I am late on this and i apologize but I was busy with daddy duties this morning. I know most people know by now that the breaking news by Sports Illustrated is that Arod tested positive for steroids in 2003. I know lots of people can't believe it or think its a conspiracy or just hate the guy and are going to boo him even more. The thing about this is i am so sick of the steroid thing, i am not suprised anymore I just assume that they were all using and that is that. If Arod thought the book fallout is bad, thats a non issue now, once he hits Tampa for spring training this will be a story that won't go away, will it affect him, i don't know but I would think it would. I hope this doesn't stop the team, maybe they will all just rally around him for better or worse and carry this through the season to the World Series. I don't know how Girardi will handle this either, he has had a contentious relationship with the media and I could see this irritating him to no end when the media comes to him. I just wanted to point out also that this story has 4 sources and seems to be a very legit story. I am interested to see who else is out there but no one is more of a story then Arod. Brian Cashman has had no comment and Arod said talk to the union that he isn't going to discuss this right now. What a way to start spring training for the Yanks and Arod.
You can check out the lohud Yankees blog for more information. http://yankees.lhblogs.com
We are now a week away from pitchers and catchers and I couldn't be more excited. Derek Jeter said the other day this is the most excited he has been in a few seasons and I agree with him, we have some pitching and a non statue at first base, no offense to the Big G. I wanted to do a little spring training preview. I want to list what I think the batting order and rotation will be as well as the bullpen.
Coke or Melancon
I think Gardner will win the CF job but Melky had a good winter season and it will be interesting to see if he is motivated and plays better then Gardner. I think Nady and Swisher should stay and will stay and I think Joe G will find a way to work them all in. I would watch for Posada and Matsui to see how they bounce back, if they are healthy then this will be a very good lineup. I think the bench is better with having Nady/Swisher and Melky/Gardner on the bench along with Molina and the backup infielder which will probably be Ransom and maybe Angel Berroa.
I think the Yanks finally have the ace they have been looking for in CC and that if AJ is healthy they have the best rotation. I think Tex will make them so much better not just in the lineup but the whole infield defensively because of him. The biggest thing to look for is the health. I also think guys like CC and Tex and Swisher will be the grinders and chemistry guys that will help them also. I hope everyone who is going down to Tampa enjoys and soon enough we will see them in action as they begin grapefruit league play. February 26 is the first game on YES. I cant wait and Lets Go Yankees.
Ben Sheets the free agent pitcher that has been out there all offseason and people couldn't figure out why, is having surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon in his elbow. He decided it was better to just get this fixed now and hope to come back in the second half of this season. He had agreed to a 2 yr deal with Texas and this came to light during the physical. Sheets was told he could try and pitch through it but that it would go at anytime. This is being reported by Si.com.
It was also noted at si.com that the Yankees had offered Andruw Jones a minor league deal with an invite to spring training but he turned it down.
The Ben Sheets story should tame all the fans that were wondering why the Yankees or Mets didn't go after him, now you know why.
Derek Jeter reiterated today that he and all of the team supports Arod. He spoke to the press after working out at the Yankees minor league complex. He also stated that Mike Borzello the former BP catcher used to joke with Arod about Afraud and that no one ever said it to him other then joking around. Derek did say this about the upcoming season. "I'll tell you what, i'm probably as excited about this season as any season in a long time." "We've made some great additions. They said they wanted to improve our pitching staff and we got arguably two of the best in the game. We added Tex, they always talk about how great of a hitter he is, he's an all around player." "It boils down to everybody staying healthy,especially in our division with so many good teams, Im pretty excited about this year."
