Posted tagged ‘Alex Rodriguez’

MLB looking to suspend A-Rod over poker games

August 3, 2011

And it’s bullshit.

I mean, it’s POKER. It shouldn’t even be illegal. Nonetheless though, it seems to be. So why in the hell is Selig picking his nose into this? Leave it to the authorities. I know he and others hate A-Rod, but it’s not fair to the Yankees, who are contending for a World Series, to suspend one of their most pivotal players.

I also find it funny A-Rod could be suspendedfor playing poker and gambling, while many players only get a small thing known as a DUI, and MLB doesn’t give a shit. Good to see in their eyes poker is more dangerous than driving drunk putting yourself and others at risk of death.

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Robbie Cano knows BOOM!

November 28, 2010

After a stellar MVP-esque season from the New York Yankees star second baseman, Robinson Cano, I am obligated to reflect upon his monster season and look ahead to what we can expect from him in 2011, being that he’s my boy and all.

To many, 2010 was a coming out party for Robbie Cano. While Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, and Derek Jeter slumped for much of the season, Robbie put the team on his back- especially in the first half- posting a line of .319/.381/.534/.389/145 with a 6.4 fWAR over the span of 160 games and 696 PA. His bWAR was 6.1, giving him an aWAR (average WAR) of 6.3 (after you round up). He set career bests in OBP, SLG, wOBA, wRC+, HR, BB%, and WAR. When award season rolled around, Robbie swept the Gold Glove/Silver Slugger awards, implying he was the best second baseman in baseball this season, and finished third in AL MVP voting. It was quite the season for a kid who not too long ago had a pathetic 0.2 fWAR during a season in which he was benched for a lack of effort.

But was 2010 really a coming out party for Cano? In 2006, his second season in the majors, he posted a 2.9 fWAR in a shortened season, but his WAR/700 was 4.0 on the nose. In 2007 he posted a 4.7 fWAR and in 2009 he had a 4.4 fWAR. So before 2010, he already had great seasons before his 27th birthday. Thus, his 2010 really shouldn’t come as a surprise. He was simply developing. Granted, there was some luck involved, as is always the case when someone has a really good or really bad season. But as he is approaching his theoretical peak years, his true talent level is rising. Which is why with a little fortune on his side, he should have been expected to improve upon his 4-5 WAR seasons.

Moreover, the UZR scale that fangraphs uses hurts him. If one were to look at his bWAR, his career WAR total would jump from 18.7 to 23.9. His WAR totals from 2005-2009 would all increase. In fact, in the three seasons I highlighted in the previous paragraphs, his WAR, in order, would jump to 4.1, 5.6, and 5.1. That’s two near MVP level seasons instead of “simply” great seasons. The reason being defense.

UZR has Cano has a -36.8 fielder over the life of his career. Rally has him as a +31 fielder. I prefer UZR so I put more stock in those numbers, but DSR has him at -3 for his career. They say UZR needs to be paired with your eyes and the last two years, according to the FSR, he has been +13. UZR has him at -3.4 over the past two years and DSR has him at +14. I think it’s safe to say that Robbie has been and is an average-above average fielder, NOT the terrible fielder that UZR thinks he is. So his fWAR actually undermines Robbie’s defensive value, and thus, his overall value. If you to replace UZR with DSR, Robbie’s career WAR would climb from 18.7 to around 22.0. So yeah, Cano is probably even a little better than you would think by looking at his fWAR alone and not analyzing what comprises it. I mean, he has a career 18.7 fWAR which says his defensive value has been -36.8 runs. BUT, 21.5 of those runs are from his rookie season alone, when he was a terrible defender. I’m not saying those defensive runs allowed shouldn’t count, but they greatly skew his current totals, which conceals the fact that Robbie is actually decent fielder now.

That’s enough of a rant for now though. Let’s take a look at how Robbie put together his amazing season. The first thing I want to mention is PLATE DISCIPLINE. While it’s not a high mark, Robbie had a BB% of 8.2%, which was above his career 4.2% BB% entering the season. In fact, of his 186 career BB, 31% are from his 2010 season alone. What’s interesting though is that he didn’t actually seem to improve upon his plate discipline peripherals. His O-Swing% was a career high 36.5% while the rest of his peripherals are in line with his career averages. So this begs the question- what can we expect from Robbie in 2011?

