Friday, December 11, 2015

Good Call on Cal Ripken & Youth Baseball

Major League Baseball has begun an initiative to expand the brand not only domestically but around the world. This is a plan that doesn’t take the easy way out and leaves no stone unturned as it starts with potential ball players as children and stays with them all the way on their quest to the Major Leagues. That plan just got a little bit easier this week when MLB announced that Hall of Famer and former Baltimore Orioles legend Cal Ripken Jr. would begin working with youth baseball and softball initiatives and programs as a special adviser.

Cal is well known for having his hand in the process of developing youth programs and bringing the game to young children, especially those who are considered impoverished or underserved. Ripken will work with the Play Ball initiative senior vice president Tony Reagins and join the MLB Youth Programs Advisory Committee. The committee’s main goal is to evaluate and improve the quality of existing programs and identify new programs that can help grow the sport. Ripken’s biggest asset to the club may be the fact that he will also represent the committee and league in public events.

Good call Commissioner Rob Manfred and good call Major League Baseball. Putting an inspiring and recognizable face on the initiative can only help grow the sport and he brand. Ripken has helped build more than 50 youth development parks and multipurpose fields that now give children safe places to play through the Ripken Baseball organization.

Congrats on the new gig Cal and a big congrats to Major League Baseball, you got this one right. 

Yankees Re-Sign RHP Domingo German

As expected the New York Yankees have re-signed right-handed pitching prospect Domingo German to a minor league deal without, presumably, an invitation to spring training. The Yankees non-tendered the 23-year old last week in order to clear a roster spot on the 40 man roster and have brought him back for at least the 2016 season.

German was acquired last winter in the Nathan Eovaldi, Martin Prado, David Phelps and Garrett Jones deal before having to undergo Tommy John surgery and before missing the entire 2015 season. German was the Miami Marlins 6th best prospect at the time of the trade.

Welcome back!

Imaging a Yankees Lineup W/ Starlin Castro

I like having a couple leadoff men and a whole lot of speed. The Yankees think that means you can stack a couple of leadoff hitters at the top of the order while I prefer to have the order turned over with Ellsbury hitting first and Gardner hitting ninth. Which lineup is better? Who knows but one thing is for certain having those two at the top has cost the Yankees runs, not gotten them more runs. Having them both there has made Joe Girardi gun shy when it comes to calling for stolen bases since he doesn’t want to take the bat out of the hands of Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira. This can be alleviated by having a high contact and high batting average/on base percentage guy in the two hole like Castro.


1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Starlin Castro
3. Alex Rodriguez
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Brian McCann
6.Carlos Beltran
7. Chase Headley
8. Didi Gregorius
9. Brett Gardner


1. Jacoby Ellsbury
2. Brett Gardner
3. Alex Rodriguez
4. Mark Teixeira
5. Brian McCann
6. Carlos Beltran
7. Chase Headley
8. Starlin Castro
9. Didi Gregorius

What’s your lineup? Leave it below in the comments section. Thank you. 

Jordan Zimmermann vs. Jeff Samardzija The Ultimate Showdown

Two of the top free agent starting pitchers have come off the board and a whole lot of money has been handed out. The two starting pitchers we will showcase today are Jordan Zimmermann and Jeff Samardzija as we try to analyze which team will get the most bang for their buck. Will it be Detroit who signed Zimmermann for just five years and $140 million or will it be San Francisco who signed Samardzija for five years and $90 million? You're immediate answer will likely be Zimmermann but you may be jumping the gun just a tad.

