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Weekend Link Roundup

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It’s official.  Jerry Manuel has mental deficiencies.  Spring Training for Jason Bay and David Wright turns into Thunderdome with the loser starting the season protected by the ever-courageous Dan Murphy.  Meanwhile, the 500lb day-glo-colored gorilla in the room is why Manuel wouldn’t simply tool the lineup by simply place-saving for the return of Carlos Beltran.  There are three legitimate power hitters to stack behind Reyes and Castillo, in order they would be Wright, Bay, Francoeur, and you can hide Murphy in the six-hole without a second thought until Beltran comes back – which assumes that he’s coming back.  Beltran returns, and you slot him somewhere in the middle.  A lineup needs to gel, Bay is a new factor, not even considering Reyes’ clear place as one of the premier firestarter in the NL.  I’m not the only one scratching my head, I’ve found one more blogger who asks “Where’s Carlos?”

How long until a metric is invented that shows how Jose Reyes is best-suited for batting third?

Adrian Beltre is the owner of a stupefying 14.3 UZR, but can’t seem to field the baseball that stands still.  We’ll have keep a sharp eye on how many runs that Fenway hot corner swallows whole.

Looks like K-Rod isn’t the only Met with a fire in his eyes.  “Iggy” better away from those PSL campskanks, or else he’ll have a fire in his draws, too.

Phil Hughes is the latest changeup noodler on the Yankee staff, joining A.J. Burnett in experimenting with the easy-on-the-arm offspeed.

“I just tweaked it a little bit,” said Hughes, who is competing with Joba Chamberlain and three others for the final open spot in the rotation. “I’ve probably had about 29 different change-up grips in the last year and a half. It’s something that I’m constantly (experimenting) with…I feel like I have a good feel for it,” Hughes said. “It’s just a matter of consistently throwing it for strikes. It feels comfortable rolling off the fingers.”

I can’t wait for Opening Day.

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Written by Ryan

February 27, 2010 at 6:22 pm

Why the Detroit Tiger Outfield Doesn’t Matter

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I’ve been accused on not understanding the Tigers and the AL Central on a FanLaughs thread.  OK, here goes my first try towards advanced divisional dynamic comprehension:

The “very touchable” Austin Jackson lines up atop the Detroit batting order, but manager Jim Leyland is understandably non-committal about the kid’s future:

“He’s hit everywhere he’s been,” Leyland said. “What’s going to happen up here, I don’t know, but his consistency in the minor leagues was pretty good. I’ve always believed that if he’s hit for four or five years in the minor leagues, he’s probably got a good chance to hit in the big leagues.”

Leyland is a card player.  And, for a team that’s as concerned with speed and defense as the article supposes, he hasn’t been dealt too many good cards to play.  Johnny Damon is a left-handed bat who can’t field, and possibly won’t run too often, while the speed “additions” take the form of two rookies (Jackson and solid-hitting Scott Sizemore).  Stealing in triple-A is a soft stat to rely on as, very often, runners aren’t even held on.  In any event, it is wise not to heap too much expectation and responsibility on young talent.  All kinds of crazy things can happen.  IMO if you’re trying not to s**t the bed a second year in a row, add neither the very old nor the very young, but the just right.

Unfortunately, the great Leyland is not getting the help from management like his rival Ron Gardenhire is.

Justin Morneau is taking things slow this spring training.  The Minnesota Twins spent last September politely and methodically showing Detroit the door, while down one of their biggest bats in Morneau’s back injury.  The team finished with winning records versus each of their division “rivals”.  This year, even as the great Joe Mauer reaches for eternity, just about the entire team (save Morneau, Joe Nathan, and Scott Baker) is either in free agency or faces a club option after the 2010 season and that’s a perfect storm for that division with an eye very perfectly centered.

In case you haven’t noticed, I really haven’t gone too far into depth regarding the Tigers’ outfield.  That’s because after September 30th, it won’t really matter.

Written by Ryan

February 27, 2010 at 10:47 am

Spring Training Quotables – Mark Teixeira

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The New York Yankees’ Mark Teixeira on repeating …[bracketed] quotes were removed by MLB.com but retained hereunder for accuracy:

“Because we’re the [gosh darn] Yankees,” Teixeira said. “If you get complacent, it’s going to be a tough year for you. Once you taste a championship and taste that victory, [gahhhhleeee] it just makes you want it even more. You realize it’s everything you’ve ever hoped for.”

“We have to feel that way every single [fudgin’] season,” Teixeira said. “We feel like we’re just as capable of defending our [dang-gum] championship as we were winning it last year. We have a great team, the core group of guys are back [and a bunch of black guys are here, too!], and hopefully we all get a little bit better [I mean those boys fly!].”

“[Shoot,] I don’t know how many times I told my wife how nice it is I don’t have to worry about the future [while she’s ironin’ my jersey and sweepin’ the porch],” Teixeira said. “The last couple of years, it’s always been, ‘Where’s my family going to be? Where are we going to live? [Where’d ya put my dang-gum fishing pole, Mama?]’

