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Yankees re-acquire Alfonso Soriano in trade w/Cubs

alfonso_soriano_by_cool_sports_players_1Next February, it will be an even ten years since the Yankees decided to trade for Rangers star shortstop Alex Rodriguez. At first, a deal with Boston was vetoed by the Commissioner’s Office, so Texas turned their attention to what New York had to offer.

Seeing the potential success A-Rod could bring to the team on and off the field, the Bombers parted with their fan favorite Dominican second baseman Alfonso Soriano, along with a player to be named later. That “PTBNL” ended up being infielder Joaquin Arias, selected from a pool of prospects that included international signee Robinson Cano.

To say the least, things haven’t quite worked out for the Yanks. However, they have now made a move to bring this controversial and monumental decade in franchise history full circle.

So, here it is. The Yankees have re-acquired Alfonso Soriano in a trade with the Chicago Cubs. Chicago has agreed to pay 18 of the 25 million dollars still owed to Soriano, and in exchange pitching prospect Corey Black will be heading to the Windy City.

“Sori” is a different player than he was when he last wore the pinstripes. No longer a speed demon, leadoff hitter, nor infielder, Soriano has played left field since his one and only season with the Washington Nationals in 2006. He has managed to stay mostly healthy throughout his career, as now at 37 years old Sori has been a lock for at least 20 home runs, 70 RBI, and a slugging percentage in the .400s each year.

So far in 2013, the seven-time All-Star is batting .254 with 17 home runs and 51 RBI, which instantly makes him the Yankees’ best [active] right-handed hitter. Yet, sabermetrics suggest this won’t be that big of a boost to the lineup (0.7 WAR, 100 wRC+). Defensively he is also a liability, perhaps even worse than Raul Ibanez who faked his way as an everyday left fielder in 2012.

Another thing to keep in mind is that Soriano’s deal runs through 2014, so he now joins Ichiro and Vernon Wells as another old, washed-up outfielder that is practically irremovable considering all the money owed to him by now both Chicago and the Yankees.

This is not to say Soriano can’t be a somewhat productive player for this year and next, but it’s unlikely he will be as productive as a younger, perhaps cheaper alternative (Shin-Soo Choo, Carlos Beltran, and Jason Kubel to name a few).

However in the interim, as in the rest of this season, this definitely will help out the Yankees lineup. They are desperately searching for power from the right side of the plate and it appears Soriano can provide that. He will likely bat in the middle of the order, and probably will DH more often than not with Vernon Wells still being a capable defensive outfielder.

But, this probably can’t won’t be a season-changing addition, and certainly without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson, [maybe A-Rod] and perhaps another bat via trade, this deal could go down as a useless one.

It will be nice to see an old face back in pinstripes, but it may be nothing more than that. Don’t expect an offensive turnaround with Soriano now in the fold; as mentioned it will take a lot more than him to get this team back into legitimate playoff contention.

Still, let’s all welcome back to the Yankees Alfonso Soriano. Hopefully he proves me wrong.

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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.

Red Sox and Dodgers truly wheeling and dealing

The dust has finally settled after a crazy past few days in Major League Baseball. If the non-waiver trade deadline wasn’t shocking enough, the waiver trade deadline was even more frantic and surprising.

In a blink of an eye, the Red Sox traded away three core players and over 270 million dollars worth of contracts to the Los Angeles Dodgers. And then some.

L.A. acquired slugging first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, (the centerpiece of the deal), injured left fielder Carl Crawford, struggling 32-year old righty Josh Beckett. and utility infielder Nick Punto. Meanwhile, Boston receives first baseman James Loney and four prospects.

At first glance with little knowledge of what’s gone on this year, it seems like the most lop-sided trade in baseball history. But, as in football, “upon further review”, this deal is as equal as it can get.

The Dodgers, now 69-58 after a win over Miami in Gonzalez’s debut (1-5, 3-R HR), are two games back of the San Francisco Giants in the N.L. West. Prior to this deal, the team had already made numerous moves to improve the club, compared to where it stood on Opening Day.

