10 Reasons The NY Yankees Won’t Win World Series in 2018

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Overnight, the “Baby Bombers”, morphed back into the “Evil Empire”, and the bandwagon is getting crowded fast.  However, before Yankee fans (of which I am one) start celebrating number 28, (as in World Series wins) below is ten reasons why that flag may not be raised come November.

10Surprise team.  Which team might this be?  I don’t know, that’s why they call it a surprise.  Not too many people were picking The Philadelphia Eagles to win the Superbowl this year.  Since the inception of the wild card in 1994, six wild cards have won the world series.  That, and worst to first is like a thing now.

9Aaron Judge does not duplicate rookie success.  Judge can have a great year and still fall short of 52 homers and 114 RBI.  You can’t just pencil in production like that.  And while he is expected to be 100% ready by spring training, he did have off-season shoulder surgery.  I guess we will find out if that second half slide he has last season was due to the shoulder or pitchers adjusting to him.

8Giancarlo Stanton just had the best year of his career.   It is also the first time in his 8 seasons he has played more than 150 games.  What are the odds he plays all 162 again?  And while he did not come to the Yankees via free agency, it is his first season in NY, with a huge contract and huge expectations, oftentimes, it takes half a season to a season to adjust to life and pressure in the pinstripes.

7Thin starting pitching.  There is a reason why GM Brian Cashman is scouring the pitching market.  For an ace/ #1, Luis Severino can be inconsistent, Mashahiro Tanaka under-performed last season, and his elbow is still a candidate for needing Tommy John surgery.  CC Sabathia has knee issues and father time banging on his door, and Sonny Grey is good but doesn’t scare anybody.  Like former hall of fame Yankee manager Joe Torre use to say… We will only be as good as our pitching.

6Injuries.  You never know who or when the bug might hit you.  In addition to red flags of Tanaka and Sabathia, Aroldis Chapman spent time hurt last season.  In the four seasons prior to last, Stanton missed, 43, 88, 17, and 46 games.

5– Reacting to the pressure.  The Yankees are no longer be the cute underdog Baby Bombers.  They are among the favorites.  In other words they’re back to being the hunted.  We’ll see how the players and the rookie manager handle the pressure and adversity that comes with that.

4– Dodgers are still the favorite.  The Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians and Chicago Cubs will still be around.

3– Bullpen may be overratedAroldis Chapman was inconsistent and showing signs of declineDellin Betances was a disappointment last season.  Yes the pen is still a strength, but it may be just a tad overrated and overused due to a starting rotation that doesn’t give you a ton of innings (in part due to analytic era) and possible injuries.  Will they be fresh by the postseason?

2– Rookie Manager/ rookie bench coach – it’s all well and good to have a winning smile, and get all along with everyone at ESPN, but neither that nor the home run Aaron Boone hit in 2003 will prepare him for every situation he will face.  Looks like he makes a great “good cop”, but sometimes being a great manager means being “a bad cop”, and analytics won’t always have the answer.   Not sure if it’s all-inclusive, but according to ESPN, rookie managers don’t win often.

1– Teams with better starting pitching.  This goes with number 7.  The Bombers may set all kinds of records during the regular season, in part due to feasting on pitching on bad teams.  The playoffs tend to bring out the teams with very good to great pitching.  Right now, the teams list in number 4 have better starters.

With their hitting and bullpen, the Yankees are clearly built to make a strong regular season run.  The post season?  Not so sure.  Of course other teams can be hit by injuries, and there is still plenty of time for the Yankees to improve their starting pitching via free agency, trade, or one of their ballyhooed prospects coming into play.

It will not be a big surprise if the Yankees do win number 28, but these are some reasons not to plan the parade down the Canyon of Heroes just yet.
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Why The Stanton to Yankees Jeter Conspiracy Doesn’t Make Sense

Image result for giancarlo stanton derek jeter

About ten years ago, Minnesota Timberwolves Vice President and former Boston Celtic great Kevin McHale, gifted Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics.

Back then there was some noise about it, but social media being what it is now and the New York Yankees being involved this time and being “the evil empire” and all, this Giancarlo Stanton trade is drumming up a lot of conspiracy talk.