“This year, it was really, ‘What [funny-soundin’] restaurant are we going to go to? Where are we going to take the kids [where’t don’t smell like pee]? What shows are we going to watch?’ I think that was a nice change for my family [I mean, how much catfishin’ will an 8-year-old take before he grows himself a set a’ gills?]”

“Everyone kind of tries to tell you … ‘You have to change something, [quit starin’ at the sun!  poop sittin’ down!], but be yourself,'” Teixeira said. “Whoever it is, they’re in this room for a reason [even that Robbie Cano, I suppose]. You have talent, they’ve performed on the highest levels. When you come to the Yankees, there’s more eyes watching [kinda like gettin’ lost in the swampy place where the hill people are, blinkin’ in the trees, don’t go there!], more people that care — which is great. You go out and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

“For us, I think it’s ‘Let’s keep doing what we’re doing,'” Teixeira said. “That was our motto last year during the playoffs — ‘Keep up the good work and let’s keep working hard and playing good baseball.’ [My other motto was “an apple a day keeps the doctor away, Alex!”]  That’s what we’re going to try to do this year.”

Written by Ryan

February 24, 2010 at 8:11 am

Weekend Link Roundup

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  • Courtesy of the Brass Ones, Jorge Posada and A.J. Burnett have mended fences and will be battery-mates this year.  Bye bye, Mr. Curveball.  Word on the street is that Hal Steinbrenner will install one of these, a first in MLB (projected cost: $13.1M).
  • Speaking of Hal, the man is starting to build his own aura by appearing here and there unpredictably, always spoken of in the third person by a third party.
  • Another discussion thread callout, the Mets finally signed a starting catcher, all-star Rod Barajas for an “undisclosed sum”.  He’s not an all-star?  Damn….damn!
  • Still on the topic of “undisclosed” sums, Freddy Wilpon sat down with MLB.com to dance around questions of Madoff losses and the potential / imagined sale of the team.   Some nice blood-boilers in there.
  • Finally, the big news that Johnny Damon finalized his one-year, $8M deal.  Does Yankee GM Brian Cashman feel properly squared now?  Were his stipulations for de-coupling Damon’s future from the Yankee organization met?  Not to these ears; it seemed the Yanks were offering $7M/per year over two years while the Tigers offered just a million more for just a single year.  It’s not like the Yankees have been cold to super agent Scott Boras.  Questions: does Scott have anything more that the Yankees want, do the Yankees have anything that Scott wants still?  Or has that lemon been juiced for all its worth?

Joba vs. Hughes; Reyes vs. Wright

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The entire Yankeesphere is resonating with Joba vs. Hughes for the #5 spot; it’s time for me to ante up.  I’m keeping it simple.

Phil Hughes has the cool mentality and Joba Chamberlain has the electric stuff.  That is what that is.  This week, Dave Eiland alluded to the Hughes Clues and cited an innings limit for Phil, which, to me, says it all.  The starting role is Joba’s to lose and of the two, he is more advanced in his development.  Last year, he started 31 games on a tight innings budget, and it showed in his reduced K rates and swollen ERA.  Again, the slate is open after the fourth slot (the fourth slot is owned by Javier Vazquez), and that fifth spot might only see 32 or 33 starts in total.  Joba’s workload will be essentially the same if he was to slot in there, while Phil is still ramping up his IP workload.  It would be unlikely that Joba suddenly stops progressing as far as “quality” in his pitches, he’s already broken through the “quantity” barrier.  It is even more unlikely that Andy Pettitte (getting younger?) and Javier Vazquez will be the three and four starters next year – which is probably when Phil’s ceiling gets opened to the sky.  We just might be looking at 1 and 2 in the year 2013; I might be an optimist, but to me, that’s where the real debate lies.  The only “if” is in Joba’s demeanor, and whether or not the coaching staff sees improvement coming into Spring Training.

Everyone is talking about Joba vs. Hughes, but everyone is avoiding Reyes vs. Wright.  Jerry Manuel’s lineup tooling is a zombie, it keeps coming back yawning for more brains.  I suppose if Jose Reyes was 6’3″ like this guy I wouldn’t object to him batting third.  Newsflash – if David Wright can’t leverage his bat speed in Citi Field to put the ball over the wall, neither can Jose.  Does the switch in the order indicate some kind of clubhouse political strife?  Is this an attempt to cap Wright’s influence with his teammates?  If Reyes bats third, where does Wright bat?  Behind this shmuck?  The reality show continues…

I’m sick of the “Chicago Way“, I really am.  It’s not at all like the “bring a gun to a knife fight” you hear so much about.

A Tony Gwynn fan?  I like this kid.

First Day of Camp – Link Roundup

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Lots of stuff to review.  First, make sure you hit SNY.com for great video coverage – including Sweeny Murti with a Hughes Clues pitch limit teaser (“upper-hundreds”).  Good David Wright dugout audio there as well to compliment this rave-up.  David looking a little slim – swing for the gaps!  Question: is it David Wright’s team now?  Because it isn’t this guy’s anymore.

