Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Money Saving Chicago Cubs

Can anyone say Milton Bradley? There is definitely something brewing on the North Side as the Cubs have pulled off two cost cutting trades in the past two days.

First, Jason Marquis to the Rockies

Then today, Mark DeRosa to the Indians

Why would the Cubs trade away two valuable pieces? The Cubs are looking to upgrade their main weakness (i.e left handed power hitter) by dumping guys who they can replace. The Cubs could afford to deal Mark DeRosa even after a career season because they already have Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Mike Fontenot, and now Aaron Miles to cover both second base and shortstop. Also, the Cubs have five quality starters without Jason Marquis in addition to Sean Marshall and Rich Hill, both of whom could contribute at some point this season.

Simply put, the Cubs could move on without Marquis and DeRosa.

No fan likes to see their team essentially give away pretty good players, but this is only the start for the improving Cubs. Given the current market situation, the Cubs should be prime players for Adam Dunn, Bobby Abreu, or the aforementioned Bradley because of the money they have saved from these two deals (roughly $12 million). That will make their lineup more balanced and dangerous considering how many formidable right handed threats they already have (Ramirez, Lee, Soriano).

If the Cubs pick up a formidable left handed hitter, they will become even more dangerous in 2009 than they were in 2008.

Who Wants To Be a Yankee?

What do these guys all have in common?

CC Sabathia:
-Never won a title
-Made ALCS with Indians in 2007; pitched terribly
-Made NLDS with Brewers in 2008; pitched terribly

AJ Burnett:
-Was on Marlins Championship team in 2003, but...was injured
-Does he get a ring for that?
-Never pitched in the post season...ever

Mark Teixeira:
-Never won a title
-Reached the post season for the first time in 2008 with Angels...played well
-Never came close to the playoff with the Rangers (4.5 seasons)

The bottom line is that none of these guys have extensive experience playing in the playoffs and winning championships. Making the playoffs and winning championships are what the Yankees are known for. Besides all the money, it's no surprise that so many players still clamor to play for the somewhat dysfunctional, pressure packed Bronx Bombers.

In the end, all that matters is winning.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hendrickson to the Orioles

Before yesterday, the Orioles starting rotation looked something like this:

1. Jeremy Guthrie
2. ??????????
3. ?????????????
4. ????????
5. ???????????

So it's obvious that the Orioles needed to add some depth to their starting rotation, even if they have virtually no shot at competing this season. They needed starting pitchers to eat some innings in order to ease the burden off of their young starters (Liz, Olson, etc.) and conserve their bullpen.

However, is Mark Hendrickson really a viable solution? According to several reports, the Orioles are on the verge of signing Hendrickson to a one year contract that would fill one of the voids in the Orioles rotation.

My problem with the Hendrickson signing is simple: he has not been an effective starting pitcher since the first half of 2006. Since then, Hendrickson has been living in mediocrity land as his ERA as a starter has consistently hovered around 5 and peaked at 6.24 in 2008. Hendrickson does not strike out anyone (81 K in 2008) and gives up an absurd amount of base hits (148 hits in 133 innings).There is no getting around the fact that Hendrickson stinks.

Perhaps the scariest part about this signing is that Hendrickson will now be pitching a majority of the time against AL East teams, who have lineups comparable to fantasy baseball teams (especially the Yankees). A scrub like Hendrickson will be eaten alive in the AL East, much like Steve Trachsel was this year. It could get real ugly in Baltimore folks.

And finally, the Orioles needed a starter who would relive the burden off of the young starters and bullpen, but I fear that Hendrickson will be the exact opposite. There is no upside or benefit to this signing for the Orioles and I think that they would have been better off with a different veteran starter or simply letting the young guys compete for the rotation spot.
I understand that there is virtually no risk with a one year contract, but the odds of Hendrickson helping the Orioles out of the rotation is very slim.

What Next? Nationals Edition

Now that the Nationals have officially missed out on signing 1B Mark Teixeira, what should they do next?

Well, it's complicated.

Several sources have mentioned the Nationals as contenders for Manny Ramirez, who remains unsigned with few suitors. Ramirez is reportedly looking for a three or four year contract worth at least $20-$25 million per year. Even though Ramirez is one of the best hitters in baseball, Ramirez's contract wishes are pretty steep for any team besides the Yankees.

So why does Ramirez make sense for the Nationals?

Simply put, the Nationals don't have much else and Ramirez would be a star player, who could revive baseball in Washington DC and inject some life into this listless franchise. Even at age 36, Ramirez is still one of the biggest stars in baseball and he could help the Nationals sell some tickets in their new stadium and show the rest of the baseball world that the Nationals are serious about competing.

However, signing Ramirez would be a huge risk for the Nationals.
First of all, Ramirez has a history of being a cancer with the Boston Red Sox and whose to say that Manny will not continue his act in Washington. Between not playing hard and faking injuries, Manny became a major problem with for the Red Sox, which ultimately forced the Red Sox to deal him away. The Nationals cannot afford such transgressions considering that they do not have the payroll or fan base of the Red Sox. The Nationals need a sure thing, who they know will produce.

Also, the Nationals already have a glutton of outfielders. Besides the emerging Lastings Milledge and Elijah Dukes, the Nationals recently acquired Josh Willingham from the Marlins, which rounds out a young and potentially productive outfield. On top of those three, the Nationals also have Austin Kearns, Justin Maxwell, Willie Harris, and Wily Mo Pena fighting for at bats in 2008. Considering how many outfielders they already have, it would not make sense to throw tons of money at Manny only to replace younger and cheaper players.

And most importantly, the Nationals are probably not close to competing. Even though the Nationals have some talent, they are probably a few years away at least until they are ready to compete. How can they justify having a $20+ million dollar left fielder when they need to invest in so many other areas of the team? Ramirez would not be a cure all for the Nationals, who have several other weaknesses that they need to address.

I do not believe that Manny Ramirez is a good option for the Nationals. Same goes for Adam Dunn. The Nationals need to think long term, not short term.

With that, I believe that the Nationals need to be patient right now. It's still a buyer's market out there and there will be many good deals to be had. It's important to spend money, but the Nationals need to spend wisely even in the wake of losing Teixeira.

So here's my idea for the Nationals: go after either Orlando Hudson or Oliver Perez. Hudson would be a great fit for the Nationals, who badly need someone to lead their young group of players while providing steady production. Hudson would give the Nationals both aspects-offensively, defensively, and off the field. A perfect leader who might be had at a quality price.

As for Perez, we all know that he is inconsistent. However, Perez is only 27 years and has fantastic stuff. The Nationals would have the unique opportunity to sign Perez to a 3-5 year contract and watch him pitch in DC during his prime. That's an opportunity that would benefit the Nationals in both the short term and long term because Perez has the ability to produce at a high level throughout the length of the deal.

Perez will never be confused for an ace, but he has many qualities that should interest the Nationals. We'll see if the price comes down on Perez, especially as the suitors begin to shy away.

I'm sure if the Nationals want to spend money, the options will be out there. But do not forget about the big picture, the future, and smartly invest those dollars into guys who will help the team grow as a whole towards a winning future.

How the Wily Taveras Signing Could Make Sense

I know, it's hard to justify giving a center fielder with no power and a .308 OBP last season a 2 year contract. In most situations, this contract would be considered incredibly stupid, especially considering how bad the free agent market is right now. But considering how this Reds team is constructed, signing Wily Taveras actually makes sense.

What the Reds needed most headed into 2009 was a table setter. The Reds had a pretty good offense in 2008, but they lacked a consistent leadoff hitter who could set the table for Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, and Jay Bruce. Hell, even Corey Patterson got 82 starts for the Reds, which tells you how dire the situation was.

