Browsing Posts tagged Alex Rodriguez

Yesterday, arbitrator Frederic Horowitz released his decision that A-Rod’s suspension for violating MLB’s collective bargaining agreement for using banned substances should be reduced from 211 games to 162 games. A-Rod will miss the entire 2014 season, including the playoffs, but under the CBA, nothing will prevent him from showing up to Spring Training. A-Rod will seek an injunction in Federal Court, but the odds of his case being heard are ‘very slim‘. A-Rod will not collect his $26 million salary and the Yankees can essentially coin it as ‘found money’ for other free agents or trades.

It remains to be seen whether the Steinbrenner family will rid themselves of A-Rod by cutting him and eating the three year, $64 million remaining on the deal. Baseball contracts are fully guaranteed, so the Yankees will have to pay out $64 million. This is decision is a topic for another article, but in the context of the 2014 season, the Yankees have $155 million committed to players and will likely pay out another $13-$15 million in arbitration. We’ll get into specifics after the jump, but as sit stands, the Yankees have another $26 million at their disposal and an even bigger gap at third base.

continue reading…

‘You never know what you’ve got until it’s gone.’

Last week, Robinson Cano and the Seattle Mariners agreed to a 10-year, $240 million contract. Seattle and Cano agreed on the fourth largest contract in MLB history, trailing only A-Rod (x2) and Albert Pujols. To most Yankees fans, Cano’s departure came as a shock. The Yankees lost a home grown, marquee player in the prime of his career to another team in free agency. Cano, 31, will take his 1,649 career hits and .309/.355/.504 slash to the Pacific Northwest. The Yankees made a valiant effort to retain the talented second baseman, offering him $25 million/year over the course of seven seasons. The mystique and aura of pinstripes captivates many players, but in free agency, dollars talk and Cano was more than willing to listen. 

Cano’s departure creates a massive hole in the middle of the Yankee infield. The Yankees signed Kelly Johnson as a utility infielder, but expect the team to sign a free agent or make a trade. Regardless of their decision, the hole left by Cano is not replaceable by a single player. On the surface, the additions of  Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury should help offset Cano’s departure, but Cano proved he could perform in New York. Despite accusations about his lack of hustle, Cano routinely played 162 games and his production was consistent on a year-to-year basis. 

For the first time in his career, Cano will have to deal with the pressures of being his team’s centerpiece. Cano will not have A-Rod or Derek Jeter to hide behind. Instead, Cano must lead and inspire a relatively young team. Cano’s lineup protection will center around Kyle Seager and Jesus Montero instead of A-Rod and Mark Teixeira. Cano will probably have to handle playing on a team that does not have annual playoff aspirations. Cano had the opportunity to go down as a Yankee great, but he chose a large payday over his legacy in New York. You can’t fault Robbie for taking Seattle’s big payday nor blame the Yankees for not matching it. Two years ago, I wrote a piece against the Yankees mimicking the Reds handling of Joey Votto and handing Cano a huge extension before free agency

When the 2014 season starts, both Cano and the Yankees will have to move on without each other. Both sides may not truly realize what they had until the first pitch is thrown. Like they always say, you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. 

After Boston’s David Ortiz hit a game tying grand slam against Detroit in Game 2 of the American League Championship Series, I felt a sense of emptiness.  My New York roots have naturally instilled hatred for New England sports teams, but I sat motionless as Ortiz’s spent two minutes showboating as he rounded the bases. Ortiz’s dramatic hit propelled Boston to an eventual 6-5 victory, evening the Championship Series at one-all. After the game, Ortiz was championed as Boston’s saving grace and as a ‘post-season phenomenon’.  

Heaps upon heaps of praises were directed towards the affable, larger than life ‘Big Papi’. Lost in the pomp and circumstance, many forget that Ortiz (and Alex Rodriguez) were cited on a 2003 survey, which was conducted by MLB, that profiled players that failed tests for performance enhancing drugs. Fifteen hundred miles away in Miami, Rodriguez is probably wondering why Ortiz is so beloved while he has become baseball’s ‘Darth Vader’.

The results of MLB’s 2003 survey, which was initially deemed anonymous, did not leak until a February 2009 report was released by Sports Illustrated.  Sports Illustrated’s report released the names of 104 players that tested positive for performance enhancing drugs. Many prominent players were listed in the report, but Rodriguez, who is baseball’s highest paid player, garnered nearly all of the attention. Boston’s Ortiz, whose ‘roller coaster-like’ career profiles as someone who may have used performance enhancing drugs, received little to no attention. The lack of accountability for Ortiz, who finished Top 5 in American League MVP voting during his first five years (2003-2007) in Boston, was preposterous.

Ortiz and Rodriguez chose to handle the allegations in two very different ways. To this day, Ortiz vehemently denies ever using performance enhancing drugs. Rodriguez opted to have a candid interview with ESPN’s Peter Gammons to discuss the situation and admit his mistakes.  Rodriguez did what no others did and showed some guts by admitting use of performance enhancing drugs from 2001 through 2003. America tends to be a very forgiving country for those that admit and own up to their mistakes—unless your nickname is ‘A-Rod’.  Rodriguez has been tormented and harassed by not only opposing fans, but by Yankee fans when he fails to deliver a big play. Even MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who looked past rampant steroid use in the late 1990s, is on a witch hunt to ruin Rodriguez. In Rodriguez’s case, the truth does not set you free.

