Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A-Rod to Throw Himself on the Mercy of His Bank Account?

"What me worry?"

After all the bobbing and weaving and preparing for a big fight, it now appears Alex Rodriguez may be negotiating with Major League Baseball on a plea deal.

What changed his mind? Most likely it is cold hard cash and the game that he loves to play no matter the cost to his reputation, his legacy, and did I mention money.

If A-Rod were to sit out the rest of this year and all of 2014 he would still be able to collect the the $61MM he would be owed from 2015-2017. His reputation and legacy are already in the toilet, so what's left? The money of course and can you really see A-Rod possibly losing everything owed to him? ($86MM plus the rest of this year's salary.)

Yes, I'm answering one question with another one, but that's what happens when things are so unclear. When reports have A-Rod fighting any penalty and then have him pleading for a future in baseball. When MLB is taking their sweet time in handing out the remaining penalties.

The biggest question is just how much evidence does MLB have against A-Rod? Word is that some of the proof has A-Rod recruiting other players for Biogenesis.

MLB is certainly hoping A-Rod cuts a deal. They don't want a big fight any more than A-Rod does, and if they try to hand down a lifetime ban they will certainly be in for battle for the ages.

Either way, just get it over with already!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Red Sox Snare Peavy in 3 Team Deal

Peavy going from the outhouse to the penthouse

Several reports late tonight have Chicago White Sox pitcher Jake Peavy going to the Boston Red Sox in a three team deal that involves the Detroit Tigers as well.

Peavy is guaranteed $14.5MM next season and has a $15MM option for 2015 if he meets certain goals over the 2013-14 seasons.  The Red Sox sent shortstop Jose Iglesias, who has played third base in a number of games for Boston, to Detroit.  With Jhonny Peralta's name mentioned in the Biogenesis scandal, Iglesias may soon be the Tigers starting shortstop. Iglesias has a great glove, no hit reputation, but batted .330 with an OPS near .800 for Boston.

The Tigers sent highly touted outfielder Avisail Garcia to Chicago. So far Garcia's minor league success has not translated to the Major Leagues in the 53 games he has played.

Gordon Edes of reported that 2-3 lower level prospects will also be heading to Chicago. No word so far if they will all come from Boston.

The move could also mean that Will Middlebrooks will be recalled to play third base for Boston.

Grandy Phelps Try To Bring Some Lightning to the Thunder

Curtis Granderson and David Phelps continued their rehab assignments Tuesday night for the Double-A Trenton Thunder.

Phelps was much sharper than his first start for Trenton last week. He allowed a run on three hits over four innings with two walks and six strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Granderson had a triple and a walk in four trips to the plate. The Yankees are hoping that Granderson can join the team next week, maybe even this weekend.

Peavy, Rios, and Lee and Lots of Phone Calls

The Chicago White Sox have been miserable all year and are having a semi-annual clearance sale. Alex Rios, Jake Peavy, and Alexei Ramirez are among the sale items that have been marked down (or up). Rios and Peavy are among the most sought after veterans as Major League Baseball nears the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.(4 pm EDT)

Peavy was scratched from his scheduled start this evening and is the subject of trade talk between the White Sox and a number of teams. Boston, St. Louis, and Oakland are among those showing interest.

Rios is a conundrum, tagged early in his career as the next Dave Winfield, his career has been a roller coaster.  He made back to back American All-Star teams as a member of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2006-2007, which lead to a seven year, $64MM contract. While his production dipped slightly in 2008, the 2009 season led the Blue Jays to cut salary.

Rios was putting together a decent season with 62 RBI and a .744 OPS in 108 games when the Blue Jays placed him on post-deadline waivers. The White Sox claimed him and the Blue Jays said you could have him. Suddenly, Toronto had a lot less payroll.

Rios meanwhile didn't adjust well to his new surroundings - a .530 OPS in 41 games. Thus began the rollercoaster for Rios' career. The 2010 season saw a resurgence with 21 HR, 88 RBI, 34 stolen bases and a .791 OPS. A year later though, back down came the coaster; a .613 OPS with just 13 HR and 44 RBI in 537 at-bats. 2012? You guessed it, 850 OPS, topped .300 in his batting avg., 25 HR, 91 RBI and a 15th place finish in the AL MVP voting. Rios still has one year left on his deal, but his OPS is about 100 points less than last season and his HR and RBI pace is down again. I would stay away from him unless you have to give up little in return. He's still guaranteed $12.5MM next year.

Teams in play - Pirates, Yankees (Rios willing to waive his no-trade per NY Post's Joel Sherman); Rangers appear to be out of it for now.

Cliff Lee seems to be in this position every year. In 2002, prior to the deadline he was part of a package (Grady Sizemore, Brandon Phillips, Lee Stevens) that sent Bartolo Colon from Cleveland to Montreal. The '09 deadline saw him and Ben Francisco shipped to Philly for four players. He was sent to the Seattle Mariners that winter and was up for grabs at the 2010 deadline. After it appeared he was going to the Yankees in a Jesus Montero led deal, the Mariners sent Lee to the Texas Rangers for highly touted prospect Justin Smoak and three others.

Lee returned to Philly again as a free agent in 2010 for five years guaranteed (over $100MM) and an option for a sixth year.  It was one of the many recent mistakes GM Reuben Amaro Jr. made that boosted Philly's payroll significantly. Amaro tonight stated that there is "very little chance" that Lee gets dealt" and chances are "remote" that Michael Young does.

The rest of the field:

Ian Kennedy - Angels are going hard after him, willing to deal Howie Kendrick (Ken Rosenthal)

Marc Rzepczynski- A deal is in place that would send the lefty to the Indians (Derrick Goold, St. Louis-Post Dispatch)

Oliver Perez - Yeah, that guy. Multiple teams are said to be interested in adding Perez to their bullpen. (Jon Morosi)

Bud Norris - Astros are getting calls on Norris who would be a middle to back end of the rotation starter.

