Better Know a Division: The 2013 NL West

Whereas its sister division went down to the wire, the 2012 National League West wrapped up with fairly little drama. The Giants won the division comfortably, holding onto first place from August 20 through the end of the season and wrapping things up with an eight game lead on the second place Dodgers. At times, the Dodgers did seem poised to strike, as folks swore up and down that things would eventually click for new acquisitions Beckett and Gonzalez … but that time never really came. To wit, it seems as if much of what little drama existed was a product of renewed expectations for the Dodgers, as opposed to what was actually happening on the field for the last five or six weeks of the season.

Entering the 2012 season, the NL West had the look of a division that was readily up for grabs, with the Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Giants all having very real shots at the crown. Slow and steady won the race, and yet the story remains more focused on the bad luck of the Diamondbacks and the newly minted West Coast branch of the Evil Empire than the Giants consistency and balance.…

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Lunchtime links: Burying the Yanks, Stubhub nonsense & so much more

If it’s Tuesday, it must be bury the Yankees before they play a second of meaningful baseball day!

Brandon Tierney, formerly of The Wheelhouse on SNY and who is now a radio host out in San Francisco wrote a eulogy for the Yankees this morning. He called “Decaying With Dignity.” He goes on and on about the Yankees and how awful they’ll probably be this year. He talks about how lucky we are as a fan base to have experienced the past 20 years or so, and he’s right, we are but what really gets me is this passage:

Truthfully, the easy thing to do is pile on, to kick dirt on the Yankees grave before the first meaningful pitch of the season, to attempt to be ahead of the curve on the inevitable demise of the Yanks.

That’s the easy way out.

Exactly. And that’s what he ultimately ended up doing.

The Yankees could be absolutely awful this year. They could be mediocre this year.…

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Better Know a Division: The 2013 AL West

In 2012, the American League West may well have been the most exciting division in Major League Baseball – from wire to wire, at that. The Rangers made a splash to sign Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, who lived up to some very lofty expectations (tied for fifth in the Majors in fWAR). Not to be outdone, the Athletics swooped in to bring Yoenis Cespedes on-board, and were rewarded with the best rookie season this side of Mike Trout, as the star of ‘The Showcase’ batted .292/.356/.505 (136 wRC+) with 23 HR and 16 SB. The Mariners even made a bit of a splash, acquiring Jesus Montero from the Yankees for Michael Pineda. And, of course, the Angels sought to capture some of the Yankees 2009 mojo, signing (arguably) the top hitting and pitching free agents of the off-season, in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson.

Of course, much of this became an afterthought as the Rangers, Athletics, and Angels battled for the divisional crown throughout the season, with all three remaining in the race through the final month of the season.…

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Minor League Preview: Tampa Yankees


Just as the start of 2012 brought a lot of excitement to Charleston, the Tampa Yankees reaped the benefits in the latter half of the year. Unfortunately, a slow start to the season put the Yankees in a big hole in the Florida State League and they ended the year with a 65-70 record, their first losing season since 2005. Additions of Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez and Tyler Austin revived them somewhat, but in the end their inconsistencies early in the season were too much for the Yankees’ hottest prospects to salvage.

While inconsistency was a problem for the Yankees on both offense and defense in 2012, they should have some solid players on both sides of the field this year. Combined with some strong players waiting for promotions down in Charleston, it could be enough to propel the Yankees back to a winning season, if not another FSL championship. Williams and Sanchez will anchor a strong lineup, with Angelo Gumbs probably starting in Charleston.  …

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Some Positive Talking Points To Start The Morning


My lineup post from yesterday morning generated a fair bit of discussion in the comments section, mainly about the topics of optimism vs. pessimism and how it’s way too early in the year to be so negative about the team.  I didn’t think I was being anything other than objective and realistic about the players I listed.  I mean, if Juan Rivera and Brennan Boesch were such world beaters, wouldn’t other teams have scooped them up before the Yankees?  Boesch is in the prime of his career and Detroit threw him out like a sack of garbage.  That said more to me about the type of player the Yankees were getting than any kind of positive projections or hopeful feelings ever could, but I digress.  Before I get officially labeled the Negative Nancy of this new blogging team, I wanted to go on the record and point out some of the things I have very positive feelings about this season, things like…