Rodriguez is doing everything in his power to once again cleanse his name and get back to playing the game he loves. Rodriguez has hired some of the country’s best attorneys and has appealed a wrongful, nearly illegal 211-game suspension levied by MLB. In addition, Rodriguez sued MLB and Selig for defamation of character through various media leaks to pressure him to capitulate. Many forget that Rodriguez has not failed a sanctioned drug test and MLB is trying to bring him down through testimony, here say, and ‘dirty’ witnesses. Funny how Selig and MLB are not hawking down the other 103 players, including David Ortiz, that were listed in Sports Illustrated’s report.

We’ll never know whether Rodriguez is guilty of using performance enhancing drugs beyond 2003. After years of turning the blind eye to performance enhancing drug use, Selig and MLB will attempt to bring down Rodriguez without the aid of a sanctioned, positive drug test. Ortiz, on the other hand, will showboat, laugh, and deny his usage of performance enhancing drugs as Boston attempts to capture its third World Series in the last ten years. Don’t expect any candid interviews from Ortiz regarding performance enhancing drugs. When it comes to baseball and steroids, A-Rod has shown us that honesty is not the best policy and the truth does not set you free..

It’s been a difficult offseason for Yankee fans. Derek Jeter broke his ankle, but should return for Spring Training. Alex Rodriguez, who is undergoing hip surgery, will miss at least half of 2013. Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, and Andruw Jones, who combined to hit 94 home runs, signed elsewhere. Rafael Soriano, who saved 42 games, is also expected to sign elsewhere. For better or worse, the Yankees were not linked to any top free agents. The Yankee brass is committed to spending less than baseball’s $189 million luxury tax threshold by 2014, so free agent spending sprees are off the table.

Brian Cashman always emphasizes the importance of keeping his ‘core’ together, so four key pieces were re-signed to team friendly deals. Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Hiroki Kuroda signed one-year deals while Ichrio Suzuki signed a two-year deal. These deals should help the Yankees win in 2013, but each player is over 40-years-old and adds little value to the future of the team.

The Yankees are one of the oldest teams in baseball, but still boast some of the game’s best players. Jeter and Ichiro will set the table for Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and Curtis Granderson. CC Sabathia will be supported by Kuroda, Pettitte, and Phil Hughes in the starting rotation. Mariano Rivera and David Robertson will lock down the backend of the bullpen. This core won 95 games last season, so anything less will be a failure.

While the Yankees boast a strong core, many are questioning their complementary parts. As of today, the Yankees have not named a starting catcher or designated hitter. Cashman will not sign a free agent catcher, so expect a combination of Francisco Cervelli-Chris Stewart-Austin Romine to start. Kevin Youkilis will start at third base, but he was signed as A-Rod’s caddy. The Yankees will need Youkilis to play third base and DH, but he can’t seem to stay healthy. If Youkilis suffers another injury, will the team trust Eduardo Nunez to play third base? Nunez is currently the de-facto designated hitter, but Cashman always extends multiple Spring Training invites. The Yankees have a glutton of left handed hitters in its outfield, so expect a right handed bat to join this threesome. Remember, Marcus Thames and Raul Ibanez were signed late and played significant roles. Expect similar moves.

Going into 2013, the Yankees have a very small margin for error. The roster is primarily comprised of older players that may break down. Each AL East foe improved its roster and many are expecting the Toronto Blue Jays to win the division. However, the Yankees boasted baseball’s best run differential and have a roster full of players that have endured October battles. The Yankees continue to pour resources into scouting and player development, but don’t count them out. In terms of player development and a more cost conscious approach, the 2013 season may prove to be a transition year. That doesn’t mean the Yankees are incapable of raising another AL East flag.

It took five games, but the Yankees were able to get the best of the Orioles. After watching Justin Verlander throw a gem last night, CC Sabathia delivered a gem of his own tonight. The big man was electric, dominating both sides of the plate while getting ahead of hitters with first-pitch strikes. CC is the definition of an ace and has earned every penny of his massive contract. 

The Yankees had their moments offensively, but Curtis Granderson’s seventh-inning home run sealed the deal. Granderson really, really struggled during the first four games of the series, but gave the Yankees a big boost when they needed it.

