Friday, January 8, 2016

The Boring Winter Ahead: Watch the 1998 World Series Game Two HERE

Game Two of the 1998 World Series between the New York Yankees and the San Diego Padres

Mike Piazza & the Ethical Hall of Fame Debate

Mike Piazza is in the Hall of Fame, this much we know and this none of us can really change. For better or worse the first player to be linked or suspected of steroid use that played in the steroid era is in the Hall of Fame which has caused a stir around Major League Baseball. Did Piazza use and should he be in the Hall of Fame? These are just a couple of the questions that I am going to attempt, key word being attempt, to answer today in this blog post.

Before the comments and emails come flooding in I am well aware of Piazza’s autobiography where he admitted to using androstenedione and I am well aware that it was added to Major League Baseball’s list of banned substances in 2004. Andro is a muscle-building compound that was long banned by the International Olympic Committee before it was added to MLB’s banned list. Should he be punished for doing something that wasn’t illegal at the time? I think not, personally. That’s like locking up all the people in California, Colorado, Seattle etc. for smoking marijuana before it was made illegal in those states. It’s irresponsible and, in my opinion, not plausible.

It is worth mentioning that drug testing and Piazza’s home run power, or lack thereof, definitely had a direct correlation between each other. Piazza hit 33 home runs in 2002, the year before drug testing was talked about and before it was implemented in 2004 (and punishable in 2005), and that number dropped to 11 in 2003. Granted Piazza stayed injured for much of 2003 but that is also a side effect of prolonged steroid use per Jose Canseco, especially when you stop taking them. Piazza never went on to hit more than 22 in a season after drug testing was implemented but it is also worth mentioning that Piazza turned 35-years old in 2003. Playing behind the dish for 140 games a season takes a toll on your body, especially your lower half, so it could be chalked up as a coincidence and Mother Nature intervening rather than steroid use.

In the end we will never know EVERYONE who did steroids, either once or for a prolonged period of time. We will never know if someone in Cooperstown already had used steroids in the past and we’re likely to never know in the future if the BBWAA is electing steroid users into the Hall of Fame. This is why we must elect them all, suspicions or not, or none at all. With Piazza in I think that question just got answered, you have to elect them all now. Especially when you almost elected Tim Raines, an admitted cocaine addict that admitted to using cocaine DURING GAMES. There’s a fine line here people and many of you are jumping back and forth between it. 

Yankees Acquire Kirby Yates for Cash

The New York Yankees have acquired RHP Kirby Yates from the Cleveland Indians for cash. More when I'm not mobile. 

Prospects Have Never Been More Important in MLB

Prospects have never been more important to Major League Baseball than they have been over the past few seasons. The prospects inside your farm system are either used for cheap talent to keep your team relevant and under the luxury tax threshold, they are used when one of your big stars goes down to injury or they are used via trade to bring in what you hope is the final piece to the puzzle. A slew of prospects were traded this winter already including the four that were sent from the New York Yankees in the Aroldis Chapman trade with the Cincinnat Reds and Baseball America looked at those prospects in a little bit of a different way. Baseball American actually ranked the prospects who were traded this winter in a sort of top prospects list and at least two of the former Yankees farm hands made the cut.

For the entire write up CLICK HERE to see the BA post but I will sample the Yankees related material below and the general list that is topped by Atlanta Braves shortstop Dansby Swanson.

  • Rookie Davis was ranked 14th while Eric Jagielo was ranked 17th coincidentally. I finally found someone else who thinks higher of Davis than Jagielo. Refreshing. 

  • Luis Cessa was 23rd, he was one of the two prospects the Yankees received from the Detroit Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade.

  • Caleb Cotham is the last prospect on the list ranked at #25.

Chris Davis the Gate Keeper

The 2016 offseason began with a bang as teams began to cash in and get some “bang” for their buck. Craig Kimbrel came off the trade market pretty early while David Price and Zack Greinke’s families presumably had some great Christmas holidays after the free agent contracts they signed. Since then though the market has slowed down and has been slow to develop in many areas, especially the outfield department. Why? Jason Heyward, the top overall free agent and the top outfield prospect, has already signed and the dominos were expected to fall by now… but they haven’t. I know why, its former Orioles slugger Chris Davis’s fault.

Chris Davis is the gate keeper to the entire offseason, let me explain why. The Baltimore Orioles are interested in at least one outfielder this offseason but in their market they have to make a choice. Do they want Davis to come back or do they want one of Yoenis Cespedes or Justin Upton. Baltimore has put out a deal worth $150 million to Davis and have since retracted the deal supposedly but I’m not buying it. If they had they would have jumped on an outfielder, Upton specifically since his family ties run to the Virginia area, but they haven’t. Why? Because they are waiting on Chris Davis to make up his mind.

Upton is a better outfielder than Cespedes and unless a sweetheart deal comes around, like the three year deal the San Francisco Giants or Chicago White Sox would like to sign Cespedes to, he will likely wait until Upton comes off the board. Why? Because this is going to be the biggest and presumably best contract that the Cuban-born outfielder gets. He is going to milk it dry for every penny possible and teams won’t get desperate until Upton signs.

