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Chris Young, newly acquired Oakland Athletics OF.

The power-hitting, pure speed, eye popping defender is teaming up with Big Yoenis Cespedes in Oakland, after they acquired him today in a 3 team deal featuring Heath Bell, Cliff Pennington and 22 year old A-Ball SS Yordy Cabrera.

It was another coup d’etat for the Moneyball Man Billy Beane. He acquired Young with cash considerations (on Young’s contract of 8 million, then 11 million club option with a $1.5 million buyout) for Pennington (490k, Pre-Arbitration). Oakland also sent Yordy Cabrera to the Marlins in the deal. Cabrera is a low-level, poor performance former 2nd round pick by Oakland from Lakeland HS, FL. He’s only played 166 games in the Minor Leagues, but he’s 22 years old; so there’s still time for growth, but it looks like there’s only a matter of time for the crow to caw on his career.

Perhaps the biggest news is that much maligned Heath Bell is headed back to the NL West in the deal, as Arizona’s part of the deal. His contract is excessive, originally for 3 years at 27 million with all kinds of vesting options. Perhaps he will be more serviceable for Arizona than he was in his 5.09 ERA failure with Miami.

Larry Beinfest and Jeffery Loria rid themselves of the terrible contract and escape with Cabrera, nowhere near worth the production. The deal frees space under the $189 million dollar luxury-tax level, which is the player payroll ceiling of nearly every Major League Club.

The deal should be interesting to follow in the 2013 Season. Who do you think will win the deal?

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Delmon Young, 2012 ALCS MVP.

Delmon Young, LF, Detroit Tigers, was named the ALCS MVP after his Detroit Tigers swept the New York Yankees 4-0 in the 2012 ALCS. Young had 2 Game Winning RBI in the Series, and was instrumental in Detroit’s first World Series berth since their loss to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006.

He is pictured here holding a Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays hat in 2003, after he was made the top overall pick in MLB’s First Year Player Draft. Young had run-ins with the law and off the field problems in addition to his on the field incident in which he drop-kicked an umpire. Those issues, along with his inconsistent play, led to his oust in Tampa Bay. They would follow him to Minnesota, and lead to his trade from there as well.

Now, after finding a niche batting after Triple-Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and the world-class hitting Prince Fielder, Young finds himself entering free agency coming off of the most sensational and clutch performances of his career, while entering the prime of his career.

Do you believe he has found a happy place in Detroit, or will he hear the call of money and head off to greener pastures? 

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Elvis Andrus, SS, Texas Rangers.

With the emergence of phenom Jurickson Profar, rumor has it that Texas may be looking to deal its All-Star SS. Texas is no stranger to dealing stars while they are in their prime; Elvis himself acquired in the deal that sent Mark Teixeira to Atlanta. He is pictured here in warm ups at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City for the 2012 All Star game after representing the American League as its starting SS.

Do you believe he’ll be dealt this offseason? Where do you think he’ll wind up? 

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Yankees Offseason Conjecture

"What should the Yankees do this offseason?"

Not even ten seconds had passed since Detroit stormed the field of their own ballpark after sweeping the Bronx Bombers away like the miniscule spec of dust they had become, and every Yankees fan and baseball writer had stepped into the shoes of Brian Cashman.

Perhaps a better question is: “Who are the Yankees?” 

Gone is the mid-90’s dynasty of an unhittable bullpen and a team of quality starters, productive corner infielders and outfielders and phenom players up the middle.

Mariano Rivera is scheduled to return coming off of ACL surgery at 43. He has no contract as of today.

Derek Jeter is scheduled to miss the first spring training of his career, and return from a fractured ankle at 38.

Andy Pettite is going to make up his mind about the Yankees in the coming weeks. Posada is going to enter his second spring out of Pinstripes.

It’s time for a philosophy change.

