Goodbye, Jason Varitek

Like many Yankee fans, I’ve always hated Jason Varitek. I probably don’t have a good reason for doing so. Varitek was an underrated in the way that most catchers usually are. He was a strong defender, and had more than a few very strong years with the bat. He was never a dirty player, and never made the kind of inflammatory remarks or gestures that gave us reason to hate Manny Ramirez, Pedro Martin, or even Kevin Youkilis. I hated him because he was the public face of the Red Sox, wearing the ‘C’ for absolutely no reason, and therefore an enemy. He will likely be the first

Its fitting that Jorge Posada and Jason Varitek both retired this off-season. Their careers in Boston and New York almost exactly coincide with each other. They caught literally hundreds of games opposing each other. Both were outspoken leaders on highly successful teams, and one or the other was behind the plate for each of the bench-clearing incidents that so often marked the early 2000s between the two teams.… Click here to read the rest

Pedro Martinez for Mariano Rivera; imagine that

One of my favorite baseball bloggers, Jonah Keri, is in the process of writing (what I assume to be) another fantastic book which is scheduled for release in 2014. He’ll be focusing in on the history of the Montreal Expos — a team I often find myself rather awestruck by, given the plethora of talent they developed and traded away. Via Twitter, Keri released one particularly interesting tidbit discovered in his research for the book.

“How’s this grab you, Yankees fans? Before Expos dealt Pedro to Sox, Yanks made offer: Pedro for…Mariano Rivera. #ExposBook” (@jonahkeri)

Imagine if Expos GM, Jim Beattie, acquired Mariano instead of the agreed upon Red Sox package consisting of Carl Pavano and a player to be named later (Tony Armas). As blasphemous as it is to even contemplate Rivera wearing another uniform, would the move have made sense for the Yankees? Let’s consider.

The first point to remember is that this trade would have happened prior to the 1998 season. … Click here to read the rest

Transitioning into the postseason; some observations

Over the past few days, we’ve been privy to some pretty enthralling baseball. As the final days of the season come to an end, the Sox, Rays, Cardinals, and Braves having taken center stage as they desperately fight for October admittance. With all of this added mania, I’ve found myself watching even more baseball than usual so I thought it’d be fun to take a few moments to jot down some observations.

1) Bizzaro Jesus

We are all well aware by now know of Jesus Montero. As it turns out though, the Sox have a “wicked good” hitting prospect of their own (who also happens to be a backstop), Ryan Lavarnway. His two monster homeruns yesterday couldn’t have been better timed as the Sox find themselves muddling through the final days of what has otherwise been an awful September. While Lavarnway doesn’t have quite the hype surrounding him that Jesus does, he certainly has caught some attention nevertheless. His power stroke is legitimate (.317 ISO in AAA), and he’s put together a very solid season in the minors (.295/.390/.612).… Click here to read the rest

TYA Mailbag: Red Sox Deadline Speculation

This mailbag question comes courtesy of longtime reader Frank:

This morning I read that Epstein has made it known that the Sox will be “active” at the deadline. I think the Yanks will block any trade that involves a pitcher, especially a reliever, and I don’t see Epstein getting anything more than a 4 or 5 starter. What does worry me is SS. Although the Mets would obviously love to keep Reyes, it seems the logical move is the traditional trade deadline dump and get as many prospects as possible. I view the Sox as the best landing spot for him. He’d be a great leadoff man in that lineup and a huge upgrade over Scutaro. Just wondering your thoughts.

Although this is a Yankee blog, it is always interesting to get into the mind of the opposition.  At present, there is a lot of conflicting information about what the Red Sox will be up to up to at the deadline.  … Click here to read the rest

Random notes from around the league:

Former Yankee, Jason Giambi, had what was probably his most productive evening in the past five years last night. He became the second oldest player to hit three homeruns in a single game (oldest is Stan Musial). Giambino’s three bombs garnered seven RBI which tied his career high in a single game. Said Giambi, “It’s nice to contribute and get an opportunity to play…It’s exciting, something you dream about.”

