Archive for the ‘Baseball general’ category

A Ballpark Review: Yankee Stadium

April 5, 2015

Being a baseball fan, it’s pretty much a life goal of mine to visit every ML stadium. At the time being, I haven’t even hit double digits. But hopefully I’ve got quite a few mores years to make the rounds.

To accomplish this goal, I’ve decided to visit a new stadium each summer to cross a park off the list, and take in the culture of that city on a weekend getaway. Last year was glitzy LA. This year is dreary Cleveland, Ohio!

However, when choosing parks to visit, I haven’t come across many reliable sites for information on the experience of each park. Some are outdated. Others have terrible opinions (so you’re telling me Minute Maid Park is the 24th best stadium, behind the likes of Globe Life and US Cellular?). So I figured I’d share my current experiences and future experiences so that more people like me have a good idea of what they’re getting themselves into with each destination.

For my criteria, I’ve chosen ten categories, yet I have rated each category differently, based on what I value the most. For example, how beautiful a park is #1 for me, so I will value it at 25% of my total valuations. In fact, my Big Four factors are aesthetics, seats/view, atmosphere, and attractions. I like a beautiful stadium, with great seating options, a fun atmosphere, and things to do before the game such as visit the team museum or look at unique attractions on the concourse. My overall factors are

1) Aesthetics- 25

Exterior- 5

Interior- 10

Backdrop- 10

2) Seats & View- 20

Sight lines- 10

Proximity- 5

Comfort- 5

3) Atmosphere- 15

Fan Participation- 5

Attendance- 5

Fan Knowledge- 5

4) Attractions- 15

Museums & Team History- 10

Stuff to See and Do- 5

5) Food & Drink- 10

Hot Dog- 5

Best of the Rest- 5
6) Game Entertainment/Presentation- 5
7) Cleanliness- 5
8) Local Scene & Location- 5
9) Access & Cost- 5
10) Misc- Bonus Points

11) Personal Opinion- 5

Franchise: New York Yankees

Year Opened: 2009

Capacity: 49,642

Games Attended: Too many to list

So…here is the review for Yankee Stadium, a stadium I’ve been to about about 10 or so times now.

1) Aesthetics- 18/25

Exterior- 5/5

Yankee Stadium has a magnificent exterior design which excludes elegance and royalty, which is what you should expect when you enter New Yankee Stadium. The smooth brick design replicates the original Yankee Stadium (1923-mid 1970’s) and it is a perfect tribute.

Interior- 8/10

The new Yankee Stadium is a beautiful ballpark and I say so because I love how they pay tribute to the original, pre-1970’s Yankee Stadium. The Grand Hall is a wonderful addition, with banners of past players hanging up and allowing for an open walkway before you get to the main concourse. I also really like the video board and advertisement structure in center field. Some people aren’t a fan of the big ads in stadiums, but it’s a part of the industry and the Yankees did as good a job as they can do making the advertisements fit into the feel and look of the stadium. And the facade is arguably the best interior design feature of any ballpark.

Backdrop- 5/10

The only negative points here is the lack of backdrop- but what do you expect when you build a park in the Bronx? Another mistake was hiding Monument Park in center. That should have been apart of the stadium dynamic, much like it was in the old stadium.

2) Seat & View-  16/20

Sight line- 8/10

Yankee Stadium has some of the best seats and sight lines of any park I’ve been to. I’ve sat in the upper deck several times and it still feels like you’re right on top of the action. Moreover, there is an open concourse so you can still catch the action going to grab a bite or use the restroom. The second and third levels are also great spots that give you a fantastic vantage point of the park while still feeling really close to the field. The bleachers, however, are the one downside. The closer you get to the Mohegan Sun Bar in center, the worse your view is. On the right field side, you can’t left field and vice a versa. The upshot is that these are cheap seats and you’ll get to mingle with the most passionate, die-hard fans at the park so you will still have a fun time while saving some money.

Proximity- 4/5

As mentioned above, you feel close to the action here whether on the first, second, third, or fourth level.

Comfort- 4/5

I have never had a problem at Yankee stadium. The seats allow for sample space between seats and offer good leg room.

