Thursday, October 30, 2014

New York Yankees: Five gruesome months of A-Rod talk ahead

As soon as the San Francisco Giants secured the final out of the 2014 World Series, New York Yankees third baseman (or first baseman, or designated hitter or dumpster fire) Alex Rodriguez was back on the club’s 40-man roster after fulfilling his yearlong ban from the game due to his involvement in the Biogenesis performance-enhancing drug scandal.

Seconds after the Giants' celebration began, there were plenty of A-Rod supporters and detractors on Twitter reminding everyone how blessed quiet it has been without him. Now we’ll be subjected to five months of chatter about his health, his demeanor, his ability to play at a major league level and whether or not he is clean before he begins stretching out with his teammates in Tampa.

I’ve been very open about the fact that I think he will be worthless to the team in the end. I just don’t see how he’ll be able to overcome the year off, after having minimal plate appearances in 2012 (181) and reconstructed hips. Despite A-Rod’s work ethic, he's 39 and well I don’t care how much one works at it, once a player approaches 40, he’s not going revert back to his prime as many misguided souls believe.

Let me say that my judgment here has nothing to do with his actions. Nor am I anti-Rodriguez. I was just as leery about Derek Jeter’s return after missing a "full" season. He was nothing like the Jeter of old, and you can’t tell me The Captain didn’t bust his butt during the offseason and regular season just to stay on the field.

The Yankees can spin this whatever way they want (they outwardly suggest he is their third baseman), but I truly believe they want A-Rod to fail (and they'll have no alternative but to have a solid backup plan in place). They have no choice (and 61 million other reasons) but to let him come back and try to play the game. A-Rod is not going to run away without giving it his all. But, would he embarrass himself in the process? I don’t think so.

I envision him getting hurt in early March with something that has him starting the season on the disabled list. Figure he’s back in late April and then suffers another injury after a week of playing (and not well). After trying to rehab for several weeks, he simply works it out with the Yankees and hides – forever.

Until then, Rodriguez will regain his share of headlines. He’ll say all the right things and if he’s learned anything he’ll try to be quiet about his personal life. His proponents will foolishly suggest the Yankees need his elite power (it’s long gone), and the disbelievers – myself included – will continue to claim he was in a downward spiral well before missing all of 2014.

Five months. It’s going to be difficult.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What to look for in tonight's World Series Game 7

Is there anything better than a World Series Game 7? A marathon season that begins in mid-February and runs through the end of October, comes to an end with a winner take all contest.

After rolling through the first three rounds, the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants will face off in Kauffman Stadium tonight with the winner securing a ring. The Royals are looking for their first title since 1985, while the Giants are attempting to grab their third in five years.

A certain contrast in drama. With a win, one team erases decades of misery for their fans and the other builds a reputation as arguably the best team since 2010 for theirs.

With a championship on the line, here are some things to look out for in Game 7.

Tim Hudson


Hudson goes for the Giants and will look to push aside a sloppy Game 3 start. Hudson is 39 years old and will be the oldest pitcher to start a World Series Game 7. He's also looking for his first World Series victory, and just his second career postseason win.

What’s the spread?


These are the game deficits thus far - 6, 5, 1, 7, 5 and 10. Will there be any late-inning magic required to win or will the trend of not-so-close games prevail? FOX is hoping for the former.

FOX TV ratings


Well they’re sure to get a boost. Where will it rank against the last game seven? Does MLB with its regionalism mentality care? Thus far the games have been drawing a modest 11 to 12 million viewers making it the lowest watched series ever. Expect that viewership to jump significantly tonight but not make much of a difference when compared to past seven-game series.

The bullpens


Which bullpen is called upon first and which one protects the trophy? The Royals' pen has been fantastic all season. The Giants relievers have been less dominant in this series. Expect the managers to waste no time dipping into the well should their starter begin to falter.

Manager moves


Which manager makes the right/wrong call? Neither manager has been particularly fantastic or truly had to make many moves to impact a game. Every single move tonight will be magnified with the title on the line. Will Bruce Bochy make a genius call, or will Ned Yost overcome his critics?

Madison Bumgarner


Will we see him? The Royals hope not or do they hope so? On one hand if he enters the game it likely means the Royals have knocked out Hudson. But, if Bumgarner enters he could surely stop any bleeding and keep the Giants in the contest. The Giants' righty has allowed just one run in 16 innings during this World Series.