Also, Taveras is not a bad player by any stretch of the imagination. Sure his 2008 numbers were pretty bad (.251 BA, .308 OBP, 1 HR), but Taveras has demonstrated the ability to perform on the big league level. Taveras has a career batting average of .283 and in 2005, he was second to Ryan Howard in the Rookie of the Year voting. One down season does not diminish his previous accomplishments.

In addition, Taveras's best attribute is by far his speed. In 2008, Taveras stole a career best 68 bases while only getting caught seven times. When Taveras gets on base, he is absolutely lethal on the base paths and a near guarantee to swipe a base or two. He will add a new dimension to a Reds lineup that in 2008 ranked ninth in the NL in stolen bases (85) and second in the NL in caught stealing (47).

Reds fans are going to love watching Jay Bruce and Wily Taveras run down fly balls. These two guys are great defensive players and will be a major asset to the volatile pitching staff. Taveras uses his great speed to track down balls that most outfielders would not come close too. This aspect of Taveras's game cannot be understated.

And finally, for all these folks who are screaming and yelling about the length of the contract: remember that the Reds were looking for an outfielder who fit their specific wants (i.e: fast, cheap center fielder). Besides Taveras, there is no one else on the market who fits that description. Two years is not an unreasonable amount of time for a guy with the pedigree of Taveras. Point to his 2008 stats all you want, but two years of Taveras is not the worst thing for a Reds team that only has three outfielders right now on their 40 man roster.

If Taveras can produce at his 2005-2007 level, then the Reds lineup could become one of the best in the National League. While they lack the names of the past (Dunn and Griffey), this lineup offers more depth and options, which could make the Reds a fun team to watch. I look forward to seeing Taveras set the table for the young studs (Votto and Bruce) as the Reds continue to play high scoring games at Great American Ballpark

Monday, December 29, 2008

Will the Giants Compete With Randy Johnson?

There are many reasons to like the Randy Johnson signing if your a Giants fan.

First of all, Johnson is still a very effective pitcher, even at age 45. Last season, Johnson won 11 games with an impressive 3.91 ERA in 184 innings. The Randy Johnson of 2009 will never be confused for the intimidating strikeout machine of the mid nineties, but Johnson still struck out 173 hitters last season. Perhaps the best sign is that Johnson started 30 games last season and did not miss significant time because of injury.

He should be a very effective third or fourth starter for the Giants behind Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, and maybe Jonathan Sanchez. If the Giants can get anything at all from Barry Zito, then this rotation could be one of the best in baseball. Furthermore, this rotation has great potential to win many games because have a pretty good bullpen on paper with Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt, and Bobby Howry.

Another important factor in this signing is that Johnson is only five wins away from 300. Even though Johnson has never pitched for the Giants before, I'm sure that Giants fans would love to see someone in their uniform achieve one of the highest goals in pitching. Right off the bat, every game Johnson pitches in San Francisco should be a sell out, which is great for the Giants franchise and fan base.

The Giants have done a great job building up pitching depth for 2009, but I'm not sure if they will be legitimate competitors out West. The Giants offense on paper still stinks unless Travis Ishikawa and Pablo Sandoval are the real deal. This team really struggled to score runs last season and they are still in dire need of an impact bat or two.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

What Next? Red Sox Edition

As the off-season began, I thought the Red Sox were going to be relatively quiet this off-season. Besides some minor tweaking, I did not expect the Red Sox to be players for any of the major free agents. The Red Sox already have a tremendous core group of players, who seem destined to win many baseball games for the Red Sox.

However, the Red Sox did not sit quietly this off-season. Concerned about aging DH David Ortiz and the injury prone Mike Lowell, the Red Sox made an aggressive push to sign free agent 1b Mark Teixeira. At times, the Red Sox appeared to be the front-runner to sign Teixeira, but ultimately Teixeira signed with the Red Sox free spending division rival-the New York Yankees.

We will never know if the Red Sox interest in signing Teixeira ultimately motivated the Yankees to make a strong push for Teixeira. However, the Red Sox must recognize that this signing puts them in a pickle-what to do next?

The Sox seem to have realized that Ortiz and Lowell are likely on the decline and that if they are going to compete with the Yankees and Rays, they will need more production from their DH and third baseman. Both Lowell and Ortiz had down years in 2008, which is a concern because the Sox no longer have Manny Ramirez to produce in the cleanup spot.

However, at this point, the Red Sox best bet is probably to stand pat and hope that Lowell and Ortiz stay healthy and productive. There is no one available on the free agent market right now that would significantly upgrade the Red Sox lineup. With that said, the Red Sox need to make sure they have quality depth on the bench should Ortiz or Lowell go down with an injury or struggle.

There is no reason for the Red Sox to panic. While it’s tough to watch the Yankees sign Teixeira, they are still in a very good position even without Teixeira.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Next? Angels Edition

The Angels have been painfully quiet this off season thus far. They have watched all-stars Mark Teixeira and Francisco Rodriguez sign elsewhere for more money while they have been reluctant to go after any big free agents. To date, their biggest move this off season was re-signing Juan Rivera to a three year contract. Not exactly setting the bottom line on fire with these moves.

So after letting Rodriguez go free and taking themselves out of the Teixeira sweepstakes, are the Angels in danger of losing their grip atop the AL West? Probably not. But if they are going to compete with the beasts of the AL East, they need to make some moves and keep improving this team.

Here are some moves that make sense for the Angles moving forward:

1. Sign Brian Fuentes
-Even after losing Francisco Rodriguez, the Angels still have a stacked bullpen led by Jose Arredondo and Scot Shields. There is no doubt in my mind that if the Angels did not address their bullpen, that they would still survive in 2009.

However, by signing Brian Fuentes, a Californian, the Angels would be constructing a potentially dominant bullpen that would give manager Mike Scioscia lots of options and flexibility. Fuentes would give the Angels a dominate left handed presence out of the Angels bullpen and would make a wonderful 1-2 punch with Arredondo. If the Angels are going to compete in the AL, they need to have a deep bullpen to supplement their powerful rotation.

Plus, the Angels could probably sign Fuentes at a reduced rate. Because the economy is so bad, mid level free agents like Fuentes will have to sign below what the market previously demanded they receive. How often can a team acquire a three time all star at a bargain price? Gotta love this market!

2. Sign Adam Dunn
-With Teixeira gone to the Yankees, the Angels need to acquire a power hitter to add some juice to the Angels lineup. Dunn would be the perfect fit. He has hit 40 homers in each of the past four seasons and can be counted on to produce a high OBP and OPS. Dunn would thrive hitting in front of Vladimir Guerrero, who would provide great protection for the patient Dunn.

Sure Guerrero is aging, but he is still one of the best hitters in baseball. However, he cannot carry the load by himself. He needs help.

The Angels cannot expect to seriously compete for a pennant with their lineup as constructed. In big situations, Guerrero will be pitched around and instead of facing another prominent hitter, teams will only have to deal with Juan Rivera, Torii Hunter, and Howie Kendrick. Good players, but none are in the same category as Dunn.

However, there are several issues that we need to address here. The Angels seem to be committed to giving their young players more playing time in 2009 in light to losing Teixeira. Reggie Willits, Kendry Morales, and Juan Rivera all seem to be in line for more playing time this season, which should eliminate the Angels interest in Dunn.

In addition, where would Dunn play? The Angels are already overloaded at OF and unless Dunn is willing to play 1b or DH full time, he does not appear to be a fit with the Angels.

However, not attempting to sign Dunn would be a massive mistake. The goal should be to win right now especially after failing to win a championship in 2008. Dunn would make a perfect DH for the Angels not only for his ability, but because of his price. Like Brian Fuentes, Dunn will probably receive far less on the open market than he ever expected because of the bad economy. The Angels will probably only have to commit to Dunn for a year or two, which mitigates their risk.

