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
- 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)
- This afternoon’s game was against the Blue Jays, and the Yankees continued their losing ways as Freddy Garcia, Cory Wade, and Manny Banuelos all struggled. DJ Mitchell was exceptional in his 3.0 innings of work, putting up all zeros and four strikeouts. Offensively, Curtis Granderson doubled twice, with Francisco Cervelli, Doug Bernier, and Cole Garner each doubling once.
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.
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
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:
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:
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
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
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