Friday, December 13, 2013

Looking Back at the Robinson Cano Contract Situation

Photo Courtesy @Mariners
Robinson Cano was introduced as the newest member of the Seattle Mariners at a press conference yesterday at Safeco Field and made me think of a few things. First off, as I say with any player who signs a big contract, I never begrudge anyone making their money. We all work hard to make as much as we can to improve our individual situations. If he found a team willing to give him a 10-year $240-million contract then why shouldn't he try and get top dollar. Already you hear the complaints of some fans who are calling Cano "greedy". As if many of those fans wouldn't uproot their lives and their families for doubling or tripling of their yearly salaries. Granted the sums we are talking about in Cano's case are vastly different from ours but the same idea behind it applies. But I digress. Cano made the following statement during his press conference yesterday as reported by Tim Booth in the article 2B Robinson Cano, Mariners finalize huge contract dated December 13, 2013 from the Seattle PI website:
"I was looking for a contract where I would just be able to play and focus on the game and wouldn't wonder when I'm 37, 38 would I have a job one day. Would I be able to play?" Cano said. "The one thing in Seattle is I get the chance. Am I going to keep working hard? Yes. Even harder? Yes. I'm going to do my best and play the same way I was playing in New York and go out there and do my business and win games."
Perhaps the image of Derek Jeter, the Yankees captain, (who became a free agent in 2010 after signing a 10-year deal in 2000) being told by Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman to find a better deal on the free agent market left a mark on Cano. If Derek Jeter could be treated with such disrespect, than anyone could. Right? Speaking of disrespect. Cano also said the following:
Asked if he ever thought he'd leave New York, Cano said, "Honestly, no." Later, Cano said he never felt the Yankees wanted him back.

"I didn't feel respect. I didn't get respect from them and I didn't see any effort," Cano said.
Randy Levine going public with criticism of Cano and his contract demands as being "unrealistic" was disrespectful. I agree with him on this. The discussions and negotiations should have been kept private. Levine needs to learn to keep his big mouth shut. But I hardly believe that a 7-year $175-million dollar offer is disrespectful. Sure, I guess compared to his initial demand of 10-year $301-million dollars or even the $10-year $240-million dollar contract he eventually signed with the Mariners that contract pales in comparison and can be seen as a slight towards Cano by the Yankees. This gets magnified with the signing of a believed lesser player in Jacoby Ellsbury to a 7-year $153-million dollar contract by the Yankees. In the end, the per year average by the Yankees offer was $25 million while the per year average given by Seattle was $24 million. So in that regard, I don't believe that the Yankees disrespected Cano. The Yankees said they were not interested in a 10-year deal and they stuck to their stance.

With the exception of Derek Jeter, the 10-year deal in Baseball has been as maligned as the 7-year $126-million dollar contract in Baseball (Jason Werth, Barry Zito, Vernon Wells among others). I've said all along that Cano and the Yankees would have benefited from a five to six year deal in the $25-$30 million range. If he was still producing after that contract, he would be in line to cash in on another potential windfall. If he wasn't producing, then he wouldn't be stuck in a contract that would lead to bad feelings among both parties. As stated above, Cano didn't want to go through another contract negotiation in his late 30's so this was not an option. And this is easy for me to say since I am not in their situations, but these athletes need to look at more than multiple years and money. Look at the situation of Tim Lincecum.

Since the end of the 2011 season, Lincecum has signed two one-year deals and the recent two-year $35-million dollar deal this offseason. I think this is the ideal way to go. Keep your situation fresh, flexible in terms of contract years AND get paid in doing so. Sure Cano and his representatives are selling themselves based on his current performance. At age 31 he's been quite the consistent and productive player. Cano has played in 159 games or more per season since 2007 and is a career .309 hitter who averages 24 homers and 97 RBIs per season AND makes it look easy in the field. But time has a way of turning on an athlete quickly. Who's to say that the player Cano is today in 2013 will be the same productive player in 2016, let alone 2020. Again, its easy for me to say since I'm not the one offered that massive deal that Seattle signed Cano for. How do I feel about his moving on.

To be honest, I'm not that upset about it. I'm more upset in the direction that the Yankees organization is going in. I've been hopelessly pining for a rebuilding of the team through youth. I went as far to suggest in my two posts The Yankees Should Trade Robinson Cano If... and UPDATE: The Yankees Should Trade Robinson Cano If... that the Yankees should have traded both Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson if they were out of contention to aid the rebuilding. As I felt back then (as I do now) that I don't make my statements through a veneer of dislike for Cano. On the contrary, I've always been a fan of his. I just thought that logically, if they wouldn't resign him they should have cashed in on him for the future of the organization. Now I don't know how realistic the offers were (if there were any) for Cano before the trade deadline last season. Maybe the team thought that they would be able to sign him this offseason.

It just seems to me (and others such as my friend Christopher Mac) that if they weren't going to resign him and knew that they weren't going to do so, why not trade him and get some more pieces for him than just the compensatory pick that they will end up getting from Seattle. In the end, the Yankees are on the losing end in terms of compensation picks since they will get one from Seattle and one from the Mets for Curtis Granderson but will end up losing three for their signing of Beltran, Ellsbury and McCann.

Will the team miss Cano? Absolutely. This will be felt in the next two or three seasons. Heck, they are feeling it right now with that big hole at second, a starting first baseman and a starting shortstop coming back from serious injuries and a starting third baseman who is in limbo due to a potential suspension. I do feel that in the long-term the team made the right decision to not sign Cano to a 10-year deal. I guess the Steinbrenners learned from their resigning of Alex Rodriguez to a 10-year $275-Million dollar deal after the 2007 season.

Here's a little speculation on my part. Perhaps Cano took to heart how the Yankees fan base seemed to turn on Rodriguez and criticize him on every strikeout, pop up and ground out by voicing out "This is what 10-year $275-million buys you" even after Rodriguez had his best postseason performance in the championship season of 2009. Granted, Rodriguez's situation is unique for many reasons, but who knows if Cano truly wanted to feel the same wrath that some Yankees fans heaved on his good friend Rodriguez.

Here's another tangent of speculation. Maybe, just maybe, Cano just didn't want the pressure of being the main man on the New York Yankees. Perhaps the laid back pace of Seattle was something that he was looking for all along. I would think that playing under the lights in Seattle does not match up to the glaring lights of scrutiny in New York. Maybe in Seattle Cano won't be called out for not running hard down the line as he was often while on the Yankees. For the record, I was one who did so. I always thought that Cano's lack of hustle at times was his biggest...I'll use the word weakness for a lack of a better term. Who truly knows.

For now Cano will be all smiles in his new #22 Seattle Mariners jersey (future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. wore #24 for the Mariners). How long that smile will stay on his face remains to be seen. Can Cano survive in Seattle with a potential 10 seasons of not making the postseason? Will he be content to remain in Seattle, especially if the Yankees return to the postseason and even win a few championships in those 10-seasons? Only time will tell. I wish him the best of luck in Seattle. As a Yankees fan I hold no ill will towards him. I want him to succeed. I want him to be the player to break the 10-year contract "curse".

Again, only time will tell if he can.

Sisco Kid

Friday, December 6, 2013

What A Crazy Week In Baseball

My, oh my the flurry of moves this week has been dizzying. Free agent signings and trades galore headlined the week in Baseball and the Winter Meetings where many trades and signings happen loom on the horizon.

You have Billy Beane weaving his magic wand and making trades for numerous players improving the two time American League Champion Oakland A's. You have the Miami Marlins picking up catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and former All-Star shortstop Rafael Furcal. The Los Angeles Dodgers brought back reliever Brian Wilson, who was pretty much lights out for them down the stretch last season. The Houston Astros picked up solid center fielder Dexter Fowler from the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies added Justin Morneau to hopefully fill the hole left with the retirement of Todd Helton.

