Thursday, January 30, 2014

With Tanaka Signed, Time For the Other Chips to Fall Into Place

Of course he's smiling, he's got a guaranteed contract.

The front offices of Major League Baseball teams around the country waited and waited. They waited until Japanese-born pitcher Masahiro Tanaka chose the team and the contract he would play for in his quest for success in the United States. With that done and pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training in a couple of weeks, it's time for the remaining free agent pitchers to find a new home or return to their existing ones.

Matt Garza didn't take long at all to decide on which team it would be (the Milwaukee Brewers), but it did take some time to get the contract finalized. With some concerns over lingering arm issues, the Brewers gave Garza a guaranteed four years and $50MM, incentives that could tack on another $4MM, and an option for 2018 that will give Garza the opportunity to earn $67MM when everything is said and the contract is done.

A.J. Burnett had trouble deciding if he wanted to play any more, but once he did the Baltimore Orioles decided to go (MLB Network's Peter Gammons tweeted) "all in" on the lanky right-hander. After the success Burnett had in the National League the last two seasons with Pittsburgh, you would think he would stay in the NL, but those offers may not be forthcoming.

FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported the Toronto Blue Jays have looked extensively at the medical records of Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana. The Blue Jays are hoping to make an official offer to at least one of them. Both have been hoping for long term, big money deals.

Bronson Arroyo has had his name brought up by many teams, but told ESPN"s Jayson Stark that he has yet to receive an official offer. He's baffled by the lack of action.
"I get [Clayton] Kershaw," Arroyo told "I get why he got all that money. But then you've got guys like Dice-K [Matsuzaka], who came over here and was good for the first couple years but then didn't pan out. And when he doesn't pan out, they all just forget and go on to the next guy who's not proven, and pay him. 
"Meanwhile, they forget about guys like me, who have done the job for the last eight or 10 years, and treat them like they've never done anything in this game. That's hard, man." 2
Scott Baker was an emerging star for the Minnesota Twins over the stretch of 2009-2011, but Tommy John surgery wiped out 2012 and most of 2013. The 32-year old signed a minor league deal with the Seattle Mariners and was given an invitation to spring training in his comeback attempt.

Journeymen Paul Maholm, Jason Hammel, and one time stud Tommy Hanson are all still available. Back end of the rotation starters Jerome Williams, Jason Marquis, and Roberto Hernandez (the former Fausto Carmona) are all still on the market as well. Either they are holding out for guaranteed money or teams are still waiting to sign them to minor league deals.

15 more days until the sound of ball thudding into catcher's mitt. I can't wait.

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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tanaka Joins Bullet Bob and Rags With Number 19

Masahiro Tanaka / MASAHIRO TANAKA

@ T_masahiro18

Masahiro Tanaka has made his second most important choice. He'll wear #19 as a member of the New York Yankees. It's a fine number with some excellent pitching tradition.

"Bullet Bob" Turley wore #19 when he starred in the 1958 World Series (Click here to see some great home movie footage on youtube.. Down three games to one to the Milwaukee Braves, Turley took the mound in Game 5 hoping to stave off elimination. At the very least he wanted to greatly improve on his Game 2 performance when he lasted one-third of an inning and gave up four earned runs. The Braves breezed to a 13-5 victory to take a 2-0 lead in games.

Turley not only stopped the Braves in Game 5, he dominated them. A complete game five-hit shutout spurred the Yankees on to a 7-0 win over Lew Burdette and forced a Game 6.

Whitey Ford had lost Games 1 and 4, so manager Casey Stengel gave a quick hook to the Yankees ace when the Bronx Bombers fell behind 2-1 in the 2nd inning. Yogi Berra's sac fly against fellow future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn tied the game in the 6th inning and it remained tied after nine innings.

The Yankees scored twice in the top of the 10th, with one of the runs crossing home plate courtesy of a Gil McDougald home run. The Braves rallied for a run against Ryne Duren in the bottom of the 10th and had runners on the corners with two outs. Stengel called on Turley just two days after his Game 5 win. Pinch-hitter Frank Torre hit the ball on the nose, but McDougald snared it at second base to preserve the win.

Game 7 was played the next day and the Yankees and Braves were again knotted 2-2. Starter Don Larsen, who two years earlier threw the only perfect game in World Series history, lasted just 2.1 innings. Stengel sent for #19 once again. Turley would pitch 6.2 innings - 16 innings total over three days - and emerge the winner when Moose Skowron blasted a 3-run home run to highlight a four run 8th inning.

Turley, the obvious choice for series MVP, allowed a single run on two hits to finish with two wins and a save in the final three games of the series.

Dave Righetti was part of one of the best deals the Yankees ever made in the George Steinbrenner ERA. He was acquired as part of a nine player swap with the Texas Rangers after the 1978 season with Sparky Lyle (Graig Nettles: "He went from Cy Young to Sayonara") the best known player of the five that left the Bronx.

"Rags" burst on to the scene in the strike shortened 1981 season when he captured the AL Rookie of the Year award. He finished 8-4 in 15 starts with a 2.05 ERA, 7.6 K/9 IP and one home run allowed in 105.1 innings pitched.

His success continued in the post season when he earned two wins (13 K's in 9 IP) in the special strike necessitated division series with the Milwaukee Brewers and earned another victory in the ALCS against Oakland. His good luck streak ran out in the World Series when the Dodgers rallied from a 2-0 deficit in games to win four straight to take the title. Righetti lasted just two innings in Game 3, but didn't figure in the decision.

Two years later, snubbed in the All-Star pitcher selection process, Righetti took the mound against the Boston Red Sox in the final game before the break. It was Sunday, July 4, a blistering hot day of not only the nation's birthday, but George Steinbrenner's as well.

