Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Johnson, Martinez, Smoltz, and Biggio Headed To Cooperstown

 
For the first time ever, three starting pitchers have been elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame in the same year, and four players have been elected to the Hall for the first time since in 60 years.

Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and John Smoltz make up the triumverate of pitchers headed to upstate New York this July. They will be joined by catcher-turned-second baseman Craig Biggio, who spent 20 seasons with the Houston Astros.

Johnson struggled early in his career as a 6'10" member of the Montreal Expos, but once dealt to the Seattle Mariners, saw his Hall of Fame career get kicked into gear. Johnson won 303 games, five Cy Young Awards, and struck out 4,875 batters playing for the Mariners (10 yrs), Houston Astros (post deadline 1998), Arizona Diamondbacks (8), New York Yankees (2), San Francisco Giants (1), and the Expos (2).

The "Big Unit" was the 2015 top vote getter with 97.43% of the tally, the eighth highest total in Major Leauge History. A 10-time All-Star, Johnson received a no-decision when he struck out 20 Cincinnati Reds on May 8, 2001. He is one of five pitchers to throw a no-hitter in both leagues and was the 2001 World Series Co-MVP with teammate Curt Schilling, after he won Games 2, 6, and 7.

Martinez, a slightly built power pitcher with the Los Angeles Dodgers, saw his career begin to blow up after he was traded to the Expos prior to the 1993 season. But it was his time in Boston that made Martinez a household name. The crown jewel of pitching statistics, the Triple Crown, was accomplished by Martinez grabbed in 1999 when he topped the American League with 23 wins, a 2.07 ERA, and 313 strikeouts.

A three-time CY Young winner (once with Montreal, twice with Boston), Martinez was a character on and off the mound; a pitcher who wasn't afraid to throw inside at hitters of any stature. He won 219 games in parts of 18 years with the Dodgers (2 years), Expos (4), Red Sox (7), Mets (4), and Phillies (1). The native of the Dominican Republic produced two seasons - 1997 (1.90) and 2000 (1.74), with ERA numbers under 2.00), struck out 3,154 batters.

Martinez, who inexplicably received just 91.1% of the vote, won a World Series ring with the 2004 Red Sox and pitched in the 2009 World Series for the Phillies.

Smoltz is the only pitcher in MLB history to win at least 200 games and save at least 150, and just the second pitcher (Dennis Eckersley the other) to win at least 20 games and save a minimum of 50 games in separate seasons. Acquired  for the Detroit Tigers' Doyle Alexander in a 1987 deadline deal, Smoltz spent 20 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He won the NL Cy Young Award in 1996 when he earned 24 victories and struck out a league high 276 batters. After missing the 2000 season due to Tommy John surgery, Smoltz came back as a reliever and led the NL with a league record 55 saves in 2002. He would save 45 and 44 games the next two seasons before moving back into the starting rotation in 2005. A year later he tied for the NL lead in wins with 16.

An eight-time All-Star, Smoltz finished his career in 2009 with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals. He compiled a 213-155 record with 154 saves and 3,084 strikeouts.  "Smoltzie" won a World Series ring in 1995 and was a member of four other NL pennant winning teams. He'll join former teammates and fellow pitchers Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, and his former manager Bobby Cox, all of whom were induced into the Hall last year. Smoltz received 82.9% of the vote.

Craig Biggio came into Major League Baseball as a catcher out of Seton Hall University in New Jersey. Selected by the Houston Astros as the 22nd overall pick in the 1987 draft, Biggio spent his entire career in an Astros uniform. After four years behind the plate, Biggio moved to second base prior to the 1992 season and went on to win five Gold Glove Awards.

A five-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award, Biggio reached 3,000 hits in his final season (2007) and ended up with 3,060 for his career. He led the league in doubles three times, and topped the league in being hit by pitches, five times. He stole 414 bases, including a league best 39 in the strike shortened 1994 campaign. Biggio finished in the top five in the NL MVP vote  in 1997 and 1998 and was a member of the 2005 Astros NL pennant winning team. (It's the only Houston team to reach the World Series.).

Biggio just missed out last season, his second year on the ballot, when he came up .2% shy of the required 75%. This year was no problem as he finished with 82.7% of the vote. He is the first player to entre the Hall as a Houston Astro.