Neither of these arms are especially old and neither of these arms have an absolute ton of miles on them. Zimmerman is just 29 years old and has thrown 1094.0 IP in his career with the Washington Nationals. Including his postseason numbers, 12.2 IP total, you see that Zimmermann has thrown a total of 1106.2 IP and thrown over 200 IP just two times. Meanwhile Samardzija is 30-years old and has compiled just 991.2 IP in his career thanks to a career in College Football that delayed his entrance into Major League Baseball. Samardzija is raw but he gets the edge on both projectability and for the lack of miles on his arm. Samardzija could turn into an absolute ace and stud in San Francisco with that spacious ball park and speedy outfielders behind him or he could flame out and become the next bust of a free agent signing. It’s like buying a lottery ticket with Samardzija where as you basically know what you’re going to get with Zimmermann. His stats are declining at an alarming rate and I don’t believe switching from a division that sported three of the worst teams in MLB in 2015 (remember all the head-to-head matchups within the division) to the American League and the AL Central specifically is going to bode well for Zimmermann or the Tigers. If Samardzija is like buying a lottery ticket Zimmermann is like going to a dead end job with no chance of advancement, pay raise or rise in responsibilities. You’re going to go every day and you’re going to make ends meet but the price of gas is going to go up, insurance is going to go up, food prices are going to go up and there is nothing you can do to stop it or improve it, you’re stuck for life and you grow miserable by the day.

I may have been a little hard in my analogy for Zimmermann, and it’s no knock against him personally, but I can’t see the deal working out as well as the Tigers hope. The saving grace for Zimmermann is that his deal is only for five years but for the sake of this showdown so is Samardzija’s. Both teams had to sacrifice a draft pick to sign their man but the Giants will give up a first round pick for Shark, the Tigers first round pick (9th overall) is protected and will only sacrifice a second round pick for Zimmermann. This means a lot in a league and in an era that has never been more reliant on cost-controlled players and the use of your farm system. Zimmermann lost in a big way in the last debate but he gains some of that back with the draft pick compensation. Also it is worth mentioning that Zimmermann is not trending downward, neither is Samardzija after having one of the worst seasons in the American League in 2015, at least not yet. One down or bad season is not a trend, if it repeats in 2016 and beyond THEN it’s a trend.

Finally, the projections. Does Baseball Reference expect either of these men to bounce back in a big way or will it be more of the same next season?

2016 Proj. 31 8 11 4.19 189.0 187 95 88 23 49 1.249 8.9 1.1 2.3 7.7 3.31

2016 Proj. 30 12 8 3.43 181.0 175 75 69 18 37 1.171 8.7 0.9 1.8 7.6 4.11

Based on the projections alone it looks like Zimmermann has the edge here but at the end, who wins? Is it the man who is likely to suffer from the league switch, has more mileage on his arm and signed for more money? Or is it the raw starting pitcher that might have just proven why Zimmermann is not the ideal choice in 2016 after struggling in his switch from the National League to the American League? I honestly think, and this is my personal opinion and projection so bear with me, that Samardzija will benefit from the switch back to the National League. Some of Samardzija’s best seasons were with the Chicago Cubs in a small hitter-friendly ballpark. Can you imagine Samardzija not only facing the pitcher’s spot three times a game but facing the pitcher’s spot three times a game in one of the biggest parks in all of baseball? Zimmermann isn’t exactly pitching in a band box himself up in Detroit’s Comerica Park but I truly think the AL-to-NL switch will be more severe than Detroit had expected. I’m not saying Zimmermann is going to fall off the map but I didn’t say he was going to live up to his $110 million either.

Samardzija wins… by a hair… a lot of hair. 

Chase Headley for James Shields?

How did we ever make it back even in the 1990’s without cell phones, the internet at the touch of our fingers and social media? Honestly I’ll never know but I know one thing for sure, I don’t want to go back. Facebook is nice, Google+ was okay for a minute but I truly cannot get enough of twitter. The absolute interaction and user interface just gets me and I love it. I love interacting with everyone who reads the blog. You float me your thoughts on my articles and you, either directly or indirectly, float ideas for articles there as well. Much like this article I am about to tackle as one of my good friends, Michael Brogna, suggested trading third baseman Chase Headley back to the San Diego Padres for right-handed starting pitcher James Shields. Would it work?

