Yoan Moncada Impresses in Debut

Reposted from MLB.com

By Ian Browne / MLB.com | @IanMBrowne | February 29th, 2016

FORT MYERS, Fla. — The 20-year-old who wore No. 22 for the Red Sox in Game 2 of Monday’s college doubleheader was not your typical Minor League “extra.” He didn’t play like one, either.

Yoan Moncada flicked his wrists at the first pitch he saw and hammered a double to right in Boston’s 8-3 victory over Northeastern University at JetBlue Park.

An inning later, the switch-hitter moved to the right side of the plate and smacked one through the hole and into left for an RBI single.

A year after his much-ballyhooed signing with the Red Sox, Moncada got a chance to play for the team he hopes to join permanently in the near future. His 2-for-2 performance included a run and an RBI.

“I feel great to be called up for my first-ever Spring Training, and I’m looking forward to giving the best of me and putting my best foot forward as the season goes on,” Moncada said through an interpreter.

Moncada on his development
Ranked by MLBPipeline.com as Boston’s top prospect and the No. 7 prospect in the game, Moncada will spend Spring Training in Minor League camp, but this isn’t expected to be his last cameo on the big field.

“With someone who has the talents of Yoan, you’d like to get as much exposure as you can within reason, and I think every opportunity that presents itself that he can come over and get into games rather than just come over and back up and wonder if he’s going to get in a game, we’d like to take advantage of that,” said Red Sox manager John Farrell.

There will be no complaints from Moncada if the Red Sox want to keep bringing him up.

“The first thing I want to do is be prepared, but I have thought of being put in in these games a lot, and I expect to be put in a lot,” he said.

Top Prospects: Moncada, BOS
Moncada spent all of his abbreviated first professional season at Class A Greenville, and the club hasn’t said which affiliate he will open with this year. But his advancement through the system likely isn’t going to take more than a year or two, at most.
“That’s always been my dream,” Moncada said. “I want to have that Red Sox jersey on my body and I’m looking forward to — if not this year — then next year.”

You don’t have to watch Moncada for long to see why he arrived with such advance billing.

“He’s a really physically gifted young man,” said Farrell. “A lot of notoriety, a lot of attention coming off of his first full season in the States here, and you see the compact swing both sides of the plate. He’s got obviously well-above-average running speed. He’s just got a very bright future ahead of him.”
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Greatest Baseball Movies of All Time [And Poll for Readers Choice]

What qualifies as a baseball movie?  For me it is anything that features a significant plot time focused towards baseball, excluding a backdrop plot setting.

I googled backdrop plot and found nothing is that a real term? ”  Nope.  I just made it up.  Think about it, a ‘backdrop’ is a painted scenery in play to give a visual.  So in my term I am using it to signify that a movie takes place with a baseball plot engine but has no real baseball beauty, ‘Fever Pitch‘ for instance.

So if a movie takes place in the stands or features a character who is a baseball player (Upside of Anger) but the plot is not baseball it is not on this list, I am trying to keep it focused squarely on baseball.  As much as I love ‘Brewster’s Millions‘ it is not truly a baseball film.

This list is a top 9.  Why?  Because there are nine players on the field.

I will try not to give a synopsis of the films as they have all been seen (or should be) and focus more on what makes them special.

NOTE: Below the list is a poll, you are free to vote and add your own choices.  Enjoy🙂

1. Bull Durham – Bull Durham captured the beauty of baseball like no other film on this list.  It showed the comradery, the fun, the downs and the teammate tensions.  If you have ever read Dom DiMaggio’s Real Grass, Real Heroes he tells you that players today will never have the same connection as players of the past because they don’t pack into buses or trains and have to make conversation for hours on end, it’s a beautiful book that you should read.  Bull Durham could have been filmed right from his memoirs the way teammates related and bonded… to a point, DiMaggio never told a tale of a catcher selling out his pitchers sign to instill their dominance.  Kevin Costner has made a career out baseball films and he excels at the role of Crash Davis like no other character he has portrayed.  The chemistry of Costner and Tim Robbins really is some of the best acting in a sports film, particularly their on-field interactions.

2. 42 – This choice was a real struggle, I wanted to put it first, but being a few years old I really felt it was the newness of the film that was causing my conundrum.  In 10-years if I am still blogging I may look back on #2 as a mistake.

