Monday, December 11, 2017

Sporting News: Derek Jeter's short time as Marlin's exec has eroded his baseball reputation

Across 20 seasons as a player on baseball’s largest stage, Derek Jeter’s performance on the field and how he handled himself off it appeared innately effortless. But as a newly minted part-owner/executive/CEO with the Marlins, Jeter has come across as someone lacking an intrinsic business acumen.

Jeter has fired long-time popular staffers from all levels and departments within the Marlins organization — including a scout suffering from cancer — and is set to pare down payroll with the league’s reigning MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, the lead domino.

The moves have, at least temporarily, shaken his place atop the baseball pedestal and tarnished a public reputation that was previously near-flawless.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sporting News: Players whose contracts will likely burden their new teams

MLB free-agent contracts tend to reflect past performance rather than future expectations. Teams must battle the alluring shine created by a player’s production history as they set their sights to improve their clubs via the high-priced, long-term free agent market.

Despite evolving models that balance the longevity of a player’s contract with a salary worthy of the anticipated production value, teams often fail to find an equilibrium. We will cover three players — a starting pitcher, a position player and a reliever — who may sign eight- or nine-figure contracts that will become a burden for their new clubs.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Saturday, October 7, 2017

SNY: October 2017 features

Below are links to my features for SNY from October 2017.

In one-game playoff, how do Yankees stack up against Twins?

How will Yankees ALDS roster shake out?

Yankees forced to rely on shaky Dellin Betances

ALDS preview: Yankees will be underdogs against Indians

Yankees' offense faces tough task against Kluber

Aaron Judge returns home where the rookie has flourished

Greg Bird's perseverance paying dividends for Yankees

Yankees need to turn to Matt Holliday at DH

Yankees will look to top of lineup for Game 5 catalyst

July trade pieces have been critical in Yankees' playoff run

ALCS preview: Can Yankees get to Houston's shaky bullpen?

Gleaning positives from Yankees' ALCS Game 1 loss

Mental mistake costing Yankees in ALCS

Betances' struggles cause strain in Yankees' bullpen

Pitching has been key to Yankees' ALCS success

Can Yankees' offense finish Astros on the road?

Severino once again out to prove doubters wrong

Yankees hope pitching holds up better than Astros in Game 7

After digging out of hold, Yankees fell off the cliff in ALCS

Yankees new core should benefit from early postseason exposure

On the Yankees future of Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman

10 potential candidates to replace Joe Girardi as Yankees manager

Yankees' offense returned to Bronx Bomber status in 2017

Is a Yankees reunion in the cards for Kevin Long?

Yankees rotation produces surprising results in 2017

Yankees relievers deliver expected results despite rough patches

Friday, October 6, 2017

Yankees set to lean on CC Sabathia in ALDS Game 2

Photo credit: Keith Allison
The Yankees are building a youthful core, but if they’re going to stick with the Indians in the American League Division Series, they will need a sterling Game 2 performance from the roster’s elder statesman, CC Sabathia.

The Yankees offense was stifled by Indians’ pitching in Game 1, something that might be an issue in Game 2 with Cleveland’s ace and Cy Young favorite, Corey Kluber, on the mound. It will be up to Sabathia to stick with Kluber. If the 2017 regular season is any indication of what’s to come, the 37-year-old left-hander is the pitcher the Yankees want on the mound.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi believes Sabathia is the right pitcher under difficult circumstances.

“This has been a guy that we’ve relied on heavily after losses this year,” Girardi told the media after the Game 1 loss. "He's been in a ton of these games, and you know that there's no situation that is too big for CC.”

In 10 starts after a Yankees’ loss in 2017, Sabathia is 9-0 with a 1.71 ERA. That’s the definition of a stopper, something the Yankees sorely need Friday afternoon. Sabathia on the hill goes beyond the success he’s had this season after a Yankees’ defeat.

Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA in the regular season) has carried teams to the postseason and through it in the past. Sabathia has appeared in 19 postseason games (18 starts), going 9-5 with a 4.53 ERA. The ERA might not bring much confidence, but there are several postseason outings in which Sabathia has dominated his opponents, including five starts in the 2009 postseason (36 1/3 IP, 1.98 ERA) and two starts in the 2012 ALDS (17 2/3 IP, 1.52 ERA).

Arguably the biggest factor for Sabathia in Game 2 is that vast postseason history and translating it to a singular game in front of him. As we saw 23-year-old Luis Severino struggle in his first career postseason start in the AL Wild Card Game, nerves can take a toll on an inexperienced pitcher.

