Tag Archive | "New York Yankees"

Taking a rest from my abysmal Fantasy Baseball team…

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Taking a rest from my abysmal Fantasy Baseball team…

Posted on 20 May 2013 by Trish Vignola

Taking a rest from my abysmal Fantasy Baseball team, I noticed that are a lot of great sports documentaries on ESPN Classic. Technically, there are exactly enough to kill a rainy Saturday and avoid the Mets’ box score. This Saturday I happened to catch 2009’s “The Lost Son of Havana.”

ESPNClassic

ESPN picked up the broadcast rights for this film after “The Lost Son…” premiered at Tribeca Film Festival. “The Lost Son of Havana”, currently in rotation on ESPN Classic, follows three-time All Star pitcher Luis Tiant as he fulfills a lifelong dream of visiting his homeland – Cuba. The movie was produced by the Farrelly brothers and narrated by Academy Award winner, Chris Cooper. The film was directed by Jonathan Hock.

Tiant left Cuba in 1961. Over the next 19 years, he became a legend. He pitched for both the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. He won over 220 games and is the winningest Cuban in Major League history.

The emotional return of “El Tiante” to his native Cuba included visits to long-lost relatives. Through out the film, Tiant seemed particularly struck by the country’s poverty and guilty about the anger of friends and family who were left behind.

This is not a Kevin Costner ending.

“[Luis] kept saying, ‘It used to be so beautiful, it used to be so beautiful,’” says Hock of Tiant’s reaction in a New York Daily News interview from 2009. Hock continued, “and the other thing he kept saying was, ‘I don’t know how to feel, whether I should laugh or cry.’”

This is not your typical sports documentary.

“I grew up playing Wiffle ball, trying to pitch like Luis Tiant,” Hock said of the 67-year-old former ballplayer. “Traveling with him to Cuba, I discovered he was also playing for the love of his father, a Cuban and Negro League legend he had to leave behind.” Tiant was lucky. Fidel Castro, a known baseball fan, allowed Tiant’s parents to visit the States for the Red Sox iconic run in 1975. Both stayed in the States for 15 months before they died.

After his parents passed away and due to the fact that he was their only child, Tiant was not, under the rules of the 47-year-old economic embargo, allowed to visit Cuba again. His trip home for this film came about through an amateur baseball team that travels to Cuba every year as a goodwill gesture. Tiant went home legitimately as a coach for the team.

“The Lost Son of Havana” is exceptionally good. It goes beyond a mere talking head documentary. The mix of archival footage, interviews and actual footage from the trip to Cuba, you get a really nice three-dimensional view of the story. Hock also does a wonderful job of placing Tiant’s story within the socio-political climate of the time.

The film does drag a bit at times, but that probably has to do with the incessant commercial breaks and ESPN’s insistence on showing the same “This is Sports Center” commercial over and over again. I’m sure it views better on a big screen.

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Run For The Rawlings

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Run For The Rawlings

Posted on 08 May 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

This weekend marks the annual Run for the Roses. The 139th running of the Kentucky Derby is this weekend with the quest for the first Triple Crown winner since 1978 still out there. Major League Baseball currently has a Triple Crown winner of its own in the Tigers Miguel Cabrera. With the season now a month complete how are the ponies lining up at the one month pole?

Miguel Cabrera

The Atlanta Braves and Justin Upton got out to a fast start. Upton was named National League Player of the Month and appears to be enjoying the new scenery. He hit double digit home runs in the month, but the one negative was not very many guys were on base for the long balls. If his brother and Jason Heyward can start to get on base in front of him, look out National League. At one point the Braves were 13-0 when scoring a run and 0-3 when not. To this day, no team has ever won a ball game without scoring a run.

A surprise start came out of the Boston Gate. After the down year of 2012, Boston raced out to a fast start and the best record in the American League. They are healthier and currently Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are a combined 10-0.

It was a good month for pitchers named Matt as Matt Harvey and Matt Moore raced out to several wins. They are a combined 9-0 with an ERA under 2.

Also strong early runs have to go to the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates. One horse that has been doing it for years Mariano Rivera had 11 saves along with Jason Grilli of the Buccos.

Currently stuck in the middle of the pack is World Series favorites the Washington Nationals, and CY Young aces Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw. The two work horses are a combined 6-4 which is not quite elite numbers.

Could the Los Angeles Angels start to become the San Diego Chargers of baseball? The Chargers for the last few years on paper are always a team that is built up as a contender and every year they fall from grace and are home for the post season. The Angels with all of that offensive talent are under .500 and off to another slow start. Could a second straight year with an unimpressive April keep them out of the post season?

