Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Montreal Expos: And Then There Was One

Before the Washington Nationals had Bryce Harper roaming the outfield of Nationals Park and before the team had an ace starting pitcher with one brown eye and one blue eye the team played their games in Canada, Montreal to be exact. The Montreal Expos were once the team that gave teams like the Atlanta Braves and New York Mets fits in the National League East before making the move to Washington before the 2005 season. As the Nationals organization gets older the original players that once donned Expos uniforms begin to become fewer and farther between until we reach just one, Bartolo Colon.

Bartolo Colon of the New York Mets is now the final active member in Major League Baseball to ever wear a Montreal Expos uniform. And then there was one but until a few days ago there was two, the other being Maicer Izturis of the Toronto Blue Jays. Izturis announced his retirement this week after signing a minor league deal with the club because his body couldn’t do it anymore.

Colon turns 43-years old in May and is four years older than Bruce Chen, another former Expos pitcher who last pitched in 2015, and is seven years the elder of Izturis. Colon pitched a half-season with Montreal in 2002 after the Expos acquired him from the Cleveland Indians at age 29. By the way, in return for Colon the Indians were able to pry away a lefty named Cliff Lee, an infielder named Brandon Phillips and an outfielder named Grady Sizemore. No wonder the league wanted to contract the Expos.

Also as an FYI one of the last Expos to ever be drafted is still around as well, Ian Desmond. Desmond will spend the 2016 season with the Texas Rangers after the Expos drafted him. Desmond did not make him MLB debut until the team had already moved to Washington under a new team name.

Colon is still a very serviceable Major Leaguer and still a valuable piece of the New York Mets so who knows, we may still be talking about the last man standing in a Expos uniform five-to-ten years from now. I hope so anyway!

Fantasy Baseball: The Undervalued & the Unappreciated

By now a lot of you have already had your fantasy baseball drafts but if you haven’t then I have some last minute crunch time additions for you to read over as you prepare. Over the course of the winter we have gone over the players that many don’t know about, many call them sleepers, but today we will go over some of the more recognizable names around the league. These names are recognizable in most households but in my opinion they are truly under-appreciated and undervalued as far as fantasy baseball goes. Well they were before today anyway. 

We begin with Justin Upton who has been playing in some of the most pitcher friendly ballparks in all of Major League Baseball over the past few seasons. While Turner Field in Atlanta is far from the spacious outfield in Petco Park it’s still tough to hit a home run there and Upton still has 26-plus home run seasons in four of his last five seasons. Him moving to Comerica Park in Detroit shouldn’t affect him too much in the power department and shouldn’t affect his 20 stolen base capability per season either. 

Like many positions the first base position is pretty top heavy but near the bottom of the upper tier is Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez. Quietly A-Gon consistently puts up 20 home run and 85 RBI seasons every single year and not many people talk about it. Must be all those West Coast games. 

We’ve said it many times before and we’ll say it again, even the worst teams in the league that lose 100+ games per season will get you 30-50 saves in a year. While the Baltimore Orioles and Chicago White Sox are far from the worst teams in the league and while neither will lose 100 games in my opinion they will both struggle to compete in their divisions. That doesn’t mean Zach Britton won’t strike out another 10 batters per nine innings and save 35 games again and that doesn’t mean David Robertson wont strike out closer to 12 batters per nine innings and save you 40 games in 2016. 

Matt Wieters enters 2016 in his second year removed from Tommy John surgery. I know the surgery doesn’t affect position players the same way it affects pitchers but it also affects everyone differently. I truly believe that many of his struggles in 2015 were due to the elbow ligament replacement surgery and in his second year removed I think we see more of the 22-ish home run power we saw from 2011-2013 and less of the product we saw in 2015 going forward. 

Most people only spoke about the first half Yordano Ventura that struggled with his command and effectiveness and not enough people noticed his second half correction. Ventura went back to striking out guys at an alarming rate during the second half of the 2015 season due in large part to a spike in first pitch strikes. If he can harness some control and keep batters off the base paths his defense and Kauffman Stadium should help him finally harness that huge potential in 2016. 

The final player is Jason Hammel. Hammel is living in the shadow of Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and now John Lackey but Hammel has all the makings of being one of the best fourth or fifth starters in the major leagues this season. He is a consistent 9.0 K/9 ratio and a below 4.00 ERA every single season with a ton of innings. With this Cubs offense behind him he may win 15 games, all he has to do is keep it close. 

