Thursday, July 31, 2014

Athletics add Lester, Gomes and Fuld in flurry of moves

Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane is at it again, pushing the A’s all-in with two deadline day deals in a matter of an hour.

Less than four weeks after landing Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Chicago Cubs, Beane sent outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes.

Lester, a life-long Red Sox player who owns two World Series rings has a very good chance to win for the second year in a row as the deal makes the Athletics the odds-on favorite to reach the World Series representing the American League.

The Red Sox and Lester could not come to an agreement on a contract extension so Boston began shopping the all-star left-hander. Lester is having a career year with a 10-7 record, 2.52 ERA (2.62 FIP) and a 1.12 WHIP.

Cespedes, signed back in 2012 as a free agent from Cuba, is slashing .256/.303/.464 with 17 HR and 67 RBI. Cespedes is a bonafide power hitter who will likely feast on the Green Monster in Fenway.

About one hour after the Lester/Cespedes deal was announced, the A’s shipped Tommy Milone to the Minnesota Twins for outfielder Sam Fuld, who figures to be placed in a platoon with Gomes (.234/.329/.354 in 246 PA). Fuld (.262/.356/.366 in 228 PA) was designated for assignment by the A’s in April, so this is a quality move for the Twins. Milone is a controllable pitcher with some upside (3.84 career ERA, 4.13 FIP in 468.2 MLB innings).

As for future implications of the deals, the A’s are doing everything in their power to win now adding two top notch starters and a reliable mid-tier hurler in the matter of a month.

The Red Sox feel as though they have strengthened a very weak outfield, though I thought they could have gotten some young prospects for Lester. It’s entirely possible that the Red Sox re-sign Lester this offseason, which would make the trade a home run.

And for the Twins, turning a player they got for nothing into a potential arm in their rotation is quite a feat.

As of now, the A’s are winning trade deadline day by a landslide, but there is plenty of time left on the clock. It will be interesting to see what else happens before the 4 p.m. deadline.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Blame the Yankees’ offense, not Betances and Robertson

For the first time this season, New York Yankees' relievers Dellin Betances and David Robertson allowed runs to score in the same game. In a game the Yankees tied up three times, their ultra-reliable tandem let the Toronto Blue Jays re-take the lead.

To blame Betances and Robertson for the 5-4 loss is short-sighted. In fact, without Betances putting out fires and Robertson converting 26 of 28 save chances, the Yankees would be reeling at the bottom of the American League East.

The Yankees' offense once again failed to score more than four runs in a game. Sunday’s loss marked the 12th time in their last 14 games in which they were held to four or fewer runs. They have scored 10 or more runs TWICE this season; the last time coming Apr. 24 when they tallied 14 against the Red Sox.

As good as their starting pitching and the relief crew have been the Yankees’ offense ultimately and continuously fails to provide the arms with any room for error. Sure, they came back a few times Sunday, but never fully exploded and took over the lead. This was against J.A. Happ, Brett Cecil and rookie Aaron Sanchez folks; not exactly top-tier pitching.

So, while it is easy to look at Sunday’s disappointing loss and blame it on the most consistently productive members of the team, it’s really the dismal offense which should take the brunt of the culpability.

Because of this, the Yankee are rumored to be in the mix for another bat – Josh Willingham, Alex Rios and Marlon Byrd all mentioned as players the brass has on their lists. The three seem realistic considering what the Yankees have to offer in return.

Until the current crew and anyone else they bring in perform at the level of expectations, it will be difficult for Betances and Robertson to work with anything but a fire pit and tightrope.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.

Friday, July 18, 2014

An optimistic view for the New York Yankees’ second half

The final 68 games on the New York Yankees schedule will get underway this evening in the Bronx against the Cincinnati Reds. After dragging us along for the first 94 games, can the Yanks keep us interested the rest of the way?