The two Philadelphia pitchers to get victimized were Kyle Kendrick (in the first and third inning) and Danys Baez (in the fifth). Going into last night’s game, Giambi had gone only 3 for 26 (.115) with one home run and four RBIs. Thanks to last night his batting line has now risen to .194/.306/.581/.886 (four HR / 11 RBI). Giambi, the eternal optimist, noted after the game that he made an adjustment with his stance thus allowing him a more upright posture. “I just needed to get some at-bats,” he explained.… Click here to read the rest

Showalter makes antagonistic remarks; Yanks/Sox indifferent

Recently in a very entertaining interview with Men’s Journal, Buck Showalter made some bold remarks.

“The first time we went to Yankee Stadium, I screamed at Derek Jeter from the dugout. Our guys are thinking, ‘Wow, he’s screaming at Derek Jeter.’ Well, he’s always jumping back from balls just off the plate. I know how many calls that team gets – and yes, he [ticks] me off.”

From there, the Baltimore skipper shifted gears in candid fashion to the Boston Red Sox.

“I’d like to see how smart Theo Epstein is with the Tampa Bay [Rays] payroll…You got Carl Crawford ’cause you paid more than anyone else, and that’s what makes you smarter? That’s why I like whipping their butt. It’s great, knowing those guys with the $205 million payroll are saying, ‘How the hell are they beating us?’”

For what it’s worth, during the latter half of the 2010 season, Showalter certainly managed to overhaul the culture within the Orioles camp.  … Click here to read the rest

Yankee and Sox Payrolls To Be Pretty Close On Opening Day

The Red Sox have acquired quite a few players this off season. They brought in Carl Crawford, Bobby Jenks and Adrian Gonzalez, and didn’t shed all that much in payroll. The Yankees, on the other hand, have both freed up some payroll space and declined to bring in any big name free agents.

According to WEEI,com, the Red Sox are looking at a payroll of about $155 million next year. However, their luxury tax hit is a lot higher, since the Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and other deals are backloaded, and the luxury tax is calculated based on AAV rather than yearly salary. According to that WEEI link, the Red Sox have wracked up an estimated (after arbitration) of $182.33 million. That number could climb to just about $200 million if they lock up Adrian Gonzalez to a big deal.

The Yankees entered the off season with $144 million under contract. I’m not too sure what it is in terms of AAV, but I don’t think there is much of a difference, as Arod, CC, and Teixeira are a the peak of their contracts.… Click here to read the rest

Don't Worry Too Much About Boston

I sense a panic in the air. Its ok! Boston is was not the best team in the American League a week ago, and they are not the best team in the America League today, after acquiring Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.

The Red Sox won 89 games last season, 6 fewer than the Yankees. They lost their best player Adrian Beltre, who was worth 7.1 wins above replacement according to Fangraphs. They also lost their second best player Victor Martinez, who was worth 4 wins.

What does this mean? The Red Sox have a ton of ground to make up with any additions that they make before they even start to reach the level of the 2010 Yankees, Rays, and Rangers. Carl Crawford was with 7 wins last season, but that was the best season of his career. He’s hovered anywhere from 2.5 to 5.7 over the last few years. Adrian Gonzalez has been a 5-6 win player (WAR includes a ballpark adjustment) over the last two years,.… Click here to read the rest

What failing to sign Teixeira cost the Red Sox

In the winter of 2008, Brian Cashman sold ownership on expanding their budget to include enough room to sign free agent 1B Mark Teixeira. Tex was close to signing with the Red Sox, and part of the rationale Cashman used at the time was that the signing would be pivotal for both franchises. It would allow the Yanks to move Nick Swisher to his natural position in RF, use their financial muscle to acquire a long term fix at 1B for just money and draft picks. From the Red Sox side, they would be looking at making trades to fill at 1B/C, depleting their farm system and forcing them to use their trade chips to fill a need, as opposed to a positional upgrade in CF or SS. Once those trade chips are spent, they obviously can’t be used when other trades present themselves and won’t be available if someone on your 25 man roster gets hurt and you’re looking fill the spot internally.… Click here to read the rest