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Blue Jays’ acquisitions ensure hope, not division title for 2013

Once again we have found the “winners” of the Hot Stove season, this time in 2012 being the Toronto Blue Jays of all teams. Barring a veto made by Commissioner Selig for a baseball-related reason he is having trouble finding, the Miami Marlins are dealing their entire franchise up north, aside from Giancarlo Stanton.

Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Emilio Bonifacio, and John Buck will all be ditching the hideous rainbow costumes in Florida for some classy throwback Jays jerseys in Canada.

Everyone loves to give their opinions and debate over huge deals like this during the winter, but mostly everyone is on the same page in saying the Blue Jays are now “instant contenders” in the A.L. East.

Forget about that atrocious excuse of an owner Jeffrey Loria for a second. Should the trade happen, it’s a bright new beginning for baseball’s only Canadian team, after the Montreal Expos left to become the Nationals in 2005.

Not to discredit what the Jays have done though in the 21st century – they’ve actually won at least 80 games in 9 of the 13 seasons since 2000 and in 5 of the last 7 since 2006. So they rarely have a definitive bad team, and normally they are competitive throughout the year. That’s what draws people to the conclusion that this trade finally gets Toronto over the hump to become a playoff contender for next season and beyond.

It’s a very strong point, and the Blue Jays may very well make the playoffs in 2013. But if we have learned anything in the past three seasons, it’s that no one wins a World Series on paper.

And since 1993, not on Astroturf either.

I understand each team is unique and different, and you can’t compare acquisitions fairly. But there’s now been four teams in the past two seasons that were picked to win their division, a couple to win the pennant, and of course one to capture the World Series.

What happened? All of them missed the playoffs.

The 2011 Red Sox, the 2012 Angels, the 2012 Dodgers, and [as this all has happened because of them] the 2012 Marlins are those clubs. From Adrian Gonzalez (for Boston and L.A.) to Albert Pujols and to Jose Reyes, all of these teams have made significantly huge trades and signings that seemingly put them over the top prior to season’s start.

To me it’s incredibly shocking people are once again jumping on the bandwagon of the team that has spent or acquired the most talent. This Toronto team still lost 89 games last year and has a lot to prove before they can convince me to pick them for even a Wild Card spot. 

I’m not going to go in-depth with analyzing the team, as it would be a waste of time this early in the offseason.

Don’t get me wrong, the other teams in the division are by no means head and shoulders above Toronto, but they aren’t worse either. All of them still have holes and many questions about how to improve, yet it almost feels coy of baseball analysts to be ignoring the Yankees and Orioles’ intense race this past September, the Rays ability to always hang around, and the Red Sox being destined to improve.

There’s a remote possibility that Toronto could even move down into last place in 2013. Not necessarily due to bad performance, but all of the teams are tough opponents and the division could be separated by less than ten games, from first to last. Ranking this Blue Jays team as better than most or all of their A.L. East foes is childish, and it’s a simple question of “shouldn’t baseball know better?”

No matter what, this team will be sugar-coated and hyped up through the winter and into spring by the new guys coming in, much like all the recent clubs that spent loads of money and lost out big time. Though in reality, there’s a reason this team lost 89 games in 2012. And the majority of the players are coming back, and though they are young and certainly may become a strong team soon enough, no one should be picking them [unless you’re a bias Toronto fan] to suddenly explode and over-take the Yankees, O’s, and Rays to win the A.L. East.

We saw in 2012 that anything can happen in baseball, and that’s my thinking. Anything can happen next year and it’s still only November. There’s over two months left for the rest of the A.L. East to “catch up”, and it’s doubtful Toronto’s apparent inferior opponents will be the same as they stand now come Opening Day.

Overall, there is no doubt that this is a tremendous trade for the Blue Jays, and I’m happy for them from a non-bias standpoint. But not everything works out the way it’s supposed to, and it really hasn’t for most of the “winners” of the offseason for the past decade now. Toronto has the potential to change that pattern, but until they do I will have many doubts and continue thinking realistically while people guess away for the Jays to win 95 games and take the A.L. East crown.