Righetti made baseball history that day when he became the first Yankee since Larsen to throw a no-hitter. He struck out Wade Boggs three times, including the final out of the game. Boggs struck out only 44 times all year. He got a big defensive play from right fielder Steve Kemp who leapt with outstretched glove over the right field wall in foul territory to snag Dwight Evans' fly ball.

So much would change from that day when Righetti collapsed in his catcher Butch Wyengar's arms after the final out. Despite a 14-8 record with a 3.44 ERA, the Yankees decided that Righetti's future was as the team's closer, not a starter. Righetti wasn't happy, the fans weren't happy and to this day you have to wonder what kind of career Righetti could have had, had he remained a starter.

That being said, Righetti adapted well to the closer role. After he saved 60 games combined in 1984-1985, Righetti broke the Major League record with 46 saves. He finished his Yankees career with 224 saves, second only to Mariano Rivera in franchise history.

After 10-plus seasons in the bigs with the Yankees, the lefty signed a free agent contract with San Francisco Giants (where he's been pitching coach since 2000) prior to the 1991 season. He saved 24 games his first year on the west coast, but things started to spiral downward from there. He did get to start four games in 1992 and another nine in his final season (1995) with the Chicago White Sox.  His first victory back in the American League came at the expense of the Yankees in his first AL start since 1983.

Let's hope this all means that every 25-30 years the #19 is very good for a Yankees' pitcher. The Yankees and Tanaka are counting on it.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Sterling's Spring Training Starts Now

Pitchers and catchers don't report until February 14, but I can imagine that at this very moment John Sterling is in his home, sitting in front of the fireplace in a navy blue pinstripe suit, Chivas Regal in one hand, DVR remote in the other. He faces his 50" flat screen TV and watches highlights of Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, Brian Roberts, Carlos Beltran, abd Kelly Johnson hitting home runs. Occassionally a tear rolls down his cheek as he realizes he'll no longer say, "Robbie Cano, don'tcha know!".

He jumps around, setting his sights on one particular image and brainstorms new home run calls. "What words rhyme with the names? Are there any old Broadway references/ Is it something I can sing? Have I used it before? I got caught last year doing that. I can't let it happen again."

Just then Jacoby Ellsbury, clad in a Boston Red Sox uniform, hits a pitch into the Fenway Park bullpen.

"It is high, it is far, it is gone..Ohhh Ellsbury Fields Forever!" Hmmm..maybe. He pauses the recording, puts down the remote and scribbles the possible call on a pad of paper.  Remote back in hand, he skips back to the beginning and watches Ellsbury's home run again.

"Jaco-by hit that to, no maybe not. Jaco-by using the force like Obi-Wan-Kenobi. Instant classic!!!"

Brian McCann, wearing his long time Atlanta Braves uniform, steps to the plate on the plasma.

"Oh, Brian..making the pitcher cryin'.....Oh, Brian lost that baseball like we lost a Mayan...hmmm, too obscure?"

"McCann just gained a fan! That would have to be after another call. Wait! Guys and Dolls."
"Can do Can do, McCann says his bat can do" He pauses the television and quickly grabs his cellphone to call Suzyn Waldman. He begins to sing his modified Broadway tune. Soon he and Suzyn are singing together, then break into "Luck Be a Lady" and "Sit Down, You're Rockin' the Boat".

Sterling hangs up the phone. A satisfied look on his face, with a "McCann Can Dance still in his bag of tricks, he refills his glass and pops on video of Roberts. The light bulb immediately goes off - Mr. Roberts, Hank Fonda...a Broadway and movie classic, but not a musical. Damn it, so close. "Sterling loses, Sterling loses."

Undeterred, the modern voice of the Yankees watches Carlos Beltran appear on screen. "That's it, I'll go back to Roberts. Too many Brians. "Burn Baby, no, no..sorry Bernie.  Carlos puts the belt in Beltran...hmmm, maybe. It is high, it is far, it is gone! Carlos "Danger" Beltran. No, no that could cause more problems. And Beltran ra-an, he ran so far away-ay-ay, he touched home plate today. Ah, those Flock of Seagulls. What an '80s band. Suzyn will never get that one though. This is tough. I have to think about it more."

On to Johnson. "When he goes back to back, I can use back to back and a belly to Kelly! Yes, it's gold! But what about when he hits one alone. Kelly, he hit that one to Carnaegie Deli. Okay, I can save that for tape measure shots, but what's the sure thing? KJ made the ball yell May Day. That's it. Pure genius! The right blend of cornball and obscurity.  I've got to pack up and get down to Tampa early to try these out."

No matter who plays on the Yankees this year, you can bet that John Sterling will be well prepared with a pocket full of home run calls. Let's just hope he has plenty of them to call for the Bronx Bombers.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Yankees Get Their Man: Tanaka, 7 Years, $155MM photo of Tanaka visit to Yankee Stadium in 2006 in which he met Hideki Matsui
The YES Network reported yesterday that Masahiro Tanaka had narrowed his decision to two  teams- the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. According to FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal the Yankees are that team.

Tanaka and the Yankees have reportedly agreed to a seven-year, $155MM deal, the fifth highest amount for a starting pitcher.

Tanaka joins CC Sabathia, fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, and a pitcher to be determined in the Yankees starting rotation. After a miserable 2013 season and uncertainty of the effectiveness of the starting staff, the Yankees were determined to get Tanaka at any cost.

The Yankees beat out the Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers, Chicago White Sox, and a surprise entry, the Houston Astros.