For those that missed out this year, catcher Mike Piazza came the closest to making it a five-player induction when he received 69.9% of the vote. It's a good sign for him to get enough votes next year when Ken Griffey Jr. is the only first year eligible player who is a sure thing.

Carlos Delgado was the top player with under 5% of the vote required to remain on future ballots. Don Mattingly receievd 9.1% in his final year of eligibility, now that the rule has changed from 15 years to 10 years to be voted for.

Monday, January 5, 2015

It's the Most Hall Time of the Year


Happy New Year means that it is just about time for the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY to announce who this year's inductees are.

The ballot for this year's class was loaded - the first-year eligible players alone include Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Gary Sheffield. In all, there were 34 names on this year's ballot for voters to choose from.

As you may recall, it takes a 75% vote count to gain induction via the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). With that in mind, Craig Biggio should be a shoe-in for this year's class. If not, an investigation should take place ASAP. Biggio finished with 74.8% last year, his third year on the ballot. The next highest on the 2014 ballot was Mike Piazza, who was hampered by performance enhancing drug rumors, and finished with 62.2%. He too should be elected this year.

I won't get on my soapbox about players that were never "caught" using PEDs, other than to say it's not fair of the voters to leave someone off their ballot that they think was a cheater. Jeff Bagwell has been thrown into this same category (he finished third in 2014 with 54.3%).

Johnson and Martinez are no brainers. Smoltz should join former teammates Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who were inducted together in 2014. The right-hander is the only pitcher in Major League Baseball history with at least 200 wins (207) and 150 saves (154).
 
Though Sheffield finished his career as a memeber of the 500 home run club, PEDs could definitely derail his Hall bid. In 2003, Sheffield told a grand jury that he had "unwittingly" used a steroid cream that he had obtained from BALCO. He was introduced to the company by its most well known client, Barry Bonds.

At the time, Sheffield said he thought it was a cortisone cream and was angry when he found out otherwise. ESPN tried to ask Bonds about it in 2004, but Bonds, via a spokesman, ignored the elephant in the room and wished Sheffield all the best. So did Sheffield lie about "oops" moment? The guess is that the voter's will think so. With a .907 career OPS. nine All-Star appearances, and a World Series ring, it would be hard to make an argument to keep Sheffield out otherwise.

At the other end of the spectrum are those players who are near elimination from future ballots. A candidate must receive at least 5% to remain on future ballots. PED prime suspect Sammy Sosa received 7.2% of the vote in 2014 and is likely to drop off in this year's vote. Don Mattingly, who could have ended up with Hall numbers had he stayed healthy, managed to receive barely over 10% last year.

As much as I loved Mattingly as a player, I don't believe he belongs in the Hall of Fame. Many do though and point to Kirby Puckett, who I don't believe should be in either, whose statistics are similar to that of Mattingly's. The biggest difference between the two are the two World Series rings Puckett earned, while Mattingly's mediocre Yankees teams made the post-season just once in his 14 years.

No matter what happens this year, these things hold true - no one will get a unanimous vote; the steroid players will see their perecentages drop; fans, media, and players will not like all the results. It's that Hall time of the year, what else would you expect?

UPDATE (toh to @rebeccapbp):

A's fan and HoF tracker Ryan Thibs has made a spreadsheet of vote totals available to the public. If these numbers hold true, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Craig Biggio, Mike Piazza, and John Smoltz are headed to Cooperstown this Summer.

As of 1:55 PM ET, Both Johnson (98.63%) and Martinez (97.95%) approached Tom Seaver's all-time record of 98.8%, but as usual some voters left them out. Inexplicably, Twins beat writer Mike Berardino left both pitchers off.

Looks like Sheffield did indeed take a big hit. So far just over 8% of the vote. Don Mattingly and Sammy Sosa are both below the required 5% minimum. Jeff Bagwell increased to 66.44%, so there is still hope for him in future years.