Yankees ST: New York Yankees @ Philadelphia Phillies 3/6

The New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Phillies will hook up again this afternoon as a part of their Grapefruit League schedules, this time inside Bright House Field. Yankees family this is just not any spring training game though, this is the first time I get to say HAPPY TANAKA DAY in 2016. Masahiro Tanaka takes the mound this afternoon for the first time this spring to face off against Charlie Morton for the Phillies.

The game will be played at 1:05 pm ET and the game can be seen on MLB TV and can be heard on the radio with John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman on WFAN.

Yankees Still “In” on Tim Lincecum

Earlier this winter we put up a blog post regarding Tim Lincecum, his throwing showcase he had scheduled for an undisclosed time in February and whether he would make sense for the New York Yankees. It’s now March and Spring Training is in full swing with Lincecum still sitting on the free agent market so I beg the question again, are the Yankees still in on Tim Lincecum? According to reports there is at least some interest in the man they call “The Freak.”

With CC Sabathia seemingly healthy in both the body and the mind and Ivan Nova in the second year removed from his Tommy John surgery there may not be room for Lincecum on the Yankees roster on paper but as we all know the games are not played on paper. Injuries will happen and so will funks or slumps. The Yankees know this and they will send scouts to watch Lincecum throw this month and are presumably interested in adding another question mark with a ton of talent into their starting rotation and onto their team in the 31-year old.

Lincecum is a huge risk but he has the potential to give you a huge reward. He has a like arm, he’s a competitor with loads of playoff and World Series experience and he’s a wonderful athlete that doubles as a good clubhouse presence. If healthy all 30 teams would like to add a Tim Lincecum at this point in the year. Lincecum has experience both in the bullpen and in the starting rotation, can you say Adam Warren replacement, and could be an impact player on a one-year deal. With these high reward potentials there are always risks, namely whether Lincecum and his surgically repaired hip can stay healthy. A big “if” until teams see him throw again this month.

I’m just speculating here, I have no inside information other than what’s reported. The Yankees are one of the 20 teams that have requested Lincecum’s medical information and they are one of the unreported number of teams that will watch him throw during his showcase so there is at least some sort of interest. Whether it’s due diligence or an extreme interest in beyond me but that can obviously change based on how he looks. If Lincecum looks good and healthy I could speculate that he could receive in upwards of $10 million plus incentives on a one-year deal and if he doesn’t look quite ready he may have to settle for a minor league deal with an opt-out date in June (just an example). Either way the Yankees may sign a major league free agent after all this offseason and that MLB free agent may be Tim Lincecum, stay tuned. 

Bloomberg: 1% Share of New York Yankees is For Sale!

According to Bloomberg you, anyone reading this, can be a part-owner in the New York Yankees for the low-low price of just $24 million. The team is worth anywhere from $2.75 billion to $3.25 billion depending on where you read and a minority owner is selling their share, 1% to be exact, on the open market right now. At this time it is not known who is selling their stake in the company but Hal Steinbrenner has once again shot down any rumors of it being anyone in the Steinbrenner family. The Steinbrenner’s are not selling the Yankees anytime soon. Hal’s lips to my blog.

Club 9 is the company handling the sale and for their paperwork purposes they have the team valued at $3 billion. The company then applies a 20% discount to the average cost per percent of the team’s value to come up with their $24 million price tag. Time to cash in your piggie banks Yankees family, let’s buy us some Yankees!

This Day in New York Yankees History 3/6: Suzyn Waldman Called Up to the Show

On this day in 2005 Suzyn Waldman made her debut alongside John Sterling on WCBS-AM 880, the Yankees radio network. Waldman would become the first woman in big league history to be a full time color commentator. Waldman was also the first female to broadcast on a national baseball telecast as well as the first to provide local TV major league play by play with her time on the YES Network.

On this day in 1922 Babe Ruth became the highest paid player in Major League Baseball history at the time when his three year deal worth $52,000 a season becomes official. The total is three times more than his teammate Home Run Baker, the second highest paid player in the game. Ruth would earn every penny hitting 122 home runs and earning the MVP Award in the Yankees first World Series victory in 1923.