Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reviewing Our Rivals

You probably already heard that Valentine took some light jabs at the Yankees yesterday, saying that Jeter was out of position during the flip play, and that he fondly remembers Varitek beating up A-Rod. We at the RJG were grateful that Valentine made these comments, because it reminded us that we haven't done our rivalry review that we typically do this time of year. As a matter of fact, we kind of forgot the Red Sox were there. They finished in third place last year with a restocked lineup that promised to be the best offensive team in baseball last March. They then slipped under the radar this winter, and are going into spring training with far less expectations then they had one year ago. This may not be completely fair, because the Red Sox still have a good team. On the plus side, they still have Adrian Gonzalez, Kevin Youkillis, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz, all of whom know how to handle a bat. Plus, a healthy Clay Buchholz, Jon Lester, and Josh Beckett lead their rotation, and newly acquired Andrew Bailey should be a decent replacement for Papelbon. But with that said how do the Red Sox compare (on paper) to the Yankees this year? Well here goes our position by position review beginning with the central piece to any team, the catcher.

Russell Martin vs. Jarod Saltalamacchia

Its no secret that the Red Sox weren't exactly happy with Saltalamacchia last year. He logged 358 at bats as the primary catcher, and ended with a .235 average with 16 homeruns and 56 RBI's. He had 26 passed balls and 83 stolen bases against him, both career highs, though in fairness the Red Sox did have a knuckleballer on their team. He also had a career high in strikeouts with 119 last year. All things considered, it was not the season the Red Sox hoped for as Victor Martinez' replacement.

Russell Martin had his first full season behind the plate since being hobbled by injuries since 2009. Some of his numbers were oddly similar to Saltalamacchia. A .237 average with 18 homeruns and 65 RBI's is what he finished with. Although Martin only had 4 passed balls, he also allowed 95 stolen bases (a career high). However, Martin drew twice the amount of walks as Saltalamacchia (50 vs. 24), and struck out far less (81 in 417 at bats for Martin, while Saltalamacchia struck out 119 times in 358 at bats). I would say that Saltalamacchia, who was coming from Texas and was now on a new team needed some time for adjustment, but Martin was also new, and he came from the National League where a greater need for adjustment would be needed.

So who gets the edge? I give it to Martin. Martin switched leagues and was coming off an injury and was able to be more productive than Saltalamacchia. I don't suspect his second season in pinstripes, in a contract year, will see him slow down. Barring injury, Martin will be a better offensive force than Saltalamacchia while providing similar defense.

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Ryan Braun Mess

I feel the need to address this situation. I think it should be obvious to anyone that, although an arbitrator ruled in Braun's favor, nothing about the overturned suspension suggests Braun has been vindicated.

Braun's suspension was overturned on a technicality. MLB's collective bargaining agreement requires that test samples be delivered to the lab within a specific window of time, a window that was not met here because the sample was taken on a weekend when the lab was closed. The longer window would not have had any contaminative effect on the sample, but it technically was a violation of the CBA and thus Braun's test result was invalidated by the arbitrator (though not scientifically).

Braun had synthetic testosterone in his system. That didn't get into his urine because the sample arrived a day late. All we know, at this point, is that Braun's lawyers are 1) clever and 2) well read on their CBA. That's it. I wasn't there when Braun took the synthetic testosterone, but I'm pretty sure he cheated. He would've been caught and without recourse to a technicality had MLB had the good sense to take his sample on a Friday. That is not vindication by any means. That is not 'the truth coming out' as Braun would like to have us believe. If he really didn't take a PED, then he has to do better than 'the sample arrived a day late, invalidating the test results according to the CBA, though not any actual science on drug testing'.

At day's end, all that has been overturned is the suspension. No doubt has been cast on the test results itself, which cannot be a grounding of Braun's innocence. I'm not against due process. If MLB messed up here, they shouldn't be able to suspend Braun. I am, however, against sanctimony. Don't act all high and mighty, or even worse, innocent, just because your drug test was taken on the wrong day and stored in a refrigerator for longer than the CBA, though not the science of testing, allows (those of us who have paid attention to the numerous doping scandals in cycling are aware of the fact that when a rider fails a test, a back up sample is then also tested to confirm the first result, which means the extra day or so Braun's sample was in a fridge did not have the effect of corrupting the sample itself).

