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Look Back – Alex Rodriguez’s 2007 Resiging

December 1, 2009 4 comments


Photo Courtesy of Bleacher Report

There are a couple ways I wanted to go with this particular look back. I wanted to go back to when the Yankees signed Alex Rodriguez initially but then there would be too many possibilities. But, I found that it was a lot more feasible to discuss what might have occurred if the Yankees had chosen not to resign him in 2007.

After all it was perfectly reasonable that the Yankees would not resign A-Rod. Scott Boras operated in such a way that it was certainly possible the Yankees had had enough of dealing with Alex Rodriguez’s massive contract. They had offered him $230 million dollars and had previously said that they would not play around with A-Rod if he opted out.

So the Yankees do not sign Rodriguez which leaves 3rd base open. Here are a few possibilities:

RED SOX SIGN ALEX RODRIGUEZ

Despite the idea that Boston would never want to sign A-Rod because they dislike Boras or did not believe that A-Rod was a “Boston” guy, in reality it would make complete sense for them to sign him. With Mike Lowell’s contract up, they could sign Rodriguez to a huge contract and generate even more publicity for their campaign to defend their World Series title.

YANKEES SIGN MIKE LOWELL

In need of a 3rd basemen, the Yankees sign Mike Lowell away from Boston. This has the added benefit of slighting the Red Sox while gaining Lowell, who at the time, was regarded as a very potent third basemen. There was serious interest in Lowell on the part of the Yankees so do not mistake this as just a rumor. They might have even signed him even if they brought A-Rod back.

YANKEES SIGN MARK TEXEIRA

Pretty easy to see that this signing would still have occurred.

YANKEES MOVE ROBINSON CANO to third base and sign (gulp) LUIS CASTILLO

Of all the other free agent second basemen available, Castillo makes the most sense for the Yankees. His career average was around .300 and he was a fairly good defensive second basemen who might have have been able to replace Cano’s production at 2nd base.

Recap of the Yankees Starting lineup:

WITH LOWELL AND TEIXEIRA

1. Jeter SS
2. Damon LF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Matsui DH
5. Posada C
6. Cano 2B
7. Lowell 3B
8. Swisher RF
9. Cabrera CF

WITH CASTILLO AND TEIXEIRA AND CANO AT 3RD

1. Jeter SS
2. Damon LF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Matsui DH
5. Posada C
6. Cano 3B
7. Swisher RF
8. Castillo 2B
9. Cabrera CF

I have to say, even if one were to take into account the extra money that could be freed up to buy a pitcher, it would have been a very bad move to put Cano at 3rd and sign Castillo, or really any other 2nd basemen because the 2007 class was not stellar at that position. With Lowell and Teixeira in the lineup it looks infinitely better but, upon comparison to the lineup the Yankees have today with Rodriguez both of these lineups simply do not compare.

Nick Swisher’s Appeal Ranges Beyond His Baseball Skills

November 20, 2009 4 comments

Photo Courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Trading Nick Swisher would be a poor choice by the Yankees brass. Recent rumors about making Swisher available have been dismissed by the management but Swisher’s place on the Yankees is clearly not set in stone. He is not the greatest player but his positive externalities have a lot of impact. Clearly Economics 120 has taught me a lot. Swisher definitely had a positive impact on the Yankees this year and no one is denying that. Those who defend Swisher primarily point to his help off the field first and his abilities second. People who think Swisher is overrated are saying that his abilities, average by all accounts in the field, good at the plate, and his mythical clubhouse appeal, are not necessarily worth keeping if he is a part of a trade that might bring Curtis Granderson or Roy Halladay to the Yankees. In the end it comes down to determining just how important Swisher is to the Yankees. The only problem is that externalities are exceedingly difficult to measure. So while his talent alone might not justify keeping him, it depends on whether his positive impact on the team justifies keeping him. Since we will never know just how much he helps, it is not easy for management to make that determination.

For me, however, the choice is very clear. KEEP HIM. Does any Yankees fan remember the team ever being this upbeat or together? Make fun of the pool tournament and pies all you wish, those things are great to see. Could you ever imagine the 2007 team hitting each other with pies? I feel like they would have started fighting each other. Swisher played an integral role in changing the culture of the Yankees from a group of players to a team and that, in my mind, is the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the World Series (getting three of the best free agents doesn’t hurt either). The point is, Swisher might not be the best player in the world, but he is important to the Yankees in other ways than just on the field.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to club house morale, it’s important or it isn’t. Pundits absolutely crushed the 2004-2008 Yankee teams for being too business-like or a collection of 25 players rather than a team. But, as soon as the Yankees become a fun team rather than a bunch of stiffs with the additions of CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, AJ Burnett, and most importantly Swisher, club house morale is suddenly overrated. I don’t quite see how this works.