The White Sox brought back team Captain Paul Konerko in what might be his final season on the South Side of Chicago. The Tampa Bay Rays and their GM Andrew Friedman once again wheel and deal by acquiring reliever Heath Bell and catcher Ryan Hanigan in a three team deal with the Diamondbacks and Reds. The Detroit Tigers believe they have solved their closer issues with the signing of Joe Nathan.

The news from Japan speculate that the Rakutan Golden Eagles might not post their star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka due to the proposed $20 million dollar cap on posting fees that seems to be a part of the new posting contract between the MLB and the NPB. Since they figure that they won't get as much for Tanaka in a posting fee that they would have under the old agreement, they are better off keeping him following this season which was capped by winning the Japan Series against the Yomiuri Giants. This move would put a kink in the plans of many a team in the majors who were looking forward to trying to add Tanaka to their starting rotations.

The World Champion Red Sox took a hit by losing the aforementioned Saltalamacchia and Jacoby Ellsbury but signed Edward Mujica to replace the non-tendered Andrew Bailey in the bullpen. Speaking of Ellsbury, he signed with the division rival New York Yankees who also signed Hiroki Kuroda but lost their best homegrown everyday player (since Derek Jeter) to the Seattle Mariners who signed Robinson Cano to a reported 10-year $240-million dollar contract.

Wow, that was a mouthful. And the Winter Meetings start on Monday. Who knows what surprises we'll have sprung on us from then to now. We'll just have to wait and see.

Sisco Kid.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Can Brian McCann Do For The Yankees

Yankee fans everywhere are chiming in on the recent announcement that the New York Yankees signed former Atlanta Braves starting catcher and 7-time All Star Brian McCann. The deal will be a five-year contract worth $85 million in salary, with a sixth-year option that could bring the total to $100 million. The average annual salary for the deal is $17 million which represents the highest for any free-agent catcher in history. McCann will be in Pinstripes until 2018 at the minimum. I'm going to try to look at this trade objectively since while I write this post, I'm still undecided on this signing. First the positive side of the deal.

McCann greatly improves the Catcher position for the Yankees. According to Bryan Hoch in his article McCann, Yankees agree to five-year deal dated November 24, 2013 from
With general manager Brian Cashman and manager Joe Girardi agreeing to try their defense-first catching alignment, the Yanks' backstops produced an overall line of .213/.289/.298 with only eight home runs and 43 RBIs
I believe that level of production from Chris Stewart, Austin Romine and Francisco Cervelli ranked last in the league from the catching position. McCann's slash line in 102 games last season .256/.336/.461 with 20 homeruns and 57 RBIs. The short porch of Yankees stadium would look large for left-handed hitting Brian McCann. His bat is definitely a welcome addition to a Yankees lineup that looked anemic at times last season.

Another positive that I see with signing McCann is the fiery nature that he brings to a team. Sure there are those who have been critical of him with his bench clearing confrontation of Carlos Gomez last season after Gomez hit a homerun against the Braves. I'll be honest, I didn't have the benefit of watching the play live, only on repeated replay. So I can't really comment on that. But I do like his intensity, which is something that I felt the team was lacking the last few seasons. Now for the negatives.

Allow me to go back to the 102 games McCann played last season. McCann's season high in games played was 145 in 2008 and only played in 140 or more games twice in his career while only playing in 128, 121 and 102 games in the seasons 2011-2013. The advantage for McCann is that he can be slotted into the DH position to give his body a rest while not removing his bat from the lineup. McCann has also been quoted as being willing to learn to play first base which could be beneficial to the Yankees with Teixiera being injury prone as of late and with the fact that Teixiera's contract is due to expire in 2016 which is half way through McCann's contract with the Yankees.

The question for McCann is this: Can he stay healthy. Only time will tell that. Another question that I have is how will McCann handle playing in New York City with its incessant media coverage of the good AND bad of a ballplayer's production and playing time. Again, only time will tell that.

I know McCann is a productive, if not a solid player. I should be excited with the signing of a 29-year old Catcher who (in theory) is just entering his prime, productive years. But I just don't have the excitement that some have with the signing. As it is, I was already feeling down on the team with all the talk of signing Carlos Beltran and Jhonny Peralta (who thankfully signed with the Cardinals for 4-years, $52-million dollars). It just doesn't seem that the organization has learned its lessons on trying to put together a team full of veteran all-stars and expecting them to deliver now. I'm in the minority that feels that the team need to sacrifice a year or two and try to rebuild the core through youth. To think of the future, not just the now. But what do I know. I write on blogger and work in a bar. So go figure.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Brian McCann's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to read Alex Speier's article Agent B.B. Abbott: Brian McCann Willing to Learn First Base to Increase Playing Time from the WEEI Full Count website dated November 21, 2013 
- Click Here to read Joshua Ryan's article 2014 MLB Free Agent Profile: Brian McCann from Amazin' Avenue/SBNation dated October 29, 2013

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Prince Fielder Traded to Texas For Ian Kinsler

The Baseball world is buzzing with the reports of the Detroit Tigers trading their starting first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for the Rangers' second baseman Ian Kinsler.'s Richard Durrett reports that the trade was made official Wednesday evening. As part of the deal, the Tigers are sending $30 million to Texas to offset Fielder's contract. The only thing holding up the trade is the passing of the physicals of the players involved. First let me address the Texas Rangers.

It would seem to me that the Texas Rangers have missed having a first baseman of Prince Fielder's caliber since they traded Mark Teixiera to the Atlanta Braves during the 2007 season. Fielder's presence in the lineup will be felt in the form of protection for third baseman Adrian Beltre. Fielder moves into a much more hitter friendly park in Arlington than in Comerica. The trade is even more important that in sending Kinsler to Detroit, the move opens the door for a permanent position for Rangers prospect Jurikson Profar. As I noted in my post Elvis Got Paid from April 1, 2013, the signing of shortstop Elvis Andrus to a long term deal created a logjam in the middle infield that could be remedied with either a move to first by Kinsler or a trade. Now we know the answer. Back to Fielder.

I keep seeing reports that the Rangers might still be in the running to sign Robinson Cano. After picking up the remaining $138-million dollars on Fielder's 7-year $168-million contract (the Tigers will send $30-million) I can't see the Rangers adding an extra $30-million a season to sign Cano long term. I think their infield is set for the next two seasons as Beltre would become a free agent after the 2015 season. Why would the Tigers trade Prince Fielder at this point in time?

I believe that it comes down to playoff performance. Granted that having Fielder in the lineup gave two-time defending American League MVP protection in the lineup that he might not have next season, but Fielder's numbers during the season seemed to take a dip since he joined the Tigers and his numbers were virtually non-existent in the postseason. Fielder's slash line for 2012 was .313/.412/.528 with 30 homers, 108 RBI, 182 hits (35 2B/1 3B/30HR), 85 walks and 84 strikeouts in 162 games. His slash line for 2013 dropped to .279/.362/.457 with 25 homers 106 RBI, 174 hits (36 2B/0 3B/25 HR), 75 walks and 117 strikeouts in 162 games. In five postseason series for the Tigers in 2012-2013, Fielder went 18 for 92 for a .195 batting average with just 1 homer, 1 double and 3 RBI, with 6 walks and 18 strikeouts. Fielder did not drive in a run in the 2012 World Series or in either playoff series for the Tigers in 2013. This would lead me to believe that his lack of production in the postseason overshadowed the benefit of having him in the lineup protecting Miguel Cabrera.

