Friday, February 29, 2008
Interesting Headline of the Day
Know Thy Enemy: Bullpen
Red Sox Bullpen
The Red Sox bullpen has some interesting pieces. There's the unlikely setup man in Hideki Okajima, the aging sinkerballer in Mike Timlin, the situational lefty in Javy Lopez (not the catcher), a long reliever in Julian Tavarez, and two inning eaters in Kyle Snyder and Manny Delcarmen. Much of the success of the Red Sox can be attributed to how well some of the pitching has been on the back end. They found a reliable closer in Papelbon (who will be reviewed in a future post), and Hideki Okajima proved to be a really good set up man. Between the two of them the 8th and 9th innings were locked down. Okajima was also used to close a few games when Papelbon couldn't. Delcarmen and Snyder are two relevant pieces to the bullpen as well. Delcarmen posted a 2.05 ERA in 44 innings, while Snyder pitched for a 3.81 ERA in 54.1 innings. Add to that mix a situational lefty that logged 40.2 innings with a 3.10 ERA and you have the makings of a pretty solid bullpen.
The Yankees bullpen has several question marks right now, and all but three of the spots are up for grabs. Kyle Farnsworth, Latroy Hawkins, and Mariano Rivera are all confirmed members of the bullpen. Take away Mariano, and you have two players you don't want pitching the 8th inning for you. Hawkins experienced some success last season with Colorado, but he's coming back to the AL east where he used to pitch when he was with Baltimore and his numbers then weren't overly inspiring. Farnsworth should have been traded several times in the past, and unless he has a major comeback (he is in his walk year), he will go down as one of the more dissapointing free agent signings. The rest of the bullpen needs to be figured out with players like Brian Bruney, Chris Britton, Jonathan Albaladejo, Kei Igawa, Sean Henn, Edwar Ramirez, Scott Patterson, Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Veras, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Heath Phillips etc... There is some legitimate big league talent in that group, and some promising up and comers, but all of them have something to prove and none of them are guaranteed a spot right now.
Winner: Red Sox. Adding Joba to the Yankee bullpen would certainly help, but with him projected as a starter, there is a lot of uncertainty with the Yankee bullpen. Two out of the three secured spots in the bullpen aren't dominant pitchers. There is no legitimage set up guy. I believe the Yankees have a lot of potential talent, but until they prove it over the course of a season, they will come second to a Red Sox bullpen full of established arms.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Exclusive Player Interviews
Respect Jeter's Gangster: Derek, how do you feel about ARod?
DJ: I've been very fortunate to play with the Yankees my whole career and I want to retire a Yankee.
RJG: Thanks Derek. Hey Melky, how'd you feel when your name came up in trade rumors this winter?
MC: I didn't want to be traded.
RJG: I bet. Great initials by the way. Hey Pos, how about those numbers last season?
JP: Don't call me Pos.
RJG: Got it. Hey Farnsworth . . . never mind, you look like you should be polishing that firearm right now. Hey Joe G, how do you feel about your prospects this season?
JG: We're going to take it one game at a time.
Well there you have it. You just got a season's worth of player answers from your number one spot for Yankees information. Honestly, you'll never have to listen to a single press conference since this is pretty much representative of what you're likely to hear. You can thank me later.
R.A. Dickey News
Apparently he was either not born with one or it disintegrated in his teens. Further more, he should not be able to turn a door knob without feeling pain, much less pitch on a major league team. However, Dickey is not the only major league ball player missing something common to human biology. For example, Derek Jeter was born without fear.
Know Thy Enemy: Starting Rotation
Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review the starting rotations. If you are just catching on we have been doing a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.
Red Sox Rotation
The Sox enter the 2008 season with a rotation that looks a lot like it did in 2007. And why not? They won the division with those pitchers, and then went on to win the world series. The rotation set on the Red Sox depth chart is as follows: Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Tim Wakefield, and Jon Lester. Beckett was the lone 20 game winner last season, and pitched himself close to a Cy Young award. Last season was his second season posting 200+ innings and he had career highs in wins, and strikeouts, while dropping his previous career highs of homeruns allowed and ERA from 2006. I for one never thought Beckett would remain healthy this long, but I suppose I was wrong about that. Personally, I don't think he'll repeat this year, but he'll still be a solid piece of the rotation.
Curt Schilling, while being slotted as the number 2 guy, probably won't pitch much next season. He has a shoulder injury that he believes requires surgery but the Red Sox believe needs rest and rehab. Not a great way to come into Spring training. Before the playoffs, Schilling wasn't as big of a contributor as he is perceived to be. He won 9 games last season, and pitched 151 innings. He also started a blog last season that wasn't anywhere as good as the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog.
Daisuke Matsuzaka showed a lot of promise in his sort of rookie year. Posting a 4.40 ERA with 15 wins and 201 strikeouts in 204.2 innings is pretty solid. I personally think that he will do better this season than last season simply because he has the pitching repetoire to succeed. I think he's gotten over the fact that his fastball isn't going to blaze by hitters in this league, and has adapted to that.
Tim Wakefield tied his career high in wins with 17 last season, but his ERA and strikeouts were both around his career average. I think that's what the Red Sox get from Wakefield, a consistant knuckleballer who if healthy will get them at least 10 wins a season. He was injured for parts of last season so you gotta wonder how that will effect his performance. I don't think Wakefield will hit another 17 wins though, expect something closer to 13.
Jon Lester had quite the season last year. He found out that he had cancer and he needed to go into treatment. He started the season late as a result, and you can say that effected his performance. In 2 incomplete years with the Red Sox he hasn't quite shown the potential he may have, but he'll have another crack at it this year. He did win one of the world series games after throwing 5.2 shutout innings.
Other contributors are Clay Bucholz who threw a no-hitter last season. Hard to say how he does over an entire season, but I expect him to replace Schilling as soon as he goes down. They still have Julian Tavarez who only harnesses his pitching ability for games against the Yankees, but he will be coming out of the bullpen next season. Lastly, the Red Sox signed former Cy Young winner, Bartolo Colon. I hope they use him. A lot.
Yankee Starting Rotation
The Yankees rotation looks similar to the one they had last season with some major differences. In place of Kei Igawa, we have three impressive rookies. In place of Roger Clemens, we have three impressive rookies. The question now will be, how will these impressive rookies fare in their first full seasons, and how will the Yankees fare dealing with their inning limitations. But before going into the rookie discussion, we should look at the stablizing forces of the rotation: Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Mussina.
Chien-Ming Wang has posted two consecutive seasons with 19 wins. The sinkerballer knows how to get outs, and he pitches deep into games. As teams started sitting on his sinker, he began to throw his slider more, which is a necessary adaptation for Wang. He missed a lot of April with a hamstring injury (one of many, thank you Marty Miller) and it made me wonder how he would have done if he had made that opening day start and remained healthy throughout the season. 20 wins is an absolute possibility for Wang.
Andy Pettitte had kind of a strange season in that the Yankee offense wouldn't show up during his starts. With the exception of his last start of the season Pettitte didn't get much help from the offense, and it angered me. He had only a few games where he pitched poorly, and in the rest he gave the Yankees a legitimate opportunity to win. He won 15 games last season with a 4.05 ERA. I expect more of the same so long as his elbow holds up.
Mike Mussina had an awful season last year, and is at spring training looking for a comeback. He posted a 5.15 ERA, the highest of his career, with an 11-10 record. He even lost his spot in the rotation for some time last season. Mussina is slated in the depth chart as the number 4 guy. He's much like Wakefield in that you know you're going to get at least 10 wins from the guy.
The rookies are the trickier piece of the puzzle because none of them have pitched a full season. The chances of three rookie starters in their first full major league season all succeeding are pretty slim. However, those chances don't take into consideration pitchers like Philip Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. Phil had a rough season last year. He got roughed up in his first outing, and then pitched amazingly in his second one. He also had a no-hitter going against the Rangers when he strained his hamstring trying to get on top of a curveball against Teixeira. While rehabbing he strained his ankle on that same leg. When he finally got back into the bigs, his velocity was down. As time went on, he regained his strength and started getting his velocity up. In the playoffs he pitched an amazing relief effort shutting down the Indians in place of Roger Clemens.