Brett Gardner Having Another 6 fWAR Season

I’ve always been a big Gardner fan and I think he’s due for a big bounce back this season, both health-wise and at the plate.  …

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Analyzing Wells’ Recent Years And Why The Trade Is Not So Bad

Throughout his career, Vernon Wells has been a beacon of inconsistency. In 2004 and 2005, Wells was barely an above average offensive player, but in 2006, Wells managed to put up a 128 wRC+, 32 home runs, and stole 17 bases. He earned a 7 year $126 million deal because of his production in a contract year. The extremely volatile hitter has since produced ISO’s and OBP’s that have at times fluctuated around .100 points between seasons. In the end, he’s produced a 104 wRC+ over his career, barely average.

At the age of 34, it’s hard to see what the Yankees liked when they decided to pick up $14 million of his contract yesterday. In his two years with the Angels, Wells hit just .222/.258/.409 in 791 plate appearances. Since 2006, his LD% has dropped from 18.3%, to 16.8%(2007), 17.3%(2008), 14.8%(2009), 15.9%(2010), 12.3%(2011), 15.7%(2012). That low line drive rate is accompanied by a declining average on those hits. In his career, he’s hit .723 on line drives, but in 2010 he hit just .691, in 2011 .635, and in 2012 .656.…

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Quick hit: Pineda to face live batters in two weeks

Via Chad Jennings of the Lohud Yankees Blog:

Continuing his progress from last year’s shoulder surgery, Michael Pineda is scheduled to throw a 45-pitch bullpen tomorrow. He’s not sure how hard he’s been throwing the ball, but he said he’s felt no discomfort, his command has been “perfect” and Pineda said coaches hav told him he looks good and strong. He’s seemed encouraged every step along the way.

Pineda said the next significant step comes in two weeks when he’s scheduled to throw live batting practice for the first time.

I don’t know about you but I feel like doing a jig or maybe some backflips. I like good news so hopefully we’ll keep getting it from Yankees camp.

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Lunchtime Links: Vernon Wells, more Vernon Wells and last place predictions

No, you weren’t dreaming and no, this isn’t shared nightmare by Yankee fans that we will all wake up from, sighing in relief and wiping the sweat from our brows, it is very real and it is not spectacular.

Vernon Wells is really going to be a Yankee – Bud Selig just has to approve the money exchanging hands – and this offseason has now officially hit rock bottom. (At least I hope so, there are six days left and anything can happen…)

As you can imagine there were a ton of articles, blog posts, rants, etc. written about this move. Most of them were of the negative variety. It even got so bad at one point that a well-known blogger/podcaster who happens to be a Kansas City Royals fan was making fun of the Yankees on Twitter. For a fan of a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since I was in elementary school to make fun of the Yankees so viciously, the move has to be terrible, right?…

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Minor League Preview: Charleston RiverDogs


There was quite a bit of excitement in Charleston when the 2012 season got underway, as the RiverDogs’ Opening Day roster boasted some of the Yankees’ most exciting prospects. With Tyler Austin, Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Dante Bichette, Jr. and others, it looked like the RiverDogs would be the team to beat in the South Atlantic League. Unfortunately for Charleston, Austin, Williams and Sanchez moved up to Tampa part way through the season, while Cito Culver and Bichette struggled to make up for the lost production and the RiverDogs ended the season 73-63, just short of a SAL playoff berth.

As always, there will be plenty of changes in Charleston this season, and I am not just talking about  the newest addition to their heralded concessions – the beer milkshake. These changes will start in the dugout, as Al Pedrique will take over managing duties for the RiverDogs for Carlos Mendoza, the new roving defense coach for the Yankees minor league system.…

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