Speed or power?


We haven’t seen much of either. The Royals have hit three home runs and the stolen just one base (after smashing the ball and running hog wild over the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series). The Giants have only two dingers and one steal. It’s been a series loaded with singles and a smattering of doubles.

Most likely hero


Who will be the hero? Lorenzo Cain? Eric Hosmer? Jeremy Guthrie? Hudson? Bumgarner? Hunter Pence?

Unlikely star


Which player, who no one expects to influence the game, will make the big play whether it’s a clutch hit, a game-saving catch or a shutdown inning? Think Travis Ishikawa sending the Giants to the World Series. Or maybe Jarrod Dyson uses his wheels to manufacture the winning run.

There are other factors in play I am sure. What will you be looking for when the Royals take on the Giants tonight in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series? And who is crowned the champion? Let me know in the comments below.

World Series logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Friday, October 24, 2014

Enough 'baseball is dead' talk

If baseball is dead, then I must be a zombie.

As the television ratings continue to get watered down with every new cable outlet, each ridiculous reality show, along with various dramas and sitcoms, combined with the DVR society in which we live, Major League Baseball’s national prominence has been brought into question.

It’s crap.

While the Kansas City Royals are not a television ratings treasure, sitting in the 31st largest TV market in the country, their fans are rabid and tuning in, in droves. As the World Series shifts across country, the Royals and the San Francisco Giants are now knotted at one game apiece increasing the chances of drama, and a new-found appreciation for each of the teams could be in the making.

Regardless of whether that comes to fruition, there is renewed hope in Kansas City, one of baseball’s better cities. If the Royals win the World Series, won’t there be a flux of interest in the team nationwide? And further this club is going to come back in April looking very much the same. That more than likely will lead to a growth in their recognition around MLB, and has the chance to stretch further if they reach the playoffs in 2015.

Won’t there be even more regional respect for the Giants if they win their third World Series in five years? Can any Bay Area sports fan discount a run like that?

So what about those outside Kansas City and San Francisco. They don’t care, right?

Anyone who reads my work, knows I’m a Yankee fan. It doesn’t mean that I cannot respect the play of others because at heart I’m a baseball fan more than anything. I’m not rooting for one team or the other to win, but I am interested. I am watching. And if two small market teams reach the World Series next year, I’ll still tune in.

On social media, I follow and am followed by plenty of fans outside Kansas City and San Francisco and I can tell you that they are interested in this World Series and baseball in general. They love their respective teams, but if baseball is on, they’ll be watching to matter what the uniforms say.

This is true of many fans around the country. While they may not stay in touch with a game from start to finish people are following. They know they can watch The Big Bang Theory and switch back and forth to see the score. They can follow the game on their sports app via their mobile device and tune into the game when it’s rife with suspense.

Game 1’s low ratings (12.19 million viewers) can surely be attributed to the quick Giants lead courtesy of a Hunter Pence first-inning bomb, and then the stifling pitching from Madison Bumgarner as the Giants tacked on runs against James Shields. Game 2’s rise in viewers (12.92 million viewers) came about with a spike in the sixth inning as the game was tied at two and then continued to rise as the Royals stroked hit after hit turning the game on its ear.

Similarly, if the Royals and Giants continue to trade wins, pushing the series back to Kansas City, it assuredly means an influx of casual viewers and increases the time spent watching a majority of the game by more avid baseball fans.

My point is simply this, while the national numbers seem to be off there is not a lack of interest in the sport. Does the sport bring in as many viewers as the National Football League? No. Does it even need to in order to succeed based on the regional focus MLB has decidedly put their arms around? Not at all.

Major League Baseball continues to drive record revenues with each regional television network it comes to an agreement with and by filling a majority of its stadiums for each of the 81 home games a team plays. To me, that’s the measure of the sports' health.

Television is willing to pay MLB teams billions of combined dollars knowing there is a strong fanbase attached in each market. And fans pay to sit in the stands on a fairly regular basis despite the fact that there are ten times the number of home games as the NFL produces.

Baseball is not dead. It’s thriving just like the zombies on The Walking Dead.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yankees finally reshaping organizational roles in farm system

As the Kansas City Royals are set to host Game 1 of the World Series against the San Francisco Giants Tuesday night, the New York Yankees are knee-deep in organizational changes surrounding their farm system.

