Wednesday, February 19th, Homer bailey got PAID. $105 Million for 5 years type paid. The 27 year old former 7th overall pick in the 2004 draft that the Reds organization has been waiting to sprout into a top half of rotation guy sure just received a contract telling everyone that is that type of pitcher. For a guy who has made $9 MIL in his career up to this point, how much pressure will he be feeling now?
The past 2 seasons for Homer has been his best as a pro. It’s his first 2 where he’s had 30+ starts in a season. 65 total. Both seasons of which he had 200+ innings, his best 2 RA9 seasons which has unearned runs included. He was 16th out of all major league qualified starters last season in WHIP (1.124), 13th in K’s and oh yeah, he threw a no-hitter on July 2nd vs. San Francisco. He only allowed a better than average .234 opponents batting average but all of these numbers are a 1 or 2 year sample size.
I, myself, like Homer Bailey and I do think he’s a very good pitcher. That being said, I’m not sold on Homer being a 100 million dollar man just yet. I’d like to see a bigger sample size. The Reds may have taken a big gamble on somebody they thought very highly of 10 years ago in the MLB amateur draft. I think it’s to big of a gamble, but we will see in the future how it turns out.
The Baltimore Orioles have signed Ubaldo Jimenez to a 4 year $50 Million contract. The former Rockies and Indians pitcher is coming off one of his few good seasons he’s had, particularly in September where he had 6 starts and only gave up a total of 5 Earned Runs. Ubaldo defines inconsistency from year to year.
Every year since 2008, Ubaldo has started at least 31 games. That’s the most consistent thing about him as a starting pitcher. He has a career 9.6 K/9, 8.0 BB/9. He’s twice lead the entire league in Wild Pitches and was in the top 3 in walks the past 2 years. He’s given up 41 homers the past 2 seasons in Cleveland and now he’s headed to a hitters ballpark in Baltimore. HIs 2010 campaign seems like a lifetime ago.
But, with that said, Baltimore needed a starter and if he pitches like he did this past September, he could have some real value to Baltimore. He has postseason experience that seems very valuable due to what division the O’s are in. They had only a few choices with above average MLB experience and Ubaldo was the selection. I’m not sure how this deal will turn out 4 years from now when he’s 34, but as of now, I’m not a fan.
Over the past 2 seasons, AJ has been worth what the Philadelphia gave him this offseason and that’s 1 Year worth $16 Million. He’s 26-21 in 61 starts while posting a 3.40 ERA during his time in Pittsburgh. I understand he’s 37, but just last season at age 36, he had the highest K/9 of his entire career at 9.8 along with the lowest WHIP of his career at 1.215. He’s had his ups and downs in his 15 year career but of late, he’s been nothing short of a very, VERY reliable major league starter. Just looking at all numbers from his stint with Pittsburgh you realize AJ is different from his time spent elsewhere. Yes. I’m talking to you Yankee fans.
In 2011, AJ’s last year in NY, he gave up 31 home-runs. 2012 through 2013 he only allowed 29 total. May be due to a ball-park change, which may not help his Philly campaign at very hitter friendly confines of Citizens Bank. AJ’s had relatively good health the past 6 seasons where he’s pitched 30+ in all 6. He joins a staff with Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels who’s starting the season on the DL, Kyle Kendrick and than a 5th starter, most likely a young arm. He adds veteran game experience to a staff that has balance between guys with plenty of years ahead of them and some with there windows closing.
I’m personally a fan of the signing. The obvious factors that would scare me, or anybody for that matter, would be age one and the home park he’s pitching in. He’s made $16.5 Mil over the past few years so the salary aspect really isn’t the end all be all in this signing. If it was a multi-year deal this would probably be a whole different discussion.
The New York Yankees off-season has been such..a New York Yankees off-season. We’ve lost some big pieces of the team, but counter attacked with commitments of $465 Million to names such as Tanaka, McCann, Beltran, Kuroda, Ellsbury among others. Cashman and the Steinbrenner’s have never been afraid to spend and they might not be done yet.
