A Very Merry Christmas

I was shocked. I received a text message from my friend proclaiming “Teixeira’s a yank omgggg.” It’s not exactly the way I would like to have found out, but that seventh-grade-esque text certainly did the job. I jumped up and ran to a computer, getting to ESPN.com’s home page to see the blurb about Teixeira’s agreement with the Yanks. Then I screamed.

This was not supposed to happen. But what makes it even better is that what WAS supposed to happen didn’t- Mark Teixeira will NOT be a member of the Boston Red Sox. Instead, switching hitting gem of a first baseman will be in the Bronx this coming April, just another housewarming gift for the new stadium across the street.

This move, as Joe Sheehan of Baseball Prospectus writes, is pretty much the safest the Yankees have made all off-season. Teixeira is arguably the second-best hitting first baseman behind Albert Pujols, and he has at least three or four years left in his prime. I don’t need to get into his stats, but I would like to say that Teixeira created 123 runs at the plate for his two teams, the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels, last year, which is essentially good for 12.3 team wins. Then factor in all the runs he saves as one of the league’s best defenders at first base, and you’ve got a complete package that nicely compliments Alex Rodriguez on the Yankees roster.

The thing I like most about all these moves is that the Yankees have not given up any prospects or young talent. They are rewarding their fans, and ensuring that the new ballpark will open with a bang. They are putting the best players they can on the field for the next 6-8 years, while allowing the young guys in the farm system to grow through the Yankees organization. As fans, we can now expect some fun, exciting, and hopefully successful baseball over the next few seasons, while also looking forward to the performances of home-grown talents like Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson and Humberto Sanchez in the coming years. 

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It’s good to be on the side where the money is

Now that the Yankees have landed the most coveted free agent pitcher in baseball, the rest of the off-season seems almost irrelevent.

I have no qualms with the hefty deal the Yanks gave Sabathia. They had the money, and any team would have used as many funds to land a guy as durable and as skilled as Sabathia. And remember that he won the Cy Young two years ago, before totally decimating all comers in the second half of last year.

“He has three well above average ptichers. He is a handful. He is a monster,” A-Rod said of Sabathia. I’ll take the word of one of the greatest hitters of all time on that.

I was on ESPN message boards yesterday when the news broke, and all people could bring up was C.C.’s sub-par playoff resume. Maybe that’s true, but that doesn’t mean he can’t turn it around.

The Yanks also seem close to signing A.J. Burnett for something like 5 years/ $90 million. Now, I said I would prefer Derek Lowe for his sinker and reliability, and I still do. It looks like it may be too late, but even so, Burnett is a very skilled pitcher that will certainly benefit the Yanks AS LONG AS HE STAYS HEALTHY.

Also, Goodbye, Melky. The Yanks sent the low-production outfielder to Milwaukee for 35-year-old outfielder Mike Cameron. Of course, I won’t miss Melky too much, because, even as a good defender,  his value was low considering his .249/ 8/ 37 line last year. Cameron is a good centerfielder, posting a .997 fielding percentage in 119 games last year, along with 25 HR and 70 RBI. According to Baseball Prospectus, Melky was good enough for 1.7 Wins Above a Replacement Player last years, while Cameron posted a WARP of 5.1. So all in all, a shrewd move by Cashman.

Also, how about those Mets??!!? It’s excited to see the crosstown guys make some blockbuster moves. I saw K-Rod coming, but J.J. Putz totally threw me for a loop. Two top-line closers in one bullpen?! Goodbye, late-inning misery! Cangrats to the Mets and Minaya for almost eliminating their team’s biggest problem in about a day.

Off-season jitters

This is one of the most confusing and nail-biting off-seasons I can remember. The Yanks have so many needs, and it’s impossible to determine the right combinaiton of free agents on the market that will put a champion on the field in 2009.

I’m nervous about CC right now, because of the fact that the Angels are getting in on the bidding. LA has the cash to send Sabathia a similar offer to the Yanks’, and, if that’s the case, everyone’s saying he’ll definitely choose SoCal over NYC. I’m hoping that (1) the Angels opt to sign Teixeira and withdraw from the CC hunt, and (2) that CC realizes that playing for the Yankees is an opportunity he cannot pass up.

Sabathia is what the Yanks need more than anything. With him, Wang, and Joba at the top of the rotation, starting pitching would not be rcked with the worries of last season. I’d like to see Derek Lowe in the 4th slot, and see what Phil Hughes can do with a little less pressure at the five slot. We know he can pitch, but can he has to prove he can do it in the Bronx. 

I don’t want Burnett because his injury history scares me. The Yanks need their starters to start games- it worked for the Rays last year. Sabathia and Lowe aren;t only talented, but they are durable- Lowe has started at least 32 games in each year since 2002, and Sabathia’s lowest total number of starts was 28  in 2006.

And what about that crowded outfield? As much as I’ve enjoyed their stays, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui don’t seem very valuable anymore. If the Yanks can somehow work a trade to nab a reliever or a defensive upgrade in centerfield, I think they would benefit. I’d even like to see Brett Gardner get more chnaces at center next year, considering that projectprospect.com said this about him: “Ellsbury with less pop, doing great in ’08 (.333/.389/.550), ready for the big leagues.”

The Yanks should re-sign Bobby Abreu, who remains one of their most consistent offensive producers, with 100 RBI, 20+ stolen bases, and nearly 40 doubles in both his full seasons in New York. An outfield of Nady, Gardner, and Abreu seems pretty appealing to me.