I feel that the answer is that a happy club house helps but in the end talent is what determines a team’s success. In that case it would be a mistake to trade Swisher for anyone other than Halladay. He is the only person that the Yankees appear to be targeting that has the talent to justify the removal of Swisher’s swagger if talent is what wins out in the end. Is talent the key to winning and happiness overrated? Or is talent important for success and good team morale important as well? What do you think? Let me know in the comments section.

Gold Glove Awards

November 11, 2009 Leave a comment

Image Provided by Getty Images, By: Rich Pilling


With Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira winning gold gloves, as well as Jeter winning the Roberto Clemente Award and Hank Aaron Award for being the best hitter in the American League, the recognition of the brilliance of the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees has rightfully continued (Yahoo Sports). This team was a truly masterful collection of great defense, even better hitting, and very good pitching. But, the Yankee defense has been largely overlooked throughout the course of the season despite being one of the best in the league. These awards have acknowledged that defense remains very important in the run to a championship.

The Yankees do not have a flashy defense but rely more on sound defensive play with the occasional top ten plays candidate. Jeter, who has been constantly assaulted for his poor defense in recent years, made a career-low 8 errors and had an astounding .986 fielding percentage. Even with a great first basemen it is clear that Jeter remains a top fielder as there is no way that Teixeira’s play was the sole cause for Jeter’s great defense during the 2009 season. Many people have accused Jeter of being one of the worst defensive shortstops in the league based on new statistical analysis. It speaks volumes, however, about his defense that he won an award that was voted on by the opposing teams who would not give him the award simply because he was Derek Jeter.

Teixeira’s defense during the postseason saved him from a great deal of attacks on his fortitude and ability to perform under pressure. Anyone who watched any Yankee game this year probably saw at least one play that Teixeira made that saved an error, a run, or stopped a base runner from advancing. He was a much needed improvement over past first basemen whose defensive skills were desperately lacking. He made the entire infield better by taking pressure off of Robinson Cano, Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez and just allowed them to concentrate on making the play rather than worry about throwing a strike to first.

Defense in many other sports is often the key to winning a championship. In baseball pitching is essentially the primary defense that any team has. For the Yankees their pitching and hitting led them to the World Series title but the defense certainly helped them get there so it is great to see the defense be rewarded with the Gold Glove Awards for Jeter and Teixeira.

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How Things End

November 7, 2009 Leave a comment

When my wife and I got married, we’d only known each other for two and a half months. There were many skeptics. When I told my father the news, he said something that has stayed with me to this day: “these things,” he said “are not measured by how they begin, they are measure by how they end”. I think this is an appropriate criteria for the 2009 New York Yankees. To say that we had an inauspicious beginning is an understatement, I’m not much for hyperbole but consider the following:

  • Before the first pitch of spring training The Yankees had to deal with Alex Rodriguez’ steroid circus, the accusation, the mea culpa press conference, and concerns over A-Rod’s mental fortitude to deal with it all.
  • Then it seems that the universe was piling it on to A-Rod, books by Selena Roberts and Joe Torre painted an even dimer view of Rodriguez in and out of the locker room. He pulls out of the World Baseball Classic with a hip injury, has surgery, and misses the first few weeks of the year.
  • CC Sabathia labored during his first few outings
  • Teixeira had his infamous slow start in April
  • Going 0-for-8 against the Red Sox to start the season, were criticism of Girardi’s over-managing gained momentum
  • Chien-Ming Wang goes 1-for-6 with a 9.64 ERA, hurts his shoulder, then his foot

The Yankees were 8 back of the Red Sox before getting it together in June and turning their season around in a hurry to get to their 27th Championship. Everything came together for this team, the pitching solidified, the offense became more consistent, the defense was sharp, all things that can be attributed to talent and execution. But then we began to notice other aspects of their game develop, the kinds of things that make a team special or at least poised for something great.

Things that we notice which excite us a fans and makes us wonder aloud: this could be the year. Two-out rallies, numerous comeback wins, consistent contributions from the bottom of the lineup, scoring almost 1/2 of their runs after the 6th inning, poise at the plate, working the count, no desperation when loosing by a few runs, bullpen contributions. These characteristics are the result of more than talent and execution, they are the tangible result of team character and chemistry.

