Tag Archives: New York Yankees

Beasts of the East

The countdown to the first pitch of the 2017 season is already ticking away. Only 42 days until pitchers and catchers report to their Spring Training facilities, but who’s really counting? Teams around the MLB have begun to solidify their rosters in preparation for the grueling 8 month season just around the corner. With that being said, it is time to make some REALLY early preseason predictions.

We will begin with a division that people are most familiar with, the American League East. In 2016, the Boston Red Sox ran away with the division in late August, beating out the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays by 4 games. Is it possible that the Sox can repeat as division winners for a second consecutive year in the league’s most competitive division? Here is how I see the division shaping up.

  1. Boston Red Sox (95-67)
  2. New York Yankees (90-72)
  3. Baltimore Orioles (85-77)
  4. Toronto Blue Jays (85-77)
  5. Tampa Bay Rays (70-92)

The Bo Sox and the Evil Empire are both primed to take the American League East by the reins. The last time we have seen these two teams at the top of this division dates back to 2009. The MLB is in dire need for this rivalry to be renewed and this may be the season it materializes.

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The Red Sox made the biggest move in the offseason, acquiring former Chicago White Sox ace, Chris Sale in a blockbuster deal that involved 4 Red Sox prospects. The addition of Sale makes the Red Sox the most dangerous team in the American League. The pitching rotation, which was a disappointment at times in 2016, will be the Red Sox strong suit come 2017. On top of the improved pitching rotation, the Red Sox have one of the strongest lineups, littered with young talent throughout. The 2017 Red Sox roster is the most talented that we have seen since 2013. Anything other than a division title will be a disappointment to the fans in Beantown.

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The New York Yankees were one of the most dangerous teams in the second half of the 2016 season. Stud rookie, Gary Sanchez lit up the MLB blasting 20 homeruns in just 53 games. The 23 year old solidified the middle of the Yankees lineup and gave them some much needed power. In addition to Sanchez, the Yankees signed Matt Holiday who at an old age still puts fear into opposing pitchers. The lineup is going to have to carry the Bronx Bombers because their pitching rotation is lackluster at best. In order for the Yankees to be successful they will need pitchers Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka to step up and perform to their potentials. The mission of the Yankees pitching rotation will be to try to get the ball into Dillion Betances and Aroldis Chapman’s hands with a lead. The Yankees bullpen and their improved offense will lead to a Wild Card spot in the American League.

Both the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays have done nothing to improve their rosters. In fact, both have gotten worse. The Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion to free agency and the O’s are on the verge of losing the league leader in home runs, Mark Trumbo to free agency as well. Their rosters are not nearly as talented as the Red Sox or Yankees and are poised to be mediocre at best.

In the cellar of the American League East comes the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays are the laughing stock of the American League and maybe all of baseball. At this point they should be in the business of selling their talent and stockpiling a farm system that will bring them back to the forefront.

The American League East will be one of the best divisions to watch in 2017. Putting all biases aside, the Red Sox are the most talented team and look poised to be the beasts of the east.

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A Rivalry Renewed?

The days of brawls, harsh words, and hatred seem to be a thing of the past between the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox. Images of Pedro Martinez throwing down 72 year old, Don Zimmer by the head and Jason Varitek picking up A-Rod still run vividly through my mind. The animosity between these two clubs was something that I could never forget. But as time goes on it seems like sports’ greatest rivalry has come and gone. So the question begs; will the rivalry ever be renewed?

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Baseball’s glory days date back to the early 2000s, when steroid infused juice-heads ran rampant across the MLB. The product on the field was sexier. Home runs were at an all-time high and games could switch in an instant. During this period, baseball saw its greatest rivalry come to the forefront. The Boston Red Sox, struggled year in and year out to take down baseball’s greatest team, the New York Yankees. The Yankees finished first in the American League East, beating out the Red Sox who came in second for 7 consecutive years, from 1997-2004. The two teams battled back and forth as baseballs unwritten rules would be broken time and time again. Hard slides, brush back pitches, and relentless jeers from the fans made these games like no other. Just the way baseball should be played.

Unfortunately for the MLB and the fans, the rivalry between the two organizations has become nonexistent. Both teams have struggled to stay atop an extremely competitive division, making some of the games between the two clubs seem unimportant. In the early 2000s when the rivalry was at its peak, each game was vital. A four game series at Yankee Stadium in late August could either win or lose you the division. Each pitch you would sit on the edge of your seat as you would watch Rodger Clemens and Pedro Martinez duel it out on the mound. Neither pitcher being afraid to put one under the chin of an opposing hitter.