Being a pitcher my whole life, I’m going to start with the pitching depth, starters and bullpen the Yanks are putting out there in 2014. Even though New York just brought in Tanaka who they made the fifth highest paid pitcher in baseball, there ace of the staff will be the big, now skinny, man CC Sabathia. Since arriving to NY he’s 88-42, 3.52 ERA, with a 3/1 K/BB ratio (996 K’s/311 BB’s). But 2013 was CC’s worst year as a Yankee. He was hovering around a 5 ERA all-season, ending with a 4.78 earned run average, while giving up the most ER’s (112) in a single season of his career, most home runs (28), and the most hits per nine innings (9.6). CC was anything but an ace last year and the Yankees aren’t looking for another 4th place finish and that is clear with all the spending the front office has done thus far. It starts with CC setting the bar for the rest of the rotation. Following CC is the most coveted pitcher this off-season, Masahiro Tanaka. Tanaka, last year in Japan, was 24-0 in the regular season, in 27 starts. In the past 3 seasons for the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles he’s been a sub 2 ERA pitcher, and has THIRTY complete games. Only being 25, the 7 year contract doesn’t bother me all that much. Especially that he can become a free agent after 4 years in New York aspect. The Yanks brought him in to be the number two behind CC and that’s what I’m expecting from him. Nineteen days until pitchers and catchers report and than we will start to get a grasp on what this guy is all about. The Yanks best 2 starters last year are at the 3-4 spots in the rotation. Nova, his last 15 starts, was the bombers best pitcher. He only failed to make it to the 6th inning twice in that span and was pitching some of the best baseball of his career by basically becoming a two pitch pitcher; Fastball and Curveball. If Ivan continues that into this year we could be looking at a top of the rotation guy we want in a big series. Same goes for Hiro, but his great pitching was in the beginning stages of the season. His first nine starts or so he was a sub 2 ERA starter and was 6-2 and dominating games. He was consistent until the end of August when Hiro lost all steam and started getting hit around a little bit. Hopefully the off-season rest will bring back the Yanks best pitcher over the last two seasons. The 5th starter is the issue surrounding the Yankees staff. As of now, David Phelps is slated as number 5, Michael Pineda if he ever returns from injury could also see himself in that role. With all the money spent this winter, I wouldn’t mind an ex-Yankee, current free agent AJ Burnett get a call for a second stint in New York. Nobody can deny how good he was for Pittsburgh over the past two seasons he was there. In 2012, for a major part of the season, he was a legitimate Cy Young candidate and last year he pitched even better but had less support behind him. AJ had the highest K per 9 numbers of his career last year at 9.8. 2011, AJ’s last year in NY, he gave up 31 home run’s and his last two seasons in Pittsburgh he’s only allowed 29 combined. Can’t deny the improvements. It really only benefits NY. One, if he isn’t successful, it gives Michael Pineda more time to build his arm strength and ease into the rotation. Two, if he pitches like he has in Pittsburgh with the pinstripes that’s another dangerous arm the Yanks can throw out every five days and be confident in getting a W. All in All, signing AJ gives the Yanks rotation the potential to have all 15 game winners. It won’t happen, but they’ve all done it during there respective pitching journeys. The rotation has the firepower to be a better than average rotation, everyone just needs to stay healthy and be consistent.
Onto the bullpen! Where unfortunately, number 42 won’t be running out of that bullpen ever again so there will be a new regime at the closer position. Entering the season, the job is David Robertson’s. He’s been one of the best set-up men in ALL of baseball over the last couple seasons and they need him to step his game up and shut the door at the end of ball games now. Likely set-up men are Shawn Kelley, emphasis on the K and newly acquired Matt Thornton, left handed fire-baller. Middle of games will most likely see some young guys like Preston Claiborne, Dellin Batences and Adam Warren as the presumed long reliever, while David Phelps is still in that number 5 rotation slot. Another veteran other than Thornton may get signed to help out the young bullpen of the Yanks but each pitcher is very talented and can hold there own in games they enter. I’m actually excited to see the young-bloods get chances when they get into games.