The move to acquire Kinsler not only frees up payroll for the Tigers, but it pairs him with shortstop Jose Iglesias giving Iglesias a veteran second baseman to work his magic with. More importantly, the move opens up some possibilities for the Tigers at first. At first I wondered who the Tigers could sign to fill in at first. Mike Napoli instantly came to mind as I noted on my Baseball Sisco Kid Style Facebook page:

The good people on my Baseball Sisco Kid Style page were quick to remind me something that I had forgotten: Miguel Cabrera was already a first baseman and willingly moved to third when the Tigers signed Fielder after the 2011 season. So I guess that takes care of first base. But what about third? I suggested that maybe the Tigers could make a deal with the San Diego Padres for their third baseman Chase Headley or signing free agent Juan Uribe. My friend Christopher was quick to point out that the Tigers have third base prospect Nick Castellanos waiting in the wings. I had no idea who Nick Castellanos is so I decided to look into him a little.

According to Baseball, Castellanos' slash line last season at AAA Toledo was .276/.343/.450 with 18 homers and 78 RBI. In 134 games he had 147 hits (37 2B/1 3B/18 HR) with 54 walks and 100 strikeouts. The big gamble is playing him at third. In the low minors, Castellanos played third while in AAA he played the outfield. Looking at his statistics, Castellanos had 40 errors at 3B while in the outfield he only had 8 of which 6 were in AAA. Considering that Cabrera played third while not being a natural third baseman leads me to believe that the Tigers would consider playing someone who isn't a third baseman at third. Josh Slagter of the website in his article Miguel Cabrera back to 1B, Nick Castellanos to 3B? Detroit Tigers will discuss it after trade mentions:
With Fielder gone to the Texas Rangers and Detroit receiving second baseman Ian Kinsler in return, Tigers president Dave Dombrowski noted it's certainly a possibility that two-time MVP Miguel Cabrera shifts back to first base and Nick Castellanos could get a shot at playing third.
At the age of 21, Castellanos is the ranked as #11 on the's top 100 list. So we'll have to see what plays out after the first big trade of this offseason.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Prince Fielder's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Ian Kinsler's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here to access Nick Castellanos career statistics from Baseball

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2014 Hall of Fame Expansion Ballot

The National Baseball Hall of Fame recently announced that the Expansion Era Committee would vote on a special 12-man ballot that will be announced during this year's Winter Meetings on Monday, December 9 at 10 a.m. ET and those who earn votes on 75% of ballots cast will earn election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and will be inducted on Sunday, July 27, 2014 in Cooperstown, N.Y.

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame press release Twelve Finalists Comprise Expansion Era Ballot For Hall of Fame Consideration in 2014 dated November 4, 2013:
The Expansion Era ballot was devised this fall by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA)-appointed Historical Overview Committee from all eligible candidates among managers, umpires, executives and long-retired players, whose most significant career impact was realized from 1973 through the present. Eligible candidates include players who appeared in at least 10 major league seasons, who are not on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list and have been retired for 21 or more seasons (those whose last playing appearance was no later than 1992); managers and umpires with 10 or more years in baseball and retired for at least five years, with candidates who are 65 years or older eligible six months from the date of the election following retirement; and Executives with 10 consecutive years in baseball and retired for at least five years, with active executives 65 years or older are eligible for consideration.
The members of the Expansion Era Committee is one of Hall of Famers, major league executives, historians and Baseball writers. Here is the list of those who are charged with voting for the Expansion Era Ballot:
The 16-member Hall of Fame Board-appointed electorate charged with the review of the Expansion Era ballot features: Hall of Fame members Rod Carew, Carlton Fisk, Whitey Herzog, Tommy Lasorda, Joe Morgan, Paul Molitor, Phil Niekro and Frank Robinson; major league executives Paul Beeston (Blue Jays), Andy MacPhail, Dave Montgomery (Phillies) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and historians Steve Hirdt (Elias Sports Bureau), Bruce Jenkins (San Francisco Chronicle), Jack O’Connell (BBWAA) and Jim Reeves (retired, Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
Here is the list of individuals that are up for enshrinement through the Expansion Era Ballot (click on the name to learn more about each person):
Dave Concepcion
Bobby Cox
Steve Garvey
Tommy John
Tony La Russa
Billy Martin
Marvin Miller
Dave Parker
Dan Quisenberry
Ted Simmons
George Steinbrenner
Joe Torre
I believe that the managerial trio of Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre will get the necessary 75% of the vote for enshrinement. The only thing that would make a potential induction trio of Bobby Cox, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux better would be an induction quartet with John Smoltz. Alas, Smoltz becomes eligible for next year's Hall of Fame ballot. But the induction of Cox and two of the best starters of our generation who led the Atlanta Braves to that amazing run in the 1990's and mid 2000's would be an event for the ages. The Atlanta Braves under Cox won 14-straight division titles with five World Series appearances and the 1995 Championship against the Cleveland Indians.

There's no denying that Joe Torre's run as Yankees manager from 1996-2007 is the defining era of his managerial career. World Series titles in 1996, 1998-2000 plus World Series appearances in 2001 and 2003 helped to cement Joe Torre's place on this list.

Tony LaRussa's managerial style changed the game as we know it today in terms of pitching versus hitting matchups through the use of statistical analysis. LaRussa led two teams to six World Series appearances with three World Series titles (1989 Oakland Athletics, 2006 and 2011 St. Louis Cardinals).

In total Cox, LaRussa and Torre took seventeen teams to the World Series with eight World Titles among the trio. This is the reason I believe all three will be inducted with Marvin Miller who changed the face of Baseball with his role as the head of the Players' Association who helped to bring about a new era of Free Agency in Baseball. I also think George Steinbrenner has a good chance of getting the necessary votes for enshirinement.

We'll see how it plays out with the announcement on December 9th along with the vote of the main Hall of Fame Ballot by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Sisco Kid

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scherzer and Kershaw Take The Pitching Top Honor

In an ballot that didn't surprise too many Baseball people and fans, Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers and Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers claimed the 2013 American and National League Cy Young Awards, respectively. Scherzer won the award in a landslide with 28 out of 30 first place votes for a total of 203 points. Kershaw's second Cy Young Award came in the form of an outstanding 29 out of 30 first place votes for 207 points.

The talk of Scherzer benefiting from tremendous run support thereby damaging his Cy Young chances proved to be for naught. Scherzer, who was predicted to win the award by the recently retired Tim McCarver amid laughs, finished the season with a 21-3 record with a 2.90 ERA and a league leading WHIP of 0.970. In 32 games started Scherzer struck out league second best 240 batters (Yu Darvish 277) with only walking 56 and giving up 152 hits in 214.1 innings pitched. Opposing hitters hit .198. In doing so, Scherzer became the sixth pitcher since 1900 to finish the season the season with 20+ wins and 3 losses or less joining Cliff Lee (2008 Indians 22-3), Roger Clemens (2001 Yankees 20-3), David Cone (1988 Mets 20-3), Ron Guidry (1978 Yankees 25-3) and Preacher Roe (1951 Dodgers 22-3). Scherzer is also the fourth member of the Detroit Tigers to win the American League Cy Young Award along with teammate Justin Verlander (2011), Denny McClain (1968, 1969) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

The AL Cy Young vote is also interesting since the other runner ups were Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma. Both pitchers started their careers in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (Darvish) and the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes and the Rakuten Golden Eagles (Iwakuma). NPB alum Koji Uehara also received second and third place votes for his dominating performance for the Red Sox in their run for the World Series. Their performance will only help to put to rest the misconception that the Japanese league pitchers can't perform at the perceived higher level of the Major Leagues and their different sized ball. It should be interesting to see how the performances of Darvish, Iwakuma and Uehara affect the posting and bidding for pitchers like Masahiro Tanaka of the Rakutan Golden Eagles this offseason.