There has been little to be cheerful about when it comes to the 2014 Yankees. The rotation is in shambles. The offense as a whole has failed to produce and show any semblance of consistency. The back end of the bullpen, a bright spot overall, has been worked hard because the middle relief options have been underwhelming.

So, why be optimistic?

There have been performances which have kept fans connected to this .500 club. Masahiro Tanaka was even better than advertised, or at least projected, until he befell the fate of three-fifths the rotation before him. He could be back in about five weeks now, but there is something that tells me that’s a far-fetched notion.

David Robertson has been just fine following up Mariano Rivera’s stellar career with the Yankees. There have been fewer Houdini moments than I expected and Robertson’s K/9 rate (16.3) is exceptional.

Robertson’s setup man Dellin Betances has been lights out. He’s second on the team in strikeouts with 84, in just 55.1 innings.

Derek Jeter, while not putting up 2012 numbers has more or less held his own. Surely it’s been easier to watch him walk away performing at a modest level, than it would if he was hitting below the Mendoza line. That was a distinct possibility considering his age and coming off a season in which he played just 17 games.

Mark Teixeira has been productive despite not being 100 percent healthy. He’s been the lone source of consistent power this season. After wrist surgery and missing most of 2013, this was a major concern.

Finally, Brett Gardner’s extension was the best business decision (outside Tanaka) where it concerns the Yankees and their checkbook. His five-year, $55 million deal seems like a complete bargain when compared to what they committed to Carlos Beltran ($45 million), Brian McCann ($85 million) and Jacoby Ellsbury ($153 million). Ellsbury’s signing can be argued to be a decent deal as of now, except that the length of the contract likely catches up to the Yankees before it concludes.

The Yankees start the second half with a 47-47 record, five games back of the AL East leading Baltimore Orioles, and 3.5 games behind the second wild card spot held by Robinson Cano’s Seattle Mariners. They should actually consider themselves fortunate to be in the spot they are, as their Pythagorean record comes in at 43-51.

Because this is the Yankees, most everyone feels that they will try to make a couple of moves; certainly another arm for the rotation (they just swapped Vidal Nuno for Brandon McCarthy) and potentially add a bat. That coupled with the fact that there are some players keeping them afloat, provides some fans with hope.

The consensus among remaining fans is that the season is already lost. Without their best hurlers, and an anemic offense the chances of the Yankees reaching the playoffs is negligible in their view. Honestly, who could argue that sentiment? The Yankees have been hard to watch at times; frustrating to say the least.

Still, there are others, myself included, who feel that something has to give. Allow me to put on my devil’s advocate hat on before I continue.

Maybe the Yankees get Michael Pineda back and he’s strong for part of August and September? Perhaps they catch a break with Tanaka’s injury and he is available in September? We’ll know Friday if CC Sabathia will pitch again this season. What if he’s available down the stretch too? It's possible Shane Greene is the answer and David Phelps begins to flourish?

If Yankees general manager Brian Cashman can swing a move for at least a second-tier starter, and one or two of the aforementioned scenarios comes to fruition wouldn’t this be a better team? On paper, I think you'd have to concur.

But the offense HAS to do its part and perform as expected when the season began. Beltran, McCann, whoever they play consistently at second and third base must step it up. The offense becomes even more important to the equation if the rotation is not upgraded and/or remains broken.

If each of these what-ifs occurred would it get dissenting fans to buy in? I assume yes. But the reality is that maybe none of it happens this season. It is entirely possible that the New York Yankees could miss the playoffs for the second straight season. Another $200 million-plus goes down the drain.

The Yankees can’t, as their current business model is built, allow this to happen. While it will be a story to watch Jeter finish his career, wouldn’t it be better if his last game was in October and not in Fenway Park in September? I’m sure the Yanks think so and that’s why Cashman will be on the phone trying to plug in holes. The win now mindset cannot be pushed to the side -- they stand just three games back on the loss-side for the final wild card spot. That’s a series’ worth of games.