Well, prior to the 2010 season, Robbie mentioned that A-Rod told him to take more “A-swings” in order to really drive the ball. Kevin Long also worked a ton with Robbie doing the “home-run drill” to help him pull the ball and develop, well, home-run power. The result was a career high ISO and SLG. In previous seasons, Robbie would show glimpses of greatness, but was often inconsistent because he would lose focus- whether it be defensively or offensively. That is not to be confused with work ethic. Whenever he slumped, the MSM would claim he was being lazy because of his laid back on-field demeanor. To me though, that’s lazy journalism. Anyone who follows the Yankees knows that, in large part due to Alex Rodriguez and Larry Bowa, Robbie is arguably the hardest working Yankee. He ALWAYS shows up for the optional BP. He gets to the park early, works his butt off in the off-season, and worked on his fielding so much that he went from TERRIBLE to above average with the glove in just a couple seasons.

2010 was the culmination of all his hard work. He finally had a consistent season where he suffered few lapses- defensively and offensively. In past years with the glove, he would go four months without an error and then commit three in a week. That cold stretch never happened this past season. His future success will depend on consistency. Can he keep the focus for another 162 straight games? If so, then we’re looking at an annual MVP candidate who will provide reliable defense and maintain an average BB rate. If not, then we’re looking at a guy who is unpredictable- great defense and hot hitting for weeks or months at a time, but also long stretches of some terrible performance.

Cano’s salary will be $10mil in 2011 and then climb to $14mil in 2012 and $15mil in 2013 if his options are picked up. So he will no longer be a “cheap” player for the Yankees. Considering the rising average age of the team and what that average age will be in 2012-2013, the Yankees need Robinson Cano to maintain his focus and continue to get better. If so, he could emerge as the best player on baseball’s most recognizable team. Hell, he could supplant Chase Utley as the premiere second baseman of baseball. On the other hand, he could become another overpriced good-but-not-great Bronx Bomber.

2011 will be a pivotal year for Robinson Cano if he wants to truly prove his worth. Here’s hoping he goes BOOM.

My take on a Justin Upton trade

November 21, 2010

The biggest rumor swirling around baseball these days is a potential Justin Upton trade. At first it seemed like Arizona was just toying around, but apparently they are serious and a few other teams want to get serious with Arizona. A potential trade of this magnitude has probably never occurred before in baseball  history.

I mean, we have a 23 year old All-Star, with a VERY FAVORABLE contract for the next five seasons, who has HALL OF FAME potential. A player like that isn’t put on the trade market very often. As Dave Cameron wrote back in July, “he’s not a star yet, but not only could he become one, he could be the best player in baseball”. I’d have to agree.

So lets do some calculations!

So for those keeping score, that’s a net value of $104.25mil! No joke. And if you ask me, his WAR estimates might even be a little too conservative. The scary part is that by age 27, he should just be entering his best seasons.

Using Victor Wang’s prospect value chart, we know that a top ten hitting prospect is worth $36.5mil, a top 11-25 hitter is worth $25.1mil, and a top level pitcher is worth about $15mil. So yeah, trading for Upton means trading away any prospect of value in your system.

As a Yankees fan, a trade is intriguing. We’d be getting a potential Hall of Fame, at the ripe age of 23, and chances are he’d be a Yankee for life well beyond 2015. As the Yankees deal with lofty contracts belonging Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, among others, Upton will be relatively cheap. Especially from 2011-2013. Swisher will be gone after 2011 or 2012 anyway, with no internal replacement in sight. Trading for Upton would allow New York to trade Swisher, who could fetch a couple decent prospects which would somewhat “re-stock” the system after a possible Upton trade. But who would the Yankees give up?