UPDATE 7:50 PM

As of now, Randy Johnson has tied Tom Seaver with 98.8% of the vote. Pedro Martinez is closing in at 98.2%. Going the wrong way - that would be Mike Piazza, who has dipped below the 75% minimum.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Designated For Assignment - WHITE SOX GET MELK, HEADLEY RE-UPS WITH YANKEES



The latest free agents are comprised of a player moving on to his sixth team in seven years and one that is staying where he was two-month rental. The Chicago White Sox have been busy this offseason and they continued their re-tooling over the weekend with the free agent signing of outfielder Melky Cabrera. Meanwhile, the New York Yankees agreed, on Monday, with Chase Headley to keep the free agent third baseman for the next four years (at a cost of $52MM).

Cabrera, who played four full seasons with the Yankees, then spent one season in Atlanta, one in Kansas City, one in San Francisco, and two years in Toronto. He'll replace the lackluster bat of Dayan Viciedo in left field and join newcomers Jeff Samardzija and former Yankees teammate David Robertson on the list of big time acquisitions by GM Kenny Williams.

Read the rest of this column for free at Designated For Assignment

Yankees Continue to Spend Stupidly, Near 4-Year Deal With Headley

I got 52MM bucks

I've repeated it numerous times this offseason. The Yankees do not have a philosophy for building the 2015 team. They're avoiding giving big bucks to those who will help the team (i.e. David Robertson) one second, and in the next moment they are spending money in a ridiculous manner. It continued on Monday when media outlets reported that the Yankees and Chase Headley agreed to to a four-year, $52MM deal.

While $12MM a season is reasonable these days, giving Headley four years is not. This is a guy who has had ONE great season. It was a fabulous, MVP-type season. But he did nothing before it and he's done nothing since. Acquired at this past season's trade deadline, Headley had ONE good stretch as Yankee. He brings a great glove to the position, but having the left side of the infield as a complete good-glove, no-hit combo is not a good combo.

It is clear that Hal Steinbrenner does not want to spend money like his Dad. Which is fine, but spend it wisely. George made plenty of mistakes in that department too, but getting cheap on David Robertson isn't the way to do it. They should have used this money to lure back Brandon McCarthy. They overspent last year on Jacoby Ellsbury (by a lot) and Brian McCann.

This isn't the Kansas City Royals where it takes more than a decade to build a contender. This is New York and though the Yankees don't need to win the World Series every year, you at least want to be competetive.

The team still does not have a solid rotation due to injuries and uncertainities, and the lineup will have a hard time producing runs. Much of the issues comes down to Alex Rodriguez and, believe it or not, this is not his fault. The Yankees stupidly gave him a 10-year deal at an average of $27.5MM a year and it has completely hamstrung them.

This team is in disarray from top to bottom.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Yankees Send Cervelli to Pirates for Lefty Reliever



Francisco Cervelli had an up and down career in his time in New York.  A fan favorite to some, part of the Biogenesis scandal, a sufferer of serious injuries, and one of the most spirited players in the Major Leagues.  But with Brian McCann signed to a five-year deal prior to the 2014 season and a laundry list of catching prospects making their towards the Majors, the Venezuela native became expendable. The Yankees sent their backup catcher to the Pittsburgh Pirates for left-handed reliever Justin Wilson.

Cervelli hit a career hit .301 this past season, but appeared in just 49 games. A strained hamstring in mid-April sent him to the 60-day disabled list and missed 59 games. He got hot towards the end of July, but drove in just 13 runs on the season. Defensively, he threw out just six of 24 potential base stealers.

Cervelli, who will be 28-years old when the 2015 season is in his first season of arbitration eligibility after he earned $700K last year.

The 27-year old Wilson appeared in 70 games this past season, his second full season in the Major Leagues. He finished 3-4, 4.20 with better than 9 K's/9 IP. In 2013, Wilson made 58 appearances and posted an ERA just over 2.00.

His numbers were actually better against right-handed hitters rather than lefties and he suffered some control issues. (30 walks in 60 IP). The California native was a 5th rd draft choice out of Cal St.-Fresno in 2008.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Yankees Talk D-Rob, Headley, Likely Say Sayonora to Kuroda



The postseason is over with the San Francisco Giants sleeping at night with visions of Madison Bumgarner dancing in their heads. It means it's time to get back to the business of baseball or more precisely, getting ready for next year.

