Tag Archive | "Bench"

Baseball on Three Hours Sleep – The World Baseball Classic is Under Way!!!

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Baseball on Three Hours Sleep – The World Baseball Classic is Under Way!!!

Posted on 04 March 2013 by Trish Vignola

Bear with me here. I was up early, like 11pm EST early, watching the World Baseball Classic’s Opening Day. Chien-Ming Wang came out crazy strong, pitching Chinese Taipei (i.e. Taiwan) to their first win of the tournament. Wang is now the buzz of every General Manager in North America with a pitching slot to fill.

ChienMingWang

Anyone want to take the over/under on how quickly the New York Mets will screw this up?

As feel good as a story as Chinese Taipei is, that wasn’t the most exciting game of the day. Two-time defending champion Japan rallied to beat Brazil 5-3 in its opening game of the World Baseball Classic. You heard me…they had to rally.

Japan trailed 3-2 before adding three runs in the top of the eighth inning in front of a crowd of 28,181 at the Fukuoka Dome. Hirokazu Ibata came off the bench to tie the game with a single to right that scored Seiichi Uchikawa from second. Japan took a 4-3 lead when Ibata scored from third on a fielder’s choice and added an insurance run on Nobuhiro Matsuda’s single to center that scored Hisayoshi Chono.

“This was a very difficult game for us,” Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said, reported by the New York Daily News. “Brazil put up a very good fight. But we got some timely hits in the eighth and were able to make a comeback.” Brazil, managed by Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, looked ready to pull off an upset when the tournament debutantes took a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning on a double by Leonardo Reginatto that scored Paulo Orlando from second.

“These players love to compete,” Larkin said, reported by the New York Daily News. “They love a challenge and this was a challenge similar to the qualifiers when we beat Panama. I’m extremely proud of the way my players performed in this game.”

I’m not going to lie. If you didn’t catch this game, Brazil is a pretty exciting team and Barry Larkin looks mighty comfortable as a manager. I wonder if he’ll be in the conversation when the managerial merry-go-round begins midseason.

Japan now launches to the top of pool A, which includes 2006 runner-up Cuba and China. Two teams from the group will advance to the March 8-12 second round at Tokyo Dome with a chance to move on to the March 17-19 championship round in San Francisco. Japan pitcher Tadashi Settsu, who gave up one run on two hits over three innings of relief, picked up the win. Oscar Nakaoshi took the loss after giving up two runs in the eighth.

Japanese home-run king Sadaharu Oh, who managed the Japan team that won the first WBC, threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Brazil silenced the near-capacity crowd by taking the lead in the bottom of the first inning when Reginatto hit a sharp single to left that scored Orlando. Japan tied the game in the top of the third when Yoshio Itoi singled to right to score Hayato Sakamoto from second. The Japan took a 2-1 lead in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Sakamoto that scored Ryoji Aikawa from third. Brazil tied it 2-2 in the bottom of the fourth when Reginatto doubled and scored on a close play at the plate on a shot to center by Reinaldo Sato.

With the Kingdom of the Netherlands actually producing the first upset of the tournament, handing 2009 runner-up Korea its first lost. This tournament is going to be pretty exciting. The heat is on for traditional powerhouses, like the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the United States. There are some new contenders in town. Brazil and the Netherlands are here to play and they aren’t going away quietly.

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The A-Rod Saga

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The A-Rod Saga

Posted on 24 October 2012 by Will Emerson

Let me start by saying, because I don’t think I can really stress this enough, that I really, utterly, totally, absolutely, genuinely, without equivocation, loathe Alex Rodriguez. This is very important knowledge for you, the reader, to have in your head before you read further, because there will be moments whilst you read the rest of this, that you will think I am defending Alex Rodriguez. Trust me, I am not. The point is not to come to A-Rod’s defense, but rather lambasting the Yankees, really baseball, okay sports in general, I guess and their knee-jerk reactions. Got all that? Okay, good, you may read on.