Yes, Derek Jeter, part owner of the Miami Marlins, is a Yankee icon who just traded the 2017 NL MVP to his former team.   And many think there is something fishy about that.  (Sorry, I had to.)

Sorry to inject some reasoning and get in the way of a good conspiracy but let’s look at some of the factors that existed prior to and brought about this trade…

  • The Miami Marlins were financially challenged before and after Jeter’s ownership group took over the team.
  • The Marlins have had two “fire sales” prior to Jeter’s arrival and it was considered a possibility there would be a third regardless of who the new owner was.
  • Stanton has a monster contract and was likely to be traded under this scenario.
  • Are conspiracy theorists suggesting that for years the Marlins were intentionally losing money, had two fire sales so they could sell the team and set up a third and not look suspicious?  I didn’t think so.

However, Miami homer, The Dan Le Batard show tweeted:

This sounds asinine.  MLB didn’t plan for the Marlins fiscal woes or for Jeter coming in with a competitive group to buy.  Jeter may not be Michael Jordan, but to many, he was the face of baseball for a long time. MLB saw the opportunity to place the face of the game, and a minority, into ownership, that is a good thing.  It doesn’t mean he’ll do a good job, but it explains why they would want him.

Questions and Speculation:

  1. Did the Yankees or Jeter give Stanton a no trade clause in his contract?
  2. Didn’t Derek Jeter complete deals in principal with the St. Louis Cardinals and San Francisco Giants? Was this a ruse?  Were the Cardinals and Giants in on “the conspiracy” or were they patsies?
  3. Did the Yankees or Jeter determine which teams would be on Stanton’s approved list?
  4. Were the Los Angeles Dodgers Stanton’s first choice?  and did the Yankees or Jeter know what offer LA would or would not make?
  5. Was Stanton lying about LA being his dream team to play for having grown up in Los Angeles, and being a Dodger fan just to throw us off the track and conspire to join the Yankees?
  6. Was Derek Jeter’s last contract with the Yankees contentious?… Yes it was.
  7. Was there a reported frost between Jeter, and Yankee GM Brian Cashman, who told Jeter to shop the Yankee offer and take it or leave it?  Apparently so.
  8. Even after making over 200 million from the Yankees Jeter was looking to get every last dime on his last contract.
  9. Is Jeter one of the most competitive athletes to play in any sport?
  10. Is Jeter likely to take a lesser deal from the Yankees both in terms of talent and money saved, which his franchise is desperate for?
  11. Do you think Jeter wants to succeed as an owner?
  12. Would he intentionally take a lesser deal from the Yankees and Cashman, then he could get elsewhere?
  13. Have the Yankees been setting themselves up for years to reset the penalty fees they pay, in part to sign Bryce Harper at the end of 2018?  Okay I can understand some skepticism on this one.  But if the Yankees weren’t serious about this, then why did they trade for Sonny Gray this past season at the trade deadline and not Justin Verlander or Yu Darvish?  Why not both?
  14. Image result for giancarlo stantonDid the Yankees have a need for, and could Jeter have anticipated, Yankee interest in Stanton?  Nope.  Not with Judge and their loaded farm system, and their need for starting pitching.

Is this a bad deal for Marlin fans? You bet.  It sucks.  And while this deal fell into the Yankees lap (ergo not planned, not a conspiracy), and looks great today, it may bite them, (especially if this deal comes at the expense of shoring up their pitching) like many long-term big money contracts have.

I’ve been against these long-term deals for a while.  I was fine with Yanks not matching Seattle and letting Robinson Cano walk. And wrote this in 2011 about why St. Louis should not resign Albert Pujols, and how most long-term deals don’t work out.

I’m sure talk radio, the twitter mob, and usual suspects who like to hate on the Yankees will gin up the conspiracy talk, but when considering the above, it just doesn’t add up.

By all means continue to hate and or root against the evil empire if you will, just not over a conspiracy theory that isn’t.