Tino Expounds On Incidents That Led to Resignation

Which is the real Tino Martinez?
It's been two days since Tino Martinez resigned as hitting coach of the Miami Marlins and that was long enough for the BamTino to keep quiet about the details of what caused the complaints by some players to manager Mike Redmond.

Martinez actually spoke with's Ken Rosenthal Monday night to give his side of the story.1 The anger, the exchange between Martinez and a handful of players all came down to following baseball protocol, according to the first year coach. It's customary practice to help pick up the baseballs after taking part in a soft-toss drill in the batting cage. The three players, Martinez claims, refused to do so.

Martinez stated that altercations with Derek Dietrich, Chris Valaika, and Justin Ruggiano were nearly identical, with the exception that Martinez admitted that he grabbed Dietrich by the jersey. Dietrich told Redmond that Martinez grabbed him by the neck and the chain that went around his neck. No other player has stated that Martinez laid his hands on them.

The former Yankees first baseman added that his run-ins with the three players were each"one time incident(s)" and did not "linger" any further. After he discussed things with friends over the weekend, the four time World Series champion decided to talk to the press.
“Do you realize I’m out of baseball basically because a couple of players didn't pick up balls in the cage when I asked them to? As a coach, when I asked them to pick up the balls, why didn’t they just say, ‘Absolutely, no problem, I’ll do it right now.’ ”
Added Martinez: “I started thinking about it, thinking I’ve got to say something, not just let it go away. I’ve had a great reputation in this game for years. I walked away from the game with integrity. But now, to have a couple of kids try to ruin my name, I felt I had to say something and fight back.” 
Martinez then talked about his time as a player to emphasize the normal ritual.
“If Bernie Williams is hitting in front of me and I’m waiting with Paul O’Neill or whoever, there are no questions asked,” said Martinez, who played 16 years in the majors and won four World Series with the Yankees. “You help pick the balls up, and the next guy hits. Whoever is hanging around helps pick the balls up. It's standard.” 
Valaika would often hit after outfielder Juan Pierre, a 14-year veteran in the big leagues. According to Martinez, Valaika was content to watch Pierre pick up the baseballs.
“One day I told Juan Pierre, ‘One of these days, he’s going to help us pick up the balls. He’s a 27-year-old journeyman. You’re a 15-year big leaguer. He will help us pick up the balls,’” Martinez recalled. 
“So finally after about a month or so goes by, I decide I’m going to tell him something: ‘Hey Chris, help us pick up the balls.’ And he goes, ‘Why should I? I didn’t hit ‘em.’ And I said, ‘Pick up the balls, you’re part of this team.’ And he goes, ‘But I didn’t hit ‘em.’ So, I got in his face and I said, ‘Pick up the f------ balls. You’re part of this f------ team.’ I got in his face and said it kind of angrily. And he picked up the balls.”
Martinez stated he never had an issue with Vailaka again, but he clearly lost his cool with Dietrich.
“I go, ‘Derek, help us pick the balls up,’” Martinez recalled. “He goes, ‘Why, I didn’t hit ‘em.’ I said, ‘I don’t give a s--- if you didn’t hit ‘em, help us pick the balls up.’ He walked toward me, not angrily, and said, ‘Hey, I didn’t hit the balls, why should I pick ‘em up?’
“I grabbed his jersey and said, ‘Because you’re f------- part of this team, pick the f------ balls up right now. Pick the f------ balls up. I’m tired of your s---.’ I probably pushed him backwards. That was it.”
Like Valaika, Martinez said he never had an issue with Dietrich again. However, Dietrich may feel otherwise since his agent contacted the MLB front office when his client was sent to the minors. Martinez was taken aback by Dietrich's claim.
“Derek, a day after he gets sent to the minor leagues, decides to say, ‘Tino grabbed me by the throat two months ago,’” Martinez said. “This came out of nowhere. We were working together for two months, fine.”
Martinez's version of events was confirmed by batting practice pitcher Tim Smith. As for Ruggiano, Martinez says the outfielder went back to the clubhouse after he hit and left all of the baseballs in the cage for another player to pick up.
“I was like, ‘Why did you let him do that?’” Martinez recalled saying to the player. “He said, ‘That’s just the way he is.’ I said, ‘We’ve got to change that.’ So one day I confronted (Ruggiano) and told him how he was a terrible teammate, how he treated the players, how he was this and this and this.
“I got in his face. There was no contact. I got in his face and told him he needed to change; he had one year in the big leagues, and he shouldn’t treat people like that. And I went on and on and on, probably dropped a few F-bombs. And that was it — a one-day deal there.”
The three players aside, it was another unnamed player that was quoted in the original report as saying Martinez used "intimidation tactics from day one." There was also a report that Martinez came down hard on minor leaguer Matt Downs during Spring Training for working with minor league hitting instructor Greg Norton after Martinez had been working with him.
“I didn’t want another coach telling him something different from what I was telling him,” Martinez said. “I said, ‘What’s he telling you?’ He said, ‘This and this and this.’ And I said, ‘That’s the same thing I’m telling you.’ 
“I kind of did it in a frustrated way. ‘You don’t trust me as a hitting coach? If you don’t want to work with me, you don’t have to work with me anymore.’”
The only veteran involved was first baseman Casey Kotchman, whom reportedly Martinez challenged to a fight. Martinez stayed away from discussing the alleged challenge, but was remorseful about what happened.
“That’s probably the only one I regret — he’s a good guy,” Martinez said. “I questioned his injury (a strained left hamstring that Kotchman suffered on April 5). I shouldn’t have done that. I felt bad about doing that.”
Finally, Martinez spoke about his discussion with management that led him to definitely resign.
“When I went in to talk to the general manager, the president, the manager, all the guys who were in Redmond’s office, I basically felt guilty, like I had done something wrong, because of what I had read in the paper,” Martinez said.
“I apologized. I honestly didn’t know why I was apologizing. I did it because I felt the public was going to read that, and it made it sound like I yelled at those guys every single day. But if you ask those players how many times after that I yelled at them or said something to them, they would probably tell you zero, not one day after that.
“I resigned because I felt the manager and general manager had lost trust in me somewhat. They kept asking me, ‘Did you grab (Dietrich) by the throat?’ And I kept saying no. I felt like I was being isolated by some of the coaches, the manager and the general manager. I felt that they didn’t want me around at that point.”
Martinez categorized reports that he was bi-polar as being "ridiculous" and pointed out his stable family life. Finally, Martinez added “It was one day, it was one outburst (with each player). I had just bottled it up for so long. “I had to say something. And that was it.”