The Yankees, long scrutinized by farm system experts, have named former hitting coach and scout Gary Denbo their next senior VP of baseball operations replacing Mark Newman, according the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand. The Yanks also removed Pat Roessler who was the team’s director of player development since 1995. Newman was in his role for 15 years.

The Yankees have stated since last season that they would be taking a different approach where it concerned the farm system and this seems to be the first step in that direction. It is also believed that the Yankees will split the responsibilities into four distinct areas; pro scouting, amateur scouting, international scouting and player development as described by New York Post columnist George A. King III.

Splitting the responsibilities makes absolute sense. The fact that this was not the case is telling, considering the Yankees inability to create stars through their system, whether to place on their own roster or use as trade chips. It’s possible the team’s failure to structure the department Denbo is taking over caused overlap which reflected in poor decision making. Nothing is assured in scouting players but placing emphasis on a single aspect for one or two executives could help the Yankees gain some ground in each sector.

The Yankees have done well on the international front and signed multiple players from Latin America this summer, many of whom project to be above average major league players. The Yanks blew past the international spending limits on the assumption that the rules would change soon and basically stretched their wallets while they could. Now the club must work with these young players to elevate their game and turn them into valuable commodities.

If the division of responsibility is true, there will be at least three others heading a section besides Roessler’s replacement. It remains to be seen if those individuals are already working for the Yankees or if the club will go outside the organization for new blood.

In my view, there needs to be some influx of new personnel, but with a balance of people that general manager Brian Cashman and ownership is comfortable dealing with. The more people involved in discussions about various system decisions lends Cashman and the Steinbrenner’s a healthy selection of options for choosing the next direction of the entirety of the farm system.

For now, it’s just good to see that they are making an effort to rebuild the farm system and not simply spouting off about it verbally. We’ve heard for years how the Yanks were working to change, but for the first time, they’ve shifted the landscape. It comes at a time when the Yankees desperately need to re-establish how they handle the minor leagues in order to balance their ability to spend in the free agent market. The best of both worlds is the key to the future.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Yankees should replicate Royals' bullpen scheme

The New York Yankees could learn something from the Kansas City Royals -- how to lengthen the bridge from starter to closer and make it as secure as possible.

For much of this season and particularly in the postseason the Royals have marched out a three-headed beast from the sixth inning on. The trio of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland have made manager Ned Yost’s job fairly easy. The hard-throwing combination has been lights out in the playoffs, virtually untouchable at times.

Besides providing a better chance to win, the Yankees have another reason to try to replicate the strategy. It would cut down on the innings pitched of their starters. The game has just a few players who can go end to end anymore and there isn’t one on the Bombers who necessarily can do that on a start by start basis.

Much of the issue is with the starters coming off injuries or simply trying to prevent them. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova missed much of 2014 and both will try to come back from major surgery. Masahiro Tanaka is one throw away from Tommy John surgery. No one knows when his UCL will completely tear, but it is going to happen at some point. Michael Pineda missed a chunk of 2014 as well and has had his share of maladies in years’ past. Whoever holds the final spot in the rotation; Brandon McCarthy if the Yankees sign him, or one of the young arms in the organization, either would benefit from minimized innings.

So, if the Yankees want to develop the same strategy, who are the players they’d turn to?

Only one player is a certainty and that’s Dellin Betances. Betances will not be a free agent until 2020 so he’s certainly one-third of the group. The right-handed power arm posted a 1.40 ERA (1.64 FIP) with 135 strikeouts in 90 innings becoming the Yankees fireman and eighth-inning man. After struggling as a starter, the Yankees might have developed one of the dominant arms in the games.

The Yanks could re-sign David Robertson. At the least they should give him a qualifying offer ($15.3 million) and decide if he’s the right candidate. Robertson was 39 for 44 in save conversions with a 3.08 ERA (2.68 FIP) in 2014. He had a remarkable 13.4 K/9 ratio. He’s been a more than reliable reliever for the Yankees since flourishing in 2011.

The Yankees have a potential weapon fresh from the 2014 First Year Player Draft in Jacob Lindgren. The southpaw cruised through four levels of the minors in 2014 and could be ready to help the Bombers in 2015. He might not be considered for the seventh inning right away, but Lindgren (22 in March 2015) is thought to be able to hand both left-handed and right-handed batters and not be simply a LOOGY. He's a wild card for one of the slots.