Recommended seats:

Section 428/414: Sit in the first few rows and this is the biggest bang for you buck. Cheap(er) seats and it feels like you are right on top of the action, with a view of the whole field.

Bleachers 203: Home of the Bleacher Creatures

Section 206: Catch a home run in the overhang on the second level in right field.

Sec. 414

Sec. 414

3) Atmosphere- 13.5/15

Fan Participation- 5/5

It should come as no surprise that the Yankee Stadium atmosphere is one of the top few in baseball. The fans care and know a lot about the game. The Bleacher Creatures are the most famous fan section in MLB, but the majority of people in attendance are just as devout. The only knock comes from the fact it’s not the old stadium. That stadium would rock it was so loud. Now with all the corporate suites and luxury boxes, the field level is quieter with suits occupying those sections (if they even show up) and many of the passionate fans have been priced out of attending games. But on weekends and against good teams the place will still sell out and remind you why attending baseball in the Bronx is a pilgrimage all fans need to make.

Attendance- 4/5

As alluded to above, this place doesn’t fill up like it used to, especially on week nights. But they still sell out or come close to it quite often and will be among the league leaders in attendance.

Fan Knowledge- 4.5/5

The little knock is that there are some jack off fans. But people know the game, know the latest baseball news, and ready to cheer from the first pitch.

4) Attractions- 13.5/15

Museums & Team History- 10/10

With the rich history of the Yankees, it’s no surprise that the Yankees do it big when it comes to honoring the team. Monument Park is the coolest tribute of a team’s past in all of baseball. However, if you want to visit you need to get there right when gates open otherwise you won’t get in because of the long line. In addition to Monument Park, the Yankees also have a team museum for people to get their Yankee history fix.

Stuff to See & Do- 3.5/5

A cool thing the Yankees do is hang posters and quotes of famous players throughout the park. To a non-Yankees fan this may seem excessive, but to me it’s awesome. My favorite concourse item the Yankees have is the retired numbers fixed to the wall behind the bleachers.

As for team stores, with the Yankees being the big money franchise they are, have numerous store locations throughout the ballpark.

Retired numbers on the bleachers concourse

Retired numbers on the bleachers concourse

5) Food & Drink- 5.5/10

Hot Dog- 3/5

A Yankee dog (Hebrew National) is one of my least favorite in baseball- I’d give it a 5/10 rating. They also have Nathan’s foot long dogs, which people love, but I am not Nathan’s fan.

Best of the Rest- 2.5/5

The chicken fingers are simply okay and everything else is out of budget. As for the drink selection- it’s Bud or Michelob Ultra for way too much water and it tastes like water. The only redeeming quality is that there are a lot of different food choices- from pulled pork to steak sandwiches to a fruit market- but it’s just expensive and usually not worth the money.

6) Game Presentation & Entertainment- 4/5

The Yankees have a reputation for being a no-thrills organization, but they still have a solid game entertainment package. Before the game, their video board shows highlights of famous players and famous moments in Yankees history. During the game they will still do the same “find the ball in the cap” and “pick the winner of the race” videos which fans of all ages always enjoy. In addition, the Yankees still employ an organist which is really cool for something as “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and regularly play “God Bless America” in the 7th. And of course- win or lose they still play Sinatra’s “New York, New York”, something Yankee and non-Yankee fans alike can take comfort in after a fun day at the park.

7) Cleanliness- 5/5

This should get a high rating because the park is still pretty new, but this might be the cleanest stadium I have ever been to. It might be the one thing that stands out the most to me. The concourse is clean, the seats are clean, and everything is still in mint condition. The old stadium was gross, cramped, and foul smelling. The new stadium is much, much improved and makes for a better game experience.

8) Local Scene & Location- 2/5

At the old stadium, this might have gotten a 1. But where the old stadium once stood is now a beautiful athletic park with ball fields for the local community. However, the stadium is still in the Bronx so outside some local pizza joints and unofficial team stores there isn’t anything to do other than hop on a D or 4 train back to Manhattan.

9) Access & Cost- 2/5

As we all know, Yankee Stadium is the most expensive ticket in baseball. It also has the most expensive food and it costs money to get to the stadium (train or exorbitant parking fees). However, there are ways to enjoy Yankee Stadium without draining your bank account. Find an upper deck or bleacher seat and come stuffed so you don’t find yourself needing to eat at the game. And while transportation can be expensive, all you need to do is take the subway right to 161st St and River Avenue. No need to drive and spend a fortune on limited parking.