The New York Yankees traded left handed pitcher Chase Wright to the Milwaukee Brewers for outfielder/catcher Eric Fryer. Chase Wright is best known for giving up 4 consecutive homeruns in Fenway Park a couple of years ago. He was 25 yrs old and a pretty good pitcher in the minors but this is where the Yankees are stacked and it appears they made a solid trade here. Eric Fryer is 23 yrs old batted 335 with 26 doubles,5 triples,10hrs and 61 rbi in 104 games with single A West Virginia in 2008. He led the South Atlantic league in Avg,obp and ranked third in slugging percentage(.506). He was originally selected by the Brewers in the 10th round of the 2007 draft out of Ohio State. He will be assigned to single A. The Yankees as I have said before are short on position players and we may see more of this in the future. They are stacked at pitcher and not everyone can make the big club so it benefits them to get some better position players in return for their pitchers. Brian Cashman alluded to this last night at a dinner he was at in Connecticut.
Mike "Moose" Mussina was on the Mike Francessa radio show today and basically said he believes Joba should be in the pen. He said he isn't so sure he can stand up to the grin of pitching that many innings and we already know how good he is in the pen. Jorge Posada has already come out and said this too. The reason this is such a debate is because there are so many people on both sides of the argument and there are cases to be made for both sides. I personally believe he should be a starter and one of the reasons is what I am going to bring up now. I know a lot of people don't know him or of him but Mark Melancon is the reason. Mark Melancon has the same type of potential as Joba and is considered by most in the Yankees organization to be the heir apparant to MO. That is his picture above and I will be listing his prospect profile below for all to see and enjoy.
Melancon was born in Wheat Ridge, CO and grew up in nearby Golden, just outside of Denver. He attended Golden High School, where he lettered all four years in baseball and basketball and three times in football. He helped capture the National Championship in baseball, winning the clinching game after doubling off Ian Kennedy earlier in the double elimination tournament. Melancon was named to the All-State Team twice in his career (as well as twice in football and once in basketball) and graduated as a member of the National Honors Society.
Despite being rated the third best prospect in the state by Baseball America, Melancon was not a major prospect for the 2003 Draft. The Dodgers grabbed him the 30th round, adding him to a haul that included Chad Billingsley, Matt Kemp, Russ Martin and Andy LaRoche. Melancon didn’t sign, instead following through on his commitment to The University of Arizona.
Melancon established himself as a strong contributor out of the bullpen as a true freshman, allowing just 55 hits and 19 walks against 46 strikeouts in 62.1 IP. He set a single season freshman record by making twenty-nine appearances, and followed that up by going 2-0 with two saves in five postseason appearances as Arizona returned to the College World Series for the first time since 1986. The Wildcats went 1-2 in the CWS, losing twice to Georgia in the double elimination tournament. While pitching for the USA National Team over the summer Melancon made ten appearances and led the club with five saves. He allowed just seven baserunners (all hits) and zero runs in 12.2 IP.
After his dominant performance with the National Team, Melancon was given Arizona’s closer’s job as a sophomore and he had another record breaking season. He topped his freshman mark by appearing in thirty-four of the team’s sixty games, and also set a new single season record by notching eleven saves (potential ‘09 first rounder Jason Stoffel broke the record with thirteen saves last year). Melancon’s 66.1 innings was more than anyone on the staff outside the team’s top two starters, and he finished the year with a 1.10 WHIP and 9.40 Kper9. The Wildcats went 2-2 in the Regionals, losing a doubleheader to Cal State Fullerton to end their bid for a second consecutive trip to Omaha. Melancon finished the year with fourteen career saves, tied for most in school history.
Prior to his junior season Melancon was one of forty players named to the watch list for the Roger Clemens Award, which is given each season to college baseball’s best pitcher. Arizona’s pitching staff was stretched thin because of graduation and injury in 2006, and Melancon was forced to work an even heavier workload than usual. He set the school’s career saves record in the second game of the year, throwing three hitless innings against Loyola Marymount. After racking up 39.1 IP over just fourteen appearances (1.25 WHIP, 11.9 Kper9) Melancon came down with elbow pain which was ultimately diagnosed as a strained elbow ligament. He didn’t require surgery, however he was shut down in early April and didn’t pitch the rest of the season. Melancon finished his Wildcat career with 18 saves, the most in school history (Stoffel has since tied that mark, and will assuredly break it this year).