First  on the docket is deciding whether to extend a qualifying offer to your team's eligible free agents. The Yankees most certainly will extend an offer to David Robertson, aka "D-Rob", who did a very good job in his first season as a full-time closer. Those who think the Yankees should let him go and immediately install Dellin Betances as closer are either bananas or haven't paid much attention to the games they watched.

Robertson will turn down the offer, which is set this year at $15.3MM, up from $14.1MM from last season. This is Robertson first chance at a multi-year, multimillion dollar deal and there will be plenty of calls to his agents. He would be a fool to accept a one year deal to keep his high socks in the Big Apple.

No player accepted the 2014 qualifying offer last season and that's a pattern that's likely to repeat this season. The exception, though, could be Hiroki Kuroda. Which is wjy the Yankees should NOT extend him a qualifying offer. After a fabulous 2013 season, Kuroda was very erratic this past season, though the team's lack of defense and run production hurt his record and adversely affected the outcome of many of the games he started. He would probably jump on the offer, if he intends to play another season and wants to stay a Yankee. There's no way the Yankees would (should) give him an amount close to that. The Yankees need to reserve their money for younger, talent-rich players. (And no, that doesn't mean an All-Star at every position.)

Though the only starting pitcher, at the moment, the Yankees have under contract and is (somewhat) healthy is Michael Pineda. Since CC Sabathia hasn't thrown a pitch in a Major League game since May 10, he's not yet in the equation. Ivan Nova is coming off Tommy John surgery. Masahiro Tanaka's seven innings in September, after two months off, doesn't inspire confidence, and Brandon McCarthy is also a free agent. David Phelps, Chase Whitley, and Shane Greene are all question marks for consistency, among other things.

In addition to not retaining Kuroda, the Yankees should also not pursue Max Scherzer, who turned down a six-year, $144MM offer from the Detroit Tigers earlier this year, or lefty Jon Lester, who figures to earn a boatload of money as a free agent. While either would be fine acquisitions, their cost is too high, especially for a team with so much money owed to underachieving players.

The Yankees should try to bring back McCarthy, who adapted to well to Yankee Stadium, and James Shields. While Shields does not always live up to that "Big Game" moniker, he'll give you a solid regular season and 200+ innings, and will make less than Scherzer or Lester. Jeff Samardzija is also likely to demand too many greenbacks.

The Yankees liked what they saw in third baseman Chase Headley, though he has not come close to his 2012 offensive production. (31 HR-115 RBI-.875 OPS) Headley was spectacular manning the hot corner and occassionally filled in at first base. Several media outlets reported today the Yankees are already in negotiations for a new contract with the 30-year old Colorado native. It may not be easy though, as Headley is preferred by a number of team to free agent Pablo Sandoval and his expected wish for a big money contract.

Headley had a .768 OPS in 58 games in pinstripes with 6 HR and 17 RBI. While far from spectacular, it was difficult for anyone  on the team to drive in runs when no one was getting on base on a regular basis. The plan would be for Headley to regular man third base with Alex Rodriguez becoming the primary DH.

UPDATE -  The Yankees indeed made an offer to Robertson and bypassed Kuroda.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jeter Reveals Players' Tribune Site



Derek Jeter has a job! No having to apply for unemployment! The choice of job is a curious one though. The freshly retired Yankees' shortstop is the publisher of his own brand new website, The Players' Tribune.

It's a site for "unfiltered" talk between athletes and the fans (and the media?) from a player who was notorious for not giving the media many worthy sound bites. This is a snippet from Jeter's website welcome:
"I do think fans deserve more than “no comments” or “I don’t knows.” Those simple answers have always stemmed from a genuine concern that any statement, any opinion or detail, might be distorted. I have a unique perspective.
Many of you saw me after that final home game, when the enormity of the moment hit me. I’m not a robot. Neither are the other athletes who at times might seem unapproachable. We all have emotions. We just need to be sure our thoughts will come across the way we intend."
Some would disagree about the robot part and the timing is strange considering Major League Baseball is in the middle of the post-season. While not comparing apples to apples, Alex Rodriguez was vilified when he opted out of his contract with the Yankees during the 2007 World Series.