And finally, Dunn should be willing to play 1b or DH for several reasons. Considering how poor this market is, Dunn should feel fortunate to play with the Angels and play in a market that will increase his stature and visibility. Playing and succeeding with the Angels could help line up Dunn for a bigger contract down the road. Also, Dunn's wants to play for a winner and play in the post season, both of which the Angels have excelled at over the years.

I still believe that the Angels will be a major factor in 2009. However, if they want to be serious competitors they need to remain active in trying to improve their roster.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Now That's An Expensive Infield

In 1910, Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack assembled the famed "$100,000 infield." The combination of Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Stuffy McInnis, and Jack Berry propelled the Athletics to the top of the American League and led the Athletics to three World Championships.

Mack was a firm believer that the infield was a integral part to building a winning baseball team. Therefore, Mack was willing to spend whatever it took to bring the best set of infielders to his Athletics.

Fast forward to 2008, and it appears as though Yankees GM Brian Cashman has reinvented the $100,000 infield. Cashman has assembled the best infield that money could buy (literally) and in the process has built the most dynamic set of infielders that my generation will likely see.

Let me now introduce you to the $80.5 million dollar infield:

1B: Teixeira: $22.5 mil
2B: Cano: $6 mil
SS: Jeter: $20 mil
3B: Rodriguez: $32 mil

The 2009 salary of the four Yankee infielders is more than the 2008 team payroll of sixteen teams. That's half the league!

It will be determined if Cashman's $80 million infield attains the level of success that of the $100,000 infield, but Cashman has built the present and future Yankees through the infield. If the Yankees are going to win in 2009 and beyond, these four all-stars will play a vital role in their success. Somewhere Connie Mack is smiling.

Mark Teixeira to the Yankees

Wow. After weeks of only hearing about the Red Sox, Orioles, Angels, and Nationals being involved in the Mark Teixeira sweepstakes, the Yankees ultimately landed the free agent slugger with an 8 year/$180 million contract. The contract is further proof that you can never count out the Yankees, who have now spent over $400 million bucks this off season on only five players.

This deal makes so much sense for the Yankees. For starters, the Yankees needed another potent bat in the middle of their lineup to drive in runs and come through in big situations. Teixeira fits the description perfectly; he's one of the best power hitters in baseball and has driven in over 100 runs in four straight seasons. Hitting 40+ homers with 140 RBIs should not be out of the question for Teixeira considering the vast talent in the Yankee lineup.

Also, Teixeira is only 28 years old. While age may be overrated at times, Teixeira is entering his prime right now and should have many good seasons ahead of him. It's good to see GM Brian Cashman shy away from signing older players, who are more prone to decline and injuries and instead focusing on younger players, who have room to improve and grow. Plus, the combination of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira will be absolutely lethal. Have fun pitching to those two for the next eight years, American League pitching.

The most underrated factor in this signing is Teixeira's defense. Teixeira is considered to be one of the best defensive first basemen in baseball and he won a gold glove in both 2005 and 2006. The Yankees infield defense is shaky at best: Robinson Cano is prone to mental lapses, A-Rod has experienced defensive ups and downs in the past, and Derek Jeter's defensive skills (range!) have been declining for the past few seasons. Teixeira will stabilize the Yankees infield defense because he is a major upgrade over the horrific Jason Giambi, who was a very weak defensive first baseman.

This move makes the lineup scary. There is not one weak link in this lineup and IF everyone is healthy, this lineup could and should set records for both runs and home runs. By my count, every projected starter the Yankees have right now has hit at least 20 HR in at least one big league season. The Yankees have built a modern day murderer's row.

I'm not going to lie though, I am disappointed by this signing. On one hand, I am disappointed that Teixeira did not jump at the opportunity to sign with the Nationals and transform the baseball culture in Washington DC. With the Yankees, Teixeira will just be another big star on a team of big stars instead of being the man with the Nationals. However, there was no guarantee that the Nationals would or even could compete at this point, so I cannot blame Teixeira for going for the sure thing.

In 2009, the Yankees should be a sure thing. On paper, they have the best team in baseball, but they are playing in a awfully tough division. After doling out all of this money, the Yankees are sure to be the team to watch in 2009, but we will have to wait and see if the Yankees with Teixeira can surpass the Red Sox and Rays.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Market for Manny Ramirez

During the second half of the 2008 season, Manny Ramirez put up legendary numbers with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ramirez hit .396 with 17 HR and 53 RBI in roughly two months with the Dodgers. Ramirez's torrid hitting propelled the Dodgers to a division title and a spot in the NLCS.

However, Ramirez's market has been slow to develop despite his phenomenal 2008 season. Ramirez and agent Scott Boras seemed confident that they would be able to turn Ramirez's amazing two months with the Dodgers into a huge contract (4 years/$100 mil).

However, Ramirez has failed to come close to the huge contract thus far.

The Dodgers has reportedly offered Ramirez a 2 year/$45 million extension in November that would make Ramirez one of the highest paid players in baseball. However, Ramirez and Boras held off on accepting that deal believing that they could still do better. The Dodgers need Manny in the heart of their lineup and as the soul of their team, so it would not be surprising to see GM Ned Colletti concede some demands to Boras and Manny.

And then we have the Yankees. Even though the Yanks have already spent more than $220 million on starting pitching, Ramirez would be a great fit hitting behind Alex Rodriguez and would give the Yankees a modern day murderer's row.

So will the Yankees make a strong push for Manny? Maybe. It was reported by a Spanish newspaper that the Yankees had offered Ramirez a 3 year/$75 million contract, but Yanks GM Brian Cashman quickly shot it down. Ramirez would be a great fit for the Yankees, but paying him $75 million at this point seems rather ridiculous given the market.

And how about the rest of the league? Who knows?

The Angels might have interest now that they have moved past the idea of re-signing Mark Teixeira. They need a a bonafide star and a big hitter in the middle of their lineup to protect Vladimir Guerrero. Ramirez would instantly make the Angels heavy favorites to win the AL West and legitimate contenders to win the World Series.

The Nationals might have interest in Ramirez if the fail to land Teixeira. The Nationals are desperate to show the rest of the league that they are serious about competing and spending $20+ mil on Ramirez would certainly send that message. Also, Manny would give the Nationals the legitimate superstar that they have not had since they moved to Washington. He would put fans in the stands and give people a reason to watch the lowly Nationals.

Once Teixeira signs, the market for Manny should begin to heat up. Manny might be a head case and a clubhouse cancer, but there is no doubt that Ramirez is one of the best hitters alive right now. The market has been surprisingly been slow to develop, but like other top free agents (Sabathia, Teixeira), Manny will get his money.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Teixeira's No Angel

Yesterday, the Angels decided to withdraw their offer (probably 8 years/$160 mil (ish)) to Mark Teixeira effectively taking themselves out of the running for the slugging first baseman. According to Tim Brown of,

"Sources close to the process said Angels owner Arte Moreno concluded that
Teixeira did not intend to play for the Angels and that his team was being used
to drive up the price for the other interested clubs."

This sounds like a classic play by Teixeira's agent, Scott Boras, to use competition to drive up the price tag on his prized client. However, instead of getting a bigger contract for Teixeira, Boras's high asking price and negotiating tactics have taken the Red Sox and Angels out of the Teixeira sweepstakes. Nice job Mr. Boras.

So what now for Teixeira?

Fear not people, Teixeira will still get his money. Even as the suitors begin to fall, you have to remember that the Nationals are still very much involved in these negotiations. While GM Jim Bowden would probably give an arm and a leg to get Teixeira, we can only speculate the extent to which Teixeira wants to play in Washington.

At this point, the two seem like a perfect match.

The Nationals are willing to offer Teixeira the huge contract he desires. They will probably overpay if need be. If Teixeira goes to the Nationals, it will undoubtedly be because the Nationals offered him the best contract/gave him the most money.