This might be different if there was any evidence the sample had been tampered with, but there isn't. Also, we'll remember that Braun's initial statements were that the positive result must have stemmed from a drug he was taking for a personal medical issue. Now the positive result was from tampering (which is what the 'they didn't deliver it on time' argument is supposed to imply to a presumably gullible public). I know bull$#!% when I see it, and this is bull$#!%.

The Pete Rose Legacy

Every now and then we get requests from sports betting sites to advertise their pages. The most recent of which is TopBet Sportsbook. If you're into sports betting, and aren't a professional sports player or manager, feel free to check that site out. I personally don't bet on sports, but then again, I haven't been putting away for retirement either, so perhaps some time in the future I will be putting up my house to bet for a big game in an attempt to secure my golden years.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Jones Looking for Someone's Playing Time

In this blog post by Joel Sherman, it is reported that Andruw Jones spent 5 weeks at A-Rod's place as the two of them endured a boot camp aimed at getting them ready for the year. The sentiment is that they both want to prove that they can still perform at a high level, with Jones going as far to say that he wants to take someone's job in the field. Without a doubt, a high performing Andruw Jones and Alex Rodriguez would be a welcome sight. But it doesn't matter what they do in the weeks leading up to spring training, it matters what they do throughout the 162 regular season games and beyond. What has hindered both these guys over the last few years have been injuries. Well, injuries and quiting on your team (Jones with the Dodgers). And I suspect that will be the biggest factor for this season. A healthy A-Rod with regular rest could hit 30 homeruns, and a healthy Jones could probably hit a couple doubles, but I'm just not willing to put the hope of the offense on those two players just yet. I am however looking right at Granderson and Cano.

Spring Training Conversations

As Spring Training camp gets underway, there aren't many questions surrounding these 2012 Yankees, but there are a few. As such, we called up good friend of the blog, the Obi-Wan to our Anakin, Yankees GM Brian Cashman. The following is a transcript of our conversation:

BC: Hello?

RJG: Bronnyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy Caaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaash!

BC: Oh, hey.

RJG: [Singing to the tune of Folsom Prison Blues] But I signed a man in Reno, who could track down flies. When I hear that whistle blowin', I hang my head and cry.

BC: That doesn't make any sense.

RJG: Well I couldn't think of anything for the second line.

BC: Are you calling to make fun of me for my personal troubles?

RJG: No, I would never try to make your personal troubles into a joke. They're already hilarious as it is.

BC: I'm hanging up now.

RJG: No, wait! I'm just calling to talk baseball!

BC: Fine. What do you want to ask?

RJG: Well, it seems to me you have six pitchers for five spots.

BC: It seems to you? We quite clearly have six pitchers for five spots. Everyone's been talking about that for weeks now.

RJG: Yeah yeah. But who do you think takes it between Garcia and Hughes? Is there one you'd prefer over the other?

BC: Not really. It's sort of like when Lexi has to choose between Marc and Avery. You really can't go wrong either way.

RJG: Marc and Avery? Wait. Did you just use a Grey's Anatomy reference?

BC: I guess I did.

RJG: Are you serious right now, because I love that show?!

BC: Me too! I wonder what's going to happen between Yang and Owen!

RJG: Me too! But I sort of wish the writer's could've come up with a less stereotypical sounding name for Yang. I mean, why can't you just give her a regular Asian name like Jeremy?

BC: That's a strange observation.

RJG: D'you know I auditioned for a part on that show?

BC: Really! What part?

RJG: Zola.

BC: You auditioned to play the role of Meredith and Derek's baby?

RJG: Yeah, but they were all, 'you're way too old for this part.' and I'm all, 'it's a metaphor, guys. Get with the program!'

BC: That's utterly insane. What is it a metaphor of?

RJG: You know, your crumbling personal life.


There you have it folks. It is a two-man competition for the fifth spot in the rotation and the Yankees are comfortable with whoever takes it.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lots To Report!

