I’m Worried

I don’t care what Jorge Posada says, but his shoulder really worries me.  It may be described as "minor soreness" and the Yankees are only being smart by shutting him down for a couple of days, but the fact remains that Posada is a huge question mark hanging over the season. 

The Yankees have done nothing to prepare in the event that Posada cannot catch this season.  Molina is the backup and his .576 OPS last season cost the Yankees a couple of wins.  That wasn’t a huge deal in 2008 as that Yankee team finished six games out of a playoff spot.  But, the 2009 Yankees clearly are built to make the playoffs and with Boston and Tampa in the division, every win is vital.  

You can talk up Austin Romine and Jesus Montero all you want, but neither one of them will be showing up in the Bronx until 2011 at the earliest.  Francisco Cervelli has 73 AB’s above A ball, Kevin Cash can’t hit a lick. If Posada can’t catch this season the Yankees are royally screwed.  Brian Cashman has about a month to find some sort of insurance and I can only hope he acts.  Leaving this position as is could destroy the entire season. 

A Character Witness?

I am trying to figure out why Joel Sherman spoke to David Segui about A-Rod and steroids.  Now Sherman is a wonderful reporter so I imagine he called a ton of people to talk about A-Rod and only Segui was willing to go on the record, but his headline "EX-MATE SEGUI: ALEX ‘ROIDLESS IN SEATTLE" is laughable. 

After all, David Segui was all over the Mitchell Report, so he is hardly someone who has a lot of credibility on this issue.  Maybe some people will look at this and say that since Segui cheated he would know if A-Rod had as well, but I am not buying it.  

The problem is it is now Saturday and the stories are still being written.  A-Rod has been linked to a trainer who has a very bad reputation and his mystery cousin has been found, but won’t talk.  We have also learned that "boli" was illegal without a prescription in the Dominican Republic when Alex was taking it.  I keep trying to figure out how this goes away and for the life of me I can’t see it- at least until the season starts.  Once the Yankees start playing A-Rod can make this go away by repeating his April of 2007.  But that is still a long way away and the Yankees don’t want this hanging over them for the next month.

They will get a break when Alex heads to the WBC and the story follows him to wherever the Dominican Team is training.  (On a side note, David Ortiz is going to have some fun times when all the reporters ask him about his stance on steroids and how it applies to his WBC teammate A-Rod.  I totally agree with what Ortiz said, I just hope he realizes what is going to happen in a week.)  But that break is only temporary and there is a bigger problem hanging over them- April 14th 2009.

That’s when Selena Roberts’, the person who broke the original story, book comes out.  The title is "The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez" so you can expect that it won’t be a tribute to him.  I have to hope that A-Rod was smart enough (or his PR firm was) to realize he needed to be 100% sure that the story he gave about using steroids only from 2001-2003 and never using other PED’s could not be questioned, but with Alex you just don’t know.  If Roberts has something new or one of the many reporters all over this story find something new, Alex is in big trouble.  We are a peculiar nation in that we seem to enjoy seeing the rich and powerful humbled and Alex certainly fits those categories.  The Germans call it schdenfreude and we have a big case of it.  With the suffering over the economy only going up, people will really enjoy seeing the richest man in baseball getting his ass handed to him.  The bullseye is on A-Rod’s back, can he survive?

Another Scandal Hits The Yankees

The good news is that this one isn’t their fault. 

I guess the really good news is that they are in the right clubhouse if they need to hit up a teammate for a loan. 

Halfway To A Good Idea

Rick Reilly has an interesting idea this week, give the awards won by PED users to the people that finished second in the voting.  I like the sentiment, now that we know A-Rod used steroids in 2003, why should he keep the MVP?  But the solution is flawed. 

It’s easy to sit here and say this player should have won or that player should have won instead, but that assumes that the runners-up were clean too.  Does anyone want to make a substantial bet on that fact?  Sorry Mike Greenwell, but you don’t deserve the 1988 MVP because Jose Canseco used steroids unless you can prove that you didn’t too.  Sorry Albert Pujols, you seem clean but we just can’t be sure.

Unfair you say?  Absolutely, but the players created this mess and they need to live with it.  Instead of giving the award to the runner-up in any given year, strip the award away entirely.  Let the records show through history that the 2003 MVP award was taken away from Alex Rodriguez because of PED use.  If it is ultimately proved that Clemens and Bonds used too, strip their awards away as well.  

One of my biggest worries about the steroid era is how will history put it into context?  Baseball has done nothing to address that and apart from most of these guys never making the Hall of Fame without buying a ticket, it doesn’t look like they will.  Taking away the awards is a small step to fixing that. 

That Was Fun

I came away from that press conference still completely lost on this issue.  I can’t rationalize how A-Rod took a drug for three years that he didn’t know what it was and wasn’t sure if it worked or not.  The whole "I was young and stupid" line doesn’t work for me at all either.