As a Yankees fan and a fan of Costantino Martinez, I would like to be able to believe him, but where there's smoke there's usually fire. While Martinez tried to dismiss each incident as a one time deal and there was nothing more to it, the incidents with Kotchman and Downs, and the remarks by the anonymous player seem to indicate that Martinez's statements is attempting to simplify a much larger problem.

1 -

Peavy Preps to Pack

Jake Peavy, one of the top prizes at this year's MLB trade deadline, has been scratched from tonight's start against the Cleveland Indians. There have been trade rumors for several days with a number of suitors being annointed as the front-runner to land the 12-year veteran.

If the White Sox aren't comfortable with what they can get in return for Peavy, they can simply hold on to him since he's under contract for 2014 ($14.5MM). Peavy has made 13 starts this year after he sat out over six weeks with a fractured rib. It was less than a day ago that the White Sox said they were going to hold on to Peavy and build around him. Apparently, the "threat" got someone to up their offer.

It remains to be seen though where Peavy will land.

Jeff Passan @JeffPassan
Red Sox very much in Jake Peavy sweepstakes. Wouldn't exactly say they're favorites but between motivation and prospects in strong position.
off Peavy, moving onto other pursuits - bullpen, middle IFer. Will dangle some of players they would have traded for Peavy. 

Yankees Still in the Hunt For an Outfielder's Jon Heyman reported Tuesday afternoon that the Yankees and the Cincinnati Reds have made inquiries to the San Francisco Giants as to the availability of Hunter Pence.1

The 30-year old outfielder is in the final year of his current contract and will be a free agent after the season. He has a slash line of .277/.320/.457 with  14 HR and 51 RBI. Pence has also stolen 14 bases without being caught.

After he played four-plus seasons with the Houston Astros, the outfielder was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies at the 2011 trade deadline. The Giants then picked him from the Phils at last year's deadline for 2 minor leaguers and Nate Schierholtz. (The Cubs signed Schierholtz in the off-season and are now shopping him as well.)

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Monday, July 29, 2013

MLB May Suspend A-Rod Through CBA

Rather than allow Alex Rodriguez to appeal a drug related suspension that would keep him on the field, Ron Blum of the Associated Press has reported that Major League Baseball may suspend A-Rod for violating the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
Article XII B of the Basic Agreement, which states: ''Players may be disciplined for just cause for conduct that is materially detrimental or materially prejudicial to the best interests of baseball including, but not limited to, engaging in conduct in violation of federal, state or local law.''
If suspended under that section, Rodriguez would serve the penalty while a grievance is litigated before arbitrator Fredric Horowitz - unless the union asks for a stay and the arbitrator grants one, which would be unusual under the grievance procedure. And baseball could always try to punish A-Rod on drug violations later. 1
Tune in tomorrow for another episode of How the A-Rod Turns.

Read about (A-Rod's lawyer) David Cornwell's appearance with Stephen A. Smith, who sat in for Michael Kay today on ESPN radio.

1 - Yahoo Sports

Adams Sent Down as Nix Readies For Return; Grandy Joins Phelps Up North

Protect that thumb Grandy!

It won't have quite the same fanfare as when Derek Jeter returned to the Yankees, but Jayson Nix will be activated prior to Tuesday night's meeting with the Los Angeles Dodgers. As expected, David Adams was sent back to Scranton Monday to free up space on the 25-man roster.

Nix's offensive numbers were far from good as he filled in at both shortstop and third base, but his work ethic and effort on the field did not go unnoticed by fans, his manager, or teammates. The 30-year old was placed on the 15-day DL after injuring his hamstring at the end of June/beginning of July.

He played one rehab game in the Gulf Coast League and three for Tampa of the Florida State League. At the time of the injury Nix had a .607 OPS with 2 HR, 20 RBI, and 11 stolen bases in 73 games played.

Curtis Granderson isn't quite ready to join the Bronx Bombers, but he's getting closer. Literally.  The Grandyman and David Phelps are slated to continue their rehab assignments for the Trenton Thunder on Tuesday.

Granderson, recovering from a broken finger, played four games with the Tampa Yankees and was 2-13 (.154) with an RBI. He's played in just eight regular season games after he had his forearm broken by a pitch in Spring Training and his finger suffered the same fate in his eighth big league game after his return.

Phelps has pitched in one rehab stint for Trenton after he was placed on the 15-day DL July 6 with a slightly strained right forearm. With Ivan Nova looking more and more like he did in 2011, Phelps may be returned to the bullpen when he rejoins the team. That could change if Phil Hughes is dealt away at the trade deadline. The Notre Dame product threw 3.2 innings against the Altoona Curve six days ago and allowed 2 ER, 2 hits, 3 BB, and a home run. He also struck out six batters.

Will A-Rod Say "Pleas"? Lawyer Says Not So Fast

Does this look like a guy who's going down without a fight?

Word on the street is that this will be the week when Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig slams down suspensions on a number of players like the mighty Thor swung his hammer.  Everyone is waiting with bated breath...not to be confused with those who ate sardines...for the names and the length of time players will get sent to the "baseball brig".