And here’s the clincher: I think the Yankees should sign Manny Ramirez, assuming they first solve their starting pitching problem, and move Matsui and/ or Damon. If these pieces fall into place, Manny could come to his hometown New York City, and serve as the DH in the 3-hole right in front of A-Rod, giving the Yanks two of the three best hitters in the game today (the third is Albert Pujols, in my mind).

I’m sure very few of these things will happen, these are just my wishful musings. RIght now, though, we really need to focus on Sabathia pitching in New York in ’09. 

 

 

 

Swisher Trade

I like the Yankees’ trade for Nick Swisher that just went down. Swisher is a guy who plays hard, and plays for a team- just the type of player the Yanks need after the past few years of playoff maliase. Plus, he’s only 28, the same age as Mark Teixeira.

He may not pack the same power as Teixiera, but he’s a guy that gets on base, and is good for about 20 homers a season. He’s the type of player that adds to a team’s success by cashing in on the little things- drawing walks, playing defense- that the Yanks have been lacking over the past few years.

I wanted Teixeira on the Yanks. I think most people did. But the prospect of his huge contract worried me. It’s not that the Yanks don’t have the money to pay for him, it’s that he might get his money, come to New York, and forget to show up and play.

So, even though the Yanks may be pulling out of the hunt for Teixeira with this trade, they get a guy that will want to win a championship, and will come out to play every day in Nick Swisher.

Leave your thoughts. I’ll be adding more entries as the offseason maneuvers heat up. It feels like Christmas Eve. I hope all of you asked for some pitching.

Go Rays!

As much as I’d like to see Joe, Manny, and Nomar beat the Red Sox in an LA- Boston World Series, no team in contention right now deserves it more than the Tampa Bay Rays.

Not only are they one of the greatest team stories in baseball history, but they’re rolling through their first playoffs like they’ve been there a million times.

Watching them recently, especially here in Boston, I am repeatedly shocked at how dangerous and COMPLETE a team they are. They have it all- on-base, power, speed, starters, relievers, and defense. And I hate to say this about an AL East team, but their youth guarantees that this team will be very good for a very long time.

Longoria and Upton have proved that they are big-time players in all aspects of their game, and they compliment Crawford and Pena to form the core of a diverse lineup. The starting rotation is healthy, and all under the age of 26! The bullpen so full of guys that can dominate that this team doesn’t even NEED a closer. Oh, and after everyone speculated about him being needed in a Joba-like relief position, the Rays haven’t even needed help from prospect phenom David Price.

They’re basically a game away from the World Series. As much as I’d like to revel in what I hope will be Boston’s depression, I can’t help but think that my complacence over a Rays victory can only be a precursor to a long-lasting fear of the Rays as an AL East threat.

Farewell

Major League Baseball bids farewell to Yankee Stadium, the 'House that Ruth built'

With a heavy heart, I say goodbye to Yankee Stadium. It is my favorite place in the world. A chapter of my life seems to be closing today.

When I think of the Stadium, I just think of that moment of epiphany, that complete euphoria of ascending the tunnel and seeing the field for the first time. That feeling reverberates through my soul every time I experience it, and I haven’t yet grasped that I won’t ever experience that moment again.

There is nothing I have left to say that won’t sound trite or cliched. I will continue to treasure the moments and emotions this Stadium has imparted upon me. 

The happiness that I felt last night came from what Derek Jeter said at the end of the game:

“We’re relying on you to take the memories from this stadium and add them to the new memories that come to the new Yankee Stadium, and continue to pass them on from generation to generation. On behalf of this entire organization, we want to take this moment to salute you, the greatest fans in the world.”

Never before have I felt that Jeter, my hero, was specifically talking to me. And the more I think about his words, the more I take pride in their truth. We as fans have made these moments real. Over these decades, out team has given us something to cheer for, and our voices have turned home runs, strikeouts, championships and milestones into memories.

Yankee Stadium gave us a venue, a home, where our voices could ring out clear. It was a place where these memories were etched onto our hearts. And for that, I say thank you.

Farewell, Yankee Stadium.    

 

 

In all this darkness, a light

Thank you Derek Jeter, for being one of the greatest Yankees of all time.

For putting the spirit of winning in our hearts.

For consistently setting a standard of excellence.

For being a role model to people of all ages.

For putting a little extra fight in all of us.

For devoting yourself to your team and your fans.

Derek Jeter is the greatest Yankee of this generation. And I don’t say that because I grew up watching Jeter, or because he’s my favorite. I say it because it’s the truth. No one in this generation has displayed the combination of talent, integrity, leadership, and authenticity that Derek Jeter puts forth on a daily basis.

I watched Jeter tie Gehrig’s record for hits at Yankee Stadium yesterday, and I honestly came close to tears. Despite this year’s losing, despite the impossible hole the Yanks are in, Derek Jeter remains solid as a rock. He quietly goes about his business and leaves everything on the field to help his team win. And he deserves this record.

Jeter’s new record will stand forever. It is one of the few records that is impossible to break.

And no one deserves that kind of immortality more than he does. Despite the problems that seem to target the Yankees organization every year, we as fans can count on Jeter to be our beacon of hope. He is the foundation on which we can firmly plant our feet. He is our captain in every sense of the word. 

Congratulations, Derek Jeter.

And thankl you.