My immediate question to Mike was who would play third base and replace Headley? Currently the only Yankees player I would “trust” at the position defensively is Brendan Ryan, yuck. Sure it’s easy to just say “add Yangervis Solarte” in the deal or “take on Jedd Gyorko’s salary (who has since been traded to the St. Louis Cardinals) and play him there” or even “just trade for Trevor Plouffe” but the league doesn’t work like that. Solarte was one of San Diego’s better hitters in 2015 and it’s going to take a lot more than just Chase Headley to pry him away, again. Jedd Gyorko is not a third baseman, never has been and likely never will be. He held his own at shortstop last season but he’s not going to get better the more he ages, he’s going to get worse. He was used as a shortstop out of necessity and out of desperation, not because his bat dictated him being there. Finally, simply trading for a young and controllable guy isn’t that easy. Especially for a young team that plans on contending as soon as the 2016 season. It’s just not that easy.

Looking at the third base market I don’t see much available right now for the Yankees to acquire. The most attractive pieces are Juan Uribe, Will Middlebrooks, David Freese and Mark Reynolds. No, on a minor league deal then maybe, interesting but still probably a no and who wants 15 home runs and 200 strikeouts this season with defense that will make Headley’s look Gold Glove caliber? And while we’re on the subject who wants James Shields and that incredibly back loaded and overpaid contract? Isn’t this team trying to get away from deals like these?

Mike, I love you bro and I appreciate and respect your input and opinion on this but I just can’t back you on it. Only way I’m taking Shields is on a salary dump where the team loses nothing. This plugs a hole that wasn’t really a problem to begin with and makes a huge hole at third base and in the lineup. As it stands today I have to say no thank you. 

David Price vs. Zack Greinke The Ultimate Showdown

The Ultimate Free Agency Showdown. Two of the best available starting pitchers on the market and two of the best pitchers in 2015 go head-to-head on this Friday to see which team got the better end of the stick here. Was it the Boston Red Sox who signed David Price to the biggest deal ever handed out to a starting pitcher at seven years and $217 million? Or was it the Arizona Diamondbacks who shocked the league by signing Zack Greinke to a six year deal worth $205 million giving Greinke the largest average annual value ever recorded in Major League Baseball at 34.4 million?

First and foremost the age of these two starting pitchers is a big key and the mileage on their arms is another factor that must be considered when deciding a winner. Price is 30 years old and Greinke is 32 but Price signed a seven year deal that runs through his 37th birthday while Greinke only signed for six years taking him through his age 38 season. Signing pitchers through their age 38 season is never ideal, not that 37 years old is much better, so can I say push? Please? The mileage though is another concern as Price has 1441.2 (eight seasons) IP on his left arm while Greinke has racked up 2094.2 IP (12 seasons) in his career. Adding in postseason play you can tally another 63.1 IP on Price’s arm and 58.1 on Greinke’s arm. The Price deal scares me because I, as a Yankees fan, have seen the big left-hander with a ton of mileage come over on a huge deal only to flame out after three or four seasons of it, his name is CC Sabathia. Sure Price has an opt-out clause after three years, CC had one too, but Price is not going to exceed the contract he currently has at 33 years old. Not going to happen, don’t bank on it. Meanwhile Greinke’s deal is shorter and therefore less of a risk in my opinion. Greinke gets the edge but I am pretty glad that neither are wearing pinstripes in 2016, not for that salary. 

The environment in which these two pitchers will pitch in is especially important in this showdown. Many wondered, mostly Boston-based beat writers and bloggers, if the racism that is so blatant in Boston would derail Price from the beginning. I’ve never been to Boston and I would never generalize an entire town and fan base based on the ignorant acts of a few but I didn’t, the Boston beat writers did. Price is a fiery guy and I can see where some racist slurs or comments would get to him and negatively affect him. I don’t pretend to know Price personally but people who likely do, or somewhat do, are questioning it so it would worry me if I was a Red Sox fan. Meanwhile Grienke’s battle with anxiety, which is now medically treated FYI, is well documented but shouldn’t be a problem overall on the West Coast and in Arizona. Even as the highest paid player in Major League Baseball history, AAV wise anyway, Greinke gets the slight edge here as well.