But, I am also really sick of this whole thing and if Alex steps up and tries to speak out against steroid use and supports the Tyler Hooten Foundation then I will move on too.  Alex asked to be judged from this point forward and the ball is in his court on that.  If he goes from here and becomes an example, I have a feeling people will forgive him. 

Why Is It Just Baseball?

As we await the A-Rod circus today I want to know how come all the other sports get a pass on PED’s?  Granted, nobody of A-Rod’s stature has been caught using these things, but as this story shows, the NFL isn’t clean in all of this. 

I guess it really is the level of the users.  Baseball has some of its biggest home run hitters getting busted while the NFL has mostly defensive players like Larry Izzo.  I am not saying I want to open the paper tomorrow and read that Peyton Manning bought PED’s, but I would like some balance from the media.  I would guess that this problem also extends to basketball, hockey, tennis, golf, etc., why wouldn’t it?  But, for now baseball is going to take the beating for all of it.  End of rant and I will be back after today’s festivities with a reaction.   

How About This Move?

The Mariners DFA’ed Tug Hulett today.  Nothing remarkable about him, but the Yankees should get him into camp and give him a look. 

Hulett is a left-handed infielder who has a career OBP of .394 in almost 2,000 AB’s in the minors.  He is about to turn 26 and had 49 lousy AB’s in the majors last season where he hit .224/.309/.306.  Still he played second, short and third and that OBP is worth a look. (He also put up a nice .380 OBP in AAA last season.)  At the very least, I think he offers a more upside than Angel Berroa.  

Winter Review

Let’s do a quick review of what the Yankees accomplished this offseason….

The Good: Snagging the best starting pitcher and Mark Teixeira was a major coup.  Both are still young and should greatly improve the club.  In Sabathia the Yankees have the ace they have lacked for years.  Beyond that, the guy is an absolute gamer, demanding the ball on three-days rest in Milwaukee, even though an injury would have killed his free agent chances.  Teixeira is a great bat and glove and he should really improve the defense and offense.  

Exchanging Betemit for Swisher is another savy move as Betemit wasn’t doing much and Swisher should get a a chance to contribute on a regular basis (assuming he isn’t traded.)

The Bad: It’s hard to harp on it, but the bench is still a major concern.  If Swisher and Nady are both kept, it is much better, but the backup catching and infielder situations are poor at best.  Why does Cashman never focus on a bench?

The Unknown: Which A.J. Burnett is coming to New York?  The guy who struck out 231 hitters in the AL last year or the guy who was hurt most of his career?  It is impossible to say, but the Yankees had better hope the former after spending over $80 million on him.  

Strengths: The Yankees have a number.  From a very good rotation to a strong lineup, there are plenty of reasons to like this team.  And with Hughes and Kennedy slotted for AAA and a number of power relief arms joining them there, the Yankees should be able to survive pitching injuries

Weaknesses: They have no depth behind the position players beyond the loser of the Swisher/Nady competition.  An injury to a player like Jeter, or a slow return by Posada would be a serious blow.

What’s Next? Clearly the expectations are a return to the playoffs and more.  If the team struggles early, expect Joe Girardi to get the axe quickly and a new manager brought in.  Anything less than a playoff spot will be a huge failure for this team.

Here Comes The Sun

It’s here!  Our long wait is over, we have baseball back again and not a moment too soon.  Pitchers and catchers are down in Tampa and starting their first workouts.  For the Yankees there are a number of things to watch, but the biggest thing on my mind is a number- 110.

That’s the maximum number of games that Joe Girardi says Jorge Posada will catch this year for the Yankees.  (This of course assumes that Posada’s shoulder is healthy.) That means we have at least 52 games of Jose Molina to look forward to and over 200 AB’s. 

That is simply too much Molina and it is going to cost the Yankees.  I have said it before, but now that we know Girardi’s plans it becomes even more vital, the Yankees have to get a better backup.  Brian Cashman is making a huge mistake here by leaving this position so vulnerable.

In other news, Bobby Abreu signed for $5 miilion with the Angels, a good deal for them.  And there are still quite a few free agents out there.  Sooner or later these guys are going to go somewhere, the only question is when.  I hope the Yankees are keeping their eyes on them, because there is a lot of talent on those lists. 

Anyway, enjoy the first day of spring! 

Get It Right

And we reach our final category….

 

Hank Aaron .305/.374/.555 755 career HR’s OPS+ 155

Babe Ruth .342/.474/.690 714 career HR’s OPS+ 207

Frank Robinson .294/.389/.537 586 career HR’s OPS+ 154

Mel Ott .304/.414/.533 511 career HR’s OPS+ 155

I should also mention that Sammy Sosa played right….