Even after winning 103 games, the most in the league, there were questions about the way that Girardi was setting up the pitching rotation, the Joba experiment, would A-Rod finally come through in the postseason, can Sabathia improve his postseason record specially when asked to pitch with 3 days rest, how can the Yankees loose Posada’s bat in order to accommodate AJ Burnett with Molina behind the plate, which Burnett would show up…but this team embraced a blue collar approach and was determined to work through any obstacles to be victorious at the end.

The Yankees did not hesitate in their approach to the job at hand, they did not shy away from challenges, they didn’t get too high or too low, and they did not allow for doubt to permeate their thoughts. They were clear in their purpose and continued to do what was necessary to become World Champions. No one in sports is under more pressure to finish the job than the New York Yankees, to whom much is given much is expected, and finish the job they did. This is how things end, not with a whimper, but with the bang of fireworks and the loud proclamation that the 2009 New York Yankees are World Champions.

GAME RECAP: WORLD SERIES GAME 5

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

AJ Burnett gets rocked early, Yankees unable to complete the comeback late

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 6 PHILLIES 8 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 1st: Johnny Damon singles to center field. Alex Rodriguez doubles to right field, Damon scores (NYY 1, PHI 0)
  • Bottom of the 1st: Jimmy Rollins singles to center field. Shane Victorino hit by pitch. Chase Utley homers to right field. Rollins, Victorino, & Utley scores (NYY 1, PHI 3)
  • Bottom of the 3rd: Chase Utley walks. Ryan Howard walks. Jayson Werth singles to center field. Utley scores, Howard to 2nd base (NYY 1, PHI 4)
  • Bottom of the 3rd: Raul Ibanez singles to right field. Howard scores, Werth to 3rd (NYY 1, PHI 5)
  • Bottom of the 3rd: Carlos Ruiz grounds into a force out, Werth scores (NYY 1, PHI 6)
  • Top of the 5th: Eric Hinske draws a 1-out walk. Derek Jeter singles to right field, Hinske to 3rd. Johnny Damon gounds out softly to first base, Hinske scores (NYY 2, PHI 6)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Chase Utley homers to right field (NYY 2, PHI 7)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Raul Ibanez homers to right field (NYY 2, PHI 8)
  • Top of the 8th: Johnny Damon gets an infield hit. Mark Teixeira doubles to left field, Damon to 3rd. Alex Rodriguez doubles to left field, Damon & Teixeira scores (NYY 4, PHI 8)
  • Top of the 8th: Nick Swisher moves the runner (ARod) to 3rd on a ground out to 1st. Robinson Cano out on a sacrifice out, Rodriguez scores (NYY 5, PHI 8)
  • Top of the 9th: Jorge Posada doubles. Hideki Matsui singles to left field, Posada to 3rd. Derek Jeter hits into a double play, Posada scores (NYY 6, PHI 8)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • AJ Burnett: 2 innings, 4 hits allowed, 6 earned runs, 4 BB, 1 HR, 2 SO, 7.00 ERA
  • Cliff Lee: 7 innings, 7 hits allowed, 5 earned runs, 3 BB, 3 SO, 2.81 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: Chase Utley 2-for 3 with 2 HRs and 4 RBI

OBSERVATIONS: 10 down, 1 to go.

The Comforts of Home Heal Game 5 Wounds

November 3, 2009 Leave a comment

The Yankees were unable to close out the series last night and there really are not very many positives that came out of that game. The only things I can say are that they were able to hit Cliff Lee and that Alex Rodriguez and Johnny Damon are really picking it up during the World Series. Other than that there is not much to be pleased about.

Last night I tried to find some more positives but couldn’t. I tried to convince myself that if Mark Teixeira had found a way to get on base, Rodriguez could have tied the game for us. This seemed perfectly reasonable at the time given how well he had been playing but today it just seems unreasonable because they had no business winning the game last night. How often are you going to win when the starting pitcher goes less than 3 innings, gives up 6 earned runs, and the bullpen gives up two more insurance homeruns? The answer is pretty much never. Barring an historic collapse from Lee, the Yankees were going to go back to New York up 3-2 in the series and that is exactly what happened despite a decent effort in the 8th and 9th innings.

Placing aside my negativity concerning the game last night, however, I actually am not unduly worried or upset. Where normally I would be incredibly nervous about the Yankee’s chances to close it out, today I feel confident. Andy Pettitte, our wily veteran with more postseason wins than any other pitcher in history, is on the mound in Yankee stadium. Cliff Lee won’t be pitching for the Phillies tomorrow night. They are playing in a ballpark that has baffled opposing teams so far this postseason. And, there is nothing like the comfort of your own bed. Experience on the mound, not facing a dominant pitcher, and the comforts of home all lead me to believe that game 6 will be the final game in the World Series. The Yankees have too many things swaying in their favor. And, if all else fails and for some reason the Yankees cannot pull it out tomorrow, there is always the comforting fact that CC is waiting in the wings.