But first, let’s look at expiring deals:

Free Agents
C Martin (30) (7.5 MIL)
3B Chavez (35) (900K)
OF Jones (36) (2.0 MIL)
OF Suzuki (39) ($0)
OF Swisher (32) (10.25 MIL)
DH Ibanez (41) (1.1 MIL)
SP Garcia (37) (4 MIL)
SP Kuroda (38) (10 MIL)
MR Lowe (40) ($0)
MR Wade (500k) gone on waivers
CL Rivera (43)

Bringing back Rivera is a given. I can realistically see the Yankees letting everyone else walk, with the strongest possibilities to return being Ichiro, Kuroda and Martin. However, I’d like to see Rivera as the only guy back, unless Ichiro is our 4th outfielder (because he wasn’t cutting it this summer, let’s remember).

$ Subtracting:  34.25 MILLION

Special Contract Options:
CF Granderson (32) $15 mil club option, $2 mil buyout (10.0 MIL)
2B Cano (30) $15 mil club option, $2 mil buyout (14.0 MIL)
MR Feliciano (37) $4.5 mil club option ($0)
CL Soriano (33) - $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout (11.0 MIL)

Yankees will obviously pick up Cano’s option, as they should; it’s time to lock him up anyway (at a discount after this offseason). They should deny Granderson and buy him out, because his production in terms of offense and defense can be readily replaced on the free agent market. Declining Feliciano and Soriano opting out of his deal are apparent no brainers to me.

$ Subtracting: 21.0 MIL-3.5 MIL= 17.5 MIL
TOTAL $ SUBTRACTED: $51.75 MIL


Under Contract
C Stewart*
1B Teixeira#
SS Jeter#
3B Rodriguez#
IF Nunez#
IF Nix*
LF Gardner#
SP Sabathia#
SP Hughes#
SP Nova#
SP Pineda*
MR Robertson#
MR Logan#
MR Chamberlain#
MR Eppley#
LR Phelps#
MR Rapada#
MR Aardsma#

Other Notables Under Contract
P Betances*
P Warren*
C Cervelli*
C Romine*
IF McGehee*
OF Dickerson*
OF Almonte*

Prospects Not Mentioned that could play Role
C Sanchez
OF Williams
OF Austin
OF Heathcott*
RHP Hensley
3B Bichette Jr.
LHP Turley*
RHP Montgomery*
2B Pirela*
 

So, let’s talk. All of the “#” players are pretty much no brainers to make the roster. All the “*” could compete for a spot.

Now, let me break down the 5 best moves for the New York Yankees to make this offseason:
#1: Trade for Elvis Andrus. Sanchez, Pirela and Montgomery for Andrus will seem like a steal for Texas. But this move gives the Yankees their leadoff hitter and starting SS. Time for Jeter to move to 3B and ARod to start DHing.
#2: Sign Josh Hamilton (5 years, $105mil).  Replacing Granderson never seemed so easy. He’s got “problems” so we could sign him for basically Swisher money and undoubtedly more future production. Moving Gardner to CF and Hamilton to RF will pave the way for my next move.
#3: Sign Melky Cabrera (2 years, 23mil). MVP quality LF suffering from legitimacy questions. Returns to his home team to pair with his best friend, Robinson Cano, who needs a jolt. Also, a switch hitter to aid the lefty heavy lineup.
#4: Sign Francisco Liriano (4 years, 32mil). Let CC mentor the 29 year old Liriano, who is streaky. He is big, throws an awesome slider and has a plus fastball and plus changeup. With or without Pettite, his signing will solidify the rotation more than any 35+ year old low risk high reward player, and give the team a chance to build.
#5: Sign Carlos Ruiz (3 years, 33mil). Remember how badly he’s killed the Yankees, and how well he’s hit in our ballpark? He was also 4th in Caught Stealing % this year, has steadily improved defensively since ‘09, and could share time with Romine/Cervelli/Stewart with little difficulty.

Additions: $54.875 Million

Take a look at my dream 25 man:
#1 SP: Sabathia
#2 SP: Pettite
#3 SP: Hughes
#4 SP: Liriano
#5 SP: Nova

LR: Phelps
MR: Rapada
MR: Eppley
MR: Chamberlain
MR: Aardsma
SU: Logan
SU: Roberston
CL: Rivera

Lineup
1: Andrus SS
2: Jeter 3B
3: Hamilton RF
4: Teixeira 1B
5: Cano 2B
6: Rodriguez DH
7: Ruiz C
8: Cabrera LF
9: Gardner CF

BENCH
C: Romine
IF: McGehee
OF: Dickerson

We can always wish, right? It’s only adding $3.1 million to the $189 Million dollar payroll, and could be offset by cutting Chris Stewart, getting Rivera at a discount, getting Pettite at a discount, or restructuring part of ARod’s deal.