What could be viewed as an under the radar team in the middle of the pack is the Kansas City Royals. You will not find any Royal stats at the top of the lists, but collectively they currently are division leaders in the Central.

Still stuck in the gates for the 2013 race are a few surprises. The revamped team in Toronto has not quite showed up for their post position. Interestingly, two teams have team batting averages under .200 in the seventh inning on: the Blue Jays and Washington Nationals.

Los Angeles stars Josh Hamilton and Matt Kemp currently have 3 home runs combined and the batting averages are missing as well.

As the season turns into a new month, May will likely bring more moving and positioning for the summer run. And on the track for the run for the roses, have a little Goldencents. Enjoy the Mint Juleps and oversized floppy hats.

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Triple Play: Chris Davis, Carl Crawford, Todd Frazier

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Triple Play: Chris Davis, Carl Crawford, Todd Frazier

Posted on 23 April 2013 by Chris Caylor

Welcome to this week’s Triple Play. Today, we’re covering a blossoming slugger, a resurgent outfielder, an inspiring home run, and more. Off we go:

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Who’s Hot?

Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles

Davis is just continuing to build on his breakout year of 2012, when he finally emerged as the power threat he was expected to be with the Texas Rangers (33 HR, 85 RBI, 75 runs, 121 OPS+). He leads the American League with 7 homers, 21 RBI, 49 total bases and a whopping .845 slugging percentage. Obviously, Davis will not continue this 70 HR-210 RBI pace, but he has developed into the middle-of-the-order force people envisioned when he was with the Rangers. Incidentally, what is the Rangers’ biggest need at the moment? A slugger? Interesting. Perhaps trading a power hitter for a late-inning reliever is a bad idea, particularly when said reliever is no longer even on the team. Oh, and did I mention this is Davis’ Age 27 season? I think a 35 HR-100 RBI-85 run season is not out of the question.

Who’s Not?

American League shortstops

First, it was the Blue Jays’ Jose Reyes with a badly sprained ankle. Then it was the Angels’ Erick Aybar and a bruised heel. Then came word that New York’s Derek Jeter has a new crack in his left ankle and will not return until after the All-Star break. Last, but not least, Cleveland’s Asdrubal Cabrera has missed time with a bruised wrist . The shortstop position was thin the American League to begin with, and has only gotten worse over the past week. It’s not that Jeter, Aybar and Cabrera are dominating fantasy players; it’s the mind-bogglingly massive gap between those players and their replacements on the waiver wire. It’s times like this where guys like Ben Zobrist, Maicer Izturis, and Mike Aviles really start demonstrating their fantasy value. Being able to slide of them over to the shortstop position so you can find a replacement player at a deeper position is highly preferable to picking up someone like Brendan Ryan, Jayson Nix or (gulp!) Ronny Cedeno.

Playing the Name Game

Player A: 2-1, 2.82 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 23 K
Player B: 2-1, 2.82 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 17 K

Player A is the Phillies’ Cliff Lee. Player B is the Rockies’ lefty Jorge De La Rosa. Don’t worry, I’m not going to imply that De La Rosa is as good as Uncle Cliffy. However, I am using them for comparison to illustrate why Rockies fans and fantasy owners are so optimistic about De La Rosa’s start to the season. After losing nearly two seasons following Tommy John surgery, JDLR appears to be fully healthy. The result? How about 17 consecutive scoreless innings spread across his past three starts? That includes a stellar outing this past Saturday night at Coors Field, when he limited Arizona to two hits. His walks are still a concern (after all, not everyone can have Lee’s bullseye control), but De La Rosa has started throwing his nasty slider again. If he can continue to control it, he should continue to have success.

Player A: .274/.333/.500, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 6 SB, 14 runs
Player B: .349/.414/.507, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 3 SB, 14 runs

Player A is Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates, a current five-category fantasy stud. Player B is the Dodgers’ Carl Crawford. Remember Carl? Back in 2010, he notched this stat line: 19 HR, 90 RBI, 47 SB, 110 runs, .307 avg. A Top-5 player if ever there was one. Then he signed that megabucks deal with Boston and fell off the face of the earth. Last season, the Red Sox shipped him to Los Angeles, glad to be rid of the contract and the ghost of the player they thought they were getting. Part of the problem was injuries, which have now healed. As a result, Crawford is off to a blazing start with the Dodgers, showing flashes of his old five-category-stud self. At 31, he should still be in his prime. As Crawford gets further away from Tommy John surgery, he should get even better.