Joba was a starter in the minors last season but was moved to the bullpen when he came to the Yankees. His innings are very limited this season, and the Yankees are smart to do so. He has a triple digit heater with a monster slider. He gave up only one earned run in 24 innings in relief. I am really excited to see him start this season, because he has a changeup and a curveball that we really haven't seen much of.
Ian Kennedy is more of a finesse pitcher, and people have sort of written him off with the power arms ahead of him. A young Mike Mussina is what some people have compared him to. In that comparison, some people think that Kennedy will just be an average player, but that's because those people didn't see a young Mike Mussina pitch. Mussina in his prime was a certifiable ace. Despite the lack of velocity, his knucklecurve kept hitters off balance, and he would put his fastball where ever he pleased. Finesse pitchers may have the hardest time adjusting to the bigs because if they miss their spots, their finesse pitches get finesse batted over the fence, but Kennedy pitched in College like Mike Mussina, and Mussina posted 18 wins in his first full season while pitching 241 innings and a 2.54 ERA. Can we expect that from Kennedy? No, but it goes to show that finesse can do a lot of damage.
Winner: Even. This was the toughest one we've done so far, and I'm sure people from both sides will disagree, but hear out the argument. I was at first leaning towards the Sox because of how well their pitching staff did last season, but in comparison the Yankees finished last season with 2 fewer wins than the Sox while using a trillion more pitchers. Beckett proved to be a better pitcher than Wang last season, but finished with one more win and a 0.43 difference in ERA. Plus, Beckett had a 5+ ERA the year before. Daisuke was not bad last season, and will probably do better this season, but that still just makes him comparable to Pettitte. Tim Wakefield has an up on Mussina, that's true, but both players are likely to return to their career averages next season, which makes them very similar pitchers. Schilling is a wash, because he won't last the entire season, and Bucholz who will probably take his place is entering his first full season in the bigs. Lester is in the same boat. Conversely, the Yankees have Kennedy, Chamberlain, and Hughes coming into their first full season, and it is difficult to say how they will do. So in conclusion, I have a hard time placing one teams rotation above the others.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The Tragedy of Slow News Days
Rookies Adopt Workout Regimen.
Really? I hope so. It would be good for the Rookies to workout. Now, granted, the article is about the kids working out with Andy Pettitte, but even that is uninteresting. If Andy introduces them to McNamee, then you'll have a story.
Then there was this headline in the New York Times:
Yanks Aim for Giambi to Return to First.
What? The Yanks want their first baseman to play first? Stop the presses! So there it is, the state of Yankees news. Unless you include the daily Roger Clemens "scoop" as news, but that is also uninteresting.
I could write an original story like my brother does from time to time but that's not really my thing. I'm just waiting for the breaking news that Alex and Derek aren't BFFs anymore. I'll be all over that $#!&!
Know Thy Enemy: DH
Red Sox DH
David Ortiz is known throughout the league as one of the most feared hitters in the game. Having the distinction of being a left-handed power hitter in fenway park, Ortiz has shown his ability to hit in the clutch time and again. He also bears the distinction of being a true DH, someone who hits well despite not having the defensive innings to keep them warmed up. Last season, Ortiz had problems with his left knee that was hurting his ability to push off on his swing. I for one thought his power numbers would suffer, which they did, but only slightly, and he made up for the lack of homeruns with the highest average he's ever batted for. Ortiz batted .332 with 35 homeruns and 117 RBI's. The only way 35 homeruns can be considered a down year, is when you've hit at least 40 in the previous 3 seasons, and 54 the season before. With his career high batting average, he also hit a career high in doubles, slugging 52 two basers. Another distinction Ortiz has is that he's one of those power hitters who walked more than he struck out. His body type and age tell me he won't hold up forever, but the fact that he takes the field only a few times a year, tells me he'll last longer than the average heavy set baseball player. Ortiz is still one of the hitters I fear the most in that lineup, though watching Kyle Farnsworth strike him out with that non-moving slider of his back in 2006 is one of the sweetest memories I have.
Who the Yankee DH is going to be is a big question. Giambi has typically served in this role, but he wants to get back on the field. Matsui is currently out of a fielding position and Girardi will probably want him to DH. Last season there was talks of Damon DHing to keep his legs fresh, but that's all fallen to the way side. Shelley Duncan seems to be a good candidate along with Morgan Ensberg. My guess is that it will be between Giambi and Matsui, both of which had hampering injuries last season. Giambi had an off season, while Matsui had a pretty good season. Neither of those guys are really full-time DH types, at least not that we know. Giambi has typically batted worse DHing then he does when he takes the field, and Matsui hasn't been used as a DH that much to really know how he'd take to it. Giambi has more power, but needs to prove healthy, and Matsui needs to show that his ailing knee won't slow his bat.
Winner: Red Sox. Whether the Yankees have Giambi, Matsui, Damon, Ensberg, Duncan, Betemit, Texeira, Bonds, or Morneau DHing it doesn't really matter. David Ortiz mashes, and he is more productive than all those guys. I always wondered what his numbers would look like if he were a Yankee with that short porch in right field. One thing I will say about him is that he's seriously under paid by the Red Sox. I don't know how Ortiz ended up with that contract but he needs to fire his agents.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Girardi More Hands On
After practice earlier today, Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano were changing into their streets across the locker room from one another. Carl Pavano looked over at Mussina with rage boiling in his chest. He watched Mussina put on his shoes, and tie them, the rage over-flowing. Finally Pavano couldn't take it any more and said the following: "Hey Moose, I saw your face on a milk carton the other day. It said 'Help! Missing fastball.'" "OOOOHHHHH SNAP!" the clubhouse erupted. Moose shook his head, feeling the blow of Pavano's words land squarely on his pride. "Oh yeah." Moose responded. "I saw your mom yesterday. She was wearing a pair of them air Carrot Tops." referring to Pavano's mothers status as the Carrot Top fan club vice president. The room erupted once more with a loud round of "Oh Snaps!". Pavano said "That's it." as he put on his Pavano Tough t-shirt "Let's get this over with." Mussina waisted no time throwing on his Joba Rules t-shirt and yelled "Bring it on!" The two squared up. Shelley Duncan who was looking on got so excited he jump kicked the ceiling fan. Right then, Joe Girardi ran into the club house wearing, I kid you not, a Respect Jeter's Gangster t-shirt. The clubhouse made a path for Girardi and when the pitchers saw him in such an awesome shirt, they stepped back. Girardi said "No fighting you two! Or you'll be running three times as much tomorrow!" Strong words they were, but necessary. Fearing that the increased work load would lead to another tommy john, Pavano backed off. Mussina did too and they exited through different doors.
This was a huge change from Joe Torre, who used to place bets on his players when they fought. He made tons of money when he put his bet on a skinny kid from Kalamazoo, Michigan against Deron Peter, a suspected 'roider twice his size.
Okay, so in reality this was just a post meant to promote our t-shirts, but we have an update on that. We found a better site with much better prices than the one we were using before. We designed some more shirts and added them. Take a look at the link in the top right hand corner of our page. Good for kids, wives, husbands, brothers, sisters, Jeter, mothers, and fathers. Makes the perfect Easter gift!
Know Thy Enemy: Right Field
Red Sox Rightfield
When the Red Sox signed Nancy Drew they were expecting a bit of a power hitter with a high on-base percentage who despite some shoulder problems would solidify right field for them. Although Red Sox fans were willing to let Nancy off the hook after he hit that grand slam in the ALCS, he still had an awful regular season. He batted .270 with 11 homeruns and 64 RBI's, and was a consistent dissapointment to the team throughout the season. I didn't see enough of his defense to really comment, but I did see him dive for a ball once that bounced about 6 feet away from his stretched out glove. It was kind of funny. Although the Red Sox expected more from Nancy, he did bring a lot of the intangibles. For example, Nancy would solve a lot of mysteries in the club house and on the road.