Fans and players owe Jackie Robinson a thank you everyday, and that is why the number 42 is, and should be, retired in every park in baseball.  Robinson carried himself like a true hero in the face of racism and hate.  Richard Justice wrote of MLK’s feelings in a January 20th column on the pair:

Shortly before his assassination in 1968, King told former Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe, “You’ll never know how easy you and Jackie and [Larry] Doby and [Roy Campanella] made it for me to do my job by what you did on the baseball field.”

“Imagine,” Newcombe told the New York Post’s Peter Vecsey in 2009, “here is Martin getting beaten with billy clubs, bitten by dogs and thrown in jail, and he says we made his job easier.”

While some baseball experts have pointed out some inconsistencies or liberties taken with the film to tell the story it is still fairly accurate and the facts remain the same, Jackie walked into baseball with his chin up and took every punch the opposition could throw at him and showed that he would not give them the satisfaction of sinking to their level.

Historically, this is a film every child should see to understand how far we as people have come and how sad it is that we still have so far to go.

3. Moneyball – I almost did not add this film because it might violate my own rules, but the World Series is not won and lost on the field, unless the people in those expensive suites offer contracts those players never take the field.  This film gives you a look at how every team wheels and deals and why your favorite team trades your favorite utility man for later considerations.

4. Major League – No film has put together a better cast of supporting characters, case in point, every time you hear the name Cerrano anywhere the first phrase/response that comes to mind is, “F*ck you Jobu.”

Major League is one of those films you can watch every time it is on cable and it never gets old, or unfunny.

5. For Love of the Game – Kevin Costner part deux.  It was brilliant to write a film from the perspective of a pitcher making his final start and his life being relived in mere moments between pitches.  So much goes through every players mind at every level of the game, and to use that mode to tell a story worked near perfectly.  If they for some reason had left out the cheesy “Clear the mechanism” lines it would have honestly made the film a classic that would have competed for first.

6. Bang the Drum Slowly – This film is why they thought The Fan was a good idea.  If Robert DiNiro can act in one baseball film he can make any baseball film great.  Right?  Wrong.  If The Fan was good I probably still would not list it here because it really is a thriller that takes place at a baseball stadium, that is like calling Sudden Death a hockey film.

7. Heading Home – Babe Ruth is not an actor by any mean of the term, but he has charisma.  The charisma that makes him loved by everyone 60 years after his death.  Playing himself he just has this presence and lovability that you hope he was like in life.

8. Field of Dreams – I never cared much for this film until I had a child, and when I had a son and the power of the film really hit me.

9. The Jackie Robinson Story – Like Ruth in Heading Home, Jackie Robinson plays himself in a watered down version of his biography of the same title.  It is great to see Jackie in his own words for fans who are much to young to have ever seen him play, but head to head with 42 this film is no match in quality, but still a masterpiece on its own.  You have to also remember this film was released in 1950 and to have shown the levels of hatred and racism towards African-American that is displayed in 42 it probably would not have made it to film.

Utility Man (ie honorable mention) Babe Ruth Shorts – You could not consider these 5 shorts filmed in 1932 movies, they are only about 10 minutes each.

  • Fancy Curves
  • Just Pals
  • Over the Fence
  • Perfect Control
  • Slide, Babe, Slide

As his playing days were winding down Ruth film a series of short films that each focused on a baseball skill and focused on Babe teaching a youngster to be a better ballplayer.  Like in Heading Home, Babe plays himself and is just flat-out humorous.

Greatest Baseball Songs

I am going to catch some heat for this list, music is so subjective and listener based that nearly every list will be different for sure.  To lesssn some of that blow back my list is in random order as they came to the page.

Before anyone asks where “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” is, I thought it would be best left in its own category along with songs like the “National Anthem” or “Amazing Grace” that are cultural treasures rather than a commercial song.

Centerfield by John Fogerty is a special song to baseball in my opinion, it’s not directed towards any one team or even a league of play, it is the desires of a every child and player who has ever held a ball in their hand, to just play the game.  Several legends receive their shout outs including one fictional character, but the song is not an homage as many in history have been.

Whenever I am watching Bull Durham or hearing it at a park the song never grows old, it makes me feel like playing.