For those who think that if they get to the playoffs it will be short-lived, I hear you. But, truth be told, if the Yankees reach the postseason after enduring what they have since April 1, then shouldn’t we embrace them? Who cares if it is because the rest of the league is also mediocre? Doesn’t that in turn amplify their chances of advancing?

The Yankees have just about 42 percent of the season left to play. It’s plenty of time to improve and make changes. It is more than enough time to become optimistic. I am.

What do you think? Agree? Am I crazy to even bring up reaching the postseason? Let me know in the comments.

Post updated: Friday, July 18, 2014, 5:25 pm -- CC Sabathia will undergo season-ending surgery to clean out his right knee.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Jeter, Trout, Wainwright and social media dominate MLB All-Star Game moments

Going into the 2014 mid-summer classic at Minnesota's Target Field, there was little doubt that all eyes would be on New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter as he played in his last All-Star Game. Further, there was little uncertainty that Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout might play a role in the outcome. What was not expected was social media frenzy over comments made by St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, and how one mistake in a tweet by a reputable news network would illicit viral chatter.

Jeter received a fabulous ovation during introductions and FOX did an admirable job in pumping up The Captain’s All-Star farewell (though having Harold Reynolds conducting the interview immediately lessened the quality of the sit-down in my view).

Jeter made his presence known in the top of the first inning by making a fantastic diving play on a hard hit grounder off the bat of Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder and reigning National League MVP Andrew McCutchen. Cutch was too quick for Jeter, though the 40-year-old icon showed quick reflexes and a solid throw to first.

When Jeter stepped to the plate leading off the bottom of the first, Wainwright showed plenty of class by placing his glove with the ball inside on the mound and stepping back behind it. As Jeter wanted to desperately get into the batter’s box, Wainwright wouldn’t allow it and the second rousing ovation for Jeter lasted just over one minute.

Wainwright, who leads the NL with a 1.83 ERA and 12 wins, is considered a fierce competitor. So when he stepped on the rubber and delivered a first-pitch fastball, down and away to Jeter, everyone felt he was zoned in. As a moron in the background near a FOX microphone chanted, “overrated, overrated,” in reference to Jeter, Wainwright’s next pitch, a 91-mph cutter, may have gotten too much of the plate. Jeter displayed his patented inside-out swing, slicing a line drive toward the right field corner. Jeter trotted safely into second base with a double.

Up stepped Trout who roped a 3-2 delivery over the head of Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and legged out a triple, scoring Jeter. Wainwright struck out Seattle Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano, but then allowed a home run to Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Doesn’t it seem that Trout and Cabrera will be trying to one-up each other for several years?

So Wainwright, a debated choice to start the game only because Dodgers hurler Clayton Kershaw has been virtually unhittable in his last several starts, was tagged for three runs before retiring the side. Not a particularly good beginning for his night, and it only got worse.

Wainwright, in what will go down as one of the worst PR moments in All-Star Game history, spoke with reporters and let them know he the pitch Jeter hit was a “pipe shot.” He backtracked in the middle of the game during a televised interview in the dugout with Erin Andrews, but the damage was done.

Social media users took to their phones and tablets and lambasted Wainwright for the remarks which certainly detracted from the moment Jeter had. Wainwright claimed that was last thing he wanted to do and should have used different words in describing that he wanted to get a good pitch over the plate to Jeter, something he’d hit to the right side for an out and not make it simple for him to get a hit.

That makes more sense with the players hitting directly behind Jeter. There is no value to Wainwright to put a runner on base in a game that carries significance with the winner nailing down home field advantage in the World Series; something the Cardinals would certainly love. I’ll chalk it up to a poor use of words and move on from it. I can’t believe that Wainwright’s comments were meant to disparage Jeter in any way.

Jeter blooped a third-inning single over Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley in his second at-bat, and was eventually stranded at second base. Jeter got into position in the top of the fourth inning, but American League manager John Farrell sent out Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez to replace Jeter. As the Yankees captain walked off the field the fans showed their appreciation for Jeter one last time as he tipped his cap to the players on the field, in the NL dugout and the crowd.