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NFL Contracts Are The Best

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NBA star and Los Angeles Laker, Steve Nash, admits that despite his current injury he will stick around for the final year of his contract because he wants the money.  A cool 9.7 million.  I appreciate his honesty.

After a cousin of his passed away from heart disease, MLB pitching star and New York Yankee, CC Sabathia, decided to lose weight.

Some speculate and are concerned that CC’s weight loss may be responsible for his loss in velocity and have an adverse affect on his performance.  For the sake of this blog, let’s assume that is true.

Both of the above are examples of why the National Football League salary system, though not perfect, is the best we have.

Football players have to continually earn their pay.  Baseball and basketball players have to earn their contracts.  Once a player and an owner sign on the dotted line, maybe they will live up to the contract, maybe they won’t.  Either way, owners and entire fan bases have to cross their fingers.  Robinson Cano just signed a ten-year, two hundred and forty million dollar contract with the Seattle Mariners.   Speculation is that on the back-end of the deal (if even the front end) Cano won’t be playing well enough to earn that money.

Back to Steve Nash and CC.  Perhaps with few exceptions, I agree with Nash when he says anyone would do what he is doing as far as collecting the money on the final year of a contract even if he can’t play or play well.  But just because most people would do it, that doesn’t mean it is not a flaw in the system.  Both team and fan base will suffer if Nash cannot give value in return for the compensation he is receiving.

With Sabathia, I fully understand the effect the death in the family can have. (I recently lost my mother.) Health should come first.  I respect Sabathia’s reasoning for wanting to lose weight.  However, assuming it is affecting his ability to perform, he is making this choice on someone else’s dime.  I don’t mean to sound insensitive, but if CC were an NFL lineman, would he make the same choice?

I’m guessing NFL linemen make all sorts of unhealthy dietary choices to keep their weight and strength up.  If they didn’t, and they lost weight and their performance suffered, they could get cut and lose their job.  If an athlete like CC made the choice to quit baseball recognizing he couldn’t do his job at the lower weight and chose health over the game I would have huge respect for that.

If football were like baseball, a lineman could gain weight, get the big contract, lose weight for health reasons and not be of use to his team.  Now, the NFL could encourage health by putting weight or body fat limits on players, but that is a blog for a different day.

A question I have often heard asked when a free agent in the NBA or MLB is being considered for a big money long-term contract is, “will so and so remain incentivized once he has the contract?”  While there is some guaranteed upfront money in the NFL, you don’t have to have this concern near to the same degree.

I think changing contract structure to something similar to the NFL is an issue worth exploring and fighting for when collective bargaining comes up again in the NBA and MLB.  If the owners paint it to the fans as wanting to put the best product on the field and as a fairness issue, public support would be on their side.  After all, most of us have to earn our salaries or we get canned.  And if we get injured on the job there is workman’s compensation.

Maybe the give back is shorter rookie contracts so players can hit free agency quicker.  And or contract escalators for performance included in rookie contracts.  But locking in dead weight to a franchise and not allowing them to make personal moves that would improve the franchise is not game or fan friendly.

The system in football does punish team with “cap hits”, so there is  “punishment” for mistakes or personal decisions that don’t work out.  Peter King of Si.com gives a good explanation here.   But it also offers some relief in terms of being able to restructure contracts or cut players not performing to market, that enables franchises to attempt to put a better team on the field.

Like I said.  Not perfect, but I’ll take.

Good Call By Jeter To Retire

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I always say an athlete should retire when they are good and ready.  No need to worry about legacies and staying on too long.  Usually, these are young men and women when they retire from their sport, and better to hang on one year too many than leave one year too soon.

Having said that, and having been a fan of Derek Jeter’s throughout his career, I applaud him on the timing of the choice he is making to move on and retire.

After an injury plagued 2013 his current season can go one of two ways:

  • He can return to his all-star form and go out on a high note.
  • Age and his foot injuries can take a toll on his skills and we could bear witness to an uncomfortable decline.

The following questions and hounding from the media would have added to this season’s grind.  With questions about:

  • His game?
  • Impending free agency?
  • How long he can play shortstop and bat at the top of the order?
  • Is he considering retiring?