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But things are looking up. The Red Sox recently just acquired Chris Sale who clearly puts them as the favorites out of the America League East. Immediately after the signing of Sale, the Yankees took a huge splash into the free agent pool, signing Cuban fire-baller, Aroldis Chapman. The Yankees were one of the best teams during the second half of the year in 2016. With the acquisition of Chapman, the Yankees have become a powerhouse in the American League as well. When the Red Sox and Yankees are at the top of their division, baseball flourishes. It is a real possibility that this rivalry can be rejuvenated.

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Like I mentioned before, Clemens and Martinez were never afraid to get into their opponent’s head. Their competitive nature was apparent and it wore off on their teammates as well. Looking at the rosters of both the Yankees and Red Sox, I can see similar characteristics. Chris Sale, David Price and Rick Porcello have all been in multiple conflicts with opposing teams, displaying their competitive nature. The Yankees have players like that as well. Chapman has been known to brush back hitters with his 100 MPH fastball and Chase Headley has gotten into an altercation with Red Sox pitcher, Rick Porcello.

The possibility that these two teams could fight for a division title may create a spark that the MLB needs. I’m looking for fights, fans screaming, and good baseball. We haven’t seen much of this for the past years but it seems like this rivalry may no longer be a thing of the past.

A-Rod Bids A-Dieu

Stunning news hit the headlines of the New York Times this week. Three-time Most Valuable Player, Alex Rodriguez announced that he will hang up his cleats for the final time after Friday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays. Rodriguez is just four homeruns shy of 700 and ranks 4th for the most homeruns in MLB history. A-Rod’s storied career has been filled with endless amounts of drama, ranging from on the field brawls, to performance enhancing drug use. It is shocking that one of the most productive players for over 20 years would retire so abruptly. Nowadays, we are used to having the Derek Jeters, David Ortizes, and Kobe Bryants of the world announce that it will be their final season so he all the corny gifts and praise throughout the season. A-Rod is arguably the most talented player to ever play the game, so why did the Yankees ask him to no longer be an active player on their roster? Is it because he’s a pompous ass? Probably. But I also think it may be because the Yankees are a step ahead of the game and taking a page from one of their rivals.

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Following the game on Friday, Rodriguez will be released from the team and added as an advisor to the players. This means that A-Rod will still receive the $27 million that he has left on his contract which will count against the luxury-tax. So it seems like the Yankees aren’t gaining anything.

A-Rod’s deteriorating talent is allowing the Yankees to play younger players. Let’s look at the Red Sox of a few years ago. Their horrible 2014 and 2015 seasons allowed them to play Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, and Xander Bogaerts on a daily basis. This most certainly helped develop them into the players they are today. If the Yankees decide to take this approach, it will allow them to develop their farm systems under the watchful eye of one of the best players of all time, A-Rod. At the ripe age of 18, A-Rod joined the MLB and has the experience to teach the young studs in the system to become productive players.

Though I do believe the Yankees had enough of A-Rod’s dramatics, the way they handled this situation works out for both parties. The Yankees are on a complete overhaul and have taken huge strides to become competitive again in the American League East. Look out for the Bronx Bombers come next year, they seem primed to make major moves during the offseason and have acquired young pieces to be talented for years to come.

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Win, Lose, or Draw

The trade deadline in the MLB is a baseball fan’s wet dream. August 1st, marks the day that teams in contention make a last-stitch effort to put their rosters over the top. This year, a total of 32 trades were made. Trades that may leave you puzzled and shaking your head and some that made sense for both sides. In many situations we have teams who are the clear-cut winners and losers at the deadline.

Winners:

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  1. Boston Red Sox

Yes, I know this is an unpopular pick because most people are saying that the Sox didn’t do enough at the deadline. But that is exactly why I think they deserve the number 3 spot. First, let’s start with the acquisitions they made. On July 14th the Red Sox traded their stud prospect Anderson Espinoza to the Padres for 2016 All-Star, Drew Pomeranz. This move hit the headlines with many differing opinions. Personally, I liked the move. The Red Sox needed depth in their rotation. Picking up Pomeranz gave the Sox just that. Also, the Red Sox retain arbitration rights until the 2018 season. The move made sense team-wise and economically.

The Sox were not done just yet. They also added relief pitchers Brad Ziegler and Fernando Abad. Both were under-rated pickups by the Red Sox front office. Ziegler is a wily ol’ vet whose career ERA is 2.47 and has shown the ability to come into pressure-filled situations and stifle hitters. Abad is a strong lefty arm who has had a career year, compiling a strong 2.65 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. The addition of both these arms will undoubtedly improve the team and provide much needed depth to a beat up bullpen.

Sometimes the best move is not making a move at all. In this case, this is why I think the Red Sox deserve the spot at number 3. Rumors were flying that the Red Sox were interested in White Sox ace, Chris Sale. The White Sox were not going to let go of Sale that easily. It was reported that the White Sox were asking for the Red Sox top 3 prospects. This to me would be an outrageous offer. Giving up Andrew Benintendi, Yoan Moncado, and Rafael Devers for a guy who pitches every fifth day would leave the Red Sox farm system in utter dismay. I believe it was the right decision to pass on Sale so the Red Sox future can continue to look bright.