Quick tip from a longtime blogger - Make sure your site isn't out of alignment like it is right now on the closing paragraph. Centering an entire paragraph usually doesn't look good. ;)


The Players' Tribune intro closing

"Introducing The Players’ Tribune, a new media platform that will present the unfiltered voices of professional athletes, bringing fans closer to the games they love than ever before. Founded by Derek Jeter, The Players’ Tribune aims to provide unique insight into the daily sports conversation and to publish first-person stories directly from athletes. From video to podcasts to player polls and written pieces, The Tribune will strive to be “The Voice of the Game.”


The initial reaction of the fans is "huh?" while some in the mainstream media would like to figuratively, or literally, flip Jeter the bird. The site mentions there will be more of a real today, October 2. Stay tuned.

Derek Jeter's appearance on the Today Show


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

D4Assignment: Big Names, Big Games in AL Wild Card Contest



James Shields and Jon Lester, dueling aces

It has been 29 years since the Kansas City Royals reached the postseason. 1985 saw the Royals win their one and only World Series Championship. (With a little help from umpire Don Denkinger.) Tuesday night, the Royals will host the Oakland A’s in a one game showdown between the two AL Wild Card winners. To the victor go the spoils and a divisional round match up with the Los Angeles Angels. You know where the losers go.

The A’s have been to the playoffs 11 times during the Royals drought, but haven’t been to the World Series since 1990. Their last World Series title, the ninth in franchise history (The first five were won when they called Philadelphia home), came in the “Earthquake series” with the San Francisco Giants.

The Royals were an expansion team in 1969, two years after the A’s departed Kansas City after a 13-season run. The only prior postseason meeting between the two squads came after the strike-shortened 1981 regular season. The Billy Martin-managed A’s swept KC in three straight games before they were swept in three games by the New York Yankees in the ALCS. It was a disappointing end of the season for Kansas City, which lost the World Series to the Philadelphia Phillies one year earlier.

Read the rest of the article for free (as always)at Designated For Assignment.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Jeter's Big Night: What They Are Saying


Teammate Brett Gardner:


 Teammate CC Sabathia:
 

 YES Network announcer Michael Kay when Jeter delivered in the 9th:
"Derek Jeter; turning fantasy into reality."

You could hear Tino Martinez yell, "That was awesome!" to his former teammate and fellow Florida snowbird. Charles Jeter told his "I'm proud of you."

Former teammate Paul O'Neill:

Yankees announcer Ken Singleton:
Tigers pitcher David Price, who gave up hit #3000 to Jeter when Price was on the Rays.

Price's teammate Justin Verlander:
Hall of Fame Wide Receive Chris Carter
Former Braves 3rd baseman Chipper Jones:
Former teammate and YES Network announcer John Flaherty:
Twins infielder Brian Dozier:

YES Network's Jack Curry:

More from Jack on the YES website.

Under The Glare Of The Spotlight Jeter Still Has Ice Water In His Veins



Last night's game 2014 Yankee Stadium finale between the Baltimore Orioles and the Yankees will be like Woodstock. Everyone will claim they were there due to the incredible start, middle, and especially the ending of Derek Jeter's career in pinstripes.

With the fans on pins and needles waiting to see if Jeter would exit the 9th inning early to a standing ovation, closer David Robertson gave up a pair of home runs to blow a 3-run lead. Tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 9th, Robertson was quickly forgiven by the fans. The tie meant that Jeter would get at least one more at-bat in his home away from home, and what an at-bat it was.

John Sterling's call of Jeter's game winner: 

Jose Pirela, who has played 2,741 less games than Jeter, started off the bottom of the 9th with a single through the left side of the infield. Brett Gardner bunted to move the winning run into scoring position and set a showdown between Evan Meek, who was making his 23rd big league appearance, and Jeter. Would Buck Showalter walk Jeter to set up the double play? Just as Jeter plays until the final out or winning run, Showalter manages in the same manner.

When Orioles' catcher Caleb Joseph got into his normal squat behind home plate, you knew the 46,000-plus in attendance and anyone watching or listening on the TV or radio were relieved. And Jeter didn't wait long to let Showalter change his mind. In a very "Jeterian" moment, the Yankees' shortstop jumped on Meek's first pitch, and drilled it through the right side, just like he has done thousands of times before. Right fielder Nick Markakis has a cannon for an arm, but his throw was late as speedy pinch-runner Antoan Richardson slid across home plate with the winning run. Jeter raised his arms in exaltation and jumped in the air as he saw Richardson. (Incredibly, it was the Captain's first walk off winner in seven years).