Outfielder Shane Victorino, shortstop Hanley Ramirez, reliever Randy Choate, closer Brandon League, and starter Joe Blanton are the biggest names that most recently donned Dodger Blue, and all of them have fit in nicely since their respective trades prior to the July 31st [non-waiver] trade deadline.

Now in bringing in A-Gone, Crawford, and Beckett, the Dodgers have added a grand total of 94.75 million dollars to the team’s payroll [for this year alone] since starting to wheel and deal back in July. And I didn’t even bring up the home-grown superstars of Matt Kemp (making 10 million this year, jumping to 21 million annually in 2013) and Clayton Kershaw (making 7 million in 2012, jumping to 11 million next season, and then demanding a big payday afterwards). Clearly, the Dodgers are digging deep into the pockets of Magic Johnson to make all this happen.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the Red Sox.

Boston officially waves the white flag in making this deal, as they traded their ace, best hitter, and well, Carl Crawford, all in one deal.

It’s been a season of disappointment and bitterness for the Red Sox and their fans, as they are in fourth place in the AL East with a record of 60-67. Uttering the name Bobby Valentine on Yawkey Way is almost as bad as saying “Dent”, “Boone”, or “Buckner”. Seriously. The fans hate him, and so do the players, which is probably a reason why they’ve played so poorly all year long. If you don’t like your manager, it’s unlikely you’ll play hard or well for him.

The Red Sox to me are like a teenage girl following a sudden break-up. “This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.” I can hear Ben Cherington cry out to John Henry.

But in all seriousness, the team’s prior hopes and dreams of championships are crushed, and so Boston finally accepted it’s time to start looking towards the future and planning for 2013 and beyond, which is the smart thing to do.

The players that are coming to Boston aren’t really anything special. James Loney is only coming over to play first base for the remainder of this season, as he’s been a very inconsistent hitter for the past couple seasons now. And the prospects have all had their share of struggles and should be Major League ready by now, yet they’re not.

But for the Red Sox, it really doesn’t matter who they got for what they gave. The point is they are free from a couple of high-priced, long term deals, one that was very misguided (wink wink, Carl Crawford). And Beckett was making 15 million bucks per year as well, and simply had to go. Taking this much money off the books allows the Red Sox to spend freely on any of the big free agents this coming winter, and also a chance to reconstruct the clubhouse and create a happy and friendly environment in Boston, which let’s face it, will be the total opposite as long as Bobby V is manager.

It will be very interesting to see what the Bo-Sox do this offseason. As I said, they can spend the money they got immediately and maybe try to get back in contention next year. Or they could hold off, let their prospects get a chance to prove themselves and wait and see.

If nothing else, one thing is definitely for sure – Bobby V is gone following the season.

Hurrah Red Sox fans!

Morning Bits 6/20/11

Morning all Yanks win series yesterday and now move onto a new one in Cincy.

here are your links…

* A-Rod has a little bit of a shoulder strain.

* Phil Hughes had a Rehab start yesterday and his fastball was looking good.

* Yankees are looking high and low for help on the trade market.

 

 

 

 

AL EAST STANDINGS

EAST W L PCT GB HOME ROAD RS RA DIFF STRK L10
Boston 43 28 .606 - 21-14 22-14 381 298 +83 Won 1 8-2
NY Yankees 41 29 .586 1.5 23-17 18-12 372 276 +96 Won 2 8-2
Tampa Bay 39 33 .542 4.5 18-18 21-15 293 275 +18 Won 3 6-4
Toronto 36 36 .500 7.5 17-18 19-18 338 330 +8 Lost 1 4-6
Baltimore 32 37 .464 10 20-18 12-19 281 323 -42 Won 1 4-6

Morning Bits 6/3/11

Good morning all.  After an off day Yesterday the Yankees are back at it again tonight against the Angels.  Lets hope the winning streak continues.

Here are your morning links.

Pitching will be primary target as Yankees seek to upgrade roster

Derek Jeter acknowledges there could be pressure to record his 3,000th hit at Yankee Stadium in June

Yankees GM not satisfied with division-leading roster

 

 

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