Now, is there a problem with Joe Girardi benching A-Rod in the playoffs? No, not so much. In the postseason every game counts and you need to give yourself the best chance at winning. A-Rod was not hitting whatsoever and has struggled mightily against right-handed pitchers since he returned from injury, to the tune of a .158 batting average and a sub .500 OPS. The trouble here, as can tend be the trouble these days, is that high-priced superstars do not like to be benched. More importantly, the top brass in an organization will often times force a coach or manager to play a guy simply because they are paying a buttload of money and they ain’t shelling out those dollars for their studs to ride the pine, as it were. But in this instance, which seems rare these days, the manager and the head honchos in the organization seemed to be okay with sitting the slumping A-Rod. It’s the playoffs and you need to do what it takes to win, even if it means throwing millions of dollars on the bench. If you were looking at just stats, as you generally should if you want to win games, benching A-Rod was something of a no-brainer. The thing that is something of a surprise, and that will be the story for the rest of the postseason and into the Hot Stove season, is the swirling rumors of A-Rod being traded. Huh?

It seems that the Yankees, or perhaps the media, are thinking that A-Rod’s poor postseason performance and benching means it is time he parted ways with the Bronx Bombers. Is all this really coming off the heels of a 25 at bat postseason stretch? I mean it was a bad stretch for sure. He was 3-25 in the postseason, which as you know, is less than good. In fact, it’s downright abysmal. But the rest of the Yankees were not exactly tearing the cover off the ball either. They hit .211 in the ALDS against the Orioles and an even worse .157 in the ALCS. Robinson Cano hit .056 in the ALCS and Mark Teixeira hit .200 for the series. But all of a sudden, everything seems to fall on A-Rod. Now remember, I am not defending A-Rod. I loathe A-Rod. But it’s strange if this is the basis for the A-Rod trade rumors, it seems. It’s not as if A-Rod has a history of being clutch in the postseason, right?

A-Rod is not only not thought of as clutch hitter, he is thought of as being the complete opposite, someone who is notoriously bad in the clutch and in big games. Here are his bating averages in his last five postseason series’ .273, .190, .111, .125 and .111. So it should not come as a big surprise that he is not great in October this year. In fact, since becoming a Yankee A-Rod has only hit over that .273 mark in three of his thirteen postseason series’. Now batting average is not one of my favorite stats, but the OPS which I love, was not much better. In the last five postseason series’ he has not had an OPS over .606 and in the last two postseasons he has posted an OPS under .400. Not even remotely good. But in the postseason it can also be more about the quality, not the quantity of the hits, right? But even there, A-Rod as not been much help. He has six, count ‘em six, RBIs in his last 21 postseason games, including zero this postseason. So, is this the real issue?

Now some, including myself a couple paragraphs ago, are saying that the trade rumors are based on his recent 25 postseason at bats. But maybe, just maybe, this is a matter of enough being enough. I mean, really, we have been hearing for years about how A-Rod does not hit in the clutch or in big games when his team needs him to produce, but in no other season have we heard these trade rumors. I don’t find A-Rod to be a genuine, or even nice, guy. I don’t feel he is a great team player or helps to create a good clubhouse atmosphere. So is it a matter of this being the final straw? I mean for the Yankees, not winning a World Series more or less means that the season was a failure and if the people they have will not get them another ring, then it is just time to cut bait. Is this a smart move for the Yankees, though?

Clearly the Yankees had more issues than just A-Rod this postseason, but A-Rod is probably the least likeable player on the Yankees so there may not be much of an uproar about trading him. Just a run-of-the-mill 24-7 media bonanza until we know what happens to A-Rod and which uniform he will don in 2013. Rodriguez has five years left on his contract and the fact of the matter is, based on what I have been hearing and reading, he is only bound to get a one year, five-million dollar deal. The Yankees are due to pay him 28-million in 2013, and while this will go down each year, they would still be looking to throw 20-million at A-Rod in his age 40 and 41 seasons. If they trade him, they are still going to have to eat a lot of his contract over the next five seasons. Now before his injury he was doing well, so with an off-season of rest he could be back to or close to his normal hitting numbers, so it is a matter of what is the best decision for the Yankees as far as production per dollar goes. Now it is the Yankees, who have money to spend (and spend it they do) but that does not mean they should not make good financial moves. Now I don’t know what they could get or how much of his salary the Yankees will have to end up eating, but throwing away millions of dollars on someone who won’t even be dressing in the pinstripes, just seems a bit foolish to me, even if you have buttloads of cash at your disposal.