In the National League, Kershaw made history in becoming the second Los Angeles Dodger pitcher to win multiple Cy Young Awards joining Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax (1963, 1965 and 1966). Kershaw now has two Cy Young Awards in only his sixth season at the Major League level. Kershaw did so in dominating fashion by ranking first in ERA (1.83), WAR (7.9), WHIP (0.915) and strikeouts (232) and finishing second in innings pitched (236). Kershaw finished with a 16-9 record with a 1.83 ERA and a WHIP 0.915. He struckout 232 batters while walking only 52 and giving up 164 hits in 236 innings pitched. Kershaw has lead the National League in ERA and WHIP for the third straight season.

In winning his second Cy Young award, Kershaw joins Roy Halladay (2003, 2010), Tim Lincecum (2008, 2009) and Johan Santana (2004, 2006) as the only active pitchers with multiple Cy Young awards. Adam Wainright came in second in the Cy Young voting with young superstars Jose Fernandez and Matt Harvey coming in third and fifth respectively.

Kershaw is among the eight(1956), Don Drysdale (1962), Mike Marshall (1974), Fernando Valenzuela (1981), Orel Hershiser (1988) and Eric Gagne in (2003)
Dodger pitchers to have won the Cy Young awards. Along with the aforementioned three time winner Sandy Koufax you have Don Newcombe

The only award left is the American and National League Most Valuable League awards. Where I've felt that the end-year voting has not been surprising, I believe that the National League MVP award will be the surprising one. I think that either Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamonbacks or Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates will win the award over Yadier Molina. We'll see after 6pm my prediction comes true or if Yadier Molina is the 2013 National League MVP. In the American League, I believe Miguel Cabrera will become the first repeat American League MVP since Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox won the award in 1993 and 1994.

Sisco Kid.

For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Max Scherzer's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access Clayton Kershaw's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the American League Cy Young vote from the BBWAA website
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the National League Cy Young vote from the BBWAA website

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Francona and Hurdle Win Their First Manager of the Year Awards

The Manager of the Year awards for the American and National leagues were announced yesterday with Terry Francona of the Cleveland Indians and Clint Hurdle of the Pittsburgh Pirates winning the awards. Francona had 16 of 30 first place votes for 112 points in a tightly packed ballot. Hurdle had 25 of 20 first place votes for 140 points.

Francona in his first season at the helm of the Cleveland Indians led the team to a 92-70 record and a Wild Card berth. The Indians would eventually end up losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in the Wild Card playoff game. Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell received 12 first place votes for a total of 96 points in leading the Boston Red Sox to a World Series title after finishing in last place of the American League East last season. Bob Melvin of the Oakland Athletics came in third with 36 points.

Hurdle led the Pirates to a 94-68 record in the National League Central which was not only good enough for a National League Wild Card berth but also the 20-year losing season streak in Pittsburgh was broken. The Pirates defeated their division rival Cincinnati Reds in the Wild Card playoff game and lost in five games to the eventual National League champion St. Louis Cardinals.

What I find interesting about the vote is that Hurdle didn't win the award unanimously. Don Mattingly of the Los Angeles Dodgers came in second with 68 points (2-first place votes) and Fredi Gonzalez of the Atlanta Braves third with 43 votes (3-first place votes). I know people have different points of view, but leading a team to an impressive record, a second round playoff spot AND breaking a 20-year losing record streak translates to an unanimous Manager of the Year showing. But that's just me.

I'm not disappointed in the least with the winners of the Manager of the Year awards. If Farrell or Melvin would have won, I still wouldn't be disappointed. The three top managers in the American League Manager of the Year award ballot did an amazing job with leading their respective teams to winning records during the 2013 season.

Tomorrow is when the Cy Young Awards are announced. The finalists for the American League Cy Young are Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers, Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners and Max Scherzer of the Detroit Tigers. In the National League, Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals are the NL Cy Young finalists. It should be interesting to see who wins.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the American League Manager of the Year vote from the BBWAA website
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the National League Manager of the Year vote from the BBWAA website

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Florida Rookie Sweep

With the announcement of the first end of the year awards in Major League Baseball, Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays and Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins have won the American and National League Rookie of the Year awards respectively. This is the third Rookie of the Year award for the Rays in the last six years (Evan Longoria 2008 and Jeremy Hellickson 2011) This is the fourth Rookie of the Year award in the last eleven years for the Marlins (Dontrelle Willis 2003, Hanley Ramirez 2006, Chris Coghlan 2009). This isn't surprising coming from two franchises who do amazingly well when it comes to developing young talent often at the expense of said talent who (with the exception of Evan Longoria) are often traded away for draft picks and other younger talent when they reach the latter years of their rookie contracts.

According to the Baseball Writers Association of America, the voting for the Rookie of the Year is done in the following manner:
Two writers from each MLB city are recommended by the local chapter chairman and approved by the national secretary-treasurer to vote for each award. Writers from NL cities vote for NL awards, and writers from AL cities vote for AL awards, making 30 voters for each award. Most traveling beat writers will vote for at least one annual award each year. In some chapters, columnists or backup writers may also vote. Any active member of the BBWAA is eligible to vote for annual awards, regardless of his or her number of years in the organization. Some Honorary members may also vote
Myers (who came to the Rays in last offseason's trade between the Royals and the Rays for James Shields) won the award with 23 first place votes for a total of 131 total points ahead of Detroit shortstop Jose Iglesias and fellow Rays teammate Chris Archer. Since his call up on June 18th, Myers hit .293/.354/.478 with 90 hits in 335 at-bats of which 23 were doubles and 13 homeruns. He drove in 53 runs, scored 50 runs while walking 33 times and striking out 91 times.

According to Adam Berry in his article Myers runs away with AL Rookie of the Year Award from dated November 11, 2013:
Myers became the first player to lead AL rookies in RBIs in fewer than 90 games since Detroit's Hoot Evers did so in 1946. He also paced AL rookies in doubles (23), extra-base hits (36) and OPS (.831), recording an overall batting line of .293/.354/.478 with 13 homers and 53 RBIs.
In addition according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
Myers is only the fourth position player to win a Rookie of the Year Award after playing fewer than 100 games, joining Willie McCovey (52 games in 1959), Bob Horner (89 in 1978) and Ryan Howard (88 in 2005).
In the Little Havana neighborhood of the city of Miami, Tampa native Jose Fernandez won the award with 26 first place votes for a total of 142 points ahead of Los Angeles Dodgers rookie standout and fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig. In  28 starts, Fernandez went 12-6, with a 2.19 ERA in 172.2 innings pitched. Fernandez struck out 187 batters while only walking 58 and giving up 111 hits for a WHIP of 0.979 and an opposing hitters batting average of .182. His 2.19 ERA was second in the National League to the Dodgers Clayton Kershaw's 1.83 and his 9.75 K's per 9 innings the second best in the league behind A.J. Burnett of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Also according to the Elias Sports Bureau:
Fernandez Was Doc-Like: Jose Fernandez won the National League Rookie of the Year Award after a season in which he went 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA for a team that lost 100 games. And did we mention that Fernandez didn't turn 21 years old until July 31? His ERA was the lowest in a season by a pitcher younger than 22 who threw at least 150 innings since Dwight Gooden had a 1.53 ERA for the Mets in 1985, his second season in the major leagues.
Fernandez joins Minnesota Twins outfielder Tony Oliva (AL 1964) and Oakland Athletics outfielder (AL 1986) as Cubans who have won a Rookie of the Year award.