Good-bye Robinson Cano, thank you for helping bring a championship to New York but it’s time for a new era in NY. The biggest addition, maybe in baseball, was the Brian McCann signing. It’s the biggest positional upgrade at one position across baseball going from Chris Stewart and Austin Romine to Brian McCann. McCann has been an All-Star seven out of his nine seasons in major league baseball, has lead catchers in Fielding percentage before (2012) and has a career .277/.350/.473 splits while playing the hardest position on the diamond. The potential opening day lineup has a lot of new faces, five to be exact. two Others, Jeter and Teixeira barely played last season and Soriano was acquired during the season. Therefore the only everyday starter in the lineup from last year is Brett Gardner. Don’t be alarmed, firepower was added even with all the new faces. Jacoby Ellsbury, projected leadoff hitter, just finished second in the MVP race two seasons ago. He’s electric in all facets of the game and adds another threat on the bases and can get into scoring position by himself. The rest of the projected lineup has Jeter batting second, followed by Beltran, Teixeira, McCann, Soriano, Kelly Johnson, Brian Roberts and Brett Gardner as the anchor. A healthy Jeter and Teixeira can make a big difference. Both veterans presence on and off the field is a model for how the rest of the guys carry themselves and it doesn’t hurt both, when healthy, can play some pretty good ball. Although a lot of Yankees fans are wondering what’s going to happen at third base, for now, Kelly Johnson seems like a pretty good option. During an eight year stint, Johnson has hit more than 15 homers in five of those seasons. The elephant in the room that needs to be addressed is his experience at third. KJ has played 16 career games at third, only TWELVE where he started. A grand total of 116 innings. That’s the best option they have, to this date. I am NOT in favor of moving Nuney to third. AT ALL. The Yankees have trained him, sent him down to the minors and back up to mold him into a shortstop. His worst fielding days came as a utility player and has been significantly better as a shortstop only. Yanks have relatively good speed this year and should be near the top of the league in stolen bases. After the obvious, Gardner and Ellsbury, Jeter has always been reliable for a few per year, 4 of the new guys; Beltran, Soriano, Johnson and Roberts can all be double digit stolen base guys as well. Don’t forget about Ichiro and Nunez coming off the bench!
The combination of veterans and young guys is a perfect mixture. The class and maturity of the older players will help the younger guys and make this a contending team. The current team in place has a lot of talent, talent that I believe can translate into a division title and more. A few signings more, one I mentioned earlier, can take certain aspirations to new heights. I, for one, am extremely excited for New York Yankees baseball in 2014.
From 3 time MVP, MLB’s next All-Time great too the poster boy for this so called ‘PED Era’ and constant backlash on every single move he makes. Alex had the potential to go down as one of the all-time great players, if not the best ever, but now the question at hand is what will his legacy be? When you hear the name Alex Rodriguez 10 years from now, will you think about how he could carry teams single handedly or about the dark days when PED’s haunted his career? Well let me dive into it and maybe help you out a little bit
When Alex 1st started receiving AB’s everyday in 1996, let’s just say he made an instant impact to the offense. He hit .358, had 215 hits, 36 Home Runs and 123 RBI’s. Let’s not forget his .414 OBP and his .631 SLG %, which finished 2nd in the MVP race that year. Alex had a span of 6 straight 40+ HR seasons, 3 where he hit 50+ and had 8 total with 40 or more. He’s also one of 3 players in Major League Baseball HISTORY to have a 40/40 season; 1998 – 42 HR’s / 46 SB’s.