Jeter approached the AL dugout and shook hands and hugged each player and coach going from one end to the other. Once he reached the end of the line the crowd’s cheering intensity had increased again prompting Jeter for a curtain call. He obliged and all I can think of is how difficult it is going to be to watch Jeter do the same in his last at-bat at Yankee Stadium (hopefully in a World Series game; be quiet, I can dream).

By now, we had already gotten word of Wainwright’s foot-in-mouth comments. But, not to be outdone, there was one more mistake made that fueled a viral frenzy on Twitter when the CBS News Twitter account published a tweet (see left) out to their millions of followers.

Plenty of jokes and commentary filled the social media site and eventually Michael Jeter was trending.

As the game moved along, the National League tied the score at three in the top of the fourth. But in the bottom half of the fifth inning, NL manager Mike Matheny replaced Dodgers’ pitcher Zack Greinke with one of his own relievers, Minnesota native Pat Neshek. Unfortunately, another of Matheny’s choices proved not to work out (he had selected Neshek with Washington Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg left off the roster) as Neshek allowed  back-to-back one-out singles to Oakland Athletics catcher/DH Derek Norris and Ramirez. Up came Trout and he delivered Norris with a go-ahead double. The AL would tack on another run that inning and that was the end of the scoring.

Trout, not Jeter as many Yankees fans hoped, was named the game’s MVP. I’d venture to guess it will be the first of a few in Trout’s career which will be one to watch and who Major League Baseball hopes fills Jeter’s shoes as the face of the game.

All in all it was a good game. There was plenty of hype about Jeter throughout the week about whether or not he one should be a starter for the team, and then whether he should have hit leadoff. He came out looking fantastic as always seems to be the case in big games. He finished his All-Star career going 13-for-27. The 13 hits rank fifth on the all-time All-Star Game hit list.

Social media took center stage for a time, as there was some rallying behind their man moments as Yankees fans abused Wainwright for “disrespecting” Jeter, while just as many Cardinals fans stuck up for their guy. Then the CBS News tweet lightened the mood again.

Finally the play on the field was mostly entertaining. In the end the American League reaps the benefit of two Cardinals pitchers allowing all five earned runs, something naysayers of Wainwright's starting the game and Neshek's participation in the game will likely remind Redbirds fans about for the remainder of the season. The AL will have home-field advantage in the World Series as a result.

Could Trout be the benefactor? Will Jeter have one last hurrah? Will Wainwright avenge his performance? We’ll find out in October. For now, I’ll relish in the fact that I saw Jeter in this final All-Star appearance and soak in the next 70-plus games as he winds down his career.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.

Monday, July 14, 2014

MLB Preseason Predictions Revisited

As the Major League Baseball All-Star break has arrived, I’m going to take the chance to revisit my preseason predictions. Some are spot on, or well within reach and some are pretty far off base, including my guess for the World Series champion. Below is the order in which I predicted teams would finish and the original snippet about the division. I’ll now provide an updated comment as to whether my predictions can become reality by season’s end.

American League East - Predicted Finish
  1. Tampa Bay Rays
  2. New York Yankees (WC)
  3. Boston Red Sox (WC)
  4. Baltimore Orioles
  5. Toronto Blue Jays
Preview Comment: Many suggest this is the best division in baseball. The top three here will all make the playoffs beating up on the other divisions along the way. Each team could win 82+ games.

All-Star Break View: Well, this is certainly not the best division in baseball. The teams I had pegged for fourth and fifth in the division are first and second. The Orioles have played solid baseball for the last month and the Blue Jays have begun to fade already. The Yankees, currently in third place are decimated with injuries and have not played consistently good baseball all season. The Red Sox have wasted their honeymoon period from the 2013 World Series victory and the Rays, while playing better of late, might have dug a hold too big to climb out of. That being said, the way this division is playing out, I would not count the Rays out of this one. If there is a manager in the game who can get his team to play above themselves it’s the Rays’ Joe Maddon. I now only see one team from the division making the playoffs and it’s anyone’s guess at this point.