Its been a while since we've last updated, but there was a reason for that. My brother and I were hanging out in the RJG head quarters when we got a frantic phone call from Brian Cashman telling us that Roger Clemens was on his way to our office with a shotgun because he found out that we had leaked his performance drug use to the public. We quickly ran into our safe room, and locked the doors behind us, turning on the video camera's to scout the area. As we did, we did not see Clemens, but we did see Brian Cashman walking over to an extension cord that extended from our headquarters into his apartment where we've been stealing his electricity to power our offices for the last couple years. He then unplugged it. We sat locked in the safe room in darkness, and it was about then that we realized that we hadn't leaked the Clemens PED use to the public, it was Brian McNamee. Ironically enough, Brian McNamee was the only one who responded to our SOS plea's as he is an amateur morse code enthusiast. So are we, which meant that for the first few days we were sending out morse code to the beat of Party Rock, which no one responded to. Luckily, the safe room does have flash lights and Guinness, which meant it wasn't waisted time. But now that we're out, here's what has occured in our absence:

Mariano Rivera has said that he will retire after this year. What this means is that a lot of focus will be placed on Dave Robertson and Rafael Soriano. Robertson is a better pitcher, but Soriano makes closer money so that will be a tough call for the Yankees. In the meantime, I'll be praying for a change in heart, and that Mariano Rivera will return to be our closer forever.

AJ Burnett has been traded to the Pirates freeing up $13 million off the Yankees payroll, which they then turned around into two contracts for Raul Ibanez ($1.1 million) and Eric Chavez ($900,000). Incentives could bring those deals higher, but the truth is, the age of throwing money at all our problems may actually be over. To think that the Yankees had enough restraint to free up $13 million before committing $2 million to two players is bizarre. I don't like it. It makes me want to buy something expensive on my credit card just to set it on fire. Burnett had his good moments in pinstripes, but he also had bad ones, and the bad were the most memorable. But he was an integral piece in that 2009 championship run, so we can't be too disappointed in how that deal turned out. It wasn't a good deal when they made it, and time just proved that to be true. Kind of like the A-Rod deal.

Lastly, and most importantly, spring training has officially begun! There isn't too much to figure out this spring training. We have 6 starters for 5 jobs, so that will have to get worked out, and you always hope that some prospect will knock the screws off the balls, revealing that one of our pitchers has been putting screws in the baseballs, and starting a new controversy. Mostly, I'm just interested to see how Pineda, Nova and Hughes do this year, and how well Kuroda will adjust to the American League East. Time will tell! Baseball is here!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Market for AJ Burnett Expands

According to the Lohud Blog the Indians and Angels are now in the mix for AJ Burnett, with the Indians willing to deal Travis Hafner to fill our hole at DH, and the Angels potentially willing to deal one of their excess outfielders for the same role. This puts us at the RJG in a strange position. All year we've been sarcastically joking that there was a market for Burnett. Now there actually is a market for Burnett. Its no longer a joke, which makes us a credible source for actual news, which completely counters our entire business model. As we begin to reorganize all our assets at the RJG, we would like to mention that the Angels are apparently on Burnett's partial No Trade list, which makes them an unlikely landing spot. The one thing I will say is that its at least looking promising. Kind of like the previews for the Avengers, and much like the Avengers, this better not disappoint.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RJG Addresses the Burnett Trade Rumors

This week saw rumors emerge that the Yankees were actively shopping Burnett on the trade market. Apparently, the Yankees front office even went as far as to call a second GM Winter's Metting, a move quickly blocked by Mud Selig (ha ha, see what I did there?) and those jerks over at MLB.

The RJG phones have been ringing off the hook. Everyone from beat writers, to nationally syndicated sports columnists, to foreign emissaries wants to know what our take on the rumors are. I would describe it this way: subdued enthusiasm.