As his career progressed he became the number one feared hitter in all of baseball. In a 13 year span during his career he had 30+ HR’s and 100+ RBI’s in each season. That type of production has never been seen before with such longevity. A 13 time All-Star, 2 time Gold-Glove, SHORT-STOP, 3 time MVP and 2 time runner up, and 1 World Series Championship with the Yankees in 2009. Not to be forgotten, in the 1st 2 rounds of the 2009 postseason, he legitimately put the Yankees on his back when he compiled 14 hits, 5 HR’s, 12 RBI’s and hit .420+ in only 9 postseason games. The fastest to 500 Home Runs ever was Jimmie Foxx, Alex broke that. Babe Ruth was the fastest to 600, Alex broke that too.
But with the good and even the great aspects of Alex’s game, there’s something terrible that unfortunately outweighs the positive aspect of his career. After being mentioned in reports back in 2003 and than again in 2007 by Jose Canseco that he used steroids he denied all reports and that was not the right rout to take because 2 years later in 2009, he admitted to taking steroids from 2001-2003. Sports Illustrated actually had reported Alex had failed a drug test back in 2003, according to the Mitchell Report but suspensions were not in place at that time. After admitting it in 2009 everything seemingly has spiraled downward. From 2010-2012 he never hit for a higher average than .276, the last 2 seasons he’s had a combined 34 Home Runs and 119 RBI’s and the seasons have been riddled with injuries. His last 2 postseasons he hasn’t hit better than .125 in a series (3 Series) and has been nothing except a liability. Now, as everyone knows, 2013 hasn’t been A-Rod’s best year, to say the least. Earlier this season Alex was linked to a clinic down in Miami, with other MLB players as well, to Biogenesis, where they would supply him and the others with Performing Enhancing Drugs. As Alex continued to rehab after his hip surgery this year, the speculation of a suspension surfaced and next thing we know, the pieces began to fall. As Ryan Braun took his 66 game suspension and 11 others took there 50 game suspensions, we all awaited A-Rod’s ruling. The ruling came down the same day as the other 11, it was learned he would be suspended 211 games, all the way through the 2014 season. While Alex currently appeals this ruling, which is 100% in his rights due to what the players union passed, he’s had other reports about problems with the Yankees management and it seems to be a never ending cycle.
With everything you read or have seen about Alex Rodriguez, steroids, PED’s or not you can’t deny the talent the guy possessed. When you’re a talented athlete whether you bend the rules or not, you still perform at a high level, you still have to have the hand eye coordination amongst other things to succeed. I’m not defending Alex to the fullest extent because I do believe cheating is bad and the rules with cheating must stiffen up if we want to see our beloved game become the National past-time it once was. But with that being said, regardless of him cheating, you don’t approach 3,000 career hits and 700 career home runs if you’re not super talented. Alex is a great player with a dark history of things that can’t be forgiven by many people around the sport. You don’t make 355 MILLION dollars over a baseball career if you’re not a world class talent. The legacy of Alex Rodriguez has definitely been tainted, but looking at the big picture, he has lived up to expectations on the diamond of being one of the most feared hitters of all-time.
From the moment Ichiro Suzuki touched down on American soil from the time he was playing in Japan, he put a pain in the side of every opposing team trying to figure out a way to get this guy out. 4,000 hits later, teams are still trying to figure out the same question they asked when his career started in Japan 21 years ago.
Ichiro’s career that started for the Orix Blue Wave in Japan saw his 1st 2 seasons total around 150 at-bats total. The next year, 1994, year number 3, saw Ichiro have 210 total hits and hit .385 his best year in Japan and the only time in 9 years he had over 200 hits in an entire season while in Japan. When Ichiro touched base in the states to play for the Seattle Mariners in 2001, all thoughts that he wasn’t going to succeed in the majors went out of the window real fast. Ichiro went on to the win the MVP in 2001 having a .350 batting average, 242 hits, 56 stolen bases, a gold glove, won Rookie of the Year and the MVP, heck of a year huh? To top that season, Suzuki broke the All-time single season hits record with 262, previously held by George Sisler with 257 in 1920.
