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 😉

Briefs, not boxers

May 24, 2008
  • The Yankees and Mets have gone in opposite directions since the Mets took both games of a rain-abbreviated Subway Series. The Yankees have suddenly figured out how to hit while the Mets have had lapses on the mound, at the plate, and in the field. Joe Girardi is getting praise for heatedly arguing a call while Willie Randolph is getting run out of town by Mets fans.
  • It seems that almost anything I use to back up my arguments here suddenly ends up becoming untrue. Mets closer Billy Wagner, who amazed me with his amazing 0.00 ERA, promptly gave up a run in an extra-inning loss last night to the Colorado Rockies.
  • Interesting NFL news with the owners opting out of the current labor agreement in 2011. The 2010 season could be played without a salary cap and its possible the new labor deal could involve reducing the exhibition schedule to three games while increasing the regular season to 17 games. Rookie salaries will also get a look after Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan signed a record-breaking contract. We’ll see what the new agreement will bring.
  • So it’s Lakers-Spurs and Celtics-Pistons in the NBA conference finals. Most people will tell you that San Antonio and Boston will go to the finals, but both series are currently tied at a game apiece. Anything can happen in the playoffs, in any sport. The hot team, not necessarily the best team, will come out on top.
  • Lastly, I’m taking a week off from blogging to go on a camping trip with my girlfriend and some of her amigos and amigas. I’ll be back next Monday, so look out for an update shortly thereafter.

A Tale of Two Baseball Teams

April 17, 2008

Both the Yankees and Mets are off to subpar starts to this season. Some fans are wondering if the Mets will ever overcome the great collapse of last fall and if the Yankees will ever hit for Joe Girardi.

Last night’s Yankee game answers the second question. 15 runs against Red Sox pitching. The Bombers may have started slow, but they are already beginning to heat up. Getting Derek Jeter and Jorge Posada back in the lineup doesn’t hurt either.

The Mets, on the other hand, don’t have such good fortune. Offseason prize Johan Santana has been off and on so far and an injury to Pedro Martinez has the Mets’ starting rotation showing a major hole. One thing is for sure, their offense can rake. Whether they can pitch well enough to take the NL East is yet to be known.

Joba to start season in bullpen

March 20, 2008

It’s all over the sports pages by now: Joba Chamberlain will not begin the season in the Yankees’ starting rotation. There will be no funky 6-man rotation. He will pitch out of the bullpen.

Everyone who knows about the situation has a strong opinion on it. There are two main camps:

  1. Joba pitched so well out of the bullpen last year and has such a devastating fastball and slider that he should stay in the bullpen forever, eventually succeeding Mariano Rivera as the Yankees’ closer.
  2. Joba is becoming more refined by developing his curveball and changeup. Any pitcher is more valuable in a starting role than relieving because there are more innings to be thrown. Joba should be in the rotation all year.

I think the Yankees’ decision falls dead in the middle of both. The bottom line is that he is only 22 and has never thrown more than 120 innings in a season. There needs to be a gradual increase in innings pitched from year to year. Ever hear of Kerry Wood and Mark Prior?

So Joba starts off in the bullpen for the first few months. If there is an injury, or if Ian Kennedy proves that he is not ready yet, Joba will be sent back to the minors to build his stamina back up so that he can be a starter for the rest of the year. Otherwise, he provides an arm that can throw many innings for Joe Girardi over the course of the year, with no Joba Rules to limit him from throwing multiple innings or on back-to-back days.

Yanks-Rays Just Got a Whole Lot More Exciting

March 12, 2008

During an exhibition game on Saturday, Tampa Bay Rays minor leaguer Elliot Johnson ran over Yankees minor-league catcher Francisco Cervelli on a play at the plate, breaking his wrist and sending him out for 8-10 weeks. Yankees manager Joe Girardi took offense to the play, saying it had no place in a spring training game. Rays manager Joe Maddon backed up his player, saying he liked seeing that kind of aggressiveness from a young player trying to impress.

This was talked about in the papers for days in anticipation of this afternoon’s rematch of the two teams. In the first inning, Yankees starter Heath Phillips (replacing the scratched Andy Pettitte) struggled and hit Evan Longoria with 2 runners on base. Yankees beat reporter Peter Abraham witnessed the plunking and said that the pitch barely nicked Longoria’s chest. Phillips was ejected.

