Friday, March 2, 2012

Former Yankee Update : Jesus Montero

Jesus Montero played in his first game today as a Seattle Mariner and it was one that Mariners fans will remember for a long time, whether that is for good reasons or bad reasons is still up for speculation. In the 5th inning of his game he blasted a 2 run home run for his first hit as a Seattle Mariner. In that same inning he had to leave the game because he got hit in the head with a foul ball. Throw an error behind the plate into the equation and I think , home run withstanding, that Montero would probably like this one back.

Hopefully we can keep in touch with some of the former Yankees, like Jesus Montero, with these former Yankees updates. Stay tuned.

Spring Training Day 13

Sorry for the late status update but we had a family emergency... one trip to the emergency room later and The Greedy Pinstripes are back in business, and so are the New York Yankees. Today they played an exhibition game against the University of South Florida Bulls. In typical, and hopefully a foreshadow of the 2012 season, Yankee fashion the bats came to play and the pitching was solid en route to an 11-0 win. Before we pencil our names in as 2012 World Series Champs lets remember that this was in fact a college team, our regular lineup was batting to begin the game, and this team had lost 3 games in a row.

Adam Warren started the game and eventually got the win with 2 shut out innings. Brett Marshall followed him with another stellar two innings of shut out baseball followed by Dan Burawa, Juan Cedeno, Graham Stoneburner, Ryan Pope, and Kevin Whelan all putting in a shutout inning each. Curtis Granderson was 1-1 with an rbi single, knocking in the captain to score the first run. Eduardo Nunez had a 2 out triple for his only hit, Gardner had a hit and a walk, Ramiro Pena went 2-2, Alex Rodriguez went 1-2, Zoilo Almonte went 2-2,  Colin Curtis and Doug Bernier also had a couple hits each, and the captain was held hitless.

Overall it was a great game because the Yankees won, first and foremost, while getting everyone they wanted in the game and everyone stayed healthy. The first Grapefruit League game is tomorrow against the Phillies with Ivan Nova on the bump for the Yanks. Cano will not be in the game, as planned, because the Yankees do not want to rush him back from his grandmothers funeral and such. Cano plans to be in his first game on Sunday afternoon.

Previewing The 2012 Yankees Lineup

Over at Yankees Fans Unite they did a great piece on their predictions for the 2012 Yankees lineup statistically. It is a great read so check it out.

The Yankees lineup has historically been one of the best in baseball year after year. Yes, many faces have come in gone since the beginning of recent Yankees dominance, but each season they continue to be at the top in most offensive categories.
This year’s Yankees lineup is not too different from the one Joe Girardi sent out in 2011, but it’s still powerful, potent, and talented, and should have no problem finding success this season. So without further ado, here’s my predictions for the 2012 Bronx Bombers. We’ll go in order:
#2 Derek Jeter, SS – .290 AVG, 10 HR, 60 RBI
Sixteen years since his Major League debut, Derek Jeter still finds himself at the top of the Yankees lineup, continuing to produce into his late 30’s. Despite a poor start to 2011 that saw him go down to a calf injury, Jeter returned in early July to become Mr. 3,000 and start a second-half surge, batting .327. Jeter is not being moved out of the leadoff spot anytime soon, and it seems he’s gotten back into the grove that made him the player he’s been all his career. Jeter should be able to hover around .300 and continue to be a solid shortstop for the Yankees in 2012.
#14 Curtis Granderson, CF – .270 AVG, 33 HR, 101 RBI
Last year, Granderson had an incredible year, hitting 41 home runs and leading the league in runs scored (136). He finally found the power stroke Yankee fans expected from him when he first arrived, and he’s still only 31 years old. Curtis should be able to put up similar numbers in 2012, and improve even more hitting against left-handers.
#24 Robinson Cano, 2B – .319 AVG, 34 HR, 125 RBI
This is the year of Robbie Cano. The production he’s put up the past two years, and still being only 29 years old to me makes him a strong candidate for AL MVP. Granted, Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder have now entered the picture, but Cano should have a huge year and should finally crack the 30 home runs plateau. If you thought he was great last year, watch out.
#13 Alex Rodriguez, 3B – .283 AVG, 27 HR, 96 RBI
A-Rod is a very interesting player to watch in 2012. Playing in just 99 games in 2011, Rodriguez had the worst season of his career, and his streak of hitting 30 home runs and 100 RBI the past 13 seasons was finally snapped, when A-Rod only got to 16 and 62 for those stats. The 36-year old followed Kobe Bryant to Germany to get a revolutionary blood-spinning treatment called Orthokine therapy, which apparently helps heal injuries and strengthen the body faster than average. Also, if you had averaged out A-Rod’s 2011 season to 162 games, he would have hit somewhere around 26 home runs and 101  RBI. Rodriguez can certainly still produce, and I’m anticipating him to have a bounce-back season for the Yanks in 2012.
#25 Mark Teixeira, 1B – .273 AVG, 40 HR, 115 RBI
The curious case of Mark Teixeira. Ever since joining the Yankees, Tex’s average has dipped from .292 in ’09, to .256 in ’10, and to .248 in 2011. A once perennial. 300 hitter, Teixeira’s strikeouts has increased, while his on-base and slugging percentage has dropped considerably, making some people question the $180 million deal he was given. Teixeira apparently devoted his offseason to working on hitting better from the left side, and said he will bunt if needed to beat the dreaded shift that’s also hurt him in recent years. If Teixeira’s plans work to fruition, expect a bounce back year average-wise from the slugger.
#33 Nick Swisher, RF – .277 AVG, 24 HR, 87 RBI
In a contract year for Nick Swisher, he’s looking to do some damage and prove he should be the Yankees right fielder of the future, as he says in a perfect world he’s in the pinstripes until he dies. Swisher, like seemingly every spring, has come in more fit that the previous season, but this time he’s apparently built up muscle instead of shedding fat. Will that translate to more production? Only time will tell. But I’m expecting another good season for Nick, who’s been a sure bet to putting up big offensive numbers in the lower half of the Yankees’ lineup. Oh, and he’s also been tabbed as the successor to A.J. Burnett has the pie guy, so look out for him when the Yankees walk off. Maybe he’ll pie himself!
#27 Raul Ibanez, DH – .262 AVG, 20 HR, 72 RBI
The ink still drying on his one-year, $1.1 million contract, Raul Ibanez will be the DH against right-handed pitchers. The soon to be 40 year old still has something left in the tank, and a move to Yankee Stadium as I previously said, will benefit him greatly. For $1.1 million, the Yankees got a bargain for the native New Yorker, and I expect a solid year for what it’s worth as the #7 hitter in the Yanks’ lineup.
#22 Andruw Jones, DH/LF – .251 AVG, 12 HR, 43 RBI
The former 19-year old Brave who smacked the Yanks around in the ’96 World Series is coming back on a one-year deal to be the team’s DH against left-handed pitchers. He underwent knee surgery in the offseason and came into camp, as a lot of guys, in better shape and ready to go. He will be a valuable piece to the bench and should be a solid DH against left-handed pitching, which he clearly still dominates.
#55 Russell Martin, C – .258 AVG, 15 HR, 68 RBI
One of my favorite players, Martin had a great year last season as the Yankees starting catcher. His great management of an average pitching staff mixed with timely hitting led to him getting his 2012 option picked up by the Yanks. He’s a terrific defensive catcher and besides the batting average, he can hit very well too. I figure him to have similar numbers to that of 2011, but it still should be a great year for Martin, who will be looking for a new contract next offseason, whether its from the Yankees or elsewhere.
#11 Brett Gardner, LF – .280 AVG, 6 HR, 54 RBI
Already entering his fourth full year, Gardner will once again be the starting left fielder and probably hit ninth for most of the time. Of course he has great speed, and has gotten key base hits in many games for the Yankees, regular and postseason alike. The problem with Gardy is that he is a very streaky hitter, something that he needs to work on. He’ll go on a tear for three weeks of hitting .300, and then will enter a month of hitting .200. It makes no sense, and with all his speed he should be getting more stolen bases as well. He is far from a great player, but should be able to jump-start the Yankees lineup again as the “second leadoff man”, as I like to say.
So there you have it. They’re no Murderer’s Row, but the 2012 lineup should be one feared by all, and one that has a great shot of powering the Yankees to the playoffs and beyond. Go Yanks!