Ichiro started his MLB career with 10 straight 200+ hit and .300+ batting average seasons. He’s never had a season with less than 26 stolen bases, 18 this year with a month a few weeks to go so it will be close if that streak continues. Let’s not forget to mention the 10 years he 10 straight remarkable offensive seasons he won the gold glove in each and every one of them. A career .991 fielding percentage and lead all Right-fielders in Fielding percentage on 4 different occasions, oh I forgot, he has a cannon for a right arm.
One thing Ichiro did for the game was bring an international flavor to the game. Since he came in, more and more players from Asia, other foreign countries have came to play in the Majors and more have gotten the chance hoping to be successful as Ichiro has been. Ichiro Suzuki is an icon in the game of baseball and could and still can on occasion do whatever he wants / wanted on a baseball diamond and the way he impacted the game offensively, defensively and on the base paths is bar none.
After tonight’s 10-3 victory in Fenway Park, the Yankees improved there record to 63-58 on the season. With 41 games remaining for the Bombers, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, that light you ask? 33 games vs. the AL East. With the Yankees sitting in fourth place, playing all these division games will be huge if the Yanks want to make the postseason.
But, the keys to the Yankees success the rest of the way will be there starting pitching, mainly the trio of CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes. Now, granted it’s been one start for each, but each have shown improvements from there recent struggles;
CC Sabathia – Aug 13 vs. LAA; 6 IP, 3 Hits, 2 ER’s, 7 K’s, W
Phil Hughes – Aug 15 vs. LAA; 6 IP, 6 Hits, 3 ER’s, 5/1 K/BB
Andy Pettite – Aug 16 @ BOS; 6.2 IP, 6 Hits, 3 ER’s, 5/1 K/BB, W
Each pitcher coming off of solid starts during this mini 6-2 stint the Yanks have put together is big espcially taking pressure of Cy Young candidate Hiroki Kuroda and a resurgent Ivan Nova to put up zeros each night they’re sent out to pitch. CC has to return to a reliable starter the organization can trust putting out there and help make this push towards a playoff spot. He’s not making $24 million this year to be a 10-10 pitcher with a 4.50+ ERA giving up more than a hit per inning, something he has NEVER done during his entire career. Getting CC going would also take a little more burden off Andy, who before his past 2 starts this month, hadn’t pitched into August since 2009. I’m not expecting 7+ 1 run or less starts from these guys, but starts like they’ve had each there past game is something they need to put forth each start, at the least.
Now, to the offense that once resembled a minor league ball club.
Only July 22nd the Yankees penciled in a lineup card that looked like
1. Brett Gardner
2. Ichiro Suzuki
3. Robinson Cano
4. Lyle Overbay
5. Vernon Wells
6. Travis Hafner
7. Eduardo Nunez
8. Chris Stewart
9. Luis Cruz
A little than a month later, vs. the Sox in Fenway
1. Brett Gardner
2. Eduardo Nunez
3. Robinson Cano
4. Alfonso Soriano
5. Alex Rodriguez
6. Vernon Wells
7. Ichiro Suzuki
8. Mark Reynolds
9. Chris Stewart
With the likes of Curtis Granderson coming off the bench to pinch hit. A RH ridden lineup well equip to handle lefty pitching and they did just that scoring 10 runs. As the injured has came off the DL and the move to acquire Babe Ruth, sorry Alfonso Soriano has given the Yankees a lineup full of major league players ready to win games. Most importantly, Robinson Cano must be SO happy he finally has protection in this lineup, another hit tonight extended his hit-streak to 11 games who’s hitting over .400 over that span.
The Yanks are 5.5 games out of the second wild card spot right now and are within striking distance. The key for them is to continue with this 2 series winning streak and continue to do just that. Now that the cavalry has arrived, minus a few pieces on the way soon, there time has come to make there move. Yankee fans, we’re not done yet.