And for Teixeira, the Nationals appear to be the lone serious suitor remaining, which would should make them the instant favorites for his services...right?

Maybe. Depending on how badly Teixeira does not want to play with the Nationals, the field (i.e rest of the league) may not be totally out of these talks. We all know how much Scott Boras loves to use competition to create a market and don't be surprised if that is exactly what he does.

With the Angels now out of the picture, maybe the Red Sox will decide to re-enter the negotiations. Their competition for Teixeira is now greatly reduced thanks to the Angels exit, which could make their previous offer a more serious one for Teixeira's services. Teixeira would be a great fit in Boston, especially for a guy that "loves the East Coast."

And don't forget about the Yankees. I know all reports have stated that they NOT going after Teixeira, but given this scenario with the current economic climate, the Yankees could take advantage of a dwindling market for Teixeira by jumping into these negotiations and signing yet another franchise player. Never count out the Yankees because hey, they're the Yankees.

And as was reported earlier in the week, the Orioles have made an offer to Teixeira as well, but many baseball people believe that their offer was too low. We'll see if the Orioles become players again in the Teixeira sweepstakes. You have to remember that Teixeira is a Maryland native, which could help the Orioles enormously in future negotiations.

If I'm Orioles GM Andy McPhail, I would call up Scott Boras today and increase the offer. This is an opportunity that the Orioles cannot afford to sit on the sidelines for, especially when the rival Nationals are the other main suitor involved.

It's the Hard Knock Life

I know this is a baseball blog, but the symmetry between the Mets and Jets, two teams that I root heaviest for, is remarkably eerie this morning.

Yay for yet another collapse!

I have been a Jets fan for as long as I can remember. And each season, they have let me down. And it seems as though this season is going to be no exception.

For all of you non-football fans out there, the Jets fell from first to third in the AFC East by losing to lowly Seattle yesterday, 13-3. The loss probably eliminates the Jets' playoff hopes and reduces Jet fans to ponder how this former "Super Bowl Contender" could have blown the division lead late in the season.

And as we all know, my beloved Mets have collapsed in September for the last two seasons, painfully losing a playoff spot on the final day of the season.

Losing is painful enough, but late season collapses are absolute torture. The highs and lows of a good, but not good enough season suck the life out of a fan base while leaving me feeling paralyzed to think about football or the Jets.

So instead, I'll leave you with a video that will better express how much it sucks to be a Mets and Jets fan right now.

We will now return to your previously scheduled baseball content.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

World Baseball Classic: Who Cares?

On Friday, it was reported that Brad Lidge, Ryan Howard, and Cole Hamels all will not compete in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The sad part is that I can't blame these three for skipping the tournament.

I want to care about the WBC. I want to throw my support behind the US team like I do with the Olympics. I want to see this tournament succeed because the idea of the WBC is fantastic and as a baseball fanatic, the idea of watching different countries play against one another should excite me.

However, this tournament fails to excite me in any way.
For one thing, it's impossible to become engulfed in a tournament that employs different standards than the MLB. Since the tournament takes place in March, pitchers are not properly stretched out to go longer than a few innings at a time. It's no fun watching a battle of the bullpens, especially when the games are supposed to be competitive. Besides the players on the field, there is little difference between WBC games and spring training games.

Who would you rather watch pitch, Dan Wheeler or Jake Peavy?

Also, as a Mets fan, I cringe watching the guys on my team play in this tournament. Instead of cheering for the United States, I find myself cheering for my guys not to get hurt. Because in the end, this tournament is still an exhibition, a precursor of sorts for the upcoming baseball season. If David Wright hurts himself playing for the US team, I would be beside myself.
A tournament like this has so much potential to succeed, but timing is everything. I'm sure playing in March will excite some fans because hey, baseball is baseball, but this tournament will never interest me as long as it is played in March.
(Photo: SI)

Friday, December 19, 2008

It's Teixeira Time, Nationals!

The push to bring Mark Teixeira to Washington DC continues!

Last week, I wrote about why Teixeira should sign with the Washington Nationals instead of the Angels and Red Sox. I'm happy to report that it looks as though the Nationals are one of the last two teams in the running for Teixeira!

Not surprisingly, the Orioles appear to be out of the running because they will not increase their offer.

Surprisingly, the Red Sox appear to be out of the running because their offer has been topped, according to owner John Henry.

With the Red Sox seemingly out of the picture, the Nationals will be competing against the Angels for Teixeira. And no offense to the Nationals or Washington DC, but the Angels have plenty to offer Teixeira: great chance to win, winning culture, lots of talent around him, sunny beaches, etc. If his decision was specifically based around location, the Nationals would have next to no chance to land Teixeira.

However, lucky for the Nationals that Teixeira is a Scott Boras client. Boras clients are notorious for specifically going where the money takes them. If that is the case, then the Nationals only have one option.

Go big.

And when I mean big, I mean really big. With the Angels reported to go as high as 8 years/$160 million to land Teixeira, the Nationals need to take a play from the 2005 Mets playbook and go higher. The Mets never would have landed Carlos Beltran in 2005 if they had not offered him $20 million more than any other team.

If the Nationals go as high as let's say, 8 years/$184 mil or 9 years/$189 mil, will that be enough to seal the deal? Only time will tell, but the Nationals will be putting themselves in a fantastic position to land the cornerstone player they desperately need.

Yes they will need to overpay to bring Teixeira to DC, but this move will change the franchise and give the Nationals the credibility that they do not have. The Nationals must do all they can to outbid the Angels and convince Teixeira and Boras that the Nationals are the best spot.

The only way to do that is to go big. And at this point, what do the Nats have to lose?

At Least AJ Burnett is Honest

At yesterday's Yankee press conference, new pitchers CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett were introduced to the NY media. Normally these types of events are rather lame and merely meant to rile up the baseball crazed fan base, but this press conference was different.

We got the money quote. Literally.

"I'm not going to say money wasn't an issue," Burnett said. "I'm not going to lie; of course money had something to do with it. But I have a chance to win five years in a row. Whether you admit you love them or hate them, everybody wants to be a Yankee."

It's odd finally hearing a player refer to money as one of the main reasons why he joined a team, but I must say that I enjoyed it. Considering that the Yankees probably overpaid Burnett by $10-$20 million, there is no doubt that money played a major factor in his decision.

Kudos to you AJ Burnett, for finally delivering the honest response that fans long for: "yes, the money was an important factor."

Honest guy+New York media=great interview

This quote does bring up an interesting point: if the Yankees do not blow Burnett away with 5 years and $80 mil, does he wind up in pinstripes or with the Braves? I still say Yankees simply because they are the Yankees. New York or Atlanta...I think the choice is rather clear.

Oh yeah, AJ Burnett wants to win as well.

Hammerin' Cameron

For all the slack that Yankees GM Brian Cashman will receive around the league by spending so much money on CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, it is good to see Cashman show some financial restraint with Mike Cameron.

Sure the Yankees could have used Cameron, 36, in 2009. He would be an immediate upgrade over the Melky Cabrera/Brett Gardner combination that is currently staring Yankee fans in the face.

Not to mention that Cameron is a pretty good player himself. Last season, Cameron hit 23 homers in only 444 ABs. stole 17 bases, and continued to play gold glove defense in center field. He would have been a good fit on a veteran Yankee ball club that is looking to do big things in 2009.

With that said, Cashman made the right call by not acquiring Cameron.

-Mike Cameron is a good player, but he is not worth $10 million bucks in 2009. The Yankees could spend their money wiser by going after Manny Ramirez to play left field or Derek Lowe to fill out their starting rotation. Cashman could upgrade this team even further without acquiring Cameron.

-Mike Cameron is a flawed player. He strikes out way too much (142 K's in 444 ABs in 2008) and he does not hit for average (only .243 in 2008). The 2009 Yankees could probably live with Cameron's strikeouts and poor batting average if they have everyone healthy, but a healthy Yankee team in 2009 is a big question mark at this point.

