Analyzing the (Curious?) Case of Ryan Braun’s Appeal

24 02 2012

When I first heard the news that Ryan Braun won the appeal to overturn his initial 50 game suspension, I had two immediate reactions. The first was surprise; nobody ever won an appeal before. The second was also surprise, but more of a shake-my-head surprise; the MLB had messed up big time.

Well, I was half right.

Yes, Braun was the first player to ever win an appeal. I was right about that. I guess I was sort of right on the second part, but it wasn’t like I thought. The MLB (or whoever was in charge of the testing. For all intents and purposes, I will say the MLB.) apparently failed to follow procedure in collecting the urine sample. Although the urine contained synthetic testosterone (from what I know/read), the reason that Braun had the suspension overturned was the fact that the collector didn’t ship it out to the testing labs in the right time frame. Wow.

What can we deduce from this?

1. The MLB hierarchy has every reason to be livid.

This should send the higher ups in MLB into a frenzy. While you have to be mad that the suspension was overturned, it’s a huge slap in the face that it got overturned because of a stupid technicality. According to an ESPN article, the MLB is “considering its options.” I really can’t think of any options that they might have that can directly punish Braun. From what I know, they can’t appeal the appeal, and they can’t slap a punishment on Braun without some other lapse of judgement from the man. At best, I can only really see him getting fined, and I’m not even sure that’s possible. Essentially, MLB lost this one.

2. Braun won this time…or did he?

Braun may have won the appeal, but how much did he really gain? Yeah, he gets to play in the first fifty games of the season where he might not’ve been able to play before. However, we’ve learned that Braun probably did use synthetic testosterone( from what’s been written and the fact that he hasn’t disputed this). He managed to exploit a protocol

Did Ryan Braun really help himself in the long run?

error, thus allowing him to escape the suspension according to a source. Was it all worth it?

In my opinion, a fifty game suspension and allegations about PED use really hurts. However, I think your reputation is hurt a lot more by beating the suspension just because someone made a technical error. Your image is hurt a lot more, especially since people will now remember that you beat the system for the first time. Essentially, you’re not guilty, but you’re still technically guilty. Braun in a statement said “I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision. It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.” Did this really restore Braun’s reputation? Did he really get through this because he’s innocent? Again, Braun simply might’ve damaged his reputation by getting this appeal on his side. Dodging the suspension might’ve just lowered him even lower than he was before, especially since nothing was tampered with.

3. MLB’s drug testing policy may have had a problem, but the bigger problem was the leaked information.

Yes, we have found that the drug testing policy allowed a player to dodge a suspension apparently because of a simple delivery error. While the procedure simply had that error and not one that concerned tampering or the specific science of determining synthetic testosterone, it is imperative to say that MLB had a large error as well. Two sources leaked out to ESPN that Braun initially tested positive. That is apparently against policy. In fact, more and more information managed to leak from those familiar with the case.

That is simply unacceptable. With the kind of media era we are in and the fact that any PED use will get the fan’s hearts beating, this is an egregious error. You can’t have people thinking that Braun is a dead man walking without confirmation. You also can’t have people believe that he was innocent without that confirmation either. Simply put, the fact that Braun tested positive for PED’s and then won the appeal should’ve only be released today. It should only have been released by the MLBPA after Thursday’s appeal. It simply shouldn’t happen in the future, especially in today’s massive media era. The MLB should know that by now, and enforce the proper measures that this doesn’t happen again. Although this is easily overlooked, it’s still a big problem nonetheless for the reasons stated above.

4. MLB’s image is still tarnished.

Taking the viewpoint of the entire game and not the organization, MLB still took a big hit from Braun’s positive test, even without a suspension. Braun was obviously the NL MVP, but he’s also going to be the target of many headlines this year. Braun without the bat of Prince Fielder was going to be a major headline this year in my opinion. I can assure you that, at least in the first third of the season, 70% of the articles that focus on Braun will have a footnote about the appeal and the general positive test. Is that really the best thing for MLB? There’s also the fact that one of the league’s big stars took a PED. Imagine seeing a headline that stated that Aaron Rodgers or Kevin Durant took a PED. Again, seeing a star dim because of a PED is never good for the general view of a league.

Again, to sum it all up, Braun wiggled out of trouble but still tripped into another problem. From what’s been released, the situation might’ve gotten better right now for all parties involved, including the MLB, but different things will be written about this in the future. The ESPN story written about Braun is titled “Braun Wins.” Did he really?

Written by Teix4MVP

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Questioning the Yankees’ Winter to this Point

10 12 2011

Let me make this point blatantly clear: no, I do not think the Yankees should sign/should have signed any of the big name free agents out there. Pujols, Reyes, and Fielder are obviously not fits due to the presence (and age) of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira. C.J. Wilson wasn’t a good idea in my opinion. A five-year-deal for an early 30s pitcher? He has a “J” in his first name? What could possibly go wrong? Then again, Wilson as a starter has provided more WAR in two years than A. J. (yes, I was referring to him) has in the past five years. Excuse me for being at least a little pessimistic here, but as you can see, I have reasons to have feared a Wilson deal. That’s another story though. Buerhle for four years wasn’t the best idea either. So essentially, I am glad the Yankees managed to control themselves and not splurge on a big free agent for the second year in a row (alert the presses and record books, we’re going for a third next year!). No one was worth it/fit on the Yankees in this year’s class.