A few take-aways from the ALDS:

  • I was/still am 100 percent against benching A-Rod. He’s struggling and his at-bats are futile, but as we saw with Granderson, one swing can change everything. Baseball is all about confidence and I find it troubling that Girardi sat him. I don’t think A-Rod is hurt nor do I think he should be hitting third in the order. However, he plays great defense and can still get on base. One big swing may change his post-season, but that can only happen if he’s in the lineup. All four of Detriot’s pitchers are right-handed, but we can’t expect Girardi to start Chavez in each game. I hope/fully expect A-Rod to be in the starting lineup tomorrow night.
  • Yankee Starting Pitchers were dominant. Over the course of five games, the starters threw 38 innings and gave way to only nine earned runs! In addition, the Yankee bullpen was great and gave the offense additional innings to score run(s) (Cite: Mr. Ibanez)
  • Nick Swisher is terrible. I’m getting sick of Swisher. Fans love him because he’s a ‘happy-go-lucky’ type of guy, but this is the playoffs and he just sucks. Swisher was just 2-for-18 with five strikeouts. During his post-season career, Swisher is 23-for-139 (.165) which may be the worst batting average among players with 100+ at-bats. Since Gardner can’t swing a bat and Ibanez can’t run, Swisher is the de-facto starting right fielder. In the playoffs, it’s impossible to hide hitters, but I’ve learned to not expect anything from Swishalicious. In a month, he’ll be suiting up for Kenny’s New York Mets!
  • Will Joe add Andruw Jones? Given Swisher’s struggles and Joba’s injury, does Joe add Andruw Jones to his ALCS roster? Detriot’s starters are all right-handed and Jones has been futile against righties this season (.185/.293/.400). However, Swisher has been so bad that he has to at least consider it.
  • Still waiting for Soriano. Rafael Soriano didn’t have a big pressure-packed moment in the ALDS. Soriano’s counter-part, Jim Johnson was involved in almost every contest. Soriano was able to keep games tied, but did not have a pressure-packed save opportunity. With that being said, I’m sure Soriano will have that opportunity against the Tigers. We’ve seen closer after closer crumble in October, but we don’t know how Soriano will fare. Since Yankee fans are so used to ninth inning, post-season dominance, anything less will be a massive disappointment.
  • Congrats to the Orioles. No one expected anything from the O’s this season. However, they battled the Yankees for 23 games this season. The Yankees were able to get the better of them, but the future of the team is very, very bright.

Since both the Yankees and Tigers just used their aces, we’ll see #2 pitchers square off tomorrow night. Andy The Dandy vs. Doug Fister. Fortunately for the Yankees, a meeting with Justin Verlander won’t happen until Game 3. The downside? No CC until Game 4. Aces are wild, but these two will not meet unless there is a Game 7.

After beating the Red Sox 2-1 in a series to close out the first half, the Yankees head into the All-Star break with a 52-33 mark, the best in baseball. Whoever’s backing New York with their free MLB picks has been making bank.

continue reading…

It’s been a common topic for at least three or four seasons already; are the New York Yankees too old to compete? Should they go with a youth movement on offense? Or even, can they? And how is this affecting their MLB odds?

continue reading…

The Yankees played home run derby today as they topped the Royals in the final game of this four-game set, 10-4. Robbie Cano delivered a much needed grand slam while A-Rod and Swisher also homered for the Bombers. While the offensive fireworks were nice, Phil Hughes was the story of this game.

Yankee fans have been very, very critical of Mr. Hughes this season. Coming into this game, Hughes dropped four of his first five decisions and carried an ERA over seven. But today, Hughes gave the Bombers 6 2/3 innings of hard work. He threw 116 pitches, issuing one walk while striking out seven. More importantly, Hughes’ velocity was sitting around 95 MPH for the entire game. Hughes’ absent velocity has been a cause for concern, but today’s outing is hopefully a sign of things to come.

I don’t get too caught up over wins and losses for pitchers, but strong, quality starts are encouraging. With his next three starts coming against the Mariners, Blue Jays, and Royals, look for Hughes to build off of this one and forget about his ugly April.

Huh?

Going into the 2012 season, Yankee fans are routinely forgetting about A-Rod when discussing the team’s offensive potential. Sure, Curtis Granderson had a career year in 2011 and Robinson Cano is one of the game’s best hitters, but A-Rod is no slouch, either. After missing 63 games last year with a knee injury, the soon-to-be 37-year-old A-Rod had a knee procedure done in Germany. The same doctor who performed surgery on Kobe Bryant (the NBA’s leading scorer) also worked on A-Rod. While no two bodies are the same, we’ve heard nothing but great things about this German doctor. While the German doctor can’t hit a baseball for A-Rod, this procedure will hopefully help him start driving the ball again. Given A-Rod’s down year in 2011 and successful knee surgery in the off-season, are people undervaluing A-Rod for the first time in his storied career?

AP Photo

continue reading…

It’s hard not to get excited about the 2012 New York Yankees.

Outside of Jorge Posada, the Yankees return every offensive starter from last year’s team that led the American League in home runs. Add in a revamped, younger pitching rotation and bullpen, and the optimism is running high. Through their first two Spring Training games, Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez have come out swinging the bat well. Granderson homered off of Cole Hamels on Sunday and A-Rod hit an A-Bomb against Roy Halladay. Granted, these statistics are meaningless, but it’s reassuring to see Grandy picking up where he left off and A-Rod swinging the bat with some authority.

AP Photo

The Yankees have had their share of defensive mistakes. Eduardo Nunez has already committed multiple errors and Freddy Garcia got a bit roughed up, but everyone is working through the off-season kinks.

After a great debut from Michael Pineda, let’s just prepare (and hope for) a long, enjoyable regular season that culminates in putting up Banner #28.