All of that pressure is out the window, as 2014 now becomes a celebration.  Like his great teammate Mariano Rivera, who also suffered a serious injury prior to his final season, Jeter deserves to go out on his own terms and with the fanfare of a modern-day baseball icon.  2014 will be about love and winning one more ring for the road.

Aside from what he may do on the field this year, Jeter’s final gift to his fans across the nation and MLB, by making this announcement now, is that every last game he plays in each ballpark becomes “must see” TV.

The cherry on top for Jeter is that by retiring at the end of 2014, he’ll be gone for the return of the circus in 2015, that is Alex Rodriguez when A-Rod returns from his 162 ban for use of PED’s.

For as bland as Jeter can be when it comes to avoiding saying anything controversial, when it comes to seminal moments, such as the closing of Yankee Stadium, the death of George Steinbrenner, or his retirement post on facebook today, he authentically communicates like a leader, with grace, and appreciation.

Here is to you Captain, and your hunt for a sixth championship ring with the New York Yankees.

 

The One Problem The A-Rod and Biogenesis 13 Ban Doesn’t Solve

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In the absence of seeing the evidence, it does seem like Alex Rodriguez is getting what he deserves.  Same can be said for the rest of the Biogenesis 13.  Commissioner Bud Selig is receiving much kudos for nailing A-Rod and for cleaning up baseball. However, one major hole in all of this is that these players were not busted by drug tests (previously, Ryan Braun was but it got overturned on a technicality).  They were caught by an investigation of a fraudulent clinic, text messages and emails and a rat looking to save his own hide.

One of the reasons, or the main reason we are given as to the length of Rodriguez’s suspension is that he repeatedly used PED’s over three years.  So he used PED’s for three years and didn’t fail one drug test?  What does that say about the efficiency of the major league baseball-testing program?

As fans, are we to believe that only the Biogenesis 13 have been the only recent cheats?  Apparently the cheaters are way ahead of the testing once again.

After an initial lowering of numbers when testing was first implemented, there has been some interesting increase in productivity in certain players again.  It’s as if they now feel comfortable with the testing that is in place and that they know how to get around it.  At least the risk of the 50 game first time suspension is worth the reward of getting a bigger contract… or in the case of an older or fringe player, any contract at all.

I won’t suggest anyone in particular, because I don’t have a morsel of evidence to do so.  But when you look at baseball’s history and the fact that the Biogenesis 13 were not suspended for failing any tests you have wonder, who else is doing it?

No, the chapter, ending with A-Rod doesn’t shut the door on steroids/ PED use in baseball, it keeps it wide open.

Masahiro Tanaka Will Not Sign With The Yankees

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In the old days when the New York Yankees made a free agent such as Robinson Cano an offer of 7 years and $175 million everyone else usually scattered and Red Sox nation whined about NY being the Evil Empire.

But times they are a changing.  Today that 7/175 offer is considered disrespectful.  With revenue sharing, more teams having their own local TV deals, and billionaire ownership groups, the Yankees are no longer the only game in town.

It seems like only yesterday, the Seattle Mariners had to let Kenny Griffey Junior, Alex Rodriguez and Randy Johnson leave because they couldn’t afford any of them.  Now, the Mariners have 240 million for Robinson Cano, and are legit players for Tanaka.

So despite all of the barking coming from the media about how the Yankees will go after Masahiro Tanaka hard, no doubt they will, the question is, where will Tanaka bite?

According to reports the Japanese sensation’s agent, Casey Close, is starting the bidding at five years and $100 million.  Given the teams rumored to be seriously in pursuit, (Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Red Sox, Cubs, Rangers, Phillies, Diamondbacks and Mariners), seven years in the $140 million range is not an out of the question landing point.

strasburg-elbow-hurtingThis high stakes game of poker doesn’t come without risk.  There is a reason teams prefer to stay away from contracts over three or four years with pitchers.  Tanaka may only be 25 but young pitchers get injured too.  See Stephen Strasburg’s Tommy John surgery. Rapid decline of skills, and in this case, a pitcher who hasn’t thrown one pitch in an MLB game are other risks.