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  1. Los Angeles Dodgers

The Dodgers made a huge splash, acquiring the best starting pitcher moved at the deadline, Rich Hill. They also added Josh Reddick in the same trade. The addition of both these players is extremely beneficial to their roster. Reddick provides outfield help that they so desperately needed. Yasiel Puig has been demoted to AAA because of his horrid start and it seems that Reddick would fill his spot in the outfield. Reddick is an outstanding fielder and has the ability to change a game with one swing of the bat. Reddick plays the game the right way, something that the Dodger’s front office hated about Puig. The addition of Rich Hill will propel the Dodgers into the playoffs. Hill has had an outstanding year thus far, compiling a 9-3 record and a 2.25 ERA. Dodger’s ace, Clayton Kershaw has been out since June 26th with a hurt back, so the addition of Hill comes at the perfect time to fill in for Kershaw as he recovers. The Dodgers did a great job accessing their needs and going out and addressing them at the deadline.

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  1. Texas Rangers

Things heated up in Arlington last night when the Texas Rangers added both Jonathon Lucroy and Carlos Beltran. Lucroy and Beltran are fantastic acquisitions to the Rangers’ middle of the lineup, something they desperately needed. The Rangers’ pitching staff has been a huge question mark this season but has the potential to be one of the best once everyone gets healthy. Adding a couple of power hitters to the lineup will surely boost this team far into the playoffs. Look out for the Rangers come October, their team is ready to make a run at their first World Series championship.

Honorable Mentions: The New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, and the New York Mets

The Yankees were sellers during this deadline, but were able to acquire 9 prospects and have started to build a farm system that they were lacking. The Chicago Cubs jumped into the pool when they acquired Aroldis Chapman from the Yankees. Easily the best player moved at the deadline, but may not have been a move they needed to make. When leading after the 8th inning the Cubs had only lost 4 times. The Cubs gave up a lot of prospects for Chapman. It certainly gives them stability out of the bullpen but the trade seems to be a little unnecessary. Lastly, the Mets acquired Jay Bruce. The Mets are horrible when they have runners in scoring position. Bruce is the National League leader in RBI’s so the addition of him to the lineup will certainly address their issue. I don’t believe they did nearly enough to get them back to the World Series.

Losers:   

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  1. Miami Marlins

Surprisingly, the Marlins are in contention to take home a Wild Card spot in the National League, but after their disappointing deadline, it seems as if they are not nearly as serious as their record says. The 57-49 Marlins made one addition, acquiring Andrew Cashner who has struggled in his past two seasons. The 6’6’’ righty has gone 10-23 dating back to 2015 and has continued to steadily decline. The fact that the Marlins did not go out and get more is shocking to me. Finally the Marlins are competitive but end up seemingly getting worse.

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  1. Kansas City Royals

What a snooze-fest!! Even though the Royals are mediocre this year, it is surprising that they didn’t make one move. The Royals have been a disappointment and have been riddled with injuries from many of their key players. Once they return from the DL the Royals could have moved up the standings quickly. Making no moves seemed to a big mistake. I wouldn’t have counted the Royals out but now I think it is time to do so.

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  1. Chicago White Sox

The Chicago White Sox showed exactly how to not make a deal at the deadline. Like I stated previously, the White Sox asked for the top 3 prospects in the Red Sox organization. Nobody in their right mind would ever do that. The White Sox showed exactly how you turn off an organization from making a deal. They were too greedy and now are left with an extremely unhappy pitcher that they certainly won’t be able to keep once he hits free agency. Sale’s value will never be higher than it is now. They could have gotten a lot but what they asked for was outrageous.

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Aroldis Chapman Suspension: Is it Really a Big Deal?

It is a known commodity that the New York Yankees are big spenders when it comes to off-season acquisitions. Dating back to the early 2000’s, the Yankees have spent an absurd amount of money on free-agents who have failed to pan out. Carl Pavano, A.J. Burnett, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Giambi, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann, and Carlos Beltran are just a few free agents that have fallen flat on their faces in Yankee pinstripes. The salaries of these players total over half a billion dollars.

The Yankees were back at it again this off-season with their free-agency signing of Cuban flame-thrower, Aroldis Chapman. Chapman inked a 1 year 11.325 million dollar contract with the Bronx Bombers after six great years with the Cincinnati Reds. A few weeks after the signing of Chapman, reports surfaced that Chapman was involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend, where he allegedly fired gun shots and choked her in his Davie, Florida home. After these reports surfaced, the MLB handed down a 30 game suspension to the new New York Yankee for violating the leagues domestic violence policy.