Melancon was considered a borderline first round talent prior to his junior season, when Baseball America rated him the top prospect in the state, the 14th best college prospect, and the 35th best draft prospect overall. His injury killed his stock because teams feared he would need Tommy John surgery. Melancon ultimately fell to the ninth round, when the Yanks grabbed him with the 284th overall pick. The Yankees were satisfied with condition of his elbow following an MRI, and signed him to a well-above slot $600,000 bonus, the equivalent of mid-second round money. He was assigned to Short Season Staten Island after a brief tune-up at homebase in Tampa.
Melancon got into seven regular season games with the Baby Bombers after signing, then picked up the save in both of Staten Island’s wins in the NY-Penn League Finals, recording four outs without incident (two strikeouts) to clinch the title in the deciding Game Three. The Yankees sent Melancon to the reborn Hawaii Winter Baseball league after the season for extra work, however he had to be shut down after just four appearances because of elbow soreness. Melancon underwent Tommy John surgery in November 2006 and missed the entire 2007 regular season.
Melancon didn’t suffer any setbacks during his rehab, and he attended Instructional League in both Tampa and the Dominican in the fall of 2007. Not only did he finish the six week camp in the Dominican, he moved in with teammate Jairo Heredia and stuck around for a few weeks of extra work. After the season he returned to Tuscon and took twenty one hours of college courses towards completing his degree.
The Yankees invited Melancon to Major League Spring Training in 2008, and he picked up the save in his only appearance with the big boys before being assigned to minor league camp. He began the year in High-A Tampa, but he was promoted to Double-A Trenton in mid-May after just 25.1 strong innings (2.84 ERA, 1.26 WHIP). Melancon was even more dominant in Trenton, throwing 49.2 innings of 1.81 ERA & 0.89 WHIP ball before being bumped up the Triple-A Scranton at the end of July.
At his best with Scranton, Melancon put up a 0.75 WHIP in 20 innings down the stretch, helping the Yanks to the postseason. He was his usual shutdown self in the playoffs, allowing just two baserunners against three strikeouts in two appearances as Scranton took home the International League Title. All told, Melancon threw 95 innings over just 44 appearances on the season, allowing just 69 hits (.202 avg against) and 22 walks while striking out 89 and posting a 1.54 GB/FB ratio.
Melancon regained his pre-TJ stuff by the end of 2008, sitting 92-94 and touching 96 with good life on his fastball. His out pitch is a hard 12-to-6 curveball that he can drop in for strike one or use to get chases for strike three. He toyed with a splitter in college, however the Yanks had him scrap in favor of a true changeup that is now a usable third pitch. Melancon commands his two main pitches extremely well, and he often threw ten or fewer pitches per inning last season, leading to so many multiple inning outings.
The biggest drawback for Melancon is his delivery. He’s a max effort guy that comes straight over the top, although the Yanks have been working to clean it up his motion since he signed. It does benefit him slightly however, because it adds deception and creates a steep downhill plane for his pitches. Until he smooths it out, he’ll always be an injury risk. Now twenty-six months out of surgery, Melancon is officially clear of the procedure. Perhaps his best tool is his work ethic and makeup, which is off the charts and has been lauded since high school.
You can see his MLB Scouting Bureau video here. You can also check out Melancon closing out the NY-Penn League Title Game here (via Robert Pimpsner), as well as a slew of clips from last year here (via Mike Ashmore).
Melancon was worthy of a September call up last year, but the Yanks choose to shut him down after such a large workload during the season. He’ll compete for a bullpen job in Spring Training, but may have to settle for a return trip to Scranton because of the numbers crunch. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that he’ll make his big league debut at some point in 2009, perhaps as early as May. He’ll be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season, but it would be an upset if he wasn’t on the 40-man roster by then.