Tanaka’s wishes must also be factored into the prediction equation.  And if the report is true, that he prefers to stay on the west coast, than that may be his deciding factor if the offers are in the same ballpark.

So when considering the risk/reward of his signing, and his alleged preference, where is the best fit?  Who should take the risk?  And where do I predict he will land?

To me, the Los Angeles Dodgers make the most sense. They are built to win now.  Tanaka can be reasonably slotted as their number three starter giving him an advantage when he pitches against an opposing team’s number three.

Given the hype, the spotlight will be on Tanaka wherever he goes. However, this scenario will afford him the opportunity to ease into his role with less pressure than if he were with the Yankees, where depending on whether or not CC Sabathia can have a bounce back year, Tanaka may be expected to carry a staff.

kershawgreinkeIf for whatever reason, he doesn’t live up to expectations, the Dodger still have Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke to fall back on and can still compete for a World Series.

In wouldn’t be the same devastating blow as it would be for the Yankees.  In a way, this makes Tanaka a safer risk for the über rich Dodgers than the Yankees.

If he does live up to expectations, Tanaka takes the Dodgers from a projected playoff team to projected World Series favorite.

From Tanaka’s perspective:

  • The west coast is closer to Japan,
  • Is a less pressurized environment than the east coast,
  • The Dodgers are a team that is ready to win,
  • They play in a pitcher friendly ballpark,
  • He wouldn’t have to be the ace of the staff or even it’s number 2.

If the money offers are even close (and the Dodgers may offer the most) it should be a no-brainer.

Unless Tanaka has a desire to play with his countryman, Ichiro Suzuki in NY or Yu Darvish in Texas, I don’t see how the Dodgers don’t get him if they make a serious offer.

Unless…

The Seattle Mariners could be a threat as their “one dumb owner” is already in for 10 years with the Robinson Cano deal.  They will not compete with what they have.  Unless they manage to trade for Tampa Bay’s David Price, I can see Seattle doubling down and going 10 years and around 200 million for Tanaka.  Then I can see the Dodgers (and everyone else) walking if they do.  Tanaka would slot nicely behind King Felix Hernandez.  This wouldn’t make Seattle a World Series favorite, but a strong playoff push, relevance, and justification for the Cano signing, may make this risk worth it for this floundering franchise.

Minus the Carl Crawford hiccup that the Dodgers bailed them out of, the Boston Red Sox have been disciplined in avoiding long-term contracts.  So this bidding war doesn’t fit their recent M.O.. And with the number of teams in the bidding they don’t even need to fake interest just to drive the price up for the Yankees.

However, they have laid pretty low this off-season, even for them.  They have plenty of money in the coffers and, like the Dodgers, the World champs are built to win.  And though the east coast pressure would be intense, barring injury, the Sox would also have two aces in front of Tanaka in Jon Lester and Clay Bucholz.

If the Texas Rangers bid is competitive, outside of the Dodgers, Texas would be a great landing spot for him.  Assuming a good relationship with Darvish, both being pitchers and from Japan, Darvish can help with the transition.  With Rangers’ other additions of Shin-Soo Choo and Prince Fielder they would be World Series favorite.

briancashmanGiven where the money and years are projected to go, I see Tanaka as too big a risk for the NY Yankees.  Unlike Texas, Boston and L.A., Tanaka doesn’t make them a world series favorite nor a lock to even make the playoffs.  Unlike Seattle, the Yankees aren’t about being competitive to just make the playoffs.  As good as Tanaka is, there are reports he is more of a number 2 starter than a 1.  The Yankees simply would still have too many questions:

There are just too many questions with the Yankees that going beyond 5/100 is too risky for them.  Besides, I think a competitive offer from another team leads Tanaka in another direction anyway.

With NY Yankees economic advantage over other teams no longer being what it was and being at their own economic edge, they cannot afford or absorb mistakes as they could in the past and be able to further buy their way out. 

Despite lying low on Tanaka, the Dodgers are in the better position to take this risk on Tanaka. 