Bill Lee by Warren Zevon is actually a horrible and quirky song, but like an ugly dog it is so bad it is good and like its namesake incredibly odd.  I honestly can not listen to it all that often but if there was ever a song that so perfectly reflected it’s message it is “Bill Lee.”

Paradise by the Dashboard Light by Meatloaf is not as traditional a baseball tune as any other on this list, in fact the song is not really about baseball, it is about two teens making out in a car on Lover’s Lane.  Once you throw in the baseball to add significance and description to their “doings” it becomes sort of a baseball song.  But when you use Phil Rizzuto to do the deed it is a damn great baseball song.  Probably the most mainstream style music on this list, you could hear “Dashboard” playing on most any passerby’s car with a different feeling in each listener.

Tessie by the Dropkick Murphys is sometime forgotten as a baseball song, not by Bostonians, but by Hardcore Punk fans who love the Dropkicks.  Even Sox fans sort of miss the meaning because most don’t understand Tessie is not some girl, “Tessie” is a Broadway tune that the Boston teams sang to the opposition to distract them in the early 1900’s.  The Dropkicks took that history and turned it into a tune about the Rooters who sang a tune.  Why Fenway plays “Sweet Caroline” in the 7th rather than “Tessie” is a mystery to me.

To the Veterans Committee by the Baseball Project is one of dozens of great songs from a supergroup formed of three REM members and two alternative rockers who have a long history in the genre.  All of their songs are about baseball as their band name suggests, but this one is extra-special for any fan of Dale Murphy and a rallying cry to plead his case as a forgotten member of the Hall of Fame.  They also have a great tune titled, “13” that calls out specifically one PED user, but really is a message to all.

I could run this list all day long.  What are your favorite tunes?

Top 9 Reasons Baseball is Still America’s Pastime (not football.)

If you ask Average Joe (or Jane) American what the biggest sport in United States is the answer very well be the N.F.L.  Ratings don’t lie, it is the most watched sport, but that doesn’t mean it stays number 1 forever, N.B.A. ruled the 90’s for a time when some guy named Michael was playing hoops.

But here are nine undisputed reasons why baseball still is and always will be our National Pasttime. Wait, nine?  Yes, nine.  Nine innings in baseball, nine reasons.

Longevity and players for decades – Aside from the quarterbacks and kickers football players take so much physical abuse it is not surprising that a player’s career lasts only 3 years on average, no matter how good you are, your body can only withstand a few hundred hits between 300-pound men.  Seeing a player like Tom Brady who has been around for 15 years is more surprising than hearing that a 29-year old like Marshawn Lynch is hanging it up after only 9-years.  More power to you M.L., get out while you still have your knees and your mind.

Aside from a few stars most N.F.L. rosters are more active than an airport departure board, it seems just as soon as you beginning to identify a player they are injured or someone a step faster is taking their snaps.  Most players have a longer NCAA career then they do with the NFL.

Baseball, on the other hand, star players are typically hanging it up around 18 to 20 years.  Not to say players in ball don’t swap rosters, but your mainstays are there, guys like Trout, Ortiz, Cabrera, Tanaka, Bumgarner, or McCutchen are going to likely grown old with a city and if they move on, they will play well into their 40s with another club.

Kids grow old with their baseball heroes, kids born in 2012 will likely start college before Bryce Harper hangs up his glove for the last time.  How is that for Harper jersey longevity?  Being able to identify a player like Clayton Kershaw over 20 years not only gives fans continued player recognition it also transitions into a legacy.

All sports have their legends, but the number of baseball players you can identify from past generations compared to other sports is just no competition.  You can ask a 10 year old today who Franco Harris is and he may likely stare at you, but throw out Yaz, Stargell, Morgan, Bench or Carew they will say baseball; they can maybe even tell you 3 teams Reggie and Nolan played for over their careers.

The All Star Game v The Pro Bowl – This is a no brainer, find me one N.F.L. die-hard that looks forward to this game and I will show you a liar.  Not only do the fans not care, but the players can’t be bothered.  Honestly, can you blame them?  If they are a playoff team they are likely a week or two from playing and just too sore to play another game.  And if you are a regular season failure then it is dead smack in the middle of off-season and you are just back to home routine and family, no one needs that trouble.

But I don’t need to tell you the reasons the All Star Game is not only better than the Pro Bowl, but the best All Star showcase in sports, especially since Major League Baseball gave meaning to the game by deciding home field advantage in the World Series.  Baseball is a game that works at a casual level.