Sabathia’s experience level — been there, done that — will allow him to step onto the Progressive Field mound with plenty to reference and likely a certain calm that can only come with knowledge of what lay ahead. Sabathia should be able to drown out the hometown noise, and concentrate on the task at hand, putting up zeroes to allow the Yankees offense time to manufacture runs off Kluber.

The Yankees will not be eliminated with a loss Friday, but it will be extremely difficult to come back from 0-2 down deficit against a team that won 102 games in the regular season. In order to “steal” a win, the Yankees youth will lean on Sabathia, their grizzled veteran, to carry them back home evened up in the series.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Sporting News: Playoff-bound Twins leaned on team-first approach after disappointing trade deadline

The Minnesota Twins, yes the same team that lost 103 games in 2016, have secured a spot in the 2017 postseason.

The Twins are in this position despite a divergence of thought between the front office and the clubhouse at the trade deadline. The organizational hierarchy performed a major pivot by turning its attention to the future after an initial decision to invest in 2017. However, that didn’t prevent the group of players from coming together behind their manager’s team-first approach to push for the present.

“I didn’t get long-winded about [the trade deadline deals],” Twins manager Paul Molitor told Sporting News. “We did have a little talk, but when things like this happen you’ve got to take care of your own business and look at your own situation.”

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Sporting News: Carlos Correa's meteoric rise is hardly a surprise

At just 22 years old, Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is at the top of his game and has quickly become one of baseball’s brightest stars.

Before Correa went down with a torn ligament in his left thumb on July 17, he was cruising toward the finest statistical season of his young career. Not only was Correa putting up career numbers, he sat near the top of the American League and MLB leaderboards in many offensive categories.

Correa, who ranks near the top on Sporting News' 2017 list of MLB's top young players, was dismantling pitching this season, batting .320 with a .400 on-base percentage, .566 slugging percentage, 20 home runs and 66 RBIs in just 375 plate appearances. Correa’s 157 wRC+ was good for seventh in the majors (fourth in the American League) among players with at least 300 plate appearances at the time of his injury.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Friday, September 15, 2017

Sporting News: Opt-out clauses in baseball are no longer reserved for game's elite

It once took plenty of hubris to request an opt-out clause in an MLB contract.

In 2001, Alex Rodriguez, then one of the best hitters in the game, began a 10-year, $252 million contract with the Rangers which stipulated he could walk away from the deal 70 percent of the way through its term. It was a monstrous salary guarantee coupled with a contingency to pursue even more, while seemingly leaving the signing club high and dry.

But A-Rod was a superstar, his reputation having enough pull to make an opt-out possible. Times have changed.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Sporting News: MLB leadoff hitters have evolved into reliable power source

Leadoff hitters have been the spark plugs for baseball teams since the game began, but these days there isn’t a solitary mold for hitters who sit atop the batting order.

Some of today’s table-setters ignite their club’s offense in a different way, hitting for more power and running less than ever before. In speaking with a few of the more prolific leadoff hitters in terms of slugging from the No. 1 hole this season, Sporting News found there is little difference in how they approach the role.

While the players do not believe they make wholesale changes to their game when leading off, there is clear evidence that the performance of leadoff hitters has been completely transformed in the past few seasons.

Teams are more willing than ever to sacrifice speed for power at the top of the order, and lineups across the game reflect the shift. Here's a look at how it's playing out.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sporting News: Five ways the All-Star Game can inspire more fun in baseball

Bryce Harper once uttered a simple phrase: "Make baseball fun again."

That simple phrase — uttered by one of the game’s most popular and polarizing players — was on full display in Tuesday’s All-Star Game.

We witnessed wonderfully amusing impulse moments like Nelson Cruz’s photo op with umpiring legend "Country" Joe West and awkward ones such as Alex Rodriguez traipsing through the infield during warmups, asking questions of the fielders.

These particular circumstances might not fly in a major league game that counts, however there were some exceptionally fun aspects to the All-Star festivities that should inspire how MLB works to create an improved fan experience.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sporting News: MLB's worst bangs for the buck

We recently set out to determine the best contract values in MLB, turning up some very interesting players who are outperforming their respective deals.

Of course, organizations don’t always get contracts right. In fact, sometimes the teams get them completely wrong.

