Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Nomar Leaves The Field For The Set

Nomar Garciaparra, the baseball superstar most popular for his time as a shortstop for the Boston Red Sox has decided to call it a career.
The six-time all-star called a press conference earlier today at City of Palms Park in Fort Meyers, Florida. He made the announcement after signing a one-day minor league contract with the Red Sox citing that he wanted to retire with the organization that gave him the most memorable moments of his career.

After winning American League Rookie of the Year in 1997 with Boston, Garciaparra went on to enjoy six and a half more years of wreaking havoc on American League East pitching with the Sox. He won two batting titles while finishing second in the 1998 AL MVP voting during that span.

His time with Boston came to an unexpected end, however, as the once golden child of Beantown was traded to the Chicago Cubs on July 31st, 2004 after publicly expressing his dismay with the direction that the organization was headed.

The Red Sox would go on to win their first World Series in 86 years that fall without their once precious Nomar.

After an injury plagued year and a half with the Cubs, Garciaparra signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers as a free agent prior to the 2006 season. The year would prove to be his last dominant season in the majors, as he would hit .303 with 20 home runs and 93 runs batted in while primarily playing the third base for the team.

2007 would see Garciaparra's numbers drop dramatically. By 2008, the injury bug would reduce the once intimidating Nomar Garciaparra to just a shell of himself.

So after a year of coming off the bench for the Oakland Athletics in 2009, Garciaparra has decided to close up shop.

His career stat line reads .313, 229 home runs, 936 batted in, with a .361 on-base percentage.

He has revealed that he intends to start a broadcasting career with ESPN.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Johnny Finds A Home

After a long winter of speculating about where Johnny Damon would play it appears that the two-time World Champion has finally made a decision as to where he will play in 2010.

The Detroit Tigers have stepped in with an offer that apparently was to Damon's liking. It is reportedly a one-year deal worth about $8 million.

All is pending a physical, which sources say should be taken today or tomorrow.

The deal makes sense for both sides:

With former Tiger center fielder Curtis Granderson likely to occupy Damon's former spot in left field at Yankee Stadium this season, Detroit gets a bat to replace Granderson's at the top of the lineup. Not to mention another veteran presence.

For Damon, he has actually found someone willing to offer a contract close to the crazy demands of he and agent Scott Boras.

As I Yankee fan, I still believe Damon made a big mistake. And at this point, I'd be willing to bet he believes that too.

The New York Yankees were reportedly offering Johnny a two-year contract worth about $14 million at the beginning of the off-season. Boras and Damon demanded at least $13 million a year and claimed that they could find that number elsewhere on the open market.

Well, the Yankees called their bluff and basically cut ties with Damon after that. Another contract worth about $2 million a year was set down on the table by New York in early January, however, as expected, Damon turned his nose up at that offer.

Meanwhile, the Yankees managed to sign players such as designated hitter/first baseman Nick Johnson, and outfielders Randy Winn and Marcus Thames. This basically eliminated any need that the team might have had for Damon.

So after fielding many other one year offers from teams such as the Atlanta Braves and Chicago White Sox, Johnny has finally settled on Detroit, the team that was offering the most money.

I enjoyed Johnny Damon's time in pinstripes. I really did. Whether he was stealing a base in the World Series, or hitting a walk-off home run into the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium during the regular season, he was one of the funnest players I have ever observed during my time as a Yankee fan.

However, after leaving the Boston Red Sox for New York for a bigger contract after 2005, and now leaving New York for Detroit due to sloppy negotiations, it is clear that Johnny Damon's loyalty is to the dollar and not the team...or winning the World Series, for that matter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I'm Back...And So Is Baseball

Well, after taking a two and a half month break (a break I did not plan on taking) I am trying to get back into the flow of things in the spirit of pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training.
In the news: Chien-Ming Wang, the former New York Yankee ace, reportedly signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

The deal caps what has been a very active off-season for the Nats. The team made headlines in December by picking up veteran backstop Ivan Rodriguez and signing him to a two-year, $6 million deal.

They also managed to land starting pitcher Jason Marquis and closer Matt Capps.

Perhaps the aggressive winter and heavy spending (relatively speaking) will pay off if Washington can finally find its way out of the National League East basement.

Time to catch up: As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, all you have to do is scroll down to my previous post to realize that I pretty much took the winter off when it came to updating America's Baby.

