Monday, January 5, 2015

Pedro Martinez Wanted to be a Yankee Before Getting Traded to the Red Sox

During his nearly two-decade major-league career, right-handed pitcher Pedro Martinez was a well-known foe of the Yankees.

The 43-year-old retiree, who played for the Red Sox from 1998-2004, went 11-11 with a 3.20 ERA in 32 games against them from 1992-2009, most of which came in a Boston uniform. 

Maybe that's why it's so strange he actually hoped to head to the Yankees prior to joining New York's arch rival, something he recently revealed in an interview with The New York Daily News' Christian Red. Martinez, speaking in the Dominican Republic back in December, said he openly hoped to be dealt to the Bronx while a member of the Expos, and admitted he wasn't that pleased when he was sent to the Red Sox instead.

"I wanted the trade to happen. I wanted out of Montreal," Martinez said. "I wanted to go to the best team out there. I saw [pitcher] John Wetteland, [outfielder] Marquis Grissom, [outfielder] Larry Walker go to different teams. But the one that ended up winning most of the time was the Yankees."

His logic there can certainly be understood, seeing as the Yankees appeared in five World Series from 1996-2001. The Red Sox, meanwhile, weren't much of a contender in the 90's, recording just one division title and a pair of wild card berths. 

They would make Martinez's time with them worthwhile in 2004, however, when the team swept the Cardinals in the Fall Classic for its first championship since 1918. 

"When I was traded to Boston, I was shocked," Martinez said. "Boston had finished in [fourth] place [in '97], just like [Montreal]. I had asked [Expos manager] Felipe [Alou] and Jim Beattie, the [Expos'] GM at that time, to at least give me the honor to trade me to a team where I would have a legit chance to win, to contend. It was the total opposite."

In total, Martinez went 219-100 with a 2.93 ERA as a professional, the 73rd most wins in baseball history. As for his strikeout count, which reached 3154, it currently ranks 13th all-time, 37 more than Cardinals great Bob Gibson. 

He's a first-time candidate for induction into the Hall of Fame this winter, having been away from the game for the required five years. 

Yankees Re-Sign Slade Heathcott

Back in November the Yankees non-tendered Slade Heathcott, meaning he could be removed from the 40-man roster without passing through waivers. But while any other team could have signed Slade, Joel Sherman reports that he and the Yankees agreed on a minor league contract today. The contract includes an invitation to Spring Training.

While Heathcott missed the majority of last season due to having a pair of knee surgeries (one before the season, and another later that season), it appears he's healthy or should be healthy by the time Spring Training rolls around. I like to see him back, as when he's healthy he's hit pretty well (.268/.346/.404).

AROD Ready for 2015

A photo posted by Alex Rodriguez (@arod) on
So says his Instagram account anyway, hence the AROD and not the A Rod or ARod.

Most Popular Article of the Week: Bold Predictions for the 2015 Yankees

If you guys know anything about me by now it's that I absolutely suck at making predictions that are not in the moment of a game or whatever. This season on Twitter I was donned the "Yankees Wizard" after multiple predictions including a couple Chris Young walk offs and David Robertson's implosion and Derek Jeter's walk off on the final game at Yankee Stadium just to name a few. For some reason I do great in those sort of predictions and not so great in the predictions I am about to do, the bold predictions for the season. Let's keep that in mind so you can be gentle in the comments sections.

- Alex Rodriguez, if he gets enough at bats due to injuries, will be a 20 home run guy in 2015. Rodriguez may only hit .265 but will drive 20 balls over the fences for 60 RBI.

- The Yankees world right now is etching Robert Refsnyder's name in stone for the starting second base job but I think Jose Pirela will win the competition in the spring.

- New York will have a closer by committee, at least to start the season, as Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller won't be tied down to the "defined roles" that Joe Girardi loves so much.

- Carlos Beltran will hit 30 home runs with optimal rest, the friendly dimensions at Yankee Stadium, the bone spur no longer an issue and the DH position.

- Mark Teixeira will play in 135 games because every player that has had a comparable wrist surgery is much better the second year removed like Teix will be in 2015.

- Didi Greorius hits .275 and slugs 17 home runs... because why not.

- Yankees win the second Wild Card with 89 wins

Would a Salary Cap Actually Help the Yankees?