What moves do you think would best suit the Yankees offseason?
 

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Josh Hamilton, Free Agent. News from Jon Heyman reports the Rangers will not offer Hamilton “elite” money; MLBTradeRumors confirms this and says that Hamilton will take any offer back to the Rangers, offering them a chance to match. Below, I list your Top 5 Candidates for Mr. Hamilton’s services, and why:

1. Atlanta Braves: With the loss of Chipper Jones, with Brian McCann entering his last year of arbitration, and with Michael Bourn set to walk, I see Atlanta as a perfect fit for the North Carolina native Hamilton. He gives them star-power, the team is a quiet mid-market player with a track record of success, Hamilton can play in LF with Martin Prado shifting from LF to 3B to replace Chipper, and, if finances are a concern, they could allow Bourn to walk and sign Chone Figgins (though I think they’ll resign him), and after this year, could allow McCann to hit the market with his backup, Ross, taking over behind the plate.

A move like this allows ATL to keep Randall Delgado and Julio Teheran instead of dealing one or both of them for someone like Chris Young. Percentage Chance: 50%

2. Boston Red Sox: “Not pursuing Hamilton” is the Red Sox’s way of saying “we’re capping the deal at 4 years, tops.” But after last season’s debacle, and if they’re planning on competing, a big bat in the middle of their lineup is a necessity.

Also, why do you think they’re rushing to hire a manager? They want the freedom to pursue any and all free agents with their managerial and front office staff already solidified.  He’d look great in RF, with Ellsbury in CF, and would surely convince David Ortiz to re-sign. Percentage Chance: 20%

3. Texas Rangers: If no one else has the balls to offer 4 or 5 years, there’s no way the Rangers don’t match the offer. They can always deal away Elvis Andrus and/or Nelson Cruz this offseason to acquire more pitching, and Hamilton’s value is highest in Texas.

I just think everything would have to work out perfectly for Nolan Ryan and Jon Daniels to match an offer of 3/65, but it isn’t outside the realm of possibility. Percentage Chance: 15% 

4. Milwaukee Brewers: They barely missed the playoffs, and they adequately replaced Prince Fielder’s offensive production with Aramis Ramirez’s all around ability. Marcum’s salary is coming off the books, and, like the Braves, they are a competitive mid-market team seeking to compete with the likes of Cincinnati. Braun, Ramirez and Hamilton would make a Murderer’s Row in the middle of their lineup and surely attract the likes of a Dan Haren to headline their staff with Yovani Gallardo. I truly believe they are an impact bat away from relevance, but I see them as a more likely landing spot for Nick Swisher than for Hamilton. Percentage Chance: 10%

5. Miami Marlins: What free agency blog would be complete without its off the wall dark-horse candidate? But before you crucify me for putting last years big spenders on the list, consider this: Carlos Lee is coming off the books, Reyes, Bell and Buerhle have long-term deals, and out of their nucleus of Gorkys, LoMo, Giancarlo and their young pitching staff, you cannot expect to keep these talented young players for longer than a 4 year championship window.

I think, with LoMo shifting to 1B coming off of knee surgery, Josh Hamilton could be the veteran leader on this team in LF, and a stabilizing force in the 3/4 hole, depending on whether you decide to protect Giancarlo or Hamilton.

They also showed their desire to spend, and Hamilton could be had for 4/82 easily in Miami. I don’t think this one has wings because of the dubious future of the Marlins’ management in the front office and in the dugout, but it’s interesting enough to write about. Percentage Chance: 5% 

Comment with your own thoughts!

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Brandon Weeden, QB, taken by the Cleveland Browns 22nd in the NFL Draft.

Did you know Weeden was once a minor leaguer for The Los Angeles Dodgers?

Comment below with your favorite two sport athlete!

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So Ten Games In…

Ten games in today in Major League baseball…what have we learned?