On the free agent market the top name is likely going to be Andrew Miller. Miller, another lefty, has been fantastic as a reliever the past two seasons. He’s been a big part of the Baltimore Orioles' success following a trade from the Boston Red Sox, who he helped win the 2013 World Series. Miller is another lefty that can get hitters from both sides of the plate out. Miller, who turns 30 in May 2015, was downright nasty this season accumulating 103 strikeouts across 62.1 innings. He issued only 17 walks during the season and finished with a 2.02 ERA (1.51 FIP) in the regular season.

There are two others who could fill a role in anyone’s three-headed monster -- righties Pat Neshek and Luke Gregerson. Please note I’m not including names of prominent relievers who have club options assuming each will get picked up.

Neshek is currently manning the eighth inning for the St. Louis Cardinals. The side-arming hurler has been fantastic this season leading the Cardinals to closer Trevor Rosenthal. Neshek’s 1.87 ERA (2.37 FIP) kept the Cardinals in many games. Neshek, 34, is another guy who simply limits walks. He allowed just nine free passes during his 67.1 innings in 2014, while striking out 68 batters along the way.

Gregerson might not have been "lockdown" good this season, but he’s shown the ability to do so in the past and at 31 years-old he still has the ability to be a part of a trio at the end of games. Gregerson has been among the most successful relievers in the game for a number of seasons. In 2014, he compiled a 2.02 ERA (3.24 FIP). Gregerson is not as big a strikeout guy as the others, 59 in 72.1 innings, but he also has very good control (15 walks). Gregerson keeps the ball on the ground (1.32 GO/AO ratio for career) and limits the home run ball (1.7 percent career HR allowed rate). He's surely able to fill the seventh or eighth inning role.

So, there are six names to fill three slots. The first question is who will be the closer? Will the Yankees allow Robertson to walk and use Betances in the ninth? Or will they stick with what they know works, a combination of Betances and then Robertson?

If they chose the latter route, I’d put everything into grabbing Miller. It would still allow Lindgren to work his way into the bullpen hierarchy, potentially as a lefty specialist to start and help bridge the gap on days any of the other three arms needs a rest. Further, with Betances able to get four or even five outs, the game could be shortened further if needed.

If they choose the former, then they could try to grab both Miller and Neshek for what would likely be the cost of Robertson and one of the other. Here, they could still give growing time for Lindgren and plug in the rest of the holes with guys already in the system.

The need for shutdown relievers has been increasingly important over the last several seasons and tied into the success of teams. The Yankees have a sure thing to build around (Betances) and the budget to make the rest happen.

Which route will they go? How would you structure the 2015 bullpen? Let me know in the comments below.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Tuesday, October 14, 2014

New York Yankees: Easy does it Mr. Lupica

Since the New York Yankees recently extended the contract of general manager Brian Cashman, there have been a slew of articles written by those “in the know” -- namely the Bombers beat writers and others in the New York print media -- about how the Yanks will fare in the upcoming season.

Today, I’m going to delve into the work of one of the most well-known members of New York’s (and the nation's) sports media, Mike Lupica of the New York Daily News, and provide my commentary on his observations and remarks from an article published Oct. 11.

Somehow Yankees continue to perpetuate Bronx tale that they are close to winning World Series every year — they’re not


First off, good lord that’s some headline. And I struggle for pageviews.

For all those that despise the Yankees and relish in their “demise,” this is Lupica in his finest I can’t stand the Yankees rant. His dislike and the simple narrative actually makes it easier for me to counter.

Among his disillusions are that the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants don’t spend money on their teams. According to Spotrac.com the Cardinals ($128 million plus) ranked 11th in MLB and the Giants ($172 million plus) were fifth in salary cap metrics for 2014. By the way, these teams won 90 and 88 games respectively. They didn’t exactly overwhelm their competition. An underperforming Yankees squad won 84.

Indeed the Yankees spend a boatload (just under $234 million) on their payroll. But, enough with everyone pretending that other teams don’t and then end up having similar issues as the Yanks. The Los Angeles Dodgers doled out $243 million (#1), the Los Angeles Angels shelled out more than $174 million (#3) and the Detroit Tigers spent $171 million plus (#6). Each was bounced early and convincingly from the first round of the playoffs. The Tigers had a difficult time reaching the postseason.