No, seriously. Would a salary cap instituted in Major League Baseball actually help the New York Yankees? I say yes, why not? With a cap on spending you would also have to see a salary floor which would also help New York in a huge way, the removal of the luxury tax threshold. With so many teams, maybe not so much in the last few seasons, spending barely more or sometimes less than what the team is receiving in luxury tax and pocketing every merchandise sale, television deal, ticket sale etc. it makes the game more of a business and less of the game that we all know and love. With all the money in the game now with television deals and attendance on the up and up a salary cap may be at least discussed when the new collective bargaining agreement expires in 2016.

Most Yankees fans think that a cap would hurt the Yankees because it takes away our biggest asset, our ability to out-spend everyone, but I don't think that's so much the case anymore. The Dodgers are already out-spending the Yankees by a large margin while teams are passing the luxury tax threshold every single season. The new CBA has already restricted the Yankees ability to throw money around in the draft and now in the International market and honestly a cap would only help.

It's a well known fact that the rumors and hot stove season can be annoying if you're a Yankees fan. New York could have three Albert Pujols' in his prime playing first base, backing up and playing DH but if a fourth came up on the free agent market the Yankees would be "interested." The Yankees aren't interested our name and monikers are thrown around to simply drive the price up. With a cap no longer could teams do that and no longer could agents like Scott Boras give the team "the last call" to squeeze a few million out of owners and teams. With a cap if a Max Scherzer wanted $30 million a season and the Yankees had $15 million to spend it would really help the fans and these teams see through the bull crap and see the real rumors and interest.

Also, believe it or not, there are still players around Major League Baseball that actually want to be Yankees. There are still MLB players and veterans that want a chance to play for a World Series before they retire. Much like you see in the NBA a lot the Yankees could use this to their advantage while they maneuver around the cap. If New York has around $10 million to spend on the cap and a couple of key and productive veterans want to come over to chase a ring they could/would sign for exponentially less for the opportunity to play in October. The same could be said for players like Troy Tulowitzki who wants to be a Yankee if he were a free agent, if he is asking for $30 million and the Yankees only have $20 million he would be more inclined to take a discount or a back loaded contract to fulfill his dream and fill the shoes of Derek Jeter.

Many fans around the league want a salary cap and if it happens, as a Yankees fan, I say bring it on. This is only going to help the Yankees and their aura and tradition may give them the step up above the league that they once had and have lost in recent seasons. There can't be anything wrong with that.

I Can't Contain My Excitement

In the past I haven't been the biggest fan of prospects. I've said it's nice to have them, but not at the expense of winning. I thought this especially true in the Yankees case, because they have the money to keep passing out large contracts to stars like Masahiro Tanaka, or solid players like Chase Headley. Sprinkle in a youngster like Brett Gardner every once in a while, and the team was just fine.

However, today, I'm singing a new tune. The Yankees passed on Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, and Jon Lester. They don't seem to be in on Max Scherzer, either. Instead they dealt for a young, work-in-progress, Didi Gregorius to replace the legendary Captain Derek Jeter. Instead of giving out a large contract to get a star pitcher, they traded for another youngster in Nathan Eovaldi. And instead of sticking with Martin Prado to play second base, the team has decided to give the job to either Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder. And while Gregorius, Eovaldi, nor Pirela/Refsnyder are exciting names, I'm excited as a fan.

For the first time since the early 90s, it looks like the Yankees are trying to build another dynasty instead of buying one. We're going into next season, not with World Series expectations, but with uncertainty about what will happen. That doesn't sound good, but as a fan it's great.

I feel the same way about the Ohio State Buckeyes' football team. Going into their semi-final game against Alabama last week, I wasn't expecting a win, I was just hoping they played well. Gone was the pressure of being the favorite, meaning a loss would be more devastating than it already would have been. I didn't have to worry about screwing up and losing the game, I just sat there and rooted them on. Now I'm going to have that feeling for the entire 2015 MLB season... and I can't wait.

Getting back to the Yankees, the interesting youngsters don't stop with Gregorius, Eovaldi, Pirela, and Refsnyder, as the bullpen is full of them... Dellin Betances won't be eligible for free agency until 2020, Justin Wilson will be under team control through the 2018 season, Chasen Shreve won't make big money until at least 2021, and we may see prospect Jacob Lindgren in 2015 as well.

Along with young Nathan Eovaldi in the rotation, remember that Michael Pineda will only be 26 in a couple of weeks, Bryan Mitchell will likely get a shot as a starter, and the Yankees' top prospect (in the opinion of Baseball America) Luis Severino could join the big club soon. Oh, and Ian Clarkin has gotten plenty of love too.