Bad puns aside, this could be a make or break period for Alex Rodriguez and whatever career he has left. It's been widely reported that A-Rod has been offered a plea deal - accept a suspension for the remainder of this year and all of next year - that if accepted would allow A-Rod to return to baseball in 2015. It would also allow him to collect the $60MM that will still be owed to him by the Yankees. Selig is reportedly ready to ban A-Rod for life if he doesn't take the plea arrangement.

However, the reports of the plea offer were denied by A-Rod's lawyer, David Cornwell, who represented Ryan Braun after the Milwaukee Brewers outfielder failed a drug test last year.

Speaking Monday afternoon to ESPN radio's Stephen A. Smith, Cornwell said that Major League Baseball has not approached A-Rod with a deal and that he is focused on readying an appeal for when Selig announces a suspension.

Cornwell said he believes the next step in the process will be for the union to meet with MLB to discuss the investigation and focus on "particular players" and that union head Michael Weiner previously laid out some groundwork on how the process will take place.  Cornwell also said he would not bother to respond to anything reported by any of the media, since it is irrelevant to the appeal process that he is preparing for.

Cornwell also emphasized that the paperwork containing evidenced was stolen by a "disgruntled ex-employee", Porter Fischer of the Biogenesis clinic. Clearly Cornwell will look to discredit Fischer, who has been looking to make a buck by selling the evidence, and the clinic owner Tony Bosch, who is looking to save his butt by cooperating with authorities.

Cornwell added that A-Rod is only focused on getting back to playing baseball, which it looks like he'll do if he does appeal any suspension handed down.

While no fan of A-Rod, it's absurd if Selig is uses him as an example in order to show other potential cheaters that he is tough, especially to those who dare cheat the game multiple times. That being said A-Rod deserves a lengthy suspension if he indeed cheated, but he should not be the only one. As I have said before, Ryan Braun 65 game "sentence" is a joke.

Whatever happens it is time for Major League Baseball and the players union to get things right. Both sides mishandled things from day one- MLB by ignoring the drug issue and the union by refusing to agree to stringent testing sooner.

Times are changing though; the majority of players appear to be fed up with the cheaters as is Weiner. Selig has had enough of players that ignore the warnings or try to finagle their way around the truth.

You can bet there are still players in the league that used steroids in the past, prior to testing and maybe even afterwards, and may try to do so again. You'll never hear them speak up about cleaning up the game. The younger players though want an even playing field. Guys like Chris Davis, who had a breakout season last year and is having a monster season this year, are tired of hearing whispered accusations about possible PED use, because of greatly improved play.

Brace yourself for a long fight.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Soriano is Back, Back in a New York Groove

You can clap for yourself when you win the game.

Alfonso Soriano said he felt like he was back home and the Yankees fans greeted him that way when he came to bat in the 2nd inning of Friday night's series opener with the Tampa Bay Rays. Unfortunately, he went 0-5 with an RBI ground out as the Yankees and CC Sabathia got pummeled by the Tampa Bay Rays 10-6. Things were no better on Saturday when the Yankees got shut out on two hits by rookie Chris Archer.

But on Sunday those little town blues melted away. It was like old times in the Bronx. Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, and even Hideki Matsui were wearing pinstripes. Jeter, playing in just his second game of the season, swung at the first pitch he saw from Rays starter Matt Moore and deposited it in the first row in right-center field for a solo home run. Soriano went 4-5 on the day, with the final hit a single up the middle that scored Brett Gardner in the bottom of the 9th to win it, 6-5.

Soriano arrived despite the protestations of GM Brian Cashman, who was against dealing a young pitcher (Corey Black) for the 37-year old. Soriano had begun to establish a legacy in the Bronx when he was dealt for Alex Rodriguez prior to the 2004 season.  Had it not been for a rare meltdown by Mariano Rivera in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series, Soriano would have had a toehold in Yankees history forever.

It was Soriano's 7th inning home run off of Curt Schilling that gave the Yankees a 2-1, but the Arizona Diamondbacks rallied against Rivera to win the World Series.  Soriano also had the game winning single in the 12th inning of Game 5 after Scott Brosius had tied the game with a home run in the 9th.

Sunday's series finale with the Rays was a battle- twice Phil Hughes, the home run pitching machine, had Wil Myers go deep off of him to blow leads. Soriano was there to save the day though. He belted a 2-run home run in the 3rd inning( yes, Yankees right-handed hitters actually hit home runs), singled twice, earned a Gatorade shower from Brett Gardner for his 9th inning heroics.

One of the first to greet Soriano was his old double play partner Jeter. According to @YestoResearch (YES' Jeff Quagliata) it was the first time since July 17, 2003 that pair homered in the same game together as teammates.

Even though Soriano was never a Yankee in the new Yankee Stadium, he said Friday that he felt he was home again and YS was his home. Slated to wear #22, he even got Vernon Wells to give him #12 in an undisclosed transaction. Wells will wear 22 from now on.

Ichiro Suzuki also had four hits in the game to become the 6th player in MLB history with at least 50 4-hit games.

Tino Martinez Resigns as Marlins Hitting Coach Amid Abuse Allegations

Things with the Miami Marlins have gotten crazier and crazier, but today they hit a little closer to home. Marlins' hitting coach Tino Martinez resigned after allegations of physical and verbal abuse made by several players.

The Miami Herald's Clark Spencer1 reported in Sunday's paper that second baseman Derek Dietrich said that Martinez grabbed him by the neck and the chain around his neck. He told team officials of this incident several months ago. Since then other players made similar remarks and said the incidents started from " one".  An unnamed player accused Martinez of coaching with intimidation tactics.

Spencer reported that Martinez was ready to resign before Sunday's game with Pittsburgh, but owner Jeffrey Loria would not accept the resignation. Things apparently changed during Sunday's game when Martinez met with Loria.
Martinez was an intense player in 16 Major League seasons, his best with the Yankees and Seattle Mariners, but seemed like a nice guy off the field. Apparently his idea of coaching is something better suited for the NFL or MMA.