How about some teams that had worse records than the Yankees and spent more than $150 million? The Philadelphia Phillies ($172 million plus for 73 wins) and the Boston Red Sox ($157 million for 71 wins) were fourth and seventh in payroll cap expenditures. Look, failures abound with teams that spend a lot on their payroll.

Next, Lupica rips the Yankees for their recent playoff swoon. He makes some valid points about how money is not the only way to build a franchise and that they have to stay true to rebuilding the farm system once and for all. He criticizes the signings of CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira. He insinuates that the Jacoby Ellsbury signing will be a mess after five years.

He may be right, but where he is wrong is that the Yankees aren’t always a couple of moves away from getting to the postseason. And once there, as the Kansas City Royals have demonstrated thus far, anything can happen. The Yankees arguably stayed in the race with a few midseason moves and if one of Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran or Teixeira had a season which was expected of them they could have managed five more wins.

The Yankees survived on a makeshift rotation for a better part of the season. Please don’t try to spin a tale that Shane Greene, Chase Whitley and Vidal Nuno should be expected to be better than Sabathia and Ivan Nova? Just having Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda all season could have been the difference in whether the Yanks reached the postseason or not.

The Yankees didn’t receive an injury-free and every-facet-clicking roster like the Red Sox of 2013. In fact it was the reverse as they used a record number of players in 2014 (58), topping the previous record (56) set in 2013.

Lupica then asks, who do we want to pay big money to watch next season? Like the Yankees are vacant of stars? I'd start with Tanaka. Pineda. Ellsbury. Dellin BetancesBrett Gardner. Even McCann. Would the Yankees like Robinson Cano back? Yes, but to Lupica’s point, the contract cost would have been detrimental in its final years.

Lupica continues his rant by placing the Yankees in the discussion for signing Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or James Shields. He ignores the fact that the Yankees have outwardly suggested they might stick with Brandon McCarthy and the young arms in the system while hoping Sabathia, Nova and Tanaka are injury free.

For a man who has been at the top of the New York sports media for so long, I wonder why he’s fallen into the trap of spinning the easy narrative? Maybe he spends too much time at all his radio and television gigs where they want or should I say need him to pop off without providing the other side of the argument.

Yes, the Yankees have gone about business wrong over the last several years. Yes, they have failed to reach the playoffs for two straight seasons. But finally yes, and contrary to Mr. Lupica’s perception, the Yankees are always just a couple of moves away from reaching the pinnacle of the baseball world.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Friday, October 10, 2014

How Hardy’s deal with Orioles impacts Yankees’ shortstop plans

The Baltimore Orioles might have put a kink into the New York Yankees offseason plans to fill the hole left by the retirement of Derek Jeter. Thursday afternoon, the AL East champs agreed to a three-year, $40 million contract with a fourth-year vesting option with J.J. Hardy according to multiple reports.

With Jeter gone, and not a single player ready in the minor league system, the Yankees will likely look to the free agent market. Of course they could swing a trade, but trying to determine who fits with what team is a crapshoot. I’m not privy to internal discussions so why speculate?

Looking at options that are available on MLB’s open market and have tangible evidence to compare is easier to analyze and that’s what I’ll try to do here. This means I’ll also exclude South Korean power hitter Jung-ho Kang from this discussion since no one really knows how his body of work would translate to MLB.

With Hardy gone, the Yankees have a handful of players they could look at; Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew, Jed Lowrie and Hanley Ramirez.

First, let’s look at each player’s 2014 season by the numbers.



I left Hardy’s numbers there so that we can try to gauge the potential cost of the players with his contract being the “new” barometer.

At first glance, it’s simple to see that Ramirez is the premier hitter of the bunch. It’s also safe to say that his days at playing shortstop might be numbered. However, beside Hardy and Drew, above average defense is unlikely from the others going forward.

It’s important to note that besides Drew, each of the players, Hardy included, suffered from injuries during the season. Drew's lack of playing time was due to signing late and then poor performance.

Because of this we should glance at what each player did in 2013.



Except for Cabrera, it seems like it would have been better for their stock if all of these players were coming off their 2013 season versus 2014. Drew did have a chance to cash in but was slapped with a qualifying offer which shrunk his market. He gambled on holding out and it haunted him all season.