10) Misc- 3

Stats & Info- 1

Yankee Stadium does a great job showing the stats real fans like to process during the game. It is not only easy to spot on the mega-video board, but it is on the LED panels lining the different levels of the park.

Concourse- 1

Yankee Stadium is an open concourse, so it earns the bonus points.

Traditions- 1

Very few other parks have traditions like Yankee Stadium. The Bleacher Creatures’ “Role Call” might be the best tradition in baseball, and playing Sinatra’s “New York, New York” win or lose is something all fans look forward to.

11) Personal Opinion-4/5

I love Yankee Stadium. I also hate it. But the good outweighs the bad by a mile. This stadium is cleaner, nicer, has better seats, and looks beautiful. Yet it’s not as loud and more corporate. Despite that, it can still be a rocking stadium and the beauty of it has sold me enough to enjoy it more than the old stadium.

Final Score: 85.5/115

A must see stadium for any baseball fan.

Hasty 2015 MLB Predictions

April 4, 2015

Between work and life the beginning of the 2015 MLB season has snuck up on me. So here are my (not entirely thought out) predictions for the upcoming season!

AL East

1) Boston Red Sox (92-70)- Despite what could be a poor rotation, I am all in on Boston their offense/defense.

2) Toronto Blue Jays (88-74)- Finally start to win some games with all their acquisitions. Donaldson is a big grab.

3) New York Yankees (84-78)- I had them in last place all season. But with their defense and pitching, they could pull a 2014 Royals. Although they are an injury away from a 70-75 win season.

4) Baltimore Orioles (82-80)- I just don’t see the overall offense/pitching/defense needed to win. Going to be a very average year in Baltimore.

4) Tampa Bay Rays (77-85)- I really wanted to pick them as a sleeper team and I love their outfield potential, but they are the weakest team in the division.

AL Central

1) Cleveland Indians (91-71)- I am jumping on the bandwagon.

2) Detroit Tigers (89-73)- On paper you can make argument for them beating out the Indians.

3) Kansas City Royals (84-78)- Still love the bullpen and defense, but rotation doesn’t have depth and offensive is mediocre.

4) Chicago White Sox (81-81)- Jose Abreu is an MVP candidate and their pitching is underrated, but elsewhere is lacking.

5) Minnesota Twins (70-92)- Will fight for the first pick in the draft.

AL West

1) Seattle Mariners (90-72)- Going into this I thought they would be really overrated this season. But rotation has the potential to the best in the AL.

2) Los Angeles Angels (88-74)- Mike Trout is their hope of winning the division.

3) Oakland Athletics (85-77)- Will be better than expected.

4) Texas Rangers (80-82)- Might surprise people. But probably not.

5) Houston Astros (74-88)- That defense looks…non-existent.

NL East

1) Washington Nationals (93-69)- Offense might but weak but every SP could be an All-Star this season.

2 New York Mets (84-78)- Harvey could be make or break piece for them.

3) Miami Marlins (83-79)- I could see them being pretty good. But odds are they’ll just be okay.

4) Atlanta Braves (72-90)- This is going to be ugly.

5) Philadelphia Phillies (60-102)- I think giving them 60 wins is generous. Utley and Hamels are still there (for now) but if either is traded we can be looking at 110+ losses.

NL Central

1) St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)- Year in and year out you can pencil them at the Central favorites

2) Pittsburgh Pirates (88-74)- I love their depth, they have an MVP candidate in McCutchen, a potential star in Blanco, and an ace in Cole. But I think the rest of their rotation is too unreliable to help pull off a 90 win season. As a baseball fan, I hope I’m wrong and the Bucs can finally raise a division flag.

3) Chicago Cubs (85-77)- Really wanted to pick Cincinnati above Chicago, but Chicago has more upside.

4) Cincinnati Reds (82-80)- I expect a big year from Votto.

5) Milwaukee Brewers (80-82)- Could be a sleeper team but probably not.

NL West

1) Los Angeles Dodgers (100-62)- They are the best team in baseball. They have a superstars, every bench player is a legitimate backup, and the rotation goes five deep.