American League Central - Predicted Finish
  1. Detroit Tigers
  2. Kansas City Royals
  3. Cleveland Indians
  4. Chicago White Sox
  5. Minnesota Twins
Preview Comment: Detroit is loaded and primed for a big season. The Royals could edge out one of the AL East teams for a wild card spot.

All-Star Break View: I have each team in the correct spot right now. I’m not sure it was all that difficult. Maybe the Indians could have swapped spots with Kansas City or Chicago with Minnesota and no one would be surprised. There was a time just a few weeks ago that the Royals were atop the division. But the Tigers have gone on a huge run and now have a comfortable 6.5 game lead over the Royals. I don’t suspect much will change here. The Royals are just 2.5 games back of the wild card hunt so my hunch that they could reach the postseason still has a chance of coming to fruition.

American League West - Predicted Finish
  1. Oakland Athletics
  2. Texas Rangers
  3. Los Angeles Angels
  4. Seattle Mariners
  5. Houston Astros
Preview Comment: The Rangers will be unable to overcome slow start and the Athletics stay consistently good throughout season.

All-Star Break View: The Athletics might be the best team in baseball. The Rangers have lost a considerable part of their rotation and the Angels are playing much better than I expected. The Mariners have also surprised, while the Astros are one spot above where everyone suspected. The A’s will run away with the division crown and the West could be the best division in the American League (three playoff teams) when all is said and done.

American League Championship Series – Rays over Tigers

All-Star Break View: This is obviously a long shot considering the Rays’ current position. But again, stranger things have happened. Right now, an A’ versus Tigers series seems most plausible.

National League East - Predicted Finish
  1. Washington Nationals
  2. Atlanta Braves
  3. Miami Marlins
  4. New York Mets
  5. Philadelphia Phillies
Preview Comment: Nats could win division by 10 games ahead of decimated Braves squad. Marlins will open eyes. Phillies hold massive fire sale.

All-Star Break View: OK, so I was a little too aggressive with the Nats here and totally off-base with the Braves. Both teams are tied atop the division as the Nats continue to underperform in my view based on the roster they put on the field. The Mets are ½ game ahead of the Marlins so I’m not too far off this division. The Phillies are in the perfect spot for the fire sale I believed would happen back in March.

National League Central - Predicted Finish
  1. St. Louis Cardinals
  2. Pittsburgh Pirates (WC)
  3. Cincinnati Reds
  4. Milwaukee Brewers
  5. Chicago Cubs
Preview Comment: The Cardinals prove once again to be an exceptional organization. The Pirates don’t miss a beat, but come up short in top heavy division, but outlast Reds.

All-Star Break View: I was right about one thing, this is a top heavy division. The top four teams are separated by just 3.5 games. But the Brewers are playing much better than I (and many others) suspected. It’s possible this division could finish exactly as I predicted, though it will be tough for the Cardinals after losing Yadier Molina for 8-12 weeks. I think one thing is clear and that is that the division is completely up for grabs, but I’m not sure they get a wild card team into the playoffs now. That could be reserved for the team that finishes second in the NL East.

National League West - Predicted Finish
  1. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. San Francisco Giants (WC)
  3. Arizona Diamondbacks
  4. San Diego Padres
  5. Colorado Rockies
Preview Comment: The Dodgers go wire to wire, but the Giants make them work for the division title.

All-Star Break View: Well, nowhere near a wire-to-wire feat for the Dodgers. The Giants came out strong, but Hollywood’s Heroes have recently taken over first place from their rivals. The Diamondbacks can’t hit and sit at the bottom of the division lumped in a group with the Padres and Rockies.

National League Championship Series - Dodgers over Cardinals

All-Star Break View: Is this still a possibility? Yes. But, I don’t think it will happen with Molina on the shelf for such an extended period. Look for the Dodgers to still win the NL pennant but over the Nationals, who I still expect to win the NL East.