So this is a Yankees blog, how does Chris Davis, Justin Upton and Yoenis Cespedes affect the Yankees? Brett Gardner. The Yankees aren’t going to have many takers for an outfielder, especially a 32-year old outfielder like Gardner, when there is such talent out there on the free agent market. Some teams may shy away from Upton since he declined a qualifying offer this winter and will be attached to draft pick compensation but that is not the case with Cespedes. Cespedes was traded to the New York Mets this season and is ineligible for the qualifying offer. No one is going to give up good prospects for Gardner with Cespedes out there on the market.

So Upton isn’t signing until Davis does and Cespedes isn’t signing until Upton does and the Yankees couldn’t dream of trading Gardner until Cespedes signs. Get it? Confused? Me too. That’s the baseball offseason though. Enjoy it. 

Steroid Era Players, Welcome to the Hall of Fame!

The flood gates are open ladies and gentleman as the first player from the steroid era to either be linked to or suspected of steroid use has made his way into Cooperstown, New York. Congratulations goes out to former New York Mets and Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza on his Hall of Fame candidacy, it’s been a long time coming. It’s also a sign that the times are changing around Major League Baseball, especially in the Hall of Fame voting process. Jon Heyman already went out and defended the fact that he put Barry Bonds on his HOF ballot and you can see now that the numbers for Bonds and Clemens are continuing to rise every year giving hope to anyone and everyone from the steroid era. With Piazza’s induction I can see more and more players from that era getting in, eventually.

Piazza shared the same stage as Ken Griffey Jr. on Wednesday and will share that same stage when they are officially inducted into the Hall later this year. How can you keep out Clemens and Bonds when the sole reason that Piazza was left off was his suspicion of steroid use? You can’t and the doors are about to be ripped from their hinges.

Piazza was a 12-time All-Star and hit 427 home runs in his career with a .922 OPS which both set the tone for the offensive catcher that we see in today’s game. Piazza was a trend setter and he changed the game, suspicion for steroids or not. And that’s the thing, he’s suspected of it. He was never linked to steroids during his career, he wasn’t on the Mitchell Report, and he wasn’t linked to BALCO or Biogenesis or whatever the craze was back then. Nothing. He hit home runs in an era that was tainted by many that hit home runs. That’s all. A wrong has been righted and I can’t say I have ever been prouder of the BBWAA right now. Congrats Mike and congrats to Junior Griffey!

Isn’t it ironic that the man that Roger Clemens threw a splintered bat at during the 2000 World Series between the New York Yankees and the New York Mets may be the same man that gets him into the Hall of Fame? Should Clemens send a thank you card? How does one react in these situations? I for sure don’t know… 

Quick Hit: Tim Lincecum & There is No Such Thing as a Bad Minor League Deal

The New York Yankees bullpen is looking thin no matter how you look at it. Sure the back-end of the bullpen is amazing with some sort of combination of Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances but while the team has essentially replaced Justin Wilson they have yet to replace Adam Warren. Warren, the right-handed starting pitcher that could pitch the 6th inning one night, save a gave the next night and give you 5 IP as a starter four days later. He was a versatile arm with experience in a big market closing, relieving and starting. I have already suggested Doug Fister once this offseason and Brian Cashman either missed it or rolled his eyes so here's another suggestion, what about a low risk and high reward deal with Tim Lincecum?

Lincecum underwent surgery in early September for a hip impingement, similar to the procedure that Alex Rodriguez has had twice now, and is already back on the mound throwing. Lincecum had the surgery performed by the same doctor, Marc Philippon, that Rodriguez had and is said to be well ahead of schedule with his rehab. Lincecum has reached the point in his comeback trail where he will host a showcase later this month in Scottsdale, Arizona to prove his health and stability with his hip.

Lincecum is a former NL Cy Young Award winner from 2008 and 2009 with the San Francisco Giants and has since been moved in and out of their starting rotation and bullpen for various reasons. Over the past four seasons though Lincecum has fallen off a bit posting a 39-42 record and a 4.68 ERA. This is nothing to write home about but I am not expecting Lincecum to get a MLB deal anyway and you know what I say, there is no such thing as a bad minor league deal.. right?

Lincecum is still just 31-years old.

This Day in New York Yankees History 1/8: Goose Gossage Meets the Hall of Fame

On this day in 2008 Rich "Goose" Gossage, in his ninth year on the ballot, is the only player to receive more than 75% of the writer’s votes, tallying 85.5%, and was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Goose played for 22 seasons, most notably with the Yankees, and compiled a 124-107 record while saving 310 games and posting a 3.01 ERA.

Also on this day in 2004 Don Zimmer, fresh off of resigning as the Yankees bench coach, was named as a Senior Baseball Adviser for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Zim would be a coach during Spring Training and pregame practices at all regular season home games, most road games, and assisted the team with community affairs.

Also on this day in 1990 Johnny Sylvester, a terminally sick boy whom Babe Ruth promised to hit a home run for in the 1926 World Series, died at the age of 74. Ruth did hit that home run against the St. Louis Cardinals as promised and the then 11 year old recovered from his illness. This story was showcased in the movie The Babe Ruth Story, although the facts in the movie have been proven to be less than accurate.

Finally on this day in 1913 Frank Chance became the manager of the New York Highlanders, soon to be the Yankees. The veteran manager will finish next to last in the league with a 57-94 record and will compile a 117-168 record in his two year stint in New York.