The Los Angeles Dodgers have the best record. And, don’t jump to conclusions, but realize that they might have staying power. The good of this team starts with Don Mattingly (of Yankees fame) as manager. He tutored under Joe Torre (he of 4 World Series rings as manager) even though he has never one the Trophy himself (but that’s a lot like Torre as a player).

It continues with Matt Kemp. Kemp is “the reigning NL MVP.” Because let’s be honest: “the testing transportation didn’t follow the protocol established in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Braun may or may not have done steroids, but once that happens, the results are nullified. That’s the argument his law team made anyway. And it won. But it didn’t win over us; we thought Kemp was more valuable BEFORE that test. I mean, this guy talks about going 50-50 (home runs-stolen bases) and we LISTEN!

Then there’s the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Clayton Kershaw. Who looks like famous Dodger, Sandy Koufax, dealing from the left side with heat and wicked breaking balls.

But, let’s see how the rest of this season plays out for the comet in the West.

In the East, the story is in Fenway, where they lost their GM and capability in personnel decisions. Crawford’s still out, Ellsbury is on the DL, and they’re starting three OFs that likely wouldn’t start on nearly every major league team.

Their staff continues to be weak (‘cept Lester). Beckett is aging, Lackey is an albatross, Matsusaka is an albatross, Doubront is no better than a #5 starter, and Buchholz is still a wildcard, like Phil Hughes.

Throw in the fact that they lost Jonathan Papelbon, the best closer in the Majors not named Rivera, and replaced him with a guy stuck in the Mexican League 3 years ago who promptly blows two saves. Sorry: Boston serves Clam Chowda…not Chicken Alfredo (Aceves).

And Bobby Valentine is doing talk shows for ESPN in New York? Luke Scott, a journeyman on the Rays, rips the facilities at Fenway?

Things can’t get worse for Boston than they were to start this season. 

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Mariano Rivera: “The Best Closer in the History of Baseball.”

The only current Major Leaguer allowed to wear #42, Rivera was grandfathered in past the rule that retired Jackie Robinson’s number throughout baseball.

His career as a closer is revered; he epitomizes clutch relief pitching, even though his two enormous gaffes (against Sandy Alomar Jr. in the 1997 ALDS vs. Cleveland, and against Luis Gonzalez in the 2001 World Series) would normally be enough to drive most closers into hysterics.

But Rivera is resilient; he started as a Starting Pitcher, and, as you can see in the picture, received Tommy John surgery early in his career. After returning from surgery, his cutter grip and renewed strength made him unhittable. He was recalled to the Yankees in 1995 as a starter, pitching important games down the stretch. Ultimately, he was an important facet in 1996 as the set up man to John Wetteland, posting otherworldly numbers. He took over closing full-time in 1997, and, after 4 World Series out of 6 trips as well as 14 years out of 15 as the closer in the playoffs, Rivera is likely ending his career after this season.

He is the All-Time Saves leader (600 and counting), the All-Time postseason Saves leader, and a Yankees hero. 

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Happy Jackie Robinson day to the MLB fans among us!

This photo is one of the most iconic of Robinson’s career, taken as he “stole home” against the Yankees and Yogi Berra in the 1955 World Series, which the Dodgers ended up winning. Berra argues the notion that Robinson was safe to this day. His response, blowing up in the face of the umpire, was very out of character.

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Yoenis Cespedes is a Cuban baseball player. After leaving Cuba, Cespedes became a hot topic for 2012’s Hot Stove discussions. After rumors floated about the Red Sox, Yankees, Tigers and Cubs signing him, Billy Beane swooped in and offered a 4 year, $50 million dollar contract to the Center Fielder.

After just a few games this season, it looks as if Beane has once again fostered a steal of a deal in Oakland. While Cespedes looked like a physical freak (and a regular freak after his representative agency released a “promotional video” that featured, among other things, Yoenis at a pig roast), he was labelled a “raw prospect” even after his stellar performance in the World Baseball Classic as well as setting the Cuban League Home Run record.

So far, his bat has been just as electric as ever, and his defense has been above average in Center Field. He looks to be a cornerstone in Oakland, and we should expect bright things from this Cuban import going forward.