World Series Champion – Tampa Bay Rays – The Rays finally complete the ultimate goal by showing a remarkable ability to win with less.

All-Star Break View: Wow, I'm apparently awful at predictions. There was a point in time where the Rays had the worst record in the game. Some better play of late gives them a modicum of hope, but if I had to pick now, it looks like the Athletics and Dodgers could be playing for all the marbles with Oakland edging out Los Angeles.

AL MVPMike TroutLeads AL with 5.5 fWAR

NL MVPYadier MolinaWas 20th in NL in fWAR before getting hurt. Looks like Troy Tulowitzki holds an edge over 2013 MVP Andrew McCutchen at this time.

AL Cy YoungChris SaleTied for sixth in AL fWAR

NL Cy Young Stephen Strasburg2nd in NL fWAR just behind Adam Wainwright

AL Rookie of YearMasahiro TanakaTanaka was cruising along until an elbow issue sidelined him for the next 5-6 weeks and potentially the remainder of season into 2015. The award is now Jose Abreu’s for the taking.

NL Rookie of YearGregory PolancoAfter a quick start once called up in mid-June, Polanco has cooled off and currently owns a .698 OPS. Reds’ outfielder Billy Hamilton (38 SB) could run away with the award.

AL Manager of YearJoe MaddonOnly if the massive comeback can be completed.

NL Manager of Year Don MattinglyIf Dodgers win division and the Brewers do not, Mattingly could garner the award over Ron Roenicke.

So, there you have it. My preseason predictions revisited. Despite missing the entire AL East, most others are either spot on or are within range of happening. What about you? Did your preseason guesses make the grade so far? Let me know in the comments.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Lack of accountability earned David Ortiz a “free pass"

Boston Red Sox designated hitter David Ortiz went on another rampage Monday, defending his honor when it comes to his connection to performance-enhancing drugs.

Ortiz aimed bombastic comments toward MLB Network analyst Joe Magrane, and the network itself after being mentioned in an on-air discussion about PEDs and Baltimore Orioles OF/DH Nelson Cruz, after Red Sox pitcher John Lackey’s comments following Sunday’s game.

Magrane suggested that Ortiz received a “free pass” because his positive test was during MLB’s trial period of testing and it was not against the rules. Ortiz, in typical fashion, took offense to his name being mentioned in the same breath as PEDs, and lashed out at anyone who thinks he’s received a free pass via

“Then one of the guys wanted to say that I got a free pass. And to be honest with you, in this country, nobody gets a free pass. He wants to make it sound like I got a free pass because nobody can point fingers at me directly. But the reason why I got that fake [expletive] free pass that he’s saying is because they pointed fingers at me with no proof. It’s easier to do it that way than having something that they can say, ‘Yes, you did this, you did that.’ My [expletive], I call straight up bull. Let me tell you. You don’t get no free pass here, especially a guy like me. I don’t get no free pass. That free pass B.S. that they want to talk about over there, they can shove it up their [expletive].

“That’s reality. You don’t use the words that I get a free pass. You don’t get a free pass on this. MLB don’t play that B.S. MLB don’t play that. There’s a reason why I’ve been drug-tested like eight times and we’re not even at the break. Is that a free pass? There’s a reason why I’ve been tested like 40 times since they approved the policy, the drug policy. Is that a free pass? They can get that free pass and shove it up their [expletive].”

The last part of Ortiz’s rant is true. He’s probably been tested as many times as he suggests. He and the rest of MLB players have undergone the same scrutiny since the drug policy took effect.

But, as is all too typical, a baseball player snagged in the PED net refuses to simply admit and move on. Sure, Ortiz is also correct in that he did not defy the rules when he was using PEDs in 2003. But, to suggest he’s never used them and that there was no proof is simply a way to misdirect reality. Ortiz’s lack of accountability is the where the “free pass” comes in.