The Yankees were determined to get back to the playoffs after missing out two of the last six years. After the missed the post-season in 2008, the Yankees went out and signed Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, and Mark Teixeira, and dealt for Nick Swisher. All key ingredients to the Yankees winning their 27th World Championship in 2009.

As Jack Curry pointed out in the tweet below, the Yankees spent plenty this off-season to try to recapture that 2009 excitement.

Yanks determined 2 return 2 playoffs. Deals w Tanaka, Ellsbury, McCann, Beltran, Kuroda, Jeter, Thornton, Roberts, Johnson, Ryan cost $ 503M.

ようこそ、ニューヨーク・ヤンキースに = Welcome to the New York Yankees (I tweeted this to him this morning. Thanks

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tanaka Tweets, Confuses the Masses

Whenever a number of people I follow on twitter follow a user, retweet, etc., I get a notification on my cellphone. Tuesday's notification was that Masahiro Tanaka was on Twitter.  The prized Japanese right-hander, whose deadline to choose a team is this Friday, tweeted (in Japanese) a few words that were misinterpreted by the Twitter translation.

"It does is decided" was the incorrect translation that led many to believe that Tanaka had decided where he wanted to play. In fact, it was just the opposite. Tanaka had said deciding was very hard.

Hell, using I tweeted "最高のフランチャイズ-ニューヨーク・ヤンキース" to Tanaka. "Best Franchise - New York Yankees".

Rumors flew throughout the day. At one point the YES Network reported that Tanaka was deciding between the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. Others said the Los Angeles Dodgers were a lock. Until Tanaka actually announces his decision you might as well stop speculating.

Tanaka's pay will most likely put the Yankees over the magic $189MM mark even if they only pay Alex Rodriguez 1/8th of his contracted salary. In avoiding arbitration the Yankees signed Brett Gardner ($5.6MM), Ivan Nova ($3.3MM), David Robertson ($5.125MM), Shawn Kelley ($1.8MM), and Francisco Cervelli ($700K, not all guaranteed).

Gardner's salary nearly doubled from last seasons, $2.85MM and I have to admit the increase amount surprised me. I was thinking more along the lines of $3.5MM, but perhaps the Yankees were concerned about the figure Gardner would bring to arbitration and the possibility of losing the case.

Robertson got better than a 68% raise, while Nova's increase was more than five times the amount he earned in 2013. Kelley received an 88% bump and Cervelii got a modest increase from last year's $515,350 salary.

The Yankees will continue to work on Plan 'B' and 'C', etc., and apparently that includes trying to talk Brett Tomko out of retirement. The 40-year old hasn't pitched in the Major Leagues since 2011, but did play for the York Revolution in the independent Atlantic League.

8 Years A Blog, and the Future

Melo and the Captain at a promotional appearance in November

On December 12, 2005 I introduced My Pinstripes to the blog world and the "internets". I began not knowing how long I would continue the blog, which is Yankees-centric, but also has a number of posts on MLB, the NFL, NHL, and more.

There have been times where I just didn't feel like writing anything for long stretches of time and other times, like this off-season, where my fingers have been rapidly banging away on a keyboard several times on most days.

Page views have gone up and down, nearly bottomed out when I ignored the blog, and soared at other times. What has always mattered most to me has been the quality of the work even if two people, myself not include, are reading it.  Be that as it may, I want to thank those who visit regularly, those who have come and gone, and those who are new to My Pinstripes.

I hope you all enjoy what I write, I know enjoy writing it. And to me it's more of a baseball journal than a blog. I think the word blog has been worn out, abused by the "real" media, and is considered by many as the black sheep of the family. Those of us who blog obviously feel differently, especially since a "Blog" is simply a format to write in. We are all writing, whether paid or unpaid, whether it's done poorly, well, or greatly. (talk about awkward sentences)

What you see on this baseball journal ;) is opinion, fact, and some rumor. What you will never see are columns written merely for the sake of getting attention. There will no accusation against a player (Raul Ibanez) for supposedly using PEDs when there is no evidence to back it up. I like my friends and relatives, but their word, like mine, is not gospel. You will also not see pictures of WAGs or supermodels, etc., just to drive attention to the site. I think it's a cheap and ridiculous way to get viewers.

While My Pinstripes will continue to roll on, I'll be launching a new site - Designated For Assignment - in April. We'll have stories on the four major sports as well as World Cup soccer coverage, golf, MMA, just about anything you can name that is sports related. We'll also have coverage of movies and music, past, present, and future.

We'll cover Derek Jeter's comeback, Jonathan Quick's goaltending for Team USA in the Olympics (there's a temporary Wordpress site we will be using until the launch of the full site), Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson in Super Bowl XLVIII, and will Carmelo Anthony remain a NY Knick.

And this is where you come in. I am the publisher and managing editor, but if you want to write, edit, take photographs, etc., for the site, please contact me at I look forward to hearing from you.

Drew Sarver

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Captain Hits the Field

Derek Jeter last played a game for the Yankees on September 7th of last season. Ankle and quad injuries had wrecked his season and limited him to 17 games. The least he had played since a 15 game cup of coffee back in 1995.

The Yankees captain returned to the field on Monday to take batting practice and workout in the infield. According to the AP report he took exactly 108 grounders at shortstop.

Jeter told the media present that he's fulling good and looking forward to the upcoming season.
''It's good to have a normal offseason and get some work in,'' Jeter said. ''Everything is normal now.''
The Yankees pitchers and catchers report to Tampa on Valentine's Day.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A-Rod to Sue Drake?