In the next inning, Shelley Duncan singled and tried to stretch his hit into a double. The throw in from the outfield beat him and he slid in with his spikes high, slicing the thigh of Rays 2B Akinori Iwamura. This prompted Rays RF Jonny Gomes to run in to the infield and tackle Duncan, causing both benches to clear and, reportedly, at least one punch to be thrown. In addition to Phillips, Gomes, and Duncan, Yankees coaches Bobby Meacham and Kevin Long were also ejected.

The Yankees and Rays meet up 2 more times this spring. Because they both play in the AL East, they will play each other 18 times during the regular season. Buckle your seatbelts fans, because it’s going to be a wild ride when these teams meet.

New York Yankees Season Preview

February 12, 2008

The Yankees’ pitchers and catchers are set to report to Legends Field in Tampa, FL on Thursday to begin work for the upcoming 2008 season. It’s sure to be an interesting season in the Bronx. Many developing stories will enter a new chapter, including the walking story (Alex Rodriguez), the team’s recent youth movement, and the team’s response to new manager Joe Girardi.

Girardi takes the helm after Joe Torre’s exit following 12 years, 4 world championships, and 3 consecutive first-round playoff exits. Girardi won National League Manager of the Year honors in 2006 by guiding the young, inexperienced, underpaid Florida Marlins to near-contention in the stacked NL East. He was fired following disputes with ownership but says that he learned much from the experience and is now much better prepared to run the Yankees. He played with the Yankees from 1996-1999 as a catcher and was the team’s bench coach in 2005.

Girardi was praised during his time in Florida for his handling of young talent. A couple of blown out arms aside, Girardi is set to work with organizational pitching experts to develop plans for the team’s young arms that will keep them both effective and healthy. These mainly apply to Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. Hughes is a near-lock for the rotation. There is still much debate about whether Chamberlain will be used as a set-up reliever (as he was last season) or as a starting pitcher. The team has publicly stated that he will prepare in the spring as a starter. Kennedy is less likely to crack the opening day roster, barring an injury during the spring. He is most likely to either make the team as a long reliever or begin the season in the minor leagues.

The Yankees have said that Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, and Mike Mussina are locks for the starting rotation, leaving 2 spots for Hughes, Chamberlain and Kennedy (known from here on out as The Big Three). The team could get creative and switch the three off in the two slots in an effort to keep all three under their prescribed innings limits.

The bullpen is currently in a state of uncertainty. Here’s what we know: Mariano Rivera is the closer. Kyle Farnsworth will open the season as the set-up man (unless Chamberlain reverts to this role). LaTroy Hawkins, a free agent signed from the NL Champion Colorado Rockies, will pitch mostly in the 6th and 7th innings. The other 4-5 spots are open to competition. Brian Bruney, Jose Veras, and Ross Ohlendorf seem to have the inside track. Other possible names include Jonathan Albaladejo, Sean Henn, Edwar Ramirez, and non-roster invites Darrell Rasner, Scott Strickland, and Billy Traber. Whoever shows Girardi the most talent in March will walk away with the job.

The Yankees lineup is mostly set. Here’s how it shakes out:

C Jorge Posada

1B Shelley Duncan/Wilson Betemit/Jason Giambi/Kitchen Sink

2B Robinson Cano

SS Derek Jeter

3B Alex Rodriguez

LF Johnny Damon/Hideki Matsui

CF Melky Cabrera

RF Bobby Abreu

DH Giambi/Matsui/Damon


First base generates the most questions. The Yankees’ two main 1Bs from last season, Doug Mientkiewicz and Andy Phillips, left via free agency and signed elsewhere. Shelley Duncan has a headstart at the job but will have competition from:

  • Wilson Betemit (who otherwise will be the team’s reserve infielder)
  • Jason Giambi (who the team would like to use mostly as a DH)
  • Juan Miranda (who may earn a promotion from AAA later in the season)
  • non-roster invites Jason Lane and Morgan Ensberg (neither of whom have played at first much in their careers)

The general belief is that if anyone is likely to take the job from Duncan, it would be Ensberg. He had a few strong seasons at the plate with the Houston Astros as a 3B.

Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, and Jason Giambi will likely enter into a rotation at LF and DH. This would keep them all fresh and productive at the plate.

There are many questions about this Yankees team compared to years past. With Rodriguez leading the offense, Pettitte and Wang anchoring the rotation, and Rivera holding down the fort in the ninth inning, they should at the very least be able to contend for the AL East title in 2008.