Random Thoughts

• Following up on the Who’s Not note above, who has been the most productive AL shortstop thus far in 2013? Elvis Andrus? No. J.J. Hardy? Sorry. Jhonny Peralta? Nope, but getting warmer. It is Oakland’s Jed Lowrie, with 3 HR, 14 RBI, 14 runs, and a gaudy early-season .393 average. If he can stay healthy, 15-20 HRs is within reason. That would be fantasy gold in AL-only leagues.

• Going into Sunday’s games, the major-league leader in RBI was Braves outfielder Justin UptonMets catcher John Buck. Yes, that same John Buck who hit 12 homers and drove in 41 in 106 games with the Marlins. He already has seven homers and 22 RBI in 2013.

• Was I right, or was I right? Jackie Bradley Jr. is already back in the minor leagues. Meanwhile, Daniel Nava is sprinting away with the left fielder job in Boston.

• If Angels slugger Albert Pujols is actually admitting that that his left foot is hurting, then I have to believe the pain must be excruciating. The man’s pain tolerance is phenomenal.

• I’m not a big fan of the designated hitter, but one bright side of it is that we get to watch Lance Berkman mashing the ball again. Where would the Rangers be without him?

• They would be in the same boat as the Tampa Bay Rays, who just can’t score.

• The Rockies might be 13-5 after Sunday’s loss to Arizona, but it’s a mirage. Yes, the starters are performing better than expected. Yes, the lineup is battering opposing pitchers into submission. Look out for the warning signs, though. The pitching staff is dead last in the NL in strikeouts. Bullpen newcomer Wilton Lopez has been a disaster (2.14 WHIP, allowing 19 hits per 9 IP). Closer Rafael Betancourt is sporting career-worst ratios in BB/9 and SO/BB. Jhoulys Chacin is already injured. Jeff Francis has been ghastly (8.25 ERA, 2.33 WHIP). The hot start won’t last, folks. Enjoy the Rockies’ stay in first place while it lasts.

• Johnny Gomes has ordered bats with the Boston Marathon victims’ names imprinted on them, along with the words “Boston Strong.” If it’s cheesy and cliché to hope that he hits a home run with the bat, so be it. I hope he does.

• It is impossible not to get a little lump in your throat watching Todd Frazier’s home run against the Marlins last week. Actually, the best part the reaction of Reds bat boy Teddy Kremer. Kremer, you see, is 29 and has Down syndrome. Watching Kremer jubilantly hug Frazier after the home run is one of the most joyous things I’ve seen in quite some time. If you haven’t seen it, you need to look it up and watch it – now. It will brighten your day.

Follow me on Twitter: @ccaylor10

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Tis The Time For Bold Predictions

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Tis The Time For Bold Predictions

Posted on 25 March 2013 by Nick Schaeflein

In the last week, the sports world has seen its fair share of bracket fever and the only cure is more predictions! The World Baseball Classic bracket tournament concluded with the Dominican Republic being crowned champions after going undefeated throughout the tournament. Congratulations to them. Also this week, the office pool of all office pools, the NCAA basketball tournament has tipped off with everyone and their mother filling out a bracket. Some brackets are filled out with knowledge and expertise; others are filled out with hopes and sheer guesses. But no matter what, the spectacle is a fun and exciting time.

PopeMadness

Being in the prognosticating zone and Opening Day just over a week a way, it is a good transition to some Major League Baseball season predictions. This week will be the American League 2013 preview.

Starting in the American League East, I am anticipating this division being the best division in baseball this season. All five teams will be ultra strong and all have visions of the post season. Sadly, one team will finish in last and it may be the New York Yankees turn. Injuries and an older roster may finally catch up to the Bombers and bring up the rear in the East. The Baltimore Orioles may also have a set back year compared to last year, finishing fourth and the Tampa Bay Rays, while pesky, in third. The Boston Red Sox will have a bounce back year (hard to have a worse year), and finish in second. Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz are pitching great thus far this spring. The new Toronto Blue Jays will be division champs this season. The roster is fully balanced after off season moves and will narrowly come out on top.

In the Central, the Detroit Tigers will repeat as division champions. In the division they have the best pitcher and best position player that should keep them on the top line of the standings. The Chicago White Sox will be runners up again but compete for a wild card spot. Both the Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals are improved and could be major thorns in the sides of other clubs. The Indians were well represented in the WBC that could lead to an improving campaign and the Royals made one of the boldest off season trades this past December trying to spark the franchise. The rebuilding Minnesota Twins will finish in fifth.