The Yankees will have to get used to no longer being able to immediately gratify every want and need.  Building a farm system is no longer a luxury.  In this economic landscape it is a necessity.

David Ortiz: You Don’t Know What You’re Talking About!

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With regards to the New York Yankees “letting” the Seattle Mariners sign Robinson Cano away from them, ESPN.Com news service quoted the below from David Ortiz in his interview with WEE Radio in Boston.  I will dissect  one by one:

1) “Great news for us” but a blow to the rival New York Yankee.

Partially true.  The Yankees lost a legit All-Star.  However off-season moves should not be judged until the end of the off-season.  It didn’t take long for the Yankees to sign Carlos Beltran after losing Cano.  Not as good a regular season offensive player as Cano at this point in his career, but Beltran is clutch and I will take him in the playoffs over anyone except for Ortiz.

cano2New York is likely not done yet and we will see whom else they bring in as a result of the money saved on Cano.  If it is not pitching help then it doesn’t matter because they wouldn’t win with or without Cano.

Long term.  This is a good move.  No way Cano is worth 10 years and 240 million.

2) The Yankees lost “the face” of the team. “I couldn’t believe the Yankees let that walk away. He’s the face, as long as he played for the Yankees, he was the face of that ballclub. He was backing up everybody.”

derekjeterstadiumgoodbyeLudicrous. Um Mr. Ortiz, the Yankees have a shortstop, their Captain, perhaps you have heard him?  His name is Derek Jeter.  Cano has never been the face of this franchise.  Not with Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada and Andy Pettitte on the team.  Yes he had the potential to become it.  But to date, when you thought New York Yankees, Cano was not the first face to come to mind.

2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui was one of many Yankees to outplay Cano

2009 World Series MVP Hideki Matsui was one of many Yankees to outplay Cano

Backing everyone up?  In the one world series they won with Cano in 2009, there were at least five more Yankees more valuable than him (and that is being generous) with his .136 batting average, no home runs and one r.b.i..

Now that he will be the face of a franchise in Seattle, let’s see how he handles that pressure for the first time.

3) “This guy hurt us,” Ortiz said. “He is the guy that, you’re never going to forget about him because he puts up some monster numbers. He puts up some monster numbers…”

False!  Let’s not confuse consistent numbers with “monster numbers”.  Over thirty home runs one time in a career is not “monster”, nor is a .309 career regular season batting average or a .222 playoff batting average.  Never won an MVP or batting title.

4) With regard to the length and size of Cano’s contract Ortiz told Wee:  “That’s what the players are getting — young, talented players with the skills that he has, that’s what they’re getting,”.

Wrong again.  Um there have been exactly three 10 year 200 plus million contracts ever given in baseball.  And two of them were given to the same player, Alex Rodriguez, the other being Albert Pujols, so it is not “what they are getting”.

The Texas Rangers regretted the deal they gave A-Rod so much that after year three they paid the Yankees a huge sum of money to take him off their hands.  Given his injuries, lack of production and likely pending suspension for steroids, it is fair to say the Yankees regret giving A-Rod, his second 10 year contract.   Pujols isn’t working out well with the Angels either.

At least those players DID have monster numbers when they signed their contracts.  A-Rod and Pujols were transcendent superstars, above and beyond all-stars (like Cano).

And Cano is not young.  In baseball terms he is middle-aged and will be old at 41 years of age at the end of the contract.

5) Ortiz called Cano’s deal “well deserved.”

cano1Really?  Then where were all the teams lining up to sign him?  Apparently, he received only two offers.  One from the Yankees of 7 years and 175 million and one from Seattle, a team described as desperate to land a “name” free agent and one that they would HAVE to grossly overpay to get.  And that is what they did.

Doesn’t mean Cano deserved it, it means he and his agents were able to find, literally, the one dumb owner and exploit his desperation.

6) “He makes the game look so easy…”

Half true.  Cano does make the game look easy with his sweet swing and smooth play in the field.  But his lack of hustle to first base on grounders is the antithesis of Derek Jeter and unbecoming of a would be face of a franchise.

