Monday, November 28, 2011
Stevie Johnson is the face of the NFL...not Stevie Johnson per se (and what male adult goes by Stevie anyway?), but classless players like him that the NFL is rife with. Case in point, Sunday's NY Jets - Buffalo Bills game. As we all know, the Jets'/then Giants' Plaxico Burress did something really stupid back in 2008 (almost four years to the day of Sunday's game) - carried an illegal weapon into a nightclub and then things went from bad to worse when he accidentally shot himself in the leg. Mayor Bloomberg made sure Burress was made an example of and off to jail for the gun possession he went.
That brings us to Sunday's game when Johnson caught a touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick and began one of the asinine little dances that is so prevalent in the NFL. But Johnson then took it one step further by pantomiming Burress shooting himself in the thigh. Johnson then topped his performance off with a harmless impersonation of Santonio Holmes' jet-in-flight touchdown celebration.
Johnson's actions were disgusting, despicable, and unfortunately, oh so typical. The league should heavily fine the wide out, who wasn't showing off so much when he was dropping passes like crazy last year. It's fine to celebrate that you scored, not everyone needs to just hand the ball to the referee, butover the years things have gone from the fun, high-stepping spike of the Chiefs' Elmo Wright and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson's wobbly leg dance to pre-planned and orchestrated celebrations like Joe Horn's cellphone fiasco and Terrell Owens' Sharpie in the sock ploy.
Those players and other clowns like them (hey cornerback do you really want to pound your chest after the wide receiver dropped a wide open pass?) don't realize how much their actions take away from the game and influence kids. Their lack of maturity and self centered approach to the game does nothing more than give their sport a black eye.
Friday, November 18, 2011
Starting out this Friday morning with some sad news from the college basketball world.
Condolences and prayers go out to the Oklahoma St. community after women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna were killed in a single engine plane crash last night. The crash occurred 45 miles west of Little Rock, AK. It's the second such tragedy for the school in the last decade. 10 people associated with the men's basketball team died in a plane crash in 2001.
Now on to some less important stuff.
How the hell do you only score 13 points against the Denver Broncos? That's what you Jet fans must be wondering this morning. That and how you made Tim Tebow's 95 yard game winning drive look like John Elway's "The Drive". One of the first things you notice about Tebow is just how bad his mechanics are throwing the ball. But the next thing you notice is how elusive a runner he is. He completely baffled the Jets on the the Bronco's final possession and especially on the game winning run.
Tebow will NEVER lead an NFL to a Super Bowl let alone a Super Bowl victory. QB is not the position he should be at if he wants a long term career in the NFL. The Broncos could use him as the Jets had done with Brad Smith, but Tebow needs to be utiliized elsewhere. You can say what you want about him, but the guy is tough. Make him a wideout, a tailback, use him in wildcat formations, or have him return kicks. He can definitely be on an NFL squad, just not as the starting or 2nd string QB.
Getting back to the Jets offense though...13 points? Seriously? Mark Sanchez's 60% completion pct and 252 yards are misleading. They're definitely better looking numbers than the game Sanchez had or has been having lately. He threw another killer interception that turned into a game tying pick-six in the 3rd quarter. When the defense gives up 10 points, you HAVE to win the football game.
Perhaps it's time for Rex Ryan to duct tape his mouth for the rest of the season and do some coaching instead. No matter how popular he is, he could very well talk his way out of the head coaching position if the team continues to slide. There's only so long you can make promises and not keep them. Ask any politician.
The Red Sox are talking with Bobby Valentine about their managerial opening. I have not heard the word "interview" used as of yet, but this would definitely be a douchebag match made in Heaven. That being said, how many Yankees fan will automically panic that the "Red Sox have Valentine as their manager..we're in trouble". Valentine is one of the most overrated managers in baseball history. He's a good manager, not a great manager, and I don't give a crap about his success in Japan. The game is not the same overseas.
Valentine, however, is a better manager than he is a baseball color commentator/analyst and I would welcome his exit from the booth. His haughty, Kermit the Frog/Fozzy Bear delivery is unwelcome on my TV set. What Valentine is best at is self promotion and making wild predictions (Hideki Matsui will be a perennial 50-HR hitter in the US).
Finally, if you haven't seen The Daily Show's Samantha Bee's report on the NY Occupy Wall St. movement, you need to NOW.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Eric Chavez was well liked by both his teammates and the fans, myself included, last season. He was a great influence on younger players like Eduardo Nunez, played stellar defense as a backup at the corners, and provided another option against right-handers as the DH. He was also excellent with runners in scoring position, putting up a .415/.468/.537 split in 47 plate appearances. But just as those numbers don't lie, neither do Chavez's overall numbers. And the numbers were not good for the five-time Gold Glove winner.
A .676 OPS was well below Chavez's lifetime average, which dipped to .817 as a result of the 2011 season. Chavez had his usual rash of injuries as well and appeared in just 58 games. The number of games played can, of course, be looked at in another way. The Yankees wouldn't expect Chavez to play too much, except to occassionally spell Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez.