Will Alex Rodriguez sue Drake and Saturday Night Live? No, not really, but as part of SNL's cold opening last evening Drake spoofed the embattled third baseman. The clip with Drake begins at one minute-50 seconds in an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan (Taran Killam).  But be sure not to skip Bobby Moynihan's portrayal of Governor Chris Christie before it. You can skip Kate McKinnon's Justin Bieber after it though.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Japanese Report: Tanaka Has Received Five Offers

Japanese news service Nikkan Sports has reported that Masahiro Tanaka has received offers from five Major League teams. ToH to Rotoworld. and MLB Trade Rumors for bringing this to everyone's attention.

Google translation is far from perfect, but the Yankees, Dodgers, Cubs, Diamondbacks, and White Sox have made official offers to the Japanese star. The Angels were expected to be competitive as well, but owner Artie Moreno apparently decided that Tanaka was not in the budget. The Angels already have large investments in Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton, and C.J. Wilson.

Here's the Google and translation, with some modifications I have made so it makes a little more sense. I also removed some sentences that made no sense.
The negotiations for Rakuten star Masahiro Tanaka is close to the final stage pitcher. The Yankees, the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks, White Sox, Cubs have present formal offers. All the team seem certain to have presented offer of about 10.5 billion yen or more than $100 million (US) over six years.  
Still Derrick Hall, CEO of the Diamondbacks, announced the team's intention is clear. "Hopefully he has a strong interest and I want to win the competition" he said. 
Tanaka is expected to take his time making a decision. It appears the Angels were prepared to make an offer, but withdrew from considration. "Wewant him (Tanaka), but the problem is in the budget," said Artie Moreno, owner of the Angels owner. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Reynolds Wraps Deal With Brew Crew

The Yankees tried to bring Mark Reynolds back for 2014, knowing his power could be an aid at third base as well as first base when Mark Teixeira needed a breather. The Yankees were only willing to offer a minor league deal though, but Reynolds wanted a Major League contract. As it turned out, the matter of playing time had to have been the bigger factor.

Reynolds agreed to a minor league deal last night with the Milwaukee Brewers and received an invitation to Spring Training. At the very least, Reynolds is expected to platoon at first base with Juan Francisco, who hit 13 home runs in 270 plate appearances last season. With Kelly Johnson, Scott Sizemore and others already under Major or minor league contracts, Reynolds went for the more sure thing.

Reynolds signed a one-year free agent deal with the Cleveland Indians prior to the 2013 season, but was released on August 12 after he put up a .680 OPS and struck out 123 times in 99 games. The Yankees, desperate for run production, picked him up three days later. Splitting time at the corners (and two games at second base), Reynolds compiled a .755 OPS with 6 HR and 19 RBI in 36 games.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sabathia and Teixeira Miss Out on Oscars

Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia had a rough 2013 with injuries, underachieving, etc. They have clearly spent some of their time this off-season (not) attending acting classes.

The duo made a brief appearance Wednesday night on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon". No baseball was involved, just a re-enacment of a scene from the movie "August: Osage County". Unfortunately, the Oscar nominations were announced earlier in the day so the two missed out on any chance of adding an Oscar to their trophy cases.

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Mark Teixeira and CC Sabathia

A-Rod May Be Ready To Accept His Fate

Despite the sabre rattling from his lawyers, it appears Alex Rodriguez may be ready to drop his sword and accept his 162 game suspension.

Speaking in Spanish at an event in Mexico, A-Rod told the media (courtesy of the NY Post),
“I think that the year 2014 could be a big favor that [Major League Baseball has] done for me because I’ve been playing for 20 years without a timeout,” he said. “I think 2014 is a good year to rest mentally and physically and prepare for the future and begin a new chapter in my life.”
That doesn't sound like someone who is willing to fight until his last breath, or in this case, dollar. Perhaps, A-Rod has realized just how much this back and forth with Major League Baseball is costing him. He's already going to lose out on the $25MM he was set to make in 2014 (he'll receive a little over $2.8MM), so why lose millions more in lawyers fees on a case that could have a less than 50% chance for a successful outcome.

A-Rod added that he's looking forward to a healthy 2015 return.
“I have three years left on my contract starting in 2015 and I hope to play very well and finish my career in New York,” he said.
The Boss Jr., Hal Steinbrenner, issued a  statement on Wednesday that somewhat left the door open for an A-Rod return in 2015, but nothing is guaranteed. It's also hard to imagine that A-Rod would realyl want to remain in NY and that the Yankees would want him back. (From the NY Daily News)
“When he’s on and when he’s healthy, he’s obviously an asset,” Steinbrenner told a group of reporters at the owners meetings in Paradise Valley, Ariz., in his first public comments since an arbitrator ruled A-Rod’s ban would go from 211 games to 162. “We’ll see what happens.
“He’s a great player. I have not thought about 2015 nor am I going to right now.” 
Speaking at a Turn 2 Foundation event, Yankees' captain Derek Jeter wouldn't endorse A-Rod coming to Spring Training, but did empathize with his teammate.
“As a teammate, you’re saddened by the whole thing,” Jeter said Wednesday of Rodriguez’s season-long ban for his alleged ties to Biogenesis and PEDs. “The whole thing has been kind of messy.”
“I’m sure it’s rough. He’s human. I’m sure it’s a rough situation. I’ve played with him more than I haven’t [in my career]. You grow close to guys over the years.”
Jeter also mentioned that he had been in contact with his embroiled teammate, but would not go into the details. Jorge Posada also sympathized with his former teammate's plight, but felt he shouldn't attend Spring Training.
“It would be really tough for Alex and the Yankees and the players,” the retired catcher said. “I just hope he thinks about everything and makes a decision later and not now when he’s mad.”
“It’s tough to see a friend go through that,” said Posada, who has been unable to make contact with Rodriguez. “The game of baseball is tough at times. He’s got my support… It’s tough to watch. You just hope he can move on.”

