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2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Yankees

From messy negotiations with the Captain; to ace Cliff Lee choosing brotherly love over the big apple; to waving goodbye to one of the Core Four; the New York Yankees off-season seemed to be in the news for all the wrong reasons.

The only legit move was signing reliever Rafael Soriano, but even that became a soap opera, as the Yankees GM Brian Cashman publicly disagreed with ownership.

Oh, let’s not forget what we learned about Alex Rodriguez, he is a want-a-be jet setter, who cannot feed himself; he picks and flicks, but don’t worry he still likes blonde actresses. Let’s all hope A-rod can deal with playing baseball again.

The off-season ended on a sad note, as Andy Pettitte hung-up his gloves on February 4th at Yankee Stadium. Pettitte is still a top of the rotation ace, was loved in the clubhouse and was a fan favorite. Yankee fans can only wish Pettitte all the best.

Now with the Yankees officially in Spring Training, it’s time to get to work. With the moves implemented by Boston’s GM Theo Epstein, the Red Sox are heavily favored to not only win the AL East, but also a shoe-inn to be playing in 2011 World Series.

The Positives:

Though Yankee Universe got a reality check this off-season, it is not as if the team now can’t play baseball. Most teams would be happy to have the same ‘problems’ of the Yankees, as the team is still one of the best.

Just look at the whose returning to the Yankees line-up from 2010, Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, A-rod, Cano, Posada, Swisher, and Gardner. It includes four All-Stars, three Gold Glovers and one Silver Slugger recipient.

In 2010, with chiefly the same group, the Yankees posted a 97-67 record. The bats led the majors in RBIs with 832, On Base Percentage with .350 and had the most runs with 859. Add that to coming in third with 802 home-runs, came in second in walks with 662 and ranked fourth in baseball for total bases and slugging percentage.

To have those numbers in a season where the Captain was off, Granderson was on the DL for almost two months and our best hitter A-rod still wasn’t fully cleared from hip surgery is pretty darn good.

Last season, Gardner and Swisher proved there worth by stepping it up when the team struggled and look for both to continue.

The glue of the line-up was Robinson Cano, who finally broke out and showed everyone that he is as good as scouts predicted. Cano should win his second Silver Slugger in 2011, and after coming in second for 2010 MVP, look for him to win it in 2011.

Jeter and Granderson finished the season like themselves, and A-rod finally got cleared this past June to be able to workout without any hesitations.

So, with virtually the same line-up, and an upgrade of what fans hope will be touted prospect Jesus Montero taking the empty spot in the line-up. Andruw Jones will fill in as part-time DH, which adds up to a Bombers line-up that is going to be better than last season.

The clubs clear other strength came against GM Cashman’s better judgment, as Hal and Hank Steinbrenner overrode him to sign the best closer from 2010 Rafael Soriano. Soriano is more than happy to move from closer to set-up for, as he knows what an honor setting up for the great-one Mariano Rivera will be.

Rivera signature cutter still mystifies batters after 16 seasons. Rivera is 41-years-old but showed no reason for concern really at all. Still, having Soriano ready just in case was a brilliant call that would make the Boss very proud of his sons.
Add in Pedro Feliciano from the Mets and the returns of David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan and Sergio Mitre and this is easily the best bullpen on paper in the division. A solid bullpen is a team’s icing on the cake. The importance of relief pitchers cannot be overstated because fact is they are game changers.

The rotation is steered by ace CC Sabathia, who has been practically perfect since arriving in the Bronx in 2009. Sabathia has been one of the best pitchers in baseball for all 10-seasons of his career, named to four All-Star teams, winning the 2007 Cy Young, while finishing second in 2008 and last season.

Sabathia is an innings eater, goes deep into games and posted 197 strikeouts in each of the last two seasons. He dropped 25+ pound during the off-season, which should only make the 6’7 Sabathia even better.

Following CC is Phil Hughes who defied odds during his first season as a starter. Hughes won 18 games, with 146 strikeouts over 177 innings pitched. It earned Hughes his first of many All-Star appearances.