Just ask the past couple of year’s World Series favorites. They’ll tell ya baseball isn’t played in the winter on paper. It’s played in the summer on the diamond, and there’s nothing to point to about next season when snow is covering the ground.

I guess that’s the “beauty” of baseball – it brings out the idiot in all of us during the season, debating what we thought back when it was 30 degrees outside and all we had closest to baseball was the MLB: The Show video game is simply guessing and nothing more.

There is one thing that is for certain however – the A.L. East just got a whole lot more exciting.

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Morning Bits: Garcia is steady, Yanks react to Mekly & more

Yankees made it 3 in a row last night against Texas.   Josh Hamilton even hit 2 homers but they were solo shots.   Garcia had a nice game and the bullpen did it’s job.  Eric Chavez is on fire and added 3 hits last night.   Yankees go for the sweep today as Nova is up against Holland.   First pitch is scheduled for 1:05EST.

Enjoy the day.  Now for some links….

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY writes that Freddy has been more than steady.

Kristie Ackert of The New York Daily News has some quotes from Yankee players about Melky’s suspension.

– Former Yankee Chad Curtis faces additional sexual conduct charges.  The Associated Press has the story.

Stephen Skinner of The Bleacher Report has some reasons why the Yankees withstand injury woes.

James Morisette of The Bleacher Report has an article about the top hitting prospects for the Yankees.

Game 117 Lineup: Rangers vs. Yankees

Lineup vs. Yankees:

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Swisher 1B
Curtis Granderson CF
Mark Teixeira DH
Eric Chavez 3B
Raul Ibanez LF
Russell Martin C
Ichiro Suzuki LF
Jayson Nix 2B

Freddy Garcia RHP

Pregame Notes:

– A lot has happened in Major League Baseball today but let’s start with the Yankees. Robinson Cano was scratched from the lineup with a stiff neck and now Jayson Nix will play 2nd base.

Melky Cabrera‘s 50 game suspension for using PED’s took the Yankees by surprise. Here was what Joe Girardi, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano all had to say about Melky’s suspension:

Joe Girardi: “Anger doesn’t come to my mind. Disappointment comes to my mind because Melky meant a lot to us and we all enjoyed being around him. We know he’s going to miss 50 games and it’s before his free agent year. It’s unfortunate.”

Robinson Cano: “Oh, 100 percent surprised, I was just here in my chair when I was watching the news. … I don’t know man, I never used any of those. I don’t know any details about it. I just see the news. I’m just sad about it, and I’m going to be there for him.”

Derek Jeter: “I don’t know if you can be more surprised. I don’t know if you can measure it, more surprised for him as opposed to somebody (else). It’s just surprising in general. … I played with Melky, so I always thought he was a good player. I know Melky’s very talented. He has a lot of great tools. He played well for us when he was here. He played well in Kansas City when he went to Kansas City. And he’s played well in San Francisco. Melky’s always been talented.”

Alex Rodriguez: “From my experience, I saw where he made a statement, that’s always a good first step. And sometimes the hardest. But I think he has an opportunity, being a young player. But with that said, it’s also going to be a challenge. I hope he takes the bull by the horns and does some great things, and I’m a believer. I’m a friend. And at times like this, I’m not going to turn my back, I’m 100 percent here to support him.”

– I was around the computer all afternoon but the lineup wasn’t posted sooner because there was something a little more interesting on television: The Rays and Mariners. The surprising part that it was the Mariners that I was looking out for. Felix Hernandez threw his first perfect game against the Rays and a 1-0 victory. Jesus Montero scored the only run in the game with a base hit. So congratulations King Felix.

– And on a final note, it’s raining cats and dogs. I seriously doubt the Yankees are starting the game on time.

UPDATE

– It’s not as big news as Melky Cabrera or King Felix but Brett Gardner will get his Staten Island Yankee jersey retired. The ceremony will be at the Staten Island Yankees home ballpark and Gardner will be in attendance on August 23. Congratulations are in order for Brett Gardner!

Should Cashman bring Melky back?