Unless you live in WY you can watch pro baseball – There are 30 Major League teams, 240 affiliated Minor League clubs and 50 or so Independent League teams spread across the Continental United States.  There are about 30 pro teams in each of the major sports, Baseball and hockey are the only 2 sports with any kind of successful development league with their fans.

Getting to a game can be time-consuming and expensive.  Going to minor league games can be fun to see new young stars and also convenient because some days you just don’t want to have the kids in traffic and parking lots for half the day.

Cooperstown Hall of Fame – Canton, Toronto and Springfield have their place but they are just not the hallowed hall.  This is the easiest argument to make, every year in December you start hearing the talk: “Who should get in?”  “No he won’t be elected!” “Will Ken be the first unanimous vote?”

Sure Jordan and Wayne have coverage when they entered their Hall of Fame, but without Wikipedia can you name last years HoF inductees in football, hockey or basketball?  Probably not, but most people can tell you who was elected to Cooperstown the last decade.  Baseball’s Hall is just special.

Cost – As much as fans of the Red Sox and Yankees complain of their league high $50.00 average ticket price it is nothing compared to their N.F.L. counterpart’s in the Patriots and Giants who shell out an average of $125.00 per seat.   The average price league wide in the Majors is $25.00 per ticket with four teams averaging under $20.00, with one of those teams being the Pirates who have been hot the past few years.  Compare that to the N.F.L. who averages $85.00 a seat with the lowly Jaguars still getting $57.00 a seat.

A game a day from April to November – While there was once something to be said about Football being a Sunday thing it is a time of the past.  Now we have football Monday night, Thursday night, Saturday night and Sunday.   Baseball has always had its place as a long grueling season of 162-games across 200 days.

Baseball cards – Kids don’t put Gronk cards in their spokes, well they don’t really ride bikes anymore… but if they did, it would be ole Topps originals and probably the checklist.  Kids and adults alike have always be drawn to collecting and sure people want a Brady jersey insert or a Newton rookie but people don’t collect football like they collect baseball cards.

Flow of the game – Don’t confuse this with length of the game.  Football is a 3 hour game with 11 minutes of action.  I don’t mean 11 intense minutes, I mean 11 minutes of players doing work.  the other 2 hours and 45 minutes are huddles, snap counts and players walking around post play.

You go to a football game expecting to see running and hitting and it is like waiting in line for the concession stands.  A lot of waiting for a stomach ache.

Baseball is like a chess game, slow and methodical.  The action is in the precision.  Seeing Jose Fernandez make a batter look stupid standing still banking on an off speed and the fastball is by him before he is done shifting weight.  Baseball is meant to be played in the mind before it is played with athletics.  Why else is it the most stat filled sport we have?  It is a mathematicians supermodel.

Legacy –  No sport has a legacy like baseball.  Lou Gehrig and Jackie Robinson still to this day hold an effect on our society.  Jackie Robinson is considered second only to Martin Luther as a civil rights pioneer for playing baseball.  How many of you dumped ice water on your head for Pete Frates a few summers ago?

Not only are the stars there from our childhood to the grave but baseball itself holds a legacy in our own pasts.  Children celebrate their first glove, their first catch.  Communities come out to little league.  Baseball is a game the community celebrate together.  As we age we remember catch with our fathers and our first game or our last.  It is a memory that connects to who we are and where we came from.

Commissioner Rob Manfred’s letter to fans

Dear Fans:

On the night of August 14, 2014, I left a Baltimore hotel after being elected Commissioner of Baseball. As I began to reply to the overwhelming number of congratulatory messages coming in, it hit me that I’d just been entrusted to protect the integrity of our National Pastime and to set a course that allows this great game to continue to flourish — now and in the years to come. Needless to say, I was deeply honored by the trust the owners placed in me.

Today is my first day as Commissioner, and I am incredibly excited to get to work. I am grateful to Commissioner Selig for his expertise and friendship. His leadership set a direction that led to historic success.

The mission before us is clear: To honor the game’s history while welcoming new people to our great sport — people who will one day pass their love of baseball down through the generations. That is what our parents and grandparents did for us, and it is what we are doing for our own children. Baseball is a game firmly rooted in childhood experiences, and its vitality and growth rely heavily on giving young people from all backgrounds the opportunity to play and watch baseball.