UPDATE - 6:05 PM: Tino Martinez released the following statement:

"I want to apologize to the Marlins organization for my behavior," Martinez said. "I have made some comments to certain players at certain times that I thought was more constructive criticism. Obviously, they didn't feel that way, and it kind of backfired on me." 
"It has been building for a few days," he said. "I didn't know this was going to come out publicly. When this came out, I thought it was the right thing to do." 
"I just thought with some young players you needed to be a little firmer and try to get them on the right track," he said. "I probably used some four-letter words. I thought I was doing the right thing. Obviously, I wasn't." 
"I don't know long term how it's going to affect me," he said. "Right now I'm disappointed in myself. I'm embarrassed. Right now I'm not worried about the future. I just want to make sure my family is OK."2

UPDATED 6:30 - More from the Miami Herald:
 Tino Martinez - “That only thing I’ve done is, I did grab Dietrich — we had a little thing in the [batting] cage one day — by the jersey,” Martinez said. “That was it. I never touched his neck. I never grabbed his neck. If anything else, [I want] his parents to know that because I have a 20-year-old son and I would be very upset if someone grabbed my son’s neck. That never happened.”
According to sources, Martinez erupted over seemingly minor issues that didn’t merit such anger. In addition to Dietrich, who was demoted to the minors last week, Martinez became excessively angry with outfielder Justin Ruggiano, first baseman Casey Kotchman, infielder Chris Valaika and minor-league infielder Matt Downs, among others.

Read more here:

1 - Miami Herald Sports
2 - ABC News

Jeter Gets to Play Game 2 and Hopefully Beyond

Keep your fingers crossed and quads loose - Derek Jeter is getting activated from the disabled list today. Whether or not a game is played is up to the weather, which  is supposed to be pretty cruddy all day.

Jeter will take Travis Hafner's spot on the 25-man roster after the often-injured DH went on the DL with a strained right rotator cuff. Yesterday, in a undisclosed location, Jeter played in a simulated game at the plate and in the field.

That location then turned out to be the Staten Island Yankees' home park after anyone in the area saw El Capitan. Amateur paparazzi were quickly posting photos on Twitter.

Here's to the captain staying healthy from here on out.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Mariano Rivera, the New Urban Cowboy

The Mariano Rivera farewell tour continued in Texas this week and culminated Thursday afternoon when the Rangers feted #42.

Rivera was given, what else, a cowboy hat and a pair of cowboy boots with his name and the interlocking NY emblazoned on them. Former Yankees' closer, and the man that Mo made a name for himself setting up, John Wettleland, and Rangers' closer Joe Nathan presented Mo with the gifts.

The Rangers also donated $5,000 to Mariano Rivera Foundation, which aids children in need. Wetteland recalled the young Mo.
"Who knew that this wide-eyed kid would become the greatest closer in history? If you look back in retrospect, it makes sense. I never saw anybody who paid so much attention to detail. He would sit there quiet, but he would know what was being said. Now I tell him, 'You never said a word, you're always just looking at people,' and he says, 'I was taking it in.'"1
Rangers manager Ron Washington added:
"Dominant. Professional. Ambassador," Rangers manager Ron Washington said, describing Rivera before the game. "Automatic, and any type of adjective that you can find to describe him in a bright, bright, bright, bright light, that's what you do. Class act."1
If only he would pitch until he was at least 90.

1 - Quotes courtesy of (The Tribune)

Soriano Agreeable, Jeter Expects to Play

Alfonso Soriano may become a Yankee again after all. Soriano reportedly gave Cubs GM Theo Epstein a list of six teams he would be willing to waive his no trade clause for. The Yankees are said to be on the list. It was originally reported that the Yankees and Cubs were close to a deal, but those reports were premature.  The biggest hold up of any trade between two of baseball's oldest franchises is to reach an agreement on who will pay the bulk of Soriano's $18MM salary next season and the remainder of the $18MM he's owed this season.

The more the Cubs pay the better prospect they'll want in return. Transversely, the Yankees will deal a lesser prospect to Cubs if they take on more of the financial responsibility.  The Yankees desperately needed some punch in the lineup as evidenced again in last night’s 3-1 loss to the Texas Rangers. In particular they need a right-handed bat and some protection in the lineup for Robinson Cano. Soriano could fill both those needs.

Derek Jeter is hoping he can help the lineup out this weekend in a big series with the Tampa Bay Rays. Jeter has hit, run and fielded, and feels good. But you know the Yankees are going to be cautious after Jeter injured his quad in his first game of the season two weeks ago. It was the second time this season that a Yankees player was put on the DL after he returned from the DL or a rest to be placed right back on the DL. (Kevin Youkilis aggravated his back after a week's rest, played, and was immediately placed on the DL.)

David Phelps started for the Trenton Thunder on Tuesday and looked rusty according to The Times' John Nalbone. Phelps tossed 3.2 innings, walked three and struck out six. It remains to be seen whether he'll return to the rotation or go back to the bullpen.

Curtis Granderson and Jayson Nix will be playing for the Tampa Yankees today and probably will remain there through the weekend. Nix had been on a rehab gig in the Gulf Coast League.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A-Rod: What a Fool Believes

Dr. Gross may not be smiling much longer

The Yankees had a really great come from behind win in the 9th inning against the Texas Rangers Tuesday night, but you would never know it. All that was talked about today was the continuing saga of Alex Rodriguez aka A-Quad.

It's a situation that appears to not to be going away any time soon, in part because A-Quad has decided to go on the offensive.  Dr. Michael Gross, not to be confused with the Dad on Family Ties, made the media rounds on Tuesday to refute the Yankees claim that A-Quad has a Grade-1 strain of his left quadriceps.