Remembering Kevin Maas

I actually had the Starline poster, but I couldn't find a good picture of that.

It often amazes me how some people can get so attached to prospects, and get so mad when a prospect is traded. Even if the return makes sense, as I believe getting Michael Pineda for Jesus Montero makes a ton of sense, there are still many people with ill feelings towards the deal. This makes me think that maybe I'm the fool for liking a trade. But then I think of guys like Kevin Maas.

Over Kevin's last 278 games in the minors, before he made his MLB debut in late June of 1990, he hit 59 HR (good for a 162 game average of 34) to go along with an OBP of .390. I couldn't find anything that states he was a top prospect, but I'm sure there were some Yankee fans that were expecting this guy to take over 1B for Donnie Baseball.

He was called up to the Yankees, from AAA Columbus, on June 29th against the Chicago White Sox. Maas was 1-3 in the game (a single), to go along with a strikeout. Although he hit an RBI single in his 2nd game, Kevin's first HR didn't come until July 4th in Kansas City. And things took off from there.

Kevin set a MLB record by reaching his 10th HR faster than anybody in history (72 at bats). He was also the fastest in history to 13 and 15 HR. By the end of the 1990 season Maas had hit 21 HR in only 79 games, and finished 2nd in Rookie of the Year voting to Sandy Alomar, Jr of the Cleveland Indians. If you want to know just how psyched he had people, check out this quote from
A funny thing happened last season. After several seasons of thinking about it, we finally decided to create an award to honor Kevin Maas’ place in the annals of baseball history. Kevin Maas, as our generation will remember, looked like the next Lou Gehrig for one summer in 1990 before making baseball fans around the country feel stupid for having bought the hype.

Well, no sooner than we'd created the Kevin Maas Award, it was pointed out that this was actually two great awards: an award for a rookie who we would be stupid to expect to see a duplicate performance from, and an award for a player whose performance was so out of character with the rest of his career that we would be stupid to expect him to duplicate it.
"The next Lou Gehrig". Yeah, you read that right. I loved Don Mattingly, so to assume anybody could truly replace him is putting a lot on a guy. But to say he looked like the next Lou Gehrig is putting gigantic expectations on a guy.

So what did Kevin end up doing? Well, in 1991 he put up a line of .220/.333/.390 with 23 HR. You might say that although all three triple-slash categories went down (his SLG went down big-time) his HRs actually went up. Yeah, but they went up thanks to having played 69 more games in MLB. In 1992 he hit .248/.305/.406 with 11 HR in 98 games. And things just went downhill from there, until he played his final MLB game in 1995 (he held on in the minors through 1997, but retired after that).

Was Kevin Maas over-hyped? Absolutely. But does that mean Jesus Montero, Manny Banuelos, or other big prospects are over-hyped too? Yeah... possibly. But, that doesn't mean Jesus nor Manny can't become really good MLB players either. I'm just using Maas as a reason why I don't get nearly excited about prospects as some people. And I'm also pointing out that leaning hard on prospects for your team's future success is not the smartest thing to do. Mixing home-grown players along with free agents is the way to go, and the austerity budget hopes to do just that (along with save a butt-load of money).