It's easy to overpay a guy when you have an endless payroll, but at this point, the Yankees could do better than Cameron. The free agent market is playing well into their hands and if they wait out the current market, they could wind up with an even better team than the one they have on paper right now.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Market for Derek Lowe

As one of the best pitchers available on the free agent market this winter, you'd figure that Derek Lowe would have a handful of suitors lined up to obtain his services. For awhile it seemed that way, but right now, where Lowe ends up seems rather murky.

All along we have heard that Lowe would prefer to pitch on the east coast, preferably with the Yankees or Red Sox.

The Yankees seemed to be interested in Lowe for awhile and it was even reported by's Jon Heyman that the Yankees were preparing a 4 year/$66 mil offer for Lowe. But ultimately, the Yanks decided to spend big bucks on AJ Burnett, which probably takes them out of the running for Lowe.

Burnett signing with the Yankees undercut the market for Lowe. Agent Scott Boras and Lowe could no longer depend on the free spending Yankees to come up with a huge offer for Lowe despite the lukewarm interest from the rest of the league. Don't get me wrong, there are many teams that would love to get their hands on Lowe, but his asking price right now is astronomical, especially for a 36 year old.

In addition, the Red Sox interest in Lowe never really materialized as the Sox already have a deep rotation and seem focus on signing 1b Mark Teixeira.

With those two clubs probably out of the picture, the market for Lowe seems rather puzzling at this point. The Phillies seemed to have interest in Lowe from the start of free agency, but they have since signed Raul Ibanez, which might have taken Lowe out of their price range. Also, the recent signings of Jaime Moyer and Chan Ho Park probably eliminate the Phillies from the Derek Lowe sweepstakes.

So whose left? The Mets, Braves, and Cubs all have holes in their rotation and would be a good fit for Lowe, but I doubt any of those teams would give Lowe the $15 mil a year he is looking for.

The market for Lowe has been slow developing thus far despite being one of the most sought after free agents on the market. Best case scenario for Lowe: the Yankees and Andy Pettitte cannot work out a deal, which leads the Yankees to panic a give Lowe the huge deal he seeks.

But panic in this market is very unlikely given how many teams are not spending and how many quality free agents there are. Lowe will still get a big contract, but $15 mil a year might be out of the picture at this point.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Izturis Offers Stability

Trivia time: Can anyone name the 2008 Orioles starting shortstop?

Give up? Well, the answer is a somewhat confusing one.

If you want to go by who opened the season as their starting short stop, the answer would then be Luis Hernandez, who hit a measly .241 in 79 ABs. Needless to say, he lost the starting job quickly.

If you want to go by who got the most ABs, the answer would then be Juan Castro, who only hit .205 in 151 ABs. The defensive specialist is nothing more than that, a defensive specialist, and should never again be used as a starter.

The shortstop position became a revolving door for the Orioles in 2008. Winning is very difficult to do when there is no consistency, especially at a premium position like shortstop.

The Orioles finally addressed their revolving door at shortstop by signing Cesar Izturis to a 2 year contract. Izturis is known for his tremendous defense, but like past Orioles shortstops, he cannot hit. Izturis struggles to get on base and has virtually no power (1 HR last year), which definitely makes him a liability at the plate.

Sure IztuirIs has speed and can steal bases, but he offers the Orioles little to nothing more with the bat.

But you know what, I still think that acquiring Izturis was a good move for this team. The Orioles will probably not compete for anything in 2009 or 2010, but their main focus should remain to develop their young pitchers. Having a phenomenal defensive shortstop like Izturis can only help these young pitchers get outs and gain confidence that plays will be made behind them.

I'm not fond of the two year commitment to Izturis, but anything is better at this point than the Hernandez-Cintron-Bynum-Fahey-Castro merry-go-round that the Oriole experienced last year, right?

What Omar is Looking For

Right now, the Mets only have three starters that are penciled into the 2009 rotation-Santana, Pelfrey, and Maine. By all accounts, it seems as though the Mets would like to give Jonathan Niese a chance to win the final rotation spot, but even with Niese the Mets are still one starter short. So who are they looking at?

-Tim Redding?

-Randy Wolf?

-Re-Sign Oliver Perez?

What do they all three of these pitchers have in common?

Each guy is a fly ball pitcher, which have historically been the type of pitchers that GM Omar Minaya likes to sign.

Since Minaya has come to the Mets, one of his main staples has been using fly ball pitchers.
Many of these pitchers were unsuccessful elsewhere, but thrived once they got to the Mets. Fly ball pitchers like Oliver Perez, John Maine,and Steve Trachsel are all Minaya success stories from previous seasons.

Why did fly ball pitchers thrive with the Mets? Because of Shea Stadium, which was undoubtedly a pitcher's park. With it's pitcher friendly dimensions and swirling winds, Shea Stadium was a fly ball pitcher's best friend because balls that seemed to be long gone all of a sudden stayed in the yard.

However, this season will be different for the Mets. No longer will fly ball pitchers be able to come into Shea Stadium and rely on the spacious dimensions to get them through the game.

Instead, they will be pitching at the new Citi Field. The new ball park will look very different from Shea Stadium with all it's glitz, glamor, and bricks; but the dimensions are expected to be similar to Shea Stadium. That should signal that Citi Field will be a pitcher's park like Shea right?

Maybe. No one really knows for sure until they begin to play there, which makes these signings so interesting. I'm guessing that Minaya believes that Citi will play out similarly to Shea Stadium or else he would not be going after fly ball pitchers.

However, if Citi is not like Shea, the 2009 season could be a rough one for the Mets. Let's hope not.

(Photo: Queens Gazette)

Monday, December 15, 2008

Furcal Should Run to the Athletics

I'm not sure what is more surprising, that Rafael Furcal has not jumped at the Athletics rumored offer of 4 years/$40 million or that the normally cheap Athletics are offering Furcal the big money.

This will be the best offer that Furcal, 31, receives on the open market. Think about it: it has been reported that Furcal had four strong suitors-A's, Blue Jays, Royals, and the Dodgers. But where exactly are the big bucks going to come from if it is not the Athletics.

It won't be the Blue Jays, who are not currently looking to add to their payroll

It won't be the Royals, who would need to cut payroll (i.e trade Jose Guillen) before they could add to their payroll and make a serious run at Furcal.

It won't be the Dodgers, who are currently waiting out the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes, hoping that he will take their $20+ million a year offer. They could jump in later, but I doubt they will come close to what the Athletics are offering, especially if they sign Manny.

This deal makes so much sense for both sides. Furcal would get the big time contract that he has been craving even after missing most of 2008 with a lower back injury. For the Athletics, they would have a spark plug at the top of their order to set the table for Matt Holliday and Jack Cust.

Interestingly enough, this deal would be change from the moneyball philosophy that the Athletics have built their teams around in the past. While Furcal will draw some walks, hit with some power, and produce a good OBP, Furcal is known for his speed and his ability to steal bases. Speed is something that the Athletics normally do not pay big money for, but there is no doubt that Furcal would be a major upgrade to the Athletics lineup.

If Rafael Furcal thinks that he can do better than 4 years/$40 mil on the open market, then he's crazy. The market is just not there right now for Furcal, but he should feel fortunate to have a $40 million dollar offer on the table. Not accepting it would be foolish.

Really Amaro? Chan Ho!

Get ready for some moon balls Phillies fans!

According to, the Phillies have signed Chan Ho Park to a 1 year/$2.5 million dollar contract to compete for a spot in the starting rotation.

This move has warning signs written all over it. Where to begin?

