2009 Baseball Preview

April 1, 2009

baseball

Ok friends, here is my completely uninformed and somewhat uninterested preview of the 2009 Major League Baseball season. I have spent exactly zero time researching this. As a comparison, here are my disastrous picks from last season. There is nothing particularly bold about these picks, though I think maybe the NL Cy Young award isn’t on everyone’s radar:

American League:
East – Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays, Orioles
Central – Indians, White Sox, Royals, Twins, Tigers
West – A’s, Angels, Rangers, Mariners

MVP – Mark Teixeira
Cy Young – Dice-K

National League:
East – Mets, Phillies, Marlins, Braves, Nationals
Central – Cubs, Reds, Brewers, Cardinals, Pirates, Astros
West – Dodgers, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Giants, Padres

MVP – David Wright
Cy Young – Edinson Volquez

Divisional Round:
Red Sox v. A’s – Boston
Yankees v. Indians – New York
Phillies v. Cubs – Chicago
Mets v. Dodgers – New York

League Championship Series:
Red Sox v. Yankees – New York
Cubs v. Mets – Chicago

World Series:
New York v. Chicago – Yankees


Out in Front

February 10, 2009

borasThere’s been a lot of chatter online and on the radio over the past day about A-Rod’s admission of steroid use early in this decade. Lots of ‘experts’ have been on the air suggesting that it might not be a bad idea for other guys who know they used steroids to get out in front of any reporting of them having done so and apologize. There have also been questions about who it was that leaked the information and who it most benefits. Some have said perhaps Barry Bonds’ legal team was involved, hoping to deflect some of the attention and singularity associated with Bonds’ upcoming trial.

Well what if both of those notions, getting out in front and having someone behind the scenes working this thing, are true. And they’re both true in the person of Scott Boras? What if Boras found out about the list, knew A-Rod’s name was on it and got it leaked with just his star client’s name first? Perhaps this was all A-Rod/Boras’ way of getting out in front of something that was looming or potentially bad in the future. They leak it, control what goes out, then apologize, being the first and only person to do so. It soaks up all the chatter about A-Rod/Jeter/Torre from Torre’s new book, it gets A-Rod in on the ground floor of anything that might come forward, and if he ever ends up breaking the home run record in a few years, it’ll be ancient memory by then. Anyone else remember that Andy Pettitte admitted using HGH last year? Does anyone even care?

I have no idea if this is actually how it went down, but can we really count it out as a possibility? Boras is probably the third most important person in baseball behind Bud Seilg and Don Fehr. He’s probably capable of pulling something like this off if he thought it might be a way of getting out in front of something damaging. Or what if it’s all to make people think Manny Ramirez is the only guy out there besides Ken Griffey who never used? Does it make Manny more attractive?

Maybe folks should stop looking at Bonds and all the outside factors and look at the principal players here and see if things start to add up.


A-Rod Tries a New Approach

February 9, 2009

Alex Rodriguez tried a new approach today in his interview with Peter Gammons. Instead of denials, non-denial denials, non-apology apologies and every other non- or unknown known out there, A-Rod said straight up that he used performance enhancers when he was on the Rangers. Maybe he’s A-Fraud or Stray-Rod or A-R*d but at least he’s admitting it right up front.

What will be interesting is if it matters. People always say, well if Bonds or Clemens would just admit it they would be forgiven and life would go on like Jason Giambi. But I think the player’s previous relationship with media, fans, etc. has to play in. No one liked Clemens and everyone hated Bonds. Same for A-Rod, more or less. So does this apology and admission make him a minor hero in the public eye or is his previous reputation for being a bit of a baby suppress the sad American desire to forgive absolutely anyone of anything?

Either way, it’s fascinating to see how quickly this apology came out. I know he’s denied it before but this is pretty fresh. It was a semi-real moment watching the clip. Of course it would’ve seemed even more real if he didn’t look he got his tanning tips from Ken doll.


Total Reversal for the Yankees

December 24, 2008

ccajI try not to comment about the New York Yankees but the events of the past few weeks have made it all but impossible to stand idly by. Yesterday the Yanks signed Mark Teixeria to an 8-year $180 million contract to play first base in the Bronx. That is on top of $80 given to pitcher A.J. Burnett and $160 million to pitcher CC Sabathia. All told the Yankees have handed out $424 million on those three players alone. Granted, they’re all really good and mostly young but this is completely the opposite direction we were led to believe the club was headed, starting last year.