The youth movement goes even further. Along with kids like Gregorius, Pirela, and Refsnyder, the Yankees have the MVP of the Arizona Fall League, 1B Greg Bird. By the way, Bird is the third ranked positional player prospect (again, according to Baseball America) behind OF Aaron Judge and SS Jorge Mateo. Following Bird on that list is Gary Sanchez, who could very well be the guy that solidifies the catcher spot once McCann's contract ends.

One thing you may notice here is that the Yankees seem to have too much in terms of prospects. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "too much", as you can never have too much of a good thing. What I should say is that top prospects like Jorge Mateo could turn into trade fodder soon. John Ryan Murphy, or the aforementioned Gary Sanchez, may find themselves being traded. If Severino reaches his potential and joins Tanaka and Pineda at the top of the rotation, that could mean Clarkin and/or Mitchell is dealt away. The point here is that the Yankees have enough young talent that they could pull off a few youngster-for-veteran trades and still have a strong young core.

Throw all of that on top of questions regarding the veterans, such as Brian McCann bouncing back, Beltran returning to All Star form, Sabathia's knee holding up, Tanaka's elbow not snapping, and you have the makings of a team that's going to be incredibly exciting to watch and root for in 2015 and beyond.

Could all of this blow up in our faces? Sure. Didi may never get his batting average over .230, Eovaldi could go back to his pre-2014 ways and walk too many batters, both Pirela and Refsnyder may be busts, Brian McCann may never make another All Star game... the list goes on. But what we have now, in my opinion, is a lot more fun than going into the season saying "if we don't win the World Series this season will suck."

ICYMI: Sandy Koufax, Roy Halladay and Nathan Eovaldi

There are probably more than just two reasons to be optimistic about a young 24 year old flame throwing starting pitcher but I had to very big reasons come to me and I felt compelled to share. I was watching an old "Prime 9" episode on MLB Network the other day at some insane hour in the middle of the night and it was showcasing something to do with starting pitching, I don't remember the list, and throughout the episode the crew mentioned Sandy Koufax and Roy Halladay. Okay before Dodgers, Phillies, Blue Jays and MLB fans in general begin to remove their bookmark for the site and unfollow us on Twitter hear me out. I'm not comparing the two I am merely showing you that it's not unheard of for a fire baller to find his control late and harness it en route to a great MLB career.

Eovaldi has a career 15-35 record with 4.07 ERA in 79 starts. While Eovaldi led the league in hits allowed in 2014 his stuff, the "stuff" you cannot teach, is there and undeniable and possibly just a Larry Rothschild tweak or two away from making him a legit #1 starting pitcher for years to come. Why am I so optimistic you ask and how does Koufax and Halladay fit in? Glad you asked, read on.

Look at Koufax's first six seasons in the majors on a pretty good Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers teams:

Now let's look at Halladay's first four seasons in his career:

Again I don't think Eovaldi is Halladay or Koufax and I don't think he will have the longevity and successful career that those two players had. I am saying that it has happened before and it can happen again. Hallday taught his teachings to AJ Burnett and saved and extended his career and if Burnett could be saved then why not Eovaldi?

TGP Daily Poll: It's Time for a Yankees Hitting Coach

Vote in our poll!

RIP Stuart Scott

I can remember growing up on Sportscenter and specifically Stuart Scott and his "cool as the other side of the pillow" remarks. I was extremely saddened to hear that Scott had passed away yesterday morning at age 49 after his battle with cancer. He will be missed and our condolences go out to his friends, family and anyone affected by his loss. RIP.

This Day In New York Yankees History 1/5:

On this day in 2010 Randy Johnson announced his retirement after 22 big league seasons playing for the Montreal Expos, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants. Johnson won five Cy Young Awards and 303 victories in his career including a perfect game, two no hitters, a World Series Most Valuable Player award, and 4,875 strike outs.

Also on this day in 1999 Yogi Berra received an apology from Yankees owner George Steinbrenner after his 1985 season as a manager was cut short after only 16 games and ended his self exile from Yankee Stadium. Yogi would then participate in future Opening Day and Old Timers Day festivities.

Finally on this day in 1920 Boston Red Sox owner Harry Frazee defends the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees for cash. Frazee calls Ruth "one of the most selfish and inconsiderate men to ever put on a baseball uniform." Ouch!