-Park has not been an effective starting pitcher since 2001
-Park was one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball from 2002-2005 (never had an ERA below 5.50)
-Park still gives up the long ball (12 HR in 95 IP this season)
-Park has been a pretty bad pitcher everywhere he has gone besides Los Angeles

So why in the world would the Phillies sign Park with the understanding that he would be a starter? Sure he had a great year last yea, but that was in the bullpen. There is a huge difference between pitching out of the pen and starting. Park has shown nothing over the past decade to prove that he will be an effective starter in 2009.

Furthermore, Park is a horrible fit for the Citizens Bank Park, which is one of the most hitter friendly in baseball. As a fly ball pitcher, this ball park will eat Park up alive as ordinary fly balls will all of a sudden become extra base hits and home runs. I see a 5 or 6 ERA in Park's future.

It's good to see that Park was concerned as well though! From
"I was a little worried about the Citizens Bank Park, the home of the Phillies, which is hitter-friendly," Park was quoted as saying in The Times. "But as they considered me a starter, I signed with Philadelphia."
At least Chan Ho still has some common sense. This is a great opportunity for him to start and make money, but in reality, this contract is simply setting him up for failure.

So nice work here Ruben Amaro, you signed a pitcher who has not been an effective starting pitcher in almost a decade to be a starter. If Park was pitching out of the bullpen, this move would be a lot more positive because he was very successful in that role last season. However, this move makes no sense, especially if it means that the Phillies are no longer interested in signing Jamie Moyer.

There is no upside on this deal for Philadelphia if Park is a starter. At best, Park is a fifth starter, but more than likely, he will be a disaster.

Why Sign Andy Pettitte?

I'm sure there are many Yankee fans who really want Andy Pettitte back with the Yankees in 2009.

Maybe it's about nostalgia: the sight of seeing Pettitte pitching in the new Yankee Stadium excites many Yankee fans who remember Pettitte as the pitcher who always came up big when the Yankees needed him.

Or maybe it's about the rotation: fans salivate at the sight of seeing Pettitte, the Yankees former ace, as their fifth starter. There is no doubt that Pettitte no longer has the stuff he once did, but he is still a very serviceable pitcher, who can give the Yankees quality innings and get big league hitters out, right?

Of course he can. Last season was one Pettitte's worst seasons statistically as he finished with an ERA of 4.54, a 1.421 WHIP, and a pedestrian 14-14 record. Even though this was far from Pettitte's best season, it is still a lot better than many pitchers out there. And the Yankees know that they can rely on Pettitte to pitch well in a big game despite his declining numbers in the regular season.

So it makes sense for the Yankees to re-sign him as their fifth starter right?

No, it doesn't. While Pettitte should still be able to give the Yankees quality innings, giving Pettitte $10-$15 million dollars in 2009 coming off an average season would be crazy. Pettitte's numbers have been on the decline since 2006 and there is no sign that Pettitte will be able to bounce back with a quality season in 2009.

The best move for the Yankees would be to keep the money they would have given to Pettitte and let Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, and whatever other youngsters they have compete for the spot. There is no doubt that these guys have talent (especially Hughes) and with the rotation the Yankees have in place already, they could afford to have a fifth starter develop on the fly.

The upside of an open fifth spot is tremendous. Instead of over paying for mediocre performance, the Yankees should let the young guys compete for the job because in the end, it could make the team stronger in long term and short term. These guys have potential to improve and develop into better pitchers, which is more than I can say about Andy Pettitte right now.

And I know there will be Yankee fans who will clamor towards Pettitte no matter what the financial implications are. I understand that; the Yankees have more money than God and there is no doubt that they can pay Pettitte $15 million bucks and not lose any sleep about it. But make no mistake about it: Pettitte does not deserve $10-$15 mil in 2009. Why should the Yanks pay for millions for a guy on the decline when they already have younger and cheaper pitchers who should be able to perform at the same level or better? That's the important point here.

The Yankees have enough stability in their rotation to move on without Andy Pettitte. Between Wang and Sabathia, they have two pitchers who should be able to give the Yankees tons of quality innings and many quality starts. And with AJ Burnett and Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees have two guys who should be dominate pitchers even with their much talked about injury history. And if you think that past injury history should force the Yanks to sign a declining pitcher to a $10 million dollar contract, then your crazy. If the Yankees wanted to sign a security blanket fifth starter, they could certainly do a lot better than Andy Pettitte especially given their current financial situation.

This is a fantastic rotation that can afford to give guys a guy like Hughes or Kennedy a chance to take control of a rotation spot. No matter who the Yankees decide should have the fifth spot, it should not be Andy Pettitte.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Four Non-Tender Signings That Make Sense (at least in my head)

Instead of offering players arbitration, teams have the option to "non-tender" their arbitration eligible players, which would make them free agents. More free agents, yay! Given the rough economic climate we are in, it is no surprise to see teams refuse to offer contracts to productive players. As they say, one man's trash is another man's treasure. Without further ado, here are four suggestions of where some of these non-tender free agents should land.

1. Tim Redding to the Orioles

-As of this moment, the Orioles currently have one consistent, reliable starting pitcher: Jeremy Guthrie. They have lots of young pitchers who might be good, but they still need another reliable presence at the top of the rotation.

Enter Tim Redding. For the past two seasons, Redding, 30, has pitched for the Washington Nationals and for the most part, he has pitched well (aside from a 6.82 ERA in the second half of 2008). He will never be confused for an ace, but Redding is a dependable and reliable starter who can offer some stability to the young Oriole pitchers. Plus, he should be able to eat a good amount of innings that would instead be given to Brian Burress or Hayden Penn.

Having Redding pitch in the AL East might be a scary thought to many Orioles fans given his propensity for the long ball (27 last year). But considering the alternatives, Redding the best low cost, stable option for Andy McPhail. No one expects the Orioles to compete for a playoff spot next year, but this move could help ensure that the Orioles remain competitive in 2009.

2. Ty Wigginton to the Twins
-This move is obvious. The Twins need a third baseman with some power and Wigginton fits the bill exactly. Wigginton would provide the right handed power bat that the Twins were missing last season. He hit 23 homers last season to go along with his impressive .285 batting average and .350 OBP. This lineup could be scary next season with Wigginton, a healthy Michael Cuddyer, and if Delmon Young finally displays the big time power. You can count on a .280 batting average with at least 20 homers from Wigginton next season.

The real question will be what kind of contract Wigginton will warrant. Will he receive a 3 year/$17 million dollar deal like Casey Blake? I see no reason why Wigginton should not command a contract similar to that of Casey Blake. He is younger (only 30) and put up better stats this season than Blake did in 2008, but who knows if the money is out there for him at this point. Minnesota might turn out to be the only serious player for Wigginton (maybe the Giants as well...).

P.S. I know this is a pipe dream, but I would love to see Wiggy back with the Mets as a super utility type of guy. He'd be perfect, but I'm sure he can do better elsewhere.

3. Takashi Saito to the Mariners
-The Mariners are currently closer-less after trading away JJ Putz, which is the main reason why Saito makes sense here. But there is another big reason why Saito is needed in Seattle: Brandon Morrow. The Mariners should have NO thoughts about moving Morrow, who could be a future ace, back to the bullpen. This guy has a major future as a starter and he cannot be jerked around from the rotation to the bullpen simply to fit a need.

Also, signing Saito would probably confirm that Aaron Heilman will be a starter, which should be a no brainer anyway. There has been no confirmation of this yet, but trust me Mariners fans, for Heilman's mental health, he needs to be a starter.

The risk on Saito is high. He has no business being non-tendered, but the Dodgers had concerns about his arm. But if Saito is healthy, he has the potential to be one of the best closers in baseball and could stabilize the Seattle bullpen.