Out west, the Los Angeles Angels are heavy favorites and will win the division by the widest margin of any of the six division winners. That will be aided by playing the Seattle Mariners and Houston Astros several times during divisional play. Houston is making their inaugural season in the American League and on paper appears to be heading toward a difficult season in the wins category. The Texas Rangers lost a lot of fire power this off season and are not quite the same team that has had recent playoff success. They will finish in second while the Oakland A’s will finish in third. Oakland, like Baltimore will fall back a bit after a surprise 2012 season. In fourth, will be the Seattle Mariners, who while trying to make some improvements still cannot quite compete for a full season compared to the other ball clubs and the Astros will be a distant fifth place.

Come October, the Wild Card match up will feature the two Sox teams – Red versus White. Winning the one game playoff will be Boston and advancing to the Divisional Round.

In the Divisional Round, the Red Sox will show some fight but in the end be defeated by the Angels while the Blue Jays will take down the Tigers. The American League Championship will showcase the high power offenses of the Angels and Blue Jays. In five games, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols and company will put the Jays into a halo effect and advance to their first World Series since winning it back in 2002.

Come awards season, the American League Most Valuable Player will be the man who was runner up a season ago. Mike Trout has all of the talent and the ultimate protection to post video game like numbers for the second straight season. The CY Young, boldly will be handed to Jon Lester. Lester has CY Young talent and perhaps with a new coaching staff in place, this will finally be the year he puts it all together. The Manager of the Year will be awarded to Robin Ventura of Chicago. I believe he should have won the award last season, but with a possible second solid year in a row, this could be his. With the line up and high expectations, Mike Scioscia of Los Angeles may cancel himself out. Finally the Rookie of the American League will be Dylan Bundy of Baltimore (not Polk High). A young talent on the mound, Bundy will see a lot of innings and post good first year numbers.

Next week, predictions on the National League. May your brackets be good to you!

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Former Yankee Nick Swisher Gets Fresh Start

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Former Yankee Nick Swisher Gets Fresh Start

Posted on 20 March 2013 by Jennifer Gosline

It looks like Nick Swisher got away from the Yankees just in time. They seem to be plummeting down a dark hole at a rapid pace, and it is only Spring Training.

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Injury after injury, they are not having the best of luck right now. With Curtis Granderson‘s broken bone, Mark Teixeria’s injured wrist, and Alex Rodriguez out with hip issues, it seems as though the Yankees are falling apart one accident at a time. Someone over at Yankee stadium needs to turn around twice and tip their hat to the west, or some type of crazy healing superstition to help out this poor team. Thankfully, Derek Jeter’s ankle is healing up well, along with Mariano Rivera’s knee, and CC Sabathia’s elbow. That should put a little spark back into the dragging energy of the team.

They are the Yankees though. They will bounce back, even if they have to dig their way out of this hole using nothing but their helmets as shovels. These guys are fighters. Not lazy players.

While taking that persistent mentality to Cleveland, Nick Swisher hopefully left the unlucky Yankee rabbit foot behind and can start out healthy with the Indians. Superstitions aside, I think the off-season team change for the switch hitter, will work out to be a solid move for both the Indians and Swisher himself. The Indians gained a veteran player with tremendous leadership quality. He has a calming presence, but yet at the same time can rial up the team on the field by simply playing good baseball. It may not be the Hunter Pence football-style huddle of firing up his teammates, but Swisher is certainly capable of getting guys amped for a game.

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Being in New York might have held back his potential with a team full of All-Stars. And of course, that huge Yankee name is hard to live up to. Swisher was good, but now he will have the opportunity to stand out. He can take control a little more with his new team, which will push himself as well as his teammates. While proving his leadership capabilities he will ultimately be enhancing his defensive skills. With intense excitement in his eyes to play for a new team, the 32 year old is not done yet, maybe even demonstrating more power and precision at the plate this season.

Last season, Swisher had 93 RBIs and crossed home plate 75 times. He had a slash line of .272/.364/.473 which has been fairly consistent over the years with his career numbers at .256/.361/.467. Although some may think his age might start to limit him, this is evidence that he can be counted on.

He is already settling into his new uniform nicely smashing 3 home runs along with 10 RBIs in 30 plate appearances this spring. Comparing Spring Training stats, he has had more RBIs this spring since 2010, and more home runs since 2007. I have a good feeling about him.

In 2012, the Indians started out toward the top of their division and made a strong push to take the AL Central title, but could not hold it together in the second half of the season. These guys have ample potential and Swisher might just be the key man to keep them on top of their game. They will likely be a strong contender the entire season with their new addition taking the reins. He will be joining Asdrubal Cabrera, Carlos Santana, and Michael Brantley all with solid careers. And also new to the Indians, Michael Bourn, has some hustle and can give a little extra grit to the club.

Nick Swisher will become an even bigger household name in 2013, as long as having come from New York, he is not infected with the Yankee injury bug that is going around.

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