Look for Hughes to incorporate his change-up more in 2011 and should be an excellent in the two spot, especially with the experience of a full season in the rotation behind him. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: New York Yankees’ »

Lady Loves Pinstripes Featured In “BallHyped.com Best Sports Blogs of 2010 Book “

Once again the guys over at BallHyped.com have outdone themselves by putting together a 208-page book featuring the best sports blogs from 2010.

“BallHyped.com Best Sports Blogs of 2010 Book”appeals to any sports fan because it is so diverse and covers all sports from every angle. It is a table book, so it will go great on a coffee table or a bookshelf.

A Lady Loves Pinstripes post called, “Baseball’s Dirty Mistress” made the cut, which was so exciting but there are so many quality reads that you are missing out on if  you don’t buy it because the originality is second to none.

Trust me, go buy “BallHyped.com Best Sports Blogs of 2010 Book” as it won’t disappoint and look for a Lady Loves Pinstripes book giveaway soon.

BallHyped.com: The Best Sports Blogs of 2010 Book

Continue reading ‘Lady Loves Pinstripes Featured In “BallHyped.com Best Sports Blogs of 2010 Book “’ »

New York Yankees CC Sabathia: Should Stay Or Should I Go Now?

Today the Yankees pitchers and catchers reported for Spring Training, with their official first workout to follow on Thursday.

The media is always in attendance at Yankee Camp, and all the attention centered on CC Sabathia.

Why?

Remember that Sabathia’s deal has an opt out clause after three seasons, so at the end of 2011 season. He can break his $161 million, seven-year contract and hit the free agent market.

Most Yankee fans probably hadn’t thought about the ace ever departing, why would anyone after CC said this during a Knicks game:

The media couldn’t wait a day to start baiting the team’s ace, but no one figured that his honest reply would change.

Well, it did as it is not what he said to the media, it is what he didn’t say that is concerning.

The Yankees without Sabathia can’t happen so GM Brian Cashman and the baby Steins better not mess this one up.

It is going to be tricky of they break the rule of not talking contracts till they expire, after the way Captain Derek Jeter was handled.

The whole thing is overblown, but I can’t deny that it did not leave a sour taste in my mouth.

Welcome to the 2011 season Yankee Fans.

Yankees 2011 Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees List

The 2011 Spring Training camps are starting this week, and the New York Yankees pitchers and catchers have their first workout tomorrow.

The Yankees have serious holes to fill and decision to make before Opening Day on March 31st.

Here is the list of non-roster invitees attending Yankees camp who are fighting for a coveted spot on on the 25-man roaster and a chance to play up in the Bronx.

2011 MLB Team Preview: Boston Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox didn’t make the postseason in 2010, and that is unacceptable response following a 2009 New York Yankees World Series win.

Boston’s GM Theo Epstein clearly did not want this to resonate in the minds of Red Sox Nation.

So, Epstein made the Red Sox the unmistakable winners this off-season, by signing LF Carl Crawford and trading than signing 1B Adrian Gonzalez, two of the best players in the game.

Crawford and Gonzalez’s paychecks for bringing their talents to Boston for the next seven years are $142 and $154 million bucks respectively. That is a lot of coin, but both players are well worth the money. Guess the Yankees now share the evil empire, with an evil nation.

The Positives:

Signing Crawford and initially trading for Gonzalez made an already substantial line-up into a lethal one. Last season, the Red Sox hit the second most homeruns in the Majors with 211 and led the AL with 358 doubles.

Expect these numbers to grow, as Gonzalez will be hitting in batter friendly Fenway Park. This is heaven compared to his old stomping ground of Petco in San Diego, where Gonzalez went yard 31 times in 2010 and posted 40 homers just a year earlier.

Crawford retains all the tools, as a hitter, as a defender and is just in his prime at 28-years-old. Crawford’s speed is undeniable, with a career average of 54 stolen bases and posting 47 total last season.