The ball got rolling when Gross appeared on Mike Francesa's radio show on WFAN Wednesday afternoon and claimed that the MRI of A-Quad's leg showed no injury and that A-Quad felt fine and ready to play in games.

Gross later backed down a little when he was questioned by other media about his supposed examination of A-Rod's quad. Gross, in fact, never actually examined A-Quad, he simply read the MRI. After he told Francesa he "saw nothing", Gross later said he "didn't see much." When questioned by's Andrew Marchand, Gross changed his statement again to "I don't see a significant injury."

Yankees GM Brian Cashman released a statement Wednesday evening in response to the allegation as well as to reports that A-Quad sought a second opinion without getting permission from the team, which would be a violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
“I heard via a text message this afternoon from Alex Rodriguez that he had retained a doctor to review his medical situation. In media reports, we have since learned that the doctor in question has acknowledged that he did not examine Mr. Rodriguez and that he was not retained to do a comprehensive medical examination of Mr. Rodriguez. Contrary to the Basic Agreement, Mr. Rodriguez did not notify us at any time that he was seeking a second opinion from any doctor with regard to his quad strain.
“As you know, it is the Yankees’ desire to have Alex return to the lineup as soon as possible. And we have done everything to try and accomplish this.
“As early as Friday, July 12, when I suggested to Alex that we move his rehab from Tampa to Triple-A Scranton (at Buffalo), Alex complained for the first time of “tightness” in his quad and therefore refused to consent to the transfer of his assignment. Again, last Sunday, Alex advised that he had stiffness in his quad and should not play on Sunday or Monday. We sent Alex to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital for an MRI which evidenced a Grade 1 strain.
“As always, we will follow the rules and regulations set forth in the Basic Agreement, and will again re-evaluate Alex in Tampa tomorrow, as our goal is to return him to the lineup as soon as he is medically capable of doing so.1
Things got even crazier a short time ago when the New York Daily News reported that Gross is now part of Major League Baseball's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic.
"Gross was reprimanded in February for “failing to adequately ensure proper patient treatment involving the prescribing of hormones including steroids.” 
When notified by the Daily News of the reprimand Gross received from the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, a league source said Major League Baseball’s investigation of Rodriguez in the Biogenesis case would expand.
"This has caused MLB to now expand its investigation (of A-Rod) in regard to his relationship with this doctor and this wellness clinic,” said the source. According to the reprimand letter, Gross started a clinic called Active Center for Health and Wellness, where he permitted an individual “who had completed medical school but did not have a medical license to participate in the care and treatment of the patients.”2
If Rodriguez truly had a leg to stand on (yeah, I went there), he could simply have filed a grievance with the player's union. As far as anyone knows, that has not happened. Here's hoping Bud Selig and company get off their behinds soon and announce a suspension.

"Alex Rodriguez making trouble for himself since at least 2003."

And just so it's not completely lost in the mix, great job by Vernon Wells, Eduardo Nunez, and Brent Lillibridge to beat the Rangers Tuesday night, 5-4.

1 - Courtesy of
2 - Courtesy of

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

CBS News: A-Rod Could Be Banned For Life

There has been talk that Major League Baseball has a huge amount of evidence against Alex Rodriguez from the Biogenesis of America case. So much so that CBS News reported this evening that A-Rod could be facing a lifetime ban from baseball.

Stay tuned.

Ryan Braun's 65 Game Suspension is a Slap on the Wrist

"Wait, the papers were photoshopped. I didn't do it!"

Yes, a slap on the wrist. A 65 games suspension is nothing to a guy who will still make millions of dollars in his career and who got out of a failed test by humiliating the tester and lying to the public, his teammates, and the Milwaukee Brewers front office. He stood before the public after he was let off the hook and reiterated how clean he was- his version of Rafael Palmeiro’s wagging finger speech before Congress.

Ryan Braun is no good guy. He's just the opposite of that. His arrogant denials and his haughty attitude just make him a clone of Lance Armstrong. The seemingly random number of games chosen is solely based on the evidence MLB and authorities collected from the Biogenesis Clinic that Braun had an association with. You know that Bud Selig would have liked to have slapped Braun with a much longer penalty, but his hands were tied.

I’m disappointed/angry that the statement Braun read (see next paragraph) to the public on Monday contained no specific words of his wrongdoing. It was just the usual, “I made mistakes” BS that athletes and politicians like to throw around.  And of course instead of just saying I’m sorry, Braun threw in a variation of the nonsensical “If I offended/disappointed anyone” (I also don’t like the fact either that the public isn’t privy to exactly what was found in the seized Biogenesis materials.)

"As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect," Braun said in a statement. "I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions. This situation has taken a toll on me and my entire family, and it has been a distraction to my teammates and the Brewers organization. I am very grateful for the support I have received from players, ownership and the fans in Milwaukee and around the country.

"Finally, I wish to apologize to anyone I may have disappointed -- all of the baseball fans especially those in Milwaukee, the great Brewers organization, and my teammates. I am glad to have this matter behind me once and for all, and I cannot wait to get back to the game I love."

Unfortunately, MLB’s statement was equally ridiculous.  Rob Manfred released the following statement in response to the announcement of the suspension:

“We commend Ryan Braun for taking responsibility for his past actions. We all agree that it is in the best interests of the game to resolve this matter. When Ryan returns, we look forward to him making positive contributions to Major League Baseball, both on and off the field."

There was no "taking responsibility". This was a plea deal just like any court case. Braun knew the Brewers were going nowhere this year so he decided he would take the suspension now and quickly put this all behind by the time next year's regular season starts. Braun knew that things might get a whole lot worse for him if he appealed the suspension.

Reports are that MLB has a lot more information on Alex Rodriguez's connection with Biogenesis and therefore a longer suspension will be handed down. Rumors are that it will be 100 or more games next year. Then it's up to A-Rod to decide whether to appeal or not. Most likely he is already working a plea deal as well with MLB. There is also the possibility that A-Rod’s suspension could begin this year and run into next season.   