The final piece we’ll look at is projections. Baseball Reference does a great job of projecting players every single offseason and we’ve used their information many times already this winter. If anything the site undervalues and under-shoots guys a lot of the times so keep that in mind when checking out these projections.

2016 Proj. 30 13 8 3.09 195.0 179 76 67 18 193 1.128 8.3 0.8 1.9 8.9 4.71
2016 Proj. 32 15 6 2.54 191.0 158 58 54 16 175 1.058 7.4 0.8 2.1 8.2 3.98
Neither pitcher looks likely to fall off in the first year of their new deals nor are the stats really worth mentioning since they are so comparable. The thing about free agency is though is you have to look beyond the 2016 season to the 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and seasons beyond. No one knows how these deals will work out in three years or more but if you’re going to take an educated guess it looks like the Arizona Diamondbacks will be a little happier with their decision than the Boston Red Sox will be. Well unless David Price gets greedy and opts out, then Boston and Price for the win. 

Alex Rodriguez Has Already Begun Baseball Activities

There isn’t much Yankees related news going on so anything is better than nothing at this point, no? Even if it is something as minor as the fact that the Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez has already begun baseball activities in preparation for the 2016 MLB season.

Rodriguez is 40-years old and is coming off what should have been a Comeback Player of the Year Award winning season where he hit .250 with 33 home runs and 86 RBI. Rodriguez missed the entire 2014 season with a steroid related suspension and missed much of the 2013 season with various hip and lower leg injuries.

Rodriguez was interviewed during the Steinbrenner family’s 27th annual Children’s Christmas Concert at the Mahaffey Theatre in Tampa, Florida after he read “The Night Before Christmas” in front of a raucous crowd of 1,500 fourth and fifth grade students.

A Rod is back to baseball activities already and Mark Teixeira isn’t likely far behind. Just another baby step in the winter before the 2016 regular season. 

Aroldis Chapman Es Tonto

"I'm here to smoke cigars, shoot guns and choke women.. and I'm all out of cigars." - Not Aroldis Chapman

For the bilingual challenged and our non-Spanish speaking friends, tonto roughly means stupid. Aroldis Chapman is stupid. Let’s leave the game out of this for a second. Anyone who gets charged with domestic violence or commits the act, in my opinion of course, is stupid. I have a wife and I have two children and damn they can be frustrating at times and we fight maybe more than our fair share but you don’t see me punching her in a club, Yasiel Puig looking at you, and you don’t see me choking them on the same day I am finally going to get out of the hell hole that the Cincinnati Reds organization has become over the past couple of years.

By now even the news of the Los Angeles Dodgers agreeing to send two prospects to Cincinnati for Chapman and one year of service time has even made it to those living under a rock. What came out shortly after that news broke is what shocks me. Chapman reportedly fired eight gunshots after an altercation with his girlfriend that resulted in him choking her. This happened on October 30th and no charges were filed, and we’re just now hearing about it?

Chapman could be subject to a fine and/or suspension through Major League Baseball’s new domestic violence policy, even without an arrest or conviction.

This Day In New York Yankees History 12/11: Willie Randolph

On this day in 1975 the Yankees went crazy trading for players with multiple deals that shaped the look of the franchise. The Yankees acquired second basemen Willie Randolph and pitchers Dock Ellis and Ken Brett from the Pittsburgh Pirates for pitcher Doc Medich. The Yankees also acquired outfielder Bobby Bonds for outfielder Mickey Rivers and pitcher Ed Figueroa from the California Angels.

Also on this day in 1959 the Kansas City Athletics traded outfielder Roger Maris and two other players to the Yankees for Hank Bauer, Don Larsen, Norm Siebern, and Marv Throneberry. The A's were banned from trading with the Yankees for 18 months because they were being accused of serving as a big league farm club for the Yankees. This was the first trade between the two teams since the year and a half suspension.

Finally on this day in 1951 the Yankees Joe DiMaggio announced his retirement at the Yankees Fifth Avenue suite. DiMaggio claims he "no longer has it" in his speech due to his age and his injuries and ends his career after 13 seasons. DiMaggio finishes with a .325 batting average and 361 home runs.