Speaking of qualifying offers, it is likely that only Ramirez will be offered one and since this is his last chance at a significant multiyear deal, expect him to decline the $15.3 million.

Back to the numbers. In my view, Hardy would have been the best all-around option for the Bombers. He’s arguably the best fielder of the bunch ahead of Drew, and doesn’t look like he’s losing ground in that area plus he can swing a good stick for a shortstop. Further his length of contract and price is a value in my opinion.

If the Yankees want to go full throttle simply to boost a sagging lineup Ramirez is their man. He’s compiled some lofty offensive numbers over the years, but Ramirez comes with multiple issues. First, he’s awful in the field, second he’s not getting younger (though by Yankees’ terms he’s a baby), he’s played in just 214 games over the last two seasons, he's going to want a large deal and finally he’ll have that qualifying offer attached.

All that said the team that signs Ramirez could easily see him as their third baseman. With Alex Rodriguez entrenched in the spot, and the true need being to fill the role at short first, the Yankees might not be willing to spend on Ramirez and one of the others mentioned here. They certainly will not fall back on Brendan Ryan who is already signed for 2015.

The others have their own issues. Lowrie and Cabrera each compiled uneven 2013 and 2014 seasons, but in the reverse as to which was better. Drew was simply atrocious in 2014, but was very good in 2013. It can be argued that missing spring training after holding out on signing with a team because of his 2014 qualifying offer put a severe strain on Drew's performance this past season.

Lowrie and Cabrera can expect a two or three-year deal and it would likely be in the range of Hardy’s with an average annual salary in the $11-13 million range.

I believe that only Drew will be able to be had on a one-year deal and compared to the others on the cheap. He’ll likely be willing to do as such, hoping to replicate a full season with 2013 numbers in and parlay that into a better deal for 2016. Figure something in the $6-8 million range for Scott Boras’ client.

So what should the Yankees do?

Personally, I can’t see the Yankees taking on Ramirez unless they can sign Drew as well. It would require moving Ramirez to third and making A-Rod the full-time designated hitter. That's all well and good but it poses a problem with getting rest for Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran who will undoubtedly need their half-days going forward. Signing Ramirez will also require a lengthy deal. I suspect he’ll be gunning for a five-year deal and easily $16 million per season. Will the Yankees want to take that on?

I also keep thinking about the Yankees losing yet another draft pick. They lost three last season and ended up not making a selection until the 55th pick in the first-year player draft. As it stands now, the Yankees will have the 19th pick in the 2015 draft. This is something that cannot be taken lightly for a team which has generally picked toward the end of the first round, if at all among the first 30 picks over the last several seasons.

My money would be on them trying to keep Drew for one year and hope that his issues in 2014 were about missing spring training and then not being played on a regular basis. Hoping for something closer to his 2013 numbers based on his career averages prior to 2014 is not exactly poor judgment considering the circumstances. I personally don't think Drew is nearly as horrible as he looked this past season.

Inking Drew would allow for other moves within the confines of the Yankees anticipated payroll. They could utilize the cash not used on Ramirez to upgrade the rotation, pay David Robertson to stick around and/or make a run at a solid third baseman like Chase Headley.

For fans signing Drew might not go over well and assuming it is Brian Cashman making the deal, those same fans will clamor even harder for the general manager's removal. But, the Yankees taking a one-year risk on Drew versus a five-year one on Ramirez that will inevitably crumble makes the most sense to me.

Statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.

New York Yankees logo courtesy of SportsLogos.net.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.



Thursday, October 9, 2014

Why the Yankees don’t need a captain

Once New York Yankees icon Derek Jeter retired, there was a general sense of who might take on the role of captain and it's been discussed on the beat? Is it a player on the roster already? Or is it someone who will come up through the system? One thing is for sure, there is no need to jump from Jeter immediately to another named captain.

This isn’t to say the job Jeter did was not helpful. Rather, he would be the first to say the role was somewhat of a figurehead thing; in that there were others on the team who stepped up as active leaders on and off the field during his time as captain.

There are enough veterans on this team that they should be able to keep a steady clubhouse. From CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Brett Gardner, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran there is a host of players with plenty of experience on the roster.

Notice, I strayed from Alex Rodriguez. I know some young players will still flock to him, but he’s not exactly the guy I’d emulate and certainly will not be in the conversation between Yankees’ brass when/if the time comes to name a new captain.