Bobby Abreu had such an inconsistant season last year that I found myself disliking him. I always thought his defense was no good. Despite having a canon for an arm, he seems completely resistant to running into a padded wall or diving for a ball hit his way. He is the anti-Melky. Despite his inconsistancies he finished the season with a .283 average, 16 homeruns, and 101 RBI's. Also, he stole 25 bases last season, which is pretty impressive for a number 3 hitter. Last season, he had shown up to spring training out of shape, strained some muscles swinging a bat, and then got off to a slow start. Abreu is the perfect example of the baseball card rule. This rule states that any established player, barring injury, will finish the season posting numbers similar to the ones on the back of their baseball card. Abreu had an awful season, but then at the end, he had a .283 average and 100+ RBI's.
Winner: Yankees. Drew was awful last season. Abreu was bad, but somehow managed to end the season with decent stats. Last off-season there was talk of trading Manny and replacing him with JD Drew. I really prayed that that would happen.
The one mystery that will remain unsolved is where Abreu's power went. He used to hit at least 20 homeruns every season, he then comes to a park that is friendly for lefty hitters and he cracks 16. Nancy at least has an excuse since he's at Fenway, but I think they'll want a little more than 11 bombs, and 18 solved mysteries by seasons end.
Monday, February 25, 2008
Know Thy Enemy: Centerfield
Red Sox Centerfield
The Red Sox have two players vying for centerfield and arguments could be made for both players to be used at that position. Coco Crisp is a very strong defensive candidate who has developed a case of bat lethargy since coming from Cleveland. In limited play last season, Jacoby Ellsbury impressed quite a bit. He batted .353 with 3 homeruns, 18 RBI's and 9 stolen bases. He also smoked in the world series going 7 for 16 for a .438 average with 3 RBI's and a stolen base. I haven't seen enough of him to judge accurately, but from what I've seen, he's a pretty good fielder as well. The question with Ellsbury is how will he do in his first full season of big league ball? He has some amazing numbers in limited play but going a whole season is a completely different challenge. How many at bats he'll get is a big question as well. Right now the Red Sox project Ellsbury behind Crisp in the depth chart, but I can't imagine that will last long.
On the other side, Crisp has been a bit of a dissapointment for the Red Sox. After 4 productive seasons with the Indians, he hasn't quite met his expectations in Boston. He was hampered by a thumb injury his first season, but his second season didn't improve much. He batted .268 with 6 homeruns 60 RBI's and 28 stolen bases. Speed is his best weapon, but you have to get on base to get to use it.
Melky Cabrera has been an absolute fan favorite since coming up and sticking with the Yankees in 2006. Despite the trade rumors that have floated around about him in the two off seasons he's been with the Yankees, he's still here. Melky has good speed for the outfield, but his biggest strength is his arm. He has an absolute canon. Although Damon may be faster than Melky, and Abreu may be able to compete with his arm, Melky is the all around best outfielder the Yankees have. His offense has been the only drawback to Melky. He's not horrible by any means, and his defense makes up for a lot, but the Yankees have certainly had better hitting outfielders. He ended last season with a .273 average, 8 homeruns, 73 RBI's and 13 stolen bases. He doesn't hit for enough power to have the kind of average he does, but on the other side, he's only 23 years old. The question for him will be how he does with his bat this season. If he improves and starts flexing some muscle at the plate, he could make things interesting for the Yankees.
Winner: Even. Melky has been better than Crisp whose picked as the starting centerfielder, but there's no way Ellsbury stays as a back up for long. I think Ellsbury will end the season with good numbers, and will probably have a hotter bat than Melky, but he needs to complete a full season before I can legitimately say he's better than Melky. Too many rookies look good in small samples. A full season is the real test.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Slow News No News
Best Actor: Being unfamiliar with the field, I'm going with Derek Jeter. That Super Bowl commercial put him over the top if you ask me.
Best Supporting Actor: honestly, who cares?
Best Director: Spielberg
Best Film: Something girly, like Juno.
I think that's enough for now. If you want the rest of my picks you're going to have to sign up for premium membership, only $99.99/mo., at respectjetersgangster.blogspot.com. I'm just trying to wet my beak a little bit.
I apologize for this absolutely asinine post. I just spent over 5 hours studying Latin and my brain is fried. I'm not responsible for anything that precedes the period at the end of this sentence.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Seriously?! Sean Henn?!
Know Thy Enemy: Leftfield
Next up in our position by position debate, we are going to review leftfield. If you are just catching on we have been doing a debate on who has the better player at each position between the Red Sox and the Yankees. To be clear, this is not a debate on who has the better team, just the better player at each position. A debate on who has the better team would require much more than a position by position evaluation.
Red Sox Leftfield
The Red Sox have had a lock on leftfield for several years now with one of the better hitters in the game. Manny Ramirez is the perfect complement to David Ortiz in the lineup. He has consistantly mashed in that lineup and in my opinion is one of the reasons the team has had so much success recently. Take away Manny, and David Ortiz draws 200 walks a season as every pitcher goes after JD Drew or Mike Lowell instead. With Manny in the lineup, teams don't want to put Ortiz on. Last season was a bit of a down season for Manny. He batted .296 with 20 homeruns and 88 RBI's, which is much less than what the Red Sox are used to getting from him. The last time Manny posted less than 100 RBI's was in 1997 when he was playing for Cleveland. You would have to go back to 1994 to see when he hit fewer homeruns (17 in 290 at bats). What may be a concern is that he had more at bats last season than he did in 2006 when he batted for a .321 average with 35 homeruns and 102 RBI's. Could this mean the decline of Manny? Maybe, but I wouldn't count on it just yet. The man has had leg problems in the past but he can still mash. Not to mention that for the first time in a while he actually showed up to spring training on time, and didn't ask to get traded during the off season.
Defensively, Manny is an adventure. He has a strong arm but his range is limited. Lucky for him Fenway park has a pretty small left field. He also makes some questionable plays like the time he cut off Johnny Damon's throw, which was hilarious.
Speaking of Damon, it appears that the Yankees are ready to pencil Damon in as the everyday left fielder. Damon also had a down year in 2007. He started the season with a calf injury after he reported to spring training out of shape. He got hot at the end of the season and that helped boost his numbers. Nonetheless, he ended with a .270 average with 12 homeruns and 63 RBI's. He did have 27 stolen bases and only got caught 3 times, but for the most part 2007 was a down season for him. He even lost his job at centerfield and there were talks of having him DH and play first base, typically an idea used for beast-sized sluggers who have entered the twilight of their careers. When he started playing left field however, things started to click for him. I saw one game where he made 3 amazing catches complete with full out sprints and daring dives. He also had a pretty good ALDS hitting a pair of homeruns including a 3-run shot in the only game the Yankees won.
Winner: Red Sox. Damon has Manny beat in defense despite the weak arm, but Manny can still mash. Even if last year was an indication of Manny's decline, I don't expect it will be complete by this season. I still expect Manny to hit 30 homeruns with a .300 average. Its tough to compare them because they are such different players. Damon's a speedy lead off hitter. Manny's a giant slugger. There will be areas where Damon will be better than Manny, but all-in-all you gotta go with Manny.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
A-Rod Says Jeter Will Win MVP
Know Thy Enemy: Catcher
Red Sox Catcher
Jason Varitek has been a veteran presence for the Red Sox, and has handled the host of pitchers on the roster very well. Last season he caught a host of rookies and veterans (except Wakefield) and in my opinion handled them well. Varitek however, is on a decline. Last season he batted .255 with 17 homeruns and 68 RBI's. He is reaching the age where catchers tend to break down, and Varitek has the knee surgeries to prove it. The question for him is will he be able to reverse the course of aging next season, or will he continue on his slide?