The first name to pop up is obviously Jesus Montero. He is the number one positional prospect in baseball and many project his bat to play like Frank Thomas or Manny Ramirez as a catcher, if he can stick there. Would I give up him? Yes, but it would hurt. It would hurt since he is so close to joining the team after so many years of being awesome the minors. I’ve been waiting forever for him to debut. But he is still just potential. He could flop and fail. Upton has succeeded in the ML already and has Hall of Fame potential, as I’ve mentioned. Give me the sure thing. Especially since he would then probably remain a Yankee well past 2015 when his current deal is up.

Who else would the Yankees have to give up? I’d imagine some names would be Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman, Manny Banuelos, Hector Noesi, and Ivan Nova. Outside Banuelos, I would give all of them up. Dellin could be a beast, but he does have a poor record of staying healthy and I don’t want to miss out on Upton because of the potential of a health-risk prospect. Despite giving up so many good pitching prospects, the Yankees would still have solid arms in Adam Warren, Jose Ramires, and Graham Stoneburner. Plus, we would still have Austin Romine, who I liken to Kurt Suzuki, and Gary Sanchez. Sanchez may be years away, but he is Montero 2.0 and could make us forget Jesus Montero, even if Montero goes onto a stellar career himself.

So if I’m the Yankees, I would seriously look into Justin Upton. What other team should get in on Upton? The Washington Nationals.

It’s time for winning baseball to return to the nation’s capital. They have a growing core in Stephen Strasburg, Ryan Zimmerman, and Bryce Harper. Trading for Justin Upton would give the team a dynamic group of superstars to build around. Zimmerman is arguably the best third baseman in the game. Upton and Strasburg could become the best in the game at what they do. Many think Harper is a prodigy. Having all four superstars on one team would be insane. The Miami Heat of baseball. Plus, they have the pieces to get a deal done. Derek Norris, Jordan Zimmerman, Ross Detwiler, Michael Burgess, Ian Desmond, Drew Storen, and so on. Let Arizona pick from anybody in the organization besides their current big three. I really hope Washington is one of the teams getting serious.

The final question is why is Arizona trading Upton? To be honest, I don’t know. He is the face of franchise and while he would bring back a lot of great prospect, why not just take the production he will give you for a well below market value contract? It’s not like Arizona is a shitty team. In the NL West they could easily compete sometime soon. Moreover, while he should fetch the equivalent of $100mil in value, I don’t think Arizona will get that much in actuality, so I think they will be ripped off. I would keep him, but I don’t know what direction Ken Towers want to take the franchise. So we’ll see how this plays out.

It should be fun.

Yankees trade Juan Miranda for Scott Allen

November 18, 2010

In other news, the Yankees traded 1b Juan Miranda for minor league pitcher Scott Allen.

This news makes me sad, because I love Juan “Man Child” Miranda. But it’s a solid move. I think Juan Miranda could be a useful ML player. Maybe not a starter, because he could get 300-400 PA against righties a year and hit above average with power. But he has no place on the Yankees in the foreseeable future. First base is blocked by Mark Teixeira. DH wouldn’t be an option since the Yankees have a revolving door for old players (Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez) and even some prospects (Jesus Montero).

So the return for Miranda should be small, but the Yankees did a good job on that small return. Scott Hall was a 2009 draft pick in the 11th round, so he’s got some talent. Last season he made 16 starts and threw 78 innings in A ball. He had a 9.12 K/9, 2.54 BB/9, 0.58 HR/9, and a 2.97 FIP. So he has some potential. He gives up a lot of fly balls which could become a problem, but for now, he looks promising. There is a great chance he never throws an inning for the Yankees at the ML level, but his promise is worth trading a 28 year old first baseman who has not future for sure with the Yankees. I mean, the kid isn’t even 20 yet.

Meanwhile, Arizona very well could have gotten a decent starting first baseman, in a hitters park, for a low level prospect. Solid trade all around.

Derek Jeter reaction

September 16, 2010

Unless you live in a cave by now you probably noticed the big sports story of the day is Derek Jeter fake being hit by a pitch, when the pitch really hit his bat.

I just want to say the play is okay. That type of acting is something that is taught in Little League. As a fan and teammate, I would be mad if Jeter or anyone else did not try to act like they got hit. It’s not a “classless” move like some believe.