For 2015, I would expect McCann and maybe Gardner to assume the perceived role of clubhouse leader. But, I suspect Sabathia will have the ear of the pitching staff, along with David Robertson if he returns, and some guys of Latin American descent will gravitate toward Beltran.

This is a good thing. I do not think a team needs to hand out the title. There are many teams that don’t bother and even when Jeter was captain, there were others who were vocal enough on the field and in the clubhouse to be considered leaders as well.

Of the guys mentioned, they each have a different personality which melds well with the others. Gardner and McCann are emotional. Sabathia and Teixeira portray a calming influence. Beltran is the elder statesman who’s experienced success at each of his stops.

Since the Yankees are going to try to infuse some youth into the roster next season, it will be imperative that the rookies have teammates to look up and who want to lead. I don’t think that will be a problem with this club. In fact, I think the distribution of leadership will be welcomed instead of everyone deferring to one man.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My MLB 2014 regular season awards revealed

As a member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, I have the honor of being a part of the groups’ end of regular season award balloting.

The process runs similarly to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America where 10 players are balloted for the Stan Musial Award (league MVP), five for the Walter Johnson Award (league Cy Young), three for the Willie Mays Award (league Rookie of the Year) and three for the Connie Mack Award (league Manager of the Year). The BBA also votes for three players for the Goose Gossage Award (league Reliever of the Year). The BBA requires a written post to validate the ballot so here it goes.

I’ll provide a short snippet about the winner after the list. Please note that these ballots were also cast for the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America of which I am also a member.

American League Most Valuable Player (Stan Musial Award)

  1. Mike Trout
  2. Jose Abreu
  3. Michael Brantley
  4. Alex Gordon
  5. Jose Bautista
  6. Josh Donaldson
  7. Jose Altuve
  8. Victor Martinez
  9. Miguel Cabrera
  10. Corey Kluber
Great, he gets my vote again. Will he get the BBWAA vote? I cannot see him being beat by anyone this season. He’s arguably the best player in the game and in 2014 he was by far the best player in the American League in my opinion.

American League Cy Young Award (Walter Johnson Award)

  1. Corey Kluber
  2. Felix Hernandez
  3. Jon Lester
  4. Chris Sale
  5. Max Scherzer
I could have gone with Hernandez here and felt just as comfortable, but Kluber’s finish to the season really made an impression on me. Tough hitters ballpark for half his games and he was every bit as effective as Hernandez.

American League Rookie of the Year (Willie Mays Award)

  1. Jose Abreu
  2. Masahiro Tanaka
  3. Kevin Kiermaier

In July, this was Tanaka’s gig to lose. I would have had him in the Cy Young discussion as well. But, Abreu stayed mostly healthy and swung a big stick for much of the season.

American League Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award)

  1. Mike Scioscia
  2. Buck Showalter
  3. Lloyd McClendon
This was another category which I could have flopped number one and two. I gave the edge to Scioscia for having to navigate the tougher division.

American League Reliever of the Year (Goose Gossage Award)

  1. Dellin Betances
  2. Wade Davis
  3. Jake McGee
The first two names were not closers for their teams but were undeniably the most dominant relievers in the American League. Betances was just a bit more dazzling in my view, edging out Davis.

National League Most Valuable Player (Stan Musial Award)

  1. Andrew McCutchen
  2. Clayton Kershaw
  3. Giancarlo Stanton
  4. Anthony Rendon
  5. Jonathan Lucroy
  6. Carlos Gomez
  7. Buster Posey
  8. Yasiel Puig
  9. Freddie Freeman
  10. Josh Harrison
Back to back wins for McCutchen? It’s possible. I felt his everyday efforts pushed his team to the postseason. But, I’m not going to argue with anyone who felt that Kershaw was the MVP.

National League Cy Young Award (Walter Johnson Award)

  1. Clayton Kershaw
  2. Adam Wainwright
  3. Jordan Zimmermann
  4. Madison Bumgarner
  5. Stephen Strasburg
Wainwright was excellent, but Kershaw was other-worldly. He was a virtual lock for a win and allowing less than two runs in his outing was practically assured.

National League Rookie of the Year (Willie Mays Award)

  1. Jacob deGrom
  2. Billy Hamilton
  3. Ken Giles
deGrom had a brilliant second half and stole the award which many had earmarked for Hamilton. Hamilton can run, but he can’t get on base, so he’s a one-tool guy at this point. And unfortunately it’s a tool which goes unused too often.