Melky is in excellent shape these days

Melky Cabrera has been having a tremendous season in San Francisco which was just puncuated with an MVP performance in the All-Star Game.  Cashman dealt Melky along with Arodys Vizcaino & Mike Dunn to the Braves for Javy Vazquez & Boone Logan after the World Series in 2009 – a trade which most fans didn’t like at the time because of the price the Yanks paid for a pitcher who already failed in NY.    Although Boone Logan has been a useful reliever that trade did not go Cashman’s way.  Will he take the opportunity this winter to try to correct the deal?

We have seen Cashman’s affinity for bringing back players who didn’t work out well the first time, could Melky be one of them?  Cabrera will be a Free Agent following this season in a market that is fairly thin in quality OFs.  Josh Hamilton is the headliner but after him its Melky, Michael Bourn, Nick Swisher, Shane Victorino, BJ Upton, Carlos Quentin and veterans like Ichiro and Tori Hunter.  When looking at that list,  Cabrera looks pretty attractive.  Hamilton is an absolute stud but will be 32 and has durability issues having played 121, 133 & 89 games the previous 3 years.  Bourn is an exciting player but his value is his speed which isn’t always good for a player who will be 30 next yr.  Victorino is having a terrible season and Upton has been a big underachiever in his career, so it may come down to Swisher or Melky.

We all know Swisher’s game.  In his 3.5 seasons with the team he’s hit .266/.363/.485/.848 with a 122 OPS+ and is good for 23-29 HRs & 85 RBI while playing average defense in RF.  He’ll be 32 yrs old and likely looking at a 3 or 4 yr deal worth around $11-12M per.

Melky was a useful player with the Yanks from 2006-2009.  When he was first brought up, he supplied some much-needed good defense in the Outfield.  With veterans like Bernie & Johnny Damon out there, Melky’s defense was a breath of fresh air. In his 4 yrs as a starter, he hit .270/.332/.387/.718 as a 21-24 yr old.  After being traded to Atlanta, he gained weight and played so poorly, he was released.  That apparently was the wake-up call he needed.  He dedicated himself to getting into great shape for the first time in his career and it paid off.  Since the start of 2011, Melky has more hits than any player in MLB with 320 for a .322 average which is 5th in MLB.  He’s also been driving the ball more for an impressive .322/.357/.486/.843 line.  He’s been even more dominating this season with a .353/.391/.519/.910 line in SF which is a pitcher’s park.  He’s 10th in MLB with a 158 OPS+.  For comparison’s sake, Josh Hamilton’s OPS+ is 161 and Robinson Cano‘s is 151 – so it’s clear Melky is having an elite season.

So should the Yanks look to bring him back? He turns 28 next season so he’s 4 years younger than Swisher which means he’ll get a longer and more lucrative deal.  With the budget crunch and Cano & Granderson’s Free agency coming in 2014,  any commitments the team makes this off-season will have major impact on what they can or cannot afford the following yr.  If they go big on a FA OF like Cabrera this Winter, it would make it nearly impossible to bring Cano & Granderson back.  But if the Yanks sign Melky and he’s as good as he’s been the last 2 years they could afford to let Grandy go in 2014 and go with an OF of Brett Gardner in CF, Melky & a cheap 3rd  guy from within the system.  Someone from the  Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, Melky Mesa and Zoilo Almonte group should be ready to contribute by then to pair with a veteran caddy/platoon partner (think an Andruw Jones-type player)  as the 3rd OF. Read the rest of this entry

Morning Bits: Grading Cashman, Jeter passes Mantle, Melky wins MVP

Who stayed up to watch the whole game last night?  Not me.  The life just seemed to be sucked out of that game after the first inning.  Good for Melky to win the MVP.  Now I’m sure the “Yankees should have always kept him” will start-up again.  Melky is not even the same person then to now.  Just google pictures of him in a Yankee uniform and now a Giants uniform you can see he is in much better shape now.

Enjoy another baseball less day today.

Now onto the links…..

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY is grading Brian Cashman after the first half of the season.  Read the article and see if you agree with his grade.

Marchand writes another article this one about how Jeter passed Mantle last night with most career hits as a Yankee for the All-Star Game.

– Always one of my favorite articles Matt Ehalt of ESPN NY takes a look around the league of how former Yankees are doing.