However, the Yankees DID manage to re-sign two guys. Sabathia was re-signed for 5 years and 122 million dollars and also one-upped Freddy Garcia for another year for 4 million and potential incentives. I’d like to say this about Sabathia: was it a bit of an overpay? Yes, it seems like at least a tad of an overpay. However, in the end, it is well worth it, as the Yankees didn’t have to watch their ace dip his huge

At least he's back.

foot into the free agent market for a second time. They got it done early and managed to dodge all the heart palpitations and high blood pressure from having to hear rumors of Boston and Sabathia getting together. So that part, I am proud of the Yankees for doing.

I’m going to mention Garcia again in a moment, but first I must mention potentially the BIGGEST Yankees move of the entire offseason (other than re-signing Sabathia): Winning the bid for Hiroyuki Nakajima!!!!!!!!!!!! Ironically, the Yankees might not even SIGN Nakajima as apparently he might just play out the year and try to play for Bobby Valentine and the Sox next season. I’ll save analyzing Nakajima if/when he gets to the Yankees. If he chooses not to, the biggest move for the Yankees will end up being either cutting Andrew Brackman or drafting more guys in the Rule 5 draft. If the Rule 5 draft is the biggest move for the offseason for the NYY, there’s a problem.

The offseason is still young. I understand that. However, I thought the Yankees would be at least a little more aggressive in trying to get starting pitching. A Trevor Cahill deal recently got done. A Parker substitution in that deal could’ve been one of the Killer B’s (err, one or the other now). If the Yankees are reluctant to bring them up, why not trade for a ready commodity? The Yankees are a win-now team. Waiting that 1 or 2 extra years could be the difference from fizzling in the playoffs to winning number 28 for the Bombers.

If you’re not prepared to trade for a starter, the biggest option you have left is Yu Darvish. The Yankees don’t seem to be all that high on him either from what I’ve read. This might be a clever way to sneak in and get the winning bid, but I’m at least a little bit skeptical. So yes, Yu probably won’t be your yearly Yankee addition (see what I did there? hehehe…). If you’re not going to get Yu, then you have to turn

Yu Darvish is apparently not the choice for the Yankees. Should he be?

back to the trade market again if you dislike the likes of Roy Oswalt or Edwin Jackson. Who’s out there? Shields or Garza? They’re both highly unlikely for the price and the team/executive that has them at the current moment. Gio Gonzalez? The Yankees just don’t know what they’re doing at the moment, as they are choosing not to go through either market.

Why am I catching the anxious Yankees fan syndrome? The simple reason is I fully don’t expect the Yankees to win the AL East next year with the team they had last season, which is essentially the team they have right now with the exception of a few guys. Listen, Boston’s collapse last year was historical. Relying on the same type of thing happening this year is both stupid and unrealistic. Boston is my AL East winner next year barring any major, major setbacks. That leaves the Yankees with the Wild Card spot, which might not even go their way. You have the always feisty Rays with their strong core of young players and the pitching staff of death next year (even if they decide to trade Shields, the rotation is Price-Hellickson-Moore-Davis-Niemann. Yikes.), and the loser of the AL West. Both the Rangers and the Angels are also teams that could leapfrog over the Yankees in a potential Wild Card race this season.

Why am I so pessimistic about the Yankees chances? Quite simply, the Yankees are going to be a year older next year. The pitching staff this year wasn’t as much of a problem as it was before, but I expect it to be this year. Sabathia will be Sabathia, and Nova could capitalize off his great campaign last year. Hughes is still a huge question mark in my mind. I don’t expect Garcia to have as great of a year this year as he did before. Of course, AJ is AJ. To this point, the Yankees have not made a major move for a pitcher. This is why I’m so concerned about their lack of an offseason so far, no matter how early.

Here’s my bottom line: the Yankees in my opinion are not a superior AL East team next year without making an improvement in the pitching staff. What worries me the most is their presence (or lack thereof) of things like Trevor Cahill talks which they could’ve gotten into or their apparently “lukewarm” interest in a potential difference maker like Yu Darvish. So yes, might this be an overreaction to a lack of activity so far? Yup, it probably it. However, it can’t help but worry you if you’re a Yankees fan that the Yankees have been inactive or even patient so far. If they were willing to be aggressive for Sabathia and Garcia early on, why not grab another guy? Yankees fever is hitting me early this year. I just can’t tell if it (or if the team) is good right now.





The Albert Pujols Ripple Effect

23 02 2011

Posted by Teix4MVP

Now, we all know about the fact that the best hitter in baseball was not extended by the Cardinals before his deadline, and we all know he’s a free agent after this season ends. But what we all overlook are some key stories to watch due to Albert not re-signing yet, because they could really change the MLB as we know it whether it be this season or the next few years. Here are a few I think that Albert can indirectly affect.