Jorge Posada had a monster season in the walk year of his contract. He batted over .300 for the first time in his career, hitting .338 with 20 homeruns, and 90 RBI's. I think one of the more telling stats from Posada's season last year was his 42 doubles, which tell me that his legs are still under him. In comparison, Varitek had 15. Although Posada is a year older than Varitek and should be in his own decline, he has a few things working for him. He started his career as a second baseman but switched to catcher in the minors. Varitek, as far as I know, was a career catcher. Further more, Posada shared his time behind the plate with Joe Girardi through 1999, which limited the number of innings he played there. Posada has never been on the DL.
Winner: Yankees. Posada will begin his decline during this new contract, but I can't imagine it will all happen next season. He's coming off a career year and I expect him to be productive. On the other hand, I can't see Varitek making a big come back after having a rough (by his standards) offensive season last year. They both had a .994 fielding percentage for whatever that's worth.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Say It Ain't So Johnny!
I also got a chance to read the article about Jeter being the worst shortstop posted below. Clearly they left gangster out of their calculations. Do you want to know who the best short stop is according to the U-Penn study? Why, Clint Barmes of course. That was my guess. The slick-fielding Clint Barmes. Who the heck is Clint Barmes?! He sounds made up! I had to look him up and apparently he's a short stop for the Rockies. Seriously? He's not even the best short stop on that team! There's a reason they're using Tulowitski. So, why is he the best short stop? Well, the study used the ability to field flyballs, line drives, and ground balls and assigned a percentage value to each. Flyballs were 33%, line drives were 25%, and groundballs were 42%. However, they missed something rather large. Clint Barmes, played 12 games at short stop in 2003, his rookie year. The Rockies felt that was too much so they limited him to 9 games at short in 2004. After regaining their confidence in him, they let him play 80 games at short, almost a full half season in 2005! My point is that its a small sample size to compare with a player who starts in 150 games every season. Jeter has played more games in one season than Barmes did in the entire stretch between 2002 - 2005. In the last two seasons, Jeter has played more baseball than Barmes has in his entire career. My question is, where does Julio Lugo rank in all this? Way to go U-Penn!
Worst Shortstop in the Game?
Know Thy Enemy: Third Base
Red Sox Third Base
Mike Lowell was always the "other guy" the Red Sox acquired in the Beckett deal. He was a bit under the radar for good reason. He came off a season for the Marlins where he batted .236 with 8 homeruns and 58 RBI's in 500 at bats. Not the kind of production you would hope for out of a third baseman. Apparently, a little bit of time to heal and a change of scenery was all he needed. In 2006, Lowell flashed an impressive glove, and rediscovered his stroke to the tune of 20 homeruns and 47 doubles with a .284 average. Although I don't mind, he was still robbed of the gold glove that year. 2007 proved to be an even better year for Lowell at the plate, but worse on the field. He made 15 errors as compared to the 6 he made the year before. But he finished the season with a .324 average (first time he's finished a season above .300), 21 homeruns, and 37 doubles. His 120 RBI's led the team surpassing both Ortiz and Ramirez. Not bad for an under the radar kind of guy. He also won the World Series MVP last season. Many people tend to write him off because his swing is tailor made for Fenway Park. He just doesn't have the same success outside of there. Lucky for him half his games will be at Fenway Park.
Yankees Third Baseman
If I had to sum up Alex Rodriguez with three letters, I would use these: M.V.P. Last season he earned it. I was at the game where he hit a walk off three-run homer against closer Joe Borowski with two outs and two strikes in the ninth. He had plenty of big moments last season and he literally caried the offense for large portions of the season. As Giambi nursed his foot, and Abreu tried to solve the riddle of what a bat is used for, Alex Rodriguez provided the only consistant power for the Yankees. Don't get me wrong, Posada, Cano and Matsui were forces to be reckoned with in that lineup, but not anywhere close to the .314 average, 54 homeruns, and 156 RBI's held by A-Rod. More impressively for anyone who followed the Yankees in 2006, is that his defense improved dramatically. He made 13 errors at third as compared to the 24 he made the year before.
Third Base Winner: Yankees. Lowell isn't a dud by any means, but he's up against the reigning AL MVP, and the leader of most offensive categories that matter. They played similar defense last season so that isn't a huge consideration, though in a typical year Lowell is better on the field. They both had career years last season, but A-Rod's was more impressive. Let's be honest, If A-Rod batted .324 with 21 homeruns and 120 RBI's it would be considered a down year.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
The Ever Popular Pavano Tough T-Shirt
PS. Rest assured that none of the models in the website are us or anyone affiliated with us. We look much manlier than they do.
Know Thy Enemy: Shortstop
Red Sox Shortstop
Lets begin by reviewing a quick history of the shortstop position for the Red Sox. In 1996, the Red Sox brought up rookie shortstop Nomar Garciaparra. They had, in the makings, a franchise player. Nomar batted for power, which was a rarity at that position, and he batted for average as well (he batted over .300 in each season from '97 - '00, hitting .372 in 2000). But alas, Garciaparra was injury prone, and he was a baby about it. In 2004 the Red Sox got fed up with him. If I understand the story my Red Sox friends have told me, it all came to a head in that wonderful game where Jeter showed his gangster prowess by running into the stands, cutting his face, and then turning to the crowd he yelled "Are you not entertained!?!" By the accounts of these Sox fans, Nomar had been asked by Francona if he could play that day. Nomar said he could not, because he was hurt or le tired. After Jeter made that play Nomar asked to get into the game, but Francona refused. Shortly thereafter, Nomar was traded to the Cubs, and the Red Sox won their first championship in 86 years without him. To replace him, the Sox had both Pokey Reese and Orlando Cabrera. By all accounts, Cabrera was well liked, but he was traded to the Angels as the Sox went after free agent Edgar Renteria. It was a bad move. Renteria struggled in Boston much like Coco Crisp is now, and after the 2005 season, they sent him back to the National League where he belonged. They probably foresaw that hot prospect Hanley Ramirez, another potential franchise player, would be ready to take over in 2006. Instead they traded him to the Marlins as apart of the Beckett trade, and signed Alex Gonzalez to play short for the year. Gonzalez is a defensive wizard, but probably because he traded all his hitting ability for defense. He finished that season with a .255 average as Hanley Ramirez won the rookie of the year award hitting .292 with 51 stolen bases that year. Last season, Ramirez batted .332 with 29 homeruns and another 51 stolen bases. Gonzalez simply wasn't their answer at short. So who was their answer at short? Apparently Julio Lugo. I'm not sure what they expected to get from Lugo when they gave him the 4 year deal. Besides the fact that he looks like Jiminy Criquet, he doesn't have much to offer the Red Sox. Lugo is fast, and has experience in the AL east as he played for Tampa Bay, but neither his bat or his glove are anything to write home about. He finished last season with a .237 average with 8 homeruns, 73 RBI's and 33 stolen bases. You can expect him to improve next season and get near his career average, which means a .270 batting average with 10 or so homeruns and another 30 bases stolen.
If we were to give a history of the Yankees shortstop position, it would be very brief. It would say 1996 Derek Jeter arrived. 2008 he's still here. In 2006 he came in second place for the batting title with a .343 average. Last season, the Yankees shortstop battled an arthritic knee and a Scott Kazmir fastball planted right above his left knee cap to hit .322. Although his post season left much to be desired, he had a batting average of .354 throughout the regular season with runners in scoring position. A healthy Jeter will give you a .300+ batting average, 200+ hits, and some thrilling games.
Shortstop Winner: Yankees. Despite his decreased range, Jeter is still a better shortstop than Lugo who has a career fielding percentage of .966. Jeter also brandishes a mightier bat than Lugo.
New Cuban Pitcher On Baseball's Radar?
If Steinbrenner (George, not Hank) was still running the team you better believe Castro would be on the mound for the Yanks. What with the Mets signing Santana and all, the Yankees would definitely one up them by signing Castro. Sure he's older and rehabbing but that's more or less the type of pitchers Big Stein liked to overpay. With Cashman running things, as it appears he still is, it is unclear whether he will recommend that the franchise make the splash of the year by signing Castro. Only time will tell.