He's not getting a free pass now, he's been holding onto one since his name was leaked in 2009 and he did not own up to his indiscretions.

Ortiz, like Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Alex Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ryan Braun took the easy way out. Denial.

And to what avail? Several years have passed and the shadow of PEDs still follows Ortiz around. Wouldn’t it have been easier for him to simply say he did PEDs, but was not abusing the rules at the time and it has not and would not happen now that the policy had changed?

Instead, almost five years later, we lump his name in among those who made it necessary to begin the rigid testing and with good reason -- zero accountability. He did not have to face fans and admit to taking drugs to enhance his performance. Free pass.

Is it unfortunate that his name was leaked? Not really in my view. I wish all the names were revealed so the witch-hunting could cease. There would be no penalties other than it being acknowledged that the player used PEDs at the time of survey testing.

It would be then up to each of the players to stand in front of the fans and make a choice. Provide an explanation or deny it.

Ortiz has cried foul for so long now, it would be interesting to see him change course, but he won’t. He’s dug in and won't retreat. As a result, Ortiz will continue to be attacked as he pretends he was not a part of the original problem, and we'll insist he's maintained a free pass until he admits his use.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

New York Yankees mid-season agita report

The New York Yankees have played 81 games through Monday night's 12th inning loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. The team's inconsistent play, a slew of injuries and under-performing players has placed a dark cloud over them; one which threatens to extend their streak of missing the postseason to two years.

The Yankees stood six games back on June 8. They proceeded to win eight of their next 10 games. Since then they have won just two out of nine. While the American League East is pathetic, the Yankees performance to date is enough to give anyone, even those with a steel stomach, agita.

Mid-season Team Numbers

  • Record: 41-40, 2.5 GB in AL East
  • Home: 18-21, Road: 23-19
  • Pythagorean W-L: 37-44
  • -33 run differential (-41 at home)
  • Just finished 2nd straight June under .500
  • 4 games under .500 since April
  • Team hitting splits - .252/.316/.382, 326 R (20th in MLB), 69 HR (tied for 21st in MLB)
  • Team pitching - 4.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and .255 BAA

Mid-season Player Numbers - Making the cut

  • Brett Gardner - .286/.357/.425, 11 doubles, 5 triples, 7 HR, 31 RBI and 15 stolen bases
  • Jacoby Ellsbury - .288/.358/.397, 17 doubles, 34 RBI and 22 stolen bases
  • Mark Teixeira - .818 OPS, 15 HR and 41 RBI (missed 20 games)
  • Masahiro Tanaka - 115.2 IP, 11-3, 2.10 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, .217 BAA and 127 Ks
  • Dellin Betances - 48 IP, 1.50 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, .130 BAA and 76 Ks
  • David Robertson - 27.2 IP, 18 saves, 2.93 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, .188 BAA and 48 Ks

Mid-season Player Numbers - Jury's out

Mid-season Player Numbers - Giving us agita

  • Brian McCann - .221/.281/.361, 9 HR and 36 RBI
  • Carlos Beltran - .219/.274/.410, 16 doubles, 8 HR and 24 RBI (missed 26 games)
  • Brian Roberts - .236/.311/.354, 7 stolen bases
  • Kelly Johnson - .224/.300/.398
  • Remainder of rotation after Kuroda and Tanaka
  • Remainder of bullpen after Warren, Betances and Robertson
In all, it was a very disappointing first half of the season. Players who were doled out serious cash to compensate for the loss of Robinson Cano have failed to produce according to what they're paid. The injuries to CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda have proved difficult to overcome. Without Tanaka this team would be buried.

General manager Brian Cashman has claimed to be ready to make some moves. We'll see if the Yankees farm system is rich enough to bring in high-impact personnel or if they'll simply be able to add a couple of lightning-in-a-bottle players similar to Alfonso Soriano in 2013.

If they can't get consistent production from this point on, with the current crew in addition to any new faces, the Yankees could be out of the playoffs for the second straight season.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.