The question that I would ask is if we will still see these two outstanding players in their respective Floridian uniforms once their rookie contracts end or will they be traded to other teams in the repeating circle of life that seems to be the way things are done with the Florida MLB franchises. Only time will tell.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading:
- Click Here to access Wil Myers' career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access Jose Fernandez's career statistics from Baseball Reference
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the American League Rookie of the Year vote from the BBWAA website
- Click Here to access the breakdown of the National League Rookie of the Year vote from the BBWAA website

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jim Leyland and the End of an Era

Jim Leyland formally announced his retirement last week with his Tigers being defeated in the ALCS by the Boston Red Sox. This season is significant because two old school managers (Davey Johnson retired at the end of the season from his position as manager of the Washington Nationals) have stepped down which leads me to believe that we are entering a new phase when it comes to managers in MLB.

Aside from established older school managers Mike Scioscia, Bruce Bochy, Ron Gardenhire, Terry Francona and Buck Showalter, it seems that teams are willing to take chances on younger, less experienced managers. Look at the examples of Mike Matheny of the St. Louis Cardinals, Walt Weiss of the Colorado Rockies, Bo Porter of the Houston Astros, Ryne Sandberg of the Philadelphia Phillies, Mike Redmond of the Miami Marlins and Robin Ventura of the Chicago Cubs all have two years or less managerial experience (at the end of this past season). Even "seasoned" managers like Kirk Gibson, John Farrell, Don Mattingly and Ron Roenicke only have four years or less under their belt as managers at the Major League level.

Now this isn't taking account any coaching experience at the lower levels or as bench coaches. I'm just highlighting that there seems to be a trend that has younger and possibly more progressive managers at the helm of Major League teams. Billy Beane's "Moneyball" philosophy eschews many of the old school philosophies that might be associated with older more established managers who might be hesitant to try something new. The younger managers might be more pliable and open to trying new methods and unorthodox baseball techniques in the way Joe Maddon has utilized in Tampa Bay and to a certain degree Clint Hurdle in Pittsburgh.

How does this bode for former managers Charlie Manuel and Dusty Baker? Will they be relegated to the position of scouts, advisors and/or television analysts? I believe that we will indeed see less of the hiring of the old names. I think many of the younger General Managers are willing to hire managers that are closer to their age than an older manager that would cause conflict due to age and philosophical differences. The recycling of old managers and the same names of the past might have come to an end. I believe this is actually a good thing. It might be time to bring in some new blood.

Agree? Disagree?

Sisco Kid

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

2013 Baseball Bloggers Alliance End of Season Awards AL Vote

This past Baseball season was one of the most exciting in recent years with the second Wild Card extending pennant races for a number of teams. So as per custom of the membership requirements for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, here are my picks for the end of the year voting for the American League.

American League
Connie Mack Award (Top Manager)
John Farrell
Terry Francona
Bob Melvin
Joe Girardi

Though both Francona and Melvin had amazing years guiding their teams to the postseason and Girardi did an amazing job keeping a patchwork Yankees team in contention until the last week of the season, I have to give my vote to John Farrell. Reversing the fortunes of the Boston Red Sox in one season and erasing the negativity that was felt in Boston under Bobby Valentine is enough for me to say that he is the Manager of the Year in the American League.

Willie Mays Award (Top Rookie)
Wil Myers
Dan Straily
Jose Iglesias

While Straily and Iglesias had impressive rookie campaigns in 2013, I believe Wil Myers of the Tampa Bay Rays will win the Top Rookie award in the American League. He was one of the main cogs in the Tampa Bay machine that once again had a successful campaign in one of the hardest divisions in Baseball.

Goose Gossage Award (Top Reliever)
Greg Holland
Joe Nathan
Grant Balfour
Koji Uehara

Where Balfour energized the A's with his dynamic intensity, Nathan was his usual calming effect and consistent self while on the mound for the Rangers and Uehara was lights out when officially becoming the closer for the Red Sox, I believe the top reliever in the American League is Greg Holland of the Kansas City Royals. As I mentioned earlier in the season, Holland had the most quiet 40+ saves seasons probably in the history of the game. He was one of the main reasons why the Royals finished with their best season since 1985.

Walter Johnson Award (Top Pitcher)
Max Scherzer
Yu Darvish
Felix Hernandez
Anibal Sanchez
Hisashi Iwakuma
Bartolo Colon

While the other hurlers on this list all had impressive seasons, Max Scherzer made Tim McCarver seem like a genius in validating his prediction for Scherzer for American League Cy Young Award winner. While many critics like to point to the fact that the Tigers score a tremendous amount of runs for Scherzer, his performance all season AND in this postseason shows how valuable and dominant a pitcher Scherzer is.

Stan Musial Award (Top Hitter)
Miguel Cabrera
Mike Trout
Chris Davis

I could really add a few more names to this list but let's be honest. The top hitter in the American League is Miguel Cabrera. Both Trout and Davis put up amazing seasons and either one would be a shoo in for this award except that I believe Cabrera had a better season while playing hurt the last month or so of the season. I really believe that we are watching something special in Cabrera. Something that we might not see in another generation or so.

In my next post I'll highlight my picks for the National League.

Sisco Kid

The New York Yankees Brawl at the Copa 1957

As I stated in my blogpost The Cocktail List at the Copacabana 1943 on my blog Sisco Vanilla Serves and Drinks, I'm going to attempt to do some cross-promoting among my blogs including my NYCHistory blog page. For my Fall and Winter 2013 reading/research project I'm going to try and read up on some of the classic New York City cafe society bars, saloon, night clubs and lounges that help make New York City a center of entertainment during the early part of the 20th century.

I recently finished reading The Copa: Jules Podell and the Hottest Little Club North of Havana by Mickey Podell-Raber with Charles Pignone. The author is the daughter of longtime Copacabana proprietor Jules Podell and the book is part family biography and part history of the nightclub. The book is a quick and easy read, full of both family pictures and pictures at the club with various celebrities and dignitaries. I recommend it.

Now you might be asking yourself: What does the Copacabana have to do with Baseball? Well, during the Baseball season of 1957, there was an incident that occurred at the Copa involving a number of the World Champion New York Yankee players including future Hall of Famers Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra and Whitey Ford among others. In an era where news media often gave a blind eye to the extra curricular activities of athletes, this incident became big news nationwide. Since Mrs. Podell-Raber does a good job in describing what happened, read what she had to say in her book:
On the evening of May 16, 1957, a melee broke out at the Copacabana that would have a dramatic effect on the New York Yankees. That evening the nightclub and sports world would collide, and there would be no way to quash the story. Although the press was less invasive in the lives of celebrities and sports figures back then, this story was to hot to bury. While there has never been an accurate factual account that all agree upon and the participants' stories have varied, this seems to be what transpired that night at the Copa.

Several Yankee players who frequented the Copa regularly decided to meet at the nightclub in honor of Billy Martin's twenty-ninth birthday. Those attending the party included Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Whitey Ford, and Mickey Mantle, along with their wives. Sammy Davis Jr. happened to be the headliner that evening and a group of intoxicated bowling buddies began heckling him during the performance. According to those in the audience, the bowlers started shouting racial slurs at Davis. The Yankee players were livid and told the guys to sit down and shut up. After a few terse words were exchanged, the Copa staff appeared to have calmed everything down. While peace and quiet prevailed in the show room, it did not elsewhere in the club. One of the intoxicated hecklers would be found later, lying unconscious and with a broken nose, on the floor of the Copa men's room. Many believe the man had followed Hank Bauer into the bathroom, and Bauer took matters into his own hands. Bauer denied hitting the bowler, who later sued him for aggravated assault, but Bauer was found not guilty. The incident made headlines in the New York-area papers and around the country the next day. Several of the Yankees involved were fined $1,000 each by Yankee general manager George Weiss, while Billy Martin would eventually be traded to Kansas City. The Yankee front office blamed Martin for the trouble and believed him to be a bad influence on his teammates.

