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Posts Tagged ‘Joakim Soria’

The 2011 Yankees work out during Spring Training

It’s that time of year. Spring training games are underway and baseball fans everywhere are having heated discussions about who will finish where. It’s kind of silly, really. As any Yankee fan can tell you, “You can’t predict baseball.” Still, we make the effort – never mind that mid-season injuries, trades and call-ups always alter the picture. Add in the players who have break-out years (seriously, who thought Jose Bautista would slug 54 homers in 2010?) or unexpectedly terrible ones (think Carlos Lee), and predicting anything this time of year becomes an exercise in futility. But it is a fun exercise, so here I go.

I’ll start by posting the expected finish of team, including record. How did I come to this? I ran 100 season simulations, based on a program I originally wrote for picking football games. Of course, this assumes I’ve correctly guessed every team’s roster on Opening Day and that nobody suffers a significant injury. It’s worked well for me in picking the NFL (as those of you who followed my picks on Twitter last year probably know), but this is the first time I’ve ever tried it in baseball. By the way, the division names double as links, you can hit them to get to a more in-depth prognostication.

AL East

  1. New York Yankees,     105-57    0 GB
  2. Boston Red Sox,     105-57    0 GB
  3. Tampa Bay Rays    95-67    10 GB
  4. Baltimore Orioles    94-68    11 GB
  5. Toronto Blue Jays    67-95    38 GB

AL Central

  1. Minnesota Twins    87-75    0 GB
  2. Chicago White Sox    84-78     3 GB
  3. Detroit Tigers        71-91    16 GB
  4. Kansas City Royals    55-97    32 GB
  5. Cleveland Indians    45-107    42 GB

AL West

  1. Oakland A’s        97-95     0 GB
  2. Texas Rangers        85-77    12 GB
  3. Anaheim Angels    83-79    14 GB
  4. Seattle Mariners    64-98    33 GB

Yes, the AL East is that good. And yes, Cleveland is that bad.

Season’s biggest surprise: The Oriole starting rotation. I know, you probably think I lost my mind. But the O’s may have the best stable of young arms in the league, with Jake Arrieta (25), Brian Matusz (24), Brad Bergesen (25) and Chris Tillman(23). Add in a resurgent Justin Duchscherer and the steady Jeremy Guthrie, and that’s a lot of promise.

Season’s biggest bust: Texas. They’re really going to miss not re-signing Cliff Lee. Not to mention the whole Michael Young saga is a great case study in how to blow up team chemistry.

MVP candidate: Robinson Cano. If you thought last year was special, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

CY Young Candidate: Since this award seems given to somebody from a losing team lately, I’ll stay with the trend. Here’s a vote for Joakim Soria.

As always, I look forward to your feedback. And…PLAY BALL!!!

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OK, Yankees Fans: we are now in the home stretch of the 2010 trade season and so far the Bronx Bombers have… well, they’ve bombed on getting any fresh blood, much less an impact type of player. That being said, neither have the Red Sox or the Rays so the status quo in the AL East remains. It seems rather hard to believe that July 31 will come and go without one of the premier teams in the East doing something to try to separate themselves from the others. So here’s a quick link dump on what’s being whispered about by various sources:

*Jayson Stark reports that the Yankees tried to pry away Joakim Soria by offering Jesus Montero. That seems to confirm a report from John Heyman, but I remain doubtful. As much as I’d love to see Soria wearing Pinstripes, that simply is a trade that doesn’t match up well. KC’s farm system is well stocked at catcher and first base, so as big a bat as Montero looks to be; he would have nowhere to play in KC (unless the Royals could move Jose Guillen to another team and slide Billy Butler to the primary DH role, or jettison Jason Kendall).

*Heyman also mentions in the same report that the Yankees seem more intent on picking up bench help, mentioning Ty Wiggington, Cody Ross and Jhonny Peralta by name. Personally, I wouldn’t Peralta anywhere near this team, even as a bench player. His defense is suspect at both short and third; and his bat is now slider-speed, at best. I still like Ross as a fourth outfielder. Wiggington would be interesting; he has a reputation as good clubhouse guy and immediately seems to go on a tear whenever he joins a new team. But I doubt the Orioles will trade him within the division.