Will this stop future cheaters? Time will tell.

Steinbrenner's Promise Fulfilled? Yankees Close to Bring Alfonso Soriano Back Home

A year or so after the Yankees dealt Alfonso Soriano to the Texas Rangers for Alex Rodriguez, George Steinbrenner promised a disappointed female fan that one day he would bring Soriano back to the Yankees. Nine years later it appears that the late Steinbrenner's promise will be fulfilled by his sons and the front office.

George King of the NY Post was the first to report that the Yankees and Cubs were close to a deal that would send Soriano back to New York for a mid-level prospect. While the components of the deal could be worked out soon, Soriano would have to waive his no-trade clause for the deal to go through and that will not be an automatic.

After being a perennial contender to join the 40/40 club (Home runs and steals, not Jay-Z's place) in his younger days as a poor fielding second baseman, the now 37-year old outfielder is a mature leader in the Cubs’ clubhouse. He likes playing at Wrigley and turned down a deal to go to the San Francisco Giants last year. (Perhaps his last chance for a ring too.) He was recently commended by the Cubs management for his work ethic, which included doing extra work to continue to improve his defense in left field. Not many 37-year olds would do that. It was not always that way.

Soriano always worked hard, but his level of maturity needed to improve. He was caught too many times watching his would-be home run shots instead of running hard out of the box. His defense got worse and worse at second base. After two years and 44 errors playing for Texas, the Rangers sent Soriano to the Washington Nationals for Termel Sledge, Brad Wilkerson, and Armando Galarraga. Needless to say the deal was awful for Texas, even though Soriano only had one more year on his contract.

There was also the issue of making no contact in too many at-bats. One of the memories of the 2002 and 2003 playoffs (30 K's in 88 at-bats) was watching Soriano swing and miss at pitch after pitch well out of the strike zone. His strikeout to walk ratio was terrible during those two years as well. Except for two seasons (2006, 2012) since then, Soriano cut down on his strikeouts and improved on his walk total. He began to work the count more and put more balls in play. Oh, and that 2002 season may be remembered for his playoff failure, but Soriano led the AL that year in hits (209), runs (128) and stolen bases (41), and missed the 40/40 club by one home run.

The first year for Soriano in the outfield was the one year he played with the Nats. Defense aside Soriano could not have picked a much better year to lead into free agency. He joined the elusive 40/40 club with 46 home runs and 41 steals. He had a career high .911 OPS, earned the fifth of his seven All-Star selections, won his fourth Silver Slugger award, and finished sixth in the National League MVP voting.

It all paid off when he signed an 8-year, $136MM deal with the Cubs prior to the 2007 season. Though his skills have diminished since his first year in the Windy City- he never stole 20 or more bases again - Soriano still averaged 29 home runs and 98 RBI from 2011-2012. This year he has a .756 OPS (.785 with RISP) with 17 HR and 51 RBI in 92 games.

The money factor is a large when you take into account the $18MM Soriano is owed in 2014, the final year of his deal, and the remainder of the $18MM he's owed for the rest of this season. The Yankees want their 2014 salary to meet the $189MM luxury tax "line in the sand" and Soriano's contract could greatly impact it depending on how much salary the Cubs pay. The Yankees total salary next year might also be impacted by some apparent inside information the Yankees could have a hold of concerning Alex Rodriguez's pending suspension.

According to the Post's Joel Sherman (thank you to @TroyMags for texting me this info) any monies lost by A-Rod during a suspension would not count towards the luxury tax total. So Soriano's $18MM would then have much less of a dent in the Yankees 2014 plans.

While Soriano's acquisition might not have a big impact on where the Yankees finish this year, just ask yourself this. Would you rather watch Soriano hitting or Vernon Wells/Travis Hafner?

Yeah, that's what I thought.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Yankees First Half Report Card: The Bullpen

Valedictorian of his class.

The Yankees and the Boston Red Sox are in the midst of the rubber game of a three game series Sunday night to kick off the post All-Star break portion of the season. Remarkably, this is the first time that the Yankees have visited Fenway Park this season.  It's also the first time in a long time that neither Derek Jeter nor Alex Rodriguez have been in the Yankees lineup for a game against the old town team.

Both starters were roughed up, especially the Yankees CC Sabathia, who saw a 3-0 lead go bye bye. So what better night is there to post the first half grades for the Yankees bullpen.
(Note - statistics are as of the All-Star break)

Mariano Rivera - I might as well start right at the top. There's no reason to go into a lot of detail here; it's been talked about, written about, gifts, videos, the greatest retirement tour ever. Mariano is human, believe or not, as evidenced by the two blown saves in 32 chances. Has anyone ever had a quieter 30 saves, even with the hoopla surrounding his retirement tour? And 30 saves by a 43-year old at the All-Star break? 

It's hard to believe, but just how outstanding he has been seems to have been a bit overlooked by the media. "He's the same old Mariano" doesn't quite cut it.

Grade: A+

David Robertson - DRob's off the field endeavors (High Socks for Hope) get a bit lost among the stars in the Yankees clubhouse, and his on the field performance tend to as well. While he may never be the Yankees regular closer, he's one helluva set up man.

Robertson was selected to the AL All-Star game two years ago when he finished 4-0, 1.08 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, and 13.5 strikeouts per nine innings pitched. After scuffling at times last year (still averaged 12 K's per nine IP) with his performance and health, DRob has improved on some areas of his 2011 performance. He's still averages 12 K's per nine IP and has put up a WHIP under 1.0 in 41 relief appearances.

Grade: A

Joba Chamberlain - Has there been a Yankees relief pitcher in recent history that has created more headaches than Joba Chamberlain? I'm not going to go in summarizing the rise and fall of Joba, but we know that some past issues are due to injuries, the"Joba Rules" and other nonsense the Yankees front office created.