Add the swiftness of a healthy Pedroia and Ellsbury who stole 70 bases in 2009, the Red Sox surely won’t be ranking 12th in steals in the AL like last year, with a team total of 68.

Don’t forget that the two newest Red Sox join a line-up that includes David Ortiz, Kevin Youkilis, JD Drew, Pedroia and Ellsbury, which gives skipper Terry Francona lots of choices.

Speaking of Francona, he is one of the paramount skippers in the game. Francona has a fantastic report with his players, but they respect him even more. After what Francona did with his injury ridden team in 2010 just certifies what we already know, that the Red Sox are in some good hands.

Boston’s starting rotation has a one-two punch of 27-year-old Jon Lester and 26-year-old Clay Buchholz, who both verified their worth in 2010. Buchholz pitched just shy of 174 innings, posting a 2.33 ERA; and Lester had a 3.25 ERA, with 225 strikeouts over 208 innings pitched.

Epstein also added needed depth to the Red Sox’s bullpen by picking up Dan Wheeler and Bobby Jenkins.

What didn’t, excuse me couldn’t Epstein not achieve this off-season?

Pretty much nothing because he took a great team and made them even better. This is stuff of a GM-Genius, but the Red Sox owners deep pockets help a little too.

The Negatives:

Even with as much ‘wow-factor’ as the 2011 Red Sox radiate, it doesn’t exempt them from having areas of concern.

Epstein and Francona’s primary worry has to be the decline of closer Jonathan Papelbon, who lead the league with eight blown saves last season, which equaled his 2008-09 numbers combined.

The once dependable Papelbon has to prove himself reliable again, as any team without a dominant closer will have serious problems, especially in the AL East.

This also adds pressure on the Red Sox starters to try to stretch out seven or eight innings every fifth day. Boston’s back-end of the rotation of Josh Beckett, John Lackey and Daisue Matsuzaka were not reliable last season. Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Boston Red Sox’ »

2011 MLB Team Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays finished last season with 96-66 record, the top in the AL and were the AL East champs for the second time in the last three seasons.

Heading into the off-season, as expected this homegrown, dynamic group was going to take a hit.

Rays fans are complaining, but they shoulder a lot of the blame for the team’s $40-$45 million dollar payroll. The Rays were awesome the last three seasons, but no one came to watch. Yes, they play in a dumpy dome known as Tropicana Field, but for only 12,000+ fans to show up on the night the Rays clinched the AL East is sad.

Winning normally fills ballparks, which means more revenue for a team to invest in good players.

No Rays fans can criticize that the 2011 season is already over because the door was open for three seasons to give their stars a reason not to want to leave.

The Positives:

The Rays still have 3B Evan Longoria, who is arguably the best in baseball. Longoria was named Rookie Of The Year in 2008; he has also won two Gold Gloves and a Silver Slugger all before turning his current age of 25. Longoria is only going to get better.

Voted second behind King Felix in the 2010 CY Young ballot, the Rays still have their staff ace David Price. He finished 19-6, with an ERA of 2.72, with 188 strikeouts and only giving up 15 home-runs pitching just shy of 205 innings.

Price is the leader of a still very viable starting rotation.  Trading Matt Garza for a slew of prospects was a move that the Rays could afford with the emergence of ace prospect Jeremy Hellickson, who scouts say will dominate in his first full season, at the bottom of the order. In between sits Wade Davis, James Shields and Jeff Niemann, which is still a solid group.

Skipper Joe Maddon is an oddball, but he has molded so many youngsters into superstars that it overrides anything else. For two seasons straight, not one Rays starting pitcher went on the DL for an arm issue and that is all due to Maddon.

The Rays signed old teammates Johnny Damon and Manny Ramirez, which give them a needed veteran presence. Nothing calls for incentive more for these two than sticking it to both the Red Sox and Yankees. This was a great move by the Rays front office, as it gives the youngsters something to get excited about.

The Negatives: Continue reading ‘2011 MLB Team Preview: Tampa Bay Rays’ »