In its relative infancy, the replay system that Major League Baseball has employed, so far, has ran pretty smoothly. We aren’t getting as many meltdowns from managers, but the pace of the game isn’t slowing down, and the umpires are getting the calls right. That is exactly what replay is there for: to get the call right.
For today’s team preview, you’re in for a real treat. The team is the New York Yankees, always relevant and at the forefront of the baseball universe. This preview is extra special because it’s written by one of our favorite baseball writers on the internet: William Tasker, also known as The Flagrant Fan. You can follow William on twitter here for some great baseball takes and reads all season long. William gives us an excellent perspective being that he is a die-hard Yankees fan.
Every single projection system on the planet seems to calculate the 2014 New York Yankees to finish with 83 wins. And that is somewhat understandable since huge question marks abound concerning the infield, the bullpen and CC Sabathia. But what if those concerns are unfounded? This is a team that can win 93 games just as easily as it wins 83.
Manager Joe Girardi has had a very successful Spring Training. With a team stacked with injury risk, the only major concern has been time missed by Jacoby Ellsbury with a calf strain. Of cource, the newly acquired center fielder is one of those injury risks as he has had problems staying on the field in the past. Otherwise, others who have caused great concern have looked healthy. Let’s go over that list quickly. Continue reading
There are few players who are as immensely solid and steady as Derek Jeter has been for two decades now. When he began his Hall of Fame run, I was not yet even in High School. Things are now winding down, and as he enters what he today declared to be his final season, I’m ten years into my own career and adult life.
If only I would have been as consistent as Jeter.
This is not a post meant to eulogize the guy just yet; that will come on this blog after he’s played his final game. But before you go saying ‘here comes another tribute season to someone’, try and remember that baseball is just a much better place with Derek Jeter as part of it. I’m by no means a Yankee fan, but I respect the place in the game that the Yankee captain signifies. Jeter has done a great job carrying that torch with dignity and respect, never once tarnishing his name. You don’t find flip phone pictures of Derek Jeter doing anything funny floating around the internet. He has been the consummate teammate and professional for such a long period of time. I mean honestly; who goes 20 years without screwing up in some fashion?
Click through the jump to see Jeter’s announcement.
So I am in a state where I am desperately trying things to pass the time until baseball season begins – and I don’t just mean spring training games and pitchers and catchers report stuff. That’s not the end-all, be-all for me. I mean the real thing. Real games, counting stats, nightly standings. And I log onto my favorite daily sites to read something that will hopefully pass the time in a faster manner (nothing will), and all I find is Alex Rodriguez talk.
I have little reaction to the A-Rod stuff at this point. I just want it to go away. He’s a liar. He’s lied so long that he probably believes himself. He strikes me as the kind of guy who sits around wondering why the rest of the world is mad at him for all of this.
I agree with Fangraph’s Dan Szymborski in that A-Rod should just go full-heel turn if he ever plays again and embrace being the villain. But he’s never going to be able to do that because A-Rod is a tone deaf douche. He will probably ride off into the sunset lying. Just die clean, that’s the only way to save face at this point.
The whole thing is a real shame. I remember back in 1996 when Rodriguez exploded upon the scene. I presume he might have been cheating then as well, but the world didn’t know it. And this kid was one of the most exciting players to follow growing up. What he was doing in Seattle every night back then was a joy to watch. It’s hard to believe this is even the same player and person we’re sitting here hating to write about all these years later.
And I long for a day when we get something interesting to talk about or read about. Just 75 more long, excruciating days until we have something other than Rodriguez and his sketch doctor Bosch to talk about. I can hardly live long enough.
Well here’s a sentence I never thought I would type: Alfonso Soriano is the hard hittin’est of them all. And it’s hardly a sentence because there’s a word in there that isn’t in the English language (unless you speak Diamond Hogger).
Starting one calendar week ago today, Soriano had one of the biggest weeks in baseball history; and one that is worthy of him being named HHMWMPOTW.
Here are the stats – and you better be sitting down:
15 for 22 (.682 batting average), Five home runs, 18 RBI, .682/.708/1.409 slash line. That’s an OPS of 2.117 for a week. True to Soriano form, he walked just one time even being as white-hot as he was. The crazy bastard had 14 RBI in a 3-game stretch which tied a big league record. Then for shits and giggles he collected four more on the fourth night to give him his total of 18.