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Infielders, Come One, Come All

Run, don't walk, to the Yankees today!

With Tuesday's announcement that Brian Roberts is now officially a New York Yankee, the front office continues to be on the look out for any player who can wear an infield glove, maintain their balance, throw a ball fairly straight and maybe hit it too.

With Robinson Cano gone, Alex Rodriguez in suspension-limbo land, and Derek Jeter coming back from a myriad of ankle and quad issues, general manager Brian Cashman seems hell bent on grabbing every possible infielder that is or isn't available.

In case you missed it the other day, the Yankees signed former Detroit Tiger and Oakland Athletic Scott Sizemore to a minor league deal. Sizmore missed all but two games over the last two seasons due to the misfortune of tearing his left ACL not once, but twice. The Tigers were pretty high on him after they selected him in the 5th round of the 2006 MLB amateur draft.

Four years later he was in the Major Leagues after he tore up Double- and Triple-A the prior year. Sizemore's talent didn't translate to the big league level - he posted a .631 OPS in 43 games. A year later he was dealt to Oakland for pitcher David Purcey after he managed a meager .567 OPS in 17 Major League games. Apparently the change of scenery paid off for the then 26-year old as he hit 11 home runs, drove in 52 runs and sported a .778 OPS in 93 games.

His versatility also got a boost as the A's moved him from second base, where he played in Detroit, to the hot corner over at third. Poised to build off his 2011 season, Sizemore ripped up his left knee in Spring Training and 14 months later did it again. His signing falls into the "we have nothing to lose" category.

The rumor mill got a new name Tuesday when it was reported that San Diego Padres infielder Logan Forsythe had drawn the Yankees interest. There have been rumors about Chase Headley since his 2012 season, but he stunk in 2013 and the Padres are still asking for too much in any trade banter.

Forsythe has primarily been a second baseman, but also has experience at third base, shortstop and in the outfield. The 27-year old (Jan. 14) had a decent 2012 season - .733 OPS, 6 HR, 28 RBI, 8 steals in 10 attempts in 350 plate appearances - but suffered from plantar fasciitis last season. In more than a 100 less plate appearances Forsythe had similar home run and RBI totals, but only put up a .613 OPS.

If you are older, broken down, trying to make a comeback, etc. just call Brian Cashman today! You could be the next Yankees infielder!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tacopina Throwing Haymakers at the Universe While Bosch Tap Dances

"1 gameday down, 161 to go."

It wasn't the bell to signify round one of a heavyweight title fight, but as soon as the 60 Minutes stopwatch stopped ticking Sunday night, Alex Rodriguez's hired gun, Joseph Tacopina, came out swinging.
“Tonight’s further expansion of Bud Selig and Rob Manfred’s quest to destroy Alex Rodriguez goes beyond comprehension,” Tacopina said in a statement. “In a clearly pre-orchestrated display, Selig and Manfred, having known for some time what the result of the arbitration would be (in light of Manfred sitting on the arbitration panel) put forth an unparalleled display of hubris and vindictiveness – complete with Manfred appearing in tandem with the drug dealer Tony Bosch, both in full makeup, celebrating the joint victory of Bosch’s lies and Manfred’s intimidation and payments for testimony. Tonight MLB violated every underpinning of its Basic Agreement and Joint Drug Agreement with the Players Association – which, although it has spoken out in a statement against these actions, clearly does not have the fortitude to act to stop these abuses, as it has not taken advantage of any of its innumerable opportunities to do so over the past year.
“I am sure Selig and Manfred believe this traveling circus serves Manfred's hopes of being the next Commissioner; the departing Commissioner Selig’s hopes of parlaying his success thus far in persecuting Alex into a recast chapter in the history books that would show him as a crusader, rather than the owner that colluded to corrupt the game, and Commissioner that turned a blind eye to steroids for over 20 years while personally profiting from their prevalence to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars; and Tony Bosch's hopes to further capitalize upon his lies through a multi-million dollar book deal that his MLB-provided media agent is seeking to procure for him. But in fact, what they did tonight, in addition to dragging 60 Minutes' name down to the level of supermarket tabloid journalism, is provide the world with further evidence of Bud Selig and Rob Manfred's desperation to sell the fans on the lies that they have paid Tony Bosch to tell.

“Perhaps the clearest message delivered by Selig and Manfred tonight is that their quest to rehabilitate Selig’s irretrievable reputation, and to make Manfred appear tough on PEDs, surely will lead MLB to seek to abolish guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, and institute lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, all while further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review. Every MLB player, and indeed every fan, should not only be disgusted by tonight’s Salem Witch Trials display, but they also should be deeply troubled by what it portends for the future trampling of players’ rights, and the distraction and damage this will cause to the game.
“Alex will continue to fight to vindicate his rights – among the fans, and in a genuine judicial forum. “
Later in the day Monday, A-Rod's legal reps sued Major League Baseball and, are you ready for this, the players' union. If A-Rod had any sympathy from his fellow players it probably disappeared when the suit was announced against the MLBPA.  According to Steve Eder of the NY Times, "In the court filing, which named Major League Baseball and the players union, his lawyers sought to vacate his ban for the 2014 season and to hold the players union responsible for its breaches of the duty of fair representation owed to Rodriguez." New union director Tony Clark quickly responded to A-Rod's accusations:
"It is unfortunate that Alex Rodriguez has chosen to sue the Players Association. His claim is completely without merit, and we will aggressively defend ourselves and our members from these baseless charges.
"The Players Association has vigorously defended Mr. Rodriguez's rights throughout the Biogenesis investigation, and indeed throughout his career. Mr. Rodriguez's allegation that the Association has failed to fairly represent him is outrageous, and his gratuitous attacks on our former executive director, Michael Weiner, are inexcusable. When all is said and done, I am confident the Players Association will prevail."
Bosch's interview on CBS proved what most everyone had probably already surmised - the owner of the Biogenesis Clinic of America was only interested in making money. He told correspondent Scott Pelley that he wanted to be sure the players used correctly - he actually stated he felt a responsibility to do so - and later added "and not get caught." You could feel the sleaze oozing off of the guy, who, in not so many words said that PED use is still prevalent game so why shouldn't A-Rod and others use it. It was a lame excuse/reason to be peddling PEDs.