Mickey Mantle later recounted his version of what happened that night: "Two bowling teams came in to celebrate their victories. Sammy Davis Jr. was the entertainer. They kept calling him 'little black Sambo' and stuff like that. Billy and Hank kept telling them a couple times to sit down. They kept standing up. The next thing I knew was that the cloakroom was filled with people swinging. I was so drunk I didn't know who threw the first punch. A body came flying out and landed at my feet. At first i thought it was Billy [Martin], so I picked him up. But when I saw it wasn't I dropped him back down. It looked like Roy Rogers rode through on Trigger, and Trigger kicked the guy in the face." Yogi Berra was quoted at the time as saying, "Nobody did nothin' to nobody!"
Imagine something like this happening today with let's say Jeter, Cano, Sabathia, Rodriguez, Granderson among others getting into a drunken brawl at the 40-40 club. We wouldn't hear the end of it in every single media market. According to the article Yanks Play the Copa from the New York Times dated May 16, 1957:
Six members of the world champion New York Yankees were involved in a postmidnight disturbance tonight during a party at the Copacabana nightclub in Manhattan. The Yankees, who were at the club to celebrate Billy Martin's 29th birthday, included Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Hank Bauer, Whitey Ford, Johnny Kucks and Martin. The disturbance stemmed from an argument between the players and members of a bowling club who also were celebrating at the club.
A June 4th article stated the following:
Mantle, Berra, Bauer, Ford and Martin were fined $1,000 each and Kucks, a young pitcher in a lower salary bracket than the others, was fined $500. The fines were deducted from the checks the players received at the Yankee Stadium two days ago...Berra, Bauer and Kucks confirmed the fines. Ford insisted, "I wasn't fined." When pressed, he said: "I was told what to say. They haven't announced it, so why should I?"
Bauer would be cleared of all charges by the Grand Jury and the lawsuit against him was eventually dropped. Billy Martin became the scapegoat of the incident and was shipped off to the Kansas City A's in an eight-player trade on June 15, 1957 which included Ralph Terry, Woodie Held and Bob Martyn for outfielder Harry Simpson, reliever Ryne Duren and outfielder Jim Pisoni . But his history of fist-a-cuffs did not start or end there. According to his obituary Billy Martin of the Yankees Killed in Crash on Icy Road from the New York Times dated December 26, 1989:
He had fights with Clint Courtney, a catcher for the St. Louis Browns, in 1952 and 1953. He and several teammates, including Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra, were involved in a fight at the Copacabana nightclub in New York in 1957. In 1960, he broke the jaw of a Chicago pitcher, Jim Brewer, and Mr. Brewer later won $10,000 in a lawsuit. As a manager, in 1969, Mr. Martin knocked out one of his players, Dave Boswell, who was fighting another player. In 1979, it was with a marshmallow salesman; in 1985, one of his own players, Ed Whitson, who broke Mr. Martin's arm in a furious fight at a Baltimore hotel; in 1988, in the men's restroom at a topless bar in Texas.
This does take into consideration all suspensions that Martin received from arguments with umpires throughout his career. That Billy was quite the scrapper.

Click on the following video to hear Mickey Mantle's version of what happened:

My how things have changed since the late 1950's. ;)
Sisco Kid.

Friday, October 11, 2013

And The Baseball "Meek" Do Not Inherit The Earth

Where the underdogs came into the postseason hope and aspiration by the end of the DIvision Series round all hope has been erased. Tampa Bay, Oakland and Pittsburgh have been defeated by Baseball powerhouses Boston, Detroit and St. Louis to set up a Championship Series full of old school Baseball towns.

I was really looking forward to a Pittsburgh vs Oakland or Tampa Bay World Series. There was something innocent in that kind of match up. Three young, small market teams who play for franchises that either haven't been in a World Series in a generation (or two) or a team that has only been to one World Series in their brief history. I could afford to want that as a Baseball fan since my team didn't make the postseason. Alas, it was not to be.

In the American League the Boston Red Sox will host the Detroit Tigers starting Saturday while in the National League the St. Louis Cardinals will host the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday.

All four came into the postseason with a World Series or bust mentality. Now it's up to two of them to get to the Fall Classic. May the best teams win.

Sisco Kid

Friday, September 20, 2013

What To Do About The Wild Card Playoff

A year into the second Wild Card slot in MLB and there is no surprise that having a second Wild Card team has been an exciting thing during the pennant race. Having a second playoff slot means that teams are in the hunt longer for a postseason berth than in previous years. But there is something nagging about the way the teams play AFTER the season. See I have an issue with a two teams crawling and scratching their way to a postseason berth and it all coming down to just one game. Anything can happen in a one game scenario (ask the Braves how they felt losing that game to the Cardinals last season). This is what I propose should happen.

Instead of playing just one game, the Wild Card should be decided by a two out of three series with the first two games being played the next day after the season ends in the form of an old fashioned double-header. If the double-header is split, then the third game is played the next day to decide the series. I think playing the first two games in the form of a classic old fashioned back-to-back double-header (not a day/night double-header) would be an exciting way to decide the Wild Card.

To be honest, I'm not sure how you decide who hosts the games. If it is at the home park of the Wild Card team with the better record or even at a neutral site. That can be hashed out later. Making a series out of it in two potential days doesn't affect the scheduling. The only thing is that there is an advantage for the team with the best record since they have to play a Wild Card team who probably would have had to use their best pitchers in the two out of three series. Then again, we see that the Wild Card has been successful in the playoffs since they are usually running on full cylinders just trying to make the postseason.

I believe that having the second Wild Card slot is a good thing. They should just do more with it than just playing one game among the two teams.

Agree? Disagree? Any other scenario and/or suggestion? Drop me a line. Let me know.

Sisco Kid.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

The 200 Homerun 400 Steals Club

Pete the other day at work was telling me that Jimmie Rollins of the Philadelphia Phillies is on the cusp of joining an exclusive club. With one more homer, Rollins would join the 200HR/400 Steals club. In total (not counting Rollins) there are nine players who have reached that plateau. I guessed three right off the bat and faltered on a few guesses. Here is the list:
Roberto Alomar (210 HR/474 SB)
Craig Biggio (291 HR/414 SB)
Barry Bonds (762 HR/514 SB)
Bobby Bonds (332 HR/461 SB)
Johnny Damon (235 HR/408 SB)
Rickey Henderson (297 HR/1406 SB)
Marquis Grissom (227 HR/489 SB)
Paul Molitor (234 HR/504 SB)
Joe Morgan (268 HR/689 SB)
I had guessed Barry Bonds, Henderson and Morgan while Pete added Paul Molitor. I thought that maybe Lou Brock and Tim Raines were on that list. I never would have imagined that Marquis Grissom was on this list. It's a pretty impressive list.

Good luck to Jimmie Rollins as he looks to hit is 200th homerun to join the club.

Sisco Kid

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Ichiro Suzuki Reaches The 4,000 Career Hit Plateau (U.S. Japan Combined)

Photo Courtesy of
In his first at-bat against the Toronto Blue Jays, Ichiro Suzuki hit a single to reach the 4,000 hit plateau. In doing so, Ichiro hit a total of 1,278 hits in the Nippon Professional Baseball League (NPB) and 2,722 In Major League Baseball (MLB)

Now some have downplayed the mention of this milestone since many consider the NPB to be a minor league compared to the MLB. This post is not for the purpose of proving or disproving that (for the record I consider the NPB to be somewhere in between the MLB and AAA). And for the record, here in the U.S. his hit total is 2,722 for 59th all-time behind Roberto Alomar who has 2,724. 

