Should MLB have done this to Koufax?

August 26, 2008

In case you haven’t heard, the Youth Baseball League of New Haven has banned 9-year-old Jericho Scott from pitching. Why? He’s too good, apparently. He reportedly throws around 40 mph, which is considered too fast for his fellow 9-year-olds to handle. One team forfeited their game and left as soon as he was put on the mound.

This story irked me on many different levels. As a former youth baseball player, a summer camp counselor, and a baseball fan, I can safely say that this constitutes one of the biggest outrages the sport as a whole has ever seen.

I’ve faced some fast hurlers in my day. Definitely fast enough to hurt me. I even got hit in the arm by one. Was I afraid to step in the box the next time against him? Sure I was. But I did. Cracked a double.

Every little league has one or two players who are far above the rest in terms of ability. There’s the hitter that, no matter what, will get at least 2 extra-base hits against your team every game. And the pitcher who throws so fast you can’t catch up to the ball. They have been blessed with talent and practiced hard to hone their skills. How can you justify banning a player based on his superior ability?

Clearly, some parental complaints must be at work here. Mommy or Daddy doesn’t want little Johnny getting hit with a hard-thrown baseball. Well, then don’t sign the little tyke up for the league. My parents didn’t want me to get hurt playing youth football. Did they sign me up anyway and try to get the hardest hitting linebacker banned? No. They didn’t let me play. Honestly, at that age, I was probably a little undersized for the game anyway.

The bottom line is, let the kid play. If you’re the coach of a team who’s about to face him in a game, that means you better throw your team some extra BP. This is a clear example of encouraging kids to run away from life’s challenges instead of standing up for themselves.

Kid pitches too fast? Choke up on the bat. Speed up your swing.

This, parents, is how you build character.

Breaking Down a Nightmareish Yankee August

August 22, 2008

August has been a happy time over the past decade for Yankee fans. At this point, it has been nothing short of disappointing this season. Coming into tonight’s action the Yankees found themselves 10 games behind Tampa Bay for the AL East and 5.5 out of the AL Wild Card race. It’s easy to say that the Yankees are simply playing inconsistent baseball. But the Yankees have been very busy making roster moves to get something started down the stretch. Let’s take a look at those moves and how they have worked out.

Acquired C Ivan Rodriguez from Detroit for RP Kyle Farnsworth
At first glance, this looked like the move that would save the Yankees’ season. Except that in 13 games Pudge is hitting .229. Andy Pettitte got shelled in his first game throwing to Rodriguez and he and Mike Mussina have both been caught by Jose Molina in every game since. Not to mention that Molina has been swinging a much heavier stick since Pudge came aboard. And that the bullpen has been mostly horrendous since Farnsworth left.

Activated Brian Bruney from the DL
Bruney has been mostly effective since his return from a Lisfranc injury. He is still working his way back but should be able to provide a quality bullpen arm down the stretch.

Placed SP Joba Chamberlain on DL
The Chamberlain injury constitutes a major hit to the Yankees’ starting rotation. He is hoping for a September return but the Yankees are not going to rush back the 22-year-old if they are out of a pennant race. Dan Giese provided a solid option in the rotation until he sustained an injury of his own. The Yankees are almost down to Plan Z for starters, which will be discussed later in this post.

Optioned CF Melky Cabrera to AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, recalled OF Brett Gardner
Carbera had provided solid defense in center all season but, outside of a hot streak in April, has been almost an automatic out at the plate. The Yankees named the speedy Gardner their everyday CF and he responded well, including collecting a game-winning extra-inning hit against the KC Royals. How was he rewarded for this clutch performance?

Activated DH Hideki Mastui from the DL, Johnny Damon moved to CF
Yes, Gardner’s stay as the Yankees starting CF lasted precisely 2 games. With Matsui returning from his knee injury unable to play the field, Damon was forced out of the DH spot. Xavier Nady has been playing well in left, so Gardner was the odd man out. He still provides an outstanding pinch-running option off the bench. Matsui adds a veteran bat to the lineup while Damon is a defensive downgrade but an offensive upgrade in center.