RJG enthusiastically supports trading AJ Burnett, but not until after April (we need those six wins). We are subdued, however, because we've been hurt before. Think of every player you ever thought the Yankees should trade because they sucked. We thought they should be traded too, but they weren't. The problem is that the rest of the baseball world also thought that player sucked. It's the Yankees' fault really. They keep running these guys out there where their suck can be viewed by just about anyone. Selling AJ might be hard. Selling AJ for a legitimate bat may be impossible. Hence, subdued enthusiasm.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Yanks Continue to Fill Out Roster

The Yankees have signed Bill Hall to a minor league contract and invited him to Spring Training. Yankees fans will best remember Hall from that last sentence. The Yankees may also be close to landing Raul Ibanez. Ibanez would give the Yanks the left handed bat they lost when they let go of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Not overpaying them for their decline years now seems like a big mistake. Admit it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Giants Win! Now About a DH...

Congratulations to the New York Giants and specifically to Eli Manning who seems to be seen as the little brother of an elite quarterback as opposed to an elite quarterback in his own right. People seemed surprised when Eli said that he saw himself in the same category as Brady. Now he's beaten Brady twice in the superbowl, and this time it didn't require a miraculous catch. That being said, the football season is now over, and despite the dissapointment of a weak lineup of superbowl commercials, it was an entertaining game to watch. Now, we look forward to baseball season, and therefore we must revisit the signing of a DH. The Yankees want a left-handed DH, and the available candidates are Matsui, Damon and Raul Ibanez. I've advocated we let Jorge Vazquez compete for the spot, because the Yankees are suddenly concerned about their payroll, and he's a very cheap option. However, he's right handed. So what's your pick: go cheap and right-handed or spend money and go left-handed?

Friday, February 3, 2012

RJG Solves the DH Problem

Recently, we here at RJG had a stroke of pure genius as to how the Yanks might address their DH needs. We immediately called good friend of the blog, Brian Cashman, in order to explain our exciting new idea. The following is a transcript of our conversation:

BC: Hello?

RJG: Bronny! [Strained attempts at breathing]. It's the boys over at RJG. [More desperate gasps]. How ya doin'?

BC: Fine. Why are you breathing so hard?

RJG: #@$% . . . Dialing . . . Phone . . . $#!% I'm out of shape!

BC: Do you need something?

RJG: Yeah. We figured out the solution to your DH needs.

BC: Well I always welcome unsolicited advice from semi-knowledgeable members of the public.

RJG: Sarcasm noted. Okay, here's what you do. You call up Seattle, note their deficit of pitching, buttressed only by the insecurity of some blue chip double A prospects, and offer them Burnett, and or Hughes for Jesus Montero. Problem solved. You're welcome.

BC: You think Seattle is going to trade us back Montero for Burnett or Hughes?

RJG: No need to thank me. No, seriously, thank me.

BC: That is the craziest trade idea I have ever heard.

RJG: You once traded for Randy Johnson.

BC: That was unusually mean-spirited.

RJG: So are you going to trade for Montero?

BC: I don't think Seattle will go for that.

RJG: But you haven't even tried it yet!

BC: Is there something else you'd like to talk about?

RJG: Um, uh, well, you know how cell phones come with instruction manuals, and it's like, um, hello? Who doesn't know how to use a phone? Totally.

BC: Well actually, today's smart phones are increasingly complex instruments that undergo frequent technological transformations. An instruction manual is probably warranted.

RJG: #@$% you, Brian Cashman.


There you have it folks. The Yankees continue their pursuit of a left-handed bat to occupy the currently vacant DH role.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Teixeira Threatens to Bunt

Teixeira, in an effort to raise his batting average to pre-Yankees levels and to fend off the shift that often neutralizes his pull-happy swing, is suggesting he will bunt more. Of course, with Teixeira's raw power, most of those bunts will reach the left field wall, good for a single considering Teixeira's raw speed. Maybe. Maybe a single. Here's the thing, when you run like you're on crutches, only the crutches broke and you broke your collar bone upon hitting the ground, bunting isn't really your friend. Neither is running. You more or less have to accept that 'light jog' is all evolution really designed you to do. Okay, 'lumbering jog', but still. If Teixeira wants to beat the shift, he may have to consider going the opposite way, which for Teixeira means walking instead of striking out or hitting into the shift. Good luck young-ish man.