Chapman is the hardest throwing pitcher in baseball history, topping the gun at 106 MPH. Imagine stepping in the box and having to face a guy who can break the sound barrier with a pitch and then follow that with a sharp 90 MPH slider dipping down and away from righties and into the ankles of lefties. If there is one pitcher that players don’t want to see coming out of the pen, it would be Chapman. Over his 6 years with the Cincinnati Reds, he was named an All Star 4 times and finished with an ERA of 2.17. Chapman also tallied 146 saves and 546 strikeouts. Of course the suspension of Chapman for 30 games is a loss for the Yankees bullpen. But is it really that big of a deal?

Dating back to last year, the Yankees were ranked with the 16th best bullpen in the league…an impressive feat for a group of young and inexperienced arms. With another year under their belts, the sky could be the limit. For the first 30 games, Andrew Miller will be heading the pen as the closer. Miller’s first year as a closer went better than expected. The tall, lanky left-hander recorded 36 saves, had a 2.04 ERA, and a WHIP of 0.86; beating out Chapman in both saves and WHIP.

Behind Miller in the pen, the Yankees have Dellin Betances. This young stud has been huge out of the pen for the pinstripes. In 2015 he had a 1.50 ERA, had a WHIP of 1.01 and held batters to an average of .157.

Both Miller and Betances have the ability to be top of the pen guys. Both have lively fastballs and outstanding off-speed pitches. These two have the capability to carry the bullpen for the first month and a half of the season before Chapman comes back from his suspension.

Of course the addition of Chapman adds amazing depth to the Yankees bullpen. The presence of Chapman alone could bring the Yankees into consideration of having one of the best bullpens in all of baseball. The trio of Betances, Miller, and Chapman could be unstoppable. But is Chapman just going to become another Carl Pavano or Jason Giambi? Chapman is already off on the wrong foot in New York but time will soon tell if the Yankees made the right choice in their quest for their 28th World Series Championship.

Yankees acquire Aroldis Chapman

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When the legend Mariano Rivera hung up the cleats in 2013, there have been a lot of contestants trying to fill his role as the Yankees closer. But earlier this afternoon, the Yankees got their guy. Four time all star, Aroldis Chapman was traded from the Cincinnati Reds where he got 146 saves in the span of 6 seasons. Chapman doesn’t have the devastating cutter Rivera used to throw; in fact, Chapman is kind of like the opposite of Rivera.

The Yankees gave away 4 minor leaguers for the one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game…and that’s just an understatement. Batters try not to show fear as Chapman fires 100+ MPH fastballs on a regular pitch basis. The one thing that batters hate when they face him is that they don’t know where the ball is going…and sometimes neither does Chapman.

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Dodgers made a deal with the Reds to send Chapman to the Blue Crew. But after Chapman was alleged to being involved in assaulting his girlfriend, the deal was called off. Knowing the Reds are in complete rebuild mode, they weren’t done trying to trade him, which caused the Yankees to give them a call, and the rest is history.

One question mark is if Chapman will be in uniform on Opening Day. His assault charges are in further investigation right now and if it doesn’t play out in Chapman’s favor, Yankee fans may not be seeing him close a game until later in the season.

But let’s say the charges are dropped and he is ready to go for Opening Day. You could arguably say that the Yankees have the best 1-2-3 punch coming out of the bullpen in all of baseball. With having Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller being the 7th and 8th inning guys before Chapman, you could say the chances for a comeback by the opposing team decreases dramatically. But who knows, with the signing of Chapman, Miller could be on the trade block. With the Yankees trying to get younger, an everyday outfielder or power hitter could be a good option for replacing a 38 year old Carlos Beltran and 40 year old Alex Rodriguez.

If Miller isn’t dealt anywhere this winter and the Yankees decide to have a 3-headed monster in the bullpen, all you have to tell your starting rotation is to give their team a quality start and the bullpen will finish the job. Not that hard, right? Maybe not for the Bronx Bombers. The Yankees finished 23rd last season in quality starts in all of baseball with 72. But with the offense finishing second in runs scored and picking up the team’s ERA being above 4, you can say that the lesser amount of quality starts won’t be a problem.

Another issue the Yankees COULD have with this deal is if that Chapman becomes a free agent next season. If Chapman has a break out year and another team offers him some big bucks, don’t be surprised if he decides to sign elsewhere. But knowing the Yankees and their history of big contracts, I don’t see there being another team getting in their way.

With this deal being done today, the Yankees made their case that they will be contending for the A.L. East crown just like everyone else. They and Boston’s bullpen seem to be equally dominant on paper. But no matter how good your team looks on paper, I, as a Red Sox fan, know that anything can happen when the season starts.