Plan Z: Named Carl Pavano the Starting Pitcher for Saturday’s game against Baltimore
No need to read that over again. Or check your sanity. It’s true. Pavano, whose injury-riddled Yankee career has earned him the nickname “American Idle,” will toe the rubber in two days’ time for the Bombers. The only other realistic option was Phil Hughes, but the Yankees seem to want to avoid rushing him back. I suppose it makes sense; after all, for 40 million big ones, they might as well see if there’s anything left in that arm. I say Pavano pitches well enough to keep his spot in the rotation but is forced to call it quits after he stumbles during a curtain call, tearing his Achilles tendon.

MLB Trade Deadline Winners and Losers

August 3, 2008

The non-waiver baseball trade deadline has come and passed, and many talented players now find themselves with new teams. Some of these trades helped contenders strengthen up for the playoff run while some helped cellar-dwellers start anew. Let’s take a look.

CC Sabathia to Milwaukee for Matt LaPorta and 2 minor leaguers
Milwaukee’s rotation greatly improves with the acquisition of Sabathia. He has pitched very well thus far for the Brewers. Whether that’s enough to take the NL Central is yet to be determined. Meanwhile, Cleveland knew they couldn’t afford to sign Sabathia to a long-term extension and got some value back for him. Oh, and Sabathia used the trade as an opportunity to change his first name to “CC” from “C.C.”

Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte to the Yankees for Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendorf, Dan McCutchen, and Jeff Karstens
The Yankees added the right-handed outfield bat (Nady) they needed to replace Hideki Matsui, who is likely out for the year with a knee injury. Marte provides a solid lefty option in Joe Girardi’s bullpen. The Pirates add some promising prospects for their future. Tabata was seen as the top Yankee outfield prospect before personality issues arose this season. Ohlendorf can potentially help Pittsburgh as a starter or out of the bullpen.

Mark Teixeira to the Angels for Casey Kotchman and a minor leaguer
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim needed a bat, so they added Mark Teixeira of Atlanta. Teixeira is due to become a free agent at the end of the season, so unless the Angels can sign him to an extension, this trade may not work out well. Who exactly is going to play 1B next year?

Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth
The Yankees decided they could not withstand another blow to the catching position, so they instead gave up setup man Farnsworth for two months of Pudge Rodriguez’s services. The bullpen takes a bit of a hit as a result. Farnsworth, however, was pitching at his peak performance and is due to become a free agent, so just being able to trade him for anything more than a bag of baseballs is more than the Yankees could have asked for. Classic “sell high” strategy.

Manny Ramirez to the Dodgers, Jason Bay to Boston, Andy Laroche, Brandon Moss, Craig Hansen, and a minor leaguer to the Pirates
Where to start with this one? Manny gets to be Manny for Joe Torre, which should be interesting to watch. Pittsburgh might be building a very solid future with this trade as well as the deal they made with the Yankees. Jason Bay will provide a defensive upgrade in LF for the Red Sox but is not the same presence at the plate as Manny is. I call the loser in this deal the Red Sox. Manny, Moss, Hansen, and cash for Jason Bay? I smell a ripoff. But if Bay plays well then this deal will be well worth it.

Ken Griffey, Jr. to the White Sox for Danny Richar and Nick Masset
The White Sox now have a bit of a crowded lineup with OF/1B Nick Swisher, OF Griffey, and 1B Paul Konerko all competing for playing time. The Sox plan to use Griffey in CF. He had been moved to RF by the Reds previously because of his age and declining defensive skills. Somebody better tell Ozzie Guillen that it’s 2008, not 1998. Griffey may help the lineup, but at what cost defensively?

That’s it for now. Further updates when I feel like it. It’s my blog after all 😉