In the winter meetings last year and through the 2007/2008 winter, Brian Cashman, Yankees GM repeated time and again how the Yankees were going to be building from the ground up instead of signing aging stars for big money contracts. With pitchers Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes as the standard bearers, the Yankees were supposed to be using their farm system to develop young talent and save the club valuable cash. As part of that process, the Yanks refused to trade either Kennedy or Hughes (or both) to the Twins to acquire Johann Santana. Ultimately Santana signed with the cross-town Mets and Cashman was lauded, at least temporarily, for sticking to his guns.

Then 2008 happened and Kennedy and Hughes were either injured or awful (or both) and Santana was amazing for the Mets. I don’t know if that was the straw, as they say, but now the Yankees have returned to their old spending ways. What’s even more interesting is that they may not be done. It’s possible that they could also sign Manny Ramirez to a large contract (though they’d probably only do it on a one-year basis) and add even more power to the lineup.

As currently constituted, the Yankees employ the four highest paid players in the entire league. A-Rod, Teixeira, Sabathia and Derek Jeter. With money off the books this year from Jason Giambi, Carl Pavano and Mike Mussina, the Yanks certainly had money with which to work. But this has been really outlandish. We’ll have to see if adding all these high-priced players really makes a difference or if the Red Sox and Rays will again finish ahead of the Yankees in the AL East in 2009.


Red Sox Get in on the Act

December 12, 2008

It would seem that every major league team is doing some tweaking to its uniforms this off-season. One of the most classic looks (apart from those dreadful red alternates) is being altered, for the worse in my opinion, as the Red Sox have introduced an alternate hat, new away uniforms and new home and away alternates.

First, the hat. So so stupid. As Rusty correctly pointed out, hats with logos are ridiculous. But this is especially ridiculous. It’s being made almost specifically for that absurd niche that already wears outlandish baseball caps. I like the logo, just not on the hat.

The logo does look good as a sleeve patch. Boston’s new away unis are kind of a throwback to a 1980s style, though not quite, as you can see. I don’t really like the look because it’s too simplistic. No outlining of numbers or names and no piping. Looks like it was made for a local softball team or something.

Now to the alternates. The blue away alternate honestly doesn’t look all that bad, though it does really resemble a spring training or batting practice look. Paired with the new hat it looks like a joke though. The new red, home alts are even worse than they already were. By removing the piping, these just look like big, red pajamas. Awful.

Anyway, I don’t really see the point in the changes. I understood when Baltimore and Washington made changes earlier because they were correcting inaccuracies, inconsistencies or invoking tradition. This is just change for marketing and merchandising’s sake. Which is lame.


The Sad CC Saga

December 10, 2008

ccThis I find really annoying. So CC Sabathia was obviously the prize of the free agent market this off-season. His tremendous second half with the Brewers catapulted him from wanted to needed by the top teams. But here’s the thing, he wanted to play in California. He wanted to play for the Giants or the Dodgers or even the Angels, because he’s from California. He has a home out there and he wanted to go back home after living in Cleveland and Milwaukee for the past dozen years. But instead he signed a contract with the New York Yankees for $160 million.

The problem isn’t that he signed a huge contract. I’ve got no problem with that. The problem is the reasoning behind his decision. He was pushed by the player’s union and by his agent Scott Boars because of the precedent it sets in terms of player salaries going forward. If the best guy out there takes a $90 million contract when one worth $160 million is out there, it sets a bad example, in their eyes. They want guys to push the envelope and get the best deal possible, regardless of who it’s with, so that other players this off-season and in the future can expect the pay scale to have increased.

Makes total business sense from the union’s side and obviously for the agent, but is it really in the best interest of the player? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes players just want the cash and they don’t give a shit where from. But other guys are more principled than that and want their careers to mean more than just money. Those are the guys who know they’re getting paid no matter where they go so it might as well be somewhere they want to be. I don’t know where exactly Sabathia falls on that scale but it’s just sad to see the understood reasons being an increased pay scale going forward.


Cliff Lee, AL Cy Young

November 13, 2008

As correctly predicted on this blog on August 5, Cliff Lee today won the American League Cy Young Award. Considering he had the best record in the majors this year at 22-3 and had a pretty damn good 2.54 ERA, this really wasn’t a surprise. Roy Halladay, the 2003 Cy Young winner, took second place. This was the second straight year an Indians pitcher won the award, though of course CC Sabathia is no longer in the American League.