On the verge of Opening Day, starving for story lines

Every night, I get home from work and eat dinner. I come back into my room, change into more comfortable clothes, maybe grab a snack, start channel surfing…the usual. Then, when 9:30-10 rolls around, I realize that I have to write my article for my adoring audience. Sad as this may seem, it’s, in some ways, one of the best parts of my day. Writing is something I’ve had a love and passion for since high school and combining that with my life long love and passion for baseball is a pleasure every single day. As this offseason has worn on, though, this wonderful routine has started to get a little stale for me. For whatever reason, I can’t recall my writing process last offseason. Maybe that’s because a year ago, I was mired in student teaching and probably wasn’t writing as much. But for whatever reason, it just seems like the 2011-2012 Hot Stove Season has lasted longer than others.… Click here to read the rest

Nightly Links: Nova, Garcia, Replay

  • We have two games to catch up on tonight. Yesterday the Yankees faced their rival Red Sox in a pitching duel ended by an embarrassing Zoilo Almonte error. The good news is that Ivan Nova looked very good, pitching 4.0 innings and giving up only two hits and earning three strikeouts. Both Mariano Rivera and Boone Logan pitched hitless innings with one strikeout, Rivera earned four outs thanks to a Bill Hall error. David Phelps looked very good in 2.2 innings, giving up two hits, one run on the Almonte error, and drawing five strikeouts. (Box Score)
Click here to read the rest

Fall Guys: Will 2011’s Biggest Breakout Players Take a Step Back in 2012?

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog; follow me on Twitter at@williamnyy23).

Identifying potential breakout players is a fun way to enjoy the optimism of a brand new season. But, what about those players who already took a big step up the year before? Are they a sure bet for a repeat performance, or ideal candidates for regression? At the risk of being too pessimistic, below are three players with similar career trajectories who are facing heightened expectations after final having their breakout season in 2011.

WAR Progression for Matt Kemp, Jacoby Ellsbury and Alex Gordon

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Matt Kemp – Los Angeles Dodgers (2011 WAR: 10.0; 306% higher/PA than previous career rate)

Since his debut in the majors, Matt Kemp has been widely considered a star in the making. In his first four seasons, Kemp made gradual progress toward fulfilling those expectations, but after turning in an impressive 2009, the Dodgers’ center fielder took a big step backward in 2010.  … Click here to read the rest

Can the Yankees compete on austerity budget?

First, let’s build a lineup using only Cano plus players the Yankees have under control in 2014 who already have accumulated some regular big league playing time:

Lineup:

C-Francisco Cervelli
1B-Mark Teixeira
2B-Robinson Cano
SS- Derek Jeter
3B-Eduardo Nunez
LF-Chris Dickerson
CF-Brett Gardner
RF-???
DH-Alex Rodriguez

Rotation:

C.C. Sabathia
Michael Pineda
Ivan Nova
???
???

Bullpen

David Robertson
Cory Wade
Cesar Cabral

It wouldn’t invoke too many memories of 1998, but the basic framework of the team is there, and there’s a good core of players you might expect to produce and some solid role players around them. The three starters already accounted for make up a perfectly respectable top of a rotation, with the real possibility of getting ace caliber performance from two pitchers, and there’s an obvious ace reliever on this roster too. Now, let’s add in some prospects currently in the organization who we can reasonably expect to be ready for the big leagues in 2014:

Lineup:

C-Austin Romine
1B-Teixeira
2B-Cano
SS-Jeter
3B-Nunez
LF-Dickerson
CF-Gardner
RF-Zoilo Almonte
DH-Rodriguez

Bench

Cervelli
Corban Jospeh
Brandon Laird
Justin Maxwell

Rotation

Sabathia
Pineda
Nova
Manny Banuelos
David Phelps/Adam Warren

Bullpen

Robertson
Dellin Betances
Mark Montgomery
Wade
Cabral
Graham Stoneburner
???… Click here to read the rest

Don’t Worry, A .650 is Just Fine

Alex Rodriguez has started this spring on fire but less can be said of his offensive counterparts.

A 1-0 loss to the Red Sox? A pitchers duel between a pair of talented young starting pitchers, one on each side of the legendary rivalry? Under normal circumstances last night’s game in Tampa would have been a dagger to the heart of Yankees fans. But of the course the game was played in Tampa and had no bearing on American League Eastern division standings. The Yankees, 5-7 and near the bottom of the Grapefruit League, started Doug Bernier at shortstop. The Red Sox, a much better 7-2, played Alex Hassan in left. The game didn’t matter – or rather, the story of the night was Ivan Nova’s performance rather than his team’s loss. It’s as it should be and as it always will be. Baseball fans just don’t care who wins and loses in March.

Yet as little as we care about the wins and losses, as many times as we hear that nothing that happens between now and Opening Day really matters in the grand scheme of things, it’s tough to ignore abject failure.… Click here to read the rest

Why Granderson Beyond 2013 is a Mistake

Aiming for a $189m budget for 2014, it came as a surprise to me when Randy Levine was quoted saying the Yankees planned on keeping Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson past the end of their current contracts in 2013. As it stands, the team has $75m guaranteed to Alex Rodriguez (38 in 2014), CC Sabathia (33), and Mark Teixeira (34). Derek Jeter’s 2014 option will likely be picked up, adding an additional $5 million to the payroll for a 40 year old player. After the 2013 season, Cano and Granderson will face free agency for the first time in their careers, and both players could likely obtain contracts at or near $20 million a year. For such a skilled defensive middle infielder like Cano, the price is right, as it would be nearly impossible to replace his value at second base. For Granderson, a player two years older, on a team that has a better defensive center fielder (Gardner), the value is more easily replaceable.… Click here to read the rest

First Yanks – Red Sox game of the year sleep inducing

Ivan Nova pitched four innings and reclaimed somewhat his toehold on his rotation spot. Why his rotation spot is in question has seemed a bit absurd after his second half performance last season. But we’ll believe Joe Girardi as an exercise here and say that Nova helped make his case. Nova was still high in the zone with his fastball, but his curve, change up and sliders looked better, particularly his change up. Nova gave up only two hits, struck out three and didn’t walk anyone.

Nova was followed by an inning from Mariano Rivera and Mo’s performance looked mid-season form. He broke three bats during the inning and struck out his last batter. Rivera worked around a Bill Hall error to retire the Red Sox with ease.

Let’s talk about Bill Hall for a moment. Hall got the start at second base. You have to root for the guy if you are addicted to Twitter. His account there (@BillHall_III) has become one of the most enjoyable player accounts.… Click here to read the rest