People such as Rays manager Joe Maddon and former commisioner Fay Vincent both had no problems with Jeter’s acting. However, what if the player under the spotlight was Alex Rodriguez? I believe a fellow blogger (it might have been Joe Poz or someone else) brought up a similar question. Would the move be praised by certain baseball people if it was A-Rod? Or would the reaction be unanimously negative? I for one believe people would hate on A-Rod, bringing up a terrible double standard.

Finally, some people think that by faking being hit by a pitch, Jeter is resorting to a low life tactic in his poor offensive season. Sorry, but that is not a legit train of thought at all. First, the action is not “resorting” to anything. Second, he would have done the same thing in his prime. Why? Because all players would try selling it.

Congratulations to A-Rod on #600

August 5, 2010

And of course, he gets to keep the ball by going yard into Monument Park. Atta boy A-Rod.

Going forward though, can Alex Rodriguez hit 763? One would assume so since he is the youngest player to hit 600, but with how his season’s gone, it’s not as much a lock as it once was. His ISO has dipped to .209, his lowest mark since 1997.

I think it comes down to two things. Either his approach and/or his hip.

Approach) A-Rod has the worst BB% of the past decade for him, at 9.5%. His discipline also seems out of whack. His O-Swing% is 26.2%, well above his career norm of 20.9%. He’s also making contact 81.5% of the time, the first time in his career it’s above 80%. So he’s chasing pitches outside the zone more than ever, which is probably why he’s walking less. He’s also making contact with those pitches, but it’s weak contact. It seems like part of his success in the past was waiting for his pitch to drive and make good contact. So he would see lots of pitches, and not expand his zone. He may have swung and missed more, but he was taking good cuts. As A-Rod said in Spring Training about hitting:

“Have a plan with conviction,” Rodriguez said. “Look to do damage. Take your ‘A’ swing and drive the ball.”

Now he is chasing pitches and just going up there to hit the ball, rather than drive the ball. And driving the ball was a philosophy he always preached.

Hip) Scouts have said his bat speed and lower half have been slow this year. Watch him bat and you’ll notice the same thing. He can’t get around on inside pitches. He’s late and off-balance, causing him to pop it up on the first base side. His mechanics are out of whack. One reason could be his hip. He had surgery on it last year and came back fine. But he hurt it again earlier this season. If the hip injury is lingering, that could be why he has been slow. If that’s the case, hopefully he will be back to normal in 2011 and will put to rest any doubt that he can’t reach 600.

I’ve already talking about A-Rod and steroids, so you know I’m pulling for him, especially as a Yankees fan. Hopefully he’ll be completely healthy in the future, allowing him to drive the ball with authority again.

A-Rod, 600, and PED’s

July 29, 2010

As A-Rod continues his quest to home run number 600, it has come without much hoopla. While one would expect all major sports networks to follow his every PA, but only MLBN has done so. In fact, the story is not the home run, but rather the fact it has not received much attention. And why is that? Steroids.

Records are the most sacred aspect of baseball history and folklore. As kids growing up we learn about the Babe and 714 and Aaron and 756. We learned about Cy Young and 511 and Cal Ripken and 2632. Those numbers and records were pure and the essence of our love for the game. Once those records were ripped apart in what seemed like the blink of an eye, baseballs innocence was ruined to many. All those who contributed to the fall of the sacred baseball record books have became the target of fan disgust, and even hatred. So it’s no surprise no one cares about A-Rod and home run number 600. He cheated. That’s it, game over, you lose. He can hit all the homers he wants, but few will appreciate it. As the great Joe Posnanski writes:

But even to those who have come to grips with the Selig Era and the simple fact that all the numbers in the record books are distorted by one queasy fact or another, the 600 home run number STILL feels used up. It is like someone struggling to climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro, reaching the peak and finding that people had already built a McDonald’s, a Home Depot and a Best Buy up there.

That statement is true. It sums up a feeling EVERY fan I have encountered has. And deservedly so.

But is the cold shoulder given to A-Rod and others like him fair?

The reason I ask is because there are all sorts of PED’s and some get a free pass while some do not. A big no-no is HGH. But most fans don’t understand HGH. It really doesn’t enhance performance. Rather, it helps players heal faster from injuries. The reason it’s a no-no is because it’s illegal. But if a player is ever caught using HGH, I wouldn’t care, and neither should you. The player probably took it to recover faster from an injury.