National League Manager of the Year (Connie Mack Award)

  1. Matt Williams
  2. Clint Hurdle
  3. Mike Matheny
Williams got the Washington Nationals to put it all together running away with the NL East crown. Hurdle got a team arguably with slightly less pitching talent than 2013 back to the postseason and had they won the division, he would have grabbed my first place vote.

National League Reliever of the Year (Goose Gossage Award)

  1. Aroldis Chapman
  2. Craig Kimbrel
  3. Kenley Jansen
Chapman would scare the daylights out of me in the batter’s box. I gather he unnerves plenty of professional hitters as well. With 100+ mph heat on a constant basis and results to boot, he’s the most feared reliever in the NL ahead of a remarkably consistent Kimbrel.

So there you have it, all of my votes with a little explanation or clarification. Agree, or did I miss the boat? Let me know in the comments below.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

New York Yankees: Should Mark Teixeira bulk up or get back to basics?

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira should be commended for his work with Harlem RBI, a great program for kids in the Bronx. But, he should be called out for his comments that next year he’ll be stronger so he can be the player he once was.

In an interview during a golf event for Harlem RBI, of which Teixeira is a major benefactor and sits on the Board of Directors, Teixeira gave us this tidbit, courtesy of MLB.com.

"Coming off the surgery last year, I didn't feel like I was as strong as I needed to be. This offseason is going to be really working hard in the weight room and getting stronger and hoping to have a healthy and productive 2015."

Does he have a new offseason strength training regimen lined up?

"It's not that much different," Teixeira replied. "It's just being more focused on strength and making sure that power gets back. Because being able to play 150-plus games and being able to hit home runs, that's what I've done my whole career, so I want to get back to that."

Look Teixeira has been in a downward spiral since 2011. Here’s a stat line from his seasons in pinstripes.

Year Age Tm G PA AB H 2B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2009 ★ 29 NYY 156 707 609 178 43 39 122 81 114 .292 .383 .565 .948 141
2010 30 NYY 158 712 601 154 36 33 108 93 122 .256 .365 .481 .846 124
2011 31 NYY 156 684 589 146 26 39 111 76 110 .248 .341 .494 .835 121
2012 32 NYY 123 524 451 113 27 24 84 54 83 .251 .332 .475 .807 115
2013 33 NYY 15 63 53 8 1 3 12 8 19 .151 .270 .340 .609 68
2014 34 NYY 123 508 440 95 14 22 62 58 109 .216 .313 .398 .711 101
162 Game Avg. 162 706 610 167 37 36 116 80 124 .273 .364 .516 .881 128
NYY (6 yrs) 731 3198 2743 694 147 160 499 370 557 .253 .348 .485 .834 121
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 10/7/2014.

After watching Teixeira for several seasons, I’m not all that certain that the issue here is simply power, but rather the approach and the stroke. Simply put, Teixeira has lost focus on how to hit effectively, not necessarily for power.

It’s not a stretch to say that coming back from a wrist surgery would certainly sap some of his power, but in reality his 22 home runs in 508 plate appearances equate to about 30 in 680 PA so he didn’t lose too much power. In fact, he had similar numbers in 2012.

The bigger issue is Teixeira staying on the field long enough to accumulate 600 PA let alone 680. Instead of getting stronger and concerning himself with home runs, he needs to come to spring training limber with similar muscle mass. He’ll be more flexible and that should help him withstand the rigors of the baseball season.

Further, Teixeira should spend more time reviewing video tape and honing his swing in an effort adjust to the massive shifts against him. He’s strong enough to drive balls to the opposite field and force teams to then readjust their defensive scheme when he’s at the plate. That will in turn provide more opportunities for success when he does pull the ball.

If he cannot or will not work on how he hits, then his gaining 15 pounds of muscle mass simply produces harder hit ground balls to second base (or to the shortstop or third baseman on the second base side) or strikeout swinging at balls outside the zone. For Teixeira the power will be there, but the need control the strike zone and find holes in the defense is more important for his success at this stage in his career.

It should be back to the basics for Teixeira, not time to bulk up at the gym.

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison via Flickr.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer and sports media strategist. His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports, the FanSided network, Sportsideo and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In.