YES.com coverage is lousy and the cable channel is running AB Rocket commercials, Yankee Magazine reruns, and a “tower racing” documentary this morning.  But I’m not complaining.  Camera crews are expensive!  Keep that money in the payroll, Hal!  Hire a blogger to shoot “them white bases!”

I’ve lost respect for Mark McGwire, again.  It’s not what you think.  Just caught some interview footage, noticed that he now speaks (in public) with that coed-ish upward question mark lilt at the end of every sentence.

Example (regarding being a coach versus being a special instructor):

good: “I’m not the type of guy to come down to spring training and teach a couple of guys but not be with them.  It’s really hard for them to understand.”

gay: “I’m not the type of guy to come down to spring training and teach a couple of guys but not be with them?  It’s really hard for them to understand?”

I don’t know, Mark, you’re the fuckin’ record-setting home run hitter here, you should know.  Don’t ask me?  Uh, affirm yourself, umkay? Uhm, miss the hormones much?

I am VERY excited about Javier Vazquez taking the hill again with the Yanks.  He is a gracious player, and displayed that graciousness no matter how badly he ran aground in his first stint in the Bronx.  I dig a talented veteran who returns with something to prove.  Javier’s a darkhorse to lead the staff in K’s this year, and will provide plenty of cover fire at the back of the rotation for Joba Chamberlain to let it fly for his first year of freedom from pitch counts.

Finally, this link courtesy of  “Brazzone” Leviathan pounding the keys late last night in a bleary-eyed fervor: the newest change of climate in Red Sock baseball.  Why score runs when you can prevent them, especially if you can prevent runs scored by your own team.

I know I know, it’s complicated, I’m a caveman, I’m not getting it, I should shut up and listen to the calculations until my eyes roll back into their sockets and my ears leak oatmeal.  Each layer of math on top of 3 outs, 4 bases, and 9 innings only reveals the truth more pristinely.

OK let’s review (read it with the coed question-y accent):

  1. RBIs are not important, but HRs are?
  2. I should pay attention to BBs, but not Ks?
  3. Range is important, but age isn’t?
  4. The Yankees didn’t win last year?

Written by Ryan

February 18, 2010 at 8:04 am

Happy Spring! From…

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Pitchers and catchers report today for the Yanks, tomorrow for the Mets!

The Yanks invited 25 non-rostered players to camp to work out with the 40-man roster:

Pitchers …B/T …Age
90 Wilkins Arias …L/L 29
86 Jeremy Bleich …L/L 22
82 Grant Duff …R/R 27
60 Jason Hirsh …R/R 27
27 Kei Igawa …L/L 30
80 Zach McAllister …R/R 22
72 D.J. Mitchell …R/R 22
40 Dustin Moseley …R/R 28
69 Ryan Pope …R/R 23
47 Royce Ring …L/L 29
93 Amaury Sanit …R/R 30
70 Zack Segovia …R/R 26
81 Kevin Whelan …R/R 26
Catchers …B/T …
92 Kyle Higashioka …R/R 19
83 Jesus Montero …R/R 20
85 P.J. Pilittere …R/R 28
12 Mike Rivera …R/R 33
84 Austin Romine …R/R 21
Infielders …B/T …
97 Brandon Laird …R/R 22
95 Jorge Vazquez …R/R 27
Outfielders …B/T …
98 Colin Curtis …L/L 25
66 Reid Gorecki …R/R 29
38 Marcus Thames …R/R 32
79 Jon Weber …L/L 32
78 David Winfree …R/R 24

Nice rundowns of each non-rosteree here and here.

The Mets invited 25 non-rostered players to camp to work out with the 40-man roster – a complete rundown is not available, but a short list is here (I’m not about to go diving into the internet-ted exploits of a 37-year-old minor-league infielder, so if you want more, you’re on your own).

Pitchers …B/T …Age
90 Travis Blackley …L/L 27
64 Elmer Dessens …R/R 39
36 R.A. Dickey …R/R 35
35 Jack Egbert …L/R 26
43 Josh Fogg …R/R 33
68 Bobby Livingston …L/L 27
70 Carlos Muniz …R/R 28
77 Eric Niesen …L/L 24
Hisanori Takahashi …L/L 34
Catchers …B/T
74 Francisco Pena …R/R 20
Shawn Riggans…R/R 29
Infielders …B/T …
65 Russ Adams …L/R 29
22 Jolbert Cabrera …R/R 37
67 Mike Cervenak …R/R 33
78 Ike Davis …L/L 22
10 Andy Green …R/R 32
80 Luis Hernandez …S/R 25
66 Mike Hessman …R/R 31
Mike Jacobs…L/R 29
79 Ruben Tejada …R/R 20
Outfielders …B/T …
2 Frank Catalanotto …L/R 35
62 Jesus Feliciano …L/L 30
91 Kirk Nieuwenhuis …L/R 22

Written by Ryan

February 17, 2010 at 6:56 am