Monday, February 18, 2008
Andy Pettitte Still the Man
I've been watching Andy Pettitte's press conference and I just have a few thoughts. First, I think its universally understood that he made a mistake. He admitted it, and he believes it was wrong. He felt pressure after signing the three year $31 million contract with the Astros, and didn't want to show up and hit the DL like Carl Pavano. I can't seem to find the article now, but I once read this interview from his first season with the Astro's where he was saying that he was getting cortisone shots in his injured elbow before every game he pitched. It got so bad that his last game against the Mets, his fast ball was in the 70's and his changeup was dipping into the 60's. The speed was so foreign to the Mets that they were actually getting fooled on the pitches. He pitched 5.2 innings with 1 earned run that day. After that he got the surgery that ended his season. What he did was wrong, but he did it out of a sense of debt that he had to his team. How many players are happy to collect their checks on the DL? Pettitte made a mistake, but he deserves another chance, and the fact that he's accepting the consequences makes him the man.
Best Name in Baseball Award
In other news, Andy Pettitte may be losing it. According to Pete Abe's blog "As Andy Pettitte sat down, he noticed Derek Jeter, Mariano River and Jorge Posada sitting down off to the side. 'Hey, those are my boys over there,' he said to Joe Girardi. 'All right.'" How you confuse three of the biggest stars in the game for your three sons is beyond me. Besides, Andy's youngest is like three years old, how confused was he at that press conference?
Sunday, February 17, 2008
On Bryan Hoch's blog it is reported that Pavano left camp today wearing a "Bongs not Bombs" T-shirt. What a guy. We at the "Respect Jeter's Gangster" blog have found out that that is his going out shirt. He must have a date tonight.
Friday, February 15, 2008
Wang Loses Arbitration Hearing
If you haven't read Pete Abe's blog he has some updates from Spring training. A good read. The only update we would like to report from Spring training is that Jeter has appeared in camp with more gangster than last season. I know some fans had feared that he would lose some of his gangster over the off season, but the scouts and coaching staff agree that his gangster is not only intact, but stronger than before. Although no one wants to say it out right, the overwhelming feeling in camp is that Jeter's gangster will lead the Yankees to a world series victory in 2008. In other news, Julio Lugo sucks.
Know Thy Enemy: Second Base
Alright...Onto Second Base
Yankees Second Base
This spot is held down by Robinson Cano. Cano first started playing in the 2005 season when Tony Womack got off to a slow start. 2005 was a big year for Yankee fans who enjoy player development because both Cano and Chien-Ming Wang both came on the scene and showed why building your own players is the way to go. In 2006, Cano came in third place for the batting title after posting a .342 average with 15 homeruns and 15 homeruns. He also missed a solid month of that season with a hamstring injury. Last season he got off to a very slow start. If you know anything about Cano, its that he shuns walks, and the concept of a strike zone. But he began to get more patient and the results showed themselves. He batted .385 in July, .301 in August, and .333 in September to finish the season. He ended last season with a .306 average with 19 homeruns and 97 RBI's.
His defense wasn't bad either. In Cano's rookie season, he made a ton of errors, and it seemed that his size at such a slick position was a problem. Both the 2006 and 2007 seasons have ended that notion.
Red Sox Second Base
I was one of the many Yankee fans who though Pedroia was going to flop. He had this large uppercut swing, and he was balding at the age of 24. After he started playing however, he proved a lot of people wrong about him. He is a solid batter, who does not strike out much, and in his first big league season he batted .317 with 8 homeruns and 50 RBI's. He was a very solid fielder too making 6 errors all season. Although he's still balding, he's certainly proven that he belongs on the big league club.
Second Base Winner: Yankees. Although Pedroia is a better fielder than Cano, Cano isn't a dud either. Cano projects to continue to grow in power, and he's already proven that he can hit for average. Pedroia will probably bat for .300 next season, but I just don't see the kid batting for the kind of power that Cano will. Neither of them are threats on the base paths, so that's out of the debate. Cano has the kind of potential to go out and hit 25 homeruns and 100 RBI's next season. You can't say that for Pedroia.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Merry Spring Training Day
Know Thy Enemy: First Base
In the past I used to debate with Red Sox fans as to who had the better player at each position. Today, to help pass the time, we will begin our own debate on that matter. We will review one position each day. Starters will be reviewed as a whole as will the releivers, but the closers will be done seperate. We will also review the DH position since we are in the American League.
This is sure to anger fans on both sides, but we at the blog ask that you really think about what you disagree with before you disagree with it. For example, if you're really upset that we're saying Derek Jeter is better than Julio Lugo, you may want to wonder why. Since it is a debate, if you disagree with our position, we want to hear why. State your case in the comments section.
So to begin, lets talk about First Base...
Yankees First Base
The Yankees first base could be held by any number of players. By my count, there were six first baseman coming to spring training: Morgan Ensberg, Jason Lane, Jason Giambi, Shelley Duncan, Wilson Betemit, and Juan Miranda. I still beleive Jason Giambi can be a productive batter, but I have no faith in his defense. In the past he had quick hands. He looked kind of like a hockey goaley playing first base since he had pretty good reflexes and could knock down balls with his glove. However, he also had the range of a hockey goaley. He just didn't have the mobility. He also could never quite figure out how to throw to second.
Morgan Ensberg would need to prove he can play first base since he is a third baseman by trade. He would also need to show that he can return to his 2005 form with the Astros and would need to shave that hideous beard. Jason Lane is an outfielder by trade, but the Yankees brought him into the first base mix. Much like Ensberg, Lane needs to show that he can return to his 2005 form, and needs to show that he can play first base. He also needs to prove that he can stay healthy. Betemit does not seem suited as the best defensive option at first, and he strikes out way too much to be an every day player. Juan Miranda is a long shot to make the team, seeing as he hasn't played above double A. Doesn't mean he can't turn some heads in Spring training, just means he isn't the highest on the depth chart. That leaves the ever popular Shelley Duncan. A player with good power but a lot of strikeouts. He seemed adequate as a defender, but he played more games in the outfield than he did at first last season for the Yankees. No one will mistake Duncan for Mientkiwicz at firstbase, but he also won't be mistaken for Mientkiwicz at the plate.
Red Sox First Base
Where the Yankees have a slew of players looking to claim first base, the Red Sox have that position pretty much locked down. Kevin Youkilis, also known as the Greek god of walks, lives up to his name in that sense but he is not the power threat the Sox would hope to have at first base (he hit 16 homeruns last season). Yankee fans may remember Youkilis as the guy Chamberlain threw two fastballs at. What Yankee fans tend to forget is that Chamberlain was just taking over for Proctor who had plunked Youkilis a few times before. Of course, these were in retaliation for all the times Matsuzaka beamed A-Rod. All in all, Youkilis is a great defender with a solid bat. He gets on base and knocks in a few runs. He had a perfect fielding percentage at first base last season. He seemed to tire out as the season went on however as he batted .402 in May, then dropped to .264, .219, .241 and .274 to finish the season.
First Base Winner: Red Sox. Too much uncertainty at this position for the Yankees, and Youkilis is too solid a player.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
1 Day, 1 Player: Nick Green
Spring Training is upon us! If you live in the Northeast, this may come as a surprise since we have been inundated with freezing rain and snow. In any event, on to our last player review of Nick Green. This is a player who probably should make the roster but won't.
Some may remember Nick Green from 2006 when the Yankees picked him up to be a utility infielder. He was let go by the Devil Rays at the time (not a good sign) when he batted .077, but the Yankees didn't sign him for his bat. Nick Green can play second, short, and third base, and is a pretty solid defender. He's had some experience at first and in the outfield as well. He batted .240 with 2 homeruns for the Yankees in 75 at bats in 2006. He spent the majority of last season in the Mariners minor league system.