I hope that someone’s fantasy baseball team reaped the benefits of this tidal wave of offense he provided. I was one of the ignorant ones who talked myself out of picking him up for a short tour of duty because while I thought he might have a resurgence in his second go around as a Yankee, I couldn’t see anything like this coming down the pipeline.
Here’s the grand slam he hit at Yankee Stadium to really get this going. No one can say that Soriano’s second chance in pinstripes didn’t go over well. The guy can still flat out hit when he gets in a groove.
I really didn’t know how Joe Girardi would handle this. I thought there was a possibility when he came right down to it, the organization would have him pull the plug on things and say that in respect of Major League Baseball’s ruling; Alex Rodriguez would not be playing for the Yankees.
But the Yankees are rolling A-Rod out there, hitting him clean-up tonight against the White Sox.
Stuff’s about to get cray. A-Rod is getting a final slate of games to compile some more stats before he never plays again. He’s set to meet with the media at 6:15 ET.
Canton, Ohio grabs the spotlight tomorrow by kicking off the NFL season with the Hall of Fame ceremonies and that crappy exhibition game of grocery baggers. But Canton should be remembered for a different reason on this weekend.
Thurman Munson died 34 years ago today, four years before I was born. I know people in Canton who knew Thurman. After talking to them and reading this story on Deadspin about him, he sounds like the type of player I’m sorry that I never got to see take the field.
I wanted to read something that would give me an idea about all things Mickey Mantle; a player I never got to see play but a figure whom I consider more to be a God of the great game or an icon of the game’s storied past. In The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood, Jane Leavy pulls together every moment in great detail from seedling to star of ‘The Mick’. After completing this book I am convinced that this will be history’s comprehensive read on one of the game’s greatest legends ever.
It’s obvious from the book’s beginning that Leavy did a great deal of homework in pulling this together – and I like when writers do that. It’s a quality that really endeared Jeff Pearlman to me. Leavy takes the same approach; if the milk man would have seen Mantle playing in the front yard a few times in Oklahoma and he was still leaving, Leavy would have done her due diligence in talking to him about Mantle’s childhood.
We learn very early on that Jane Leavy was one of the American’s who put Mantle on a pedastool, idolizing him through the heat of many steaming Bronx summers. Later on in life she had the opportunity to spend a day with her hero to interview him and was shown some very human like blemishes of her Superman (Mantle actually attempts to sleep with the author in one of his drunken stupors). But she also sees the soft side of the Mick. Leavy learns the truth about his sobriety – how for all his folk story accomplishments on a baseball diamond – that his greatest triumph was perhaps the man he ended up becoming before his expiration. This will serve as a proud moment for those who loved Mantle when they read about him.
This book simply offered such exquisite documented detail on every event in Mickey Mantle’s life and career. I wanted to read about the degrees of Mantle’s alcoholism and hard partying days. Leavy tells dozens of tales of Mantle staying up all night long with his own teammates and friends of the opposition; only to report to the park the next day and homer twice. If it weren’t so accurately descriptive you would think it was a folk hero tale.
I wanted to read about that Yankee Stadium outfield drain that Mantle stepped in during the World Series that left him playing on one leg his entire career – it’s in the book down to the detail of what the doctor who cut Mantle open after the surgery.
You’ll read about Mantle’s rocky relationship with Joe Dimaggio, his close friendships with Whitey Ford and Billy Martin, that magical 1961 season with Roger Maris as well as an entire chapter on the longest legendary home run he hit against the Washington Senators in the nation’s capital.
And there’s stories about him chasing broads. Lots, and lots of broads. Right down to the bitter end, Mantle was always kept company with buxom beauties just like you’ve always heard about.
You also learn that on the inside of this superhero was a very mortal human being who was a lot like you and I. He was not able to be with his father when he died. Mantle often feared his own death at a young age and wondered whether or not he would be saved once he got to the pearly gates.
When you read about all those summer days of the Yankees glory, you’ll be able to picture the bright July sunshine that beat down on Yankee Stadium when Mantle was the king of the earth. Nearly any Mantle tale that you’ve heard from fathers, grandfathers, or figures of your life who grew up in this era will be touched upon and give you an accurate trial of how it went down. You’ll feel as if you actually got to see the Triple Crown season of 1956 unfold.