Colorado has history of producing quality big league pitchers (Roy Halladay & Goose Gossage are the most notable), and it looks like the state has produced another gem in Melancon. Like everyone else, I love the kid. As if his stuff wasn’t good enough, his all-out attack approach and outstanding makeup are just icing on the cake. I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t force his way to the big league bullpen by June, and there’s a good chance he could become one of Joe Girardi’s most trusted relievers in the second half. I look forward to seeing him march out of the Yanks’ bullpen for many years to come.
I hope you enjoyed and this is why I believe Joba belongs in the rotation and will stay there. He has to be healthy and productive of course also. I thank River Ave Blues for this and also Prospect Profiles.
Adam Graves became the latest member of the 1994 Cup winning team to have his number retired. Mark Messier,Mike Richter and Brian Leetch already had their nights. This was a nice ceremony with all of them there for it. The Rangers have lived off of that magical season for a long time but I think this is it now. Adam Graves was a good player and a even better person and well deserving of this honor. The Rangers now need to get to the next level as they have been good the last couple of years but haven't gotten out of the 2nd round of the playoffs. They lost a disappointing game last night after all the emotion of the Graves night 2-1 in OT. They are right in the thick of the battle for first in the division but its very tight and 1 game can put you from 2nd -6th in the conference. The Rangers need to finish strong and get home ice advantage and see if they can have a strong run in the playoffs.
We have all been waiting for the New York Yankees captain to speak and he finally has. Derek Jeter did an interview with SI.com's Jimmy Traina today. The interview will run in tomorrows edition of Hot Clicks. Here is some of what he had to say.
"I'm just curious as to why people keep asking the same questions over and over. We've been down this road before. Alex is a teammate. I support him. Our whole team is behind him. We all support him and we are looking forward to a new season. To be quite honest with you, it's old hearing the same questions. It's something that has been addressed before in the past. Everyones moved beyond it and it really doesn't need to be addressed again."
He also had this to say about the Yankees high expectations for 2009- "I don't know how you can say more pressure because every year we are expected to win a championship. That's the bottom line. So I don't know how you can have more pressure then winning it all, you know what I mean? So every year it's the same expectations for us and that won't change." You can check extra mustard on si.com tomorrow for the entire interview.
I am happy with this statement, it is what he needed to do, say he supports Arod and so does everyone else and that they have to get ready for the season and trying to win a title and that is the last of the Torre book for the team. I hope he did speak about the Book, but we will see what else he said tomorrow.
It was a snowy day in NYC and Joe Torre was starting his book tour in midtown at the Barnes and Noble. I wasn't there, but reports were stating that there were hundreds of people there to see him. He did speak to reporters before the book signing. He later appeared on the Mike Francesa radio show on WFAN NY. I did get to hear most of that interview. This is what I got out of it, he said people would call him Afraud as a joke to his face, never behind his back. In the book though he says they would say it behind his back, so which is it Joe?? He also said he wasn't bitter at all and was relieved after that meeting in Tampa when he was finished. This statement seems to be true but then why did he ask Cash why he never brought up the contract that they had talked about? Why would he care if he was so relieved? Why would he say later on that he wanted 2 yrs, if he was so uncomfortable it shouldn't matter what they offered, he wouldn't take it anyway. I still think Joe is the real fraud, he says he didn't violate any code at all and if he was still with the Yankees he would of published the book also. He said he started this in 2007, no one really believes that though do you?? I just hope that once this week is over, thats the end of this, it goes away.
Jorge Posada did defend Joe saying he did nothing wrong but that he hasn't read the book yet. Mo was at the Knicks game last night and said he isn't bothered by the Moose comments and that he hasn't read it yet either. He also said he is feeling good. I am waiting for Jeter to come out and make a statement, like a true captain and just end all of this and move on to worrying about trying to make a run at the World Championship. Sam Borden of the Journal News is doing the blogging duty for Peter Abraham over at the lohud yankees blog, please check it out at http://yankees.lhblogs.com. He has a lot more coverage on there, as he did attend the book signing. I am ready for spring training which starts next thursday with Pitchers and Catchers reporting. I plan on having some kind of spring training preview this week, so look out for that.