Prince Fielder’s New Contract

Another power hitting first baseman will be on the market after this season. Prince Fielder and the Milwaukee Brewers aren’t really a fit anymore because of Fielder’s contract demands and the Brewers’ flexibility not matching up. So Fielder will hit the open market as the best first baseman available.

Well, not exactly if Pujols hits the Free Agent market as well. Fielder’s body type will open him up for more injuries as he gets older, making it hard to compete with Pujols. Fielder’s hitting, while being very good and consistently with the top numbers, definitely cannot compete with Pujols’ elite hitting combined with ultimate consistency. Pujols’ glove is simply superior to Prince’s not-so-stellar one. So really, Pujols is superior to Fielder in pretty much every way. In improving your ball club, you want Pujols even if he is older. Why? WAR

Fielder's hope for a massive contract could explode if Albert hits the open market.

from the past five years tell you. Fielder’s WAR from the past 5 seasons: 1.3, 5.3, 2.7, 6.9, 4.1, showing a jump or fall every year. Pujols’? 8.3, 8.4, 9.3, 8.7, 7.3. Pujols for his career has never had a WAR lower than 5.7 by the way. Fielder should really be hoping that Albert and the Cardinals reach a deal by the time the offseason hits, or else Fielder will be even further than he already is from reaching his desired contract of 8 years, 180MM dollars, the same contract that  Mark Teixeira received. Pujols will definitely play a big part in Fielder’s next contract.

C.C. Sabathia

Pujols also affects C.C. Sabathia. Why? Well, Sabathia has an opt out clause Yankees GM Brian Cashman included when Sabathia first signed with the Yankees that allows him to hit the market again. This clause could possibly nab him more years/money like his teammate that also opted out of his contract, Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod managed to secure a 10-year commitment and enough cash to make him the highest paid player in the game, so Sabathia could do the same in hopes of making significantly more cash and years. If Albert hits the market, it doesn’t really affect Sabathia, as he is an ace pitcher and Albert is the best hitter in baseball, so there will be no competition at a position. However, if Albert doesn’t hit the free agent market, things could change very quickly for Sabathia. He would not only be the best free agent starter on the market, but also the best player on the market. Teams that aren’t even interested in signing those kind of guys still check in on them even if it is to just drive up the price for their rivals. And there’s never a surplus of good pitching. All the big market clubs would be interested, and losing clubs like the Nationals or Royals looking to complement their young talent could make attempts at him, and don’t count out the Yankees either. Sabathia’s opt out clause looms large on the Yankees’ and their fans’ minds, and the thought of a no-Sabathia rotation in 2012 could mean the end of the world….for the Yankees’ regular season and playoff hopes. Pujols will certainly either help or not change Sabathia’s decision whether or not to opt out.

The Cardinals’ Rotation and Young Stars

You may be wondering why this is relevant to Albert Pujols. Well, it’s not just dealing with him, it’s also dealing with Matt Holliday, Kyle Lohse, and Chris Carpenter. That’s right:financial commitments. Payroll for the Cardinals last season was just under 95MM dollars. That’s with Pujols having a 16MM salary. With 30MM per year included, or even 25MM, that pushes the Cards’ payroll over 100MM dollars, something Bill DeWitt Jr. has never done before. This is very bad indeed, but it affects the Cardinals’ stellar rotation. Chris Carpenter makes 15MM dollars this season, and the Cardinals will probably have to buyout his option for 2012 to clear up space for Pujols. It also

Adam Wainwright and the Cardinals' rotation could be influenced by Pujols' contract if he re-signs for 25MM+.

might not allow them to extend Adam Wainwright past his 2012 option. Kyle Lohse’s bad contract takes him through 2012, so they would either have to eat a lot of his salary to clear room or include a more desirable player in a deal, or both.

Jaime Garcia and Colby Rasmus are both arbitration-eligible after the 2012 season. While it probably isn’t a big deal now, Pujols will be getting into the middle of his contract right when Garcia and Rasmus hit free agency. Garcia was good for the Cardinals in 2010, posting a 2.70 ERA and a 13-8 W-L record, and compiling a 3.2 WAR. Rasmus also was good, hitting for a .270/.361/.498 slashline, hitting 24 home runs and compiling a 3.5 WAR. They are going to keep improving, maybe becoming 4-5 WAR players if everything goes right. They could be traded or leave for free agency due to Pujols’ massive contract if he gets it. So basically, the entire Cardinals team and its future are dependent on the result of Pujols’ contract.

Negotiations between the MLB and the MLBPA about a new CBA

Well, the current CBA expires after this year, and you can bet Albert can and will be used as a reference during those talks. Cardinals manager Tony La Russa already made an accusation about Albert being used as a weapon in this battle, saying that the Players’ Association was telling Albert to run up his price tag. While MLBPA head Michael Weiner shot that down, one has to wonder if that could be a sticking point. To me, it certainly is, because it could swing salaries into the owners’ favor or further help the players. I don’t think that Pujols was directly told to drag out his negotiations, but at the very least his name and situation will be mentioned during CBA talks before, during, and after the 2011 regular and post seasons.