Basically if this is based on this postseason, which many people seem to think that it is, it seems like a knee-jerk reaction that may not be the best move for the Yanks. However, if there is more to it, like the postseason body of work in his Yankee career, or his general unlikability, or any other personality clash or what have you, then the Yankees gotta do what the Yankees gotta do. Also, again, just one more time, for the record, I really, utterly, totally, absolutely, genuinely, without equivocation, loathe Alex Rodriguez and am quite enjoying him being thrown under the bus and how much he is getting trashed by everyone around. So, I guess we will just have to wait and see what the Yankees will do.

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Andy Pettitte signs 1-year deal with Yankees

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Andy Pettitte signs 1-year deal with Yankees

Posted on 16 March 2012 by Jared Thatcher

Wow, that really came out of nowhere. Reports have confirmed that Andy Pettitte has come out of retirement and signed a 1-year, $2.5 million minor league deal with the New York Yankees.

Pettitte is clearly one of the best postseason pitchers to ever play the game but why come back now after a year in retirement? Does Pettitte really have anything left to prove? Is Roger Clemens also coming back? Maybe the Yankees are trying to get the band back together for one last hurrah!  Pettitte will no doubt start out the season in the minor leagues but I fully expect him to join the rotation somewhere around mid-year if not sooner. He may fill a hole as the 5th starter or even take the #4 spot if he is even close to his old self.

So what does this mean for your fantasy team? I would absolutely NOT draft Pettitte in any of your leagues unless you want to take a big chance on him with your very last pick. He will most likely sit on your bench for a while and waste space until he is ready to join the Yankees rotation. During that time you could have a much more productive player filling that bench spot. Even if Pettitte joins the rotation there is no guarantee that he will be the productive pitcher he was in seasons past. Keep an eye on this situation but let someone else take the chance on draft day.

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Finding Keepers:  Los Angeles Dodgers

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Finding Keepers: Los Angeles Dodgers

Posted on 13 March 2012 by Mark Sherrard

With all the off the field distractions last year concerning Frank McCourt, its easy to forget about the actual team on the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers did manage to finish above .500 last year and with Clayton Kershaw winning the Cy Young and Matt Kemp finishing second in the MVP voting, the Dodgers have two of the best players in the NL.

However, even with the talent at the top, you do not have to dig too far to find some potential keepers on this team. Here is a look at some of the players who could become keepers.

RP Kenley Jansen is slated to work as the setup man for closer Javy Guerra this year, but that may be just temporary. Jansen has been dominant, when healthy, and could take over the reigns as closer if Guerra should happen to slip. With a career K/9 rate of 15.3, he certainly has the stuff to close, its just a matter of opportunity. Now might be your last chance to grab him before he assumes the closer role.

OF Andre Ethier reportedly has battled a knee injury the last two years, before finally undergoing surgery last September. Its highly likely that his knee issues sapped his power, holding him to only 11 homeruns in 487 at bats in 2011. If he is healthy, the power should return and he still maintains a career .291 average to go with it.

SS Dee Gordon has speed to burn and is slated to start at short. After getting a tryout last year, in which he hit .304 with 24 stolen bases in 224 at bats, Gordon should easily double that stolen base output in 2012. He is another player to target now before his value skyrockets.

SP Nathan Eovaldi ranks as one of the Dodgers top 5 prospects and is currently 6th on the Dodgers starting pitching depth chart. Given that its rare for any rotation to make it through a whole season intact, look for Eovaldi to get another shot as a starter in 2012. He is a good pitcher to stash in a bullpen or bench spot.

OF Jerry Sands is a former top prospect who didn’t live up to his billing last year. However, with only Juan Rivera ahead of him on the depth chart, Sands should get another shot to prove himself in 2012. Worse case scenario is he spends a good chunk of the season in AAA, but with Rivera only signed through 2012, Sands could be worth stashing away for 2013.

SP Rubby De La Rosa came out of the gates hard, when he was called up last June, posting a 3.71 ERA and striking out 60 in 60.2 innings. It all came crumbling down when he underwent Tommy John surgery in August and he is expected to miss most, if not all of the 2012 season. However, he is another player worth stashing for 2013.

The rest of the Dodgers roster does not look keeper worthy. RP Javy Guerra will be the closer, at least at the start of the season, and could net you some cheap saves. However, with Jansen breathing down his neck, he will have a very short leash.

SP Clayton Kershaw was dominant last year on the way to his Cy Young award. However, that alone will likely make him overvalued in 2012 and unless he can repeat his performance from 2011, he is unlikely to get you full value in 2012.