2) San Diego Padres (86-76)- I am not on the bandwagon whatsoever and was expecting to place San Fran ahead of the Padres, but the Padres just pack a little more punch on paper as I expect a big year from Myers.

3) San Francisco Giants (85-77)- It’s going to be their pitching that carries them.

4) Colorado Rockies (73-89)- The offense and defense isn’t bad. But their pitching (in Coors) might be the worst in baseball.

5) Arizona Diamondbacks (69-93)- They have Paul Goldschmidt and little of much else.

AL Playoffs

Wild Card Tie-Breaker: Toronto Blue Jays over Los Angeles Angeles

Wild Card Game: Detroit Tigers over Toronto Blue Jays

ALDS: Boston Red Sox over Detroit Tigers (3-2); Seattle Mariners over Cleveland Indians (3-2)

ALCS: Boston Red Sox over Seattle Mariners (4-2)

NL Playoffs

Wild Card Game: Pittsburgh Pirates over San Diego Padres

NLDS: Los Angeles Dodgers over Pittsburgh Pirates (3-0); Washington Nationals over St. Louis Cardinals (3-1)

NLCS: Los Angeles Dodgers over Washington Nationals (4-2)

World Series: Los Angeles Dodgers over Boston Red Sox (4-3)

AL MVP: Mike Trout

NL MVP: Yasiel Puig

AL Cy Young: Sonny Gray

NL Cy Young: Steven Strasburg

AL ROY: Francisco Lindor

NL ROY: Jorge Soler

AL Comeback Player: Chin-s00 Choo

NL Comeback Player: Joey Votto

AL Hank Aaron: Mike Trout

NL Hank Aaron: Paul Goldschmidt

AL Platinum Glove: Josh Donaldson

NL Platinum Glove: Juan Lagares

Don Mattingly: Best Player At His Peak?

January 5, 2014

When looking at Don Mattingly’s Hall of Fame case many journalists mention how Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak and before his back was a problem. So that got me thinking- was Don Mattingly truly the best player in baseball during his peak?

Mattingly’s peak was four years- 1984 to 1987. He accumulated a 24.7 fWAR which was good for 6.2 WAR per season or 5.8 WAR/650 PA. So Mattingly was an MVP level player for four seasons- pretty dang good. Mattingly played another eight seasons after 1987 but only had a 3+ WAR season twice and only had 600+ PA a season four times in that span. His average wRC+ was 152 so the man could hit. This was achieved with a high .300’s OBP and mid .500’s SLG.

As the numbers show Mattingly does have a good case for the being the best player in baseball during his peak. But was he really “the best”?

Candidates:

Rickey Henderson- 2392 PA, .289/.397/.484/.391/145+; 274 SB, 26.7 fWAR, 7.3 WAR/650PA

Tim Raines- 2674 PA, .323/.409/.477/.388/146+; 265 SB, 26.6 fWAR, 6.5 WAR/650PA

Wade Boggs- 2844 PA, .353/.442/.489/.411/152+; 31.4 fWAR, 7.2 WAR/650PA

Cal Ripken- 2858 PA, .280/.352/.469/.362/124+; 25.6 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

Mike Schmidt- 2547 PA, .284/.384/.541/.395/148+; 24.3 fWAR, 6.2 WAR/650PA

Tony Gwynn- 2727 PA, .341/.400/.457/.376/139+; 24.2 fWAR, 5.8 WAR/650PA

After looking at it, I do not think Mattingly was the best player in baseball during his peak. Of the candidates, I would take Henderson, Raines, Boggs, Ripken, and Schmidt over him. Why? When it comes to Henderson and Raines I think both were simply better players. Mattingly certainly had more power, but Rickey and Raines were better OBP who could field, hit, and run. Mattingly was simply a hitter who played first base. That is partly why I would also take Mike Schmidt and Cal Ripken as well. Third and short are more valuable positions- and both Schmidt and Ripken were exceptional fielders who are also all-time hitters at their respective positions. As for Boggs, I think he may be the best player between 1984 and 1987, if not Rickey or Raines.

In the end though, it’s super close and still being a top five player at your peak is still impressive.