The Cubs’ Fan Support

WARNING: If you are a Cardinals fan, please promptly scroll down to the end of the page where I conclude this piece.

Okay, the worst nightmare for any Cardinals fan is not only losing Albert, but losing him to the hated Chicago Cubs. Which could happen if Pujols hits the free agent market. The Cubs would apparently offer him the A-Rod Contract, which is 10 years along with a 275MM or more. That would be at least as bad as LeBron James leaving for Miami, and probably a lot worst. The name Albert would probably be expelled from all baby books. The St. Louis area would go crazy. The Cardinals might collapse, because even if they have Matt Holliday and Colby Rasmus to lead the offense, Albert hitting in the 3 spot against the Cubs would kill them.  But enough from the Cards perspective. If the Cubs DO sign Albert, it’d appear to be the team’s best hope to win a World Series in over 100 years for fans. It’d take up the first base spot which has been vacated, and it would give the best hitter since Ryne Sandberg to the Cubs. If they don’t sign him, however, it could be a PR nightmare. Longtime Cubbies fans could groan and complain about letting their best chance at the coveted Fall Classic trophy slip through their fingers or, more appropriately, their pockets. It would suck the morale out of fans and maybe they might stop buying some of the most expensive tickets in the MLB. So Albert and his chance at free agency has basically the entire Cubs’ fan base drooling and waiting, and could either turn them towards or away from trusting management.

Albert Pujols could affect much more than just himself with this big decision of his. As you can see, Albert is just a stone dropped into a pond, and the ripples stretch all across the league, both onfield and off it. What will matter is how big the ripples are, and how far they reach into the future.





Billy Butler’s Extension: What Does it Mean for Eric Hosmer?

26 01 2011

Posted by Teix4MVP

Dayton Moore signed one of the game’s young dangerous hitters to an extension, locking up  first baseman Billy Butler until 2014 with an option for a fifth year. This contract makes him very affordable, as the most he makes is 12.5MM in 2015 if the Royals pick up his option that year. While that’s very good and all, there’s a looming problem at hand: Eric Hosmer. Hosmer is another 1B within the Royals stellar farm system. Hosmer was arguably the best high school hitter in the 2008 Draft, and was taken 3rd overall by the Royals. He played 3 games in Rookie League Idaho Falls, and hit .364.

The following year, Hosmer was moved up to Class A Burlington,  and had a respectable slash line of .254/.352/.384 in 79 games. He moved up to Class A+ Wilmington for 27 games that year, however he struggled, with a slash line of .206/.280/.299. That was all at age 19 in 2009, and overall he hit just 6 home runs. At age 20, he again returned to Wilmington last season and hit a sizzling .354/.429/.545 with 7 home runs in 87 games. The Royals decided to move Hosmer up to Double-A  Northwest Arkansas, and he responded with 13 home runs and a slash line of .313/.365/.615 in the 50 games there. His defense has also been very good.

Eric Hosmer is a very promising prospect in Kansas City's stellar farm system.

With those stats, it wouldn’t be crazy at all to assume that the Royals will move Eric up to Triple A Omaha during this year, or even to start the year. Most likely, a Double A callup to Triple A will come for Hosmer in mid-2011. That means it also wouldn’t be crazy to say that Hosmer should be ready by mid to late 2012, which is what I believe will be the case if injuries don’t get in the way. But the problem still exists: What will they do with him with Butler locked in at 1st?

There’s a comparable situation in baseball for the Cincinatti Royals. Joey Votto, the league’s reigning MVP, is signed through the next three years, blocking another first baseman with the Reds, Yonder Alonso. Alonso was moved up to Triple-A this season, and hit .296/.355/.470 there at age 23. The Reds are going to look to try Alonso at an outfield position this season, but his best position is at first. The Reds could probably trade him for more prospects this summer or perhaps trade him in a deal to acquire a piece to help them during a playoff run, like the Twins did with blocked catcher Wilson Ramos when they acquired Matt Capps from the Washington Nationals.

So, what can the Royals do with Hosmer? There are 3 ways I envision them handling things:

1. Trade him. I seriously doubt this happening, but it could. Hosmer would surely net a very good return for the Royals farm system. They could get a blue chip outfield guy and/or a very good pitcher for him. Hosmer is ranked second on many lists I’ve looked at for the Royals Top Prospects, so you have to imagine they’d need a very good return in order for him to get pried away. Heck, they’d have to get  BLOWN away by an offer if they were to deal the guy only ranked behind Mike Moustakas for the title of Top Royals’ Prospect.