GAME RECAP: WORLD SERIES GAME 4

November 2, 2009 2 comments

Johnny Damon steals Philadelphia’s momentum and ARod delivers in the 9th

FINAL SCORE: YANKEES 7 PHILLIES 4 (F9th)

SCORING PLAYS

  • Top of the 1st: Derek Jeter singles, Johnny Damon doubles to right field, Jeter to 3rd. Mark Teixeira grounds out to first base. Jeter scores, Damon to 3rd (NYY 1, PHI 0)
  • Top of the 1st: Jorge Posada sacrifice to left field, Johnny Damon scores (NYY 2, PHI 0)
  • Bottom of the 1st: Shane Victorino doubles to enter field. Chase Utley doubles to right field, Victorino scores (NYY 2, PHI 1)
  • Bottom of the 4th: Ryan Howard singles to center field. Howard steals 2nd base. Pedro Feliz singles to left field, Howard scores (NYY 2, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 5th: Nick Swisher walks on 4 balls. Melky Cabrera singles on a ground ball to 2nd base. Derek Jeter singles, Swisher scores and Cabrera to 2nd (NYY 3, PHI 2)
  • Top of the 5th: Johnny Damon singles to right field, Cabrera scores (NYY 4, PHI 2)
  • Bottom of the 7th: Chase Utley homers to right field of Sabathia (NYY 4, PHI 3)
  • Bottom of the 8th: Pedro Feliz homers to left field of Chamberlain (NYY 4, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Johnny Damon works a 2 out single. Damon steals 2nd and 3rd base. Mark Teixeira is hit by pitch. Alex Rodriguez doubles to left field, Damon scores and Teixeira to 3rd (NYY 5, PHI 4)
  • Top of the 9th: Jorge Posada singles to left field. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira scores (NYY 7, PHI 4)

STARTING PITCHING (from Yahoo Sports)

  • CC Sabathia: 6 2/3 innings, 7 hits allowed, 3 earned runs, 3 BB, 1 HR, 6 SO, 3.29 ERA
  • Joe Blanton: 6 innings, 5 hits allowed, 4 earned runs, 2 BB, 7 SO, 6.00 ERA

KEY PERFORMERS: Johnny Damon went 3-for-5 with 1 RBI. He had the best at-bat of the night in the top of the 8th with 2-outs and behind 1-and-2 on the count, and topped it off with 2 stolen bases. Alex Rodriguez working on an 0-fer came through in the 9th with a 2-out double that scored Damon and the Yankees regained their lead.

OBSERVATIONS:

  • For the second time in this World Series Sabathia did not look as dominant as he was in the ALCS. The Yankees gave CC a 2 run cushion to start the game, and he gave 1 right back to the Phillies on two consecutive doubles in the bottom of the 1st where he threw 24 pitches. Sabathia was getting behind on the count and had to work for every precious out. Having said that CC’s ability to grind it out, limiting the Phillies’ opportunities with men in scoring position, may make this outing more impressive than his dominance against the Angels. The bottom of the 5th was as impressive a performance by a pitcher as you will see in the World Series stage. Sabathia put men on 1st and 2nd without recording an out and he’d yet to face Utley, Howard and Werth. CC, and let’s give credit to Posada in this situation, gets Utley and Howard to pop-up before striking out Jayson Werth. Inning over.
  • Alex Rodriguez got hit by a pitch at the top of the 1st. It is his 3rd HBP in this series. A-Rod could not hide his displeasure at being hit again, and one can make the argument that it affected his at-bats throughout the night. He went 0-for-3 with 1 strikeout before a huge clutch hit in the bottom of the 9th propelled the Yankees to victory.
  • Damaso Marte was solid once again. Joba Chamberlain was dealing, but he made a mistake to Feliz (who was hot last night) and he made him pay for it. This may be a great learning experience for Joba and may only make him better next time around.
  • Come on chant with me: Jooohnny Daaamon tap tap, tap tap tap, Jooohnny Daaamon tap tap, tap tap tap. There is nothing more gratifying to a baseball purist, a fan of the fundamentals of the game, than a heads up play that shows a player’s awareness on the field and his keen instinct. Damon’s base running exploits in the bottom of the 9th has to be in your highlight reel for years to come.
  • The “Comeback Kids” did it again. 3 down…1 to go.