Through reading this book I realize one take-home message: that for all the talking I do to try and tell those with an interest in baseball that Bryce Harper or Mike Trout will be the ‘Mickey Mantle of my son’s time’; I realize there will NEVER be another Mickey Mantle that walks the earth or anything close to it.
Not only was Mantle a modern marvel of science with more God given ability then most of the ballplayers who are on our television sets in today’s era, he simply existed in a time and space that wasn’t of the internet-age where information is readily available. The access we have to players today spoils us. The lack of access that fans and writers had to Mantle, coupled with the way everything in sports are sponsored and so corporate in today’s world robs us of the magical mystique in today’s world. That part of the game has been gone a long time.
Players today simply know better. They don’t openly drink cans of Natural Light in the locker room or smoke cigarettes down in the tunnels, and if they do it’s immediately a story. In Mantle’s day it was nothing for him to sleep off his hangover in the training room before the game only to get started on a new one when his work at the yard was completed for the day.
I wasn’t privileged enough to grow up in the era of ‘The Last Boy’, to experience the age of innocence that was baseball in the 50′s and 60′s. But I realize through reading this book that I would have probably been a Yankees fan, helpless against the intoxication that the man who wore number seven offered to those born in the late 1940′s or early 1950′s.
And in the end the things that should be important to every man were important to Mantle. He did good things and righted many wrongs in his life. It is almost sad and cryptic to read along and watch as he self destructs after his playing career ends. He turns his sons into drinking buddies – after largely ignoring his wife and family during his playing career. Yet one learns that through all the lovers he kept in his company, Mantle refused to ever get a divorce from his wife Merlyn because he loved her to the fullest of the ability that he knew how. At the end of the story, Mantle becomes the father he always should have been. It’s a part in the story that will tug on some heart strings because it will remind readers of their own personal lives and their own fathers perhaps.
Through it all you also realize that Mantle did every bit as much to raise the Yankee ‘NY’ insignia to greatness as players like Ruth, Gehrig, and Dimaggio. Mantle was simply the next one in line to carry the torch, and he did it with a lot more flair than his past counterparts.
You come to realize why Mantle’s collectible items are still as valuable as anyone’s in the collector market present day. Leavy devotes an entire chapter to Mantle’s collectibility back in those days, his relationship with the Upper Deck company, and how his rookie card came to be the card that changed sports collecting and the hobby.
This was one of the most interesting baseball works that I’ve ever opened up, and it’s a perfect book to start reading in the summer months when you’re in the heat of baseball season. We’ll never have the chance to know what it was like growing up in the Bronx, listening to our radio while they tar the streets in hopes that Mantle would hit the next of his gargantuan blasts. But through Leavy’s work, we get to experience just a taste of it. Leavy takes us along through Mickey Mantle’s wild and unbelievable ride through life.
This post should have been up yesterday – as it goes up on most Monday’s – but it was hard to select a player for HHMWPOTW.
You see, not every week in baseball is someone going to go totally apeshit and hit 6 or 7 home runs. We’ve just been incredibly lucky because Miguel Cabrera, Dominic Brown, and Jay Bruce have been very accommodating since we started this little award.
This boy who takes home the hardware is in a contract year, and when a guy like Robby Cano is in a contract year; you know he’s going to get someone sooner or later.
In the week that was, Cano went .375/.484/.833 with 3 home runs and 10 RBI. He walked six times and struck out only ONCE.
Robby went boom.
Derek Jeter is close to being ready, and things have escalated quickly.
According to the New York Daily News’ Mark Feinsand, Jeter will join Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday.
Derek Jeter has been cleared by the Yankees to begin a rehab assignment. He is scheduled to join Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre tomorrow.
— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) July 5, 2013
Feinsand said the plan is for Jeter to play ‘at least five innings’ at shortstop tomorrow.
Since last week we gave the award to a hot starter. we’ll turn our attention to the Icy side. The New York Yankees find themselves in first place , partially thanks to a pitching staff that ranks 3rd in the AL in ERA. Well, that rank could probably be better if not for the recent starts from CC Sabathia. Over the last week, he has given up 11 runs and comes close to posting a 9.00 ERA. His ERA for the season is still quite respectable but these kind of outings against AL East opponents is not a recipe for success. He managed a no decision against the Orioles, but only K’d 2 while giving up 11 hits and actually had a lower game score than when he gave up 7 runs in 7 innings to the Rays. Yikes. Sabathia is one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball, but if you’re a Yankees fan or you own him in fantasy, he drove you crazy this week.