4. Aaron Miles to the Mets
-Does anyone outside Missouri realize that Miles hit .317 last season? Or how about this little nugget: in 379 ABs, Miles only struck out 37 times. That's a pretty damn good season, don't cha' think? Well, because of Adam Kennedy and a host of younger players, the Cardinals did not tender a contract to Miles, despite his good numbers.

Miles would be a perfect fit with the Mets as a utility man. Miles is very versatile as he can play both 2B, SS, and 3B if needed. This is especially important to the Mets because Luis Castillo is sure to get hurt and miss boatloads of time. It's an inevitable injury that the Mets need to prepare for. Should Castillo get hurt, the Mets should feel confident having Miles waiting in the wings because he can hit both lefties (.315 in '08) and righties (.317 in '08). He would be the perfect utility man for the Mets, who need to have versatile players to compliment their impressive core group.

The Market For Oliver Perez

In the aftermath of AJ Burnett's 5 year/$82 million dollar contract sits LHP Oliver Perez. Aside from Derek Lowe, Perez is the best free agent pitcher left on the free agent market. Perez has developed from a maddeningly inconsistent pitcher with great stuff and bad control to a somewhat inconsistent pitcher with great stuff and very good control. Sure he will have his bad moments, but Perez has come along way since 2006.

When I look at Perez's body of work and potential body of work, I can't help but think about AJ Burnett. Both Perez and Burnett are good pitchers right now, but both guys reek of potential and future ace. Because of their dominant stuff, Burnett and Perez can be frustrating to watch because each guy should be much better than he already is. When Burnett and Perez are on, each guy is nearly un-hittable.

And as we saw this week, teams will pay for potential. Even though Burnett is 32, the Yankees are banking on Burnett continuing his development to be a front line pitcher. For all his injury history, Burnett still got $82 million dollars because of his potential. It would not surprise me to see a team (over) pay Perez in the hopes that he furthers his development to ace status.

Furthermore, Perez is a durable pitcher with no history of major arm injuries. That's a major plus for Perez, especially given his age (26).

So Perez should have no problem getting the money he craves, right?

I'm not too sure. What team out there actually has the funds to give Perez the 5 years/$70 million he is looking for?

-The Yankees are set
-The Mets won't pay that much for Perez
-Red Sox don't need him
-The Braves are not signing any major free agents
-The field...? Royals? Orioles? Texas? Dodgers?

Where is this money going to come from? The only team out there right now that should have a desire to sign Perez is the Mets, who will not give Perez the contract he desires. This market is just not a strong one for Perez.

I would love to see Ollie re-sign with the Mets for 1-3 years. He has always dominated the Phillies and would be a nice fit as the Mets 3rd starter. But at this point, I think that's a bit of a pipe dream. It seems as though Boras has his sights set on a big contract for Perez, which should be a major test for the super agent to achieve.

It's amazing that AJ Burnett has three teams throwing big offers his way, but Oliver Perez has too sit back and wait for his market to develop. Ironically, their statistics are not too different over the past two seasons, which makes the inactivity on the Perez front even more puzzling.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Hope You Stay Healthy, AJ Burnett

It must be a very confusing time to be a Yankee fan right now. Yankee fans gotta love the fact that they are spending so much money trying to make it back to the playoffs and win a 27th championship. Yankee fans should feel very good about signing CC Sabathia, even if his 7 year/ $161 million dollar contract is bigger than his body weight. Sabathia will be the true ace the Yankees were missing over the past few seasons, which is exactly what the Yankees needed.

But AJ Burnett? Five years/$82 million dollars? How ya' feelin' bout that, Yankee fans?

I'm guessing they are rather torn.

Burnett could be a front line starter for the Yankees because he has absolutely electric stuff. With his mid/high nineties fastball, quality curve ball and improved command; there is no reason why Burnett should not be one of the better starters in the AL. When Burnett is on, he is scary good. There is still a remarkable upside for Burnett, even at age 32.

However, the big question remains, can he stay healthy? Burnett has only pitched 200 innings three times in his ten year career and is seemingly always hurt. In his career, Burnett has been on the DL roughly 10 times (by my count) so he is no lock to give the Yankees 30 starts a year or even remain healthy throughout the length of the contract (or even a majority of it). Injury history is the unquestionable downside to Burnett.

So how about committing $82.5 million bucks to an injury prone pitcher like Burnett? To most teams, this would be crazy and out of the question. But for the Yankees, this is merely spare change. They can afford to take a chance that Burnett will continue/develop into the dominant pitcher that all the scouts and executives thought he'd become. The thought of Burnett dominating the Rays and Red Sox in the frigid cold of October baseball should be very tantalizing for the Yankees, especially with Burnett's amazing stuff.

Furthermore, if Burnett does get hurt, the Yankees can simply go out and sign someone else or replace Burnett with someone like Phil Hughes or Ian Kennedy (for this season). When you have unlimited resources, you can do things that most would not consider. The Yankees made themselves a better team by signing AJ Burnett, even if it was a ludicrous contract.

In his three seasons with Toronto, Burnett only had one season that was injury free (in 2008). Undoubtedly, 2008 was his best season with Toronto and probably one of the best in his career so far, but Burnett still had an ERA over 4. That doesn't sound like an ace to me.

But, the Yankees don't care. They are not only paying Burnett for his 2008 season, but they are paying him the huge bucks anticipating that Burnett will continue to develop and become another top flight starter for the Yankees.

Considering his upside, this contract makes a whole lot of sense for the Yankees, and the Yankees alone. We'll see if this deal burns the Yankees in the end, but for right now, Yankee fans should feel very good about picking up Burnett and his potential.

Your Someone Else's Problem Now, Scott Schoeneweis

Omar Minaya's purge of the 2008 Mets bullpen continues. The Mets dealt Scott Schoeneweis to the Diamondbacks for RP Connor Robertson. Also in the deal, the Mets agreed to pay $1.6 million dollars of the contract, which is important to note given Arizona's financial situation.

As a Mets fan, this deal needed to be completed. No doubt about it. Schoeneweis has not performed well during his stay with the Mets and towards the end of last season, Jerry Manuel grew hesitant to use Schoeneweis in a big spot (ruightfully so). Ironically, Schoeneweis gave up the go ahead home run in the Mets final game at Shea Stadium, which ultimately eliminated the Mets from playoff contention. This gave the boo birds at the now defunct Shea Stadium even more ammunition for booing Schoeneweis, which they did mercilessly throughout his Mets tenure.

Who knows if Schoeneweis could have rebounded with the Mets next season? They certainly could have used another lefty in the bullpen given the fact that the Phillies signed Raul Ibanez today. But Omar Minaya made the smart choice not to take a chance on Schoeneweis succeeding with the Mets in 2009. The time to cut ties was now and I'm glad this was taken care of.

This move helps separate the Mets further from the "culture of the collapse" and is a welcome signal that the 2009 bullpen will be fresh and exciting.

With that said, the Mets need to go after another lefty in the bullpen. In the previous two seasons, the Mets have had three lefties (Schoeneweis, Feliciano, and Wagner), but as of right now, they only have one. This division already has some very good left handed bats, especially in Philadelphia, so picking up another lefty option is a must at this point.

For the Diamondbacks, this deal could turn out to be very beneficial if he is used correctly. Schoeneweis was very good against left handed hitters last season (2.08 ERA against), but he struggled against right handed hitters, especially with his control (17/9 walk to strikeout ratio against righties). Even so, he is an upgrade over Doug Slaten and will undoubtedly play a big role in the Diamondbacks success in 2009.

Friday, December 12, 2008

How Raul Ibanez Will Change the Mets Plans

Just imagine this for a moment: your Mets GM Omar Minaya. Over the past two days, you have just completed two potentially franchise changing moves to shore up the bullpen by adding and Francisco Rodriguez and JJ Putz. However, upon waking up this morning, you hear that the arch rival Phillies have signed Raul Ibanez to form a potent middle of the order with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard.