I'd like to hear what a body language expert has to say about the interview, specifically concerning Bosch's grin. I don't believe he was smiling because he found things amusing. It appeared to be more of a stress/nervous reaction. It was clear well before last night that the only reason Bosch is talking is to save his own bacon. Given the choice he'd go right back to doing what he was doing. Though not asked, he certainly would do it all over again.

Pelley mentioned that Bosch went to medical school in Beliz, but held no medical licenses. (There was no mention of degrees either.) Yet none of the players involved in the scandal appeared to have any issue with Bosch's background. That his "expertise" about PEDs was all self taught. It's hard to tell who's dumber, Bosch or those who trusted and believed in him.

You can see the complete 60 Minutes interview and read the transcripts on the 60 Minutes website.

Though the 162 game ban was a major victory for Major League Baseball, the men who run the game didn't come away with their hands clean either. They used questionable means to obtain some of the information in the investigation. This was the exchange between MLB COO Rob Manfred and Pelley:
Rob Manfred: We got a call from a gentleman who identified himself only as Bobby, and said he had the Biogenesis documents and offered to make an agreement with us to get those documents. 
Scott Pelley: Make an agreement? He offered to sell them to you. 
Rob Manfred: That’s correct. That’s correct. 
Scott Pelley: And you offered to buy them? 
Rob Manfred: He offered to sell 'em, and we bought them. 
Scott Pelley: How much? 
Rob Manfred: $100,000 originally, and then there was a second purchase for $25,000. 
Scott Pelley: But when you pay $125,000 to a guy who only identifies himself as Bobby, doesn't that immediately call into question the authenticity of the documents? He's gonna do anything he has to do to collect your $125,000. 
Rob Manfred: We were eyes wide open with respect to the questions that would surround these documents in terms of authenticating them in any legal proceeding, making sure they hadn't been doctored.
MLB then needed Bosch to corroborate what was in the paperwork. The investigation was well underway at that point.  Pelley also asked Bud Selig if the league was attempting to make an example of A-Rod. Selig responded,
 "I wouldn't call an example. I think the penalty fit what I saw was the evidence. Scott, as I looked at everything on all the players and then I got to Alex Rodriguez, and you put all the drug things on one side and then all the things that he did to impede our investigation and really do things that I had never seen any other player do, I think 211 games was a very fair penalty."
This thing is far from over.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A-Rod is No Curt Flood

If you polled most professional baseball players today many would recognize the name of Curt Flood, but I doubt most would know what he went through so that they could get their multi-million dollar contracts today. Based on his reaction to the pronouncement of arbitrator Frederic Horowitz's 162-game ban, it seems Alex Rodriguez is trying to put himself on the same level as Curt Flood.

A-Rod was clearly thinking of all ball players, present and future, when he stated,
No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.
Alex Rodriguez, humanitarian. What a load of...nonsense. There is only one person that A-Rod cares about and that's the guy he was staring at in the mirror in the infamous 2009 Details magazine spread.

Flood was a star for the St. Louis Cardinals for 12 seasons, but in October 1969 the team dealt him, Tim McCarver and two others to the Philadelphia Phillies for three players, including Dick Allen and Cookie Rojas. Flood wanted no part of it and challenged baseball's reserve clause in a letter written to then commissioner Bowie Kuhn.
Mr. Bowie K. Kuhn
Commissioner of Baseball
680 Fifth Avenue
New York, New York 10019
After twelve years in the Major Leagues, I do not feel I am a piece of property to be bought and sold irrespective of my wishes. I believe that any system which produces that result violates my basic rights as a citizen and is inconsistent with the laws of the United States and of the sovereign States.
It is my desire to play baseball in 1970, and I am capable of playing. I have received a contract offer from the Philadelphia Club, but I believe I have the right to consider offers from other clubs before making any decisions. I, therefore, request that you make known to all Major League Clubs my feelings in this matter, and advise them of my availability for the 1970 season.
Sincerely Yours, Curt Flood.
Flood was still just 31-years old at the time the letter was sent to Kuhn. As expected, the commissioner denied the request, but Flood wasn't finished. He sued Kuhn and Major League Baseball, stating that the reserve clause was akin to slavery and indentured servitude and violated anti-trust laws.

The case went to the US Supreme Court where Flood's accusations were denied in 1972 by a 5-3 vote. Former players like Jackie Robinson testified in Flood's behalf, but no active players would take the risk of participating in the hearings.

After sitting out the 1970 season, Flood was dealt by the Phillies to the Washington Senators, but he retired after just 13 games played in the 1971 season. Flood's fight went on, however, and in 1974 an arbitrator eliminated the reserve clause and opened the doors for free agency.

Curt Flood tragically died of pneummonia in 1997 at the young age of 59, two years after he battled throat cancer.

No Alex Rodriguez, you are no Curt Flood.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Bosch Admits Injecting A-Rod

60 Minutes will air an exclusive interview Sunday evening with Biogenesis of America owner Anthony Bosch in which the key witness in MLB's investigation admitted to injecting Alex Rodriguez with banned substances.