So why do I think he should be on the roster? Because I think he will be a better defensive glove than Betemit as a utility guy. Betemit is a good pinch hitter type off the bench, but do you really want him replacing Cano, Jeter, or A-Rod late in a game with groundball Wang pitching? The Yankees signed Chris Woodward, and have some minor league players who could fit the utility role, but I think Green would fit the best.
My Fearless Prediction:
Green will eventually end up on the roster, and play some decent defense while striking out too much to be used for long stretches. He will not end up on the opening day roster.
Little Know Nick Green Fact: Green used to strengthen his throwing arm by standing in the lanes of bowling alleys, picking up the bowling balls rolled to him, and throwing them to pretend first baseman near the arcade.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Pavano's Online Diary
February 8, 2008
Today I threw the ball again. It required a ton of mental preparation. I stayed up all night watching my He Man DVD's to get myself pumped up for the session. There was this one episode where Skeletor stole He Man's powers, and He Man hurt his arm. Then He Man said "By the power of gray skull, I am He Man" and bam! His arm was okay. Why does He Man say "By the power of gray skull" anyway? Gray skull is Skeletor's home, and Skeletor's his worst enemy. That never made much sense to me. That would be like me saying "By the power of Mussina's Gambrel roofed home, I am Pavano!" That might be a cool way to take the mound from now on. Anyway, when I took the field I felt like such a man. Gosh I wish people would call me He Man. Then I could pitch in my underwear like the Spartans before me. I would need a shield, and a steed. Maybe a dragon. I could ride a dragon up to the mound, and then say "By the power of Mussina's gambrel roof home, I am Pavano!" Then my muscles would bulge and I would take the mound with a shield and my underwear. The crowd would start chanting my name, and I would hold up my shield to the Steinbrenner luxury box and yell "Steinbrenners I salute you!" The batter would crap his pants right there. All those hot chicks Jeter's always with would flock over to me. That would be so cool.
I started playing my Candy Man soundtrack, since it helps get me pumped up. That Shelley Duncan kid tried to turn it off, and I had to put him in his place. Why doesn't he get a man's name like Carl, or Derek, or Jeter? Gosh, he's an idiot.
I threw for about a minute, and my arm started to hurt. I really wanted to quit, but then I made it to the second minute and I felt fine. By the third minute I was going to quit, but then the Candy Man theme song came on, and I got a second wind. That lasted me until the 6th minute when I did take a break. I drank some gatorade. Red. Just like the blood of Candy Man's victim's. I wish I was Candy Man. Bees would be my best friends, and I would send them to do my biding. I bet I could get them to infest Mussina's home. He always steals my newspaper right from my locker and then finishes the cross word puzzle before I can get to it. Then Matsui does my Sudoku. All I have left is the funnies, and I never understand them.
I called Chamberlain to see if he wanted to watch Candy Man with me. He said he would be there quarter past never and then hung up. I checked my watch and realized that was the exact time Alyssa Milano said she would call me back. He didn't show up. That's okay because if he says my name in the mirror three times, I will be there, with a hook for a hand, ready to take action.
Well that's enough for now. I need to get back to this Bionic Six marathon they're doing on TV. What ever happened to all these great shows? Bye.
Joba To Begin Season as Reliever
[For context, see comments section of post titled, "Know a Crappy Team: Kansas City Royals"]
Seriously though. I assume the Yankees know what they're doing, we don't need another Kerry Woods. My only concern would be that Joba's got these other pitches we keep hearing about, but having to put them in your back pocket so often can't be good for mastering them and having the confidence in them necessary to throw those pitches at major league hitters. Hopefully it won't be an issue, and frankly, it probably won't be. But if it is, I got dibs on "I told you so."
2 Days, 2 Players: Ross Ohlendorf
So, we have reviewed the 25 players we beleived were going to make it on the 25 man roster. Within that time, the Yankees signed some more first baseman and if I had to start from scratch I probably would have added Morgan Ensberg to the mix. However, we are at the point where we need to review 2 players who probably should be on the roster for opening day, but probably won't be. On that note, let's talk about Ross Ohlendorf.
Ohelndorf came to the Yankees in the Randy Johnson trade. A princeton grad, with a hard sinker, Ohlendorf began last season as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues. He wasn't as succesful as the Yankees would have hoped, but when they moved him to the bullpen he did better. He was called up last September and only threw 6.1 innings. In that time he struck out 9 batters and gave up 2 walks and recorded a 2.84 ERA. His pitches were thrown in the high nineties out of the bullpen, and he seemed very promising as a potential setup guy. Then came the playoffs. His only playoff appearance was not pretty. He pitched one inning where he gave up 4 hits, 1 walk, beamed a guy, and struck out none. If you remember the game, you'll remember that he was hit pretty hard, and he did not look too happy. I still think he'll be a good releiver in the future.
My Fearless Prediction:
I do not beleive Ohlendorf will be with the Yankees when they start the season, but I expect to see him this season nonetheless. My beleif is that Albaladejo will impress enough to take a roster spot, and Igawa is getting paid too much to not be given a spot. Once either of them start slipping, Ohlendorf will be ready to take their place.
Little Known Ohlendorf Fact: Ross Ohlendorf was a molecular biologist in Princeton when a radioactive beam shot a spider that later landed on his hand and bit him. It was shortly thereafter that Ohlendorf developed a 95 mph sinker.
Monday, February 11, 2008
Pettitte Ain't no Rat
Andy Pettitte excused himself from the Congressional hearing that was going to occur on Wednesday. Presumably he would be testifying against Clemens. Knoblauch and Radomski also backed out, which leaves Clemens and McNamee going toe-to-toe. Pettitte learned the two most important things in life, never rat out your friends and always keep your mouth shut. (Can anyone tell me where that's from?)
Gangster Points: 4 Tommy Guns
Clemens Strong Denial
Despite all of McNamee's allegations, his evidence, and everything else, Clemens is sticking to his story. He's making friends in high positions, and has put together a team of lawyers that are so persuasive, members of congress will probably leave the hearing wearing "Rocket Fuel" T-shirts. This alone deserves some gangster points.
Gangster Points: 3 Racketeering Charges
Wang Going to Arbitration
Wang and the Yankees were $600,000 apart on their arbitration figures, and I'm assuming that an offer to meet in the middle was turned down by Wang. I gotta admit, I wouldn't have expected it from mild mannered Chien-Ming Wang. He wants his money, and he aims to get it.
Gangster Points: 9 tax evasion scandals, and some street cred.
Hughes Starting a Blog
Not gangster at all, but still cool. Thanks Phil Hughes.
Gangster Points: 1 Teletubbie hugging a Cabbage Patch kid.
Know A Crappy Team: Kansas City Royals
Kansas City has not been known for its speed on the base paths, power, or even hitting for average. I have been following this team closely since 2005 and the team for the most part was comprised of older, slower, not so good players. Mike Sweeney, the team captain at the time, was the main power source, but back and knee injuries kept him from being productive. He recently signed on with the Athletics. Letting Mike Sweeney go marks a development in the approach the Royals have taken to building the team. They are letting veterans like Sweeney, Emil Brown, and Reggie Sanders go, in place of younger replacements, and more productive free agents.
Speaking of free agents, it appears that the Royals are not as financially drained as their last place status would suggest. The Royals surprised everyone last year when they signed Gil Meche to a 5 year $55 million contract. This year, they signed Jose Guillen to a 3 year $36 million deal, and relief pitcher Ron Mahay to a 2 year $8 million deal. This would suggest that the Royals are actually willing to spend money to get the right players.
The youngsters however are the ones who are going to define this offense. Royals center fielder had an off year last year, as did right fielder Mark Teahan. Both these players will be looking to bounce back next season. Perhaps the bigger pieces to the offense will be third baseman Alex Gordon, and first baseman Billy Butler, both of whom got their first taste of big league action last season. Gordon started the season slow, but improved as the season went on. Butler batted for a pretty good average at .292, but didn’t show his true power potential. Both of these guys could be 30 homerun guys in the near future.
