Monday, February 28, 2011

Duke Snider Dies

Hall of Fame outfielder Duke Snider died yesterday. I always found his role in baseball history kind of interesting. As good as he was, he was probably the third best player in his own city. He lacked both the titles of the Mick and the signature moment of Willie Mays. Playing the same position as Mantle and Mays also contributed to him being overshadowed. It's hard to believe it took him 11 tries to get into the Hall of Fame. Just the same, I will raise a Brooklyn Lager, to you today Duke. For those of you who haven't tried it, the '55 Pennant Ale is pretty damn good.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Baseball is Back!

Yesterday we got our first taste of baseball since last November, and boy was it awesome. Some people ignore Spring Training and will only tune in once the real season starts, but to for me those games in February and March are what keep me going through the clean up from another wet and nasty winter thaw.

The Yankees fell to the Phillies 5-4 yesterday in a game that didn't see a ton of runs until the later innings. Early on the Yankee pitchers seemed solid. Joba Chamberlain threw a crisp clean inning where he displayed slightly new mechanics. Joba now starts his hands closer to his waist which gets his hands over the rubber sooner. The adjustment seemed to really change his approach and hopefully it leads to more consistent appearances throughout the season.

The young righty was plagued by massive late-inning blow ups during the first half of regular season last year, leading to a bloated ERA. If Joba can be what he was as a reliever in early 2008 or even the second half last season when he posted an ERA of 2.88 and a BB/K ratio of 4.63 then the Yankee bullpen has the potential to be a force of nature.

The other pitcher I was impressed with was Bartolo Colon. Crazy right? I should say I wasn't impressed so much as I was surprised his shins didn't give out under his ample frame. Also that he was able to touch the mid-90s with his fast ball in his second inning of work. That's really all Colon ever had, a power fastball, an average slider and an average change up. But if the Yankees can get 10 starts out of him, with him pitching to roughly his career numbers, then Brian Cashman's gamble will have reaped a decent reward.

The position players all did ok, A-Rod hit the ball with authority, everyone got excited because Mark Teixeira got a hit before May. Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson looked like they need a couple dozen more at bats before they will find their strokes, and honestly, Derek Jeter's 2011 swing didn't look a whole lot better than last year's version. Time will tell on that and I'm going to hold out hope that he can at least have a mild rebound from last year.

Today's game will give us a taste of the prospects. Ivan Nova will start for New York, and he will be throwing to the #3 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America: Jesus Montero. I was robbed of the chance to see him pitch when he was at Trenton back in 2009 and broke his wrist a week before the Thunder rolled through my backyard to play the New Britain Rock Cats.

Everyone will be critiquing his receiving skills, and I will be paying attention to that as well, but I can't wait to see him swing the stick. It should be fun to watch. BA's #43 prospect Dellin Betances will also be taking the mound today. He is one massive individual with a big fastball and a hammer curve. It should be fun.

Friday, February 25, 2011

2 players I am excited to see in red socks (I don’t mean Adrian Gonzalez or Carl Crawford)

The Red Sox made a lot of big moves this off-season as to be expected from a large market team that missed the playoffs last year. As a fan, I am happy to see Theo Epstein spend the money on quality players who can be expected to make significant contributions for the next 7-10 years. I really like Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, but the two Red Sox I am most excited about are two players who were with the Red Sox in 2010, Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Jose Iglesias.

Salty (I can’t be bothered to type out his whole name) is huge. Physically, he has all the tools to be successful. Injuries have been an issue, but because Varitek is the back-up Salty will get at least one day off a week, if not two. I think he could thrive in Boston as a manager of the pitching staff and a complimentary offensive player. (Most of the time he will be batting 8th). Varitek has already started to mentor Salty, encouraging him to grab a locker on the pitcher’s side of the locker room. Varitek is the only other position player on that side. Salty is still young and Francona won’t expect an MVP year from him, I think Tito would be happy if he was a solid contributor on a daily basis that grew into a more substantial role with the Sox.

I may be getting ahead of myself, as projections don’t expect Iglesias in Boston until 2012, but all reports are the kid has the potential to be a legitimate super-star. I have heard him described a cross between Jose Reyes and Hanley Ramirez. I always thought that giving up Ramirez for Beckett was a necessary and fair move, but it would have been nice to have Ramirez. Scutaro looks healthy and should be solid at shortstop, but if he struggles or gets hurt look for Igelsias to get the call up.

Friday, February 18, 2011

I'm Back!

It's been a long hiatus, I know. What can I say? I wish my job was to be a blogger, but it's not. It's something far, far, far less interesting. I can honestly say that I am excited for the Red Sox this year. Not like last year, when every night I would say, who the crap is that? Then watch the Sox go down 4-0 to the Orioles or someone like that before going to bed. I'm still not sure how the Red Sox ended up as one of the highest scoring teams in the AL.

Right now I am totally fascinated with this Miguel Cabrera story. I find it exceedingly sad when people have addictions. Particularly people who are doing a job any one of us would give just about anything to do. You just wonder why. His denial is just astounding. Luckily this did not turn out to be a Donte Stallworth type of situation. Makes you wonder what would happen if MLB had a personal conduct policy like the NFL does.