But with Rodriguez's own mounting injuries, the Yankees need a healthier player with more pop to fill in at third base. Nunez did a pretty good offensively (.698) in his first full season in the Majors, but is still maturing as a defender. Chavez hit just two home runs in 175 plate appearances and though he was decent 3-11 (.273) as a pinch-hitter, all his hits were singles. (His numbers were even worse when he entered the game as a sub - .513 OPS).
So while Chavez is a great guy to have around and can be depended on defensively, the Yankees need to find themselves a younger, more durable, and more offensively consistently model for the 2012 season.
Monday, November 14, 2011
With all that's been going on with Penn St., it's time to take look at some Yankees' business. If for no other reason than to escape the sickening madness of the PSU story...
The Yankees haven't made it official, but Jorge Posada told reporters last week that he's played his last game as a Yankee. He still has not decided whether or not he wants to play anywhere else next season. The hope here is that he doesn't, so that he can say he played his entire career in the Pinstripes and not further diminish his career. Posada's legacy and value are things that have been passionately debated by Yankees fans.
The two sides really diverge when it comes to discussing the possibility of Posada entering the Hall of Fame. Those that are in favor of his entry, point to the numbers he put up as a catcher and his World Series rings. Those against the notion point to his catching deficiencies, poor base running, etc. I fall somewhere in between, acknowledging his offensive accomplishments, while shaking my head at some of the things he's done defensively and on the bases over the years.
To me, he has not had a Hall of Fame career. The Yankees have been scouting Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedas, who says he is 26. With Cuban players you never really know where the truth lies when it comes to their age. The Yankees were among the teams that watched Cespedas work out recently in the Dominican Republic.
The teams' scouts have not shared much info, which you would expect, and you have to be careful with any player you haven't had much chance to watch. Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez does not come along every day. Another international player that could be making an impact this year is pitcher Yu Darvish. The 25-yr old right-hander has had five straight sub-2.00 ERA seasons and won 18 games last year for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He also struck out 276 hitters in 232 innings this past season.
Darvish could only make his way to the US if he goes through the Japanese mechanism of posting players. Just like with Cuban players, sometimes these things work out (Ichiro Suzuki) and other times they don't (Kei Igawa). The NY Times' Brad Lefton reported that Darvish has not yet decided if he wants to make the transition from the Far East to the West. Darvish recently blogged, "Nothing has been decided. After all games have been played and I’ve had a chance to rest, I’ll think about what comes next.”
Pitching is clearly the Yankees priority this off-season, an off-season in which starting pitching is not in great supply. Lefty Mark Buehrle, who would prefer to remain a White Sox, Edwin Jackson, Roy Oswalt, and C.J. Wilson are the biggest names, but let the buyer beware. Buehrle has always seemed to me to be a pitcher who is not as good as his numbers. And his numbers aren't always good. Even though the Yankees could use a solid left-hander, they need more than an innings eater. I don't see Buehrle being successful in Yankee Stadium.
The Star-Ledger's Jeff Bradley feels Buerhle could bring a "Jimmy Key-esque" quality to the Yankees. The Yankees have reportedly already had contact with agents for all the above except Buehrle. Wilson is the number #1 guy on Texas, but really is more suited to be a two or even a three in the rotation. He's been less than impressive in the last two post-seasons as well. He'll be looking for #1 money, which the Yankees should NOT pay him.
Jackson has good stuff, but is erratic, not to the degree of A.J. Burnett, but not far behind. Oswalt has declined the last few years after a stellar career and is too injury prone. He became a free agent when the Phillies did not pick up his $12M option. Right now the Yankees rotation consists of CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Burnett, and Phil Hughes. The Yankees would love to dump Burnett, the two years left on his deal, and some of the amount of the $33M they still owe him.
But who do you plug in? It's not likely that either Manny Banuelos or Dellin Betances will be ready out of Spring Training to join the staff. No one know what Phil Hughes will bring next year. The Yankees could swing a deal as well with some of their highly touted prospects. The feeling here is that they will go after Darvish, if he makes himself available, with a conservative bid.
The long range deal and posting fee that Boston made for Dice-K has not worked out well and the Yankees have their own issues with Igawa, so I don't see them going crazy. Of all of the pitchers mentioned, Buehrle probably has the best chance to become a Yankee.
Posted by Drew Sarver at 10:34 AM
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
I'm no Young MC and Andrew Brackman is no Randy Johnson. Many an eyebrow was raised when the Yankees selected Brackman with their first round pick (30th overall) in the 2007 MLB amateur draft.
The team already knew that Brackman needed Tommy John surgery, but still felt that picking the former N.C. State Wolfpack basketball player was a slam dunk. Were they ever wrong. Tuesday, the Yankees declined the 2012 option on Brackman, making him a free agent. While there's always a possibility the Yankees could bring him back with a minor league deal, the soon to be 26-yr old is likely headed to a new organization.
It's well documented that it's a difficult transition to the big leagues for exceptionally tall pitchers and the 6'10" Brackman fell in that category. It took Randy Johnson years to perfect the art of pitching, but not everyone is so lucky. The Mariners had another big lefty, 6'10" Ryan Anderson, in their farm system and dubbed him "Little Unit" as an homage to Johnson. It also told just how much the M's thought about Anderson.