*There are numerous reports, including from Heyman, Stark and Bob Klapisch, about Adam Dunn, and they all say basically the same thing: the Nationals asking price is beyond exorbitant.

*One final note from Heyman: he tweeted earlier today that he thought the Yankees have interest in Ted Lilly, but not Roy Oswalt. For our sakes, I hope he’s wrong and the Yanks don’t even bother asking about Lilly. And from everything we’ve heard, the Astros price for Oswalt is typical Drayton McClane; which is to say it’s a lot like those old “Crazy Eddie” commercials – INSANE!!!

*Klapisch also wonders what it will take to fix Joba Chamberlain. I think most Yankee fans are wondering what it will take to convince Brian Cashman to trade Joba Chamberlain, especially after he nearly blew an 8-run lead yesterday. Even Joe Girardi sounded exasperated after Joba’s latest meltdown. (You got me. It’s not really a trade rumor. But even long-time Joba supporters like me are starting to think it might be time for him to go.)

*Yesterday, Jon Paul Morosi suggested that the Yanks and Red Sox are bidding against each other in pursuit of Scott Downs. I wonder if Toronto is trying to inflate Downs’ price, though. Although, Downs would be a significant upgrade over Chan Ho Park.

That’s all that seems to be percolating in the Bronx today. I suppose we can only hope that the reports about the Rays interest in Chad Qualls is more than speculation. J

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Kansasa City Royals' Scott Podsednik

Final 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Kansas City « 2 0 1 3 1 0 0 0 0 7 8 0
N.Y. Yankees 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 4 9 1
W: K. Davies (5-6) L: S. Mitre (0-2)
S: J. Soria (27)
HR: KC – J. Guillen (16)   NYY – M. Teixeira (19),J. Posada (12),M. Teixeira (20)
 

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  Adam Dunn #44 Of The Washington Nationals HitsWith the non-waiver trade deadline now only two weeks away, this seems an opportune time to look at some of the current rumors surrounding the Yankees. Below are the players most recently linked to the Yankees by various sources, including MLB Trade Rumors, River Avenue Blues, ESPN and FOX Sports. I’ve included some personal thoughts on whether I think the player would help or hurt the drive for 28. By the way, I suspect that with AJ Burnett‘s tantrum yesterday and Andy Pettite‘s injury meaning he’s likely lost for at least a month, this list will be changing rapidly.

Adam Dunn (1B/OF, Washington Nationals): Easily the most controversial player on the board, but it may be a moot point. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo is pretty much asking for the moon for a guy that would essentially be a rental, since his contract ends this season. What Dunn brings is home runs and a lefty bat, but that’s about it. The guy runs as well as a fire hydrant and strikes out at a seemingly impossible pace (he owns three of the top five strikeout totals in ML history). And forget about that “1B/OF” designation; the only position he can field adequately is Hot Dog Stand. The reality is, Dunn is this generation’s version of Dave Kingman. Still, the Yankees can pencil him in as DH, hit him 7th or 8th in the order and learn to live with his all-or-nothing approach. Only thing is, Dunn has made it abundantly clear he doesn’t want to DH. That stance would pose a real headache for Joe Girardi. Opinion: Skip him. A one-dimensional player with the ability to turn into a clubhouse cancer isn’t what the team needs and besides, the asking price is likely outrageous.

Joakim Soria (RHP, Kansas City Royals): If you can pry him loose, this one may be a no-brainer. Soria is currently the closer for yet another woeful Royals team and possesses a 93mph cutter and devastating change. (Remind you of anyone currently on the roster?) Unusual for a closer, he also features two other secondary pitches – a sharp breaking slider and a curve. He’s only 26 and under team control for another two seasons after this one. He not only fits as a terrific 8th inning guy, but projects as Mariano Rivera‘s heir apparent. (Hey, he is 25 for 27 in save opportunities for a horrible team). The problem is with prying him away from KC – they are likely to ask for half the roster from Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Still, it might be doable. KC is well stocked at catcher, 3B and 1B and would likely want outfield and/or pitching help. Opinion: If he can be had for anything less than Jesus Montero or Austin Romine, Brian Cashman needs his head examined if doesn’t trade for him.