Using FanGraphs' WAR values (fWAR) and the average annual value (AAV) of contracts for each player, we’ve zeroed in on which players have provided the worst bang for the buck at each position, designated hitter, starting pitcher and reliever through games played July 5.

Our investigation again turned up some surprises.

One team has four — FOUR! — players making the list, while two other clubs have two players soaking them dry. There are six former All-Stars among the group. One of those players was an All-Star last season AND owns the worst fWAR measure in the game in 2017. All but one of the 11 players produced positive fWAR values in 2016. Finally, there is one no-doubt Hall of Famer creating a financial mess.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Friday, June 23, 2017

Sporting News: Andrelton Simmons finds motivation in "glove-first" label

Andrelton Simmons provides defense on a level that makes his offensive contributions secondary, maybe even a bonus. But for much of Simmons' big-league career, the imbalance between his defense and offense was so lopsided that he was collared with a dreaded baseball tag: glove-first.

Still, Simmons’ glove was so exceptional that the Braves plugged him in every day for more than three seasons after his debut in 2012. The Angels were then interested enough to trade for him despite weak runs created plus (wRC+) marks of 71 and 81 in 2014 and 2015, respectively.

Read more at Sporting News >>>

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Sporting News: MLB's best bangs for the buck

MLB organizations strive to maintain balance between players of all salary levels when constructing rosters. Even for clubs swimming in cash, the goal is to find the best value based on the disparity of expected performance worth and competitive balance commitments for 25 players.

Using FanGraphs’ WAR values (fWAR) and the average annual value (AAV) of contracts for each player, we’ve zeroed in on which players have provided the best bang for the buck at each position, plus at designated hitter, starting pitcher and reliever through games played June 11.

Our investigation turned up five players on first-place clubs, a rookie delivering the best value, four first-round picks, eight players in or beyond their arbitration seasons, an average age of 24.9 and a total value to clubs that stretched beyond $231.6 million.

Monday, May 22, 2017

SNY: May 2017 Features

Below are links to my features from for May 2017.

SNY: April 2017 Features

Below are links to my features for from April 2017.

Yankees young foundation needs time to cement before building structure, comparing to past

Yankees minor league report: April 7

Who will step up for Yankees in Sanchez's absence?

Yankees' Judge is converting raw power into visible development

Yankees minor league report: April 14

Yankees rotation quiets doubters during win streak

Yankees' Bird should not be part of strict platoon

Yankees minor league report: April 21

Will Yankees be forced to take less in Gardner deal?

Is Yankees' Ellsbury hitting in the right spot in batting order?

Yankees minor league report: April 28

Thursday, February 23, 2017

SNY: Winning or losing, the Yankees must stay the course in 2017

Rebuild. Transition. Whatever we call it, the Yankees are operating the organization differently than they have in recent memory. What remains to be seen is whether the Yankees will stay the course regardless of whether they are winning or losing. I suggest it is imperative they do.

Read more at >>>

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

SNY: Yankees 2017 spring training primer

While a good number of players have already reported to Tampa, Tuesday marks the official beginning of spring training for the New York Yankees. As any other club, the Yankees have several areas of uncertainty which they hope will be resolved by April.

Read more at >>>

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

SNY: Series -- 2017 expectations for key Yankees

Updated: February 22, 2017

This is the complete series covering the 2017 expectations for key Yankees compiled by position. Links to each feature commentary are below.

Position players

Catcher - Gary Sanchez

First Base -- Greg Bird and Tyler Austin competition

Second Base -- Starlin Castro

Shortstop -- Didi Gregorius

Third Base -- Chase Headley

Designated Hitter -- Matt Holliday

Left Field -- Brett Gardner

Center Field -- Jacoby Ellsbury

Right Field -- Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, et al competition


Masahiro Tanaka

CC Sabathia

Michael Pineda


Aroldis Chapman

Dellin Betances


Joe Girardi

SNY: Links to Yankees' features from December 2016

Links to my feature commentaries for from December 2016.

Yankees contract decisions with arbitration eligible players loom

Yankees head to Winter Meetings with voids to fill

The Matt Holliday signing fits the Yankees mold

Chapman makes Yankees stronger but risks cannot be ignored

Brett Gardner is key to the remainder of Yankees' offseason

Yankees have intriguing in-house options for 2017 rotation

Holland, Ziegler among reliever options for Yankees

Should Yankees begin extension talks with Masahiro Tanaka?

Top moments from 2016 could define Yankees' 2017 season