Saturday, January 14, 2012

Yankees make a big trade and sign Hiroki Kuroda to join the winter party

The New York Yankees in a span of 45 minutes went from a very good team with some pitching questions to a World Series favorite.  How did they do it, what did they get and what did they give up??  I will discuss all of that in this blog post.  I do want to start by saying I like the two moves they did make but I also think there is more to this and something else is going to come up. 

The Yankees first traded away their projected DH and backup catcher Jesus Montero, they also included Hector Noesi who they were high on and he had a good winter ball showing to the Mariners for Michael Pineda who made the All-Star team in his rookie season.  Pineda is 23 years old and throws mainly a fastball and slider but has a changeup that if he can work on that and make it a good pitch, he will be very dangerous.  The Yankees gave up a possible 30-100 type of guy but pitching wins and the Yankees can rotate the DH spot or pick up a veteran such as Carlos Pena or Johnny Damon.  I am interested to see what everyone else thinks about the DH spot. 

The Yankees quickly then signed Hiroki Kuroda to a one year deal worth 10 million.  The Yankees have been after him for a couple of years.  Kuroda came over from Japan in 2008 and has played all four years in the majors with the Los Angeles Dodgers.  Kuroda is a control, groundball pitcher.  He should slide right into the #3 slot in the rotation behind Sabathia and Pineda.  It will be interesting to see what the Yankees do with the other starters as they now have seven starters for five spots.  I think more moves are coming but some people think Phil Hughes will go back to the bullpen and Freddy Garcia could be used as a longman.  I think the Yankees will continue to look and trade away A.J. Burnett but not so sure they can do that without picking up a significant portion of his salary. 

Here are the career stats on both pitchers the Yankees picked up and then also Monteros stats he picked up in September while with the Yankees. 

Michael Pineda:28 games started, 171 innings, 133 hits allowed, 76 runs allowed and 71 earned runs, 18 homeruns, 55 walks, 173 strikeouts.  His record was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.10 WHIP.  The batting average against him was 211.  To be fair he had a fantastic first half and then dropped off.  He did start to pitch even a little better then he was in September.  Pineda will turn 22 though on Wednesday.  The worry with him is that he could be injury prone because of his mechanics, if he stays healthy and refines his changeup he could be a devastating pitcher for a long time. 

Hiroki Kuroda:In 2008 he was 9-10, 8-7 in 2009, 11-13 in 2010 and 13-16 in 2011.  He has averaged 174 innings pitched a season and has a career ERA of 3.45.  His highest ERA was 3.76 and his lowest was 3.07 this past year.  He averages just over two walks per nine innings and his career and 6.7 strikeouts per nine innings in his career. He gives up less then a homerun per nine innings.  Kuroda is a very solid middle of the rotation type of guy who should slide in nicely behind the big two of Sabathia and Pineda. 

Jesus Montero:In September with the Yankees he finally showed his potential batting 328 with four homeruns and 12 RBI with a 406 on base percentage and a 590 slugging percentage.  In the postseason he was 2-2 with an RBI.   He played in 18 games and had 61 at bats in the regular season.  The Yankees didn't want to part with him but to get what they consider a top of the rotation guy, they had no choice.  The Yankees did also give up Hector Noesi in the deal who they liked but they have so many other pitching prospects he was expendable and they also got in return a 19 year old pitcher Campos who a lot of people project can also be a high end starter. 

New Jersey defeats Brooklyn 7-3 in Brooklyn

The New Jersey Outlaws defeated the Brooklyn Aviators by the score of 7-3 on Friday night. The Outlaws are getting closer and closer to clinching a playoff spot. They continue tu keep their hold on being the number one team in the Federal Hockey League. The Outlaws took a 4-1 lead after the first period. They scored one goal in the second and led 5-1 after two. Each team scored a couple of goals in the third and the Outlaws held on to win the game.

In the first period Nathan Oke scored on the powerplay, assisted by Travis Kauffeldt and Lawne Snyder. The goal came at the 2:06 mark of the first period. Trevor Karasiewicz scored at the 2:54 mark of the first period. He was assisted by Matthew Puntureri and Gentry Zollars. Kevin Cooper scored on the powerplay to make it 3-1 Outlaws at the 9:02 mark of the period. Oke and Snyder assited on the goal. The fourth goal was scored by John Goffredo who was assisted by Jason Reese and Luke Flicek at 16:16 of the first period. Lucas Schott scored to make it a 4-1 game at the 17:31 mark of the period.