For this post, all I want to do is to lay out all of the personal achievements of Ichiro both in MLB and the NPB. This compilation comes from the press bulletin dated August 21, 2013 entitled SABR Asian Baseball Research Committee Salutes Ichiro on Career Hit 4,000 by the SABR Asian Baseball Research Committee. His impressive career includes the following achievements:

Major League Baseball (MLB):

·         - 10× MLB All-Star (2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010)

·         - 10× Gold Glove Award (2001–2010)

·         - 3× Silver Slugger Award (2001, 2007, 2009)

·         - 2× AL batting champion (2001, 2004)

·         - AL MVP (2001)

·         - AL Rookie of the Year (2001)

·         - Highest Batting Average for ROY Winner (.350, appearing in 100+ games)

·         - AL stolen base leader (2001)

·         - Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award (2005)

·         - MLB All-Star Game MVP (2007)

·         - MLB Record: 262 hits, single season

·         - MLB Record: 225 singles, single season

·         - MLB Record: Most hits in 10 seasons (2,244)

Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB):

·         - 7× NPB All-Star (1994–2000)

·         - 3× PL MVP (1994–1996)

·         - 7× Golden Glove Award (1994–2000)

·         - 7× Best Nine Award (1994–2000)

·         - 3× Matsutaro Shoriki Award (1994–1995, 2004)

·         - 3× Japan Professional Sports Grand Prize (1994–1995, 2001)

·         - 7× PL Batting Champion (1994–2000)

·         - 5× PL Safe Hit Champion (1994–1998)

·         - 5× PL On-base Champion (1994–1996, 1999–2000)

·         - 1995 PL Stolen Base Champion

·         - 1995 PL RBI Champion

·         - Japan Series Champion (1996)

World Baseball Classic (WBC):
·         - 2x Champion (2006, 2009)

Regardless of what position you hold on the Ichiro Suzuki statistics/achievements stance, there's no doubt that he is an impressive Baseball player that has been able to be successful on both sides of the Pacific.

Sisco Kid

Monday, August 19, 2013

Frustration From A Lifelong Yankees Fan aka "What did A-Rod do today"

Frustrated doesn't even come close to describing how I feel. Now from day one of the 2013 season I knew that they Yankees wouldn't be making the postseason. I can accept that. I want the team to rebuild through youth and I know that growing pains coupled with losing seasons come with rebuilding. So my frustration doesn't stem from that. It stems from all the other bullshit that seems to be surrounding the team these days. I'm sorry to resort to profanity but I'm not feeling very cheery.

Hours can't seem to go by without one new report on how Alex Rodriguez did this or paid someone off or how the Yankees tried to sabotage his surgery and treatment. Add to that statements made in the media by numerous attorneys and Yankees brass turning this into a real shitshow that has eclipsed what the team does on the field and would make George Steinbrenner blush with embarrasement. For example, during last night's game we had customers ask "What did A-Rod do today". And while he had a productive game at the plate, all they cared about was the drama. There are 23 other players on this team who are doing their best to win games, players who are trying to keep their jobs for not only this season and for next season and all people care about is "What did A-Rod do today". The Yankees win a seesaw 9-6 game against the Boston Red Sox and all people seem to care about is "What did A-Rod do today". Plus the franchise isn't totally innocent in this drama as well. This whole public comment crusade by Yankee President Randy Levine is just bringing this down to a level that no administrator should. Its downright embarrassing. This drama has officially overshadowed the game. Threatening to become bigger than the game (if it isn't already). And undoubtedly it'll get uglier in the days to come.

On a side note, another conversation with a customer centered on the idea of rooting for A-Rod. I personally can't do it. A bit of personal disclosure here. I have two children who I try to instill in them that doing drugs are a bad thing. So how would it look if I rooted for a player while I'm at a game with them who is currently appealing a 211-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs AFTER publicly admitting in 2009 that he did steroids. I take this stance not from a "Holier than thou" point of view. I'm definitely not a teetotaler. I work in a bar and I drink and I'm not a saint but I don't believe in doing drugs. What people do to themselves is on them but it's not something that I do. But back to A-Rod. 

I'll admit that I rooted for him after his admission. I believe in giving someone a second chance. People make mistakes and I believe that you can atone for them. That you deserve the chance to do so since none of us are perfect and can all make mistakes. I believe that his admission caused him to become humbled, broken down and like in a storybook he was able to redeem himself with his performance post surgery and rehab during the 2009 season. His performance during the postseason culminated in his being a pivotal part in a World Series championship for the team and redemption for himself. But his actions since then have cast a negative light on the second chance I gave him to the point that I can't root for him any longer. Doing so would make me a hypocrite. Doing so would send my kids mixed signals. Like the old adage says "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me."

I'm not being fooled again. 

To a second point of last night's conversation "well McGwire, Giambi, Pettitte and others admitted but aren't being persecuted like A-Rod". Here's the difference. Those three made their admissions and as far as I know have taken themselves away from PEDs unlike A-Rod. Maybe they haven't stopped taking them and are smarter than A-Rod has been in covering their tracks. Who truly knows. As far as I know they've earned their second chance and haven't done anything to risk losing it. If the same thing happened to Giambi and/or Pettitte where they were involved in something like the Biogenesis scandal, I'd feel the same way. You had you second chance and threw it away as I believe A-Rod has. And here's one more point from last night "well how about those players who were caught and are still playing". My second chance rule still applies. They served their penalty and deserve a second chance. The only difference is that I don't object to their playing in the league since the players voted and approved the "Three Strikes" rule of 50, 100, and Lifetime ban for those who fail PED tests. Those are the rules. 

The real shame is that I have to become an objective observer of the 2013 Baseball season much sooner than I thought I would. I hate to feel that I'm turning my back on the Yankees but I can't root on blind faith. It's not the kind of fan I am. I know the team is flawed. I know the foundation is crumbling and want it to be rebuilt. I love my team now as much as I did when I was 10-years old. Its that love that has me saying "I can't root for A-Rod while all this bullshit is going on" instead of saying "What did A-Rod do today".

Maybe I've been fooled again after all...

Sisco Kid

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ryne Sandberg and a Dearth of Hall of Famers As Managers

Ryne Sandberg's recent promotion as interim manager of the Philadephia Phillies brought up something that was on my mind upon finishing reading Mike Schmidt's book Clearing the Bases: Juiced Players, Monster Salaries, Sham Records, and a Hall of Famer's Search for the Soul of Baseball:

In the book Mike Schmidt talks about his inability to get a managerial position at the Major League level and devotes some time to the idea as to why there aren't many Hall of Famers that become managers. At the time of the printing of the book in 2006, Schmidt states:
In the last thirty years, only two Hall of Fame players have managed in the majors: Yogi Berra and Frank Robinson. Only one (Robbie) is a big league manager today. Babe Ruth wanted to manage the Yankees when he retired and the offered him the Newark Bears. See what I mean?
Schmidt offers a theory as to why this is so using himself as an example:
Before 2004, I had nothing on my résumé to that would lead anyone to conclude that I had the right stuff to manage a team. As a player, my dealings with the press had been dicey at best. I'd been a high profile player, known to be a bit self-centered, and not necessarily a strong person outside the clubhouse.

How could I work for someone?

How could I work "within" a team where my opinion counted but wasn't the final one.

How in the hell can Mike Schmidt fit in as an everyday working stiff, dedicated to making an organization a winner without being the top dog?

Aside from these concerns, any GM hiring me-Especially a GM in Philadelphia-would have to factor in the political fallout should I fall flat on my face and have to get canned.