This notion that baseball is the game of children is central to my core goals as Commissioner. Maybe that is because my own Little League experience in upstate Rome, New York was such an important part of my childhood. I will never forget my intense dedication to that club and to my teammates — each of whom I can still name to this day — and being part of a perfect game.

My top priority is to bring more people into our game — at all levels and from all communities. Specifically, I plan to make the game more accessible to those in underserved areas, especially in the urban areas where fields and infrastructure are harder to find. Giving more kids the opportunity to play will inspire a new generation to fall in love with baseball just as we did when we were kids. Expanding Little League, RBI and other youth baseball programs will also help sustain a steady and wide talent pool from which our clubs can draw great players and create lifelong fans.

As Commissioner, I will draw closer connections between youth baseball and MLB.  I want to inspire children’s interest in baseball and help parents and coaches foster that passion. In the coming years, MLB will work with college, high school, amateur and youth baseball programs to help grow our game and to ensure that the best players and talent have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. I call it “One Baseball” — a partnership between all professional and amateur groups involved in our game.

Our children can look at MLB today and find a wave of new stars worthy of emulating both on and off the field. Players like Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Trout and aces Madison Bumgarner,Felix Hernandez and Clayton Kershaw have powerful stories to tell — and MLB will tell them across every platform. We will continue to internationalize our game and to celebrate the fact that we have the most diverse rosters in the world. Our mission is to build upon this recent success by creating opportunities for the next wave of baseball talent. We also must continue to nurture inclusive environments for all the contributors to our game and our loyal fans.

Another priority for me is to continue to modernize the game without interfering with its history and traditions. Last season’s expanded instant replay improved the game’s quality and addressed concerns shared by fans and players. We made a dramatic change without altering the game’s fundamentals. I look forward to tapping into the power of technology to consider additional advancements that will continue to heighten the excitement of the game, improve the pace of play and attract more young people to the game.

The Major League Clubs have bestowed an extraordinary opportunity upon me.  My pledge is to work every single day to honor their faith in me and your love of this game.

Robert D. Manfred, Jr.
Commissioner of Baseball

It’s a Shame You Are Not There: Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Every few ballots a player of great talent finally makes it into the Hall of Fame after a decade of close votes.  It took Jim Rice 15-years and a final close call of 76% to become forever enshrined.  Jim Rice was only 25% his first year, in my opinion you are either a Hall of Famer or you are not, I do believe Rice deserved the honor, but why the drastic change in their opinion of his worthy nature?

  • Did new writers come in?
  • Did Rice have a difficult relationship with the voters that caused them to shun him?
  • Was it that when Rice came into voting maturity in 1995 that steroids and PEDs were rampant?  The ideal hitter was now a .330 45HR 130RBI player and during Rice’s prime he was not even close to such consistent production.

My money is on PEDs in Rice’s case (or lack of), this is not always the case for votees.  This is my little honor to players who did not make the BWAA cut into the Hall.  *Note player must have no BBWAA eligibility due to 15 years or 5%.

Don Mattingly: For 6 Seasons Donnie Baseball was the best first baseman in baseball, he averaged about .330 batting average and averaged about 25-30 home runs while knocking in a consistent 110 RBI and topping out in 1985 at 145 the year he won the AL MVP.  Mattingly had Hall of Fame written on the back of more than one Topps baseball card, he was finishing in the top 5 in MVP regularly and winning the Gold Glove yearly.

His ability to produce was not hampered by a struggling Yankees team, it ultimately was not pitching or a better hitter that put an end to Mattingly’s reign, it was a back injury.  After hurting his back he only once hit .300 and that was just barely and his HR numbers dipped to the teens, while his RBIs were a two digit tally.  His defense never lingered continuing to annually have his name etched onto the Rawlings trophy.

Ask any New Yorker to name his top 5 Yankees and you will often hear Donnie Baseball above the likes of the immortals.  That is what you can do in New York in only 6 years.

Dale Murphy: While voters actually have a valid argument against Mattingly, as long as they consistently vote against short career peeks, there is no excuse for Murphy to not have a place in Cooperstown.

