Blood tests for HGH? Baseball has come a long way

Baseball deserves praise on a number of levels right now. In a year that has seen the NFL threaten to cancel games over labor disputes, and one in which the NBA is threatening to cancel an entire season, more should be made of how smoothly Major League Baseball is coming to a new collective bargaining agreement. Sometime in the middle of this week Baseball will complete a new labor agreement without so much as a peep.

That alone is an impressive feat, but the new CBA is more than just formality. It ushers in a number of changes. The Astros will move to the American League. Two new teams will be added to the playoff mix. New financial restrictions will be put in place. But the biggest change is, without question, the use of a blood test to screen for HGH use. In a sport that once tested for no performance enhancing drugs, this represents a tremendous change.

Not enough is being made — at least so far — of how huge a change this test is.…

The Nunez gap

Sometimes, there are players that fans and organizations see in a completely different light. Recently, we went through this with Joba Chamberlain. Many, myself included, thought (and still think) he should have been given more of a chance to prove himself as a starting pitcher, but it doesn’t look like that will ever happen with the Yankees. Now it seems like there’s something in a vaguely similar vein brewing with Eduardo Nunez.

Over the last two seasons, the Yankees have definitely shown more faith in Nunez than most fans have. Well, perhaps that’s not true. There are a lot of fans who definitely believe in Nunez a lot more than I do. Regardless of who populates the faithful and unfaithful camps, it’s clear that there’s a chasm in Yankee land when it comes to Eduardo Nunez.

We’ve heard Yankee announcers talk Nunez up, especially John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman. Each time they talk about him, they rave about his potential, especially the “pop” in his bat.…

Building a package for John Danks

New set of pinstripes?

Joel Sherman Tweeted earlier this week that if he had to guess which pitcher the Yanks would acquire this offseason, it would be John Danks. He’s a good fit from the Yanks perspective, a lefty fly ball pitcher (career 1.09 GB/FB) who does a decent job keeping the ball in the ballpark (career 1.06 HR/9) that could improve pitching half his starts in Yankee Stadium. His style of pitching plays into the Yankee strength of defense in the outfield. He should be able to at least give you league average performance and soak up innings in the middle of your rotation, maybe better. He’s not the elusive #2 they’re looking for behind CC, but he gives you options if you want to send Hughes to the bullpen or AJ Burnett to Siberia. On a team that scores runs like the Yanks, someone like Danks should be a lock for 15 wins.

So now lets look at what the White Sox will need.…

Did CC Sabathia deserve to come in 4th place in the AL Cy Young voting?

CC, I agree, finishing fourth kind of stinks after the season you had.

The AL Cy Young award ceased to be a contest roughly in August when it became clear that Justin Verlander was on his way to a dominant season. There was no longer talk about if he would win the Cy Young, but whether or not he would add the MVP to his credentials as well (full disclosure: I feel that pitchers should be ineligible for MVP consideration). It was therefore no surprise when Verlander won the award handily last week. What should have come as a surprise for many baseball fans, however, was how the rest of the vote shaped up. Specifically, why on Earth did James Shields get more points than CC Sabathia? (I’m not even going to touch the fact that Jose Valverde came in fifth place in the voting because even at my young age I need to watch my blood pressure.)

2010 was meant to be the season that saw baseball awards voters take their analysis to the next level.…

A word of caution on Cole Hamels

Buyer beware

This past week Buster Olney speculated (subs required) that on the heels of the Jonathan Papelbon signing, the Phillies might seek to trade Cole Hamels. His reasoning was (as usual) very sound, thinking they could make payroll space for other moves and replenish their depleted farm system by dealing him in advance of hitting free agency in 2012, when they would only receive draft picks if he leaves. As a win-now team, you could argue that getting MLB ready talent back in areas of need could make you better overall than being so heavy in the rotation with glaring weaknesses elsewhere.  It’s the same strategy they employed with Cliff Lee, although it must be noted that the return for Lee from the Mariners of J.C. Ramirez (minors), Phillippe Aumont (minors) and Tyson Gillies (minors) has yet to bear any fruit two years later. Phillies GM  Ruben Amaro did his best to shoot down these rumors last week, saying he has no intention of dealing Mr Hamels.…

Yankees make 40-man additions

Via Chad Jennings comes news that the Yankees will be adding 5 minor leaguers to the 40-man roster, protecting them from being drafted by other teams in the upcoming Rule V Draft.  The 5 are RHP David Phelps, RHP DJ Mitchell, 2b David Adams, 2b Corban Joseph, and OF Zoilo Almonte.  Several of these guys could have a role on the 2012 Yankees, while the others had enough value as prospects that there would be some concern about another team poaching them.

The addition of David Phelps and DJ Mitchell, two advanced AAA pitchers, is a no-brainer.  Both could play important roles for the Yankees this season as starting pitching depth, and would likely be taken by another team looking for a young, cheap arm to compete for a rotation spot.  With his placement on the 40-man, Phelps likely becomes the first callup in the event of an injury to a starter (assuming Hector Noesi ends up on the major league roster again), and Mitchell could be in line for an emergency start or bullpen role (where many people think he projects best).…