You can also expect their running game to improve with new manager Trey Hillman. Hillman managed in the Yankee minor league system, and then managed the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan. With speedster Joey Gathrite on the team, it would be a crime for the Royals to not start swiping bases.
The entire baseball world laughed when the Royals signed Gil Meche to a 5 year $55 million contract, and began calling him their ace. Meche was always a mediocre pitcher with the Mariners, and it seemed odd that the Royals would invest so much in him. However, Meche stepped into that roll for the Royals to the surprise of everyone else. When other teams courted him, they expected him to be more of a 3 or 4 guy in the rotation, the Royals expected him to be a 1 guy, and he responded well. Though his win-loss record wasn’t very good (he was pitching for the Royals), he posted a 3.67 ERA, and struck out 156 batters with 62 walks. He had a 4.65 ERA prior to his coming to the Royals.
Meche isn’t the only promising pitcher in the Royals rotation. Brian Bannister pitched well in his first season with the Royals. He’s not much of a strike out guy, but he gets outs, and limits damage. He had an ERA of 3.87 last season. The wild card of the bunch is Zack Grienke. Grienke posted an ERA of 3.69 with 106 strikeouts in 122 innings. Grienke first pitched in 2004, and showed a lot of promise. In 2005, a 5.80 ERA really pressed him. He showed up to spring training in 2006, but left shortly thereafter for personal reasons. It later came out that he was dealing with anxiety issues, and almost quit baseball altogether. He returned later in that season, but was used as a reliever. In 2007, he began the season as a starter, was moved to the bullpen, then later moved back to the rotation. If he has put all his demons behind him, you can expect a lot out of him as a starter.
The biggest weakness the Royals have had has been their bullpen. With no clear closer, they have shuffled to shut the door on games. Joakim Soria turned out to be a pretty solid closer last season, while Jimmy Gobble and Joel Peralta proved to be good set up guys. Add to that mix veteran lefty, Ron Mahay and you have the makings of a serviceable bullpen.
They may not be there just yet. They need time for the rookies to develop a little more, and the starters to shake themselves out. However, you will probably see this team compete in the AL Central in the near future.
3 Days, 3 Players: Mariano Rivera
The way Mariano Rivera began the 2007 season was worrisome. I always knew he started off slow, but it seemed like he was slower than usual. I wondered if his age was getting to him, and his cutter just wasn't cutting. Rivera posted a 10.57 ERA in April, and his struggles were an exclamation point to the troublesome start the Yankees had last season. No game was more frustrating as a fan than the April 15 game against Oakland. Pettitte had pitched an amazing game, and was set for the win. Then Mariano came in, put two guys on, and then gave up a three-run homerun to Marco Scutaro. Marco Scutaro! Many blamed his struggles on sporadic, inconsistant use. I don't buy it. He's a closer, and he needs to close.
Lucky for Yankee fans however, April proved to be an aberration. His ERA's in the following months were 1.74 (May), 1.98 (June), 0.71 (July), 3.86 (August), and 2.77 (September). He recorded 29 saves in that time. He had two games, one in August and one in September, where he gave up 3 runs. Take those two outings away and those months were pretty good. He finished the season with a 3.15 ERA, 30 saves, 74 strikeouts and 12 walks in 71.1 innings.
He went on to have a pretty good post season as well, pitching 4.2 innings, striking out 6, walking 1, and plunking one batter without giving up a run. I don't remember who he plunked, but chances are the guy deserved it.
My Fearless Prediction:
Mariano will stumble out the gate, but don't expect it to be as severe as last year. He just needs some time to adjust. He will finish with 40 saves, an ERA in the mid 2 range, and about as many strikeouts as innings pitched. Expect him to regain the confidence we've had in him over the years, and expect an amazing pitching performance by Rivera in the 2008 world series.
Little Known Rivera Fact: Rivera once invented a pitch called "the slicer". After the deaths of 4 batters and one bullpen catcher, he decided to stop using it ........ for now.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
Carl Pavano Will be Ready for Opening Day!
So in any event, Pavano is coming back, and he is coming back hard. The Yankees are likely to take a long look at his 2009 club option, and then throw it out.
4 Days, 4 Players: Bobby Abreu
Acquired prior to the expiration of the trade deadline in 2006 Abreu has proven to be a serviceable outfielder. He does, however, leave a number of things to be desired. Abreu has a great arm in right field, which he uses often since he's not going to be diving or running into the wall to catch balls, he'd rather chase it down and throw it in. Abreu has also not shown the power many hoped he would. And while he often manages to find a way on base, he was a very streaky hitter in 2007. The Yankees picked up Abreu's option for 2008 if only because the $16M price tag in this year's free agent market was a bargain. But I suppose that determination can only be made accurately at the end of the year.
Abreu's May batting avg: .124; Abreu's June batting avg: .531. wtf?
Little Known Fact:
Bobby Abreu is actually an above average golfer who tees off regularly with the likes of Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on his own personal golf course in Venezuela.
Clemens v. McNamee
In a completely unrelated note, I wanted to point out that the blog is coming of age! We finally received our first hate message, which can be read in the previous posts comments section. We have had 3500 views in the first month of this blogs existence, but a hate message really puts us on another level. So thank you all who have checked out the blog! We will continue to respect Jeter's gangster, and invite you all to respect it with us.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Deron Blogs the Mitchell Report
With all the controversy going on between McNamee and Clemens, and now Clemens wife, its obvious that things have gotten out of hand. I for one am very upset about the way the Mitchell Report was approached, and now how things are going with Clemens and McNamee. The Mitchell Report was not comprehensive. I am shocked that I didn't merit a mention in that report. After all the steroids and HGH I did, you figure Mitchell would at least give me a shout out. Instead, the 400+ pages that comprise the report have no mention of me. What do I gotta do to get mentioned in the Mitchell Report? I offered to speak to him, and he turned me down. I offered him evidence of my PED use and he didn't care to see it. What? Because Derek Jeter was picked over me to go into the majors I don't merit a mention in a report about PED use? I mean, Mitchell was well aware of what I did. Just a few years ago Jose Canseco injected me with 'roids while George Mitchell watched and Bud Selig took notes. Despite this, I turn on ESPN on the day the report was released, a day that was suppose to be the biggest day of my life, and what do the headlines say? Clemens and Pettitte used PEDs. No mention of Deron Peter and his rampant PED use. That should be me on capitol hill! McNamee should have my beer can! That should be my wife on the cover of sports illustrated!
It wouldn't hurt so much if it was the first time I didn't merit a mention. Jose Canseco wrote the book "Juiced" and didn't mention me either. So you know what? Screw you Canseco! Screw you George Mitchell! And while I'm at it, screw you Derek Jeter for beating me out at shortstop after I pumped my body full of roids. So what if I can't hit to the opposite field, or do a spin move in the hole to plug a guy at first! I sacrificed my body for baseball! All my muscles grew but something else shrunk! I bet Jeter doesn't have that kind of commitment to baseball! As for Canseco, you're a filthy rat. You promised you'd write about me in your first book, and you didn't. Now you're telling me you'll add me to your second book. Who the crap is going to read your second book! The Mitchell Report is the sequel to Juiced you roided out freak ape! And Mitchell, this is what your report should have said: "Yankees minor league shortstop, Deron Peter used enough PED's to look like an elephant on steroids." Next time you write a crappy report, call me up and I'll give you some pointers, you Red Sox scum bag.
5 Days, 5 Players: Jose Molina
Jose Molina came to the Yankees from the Angels last season after they tried Wil Nieves for an extended period of time. Molina was batting .224, 0 homeruns and 10 RBI's in 125 at bats for the Angels. When he came to the Yankees he batted .318, with 1 homerun and 9 RBI's in 66 at bats. At the time the deal was made, I thought it was a solid move. The Yankees had a hard time finding a good back up catcher they could rely on to give Posada a day off every now and again. I had been saying for a while that we needed one of the thousand Molina brothers, and we finally got one.