This move should change the Mets entire off season plan from here on out. Knowing that the Phillies have three potent left handed hitters will change the how the Mets decide to shape their rotation and bullpen. Case in point:

-The Mets were considering dealing LHP Pedro Feliciano at one point in the off season, but now the Mets have to keep Feliciano to be their left handed specialist. Lefties have only hit .214 against Feliciano throughout his career and the Mets will need Feliciano to deliver in 2009 if they are going to compete with the Phillies.

-The Mets were talking about dealing LHP Scott Schoeneweis to the Cubs for Jason Marquis, who would be their 5th starter. However, with Ibanez on board, it would be ideal for the Mets to have two lefties on board to deal with the Phillies murder's row of lefties. If their going to trade Schoeneweis, they should make sure that they have a back up plan to bring another lefty on board (via trade or sign Joe Beimel/Will Ohman)

-And finally, the Mets are going to have to make a serious run at bringing back Oliver Perez. Omar Minaya recently determined that the Mets only had a "50/50" chance of bringing back Perez, but we'll see if that changes. I have never been fond of the idea of giving Perez the 5 years/$65 million bucks that he is after, but at this point, the Mets need him. Left handed hitters only hit .158 against Perez in 2008, which would make him an ideal pitcher to have against the left handed dominant Phillies. Again, a five year deal is too much for Perez, but they should be more aggressive with their negotiations. The Mets could also take a look at Odalis Perez or Randy Wolf as potential low cost options should Perez price the Mets out of contention.

It might seem foolish to change your off season plans because of one team, but the Mets have to be aware of what the Phillies are doing and organize their moves to best match up with their rival. Even though the Phillies hit left handed pitching pretty well (even the lefties), the Mets need to counter "Utley-Howard-Ibanez" with effective and competent left handed pitching because that is their best option for success. Having pitchers who are great at getting left handed hitters out is the best scenario available to the Mets right now.

Raul Ibanez is the Perfect Fit

Late last night, the Phillies apparently signed Raul Ibanez to a 3 year/$30 million dollar contract. On paper, this looks like a great deal.

Ibanez is a lock to hit 20-30 HRs with at least 100 RBI and roughly a .290 batting average. He can rake against both lefites and righties (.288 vs. RHP in 2008, .305 vs. LHP in 2008) so it will not be a problem having him hit fifth or sixth behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. Having a lefty dominant lineup is not a problem when all the lefties can flat out rake.

Make no mistake about it, this is a fantastic signing. The Phillies offense, which was pretty darn good in 2008, now has the potential to be a juggernaut, especially at Great American Ballpark. Furthermore, Ibanez is a certain upgrade over Pat Burrell. Even though he had some great spurts during his tenure with the Phils, Burrell was never able to provide the consistent production that Ibanez will give the Phillies. Utley and Howard will put up better numbers because of it.

In addition, the Phillies signed Ibanez to a very reasonable contract. Even though he is 36 years old, Ibanez has shown no signs of decline to date and has actually put up the best numbers of his career over the past three seasons. While he could start to decline as he gets closer to 40, this deal should definitely pay off over the first year or two of the deal.

I don't see the downside of this deal for the Phillies, who now look like strong competitors to win their third straight NL East title. Kudos to GM Ruben Amaro Jr for making this move; the Phillies are a much stronger team with Ibanez on board.

(Note: Take a look at my free agent projection for Ibanez a month back. You might find some additional insight there. And again, my projection was only $3 million dollars off! Damn you, economy!)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Open Forum: I Need Your Opinions!

As I attempt to further the progression of Jorge Says No!, I need to get some feedback from you, the readers. Feedback is obviously a crucial part of what this website and I'd like to hear some opinions about from you. Thanks for your time, I really appreciate it!

-What do you like about the website?

-Do you like the content?

-Is there anything you don't like about the website?
What can I improved upon?

-Where did you hear about the website from?

-Any other sort of comments or feedback that you'd like to add would be great.

Please leave all feedback in the comments section.Thanks for your continued support of Jorge Says No! Hope you enjoy it!


Omar Minaya Must Love Awesome Names

In a span of 24 hours, the Mets have picked up two guys with phenomenal names.

1. JJ Putz
-acquired via trade last night

2. Rocky Cherry
-acquired via rule V draft today

Seriously, dude's name is Rocky Cherry. Who came up with that name? Is it a nickname? Either way, it's an absolutely fantastic name. I'm amazed that a human being could have such an amazingly unique, yet puzzling name.

I can see it now, the NY Post headline after Cherry blows his first big game as a Met:

"Cherry Bombed"
"Cherry Rocked"

Too bad the Mets did not trade for Coco know how awesome the "J.J. Putz-Rocky Cherry-Coco Crisp" combination could have been!

Gonna be a fun season, Met fans.

Tony LaRussa Has A Crush On Brian Fuentes

Lots of love and good feelings coming from Tony LaRussa these days regarding Brain Fuentes. Wonder if Fuentes is feeling this man love as well?

LaRussa on Fuentes (
"From Day One, he's been the guy that fit us best," La Russa said Wednesday. "We have a strong righthanded core, whether it's a veteran like Ryan (Franklin) covering (Josh) Kinney or Brad Thompson or the two kids (Perez and Motte). A quality lefthanded reliever like Brian ... from Day One, he's the guy who was our first choice. And I'm excited that here we are, we're still in the hunt and he's still available."

Added La Russa: "I know he likes our situation; we like him. It seems like it's the perfect fit."
Ahhh, perfect fit you say. That's some high praise! But wait, there's more! LaRussa then went on to talk about a rumored fling with Trevor Hoffman, but apparently he doesn't fit the bill. LaRussa has his eyes fixated on another closer. I wonder who LaRussa is talking about....?
"I mean, I love and respect Trevor Hoffman," said manager Tony La Russa. "But I don't know that that's the guy we've talked about a lot."
I have to admit that it would be tough to turn down Tony LaRussa when he's this excited. Sign on the dotted line Mr. Fuentes, just watch out for the long and awkward hugs coming your way from the Manager. And by the way, who made Tony LaRussa the General Manager? Why is commenting on Fuentes?

Kansas City Signs Farnsworth(less)...Huh?

The Royals signed Kyle "Farnsworthless" Farnsworth to a 2 year/$9.25 million dollar deal last night.

Keep laughing Yankee fans, you know I am.

And yes folks, you did read right, Kyle Farnsworth got a two year deal. Somehow in this horrible economic climate, Farnsworth is the guy who gets the ridiculous contract. How the hell did that happen?

It's not like two years is a lot of time or that $9 million bucks is a ton of cash, but really Dayton Moore? Did you look at Farnsworth's stats over the past few seasons? This is a guy who has produced an ERA under 4 only once in the last five seasons and whose WHIP has increased in every season since 2005.

Oh, and did I mention that he cannot pitch on back to back days?

Where is the upside in this signing? I know, I know, Dayton Moore wants stability in his bullpen after trading away Ramon Ramirez and Leo Nunez, but there are better guys available, who do not require this kind of commitment (Jesus Colome, Guillermo Mota, Luis Ayala). Hell, I didn't even think Farnsworth required two years, but Dayton Moore made it happen.

I guess this proves the point that you have to overpay to get guys to play in Kansas City. But when you have to overpay Kyle Farnsworth to play in KC, that's just sad. I really doubt that Farnsworth offers up the stability that Dayton Moore craves. Farnsworth is a hard thrower who likes to nibble on the corners and is very hittable. Ask any Yankee fan, they'll tell you that Farnsworth has tremendous stuff, but he has never and will probably never put it all together. Very frustrating.

I tell you this though: I am going to enjoy watching the Kyle Farnsworth/Jose Guillen combination in Kansas City. There is something about these two guys that screams out "oil and water" to me. Have fun with this one Kansas City.