– In defeat, Yanks happy that former Yankee Melky Cabrera won the MVP writes Bryan Hoch of mlb.com.

Morning Bits: Buehrle, Jackson, Cabrera, Cano

Good morning everyone! Just 102 days until pitchers and catchers can report for Spring Training! Here are your morning links:

- The Yankees have become very interested in free agent Mark Buehrle and he could become their top target.

- The Yankees have also started speaking to another free agent Edwin Jackson

- Former Yankees OF, Melky Cabrera was traded to the San Francisco Giants for starter Jonathan Sanchez.

- Yankees writer Jack Curry blogs about how Robinson Cano and his father Jose Cano felt at home when they trekked to Taiwan for the All-Star series

 

Giants’ lefty Jonathan Sanchez, traded to Royals

Giants’ lefty Jonathan Sanchez, traded to Royals

by Mike D.

The Royals acquired San Francisco left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, and a minor-league starter, for former-Yank Melky Cabrera. It had been rumored that Sanchez would either be traded or non-tendered by the Giants. If it wasn’t for his control issues, he would be a very good fit for the Yankees, as evidenced by his strikeout rates (9.4 K/9) and platoon numbers against lefties (.210 AVG / .300 OBP / .342 SLG). This basically diminishes the chance that the Yankees could acquire Matt Cain in a trade, as the Giants now have one less starter. I laid out the case for targeting Cain last week. A trade for the San Francisco right-hander would probably have been unlikely, anyway.

Checking on players recently traded by Yanks

With the trade deadline looming, I thought it would be interesting to check in on some ex-Yankees. I found a lot of the pitchers recently included in deals are performing well.  This bodes well for the team in future trade negotiations as it shows that the Yanks are developing good players and that Cashman gives good value in deals.

There are a lot of ex-Yankee pitchers doing well . Off the top of my head, Ian Kennedy, Tyler Clippard, Micheal Dunn, Daniel McCutcheon, Jose Veras, Mark Melancon & Jeff Karstens are all having very good years.

Karsten surprised me the most….he’s 8-5 with a 2.28 ERA which is 2nd in the NL. However, he seems to be having excellent luck with a 4.41 FIP and only a 4.8 k/9. Then, how does he do it? Well, he limits walks with a 1.49 bb rate which is 2nd in the NL and he’s pitched awesome with runners on base. He has a MLB-leading 86.6% Left on Base % and is 2nd in the NL with a minute .227 BABIP, which means he is due for a serious regression. But good for Jeff and the Pirates. there are a lot of former Yanks on the upstart Pirates.

Here are some numbers for some recent ex-Yanks:

Pitchers

 

W-L

 

ERA

 

FIP

 

K/9

 

BB/9

 

 

Ian Kennedy

 

11-3

 

3.22

 

3.56

 

7.5

 

2.5

 

 

Jeff Karstens

 

8-5

 

2.28

 

4.41

 

4.8

 

1.5

 

 

Tyler Clippard

 

1-0

 

1.73

 

3.32

 

11.3

 

3.1

 

25 Holds

 

Mark Melancon

 

5-3

 

2.91

 

3.34

 

7.4

 

3.3

 

8 saves

 

Jose Veras

 

2-3

 

3.48

 

3.66

 

9.2

 

4.7

 

19 Holds

 

Dan McCutcheon

 

3-1

 

2.13

 

3.86

 

4.6

 

2.5

 

8 Holds

 

Michael Dunn

 

5-5

 

3.49

 

4.39

 

9.9

 

5.1

 

10 Holds

 

Phil Coke

 

1-8

 

4.68

 

3.81

 

4.5

 

3.4

 

3 Holds

 

Hitters

 

AVG

 

HR

 

RBI

 

SB

 

OPS

 

WAR

 

Melky Cabrera

 

.294

 

12

 

57

 

14

 

.785

 

3.2

 

Austin Jackson

 

.243

 

4

 

23

 

16

 

.668

 

0.9

 

Wilson Betemit

 

.278

 

3

 

27

 

3

 

.737

 

0.3

 

Jose Tabata

 

.265

 

3

 

15

 

14

 

.705

 

1.2

 

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