 

Adios Robinson Cano

December 6, 2013

This morning Robinson Cano signed a reported 10/$240mil contract with the Seattle Mariners. With all the speculation in the past day I can’t say this is a surprise but I did not think he would sign with Seattle so fast- but I also didn’t think they would go to 10/$240mil so fast.

A month or so ago I wrote about what a potential Robinson Cano contract would look like. In it I surmised that a contract could be worth up to $198mil over ten years but also could be worth up to $240mil depending on the team. I do think Robinson Cano for ten years is worth $240mil- for the New York Yankees. For the Seattle Mariners he is worth closer to $198mil than $240mil so I have to say this a overpay. Not only is it an overpay but it’s an overreach in terms of years. Even if Robinson ages well, one has to imagine that the contract will be dead weight come 2021 and beyond.

If Seattle figures to be a possible playoff team in the near future and Cano is the piece that puts them over the hump then one can see why they would make this deal. As it stands, Seattle won 75 games in 2012. Nick Franklin, who was the expected starter at second for Seattle, is projected to have a 1.5 fWAR by Steamer and 2.6 fWAR by Oliver. Let’s split the difference at 2.0 fWAR. Cano is projected by each at 5.4 and 4.6 so let’s call it 5.0. That is a three win upgrade at the price of $24mil or $8mil per win. And it only jumps Seattle up to a nearly .500 baseball team.

Going forward Seattle could be a playoff team down the road. But by the time this happens, Cano will be in his decline and not as valuable as he currently is. Yet he will still be owed a lot of money could prevent the Mariners from signing players they could sign down the line to contend.

While a large contract made sense for the Yankees, especially in the short run, they did not want to go past seven years- and I can’t blame them for that. Long term contracts of that magnitude rarely turn out well and New York has learned that first hand with contracts they have handed out to Jason Giambi, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. With the money “saved” they can try to make up for the lost value in others- possibly by signing Masahiro Tanaka, Omar Infante, and Carlos Beltran or Shin-soo Choo. Granted, this will eat up more roster spots than the one spot Cano would have taken, but it could save them money and years.

As for Robinson, I can’t blame him. Yes, I wish he stayed. I wish he chose a plaque at Monument Park over $240mil. I wish he chose to be a Yankee legend over $240mil. But he earned a big payday and he took it as he and other players have every right to. Hopefully when he returns to the Bronx he isn’t greeted with a chorus of boos.

I think it’s also interesting that a Yankee star at the height of his career LEFT the Yankees. For Seattle of all places. Imagine this scenario playing out five years ago? Ten years ago? Even with the signings of Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury, it appears as if the Empire is dead.

Finally, Robinson Cano is the one player I can’t help but partial to. Not seeing him in the Yankee lineup everyday is going to hurt. Yet life goes on. Adios Robbie, and good luck in Seattle.

Hopefully this weekend I will put up a post outline what the Yankees should do now.

 

 

 

Tigers Trade Doug Fister to Nationals

December 3, 2013

This evening the Detroit Tigers traded starter Doug Fister to the Washington Nationals for Steve Lombardozzi, Robbie Ray, and Ian Krol. The Tigers continue their busy off-season but I’m not so sure I’m a fan of this deal.

Doug Fister is a very sold #2-#3 pitcher. From 2010 through 2013 he has posted fWAR’s of 2.6, 5.2, 3.5, and 4.6. He has consistently posted a mid 3’s FIP and has excellent control. While he may not strike a lot of batters out, he has a great walk rate and ground ball rate, so he doesn’t give up many home runs. The result of walking few batters and allowing few long balls means he’s effective at not giving up runs. He will be turning 30 in 2014 and is cost-controlled through the 2015 season.

Steam projects Fister to have a 3.3 fWAR in 2014. At $5mil a win, that’s $16.5mil in value. If he is a 3 WAR pitcher in 2015 at $5.25mil a win, that’s $15.75mil in value for a two year total of $32.25mil. Fister made $4mil in 2013 after his season arbitration eligible season. Using the 40/60/80 rule we can expect Fister to make $9.9mil in 2014 and $12.6mil in 2015. However, I don’t think that’s realistic. One reason being that his salary increase from 2013 to 2014 would be over a 100% increase. I think we can more reasonably look at a $6.5mil contract for 2014 and a $9-$11mil contract in 2015. As a result, his net value for 2014-2015 is an estimated $16mil.