2. Keep him and move Butler to DH. This solution I find much more likely than anything. Hosmer is very good at manning first, with surprisingly good range and soft hands. His arm is also very strong for a first baseman, making him a rare complete package fielder at first. Meanwhile, Butler isn’t so good. While the 1B UZR formula is pretty screwed up, Butler’s negative UZRs since 2008 make you wonder. If we look at his fielding % it’s not as bad. He’s posted a .995% in 2010 and a .992% in 2008 and 2009. But I’ve seen the guy, he’s really no wiz in the field. Any report you read will mention Butler’s glove as iron. Which makes Hosmer the ideal 1B guy and Butler the guy who could move to DH.

Billy Butler could force Eric Hosmer out of KC, or vice versa.

3. Trade Butler. This is a little bit more likely than the first, but several steps more unlikely than the 2nd. Bear that in mind, folks. When Hosmer comes up in 2012, Butler will be 26 and into the 2nd year of his 4 year contract. That means teams might try to grab him since he has an 8MM contract and could very well be one of the premier hitters in the game by that time. A trade of Butler could earn them a stellar return of at least an A prospect and 2 Bs. This could very well be what they need to finish off their young nucleus and finally be good. And Hosmer would get that position spot left open by Butler. This probably won’t happen, but at least it makes SOME sense.

4. Move Hosmer to the outfield. Didn’t originally want to put this one in, but let’s put it here for arguments’ sake. Hosmer could be a player who could be suited for the outfield because of his arm and surprising range. Butler could remain at first and problems would be solved. Except I don’t think Hosmer would be a good outfielder. His speed is below average, and Kauffman stadium is a doubles and triples type of park. I think Hosmer is just like Mark Teixeira. He’s a great fielder at first base, but he can’t play any other position. So I could be wrong, but I don’t envision this one happening.

Hosmer is up and coming for the Royals team. What do you guys think about this little situation?





Albert Pujols Traded to the New York Yankees

17 01 2011

Posted by Teix4MVP

This is all imaginary.

Albert Pujols is entering the final year of his contract.

The Yankees have signed Albert Pujols to a 10 year, 300MM contract extension after they acquired Pujols from the Cardinals for Jesus Montero, Brett Gardner, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Phil Hughes and David Robertson. Brian Cashman spoke after the deal was announced saying, “We had the extra 300 million lying around so we thought, why not?” Pujols decided to break off negotiations earlier than the Spring Training deadline and demanded a trade, said a source with the Cardinals. “We were extremely taken aback when Albert decided he did not want to negotiate anymore,” the source said. Pujols was interviewed by PTaPP, saying “New York is where I always dreamed of being. St. Louis was nice, but I feel like New York was where I was always supposed to be.”

The Yankees will probably be using Pujols in a DH role as 1B is occupied by Mark Teixeira. Teixeira had to say this about Pujols: “He’s a fantastic player and hopefully he can guide us to a 28th pennant.” CC Sabathia was quoted as saying “He’s a great guy, a fantastic personality…Whenever we need him, he’ll come up in the clutch.” Alex Rodriguez declined comment, muttering on the way out “Who cares if he has the biggest contract now…I’m still the prettiest. I’M STILL THE PRETTIEST!” Pujols’ number 6 jersey was flying off the racks, and 17 people were arrested fighting for the jerseys.

Meanwhile, in St. Louis, fans were crying at several bars over the loss of Pujols. Pujols jerseys were burning in the streets, and at least 92 bobble heads of the former beloved slugger were found, smashed in the street. Said one fan, “He’s a traitor.”  Bill DeWitt Jr., owner of the team, posted the following on the team’s website:

Dear St. Louis, All Of Missouri and St. Louis Cardinals Supporters Wherever You May Be Tonight;

As you now know, our former hero is no longer a St. Louis Cardinal.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV Press Conference unlike anything ever “witnessed” in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Clearly, this is bitterly disappointing to all of us.

The good news is that the ownership team and the rest of the hard-working, loyal, and driven staff over here at your hometown Cardinals have not betrayed you nor NEVER will betray you.

There is so much more to tell you about the events of the recent past and our more than exciting future. Over the next several days and weeks, we will be communicating much of that to you.

You simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal.

You have given so much and deserve so much more.

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:

“I PERSONALLY GUARANTEE THAT THE ST. LOUIS CARDINALS WILL WIN AN MLB CHAMPIONSHIP BEFORE THE  FORMER ‘KING ALBERT’ WINS ONE”

You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to St. Louis, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

This shocking act of disloyalty from our own “King” sends the exact opposite lesson of what we would want our children to learn. And “who” we would want them to grow-up to become.

But the good news is that this heartless and callous action can only serve as the antidote to the so-called “curse” on St. Louis, Missouri.

Brian Cashman has alot of payroll flexbility to play around with.

The self-declared former “King” will be taking the “curse” with him across the nation. And until he does “right” by St. Louis and Missouri, Pujols (and the town where he plays) will unfortunately own this dreaded spell and bad karma.

Just watch.

Sleep well, St. Louis.

Tomorrow is a new and much brighter day….

I PROMISE you that our energy, focus, capital, knowledge and experience will be directed at one thing and one thing only:

DELIVERING YOU the championship you have long deserved and is long overdue….