Correspondent Scott Pelley queried Bosch as to what banned substances A-Rod used. Bosch mentioned a human growth hormone, testosterone, and insulin-like growth factor 1. A-Rod reportedly used six banned substances in all.

When asked by Pelley if A-Rod injected himself, Bosch said no, he injected A-Rod because "Alex is scared of needles." The price of doing business was $12K per month, which is basically tip money for Rodriguez. MLB's evidence also included numerous text messages between Bosch and A-Rod.

In promoting the story, Pelley mentioned that representatives of A-Rod attempted to bribe Bosch. When that failed they.tried to get him out of the country. When Bosch started to receive death threats he decided to cooperate with Major League Baseball's investigation into the Biogenesis clinic.

Bosch had initially told MLB investigators that he never gave any banned substances to MLB players. Once he cooperated and MLB felt the death threats were credible, they paid for Bosch's security guards and legal fees, a matter A-Rod considers a bribe.

When MLB COO Rob Manfred, a key figure in the investigation, was pressed by Pelley to tell viewers how MLB knew Bosch was telling the truth. Manfred responded, "The credibility of any witness is determined by … looking the individual in the eye, listening to the story he tells and then lining it up with the other evidence/ And frankly, nobody came in and contradicted what Mr. Bosch said."

60 Minutes attempted to get Rodriguez on the show as well,  but he took a pass.

A-Rod Decision: 162 Games Ban, A-Rod Reacts

A-Rod has lost the battle, but will continue to fight the war.

After speculation that Alex Rodriguez might be willing to accept a 100 game suspension and avoid court, arbiter Fred Horowitz decided that A-Rod should serve a 162 game suspension. In essence, it means Major League Baseball scored a major victory since the number of games the suspension was reduced by was the 49 games A-Rod would have sat out in the 2013 season.

A-Rod made the following statement on his Facebook page:

“The number of games sadly comes as no surprise, as the deck has been stacked against me from day one. This is one man’s decision, that was not put before a fair and impartial jury, does not involve me having failed a single drug test, is at odds with the facts and is inconsistent with the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement and the Basic Agreement, and relies on testimony and documents that would never have been allowed in any court in the United States because they are false and wholly unreliable. This injustice is MLB’s first step toward abolishing guaranteed contracts in the 2016 bargaining round, instituting lifetime bans for single violations of drug policy, and further insulating its corrupt investigative program from any variety defense by accused players, or any variety of objective review.

I have been clear that I did not use performance enhancing substances as alleged in the notice of discipline, or violate the Basic Agreement or the Joint Drug Agreement in any manner, and in order to prove it I will take this fight to federal court. I am confident that when a Federal Judge reviews the entirety of the record, the hearsay testimony of a criminal whose own records demonstrate that he dealt drugs to minors, and the lack of credible evidence put forth by MLB, that the judge will find that the panel blatantly disregarded the law and facts, and will overturn the suspension. No player should have to go through what I have been dealing with, and I am exhausting all options to ensure not only that I get justice, but that players’ contracts and rights are protected through the next round of bargaining, and that the MLB investigation and arbitration process cannot be used against others in the future the way it is currently being used to unjustly punish me.

I will continue to work hard to get back on the field and help the Yankees achieve the ultimate goal of winning another championship. I want to sincerely thank my family, all of my friends, and of course the fans and many of my fellow MLB players for the incredible support I received throughout this entire ordeal."

Despite the announcement, A-Rod is not going down without a fight as he mentioned in his statement. He's basically decided the cost of lawyers, filing motions, etc. is worth it, despite the fact it could cost him more than the $25MM he is set to earn in 2014. The NY Post's Joel Sherman also tweeted that the suspension would included any 2014 post-season as well.

The Yankees now have the possibility of staying under the $189MM luxury tax threshold even if they sign Masahiro Tanaka. It will all depend, of course, whether A-Rod is able to skirt the suspension for now.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

MLB Hall of Fame Time: Why is it the Most Miserable Time of the Year?

Finding out which players, executives, announcers, etc. were elected to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame used to be one of the most exciting, highly anticipated days of the year. Then the Internet and social media took off and suddenly a day that should be joyous for a number of people became overshadowed by the disdain nominees, fans, and media - specifically the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) had for one another.

With the announcement coming up tomorrow, Wednesday, the fury has already gotten off to a great start thanks to beat writer Ken Gurnick. As part of this year's process, all of the writers made their ballots public on Tuesday which put a bullseye right on Gurnick's back due to this statement by the Dodgers' beat writer:
"(Jack) Morris has flaws -- a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won't vote for any of them."
With that simple act Gurnick threw the baby out with the bathwater. It means he completely ignored legitimate candidates like pitcher Greg Maddux and slugger Frank Thomas. It also means there will still be no unanimous electee to the Hall. It's also an embarrassment to the game and to those are tasked with the privilege of electing the Hall entrants.

While I agree that players that were caught or admitted using performance enhancing drugs should not gain entrance to the Hall, you cannot lump other players (i.e. Jeff Bagwell) that you believe were PED users in with the "bad guys". And you certainly shouldn't be leaving out those, like Thomas, who have been anti-PED activists.

This year's election process also became farcicle when one voter sold a ballot to, which then allowed its readers to fill out the ballot. Deadspin is trying to make a point of how much the process has degraded over the years, but the anonymous seller of the ballot should be permanently stripped of the honor of being part of the vote.

