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Posts Tagged ‘Justin Duchscherer’

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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UPDATE: Buster Olney reports that the Yankees are intent on adding a pitcher tonight and reminds us that they were close in a deal for Aaron Harang in the summer…

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Mike Puma of the New York Post has indicated that a vague Major League Baseball source has indicated that Brian Cashman will forgo celebrating the holidays and sign a starter by New Years Day.

Cashman has supposedly inquired about the availability of Carlos Zambrano, but seemed to be turned off the high price of acquiring him. Also, he might not be able to fit within Hal Steinbrenner’s concrete budget. While having Zambrano on the Yanks would be outstanding, he does seem like an enigma at times and lets his emotions get too much of himself at times. However, I would not turn him away if he showed up at the stadium to play for the Yankees.

Puma indicated there was a increased sense of urgency to add another pitcher after the Red Sox signed Lackey to a five year deal. Correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t pitching Cashman’s primary concern going into the offseason?

Puma’s speculative targets are Jason Marquis, Joel Pineiro and Ben Sheets. However, Ken Davidoff of Newsday talked to “a person in the Yankees’ loop” who said Sheets is “not even on the board” currently. This is kind of surprising, but then again Sheets has a high price ($12MM), but I don’t see the Yankees going after Marquis (NL Lifer) and Pineiro (Just Don’t See It). I guess Justin Duchscherer is not on their radar too? After these names, the free agent market is kind of thin….

UPDATE: Cross Jason Marquis off the list, he is signing with the Nationals.

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Hal Steinbrenner has told GM Brian Cashman that the budget he gave him (less than $201 million) is set in concrete and won’t be changed. Cashman has said he would never close doors and Steinbrenner has said he would always listen.What has happened here is that Steinbrenner is now hard of hearing and Cashman is now standing in the door he swore never to slam close a very very cold man…

So at this point in time that means everyone can stop fantasizing about Matt Holliday or Jason Bay wearing pinstripes. This also makes sense why the Yankees didn’t really ‘pursue’ John Lackey like some of us thought they might.

Cashman at this point in time will continue looking for another starting pitcher as he found his new DH, Nick Johnson. One has to think that Cashman will look at Justin Duchscherer or Ben Sheets. At this point in time Ben Sheets’ asking price is a little high at $12MM, which I feel will come down quick as I don’t think anyone wants to spend that much money on a walking injury risk.

One has to wonder if George Steinbrenner was still in charge if he would have set his budget in concrete. Me? I don’t think so. George would be enamored with Bay after his exploits in Boston and would want to stick it to them much like when Damon left Boston for New York. Should be interesting this year if the Yankees are underachieving and if Hal calls for the Yankees to put on more payroll via trades in July or earlier…

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Now that we know where Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and John Lackey will be playing baseball in 2010, it’s time to look at the best options that the Yankees have not named Chien-Ming Wang. The best free agent options the Yankees have are Justin Duchscherer and Ben Sheets. Let’s compare these two and pick a future Yankee…

Ben Sheets- Pros

Upon mentioning his name, I know I invoke a few groans and rolls of the eyes, which is well deserved, in some cases. Though, the stats do not lie, in 8 active years, he has an ERA of 3.72 and 7.6 Ks per nine innings. Though, when healthy (and that’s a big IF) he can throw 200+ innings easily and even with injury riddled years, he provides 6+ innings in his starts. Think of this you can slide Ben Sheets in as a 4th or 5th starter and move Joba or Phil to the bullpen or rotate their starts which benefits everyone. With Ben not needing to be the #1 starter like he was in Milwaukee, he can relax and pitch his game. When healthy, Ben Sheets has the potential to be a front line starter. Sheets is also one year younger than Justin Duchscherer.

Cons

Sheets missed all of last year due to rehabilitation of his surgically repaired elbow which he injured in 2008.  All the eye rolling and scoffing at him possibly signing is well deserved. The biggest con against him is his health. If you remove 2008 from his pitching records, from 2005 to 2007, his innings pitched were: 156.2, 106, 141.1. Not exactly stellar, more like Joba rules were in effect for him. Another big IF is whether or not he’d be able to pitch in a big city market like New York. Many pitchers have come and not lived up to their expectations or wilted under the pressure (See: Javy Vasquez, Kenny Rodgers, Jack McDowell, Randy Johnson, etc al). He has also pitched solely in the National League Central… (more…)

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