I am sure even the casual baseball fan is aware of the major signings that have gone down since early December. But, just in case you have been living under a rock, they are as follows:

Roy Halladay to the Phillies: Phillie fans got a Cy Young Award winning Christmas present this December. Philadelphia was able to pull off a three way trade with the Toronto Blue Jays and Seattle Mariners bringing 32-year-old ace Roy Halladay to the City of Brotherly Love, while shipping Cliff Lee off to pitch for the Mariners.

Arguably the game's best starting pitcher (although Mr. Santana still has my vote when he's healthy), Halladay has a career record of 148-76 with a 3.43 ERA and 1,495 strikeouts over 11 major league seasons. He has never pitched in a playoff game.

Meanwhile, Cliff Lee, or the "odd man out", has a Cy Young award of his own. Not to mention that he pitched to a 4-0 record with a 1.56 ERA with the Phillies during the 2009 postseason.

The Mets Add A Big Bat: After what seemed like an eternity of going back-and-forth, all-star left fielder Jason Bay finally signed with the New York Mets in late December.

The deal is worth $66 million over four years with a vesting option for a fifth.

Many had been speculating as to whether or not Bay would land with the Mets or opt to return to his former team, the Boston Red Sox. But after a medical dispute put the Sox and Bay at odds with each other, it seemed that the Mets were the best (or only) option.

Bay managed to set career highs in big flies and runs driven in with 36 and 119 in 2009, respectively.

Boston Gets A New Ace: Much like Phillie fans, Red Sox fans received an early Christmas present this year when John Lackey, the top free-agent pitcher on the market this past off-season, signed with Boston for five years at $82.5 million on December 16th.

Since winning the clinching game of the 2002 World Series with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (then just Anaheim Angels) in his rookie season, the 31-year-old Lackey has blossomed into one of the game's best starting pitchers.

Regarded as a true "gamer", Lackey went 11-8 with a 3.83 ERA while missing some time due to injury in 2009.

He also managed to earn his 100th career victory during the season.

Holliday Back For More: The last of this off-season's "big three" free-agents to go was outfielder Matt Holliday. However, unlike Bay and Lackey, Holliday returned to the team he was with in 2009 (at least for half of 2009).

Holliday hit .353 with 13 home runs and 55 runs batted in for the St. Louis Cardinals after being dealt from the Oakland Athletics in late July. He hit .313 with 24 homers and 109 driven in overall.

At the beginning of the off-season Holliday's agent Scott Boras made it clear that his client was only going to sign with a team for "Mark Teixeira" money ($180 million over eight years).

Well, Holliday didn't quite get Teixeira money, but he did manage to garner a pretty hefty contract worth $120 million over seven years.

In addition, signing with St. Louis gives Holliday the opportunity to be a part of what could be the most dangerous offensive duo in sports, as he will bat behind arguably the best hitter in the game in Albert Pujols.

Keep checking back for more posts, as I will be keeping the blog updated regularly again now that spring training is officially under way!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Granderson to New York

Two days into the general manager winter meetings in Indianapolis, the Yankees have made their first big move of the offseason.

It has been reported that New York has acquired outfielder Curtis Granderson in a three-way trade with the Detroit Tigers and the Arizona Diamondbacks.

In the deal, the Tigers will receive Yankee relief pitcher Phil Coke and top outfield prospect Austin Jackson and the young Arizona starting pitcher Max Scherzer. The Diamondbacks, in turn, will receive right hander Edwin Jackson from Detroit and once top pitching prospect Ian Kennedy from New York.

The Yankees reveive only Granderson.

From a Yankee fan point of view, I believe this is a good move. While it is tough to see Austin Jackson go (a player I was very excited to see in Major League action), Granderson is an exceptional player, and more importantly, a professional.

While he had a subpar season in 2009 (.249/.327/.453) he is a career .272 hitter who averages about 20 home runs and 17 stolen bases a year.

Arizona, who received two major league starting pitchers in the deal, will probably place Jackson and Kennedy in the three and four spots of the Diamondback rotation, behind Brandon Webb and Dan Haren.

The move should make Arizona's rotation one of the best in the majors.

And finally, Detroit, who made it clear at the beginning of the offseason that they would be looking to cut payroll this winter (though it will still remain well above $100 million), receive several above average, major league-ready players who will cost a fraction of the price of one Curtis Anderson.

