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!

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