The New York Mets and Pitcher Oliver Perez have agreed to a 3 yr contract worth 36 million according to reports. The deal is pending a physical. The Mets had to resign him after losing out on Lowe and not wanting to go after Sheets unless they had too. I think this may be a little much for Perez but he has more value to the Mets then anyone else much like Jason Varitek.
The Baltimore Orioles aquired pitcher Rich Hill from the Chicago Cubs. They got a player to be named later in return. The player to be named will be determined by how Hill performs as a Oriole.
I just want to take this oppurtunity to say I am very happy that the NFL season is now over. You may ask me why is that? It is simple for me, it marks the transition to baseball season. The caribbean series will be on the MLB network and next week pitchers and catchers report to spring training followed a few days later by the rest of the players. The WBC will be a couple of weeks after that and we will be well on our way. Joe Torre will be on Mike Francessas show tomorrow at 4 for all those that are interested, do you think maybe Arod will call in? Joe Torre will continue to be the story as he makes his rounds in NY this week, I think this will be an important week for him, does he make it all better or make it worse? I have a few things in mind for this blog as spring training approaches.
The Super Bowl turned out to be a great game for the second straight year. I would of liked to see less flags thrown but it was an enjoyable game. I think it came out like most people thought but I came out of this game thinking the best football team wasn't even playing. I am not just saying this because I am a Giants fan but they were the best team all year and if they would of gotten past Philly I think they would of been in the Super Bowl to defend their title. The Giants biggest problem of course was that because the Plax incident happened so late in the season that they couldn't adjust but hey it is what it is. The Steelers I felt would be the team out of the AFC for most of the year even though the Titans were considered the best team. I think Big Ben made up for his poor showing in the first Super Bowl he was in. Kurt Warner didn't do anything to hurt his chances of becoming a hall of famer. He didn't win the Super Bowl but he played very well. We knew about Larry Fitzgerald coming into this game and the Steelers did a good job of shutting him down until the fourth quarter when he made his presence felt. Anquan Boldin had a good game, he may be trade bait but we shall see. The halftime show was great and I think Jennifer Hudson performed one of the best National Anthems I have ever heard especially being the first public appearance since the murders of her mother, brother and nephew. The NFL season ended on a high note and now we start the transition to baseball season.
The great Carl Pavano had something to say about Joe Torre and his book. Here are the quotes:
"I am extremely disappointed that someone I had a lot of respect for would make these types of comments in his upcoming book." "I wish nothing but the best for him and my former Yankee teammates but with that said it does explain why I haven't recieved any christmas cards from Joe in the last few years." I don't think there are too many people that are happy with Torre right now in NY but this guy should just shut his mouth and have absolutely nothing to say. He stole $40million from the Yankees and yes I would consider it theft. He is as much of a fraud as Joe Torre if not more, this is just unbelievable how clueless the American Idle is also.
Melky Cabrera is out of minor league options according to MLB trade rumors meaning that he can't be sent down to the minors without first passing through waivers.
Chad Jennings of http://community.thetimes-tribune.com/blogs/yankees/ has a update on Alan Horne who is one of the Yankees top pitching prospects. He is throwing 50 times from 120 feet and said he expects to throw off a mound soon. He will most likely stay down in Tampa for extended spring training or in A as he is coming off a shoulder injury. If he is healthy though he will be in AAA by May I would say at the latest and will be an extra guy for more depth if there are injuries or ineffectiveness.
I am a diehard New York Yankees fan,season ticket holder and a sportsnut. I also like the New York Giants and Rangers. I am married with a beautiful babygirl. I am a caremanager for passaic county and graduated from William Paterson University in Wayne,NJ. I have always wanted to be a sportswriter and thought this blog would help me live my dream. I cover the Yankees/Mets Giants and Jets for www.worldnewsvine.com and also will be writing for numberonebaseball.com so check me out there, thanks.