My ballot, if I had a vote, would look like this:

Greg Maddux
Frank Thomas
Jack Morris
Craig Biggio
Jeff Bagwell
Mike Piazza
Tom Glavine

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Giants OC Gilbride to Retire

After a season that wasn't as good as a mediocre 7-9 record would indicate, the New York Giants had to make changes. If Tom Coughlin was to remain head coaches, some of his lieutenants were going to have to go. Fox Sports' Mike Garafolo reported that Giants offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride is set to retire after seven seasons as the head offensive coach with the Giants.(Gilbride spent 2004-2006 as QB coach)

Though the team won two Super Bowls (XLII, XLVI) during Gilbride's tenure as the OC, he was often criticized by fans and the media for his play calling. It led to the less than flattering nickname "Killdrive" that played off his last name.

The 62-yr old is expected to make the announcement official Thursday evening, though this is clearly the case of retiring instead of firing. The Giants had a miserable season on the offensive side of the ball, much of it due to injuries on the offensive line and backfield, but there were also poor play calls, offensive schemes, and one of the worst seasons of Eli Manning's career. The two-time Super Bowl MVP threw a career high and league leading 27 interceptions and was also sacked 39 times, the most of his career.

Manning and head coach Tom Coughlin backed Gilbride and Manning called for his return, but the Giants needed to make a coaching change just as they need to make many on-field personnel moves.

Gilbride was an assistant coach in the NFL for seven season with the Houston Oiler and Jackson Jaguars, the latter of which was with Coughlin. He had one plus seasons as head coach of the San Diego Chargers and was fired six games into the 1998 season. Overall, Gilbride recorded a 6-16 record.

Prior to coming to the Giants, Gilbride was best known for getting punched in the head by then Oilers defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan during a game against the New York Jets in 1993.


New Year, New MLB Rumors

Nelson Cruz is among those still wondering where his next contract is.

Happy New Year to one and all. We are just 43 days away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp. A truly great Valentine's Day gift. There are quite a number of free agents still not signed, but I would expect some trades, mostly minor, to occur prior to spring training.

The biggest news right now is, of course, the chase for Masahiro Tanaka. With the posting fee reduced to $20MM there are plenty of teams that will try to persuade the Japanese star to sign with them. Only a handful will be able to afford the $100MM he's expected (or expecting) to sign for.

ESPN's Jayson Stark reported that, according to some Major League execs, the Seattle Mariners could be big time players in the negotation battle. The Yankees have to be concerned after the ridiculous contract that Mariners gave Robinson Cano. Apparently, they still have quite a bit of cash to play with.

You can onlyhope that Ichiro Suzuki refuses to discuss playing in Seattle with Tanaka and only will talk about playing in New York..and only discuss the positives.

There are other big name pitchers on the market, though the names don't necessarily merit the contracts they are looking for. Matt GarzaErvin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez are tops among them. The Twins, who already signed Phil Hughes and re-signed Mike Pelfrey, are willing to give big money, but not years to a pitcher like Garza. Then again the report was from ESPNradio 1500's Darren Wolfson who also reported last week that the Twins had an interest in Tanaka. I hadn't laughed that hard in a while. Everyone has an interest, but the Twins NEVER spend that kind of money...well, outside of Joe Mauer and that hasn't worked out so well.

The Cleveland Plains Dealer's Paul Hoynes reported that Jimenez is looking for $17MM-$20MM annually. Apparently he needs that much to get counseling for his delusions. Jimenez was phenomenal in the first half of 2010 and has been downright awful in every season since, except for the second half of last year (1.82 ERA). But you don't give a guy that much money based on 13 starts.

Santana is another pitcher who is clearly pricing himself out of the market. The right-hander has been too inconsistent in his career to command an upper dollar contract. The Arizona Diamondbacks are interested in Tanaka, but are more likely to be able to sign Santana, whom they have major interest in.

Bronson Arroyo is still out there, but he appears to be everyone's plan 'B'. Perhaps he's asking for too much money after hearing WFAN's Mike Francesa talk about him like he's Walter Johnson.

No rumor here; good luck to Mark Mulder who is attempting a comeback with the Los Angeles Angels. The left-hander hasn't pitched in the big leagues since 2008 due to shoulder problems. He's been working as a commentator since then, but decided to give it another try. The 36-yr old signed a minor league deal with an invite to spring training and reportedly threw in the low 90's during December auditions.

It's not just the big names pitchers still waiting for offers. Outfielder Nelson Cruz, who was one of the players suspended 50 games in 2013 for the Biogenesis scandal, has yet to find a new team. He won't be returning to his old one, the Texas Rangers, after they signed Shin-Soo Choo to a seven-year, $130MM contract. Jeff Wilson (Ft. Worth Star Telegram) reported that there are four (unnamed) teams interested in the unsigned 33-year old.

First baseman/DH Kendrys Morales is still looking for a new home as well after one season with the Mariners. Morales may never be the same player he was before he broke his leg in 2010, but he's become a productive hitter again. One that would benefit from a hitters park rather than pitcher friendly Safeco Field. Most of the rumors are writers saying "this team" should sign Morales.

Despite rumors, probably started by his agent Scott Boras, Stephen Drew will not be signed by the Yankees. Brian Cashman stated Monday that the team has no plan to sign Drew.

Two major closers remain unemployed, though one thought he had a job. Grant Balfour agreed to terms with the Baltimore Orioles on a multiple year deal, but some warning bells on an MRI of his right shoulder caused the deal to fall through.

Fernando Rodney was dominant when he closed for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2012 and had a pretty good year with them in 2013. Teams have to be wary, however, of Rodney inconsistent past. For most of his career, he was not a pitcher you could trust in a big situation.

Time to check some email. I wonder if I got anything from Alex Rodriguez or Randy Levine.