Winning 2 MVPs, finishing top 10 4 times, 2 home run titles, 2 RBI titles is just the awards he won on paper, but his career stats are filled with consistent production, 12 of his 18 year playing career was over 150 games played, and keep in mind his final 2 seasons were limited to 20 games.  During his prime he missed very few games, and very few balls hit in his direction, winning 6 gold gloves after moving from catcher to the outfield.

Aside from being a great player Murphy was a player that every fan respected and few if any rooted against, find me a person who doesn’t like Dale Murphy and I will introduce you to a person with a heart of coal.  Being liked doesn’t make you a Hall of Famer or Rob Deer would have a plaque, but it certainly does not hurt.

So why doesn’t Dale Murphy have a plaque?  The same reason Rickey Henderson, Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Hank Aaron were not elected with 100%, the BBWAA has members that do not vote based on any rhyme or reason.  Those are probably 4 of the most accomplished players of modern time and in each case 25 of 500 baseball writers did not feel they should be honored among the greatest players.  If that is not an injustice I don’t know what is.

Dom DiMaggio: Most people would call a man like Dom lucky.  He shared a dinner table with one of the greatest legends of the sport and shared a clubhouse with that players greatest rival and every bit as talented.  Brother to Joe Dimaggio and teammate of Ted Williams, connected eternally to two of the immortals, but also playing in both of their shadows, never getting more than 11% of the needed ballot votes.

DiMaggio gave 3 of his best years to the Country he called home, joining the Navy from 1943 to 1945 with many other players of the time to serve their Country in World War II.  Upon returning from service continued to hit well above .300 and race around the bases for triple after triple.

While the BBWAA did not feel DiMaggio left enough of a mark, each year he made the All-Star team and in two of those years actually started in center field over brother Joe who moved to right field.

Dwight Gooden: Pedro Martinez is widely considered on of the greatest pitchers of his generation, he was dominant for 6 years (over 7 seasons, one lost to injury) where no one in baseball could hit him.  Doc was also dominant and unhittable for 6 season over 7 years, the one shining difference is that Doc was dominant from seasons 1-7 of a 16 year career and Pedro placed his dominance right in the prime of his career and had a nice bell shape to his assent and decline; Doc unfortunately had a peak from day one and slowly declined never pitching as well as he did those first two seasons.

I understand it is harder to look at a player who struggled for nearly a decade of dominance and call him a great, but when you compare the numbers in their top seasons the numbers don’t lie, Doc has as much claim to the HoF as Pedro.

Dave Parker: One of the most feared hitters of the 1970s, unfortunately I can only remember his waning years as an aging but still clutch hitter primarily for the Oakland A’s.  But Dave Parker and Willie Stargell were every bit the dynamic duo as Canseco and McGwire and Mantle and Maris while the Pirates dominated those final years of 1970, imagine the mess they would have made if their careers peaked at the same time not 6 years apart.

I wanted to keep this list to 5, here are a few that I really struggled with Steve Garvey, Luis Tiant, Ron Guidry, Willie Randolph, and Harold Baines.

Sometimes the Best Move is the Move You Don’t Make

We are about halfway between crowing the San Francisco Giants World Series Champions and beginning the quest all over again on Opening Day.  While the we only have about 3 weeks before Spring Training reports, the majority of movements between teams are done, save for Cole Hamels potentially putting on a new cap.  But truly Max Scherzer was the last big dog in my humble opinion.

This season the Yankees have foregone something they have not done in a long, long time… Making a splash in the free agent market.  The Yankees are typically setting the tempo for the off season making a pitch or signing the biggest name but you heard little more than rumors about the Yankees pursuing Pablo Sandovol, Hanley Ramirez, Scherzer, Jon Lester, Ervin Santana and the other big names of the winter.

Sure the Yanks avoided arbitration with Michael Pineda and gave him a nice payday, personally I would have taken the chance and signed him longer than a year, but I understand the arm concern and his recent seasons of missed time, but the guy is potentially a dark horse Cy Young candidate if he can stay healthy all of 2015.  They tossed some pocket change at Chris Capuano and Stephen Drew, but they will probably (sadly) let Ichiro walk and Hiroki Kuroda has already made his return to his homeland for a farewell tour.

But this year the Yankees did something else, they let their experienced arm in David Robertson sign for 46 million (4 years at 11.5 average) in Chicago.

The Yankees let a star walk for 12 million?  Yes they did.