Bill DeWitt Jr.
Majority Owner
St. Louis Cardinals

Pujols declined comment on the letter. Many had the opportunity to voice their opinion on this. One fan from the Bronx said, “Amazing pick up, the Yankees are sure to win the AL East now.”

A few days later, Earth is attacked by UFOs and is subsequently taken over. They make Derek Jeter king of humanity(as if he wasn’t already). Then several meteors strike Earth and it explodes.





Revisiting the Cliff Lee Trade: Part Three

7 12 2010

Posted by Teix4MVP

So as Wilchiro and MagicSox have already told you, Cliff Lee has been traded along for prospects and whatnot, and he has performed well everywhere he went, whether it be in Philly or Seattle, or Cleveland. After the addition of Lee to the Mariners, many picked them to win the AL West. However, when the Mariners were quickly smacked out of contention, they decided to trade their second ace, who they would lose to free agency after the season.

It was hard to see Lee go, but M's fans knew it was all for the good.

At first, it looked like the Yankees were going to get him (I remember refreshing the website MLB Trade Rumors every 10-20 minutes just to see if they’d get a deal done) with a package centered around top 5 prospect, catcher Jesus Montero. The deal looked done; that is, until the Mariners opened up conversations with the Rangers again after they apparently didn’t like the package that also included prospect David Adams and probably Zach McAllister (who was later dealt for Austin Kearns) and liked a package centered around Justin Smoak more, along with guys like Blake Beavan, Matthew Lawson, and of course, the now-infamous Josh Lueke. They made the deal, sending Lee (and an out-for-the-season Mark Lowe) to the Rangers on July 9th, So, I’m going to break down the players as they’ve progressed through this year. Let’s start with the player(s) the Rangers got.

The Texas Rangers received:

Cliff Lee (and cash)

The 32-year-old Cliff Lee didn’t perform as well as expected in Texas. He went 4-6, had a 3.98 ERA, and saw his WHIP jump to 1.058 from .945.  His BB/9 went from .5 to 1.0, and his SO/BB dropped from a godly 14.83 to 8.00. His September was pretty good, as he went 2-1 with a 1.93 ERA, but in August he went 1-4 and had a 6.35 ERA. He was a great clubhouse presence for the upstart Rangers, and he led them straight to the World Series in the Playoffs. He defeated two of the best offenses in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees, easily, giving up just 2 ERs in 24 innings pitched. He allowed just 14 baserunners (he had just one walk allowed) and he struck out 34 batters. And just like that, Lee and the Rangers had reached the World Series, the first the franchise had reached against the San Francisco Giants. The Rangers looked like the favorites to many, particularly because of their ace, Clifford Phifer Lee, and he was starting Game 1. He was 7-0 in his career during the playoffs, and he looked to improve to 8-0 against the Giants hitters, who didn’t have a 30 HR guy.

Or a 100-RBI guy.

Or even a 90-RBI guy.

They DID end up showing Cliff Lee what it was like to lose, actually handing him 2 losses and a 6.94 ERA. He had an over 10 WHIP, compared to a .375 WHIP against the Yankees and a .688 against the Rays. And just like that, the Rangers had lost their first World Series, and their ace was sent towards his first huge payday and a decision of what team to join next season.

Mark Lowe

This was an interesting addition to the trade. Lowe was out for the season with a back surgery, but managed to make it back at the very end of the regular season, pitching in 3 games but had a 12.00 ERA. In the postseason, he pitched in 2 games, and gave up 5 earned runs. At age 27, he isn’t a prospect player, so he was included in the deal as a probable throw-in, although the Rangers want him. He’s arbitration-eligible, so look for him to  be in the Rangers plans for 2011.

Mark Lowe has a fastball that reaches 100 MPH at times, and he could be an elite pitcher in the Texas bullpen in 2011.

The Rangers’ GM Daniels was widely praised for making this deal, as he greatly improved his team’s chances to make it to the playoffs but also did it without giving up any of his blue chip minors prospects. Lee was the obvious prize of the trade, but look for Lowe next season, as he’s one year removed from 75 appearances and a 3.26 ERA, although that should go up due to the park he’s now pitching in. The Rangers have the financial flexibility to sign the best free agent this year’s class has to offer, although the offer has to stack up against those of the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Angels, and Tigers, among others. The Rangers do have an edge in the Lee negotiations, however, as Texas is close to his Arkansas home. Whoever signs Lee will get an immediate impact pitcher.

Let’s move on to the M’s part of the deal, starting with the centerpiece, rookie first baseman…

Justin Smoak

Smoak came up to replace the struggling Chris Davis at first base on April 22. He struggled in his time with the Rangers, having a slashline of .209/.316/.353, which wasn’t much better than Davis’s mark of .192/.279/.292. But this does not take away from Smoak’s potential. Smoak was a top fifteen prospect entering the season, rated by Baseball America and MLB Network. He has a solid glove at 1B as evident by a UZR of 2.2, and has drawn comparisions to stars such as Mark Teixeira and Lance Berkman in the past. This guy looks like the real deal.