Jeter's teammates quickly flooded the field and lifted him off the ground. And the smiles and tears flowed, Jeter included. He greeted all of his current teammates, manager, and coaches, his former teammates Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Bernie Williams, Tino Martinez, and Gerald Williams, and his former manager Joe Torre. His parents, sister, nephew, and girlfriend all got hugs and kisses. And as the YesNetwork's Meredith Marakovits interviewed him on the field, he even allowed CC Sabathia and Gardner to give him a Gatorade shower.

The way the game ended left everyone mumbling, "did I just see that". Yes you did. Sadly, for the last time.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jeter's Thirst Quenching Finish With Gatorade

I might not ordinarily write what you are, hopefully, about to read, but hey it has to do with Derek Jeter. Once Jeter announced that this would be his final season, he and Gatorade teamed up for a new commercial to be shown in the final week of Jeter's career.

The commercial will air publicly beginning September 20, but you can see it here (and on other Yankees blogs) first. The commercial is an extension of the public letter Jeter released back in February (see a copy at the bottom of this post), in which the Yankees' captain took the opportunity to thank the fans. Perhaps one of you is even in the commercial that features Jeter interacting with fans.

There will be ads in the NY Times and NY Daily News as well. (I guess the NY Post wasn't interested.)

Here is the 90-second "Thank you" commercial:


As you can see in the photos below, during the Yankees series with the Orioles (beginning Sept. 22), Gatorade advertising (coolers, cups, and towels) inside the Yankees' dugout will feature the #2 instead of the traditional capital "G" on the Gatorade logo.





Check out the #2 Gatorade Squeeze bottles that you can win: Just be one of the first 10 people to email me at mypinstripes@gmail.com with your name and home address (including zip code), and Gatorade will send you one of the #2 squeeze bottles. Be sure to put "Jeter Prize" in the subject line.
The Contest is closed. The winners are:

Jen Parrish
Evan Goldfarb
Lex Johnson
Tina Stawinski
Jack Newman
Malinda Singh
Michael Held
Connor Rogers
Doug Klein
Ralph Lepore


Jeter's February, 2014 Thank you

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Despite Win, A Horrible Year For The Yankees Continues

Carlos Beltran with his wife Jessica and daughters Ivana and Kiera in happier times.

The Yankees topped the Tampa Bay Rays tonight, 3-2, but it's hard to find much joy due to the sad news that was released tonight.

Carlos Beltran announced on his Facebook page that his wife had a miscarriage and they had lost the baby son she was carrying. It would have been the family's first son.

Below is the statement from Beltran in Spanish and the English translation, which could be slightly incorrect.
La vida me acaba de quitar la bendición de tener mi primer hijo (varón). Conozco de Dios y vivo agradecido por todas sus bendiciones como mi bella familia, amigos, fanáticos y mi carrera. Todo es y será en el tiempo perfecto de Dios y así mi esposa y yo lo aceptamos. Gracias por el cariño y los mensajes. 

The life of me just take the blessing of having my first son ( man ). I know God and I am grateful for all his blessings like my beautiful family, friends, fans and my career. Everything is and will be at the time, a perfect God and my wife and i accept this. Thank you for the love and the messages.

Beltran had left earlier in the day in what was described as a "personal matter".
My condolences to the Beltran family for their tragic loss.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Yankees and Jeter Running to the Sunset

Jeter and Prado have fist bumped for the last time.

If you still held out hope that the Yankees could somehow grab an AL wild card spot, you can completely forget it now. The team that has been dropping like flies in losses and manpower, is now completely done. Versatile Martin Prado, who has been one of the few players to swing a consistently good bat, is done for the rest of the year after his appendix decided it wanted to come out.

Yes, what you hear is the final nail being hammered into the 2014 coffin. Feel free to add any other cliche you would like. The announcement that Prado's season was done was met with laughter and not just by me. No, I don't think it's funny that Prado needed surgery. It is gallows humor, because just about everything that could go wrong with this team has gone wrong. Injuries, sub-par seasons, overpaid/underachieving players shuttling in and out of the lineup. It's been miserable.