Steve Lombardozzi will be cost-controlled for the next four years. He is a second baseman but can be used in the utility role for Detroit between second, short, third, and the corner outfield. While he has a great minor league track record, he has struggled mightily in his first two seasons at Washington. His above average BB rate in the minors has fallen to 3.7% through 700+ PA leading to a career wOBA of .281. Ouch. Now, he may still have potential yet because he is young and has a minor league track record. But starting in 2015 he will have to be paid a few million dollars to produce at replacement level production.

The Tigers will also be getting relievers Ian Krol and Robbie Ray. Now, Ray still is a starting pitcher. But through three minor league seasons he has struggled with walks and home runs, which points to a career as a future reliever if he can’t fix his problems. Ian Krol is a former starter himself before the Nationals converted him to a reliever. He is a lefty which is valuable out of the pen and had a decent rookie season. The Tigers have been trying to fix their pen for a couple seasons now so one can see where they are coming from in this trade.

I just don’t think you trade a great starting pitcher for your utility guy and a couple relievers. The Tigers don’t have any ready replacement for Fister in the rotation and his production at the ML level over the next two seasons will be greater than anyone they are getting back in the trade. As a team that is looking to win it all NOW I don’t see how the team helps them NOW.

As for Washington, they get a solid starter for their backup second baseman and utility player and some relievers. I like it from their perspective. They have a good rotation as it is and the addition of Fister will help separate them in a relatively weak division (outside of Atlanta). I don’t think the package Washington is giving up is worth the $16mil of value they will be getting from Fister.

 

The 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot is STACKED

November 26, 2013

With newcomers such as Greg Maddux and Mike Mussina, in addition to returning players such Jeff Bagwell and Edgar Martinez, the 2014 HOF ballot is ridiculous. I don’t know how less than ten people could get elected this time around.

Returning players who should be in:

Larry Walker

Alan Trammell

Curt Schilling

Tim Raines

Mike Piazza

Edgar Martinez

Roger Clemens

Barry Bonds

Craig Biggio

Jeff Bagwell

That’s ten people right there! Too bad writers can only vote for up to ten people. Here are the newcomers who are sure fire HOF’ers as well:

Frank Thomas

Mike Mussina

Greg Maddux

And two more potentials on my standards: Tom Glavine and Jeff Kent.

If most of these players don’t make it then imagine the backlog come 2015 with the addition of Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, Gary Sheffield, and Nomar Garciaparra.

 

Jhonny Peralta’s New Contract and its Implactions on the Next CBA

November 25, 2013

Last night the St. Louis Cardinals signed Jhonny Peralta to a 4/$52mil contract. And the baseball world is furious about it.

Many people are upset that someone can be suspended because of PEDs for fifty games and still get a $52mil payday. The suspensions are supposed to be deterrents to using steroids. But if suspended players can still have the potential of earning millions of dollars then the suspensions will not stop players from using steroids.

If one really wants to tackle this issue they would look at why players use in the first place. At the top of the list is financial reasons. Maybe not to go from making $10mil to $20mil but to go from poor to rich. Most users are minor league players who make $10k or players who come from very, very poor areas and are willing on taking the 1% chance of going pro so they can provide for their family. If you do the risk-reward analysis- 50 games suspension or huge payday- the payday will win almost every time.

Players as well as fans are upset. One disgruntled player is Brad Zeigler who took his complaints to Twitter. A lot of players do want to clean up the sport because they are tired of the mess PEDs have created. After 2016 the current CBA will expire. And one can be sure that PEDs will be a major sticking point this time around.

Although it seems that both parties want to get rid of steroids I think there will be contentious debate. Although the MLBPA represents players who want to abolish steroids it still has to protect those players that do use. So increasing suspensions or penalties may be off the table for them. MLB will probably want to increase first time user suspensions or even have a one strike and your out rule. No way will MLBPA agree to that. Again, they need to protect its players so it won’t allow MLB to throw players out for one failed test.

The next labor negotiations will certainly be interesting and for everyone’s sake let’s hope they can resolve the issue peacefully.