Josh Lueke

Lueke shows a ton of potential and this is shown by an impressive year, going 5-2 with a 1.86 ERA in 50 games. He posted alot more K’s then he pitched innings, and he will likely be utilized in the Mariners bullpen entering the 2011 season. When acquired, the Mariners were not aware of previous problems with rape, and that is why they have begun to dangle him on the trade market.

Blake Beavan

Justin Smoak was the centerpiece of the Lee deal. He has drawn comparisions to Teixeira and Berkman.

Blake Beavan is a solid piece. At 6’7″ 250 pounds, Beavan posted great numbers in three levels with Texas and Seattle this year, going 14-8 with a 3.90 ERA in 168.1 IP. It doesn’t seem like he blows anyone away with just 101 K’s on the season, but this shouldn’t be an issue as long as he is getting the outs. Beavan is currently in AAA Tacoma, and could fight for a spot in the rotation out of Spring Training, depending on the health status of recently re-signed lefty Erik Bedard.

Matthew Lawson

Lawson was essentially a throw-in piece who likely won’t play a huge part in the Mariners future plans, and will likely be used as trade bait, as he is blocked by stud prospects Dustin Ackley and Kyle Seager. He did post decent stats on the year, though, hitting .293/.372/.439 with a solid OPS of .815.

Although it was hard for Mariners fans to see Lee go after such a great offseason followed by a solid 2009, it was evident that a trade was on the way. Jack Zduriencik likely got a maximum return for the lefty, considering the status of his contract and the demands for his salary. This was a trade that worked perfectly for both sides; the Rangers got one of the best pitchers in baseball in Lee who eventually led them in their surge to the World Series, with a fireball arm in Lowe who has a shot as the closer slot if Feliz becomes a starter in 2011. The Mariners got their future 1B in Smoak who fits perfectly with their plans with his left handed bat, solid glove and marginal power, a couple of solid bullpen arms in Lueke and Beavan, and a young 2B in Lawson. This trade was a win-win for both sides.





Joba Chamberlain: His Pros, Reasons to Trade Him, and Trade Value

14 10 2010

Posted by Teix4MVP

So this past week Newsday’s Ken Davidoff wrote that “Joba Chamberlain has slipped down the Yankees’ food chain, and it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him this winter.”

I took one look at this article and decided I would write a response to it.

“Phenomenal.”

“Best pitcher in the bullpen besides Mo.”

“He’s got real potential.”

Does it sound like any pitchers you know? Well, these were the phrases used to describe the Yankees’ then-phenom Joba Chamberlain, who came up to the Yankee bullpen towards the end of 2007.

Some background information about Joba before the majors: Chamberlain was drafted 41st overall by the New York Yankees in the 2006 Draft during the compensatory round because Tom Gordon signed with the Phillies.  He didn’t pitch in the minors that season, but he pitched in the Hawaii Winter league, posting a 2.63 ERA for the WestOahu Canefires. In 2007, he ascended the minor league ladder starting at High A, and moving up to Triple-A as a starter, until he made it to the major leagues as the Yankees attempted to make it into the playoffs and win a World Series for the first time in the 2000s.

All the Yankees fans reading this remember Joba as a little something short of a Gattling gun when he first came up to the majors in 2007. The 22-year-old Chamberlain blew his 100 mph fastballs by everyone in the American League, compiling a 12.75 K/9 during his time that year. He allowed just 12 hits in the 24 IP. He compiled a 5.67 K/BB that year, compared to a 2.00 league average, although Chamberlain appeared in just 19 games. He gave up 1 ER in those 24 IP, and that came on a solo shot over the Green Monster hit by Mike Lowell(I was at

Joba

Joba had a dominant 24 innings in the bullpen during the 2007 season.

that game, it was a shot). In those 19 games he still managed to put up a 0.9 WAR, which is pretty darn good, considering he pitched for such a short time. Joba was going to be the next huge fixture in the Yankees bullpen for years to come, with ESPN proclaiming him as NEXT. Joba was a phenom in those 19 appearances, and he never failed to disappoint the fans that watched him pitch.

“He’s going to be a star.” -Chamberlain before 2008

In 2008, Joba started the year in the set-up role leaving spring training with a roster spot on the major league roster. However, due to the zero wins between pitchers Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes and the resulting stress on the bullpen, on April 21st, 2008 Hank Steinbrenner told reporters that he wanted Joba to start. “Brian knows I was upset about the switch to the bullpen last year,” Steinbrenner said. “But like he says, we probably wouldn’t have made the playoffs without it, so there’s two sides to the story. We all had the same purpose starting in the offseason – we’d like to see Joba as a starter.” He also added that “we’re pleased with what some of the other guys in the pen have done…so I think it’s time to start thinking about getting him (Chamberlain) back in the rotation.” according to an article by the NY Daily News.

