reading the book along with all the insights and a look at the inner workings of the game; such as day to day life in the minors and the big leagues. Also, the book is an interesting look at a ball club’s pre-draft preparations. Baseball fan or not, this book is a flat out a must read.

-Robb Lennahan