Wes Helms (3B/1B, Florida Marlins): I have to admit this one has me scratching my head. Yes, he can play third and the Yankees have spent all season looking for a suitable backup for Alex Rodriguez. But the guy is hitting .243 this year with a .690 OPS. While those numbers do represent an upgrade from Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo, it isn’t by an overwhelming amount. Helms is 36, has been declining for the past few years and would represent a rental – his contract expires at the end of the season. Bringing Helms aboard would also mean wasting a roster spot for a guy to back up third base – the Yankees can play either Nick Swisher or (gulp) Marcus Thames at first, if needed. Opinion: skip him. He doesn’t offer enough versatility to be a bench player on this team.

Leo Nunez (RHP, Florida Marlins): Nunez is an interesting player. Over the past 1 ½ seasons, he’s racked up 47 saves for the Marlins. Prior to that, he pitched to a 1.4 WHIP and 4.92 ERA in 106 appearances for the Royals. He features a plus fastball but can be a bit wild at times. In other words, he represents more upside than most of the relievers on the trade market, but is still somewhat typical of why trading for relievers can be a roll of the dice. If he winds up in the Yankee pen, does he replicate his Marlins numbers? Or does he revert to his KC form? If the former, he would easily be the 8th inning guy for Joe Girardi. If not, then the Yankees have an older version of Joba Chamberlain on their hands. Since at this point the Marlins aren’t conceding the NL East, you have to wonder why they would put their closer on the market. Opinion: Nunez could be a good play for the Yankees, provided the asking price isn’t too high. If he can be had for, say, Jonathon Albaladejo, I say make the trade.

Cody Ross (CF/RF/LF, Florida Marlins): So, how much would you pay for a 29 year old outfielder who is not exactly known for plate discipline, but has shown some power in the past and is having down season? Ross would essentially replace Thames on the Yankees roster and despite his down year, represents a significant upgrade over the incumbent. While he will never be mistaken for Willie Mays, Ross isn’t a defensive liability, having played a slightly better than major league average OF, regardless of which position he’s slotted. I would imagine of particular interest to the Yankees is Ross’ career .950 OPS against left-handed pitching, since he most likely would slot into a semi-platoon with Curtis Granderson. I can also understand the Marlins wanting to move Ross; they’ve had a logjam in the outfield ever since they recalled Mike Stanton. Opinion: Getting Ross would be a good move for Brain Cashman, but getting the Marlins to agree on a price could prove difficult. They still view him as a starter while the Yankees would use him as part-timer. Could a Nunez/Ross deal be swung for Albaledejo, Reegie Corona, Zach McAllister and another low-minors prospect? That would be worthwhile, I think.

Well, there’s my take on the rumors as of Sunday afternoon. As always, your feedback is welcome – let me know if you agree or disagree!

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Today, Mariano Rivera at age 39 (during the season, he just turned 40) was announced as Sporting News’ 2009 Athlete of the Year after 44 saves out of 46 opportunities, 1.76 ERA, a .905 WHIP and 72 K’s in 62.1 innings, his first career RBI on the same night as his 500th save and five more postseason saves. I believe this award is well deserved, congrats Mariano!

For this occasion and the printing of the article in Sporting News’ Magazine on December 21st Steve Greenberg interviewed The Sandman, Mariano Rivera.

On being able to peak at the most important time of year, even at his age: “In the playoffs, you’re talking about something that not many players have the opportunity to be in — and I’m talking about great players, not just average players. And I’ve been blessed to be able to be in the playoffs for many years and do the job in all those years. I think that says it alone — it’s the playoffs. You don’t want to miss that; you want to be in the middle of it. And when you realize that’s your makeup, your ability, your mind, your mentality, you just want to keep going and going and going and never stop.” (more…)

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