My Fearless Prediction:
Expect Molina to bat in the .230 range with a handful of homeruns, and sprinkling of RBI's. What Molina really offers the Yankees is a serviceable defensive catcher who they can use to give Jorge Posada a day off here and there. Expect Posada's knees to be very grateful for the Molina brother.
Little Known Molina Fact: Jose Molina toughens his hands in the off season by catching Chamberlain fastballs bare handed.
Friday, February 8, 2008
Pavano Injury Update
6 Days, 6 Players: Brian Bruney
Brian Bruney came to the Yankees from the Diamondbacks during 2006, and proved to be an amazing releiver in that time. In 20.2 innings he recorded 25 strikeouts and 15 walks with a 0.87 ERA. He made it into three games that post season going 2.2 innings, striking out 4 and giving up one earned run off a homer. He would throw in the high nineties sometimes hitting triple digits, and missed a lot of bats. He was very dominant.
Then came 2007, and Bruney began to show why the Diamondbacks kept him in the minors all of 2006. He seemed to lose velocity and control. He walked 37 batters last season while striking out 39. In 50 innings he posted a 4.68 ERA, and fell out of favor with Joe Torre. The season did not start off badly for Bruney who had ERA's of 2.70, 1.64, and 1.04 in the first three months of the season, but his control slowly left him. In April he started strong, striking out 14 while walking 7. In May he struck out 10 and walked 6. In July, he struck out 2 and walked 11. Torre used Bruney sparringly throughout the rest of the season, and Bruney did not like it. The coaches tried to have him make some mechanical adjustments, but he gave them up and kept pitching awfully.
My Fearless Prediction:
The Yankees beleive that Bruney's problems can be fixed, because otherwise they wouldn't have kept him and gave him arbitration money. If Bruney can throw strikes he can be good, but he still needs to miss bats. His fastballs get hit hard when he misplaces them. I expect Bruney will flourish with Girardi as manager. As much as I liked Torre, he still misused bullpens, and once a pitcher was out of favor it was near impossible for them to get back into favor with Torre. An ERA in the mid 3's with 50 strikeouts is what you can expect for Bruney. However, if he is not over his control issues then expect Bruney to be waltzing into Scranton before long.
Little Known Bruney Fact: Brian Bruney was the captain of his high schools Waltzing team.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Derek Jeters Off Season Training Regimen
Day 1 - Weight and Resistance Training
-Bench Press 3 sets of ten repititions...one handed
-Giambi Squats (Requires Jason Giambi to sit on shoulders) 3 sets of 10 repititions
-Aligator Hurls 3 sets of 10 (Drive pick up truck full of aligators up to Jose Canseco's fence. Then hammer throw them into his yard. Pool = 2 points, porch = 3 points, and roof = 4 points.)
-Under water situps with tank full of sharks (requires aquarium)
-Tee work with 80 lbs baseball bat
*Requires aligators, sharks, Jose Canseco's yard
Day 2 - Hand-Eye Drills
-Bullet catches (requires a tommy gun, several rounds of ammo, and kevlar glove)
-Lawn mower rotations (stick hand in and out of lawn mower without getting hand cut off, requires lawn mower)
-Cobra slaps (slap a cobra without it biting you. For best results, taunt cobra by placing hand in cobra's face and telling the cobra to talk to it. They hate that.)
-Learn to throw ninja stars (may need ninja to teach you)
*Requires kevlar baseball glove, machine gun, lawn mower, a ninja and posionous snake
Day 3 Stamina Building
-Morning run up Mt. Everest (carrying a bag full of Gold Glove and Hank Aaron awards.)
-Tornado wind sprints. (Must wait for tornado)
-Fist fight a bear (grizzlies for best results)
-Helicopter holds. Grab ahold of a helicopter at take off and hold on until it lands (requires helicopter)
-Tie dead chicken around waist and visit Jurrasic Park's raptor cage (requires raptors)
*Requires epic mountain, bears, helicopters, raptors and Tornadoes
Day 4 Field Work
Base running drills: Sprinkle shark teeth around infield and run bare foot.
Fielding drills: Gary Sheffield fungo drills.
Hitting drills: Don't need them.
Concentration drills: Fill stadium with hot chicks and stare at Jason Giambi for as long as possible.
*Requires shark teeth, Gary Sheffield, hot chicks, and Jason Giambi
As you can see, it takes a lot of work to be Derek Jeter. Next week we will feature Carl Pavano's work out regimen for comparison.
7 Days, 7 Players: Wilson Betemit
Wilson Betemit was introduced to the Yankees last season at the trade deadline as Cashman sent Scott Proctor to the Dodgers. At the time I didn't like the trade. Proctor was a work horse who was over worked, but I still liked him as a player. He was the only pitcher who would retaliate against the Red Sox after they would peg our players 5 times a game. I really hoped Farnsworth would get traded, but alas, the deadline came, Proctor was gone and in came Betemit. Apparently, the Yankees had been interested in Betemit for a while, and had tried to make offers for him before. Last season it worked out.
Betemit batted .229 with 14 homeruns and 50 RBI's in 240 at bats last season. He has a lot of pop for a utility infielder, which is what I beleive the Yankees liked about him. He was certainly a step up from Miguel Cairo in the power department. With great power however comes great strike outs. Betemit struck out 82 times last season with 38 walks. One of the concerns with Betemit is his weight. He's a hefty guy who plays positions that require a little more grace. He has a good arm, but that won't help him if he can't reach a ball. I did not get to see him play much defense last season, so I have to go on the numbers. He has a career .960 fielding percentage, which isn't very good. His career numbers at shortstop are awful (perhaps the reason they signed Nick Green), but he will be looked at for 1st base duty.
My Fearless Prediction:
Betemit will be given spot starts throughout the infield, but with stronger defensive options available, expect to see him as a pinch hitter/bench player. He will strike out a lot, and hit a few homeruns. Expect at least 10 homeruns, with a low batting average and a few botched plays throughout the infield.
Little Known Betemit Fact: Wilson Betemit played Hamlet in his home towns production of the famous Shakespeare play.
Wednesday, February 6, 2008
8 Days, 8 Players: Latroy Hawkins
If one thing can be said about this off season, its that releivers cashed out. I thought for sure the Yankees would make runs at Troy Percival, Octavio Dotel, Ron Mahay, and David Riske, but the players signed else where, and for more money and years than the Yankees would want to give. In Hawkins however, the Yankees found a good deal in an otherwise unfriendly releif market. By allowing Vizcaino, a B-list player, to be signed by the Rockies for two years, the Yankees scored a sandwich pick from the Rockies in the next draft. By signing Hawkins, the Yankees did not need to give up any of their own draft picks.
Latroy Hawkins posted a 3.42 ERA, with a 2-5 record, 29 strikeouts, and 16 walks in 55.1 innings. He was apart of the Rockies last season and pitched 5 innings in the post season giving up one run. Last season he got 99 groundouts and 37 flyouts, but throughout his entire career his groundout to fly out ratio has been about 1:1. My impression is that for the most part Hawkins can get hitters outs, but when he gets hit, he gets hit hard. He was a closer in the past, but those days are behind him, and the Yankees would be unwise to use him as a set up guy.
My Fearless Prediction:
Hawkins will continue to get outs but will give up more runs being on an American League team. He has experience with the AL East as he pitched for the Orioles in 2006. He posted a 4.48 ERA with 27 strikeouts and 15 walks in 60.1 innings. I expect he will do something similar for the Yankees. I also expect that he will do wonders in the post season next year, shutting down hitters in the world series.
Little Known Hawkins Fact: Latroy Hawkins used to wear a cape when he pitched for the Minnesota Twins. He gave it up for a pancho when he went to the Cubs, and replaced it with yellow rain boots when he went to the Orioles. He currently does not use any unlicensed baseball gear.