Matt Miller scored the only goal of the second period at the 18:10 mark of the second period. Snyder and Karasiewicz got the assists. In the third period Chase Watson and Nick Petriello scored to make it a 5-3 game. The goals were scored at the 29 and 49 second marks of the third period. Matthew Puntureri scored on the powerplay at the 2:15 mark of the period and was assisted by Cooper and Zollars. Oke scored unassisted at the 14:44 mark of the third period.

New Jersey had the advantage in shots with 33-24. New Jersey was 3-8 on the powerplay and Brooklyn was 1-5. Adam Dekker got the win in-goal for New Jersey. Josselin St. Pierre took the loss for the Aviators. The game lasted three hours and 32 minutes. It was witnessed by 702 people who were in attendance. The three stars of the game were third star Karasiewicz, second star Snyder and the first star Oke. The two teams will meet once again Saturday night in Wayne. The Outlaws have won all seven meetings by the two teams this year.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Posada ready to hang them up

Jorge Posada is part of the Core Four which will now be down to two members.  Andy Pettitte was the first to retire before last season and now Jorge Posada is ready to make his announcement in the next two weeks according to reports.  Sweeny Murti was the first one to report this story as it broke on Saturday afternoon.  At first glance Posada doesn't seem like a Hall Of Famer but when you look deeper at the numbers he may have a case and I would say he is a borderline Hall of Famer much like Pettitte.  Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter are the two remaining members of the core four and they soon too will be leaving the field and going into the next portion of their life. 

Posada had a chance to sign with another team this year but I think he made the right choice.  He decided instead of hanging on for another year of diminished playing time he would retire a career Yankee.  This will also look better to the Hall Of Fame voting committee.  Posada had a lot of attributes mainly being the catcher on four World Championship teams.  He was considered a clutch player and the vocal leader of the team.  Jeter is the captain but Posada was always considered the fiery leader, the guy who would get in your face.  He wore his emotions on his sleeves and sometimes it boiled over. 

There are famous stories of him and El Duque Hernandez going at it.  It was mainly for Posada to motivate Hernandez though when the Yankees needed him most and it almost always worked.  Posada didn't always get along with pitchers, Randy Johnson didn't want anything to do with him and he wasn't the only one.  Posada though always worked hard and for a guy who came to the Yankees as a 28th round pick and a second baseman he made it work behind the plate. 

Posada was a very good switch hitting catcher and that was his strength.  He was never a strong defensive catcher but he did get better at it over time.  Posada for all of his defensive shortcomings didn't cost the Yankees as he was part of the four titles and an integral part as the catcher.  Posada got much better later in his career at throwing guys out trying to steal and blocking balls in the dirt.  Calling games I didn't have a huge problem with, it depended on the pitcher in that way, some had a problem and some worked well with him. 

Posada was born August 17, 1971 in Santurce, Puerto Rico.  He made his major league debut on September 4, 1995 in a 13-3 win over the Mariners at home.  Ironically the Yankees would take on those same Mariners in the playoffs that year and he would be along for the ride.  Posada played in nien games between 1995-96 and then in 1997 he became the full-time backup catcher to ironically again Joe Girardi who would become his manager in 2008.  He won his titles in 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2009.  He also appeared in the World Series in 2001 and 2003.  He was a five time all-star(2000-2003, 2007).  He was a five time Silver Slugger Award winner(2000-2003, 2007). 

Here are his career stats, he played in 1,829 games.  He had 1, 664 hits, 275 home runs, 1,065 RBI, 273 batting average.  In the postseason he played in 125 games, had 103 hits, 11 home runs, 42 RBI and a 248 batting average.  His fielding stats were he played 1, 574 games as a catcher and had 12, 877 innings.  He had 984 stolen bases against him, was caught stealing 387 times, had 696 assists and 90 errors.  His fielding percentage was 992. 

He will always be welcome back to Yankee stadium and as time goes on and eventually Jeter and Rivera retire these four, the Core Four will be recognized and celebrated for years to come.  I am sure Jorge won't be a stranger and he is very active in the Jorge Posada Foundation which supports and educates on Craniosynostosis which his son Jorge Jr. has.  I am sure Posada will be busy at home with his family who he has missed a lot of while playing and being on the road often.  It will be interesting to see how he is viewed in five years when he is first put on the ballot for the Hall of Fame.  He is worth putting in the discussion but if nothing else he will be remembered for being a great Yankee and a vocal leader of the latest dynasty. 

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