The next big one is anabolic steroids- mainly testosterone. If a player is caught using this, be upset. It’s meant to make you bigger and stronger. Does that make you better at baseball? No. But will it make you hit a ball farther or run faster or throw harder? Yeah, probably, because you get more out of your workout making you a better athlete.

Now, A-Rod tested positive for testosterone back in 2003. He said he used from 2001-2003, during his time as a Texas Ranger. Is he to be believed? That we may never know. By using the eye test, I believe he started using in 2001. He was a skinny dood on the Mariners. It wasn’t until he became a Rangers that his legs and body really grew. Additionally, his reasoning makes sense. A-Rod said he felt pressure after signing the highest contract in baseball history. We all know A-Rod had an identity crisis. So that reasoning fits in perfectly with his past mindset. In Seattle he played with other future HOF’ers in Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr, and Edgar Martinez. The spotlight was never on him. But then he signed the biggest contract in baseball, which put a target on his back. He was the face of a franchise. He was the star and it was all up to him. So yeah, I do buy the pressure explanation he gave. As for more evidence, look at his stats from his debut through 2003. From 2001-2003 he had his three best seasons in HR and ISO to that point. Is that conclusive evidence? No- but it’s a start. At the same time though, offense in general was up during that time frame and he didn’t even post wRC+ or wOBA that were better than seasons he had in Seattle before he used.

But when did he quit? I would assume after 2003 when he was caught. If it means anything, his first season as a Yankee saw a big decline in production from his 2001-2003 seasons. Was that him adjusting to life without performance enhancers for the first time in three years? Maybe, maybe not.

A writer in SI said that if you take away his steroid years, he’d have around 358 homers currently. That is wrong. Assuming he only used from 2001-2003, he would have 443 home runs. But let’s be real. If he didn’t use, I doubt he would have homered zero times in three seasons. We can’t say how much steroids helped him. He was playing in a hitters park during a high scoring run environment during his age 26-28 seasons. Chances are he still would have hit 40-60 home runs and thus, still would have been just a few homers away from 600 anyway. It’s not like he was Barry Bonds on the downswing of a career. A-Rod will still getting better. And I mean, he was on pace to be an all-time player before he took steroids.

So why do I bring all this up? Greenies.

Anabolic steroids are the worst offense when it comes to doping in baseball (as of now). A-Rod and other record breakers used anabolic steroids. They got bigger and their performance was enhanced- to a degree we can’t gauge. But greenies or amphetamines are a dandy little PED as well. The benefit of greenies are:

amphetamines may provide some minor, short-term benefits. Current research shows that 10-30 mg methamphetamine may improve reaction time, and cognitive function, increase the feelings of alertness, decrease a sense of fatigue and increase euphoria.

Hmmm, let’s see. There are 162 games in a season, with few off days, lots of travel, little sleep, and some day games after night games. Sometimes a player will lag and not feel up to playing at his best. But pop a greenie and boom, you feel alert and ready to play. Moreover, you have improved reaction time and focus, which will help when you’re trying to hit a 95 mph fastball. Sure, with greenies it’s all psychological. You don’t actually lose your fatigue- the drug just fools your mind. But it is a benefit and allows players to maybe make a play or get a big hit they wouldn’t have got otherwise.

Greenies aren’t quite as bad as steroids, but I’d say it’s pretty darn close. And guess what? Lots and lots and lots and lots and lots of players used greenies. Bonds failed an amphetamines test. Hank Aaron lived on greenies. But people don’t understand the benefits of greenies, or underestimate them. The amphetamine problem has largely been ignored by the common fan. Yet if they fan took the time to realize the affect of greenies, then they would be as up in arms with them as they are with steroids. If that was the case, lots of players would be under scrutiny, not the select few like A-Rod who got caught with A-Rod.

No, I am not defending A-Rod. He used anabolic steroids, which is a big no-no. But if we are going to damn him for it, we need to damn people who used greenies as well (which is everyone). Hank Aaron? See ya!

It’s only fair.