Firing a Hall of Famer, especially one who has a statue at the stadium entrance, can be tricky.

To view this from a General Manager's perspective is to realize why so many high-profile players today ever get reasonable consideration for major league managerial jobs.
His theory concerning himself is rather candid and honest. He would get a chance to manage the Class A Florida State League Phillies Affiliate in Clearwater which he found to be an uncomfortable fit due to political and philosophical differences at the Single-A level. Schmidt also poses a general view as to why there aren't many Hall of Famers who have become managers in the last 30-40 years:
The general feel in baseball seems to be that high-achieving ballplayers don't make good managers because they don't have the patience to work with players of lesser skills.
This point made me think at least in the case of hitting coaches. Why is it that the best hitting coaches are the ones who weren't great hitters. As recently as this season, we saw Hall of Famer George Brett become the hitting coach for the Kansas City Royals only to step down less than two months after taking the position. In the article George Brett Resigns as Hitting Coach by the Associated Press dated July 25th, 2013 from, an interesting point came up:
He said at the time of his hiring May 30 that he always found the game easier to do than say -- that is, he found it natural to play and difficult to instruct. That never did change.

"I found out I was a better player, a better hitter, in my opinion, than a teacher," he admitted. "I was not a good mechanical hitting coach."

Brett said he has played several rounds of golf with Fred Couples over the years, yet the former Masters champion never gave him any tips. Not long ago, Brett asked him why.

"He told me, 'George, I know my swing, but I don't know yours,' " Brett said.
Rod Carew also found difficulties as a hitting coach  when he was hired as the Hitting instructor of the Milwaukee Brewers in 1999, holding the position until October 2001. According to John Donaldson's article Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training 2002 from
The Brewers set a major league record last year by striking out a stunning 1,399 times, with Jose Hernandez and Richie Sexson going neck-and-neck for the whiff crown (Hernandez won, 185-178). All the missing contributed to a team batting average of .251, better only than the impotent Mets and Pirates, and a 13-25 record in one-run games, the worst in the NL.

The Brewers also became the first team to have more strikeouts than hits.

All that led to the firing of hitting coach Rod Carew -- who struck out only 1,028 times in 19 years.
On the flipside, Tony Gwynn has found success as the head coach of his alma-mater's varsity Baseball team the San Diego State Aztecs. His eight-year record stands at 242-241 (.501) and his coaching record in league play stands at 124-82 (.602). But this isn't coaching and/or managing in the big leagues.

There have been recent cases of successful players being productive managers. Joe Torre found success with the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers as Don Mattingly has currently done with the Dodgers and Mike Scioscia with the Angels. But in looking at the current managerial roster in the pros (along with Mattingly), Dusty Baker, Kirk Gibson and Robin Ventura stand out to me as being productive players during their career making the jump to being productive managers. The rest (in my opinion) don't stack up.

We'll see if Sandberg gets a chance to have the "Interim" tag removed from his title with the Phillies or if he gets a chance with another team such as the Chicago Cubs in the future. Time will tell.

Sisco Kid

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What Should Curtis Granderson Do and a word on Phil Hughes

I had a customer last night tell me that I was "Out of my mind" in talking about what Curtis Granderson should do during the upcoming offseason. I find that telling that to someone who you are having a conversation with is simply a form of dismissing their point of view without giving them a real chance to express their opinion. Its really not the way to have a discussion. I felt that history worked in my favor in what I felt Granderson should do.

As we know, Granderson has had an injury plagued campaign in his 2013 season. First a broken hand and then a broken pinky has caused him to miss a significant amount of time during his walk season. Where Granderson could have seen himself signing a multi-year deal at over $15 million a year, his limited play this year could have limited the bonanza he could have gained in a non-injured season. Consider that Granderson made $15 million this season and keeping in mind the free agency rules dictate that if a team wants to receive a compensation pick for losing a potential free agent, they must offer a qualifying offer to their free agent to be.

To clarify what I mean about a qualifying offer I'm going to post an explanation from the article As expected, new rules impact free-agent market by Matthew Leach dated February 12, 2013 from
Under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the structure has changed. The old Type A and Type B designations are gone. When a player reaches free agency, his former team may make him what is known as a qualifying offer, worth the average amount of the previous season's top 125 salaries -- $13.3 million this offseason.
If the player accepts the offer, again he is considered to be signed to a contract for the next season. If he declines, the team that signs him gives up a Draft pick, while the team losing the player gains one -- though not the same pick.
The signing team gives up a first-round selection, unless it possesses one of the first 10 selections. In that case, the team gives up its next selection after that. The team losing the player, meanwhile, gains a sandwich pick at the end of the first round. This applies as long as the player signs before the start of the next Draft.
I would believe that the amount for the qualifying offer for this year's free agents is higher than last season's $13.3 million dollars, probably even closer to the $15 million dollar mark that Granderson made this season. Given that, here is what I suggested that I was told I was "out of my mind" about.

I said that Curtis Granderson should take the qualifying offer the Yankees are sure to make. In doing so, he would be signed to a one year deal for 2014 near or around the $15 million mark and gives himself an opportunity to have the kind of offensive season that he would like to have going into a walk season than the one he is having now.  While the customer stated that he didn't believe that Granderson would be offered anything more than $10 million a year and that he would be stupid to not take a secure deal in the range of three years $30 million dollars. My point was (though I wasn't able to present it since I did have other customers to serve drinks to) you only needed to look at the example of Granderson's teammate Alfonso Soriano.

When Soriano's contract with the Rangers expired after the 2005 season the offers for a long term deal that Soriano wanted just weren't there for the taking. He signed a one year deal with the Washington Nationals and put up a slash line of .277/.351/.560 with 46 homers and 95 RBI which was an improvement from .268/.309/.512 with 36 homers and 104 RBI the season before. The next offseason, Soriano signed an eight year $161-million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

The only difference between Soriano and Granderson is that Granderson is only one year older than where Soriano was when he decided to sign with the Nationals. My point is why settle for a lesser long term deal when Granderson can redeem himself in one season and bang out a bigger deal afterwards since he will be 32 years old.

On a side note, we also spoke about Yankees starter Phil Hughes. The customer places the full blame on his season squarely on Hughes' shoulders. I felt somewhat differently. Hughes has not helped his cause with his performance this season but my point to him was that a pitcher doesn't do it all alone (I guess the sabermetricians are rubbing off on me after all). The offense is to somewhat to blame since the team has not backed him up with runs in games where he pitched.

Consider this, the Yankees have been shutout twice in starts by Hughes. They lost 6-0 to the Dodgers where Hughes gave up five runs in six innings and 2-0 to the Rangers where he gave up two runs in eight innings. They have also been held to one run four times (2-1 1 run allowed, 11-1 5 runs allowed, 5-1 2 runs allowed, 4-1 4 runs allowed) and two runs four times (12-2 7 runs allowed, 3-2 2 runs allowed, 5-2 3 runs allowed). That's 10 of 22 starts of two runs scored or less in his behalf. The team has only scored five or more runs in five starts made by Hughes which were all games won by the Yankees (3 wins for Hughes).

The run support has not been there whether he had a mediocre or a great game. Granted, Hughes didn't pitch like Mike Harvey or Clayton Kershaw in those starts but the offense didn't back him up either.

I believe that Phil Hughes would greatly benefit from a new start with another team like San Diego, Houston or even Pittsburgh maybe even becoming a number two pitcher on those staffs to which I was also told that I was wrong and out of my mind for thinking that. So goes the life of a bartender in NYC. Oh well.

Any suggestions? Agree? Disagree?

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here for Curtis Granderson's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for Alfonso Soriano's career statistics from Baseball
- Click Here for Phil Hughes's career statistics from Baseball