GM Brian Cashman said that Joba would remain in the bullpen, and would finish off the year starting, but not start off starting because of the innings limit(that would later be famously referred to the Joba Rules) that the Yankees had on the young pitcher’s arm in response to Steinbrenner. So the Yankees waited until June 3rd, 2008 for Joba to make his first start in the majors. It was one of the most highly-anticipated events of the week, a Strasburg Mania-lite. Except this was extremely anticlimactic.  Chamberlain allowed two runs (one unearned) on one hit, walking four and striking out three. He threw 62 pitches, 32 for strikes, and he struggled for most of the start during a 9-3 loss against the Blue Jays. He ended the year 4-3 starting 12 games and pitching a little bit over 100 innings as the Yankees missed the playoffs for the first time in the 2000s.

“He’ll bounce back.”-optimism before the 2009 season.

The Yankees returned in 2009 with the newly hired big guns CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira. This year the Yankees looked ready to cruise their way to the playoffs, and it was time for Joba to be a full-time starter, no restrictions this time. Joba did end up starting 31 games, however he only got 15 decisions, probably  due to the fact he averaged 4.9 innings per game that year. His ERA was 4.75, although FIP suggests he got help from the defense because he had a 4.82 FIP. But what is REALLY bad about Joba is that he allowed a line drive for about every 2 ground balls he got. But he also had a .320 BABIP, so that could suggest that he was somewhat unlucky. His year was up and down, so he was taken out of the playoff rotation and sent to the bullpen as the Yankees won the 27th World Series for the pinstriped franchise.

“Chamberlain’s one of the most overrated guys in the majors.”-2010

This year, Joba has been sent back to the bullpen after losing the 5th starter spot to All-Star Phil Hughes who, ironically, was replaced by Chamberlain in 2008 and 2009, when he was sent to the bullpen and was dominant in both the regular and postseason in the set-up role. Joba couldn’t recapture his success during his first bullpen stint. He went 3-4 in 73 appearances, and was just downright awful the first half. He managed a 4.40 ERA, although FIP suggests it should have been a 2.98. It is uncertain what role Joba is going to have during the ALCS and World Series, but it will certainly be in the bullpen.

So, now, what are the pros of keeping Chamberlain?

There’s always a chance that he recaptures that skill in the bullpen, ex. Colby Lewis of the Rangers. If he does, he’d slot nicely with setting up Rivera’s cutter with a 97 MPH fastball the inning before.

  • His fastball is capable of reaching 100 MPH, and has a nice slider and change up, so that seems like a good reason to keep him.
  • He could figure it out and pitch his way back into the starting rotation. Remember, he was a SP coming up, so he could still be a very good #2-3 starter in the rotation in the future.
  • Pitching depth is always good to have, especially with aging pitchers like AJ Burnett and Andy Pettitte.
  • He’s still just 25, so he still has time to develop as a MLB pitcher, so it would unwise to trade him because he has been durable, and he’s been a star before. And the Yankees have enough talent to keep him as a work in progress.

Joba was the #4 pitching prospect coming into the 2007 season according to BaseballProspectus.com, so that shows his potential, one that people thought he would fill when he captivated all minds with his pitching in 2007. He’s disappointed ever since then, and Davidoff, as stated before, said he fell down the Yankees’ ladder. So why would the Yankees want to trade him?

  • He’s been constantly named as one of the league’s most overrated players by both his peers and fans alike.
  • Joba hasn’t put up numbers since that first bullpen stint, and this year was no different, even though he was back in the bullpen.
  • Joba doesn’t really seem to have a defined role, although at this point, it will probably be middle relief, because he doesn’t seem good enough to pitch in the set up role.
  • Joba’s fastball doesn’t really reach 100 MPH anymore, ever since that move to the starting rotation.
  • His development has been stunted by the constant switch back and forth.

Is it time for Joba to leave the Evil Empire?

Let’s pretend that Joba does get traded to a team. What is he worth to a team? Well, to me, it’s hard to gauge. Joba was a top prospect, a future closer with fireball stuff, then a starter with a decent future, to an inconsistent guy and now a middle reliever. Good relievers are always kind of hard to come by, but Joba showed his potential to be a real closer, his potential to be an ace in the minors, a middle reliever now so its hard to see what he’ll be from this point on.

So what could the Yankees get for him? To me, they can’t get something more than a 2 low minors B prospects return on him, especially because his stock is so low based on his standing with the organization and his past 2 seasons. Teams will remember his fireballs, but unfortunately, they’ll also remember how he’s been inconsistent in both starting and now, pitching in relief. Teams that would take Joba on, in my opinion, would be both Chicago teams, Arizona(because of their absolute dearth of relievers), the Mets, or maybe even the Angels.

Joba Chamberlain was the fireballer youngster that the Yankees had struck gold on. He was ready to become the NEXT big thing, the next closer for the Yankees, the next to be among the elite. Baseball is a funny thing, star one minute, wash up the next. It is so easy to now fall into bad favor with fans, owners, and players. He was elite, for a while, and then Steinbrenner voiced his desire to move the phenom to the rotation. It was that decision that stunted Chamberlain’s growth, and now, the Yankees face a decision on what to do with the young pitcher that was supposed to be the next big thing.