Anderson was rated a top 25 prospect by Baseball America for five straight years (1998-2002). He averaged better than 12 strikeouts per nine innings, but injuries and a questionable work ethic ended his baseball career after the 2005 season. He never made it to the Major Leagues.
Will Brackman have the same fate? After rehab from surgery, Brackman pitched for Charleston in 2009 and was, as expected, not very good. He showed a lot of rust and his strikeout to walk ratio was an awful 1.36. He also threw 26 wild pitches and had an ERA above 5.00.
Brackman showed promise the following year at Tampa ('A+') and Trenton ('AA'), excelling after his promotion to the Eastern League's Thunder. Between the two levels he struck out 126 in 146.2 innings and walked 39 with a 3.90 ERA.
But this past season Brackman took a step backwards at Triple-A Scranton. He had a career low in strikeouts per nine innings and set a career high in walks per nine frames, with both figures at 7.0. A 1.635 WHIP, 19 wild pitches, a 6.00 ERA, and just 13 starts in his 33 appearances all added up to his subtraction from the Yankees 40-man roster.
While he is not yet in the category of a Brien Taylor, Brackman's window of opportunity to mak e the Majors is closing fast.
This story was orginally written for BaseballDigest.com.
The Power Is Back; Time To Crank Up The Hot Stove
The World Series concluded last week with the St. Louis Cardinals capturing their 11th World Series championship. Many of us in the northeast were then pounded by an October-ending storm that was as rotten as any January has to throw at us. For the many of us who lost power, heat, etc…what better time than now, the beginning of November, to crank up the HOT STOVE.
Oh yes, just because baseball is over, it doesn’t mean that baseball is over.
There’s a lot going on already…
Theo Epstein escaped from Boston to try to help another team, the Chicago Cubs, end their long running misery. He also had to get out from under the bus that Boston owner John Henry threw him under. The Cubs still owe the Red Sox compensation for Epstein after the latest deadline to do so passed with no resolution. Epstein is the Cubs’ new president and has named Jed Hoyer as the team’s new GM. Hoyer had been the ass’t GM in San Diego and had worked with Epstein in Boston during the team’s two titles in 2004 and 2007.
The Red Sox quickly replaced Epstein with insider Ben Cherington, a long-time Boston employee. One of Cherington’s first moves was to exercise the $6MM option on Marco Scutaro for 2012. Cherington also said that Scutaro will be the starting shortstop entering spring training. He should face competition from veteran Jed Lowrie and highly touted prospect Jose Iglesias.
The Los Angeles Angels also changed GM’s, bringing in former Arizona Diamondbacks front office employee Jerry DiPoto to fill the role. DiPoto pitched for eight seasons in the bigs and compiled a 27-24 record with the Indians, Mets, and Rockies. He retired as a player after the 2000 season.
The Baltimore Orioles search for a GM continued after Toronto assistant GM Tony LaCava said, “no thanks”.
Winning manager Tony LaRussa retired after 33 years, three world championships, and six pennants. Commissioner Bud Selig said he would still like to see LaRussa manage the 2012 NL All-Star team.
Davey Johnson will be back as manager of the Washington Nationals after the club and he reached an agreement for 2012. The 68-yr old Johnson, who took over the team on June 27, will be the oldest manager in baseball. At least until Jack McKeon comes out of retirement again.
New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman inked a new three-year deal and ownership re-worked ace CC Sabathia’s contract so that the team’s #1 starter wouldn’t opt out of his current contract. The new deal guarantees Sabathia $122MM over five years. In this new technological era, Sabathia was the first to announce the new deal via Twitter. "Yankee fans, I’ll be here fighting for number 28 next year! "
One pitcher who may not be re-joining Sabathia in Pinstripes next season is the inconsistent A.J. Burnett. During the news conference to announce his new deal, Cashman said that Burnett will be in the rotation, “…if he’s with us.” Two Yankees who will be back are outfielder Nick Swisher (though he could be dealt) and Robinson Cano, who both had their options picked up.
The Phillies turned down the option on veteran starter Roy Oswalt, which made the right-hander a free agent.
The Tampa Bay Rays picked up options on closer Kyle Farnsworth and starter James Shields, but have parted ways with catcher Kelly Shoppach.
Embatted LA Dodgers owner Frank McCourt has agreed to sell the team at auction. The Dodgers were building a promising future until McCourt and his wife Jamie engaged in bitter divorce proceedings. A settlement allowed the team to finally be put up for sale.
Dodgers fans are ecstatic that the McCourts are selling. The LA Times has the full story.
The Indians have a new starting pitcher in veteran Derek Lowe. The right-hander was acquired from Atlanta on Monday for a minor leaguer. Cleveland will only have to pony up 1/3 of the $15MM that Lowe is still owed. The 38-yr old is coming off of one of his worst seasons when he went 9-17, 5.05 in 34 starts.
Courtesy of mlb.com, here is the complete list of 2012 free agents and potential free agents:
* Eligible per contract terms.