Was it the right move? Yes it was.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not going to bad mouth Robertson, he had some struggles, his ERA went up a full run per 9 and his hits and HRs increased, but the team was distracted and struggling and he still raised his strikeout rate from 10/9 to 13/9 which is significant and a bigger plus than his ERA increasing when you consider raw stats.

In exchange for Robertson moving west to Chicago the Yankees will anchor their bullpen with a combination of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller.  Betances spent 2014 as Robertson’s set up man and preformed far above anyone’s expectations finishing 3rd in the AL Rookie voting and earning an All-Star nod from rival coach John Farrell.  Betances shut down unsuspecting hitters with a triple digit fastball and a devastating slider combo to the tune of 135 Ks in 90 innings and a 1.40 ERA.

The Yankees best and only free agent signing of 2015 was former Red Sox bullpen tool, Andrew Miller who split 2014 with the Orioles and Sox.  Miller has impressively spent the last 3 seasons north of 13 strikeouts over 9 innings and averaged a staggering 2 home runs a season.  The Yankees gave Miller, an unproven closer 9 million over the next for years.

Which together makes this decision to allow Robertson walk very out of character for a team who is synonymous with favoring proven experience over projected talent.

While experience is the Yankees standard operating procedure this move was right for 3 reasons.

  • In baseball money Miller and Robertson make the same pay and in all honesty Robertson is the smart choice of around 10 million if you sign one. But signing Miller allows the Yankees to have a clean slate. Betances and Miller can compete for the closer role, or share the role and there is not controversy, they both are in a position to have to earn the role they play.
  • Proving they can and will let talent walk will cut down on agents and players pitting the Yankees against themselves and overpaying a player to keep them in pinstripes.
  • The last time the Yankees let a veteran closer walk and went with a quality second year set up man in their closer role some guy named Mariano Rivera owned the mound for nearly 2 decades in the Bronx.  History loves to follow the Yankees.

Will Dellin Betances become the next Mo? No. One thing the Yankees are great at creating is individual legends. Gehrig was not the next Ruth, Mantle was never the next DiMaggio, and Jeter was not the next Andy Stankiewicz, each player took the mantle (no pun intended) and made a space in Yankee legacy all for themselves.

To Be or Not to Be: Mike Piazza in the Hall

The biggest push for Mike Piazza as a Hall of Fame candidate is the statement, “Mike Piazza is top offensive catcher in the history of baseball.”  This is true, his numbers are far and above beyond the typical catcher in baseball at the plate.  If you are going to recognize Piazza as a great offensive catcher you must weigh those numbers with his production behind the plate.  Putting Piazza defense on the weight block should count for something if you are going to call his numbers against other catchers in baseball history.

Piazza was the worst defensive catcher in 3 of his 16 major league seasons.  He was also 2nd worst twice, third once and forth another two more times.  That make half of Piazza’s seasons in baseball as top 4 worst catcher behind the plate for the big leagues.  How can you at that point justify Piazza numbers against his peers (Fisk, Rodriguez, Molina) who have some of the best defensive numbers in history.

To honestly weigh Piazzas candidacy you have to throw the status of catcher out the window and base his worthiness on his offensive numbers against other hitters.

Piazza’s stat line:
6911 AB, 2127 hits, 427 HR, 1335 RBIs, 1113 SO, 759 BB .308 BA, .377 OBP, .545 SLG, 229 GiDP

Here is a mystery hitter of Piazza era that was free of steroid allegations with very similar at bats.

7283 AB, 2030 hits, 473 HR, 1512 RBIs, 1745 SO, 1109 BB, .280 BA, .383 OBP, .546 SLG, 152 GiDP

As you can see their numbers are very close, Piazza has a slightly higher batting average, but mystery player has an edge on power and runs generated.  You could argue that these players balance their peaks and valleys against one another and their value at the plate is near equal.

Who is this mystery player?

Carlos Delgado who received 21 total HoF votes and 3% making him ineligible for future consideration on ballots.  Delgado was likely evaluated on offensive numbers alone as he was not considered a good fielder, in fact at firstbase he was considered one of the worst of his peers finishing with highs in errors in 3 seasons, twice as second highest, once as third and 3 times as fifth worst; another strong similarity with Piazza.

Let the numbers speak for themselves, Piazza is being over valued even at 60% of the HoF vote.

Focusing on the Playoffs everyday of the year.

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