Other news out of Indy: The Seattle Mariners have officially signed free agent Chone Figgins.

It has not yet been determined where Figgins will play, as the 31-year-old is very versitile in the field. However, he is expected to bat in the number two spot of the lineup, behind right fielder Ichiro Suzuki.

The deal is officially worth $36 million over four years.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Phils Take Care of the Hot Corner, Atlanta Solidifies the Pen

The Phillies have taken care of the hole left at third base by Pedro Feliz after the team declined to pick up his option for 2010.

Philadelphia signed Placido Polanco, who played second base for the Detroit Tigers over the past four plus seasons, to an $18 million, three year contract earlier today. It is his second tenure with Philly (Polanco played for the Phillies from 2002 into 2005).

Polanco, who turned 34 in October, will be an upgrade from Feliz, who hit a combined .258 over his two seasons with the Phils.

A .303 career hitter, Polanco hit .285 with a .331 on-base percentage for Detroit in 2009.

He can be very versatile in terms of his placement in the lineup, as well.

With the Phillie lead-off hitter Jimmy Rollins having a subpar year in 2009, Polanco could take that spot in the lineup, or the second slot as well, which would move centerfielder Shane Victorino down in the lineup.

Placing Polanco eighth in the lineup could also prove to be advantageous. It is always nice to have a runner on base before the pitcher comes to the plate so that the pitcher may lay down a sacrifice bunt. The third baseman's high batting average could certainly help this strategy.

Meanwhile, the Braves have done an excellent job putting together a very solid back-end of the bullpen.

Atlanta, who signed Billy Wagner to a 1-year, $7 million contract yesterday to close for them in 2009, landed setup man Takashi Saito today. The righty pitched to a 2.43 ERA in 55.2 innings pitched with the Red Sox last year.

With the bullpen now solidified, Atlanta can begin to focus on what is really their pressing issue: offense.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Derek Jeter Named Sports Illustrated's "Sportsman of the Year"

While Derek Jeter may have missed out on winning the American League MVP Award to Joe Mauer, this is one award no one can take away from him.

It was announced today that Derek Jeter will be named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. This is the first time that a Yankee has won the award in the 56 years of its existence, and the first time a baseball player has won since 2004, when the entire Boston Red Sox team was honored.

Jeter had one of the best years of his career in 2009, as he was ranked in the top ten of several major American League categories. This led to the claiming of his fourth AL Silver Slugger Award and fourth AL Gold Glove.

But, as Sports Illustrated points out, the award does not simply recognize great accomplishments on the field, but off the field as well.

Jeter has been seen working with many charities, particularly with his Turn-2 Foundation, which he founded in 1996.

The organization concentrates on encouraging children to avoid abusive drugs and alcohol, while improving social skills, such as leadership.

It truly makes me happy to see one of my childhood idols win this award. I myself have tried to emulate Derek Jeter in many ways since I was probably about ten years old, both while playing baseball and while presenting myself around other people.

Whether you are trying to copy his batting stance or helping others in need, the Yankee captain is certainly a great example of what a person should strive to be.

Award well deserved.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Mauer Nearly Unanimous For AL MVP

The American League Most Valuable Player Award was announced today. As expected, Minnesota Twin backstop Joe Mauer ran away with the honor.

Voting for Mauer was nearly unanimous, as he received 27 of the 28 first place votes. Though he came in fourth, Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers received the only other first place vote. Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees came in second and third in the voting, respectively.

The selection of Mauer should come as no surprise to anyone. After missing the first month of the season due to a back injury, the Minnesota native returned from the disabled list firing on all cylinders.

Mauer finished his 2009 campaign with a .365 batting average, winning the American League Batting Title for the third time in his still young career.

He also found a consistent power stroke, belting 26 home runs for the season (a career high) while driving in 96.

To top it off, he led his team to a second consecutive division title, as Minnesota went on to beat the Detroit Tigers in an extra 163rd game to advance to the postseason.

At 26-years-old, Joe Mauer is not even at the peak of his career. If the Twins are smart, they will sign him to a multi-year contract before he becomes a free agent in 2011.

With at least another eight or nine solid years left for Mauer to make his mark on the game, do not be surprised to see another MVP or two attached to his name over the next few seasons.