Last night's walk-off loss, the third in the last five games came as no surprise. There was no anger on my part, just a resigned, "I knew that would happen" attitude. And that's coming from one of the most optimistic fans you will find. But the writing has been on the wall for this season for some time. And it's a shame, but that's what happens when you give tons of money to the wrong people, collect a roster full of elderly players, and don't make front office changes. I never liked the way George Steinbrenner handled things in his heyday, but Hal needs to start wielding a front office axe or the Yankees dry spell for the playoffs will be a lot longer than two years.

Derek Jeter's mediocre season in a mediocre year has made it even touger to watch games over these last six months. The Captain, in the midst of an 0-24 skid at the plate, sat out last night's l-0, 9th inning loss to Tampa Bay. Just 13 games remain in Jeter's final season. His last home game is a week from Thursday before a three game adios in Fenway Park. It's been a more disappointing season than Mariano Rivera's final bow in 2013. The Yankees' closer was still sharp and saved 44 games. The long-time Yankees' shortstop has seen his average dip to .250, his on-base PCT. to .298 and his OPS to a sickly .596.

Yes, those are the worst numbers of Jeter's career for any season in which he has played in 100 or more games. And THAT has been every season except 1995, when he got a brief call up and the injury riddled 2013 season. (His lowest OPS in a 100+ season until this point was .710 in 2010)

Hopefully, Jeter has one more run in him. A streak of singles and doubles, and perhaps one last home run in him before the season ends. That's all Yankees' fans have to hope for now.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Young Proves Sterling Is Right

 
You've heard the mantra thousands of times on the Yankees' radio broadcast. The "voice of the Yankees" (Mel Allen is turning over in his grave), John Sterling, will utter the phrase, "You can't predict baseball, Suzyn" at least once a game. The Suzyn, of course, is Suzyn Waldman, Sterling's sidekick on WFAN radio.

Last night the Yankees' Chris Young proved that Sterling has been on the money with that statement all along. Young, cut by the Mets on August 15 due to a complete lack of productivity (it's safe to say he sucked), hit a very improbably walk-off, 3-run home run that gave the Yankees a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays and kept the unrealistic dream of the playoffs alive for another day.

If Thursday night's game was a championship bout, the Yankees were down on the mat and the referee had counted to seven and was about to count to eight. Rays' starter Alex Cobb was within six outs of a no-hitter (there was no perfect game due to an error charged to centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who dropped a routine fly ball in the 3rd inning.) when Young broke it up with a double to the gap in right-center.

With the no-no gone, Rays' skipper Joe Maddon sent for Brad Boxberger to face Brendan Ryan. Joe Girardi countered with Martin Prado and the pinch-hitter promptly deposited a 2-run home run into the left field seats. Suddenly, the Yankees were alive...if you consider a team that struggles to get three runs a game, alive.

Hard throwing lefty Jake McGee came on in the 9th to close things out, but hit Chase Headley in the chin to start the inning. McGee was clearly shaken up by what had occurred and left a pitch up to Ichiro Suzuki. He's not the hitter he once was, but Ichiro can still occassionaly use his bat like a master swordsman. He did against McGee, lashing double to left-center.

Zealous Wheeler pinch-hit for Stephen Drew, but was clearly overmatched and struck out for the first out of the inning. That brought up Young, who had a .630 OPS when the Mets kicked him to the curb. He fouled off a 98-mph fastball and then jumped on a 97-mph heater that left quickly left the field of play. A wild celebration ensured, complete with Gatorade dousing.. You could predict that.

But you can't predict baseball, Suzyn.


Notes

As a Yankee, Young has a 1.667 OPS. He's 6-12 (.500) with two home runs, two doubles, and seven RBI.

Michael Pineda had pitched beautifully since his return from shoulder soreness earlier this year. Last night was not his night though. He gave up a pair of home runs to shortsop Yunel Escobar, who entered the game with four home runs for the year. Pineda has been a victim of a lack of run support, but last night his teammates bailed him out. Shawn Kelley improved to 3-5 with the win.

A scarey moment occurred in the 7th inning when Boxberger hit Derek Jeter in the elbow with a pitch. Jeter's left arm went dead, but he remained in the game.