I’m going to spend some quality time with my wife tonight, and for the first time this season we’re going to watch her Yankees. I’m not particulary thrilled about having to watch the Yanks minus Jeter, or a true ace on the bump. There’s just not much to keep my interests.
And THEN I see who is pitching for the Seattle Mariners. I don’t mean to interrupt quality baseball posts with this nonsense that further fills the endless space of the internet, but doesn’t Hisashi Iwakuma look like Splinter? I have always thought that. Besides, this guy has received zero run-time and features some of the best stuff in baseball through 8 starts this year.
Nastiest splitter in the game, rat-faced Iwakuma (a valuable member of my fantasy team) brings his 0.74 WHIP and 6.38 K to BB ratio into Yankee Stadium. Most likely so that my wife’s Yankees can shit all over him. Ol’ Splinter here better have packed enough wise advice for himself and his four sons. He’s going to need it tonight, because regression is coming and Hell’s coming with it!
Didn’t Michealangelo and the rest of the turtles live in a sewer in New York City? Yes, I am screwed up.
This is pretty cool. Huffing, puffing Cookie Cookie Sabathia gets three outs with just one pitch. This is still going to be an agonizingly long year for the Yankees. Don’t tell my wife or my poor father-in-law that I said that. Ah, Hell. I don’t care if my wife knows. She does an extremely poor job of following the Yankees every year until the ALCS or World Series and then jumps aboard.
As part of our preview for the upcoming 2013 season, we’ll be doing a 10 Bold Predictions for 2013 series that will be featured between now and Opening Day. Our third prediction: Yoenis Cespedes collects more MVP votes than Robinson Cano.
Robinson Cano has been one of the best hitters in baseball over past several years. His three year averages: .311/.370/.539, 30 HR, 107 RBI, 104 runs, and 5 sB. The 30/100/100 mark is a milestone and when someone averages that over three years in an increasingly pitching dominated era, it’s incredible. He has finished 3rd, 6th, and 4th in the MVP race in the past three years. It seems like any year now he is going to win it. Well, it’s not likely to be this year. Let me get this out there to start. In no way is this prediction based on the fact that Cano will be meaningfully worse this year, but the Yankees lineup is not going to be great this year and two of these stats depend in part on his teammates – RBIs and runs. In each case, Cano only contributes half of the contribution to the stat. I don’t think Cano will go over 100 in RBIs or runs this year. His average should maintain over .300 and the o/u on his HRs this year is probably 30. Still a great year, but it won’t stack up against his previous seasons.
Let’s look at the other side of the coin, Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes came to Oakland last year from Cuba. It was a bit of a surprise that Oakland spent on what was basically a free agent, but I suppose they saw more value than anyone else did. Cespedes’ rookie year was going great, certainly overshadowed by Mike Trout, but great nonetheless. However, he only got to play in 129 games last year due to a wrist injury. What could he have done with a full season? His 162 game averages were .292/.356/.505, 29 HR, 103 RBI, 88 runs, and 20 SB. Take a few counting stats off for a 158 games season and his numbers don’t look too far off of Cano except exchange some runs for some SB. Cespedes isn’t a young rookie, he’ll be entering his age 27 season this year. Cespedes has always been rated as plus raw power with speed to match so the 30 HR/20 SB averages aren’t too surprising. The .292 average to go with it is what can set him apart from the typical power/speed outfield type. In a season where the overall average with .260 you can count the guys on two hands who can hit for average, power and steal plenty of bases.
Part of this prediction is based on the fact that the MVP is voted on. It’s not a mathematical calculation of who had the best year. Although Cano possibly has the advantage of being in a bigger market, the media is national enough that Cespedes will get plenty of press, especially if Oakland comes close to their 2012 season. Another great year from Cespedes will be exciting as he is still relatively unknown to the casual fan and he could still have the “breakout” year narrative since last season was cut short by injury. I don’t think either of these guys will necessarily win the MVP, but we can count the votes at the end of the year. Check back to see if I’m brilliant or a complete idiot, or a little bit of neither.
- Cano: .301, 28 HR, 94 RBI, 90 runs, 4 SB
- Cespedes: .296, 34 HR, 105 RBI, 85 runs, 23 SB