But just like someone who has a bad beginning in life, sometimes you have to pull yourself up by your cleat laces and get things done. Such is not the case with Joba, who comes off very down to earth one minute and then undeservedly arrogant the next. He has not been the type of pitcher that has earned the level of respect he believes he has coming to him.

Is there any situation in a game that you trust Joba in at this point?  He allows inherited runners to score, he lets the opponents lead get bigger, and the Yankees lead get smaller. It's time for Joba to try to find success somewhere else.

Grade: F

Boone Logan - The tall left-hander is a bit of enigma, he looks incredibly solid one second (strikes out Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau with the bases loaded) and very ordinary the next. Joe Girardi has been very careful with not overworking his bullpen like his predecessor Joe Torre did, but Logan is the exception. He appeared in 64 games in 2011 and 80 last year, and that's not counting how many times he got warmed up and didn't enter the game.

It was no surprise that he reported to camp with a cranky elbow this year. It carried over to the start of the season with a shaky April, but Logan bounced back strong in May. In fact, he struck out 25 batters and walked just two in 15.1 innings over May and June combined. In July, opponents have just a .111 Batting Average on balls in play (BAbip). All that said, I still have difficulty trusting him in big spots...or small ones.

Grade: B

Shawn Kelley - Was a surprise pick up this past off-season. With the Mariners trying to improve you would think they would have held on to Kelley, who made only $600K last year and had a solid season. On top of that they dealt him to the Yankees for Abe Almonte, a non-prospect.

Kelley has been a strikeout machine in pinstripes with an average of 13.2 per 9 innings. He quickly gained Girardi’s trust and has become invaluable in high leverage situations. If David Robertson gets the closer's role next season, Kelley is the likely replacement as the 8th inning guy. Then again, he could fill the closer role instead of Robertson.

Grade: B+

Preston Claiborne - The 25-year old came out of nowhere to be an integral part of the bullpen early on. The bloom has come off the rose a bit over the last month, but it doesn't take away what Claiborne did in May and the first half of June. Namely, he gave up just one run in 15 appearances.

For now Claiborne will likely be doing mop up and non-crucial work until if and when he gets back on track.

Grade: B- (very close to being a C+)

Adam Warren - I have to admit I never saw this one coming. Warren looked horrible in his debut last year and looked like he was the target in a game of whack-a-mole in spring training. But since the regular season began it has been Warren doing the whacking of opponents in the long man role.

Warren has amassed 43.2 innings in 16 appearances, half of which he has finished, and has compiled a nearly 3:1 strikeout to walk ratio. It's doubtful he'll be a starter again (if he remains in the organization), but he can certainly fill a valuable role in the bullpen.

Grade: A-

A-Quad Hurting

You had to have a feeling that something would happen as Alex Rodriguez prepared to re-join the Yankees on Monday. Sure enough a tight left quadricep muscle has Lightning-Rod out of the lineup in Scranton today and has put his return to the Yankees in Texas tomorrow in doubt.

The Yankees will now have to figure out whether to keep A-Rod on the DL or activate him with the possibility he won't play for a couple of days. For sure an MRI will need to be done to check if this is a  mild condition or a more extensive injury.

UPDATE: A-Rod's MRI showed a grade 1 quad strain; yes, the same diagnosis that Derek Jeter had. A-Rod will definitely be

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Another Day, Another Injury, Melky II On His Way

The Captain won't be around to greet Melky II this time.
First game back after the All-Star break and the injury list grew ince again. Zoilo Almonte who has had a pretty good introduction to the Major Leagues is the latest victim of the now you see 'em, now you don't conspiracy. It was just more rancid icing on a progressively stale piece of cake that is the Yankees season. To make matters worse it occurred during a 4-2 loss to the Boston Red Sox that dropped the Bomberless Bombers seven games out of first place in the AL East.

Almonte lunged at the first base bag in attempt to beat out the back end of a double play ball and the bag won. A sprained left ankle is the diagnosis with a pair of crutches the newest part of Almonte's wardrobe. A trip to the 15-day DL is the grand prize as Almonte joins Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, Kevin Youkilis, David Phelps, Francisco Cervelli, Jayson Nix, and (temporarily) Alex Rodriguez on the sidelines.

If this were an episode of the Andy Griffith show, Sheriff Taylor would be saying, "Sarah, get me (Scranton GM) Rob Crain on the phone." RailRiders beat writer Donnie Collins reported that Melky Mesa and Thomas Neal are headed to Boston to join the team for the remainder of the weekend series.

Melky II, this time it's personal, got into three games last September and October and was 1-3 with an RBI. Mesa had a good shot to make the team out of Spring Training and the front office remains high on him despite the fact he's got the lowest OPS (.710) of his career since he was in rookie ball in 2007. Most worrisome are his 93 strikeouts in 242 at-bats and just seven walks. Mesa struck out 118 times in 2012 in 502 plate appearances.

I won't be a total Debbie Downer though- Mesa does have a solid .430 slugging pct. with 9 HR, 10 doubles, and a trio of triples. He's also stolen seven bases in eight attempts. He's been primarily a centerfield in his minor league career, but the Yankees will count on him to play the corner outfield spots. Plus the Yankees can unload the "Got Melk" t-shirts that have been laying around since Melky Cabrera was traded.

Neal got into four games with the Yankees this year and was 2-11 (.182) with one walk and four strikeouts. Entering Friday's play Neal had a nice slash line of .318/.392/.407 with 23 walks in 65 games for Scranton. Unlike Mesa, Neal's career in the outfield has been primarily played in left and right fields.  The Yankees signed him as a free agent this past January 18.

Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Cruiz dodged a bullet Friday when Brennan Boesch was released to make room on the 40-man roster. One of them is likely to go this time, with my guess being Gonzalez, as it was on Friday for Brent Lillibridge's entrance.