The same goes for OF Matt Kemp, who put up a near 40/40 season while also producing a .324/.399/.586 slash line. Despite his predictions of a 50/50 season, some drop off is expected and he is unlikely to earn what you will have to pay for him.

Finally, 1B James Loney just does not produce like a first baseman and should be left to deeper NL only leagues or at best your utility spot. He has hovered around the .280-.290 mark with 10-13 homers the last 4 years and is unlikely to produce much more than that.

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – What is a super collector?

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Bike Spokes and Shoe Boxes – What is a super collector?

Posted on 02 March 2012 by Tim Danielson

There has been a lot of discussion on various collecting sites about what a ‘Super Collector’ is and if certain collections qualify as one.  Both sports card collecting websites The Bench and Sports Card Forum have programs where members can submit statistics, pictures and websites and apply for ‘Super Collector’ status on each site.  I will try to provide an objective opinion for this subjective term.

For a large majority of collectors, reaching Super Collector status starts with the cards.  Even with cards though, there are many different ways to collect.  Do you collect all the cards of one player, a favorite team, a certain brand, from a certain decade?  Even if you just go with cards of a single player you still have the choice of trying to collect everything, base cards, just autographs and or game-used?  When low-serial numbering and “1 of 1″ cards were introduced many player collectors, including me, soon realized that obtaining one of every card ever made of player was a pipe dream.  Price, availability and competition made many cards unavailable for a lot of us.  While the Internet has brought player collectors closer together and made friends allowing player collectors to help each other out, it has also made some bitter bidding rivals.  I have only found one other player collector of the same player I collect willing to help me out in more than thirteen years of on-line trading.

Not that there is anything wrong with how and what you choose to collect, but for purposes of this article and the sites mentioned above, Player Super Collectors are considered to try and collect any and every card made of their player.  This includes common, base, insert, parallel, autographed, game used and “1of 1″ cards.  Where is the list of cards of your player available?  Beckett, while not 100% complete as they do  not list many non-MLBPA licensed cards, are pretty accurate and regularly updated.  Just do a quick player search to see how many cards are available of your favorite player.  The results can be quite shocking!

Many collectors may not like to include “1of 1″ cards in their statistics because there are so many unique parallel cards that it makes your percentage not look so good.  Rookies from last year can already have 500 or 1,000 different cards made of them with over half of those being “1of 1.”  250 cards owned out of 500 total cards available not counting 1of 1′s (250/500= 50% owned) looks better then 250 cards owned out of 1,000 total cards available (250/1,000= 25% owned.)  How can you honestly tell though what percentage of cards you own of your player if you do not count all of the different cards out there?

At this point in time both The Bench and SCF only have programs in place for player super collectors.  For both sites it is just easier to manage because it is easier to calculate how many total Rickey Henderson cards are available rather then the total number of New York Yankee cards out there.  There are many collectors who consider their Tigers team collection to be super though.  What about memorabilia collectors who do not collect cards?  Or just autograph collectors?  I have seen some very impressive Hall of Fame and Negro League collections where the owners try to collect any and everything including cards representing these two groups.  I would consider these collections to be super.  You see how subjective this can get very quickly.

Getting back to single player super collections though…for me, I try to collect any and everything I can of Rickey Henderson.  This includes all cards from the common/base cards and including the 1of 1′s, magazines, newspaper articles, bobble-heads, books, Starting Line Up figures, posters, bats, balls, jerseys, cereal boxes, and school folders.  I have over 32% of all of the cards ever produced of Rickey Henderson, (1555/4679).  If you think 4679 different cards of one player is a lot, do a quick search for Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez or Albert Pujols.

Ultimately though, being a super collector does not have to come down to a percentage of different cards owned of a player, the dollar value, or even just having more then the next guy.  It is not what you collect, it is how you collect.  It is about your passion of collecting.  Do not get wrapped up in silly web awards or upset just because someone else does not think your collection is super.  Too many people just see the hobby as a way to make money.  Some people do find some success in flipping cards and more power to them.  You know your resources of time and money though and just because you may not have as many different cards of the same player as someone else does not make your collection not super.  Show your passion for collecting, and share our love of the hobby.  In the end, it is super COLLECTORS that will keep this hobby going!

P.S.  If you do happen to have any Rickey Henderson cards or items that you think I might be interested in, please contact me!

Until next week, keep collecting, collect for the joy of the hobby and collect for the fan in all of us.

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