There are things to respect about David Ortiz.  One is his loyalty and “home team” discounts he has provided to Boston over years.  Ortiz had similar options to Cano and has given his big market team a discount to help put a winner together, so it is a little ironic to hear him come out like this about Cano whose agents asked for an insulting and egregious 310 million for the Yankees to buy out his rights as a free agent when he was still under contract.

davidortiz1Ortiz is supporting a good friend, so I guess I get it, but he is mostly wrong in his assessment.

The NFL Gets Tomlin Situation Wrong

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Taking six days to arrive at a decision over Mike Tomlin’s stepping on the field of play/interference in the Pittsburgh Steelers versus the Baltimore Ravens game seemed a little long to me, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over a few extra days.  The fining of $100,000?  That is not out of line, but more on that in a moment.  The conditional losing of draft picks based on what happens and how playoff seedings are effected is where the league loses me.

Yesterday I wrote a blog disagreeing with ESPN’s Steven A. Smith on his position about the N.Y. Yankees and whether or not they should overpay Robinson Cano.  Today I am going to whole heartedly agree with him that whatever the league is going to do punishment wise, needs to be done now.

tomlinTomlin, a deserving well-respected coach, made a mistake.  One he deserves to be punished for.  But neither he, nor the Steelers deserve to have this dangle over their heads and be a story for months.  But this goes farther than that, as the league’s position is wrong on other levels as well.

Firstly, I think the taking of a draft pick is not warranted here.  Mike Tomlin acted on his own in the heat of the moment.  There is no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, of organizational misconduct.  This interference is not an example of something that the organization knew about or should have known about.  The latter being just cause to punish the team by taking a draft pick.

And the principle of making the pick or picks forfeited contingent on the ultimate effect it has on Pittsburgh’s playoff positioning is unprecedented.  If we’re going to do that why don’t we suspend players for illegal hits based on how long the opposing player they injure misses games?  And if the injured player’s team misses the playoffs why don’t we take draft picks from them?

Mike Piazza laid out after getting hit in the head by Roger Clemons

Mike Piazza laid out after getting hit in the head by Roger Clemons

Baseball can do the same.  If a pitcher beans an opposing player and he is out for the season, that pitcher is gone for the season.  Intentionally beaning someone with a deadly weapon is a far worse offense that does more to challenge the integrity of the game then stepping on the field.  (And does warrant a stiffer penalty then a free pass to first base, but I digress.)

Do you see what opening this door can do?

But if this is the direction the NFL wanted to go, taking a pick or picks depending on whether or not the four fewer points Baltimore scored affects them getting into the playoffs or their playoff position, the league should have:

A-    As Stephen A. suggests, just awarded Pittsburgh the four points and came down with a definitive punishment.

B-    Establish that if Ravens miss the playoffs because of the missing points, Pittsburgh will lose “X”, or if they get a worse seeding, they will lose “Y”.

C-    If Pittsburgh’s playoff positioning is unaffected by the incident they  lose “Z”.

At least this way, we avoid speculation and everyone knows what is what.

The intention of this fine and punishment is to reprimand Tomlin for a violation and to discourage the act from being done by anyone else again.  I get that.  So let’s look at the fine first:

A hundred K is a decent amount of cheese.  It’s real and more than the run of the mill ten to fifty thousand dollar slap on the wrist.  Okay.  But would it deter a coach from engaging in an act that he felt could help win an important game?  I don’t think so.  So the fine sounds nice, I would have been okay with a 50K fine, but it is appropriate,  however on it’s own, it doesn’t do much for me.

I do think a loss of a high draft pick will serve as deterrence, but as previously stated, I do think this punishment fits this “crime”.

The “just” punishment in this instance would have been a one game suspension.  No need to waste time on trying to figure out intent, (even though Steven A., Skip Bayless and many others think it was intentional), if a coach or any player not on the field of play interferes with a play on the field it should be a 15 yard penalty against that team and an automatic ejection from that game and one game suspension.  Period.  Done. No need for additional fines and histrionics.

Robert Horry gives Steve Nash a cheap shot, drawing Amare Stoudemire off the bench.  Stoudemire doesn't throw a punch but is suspended for a key playoff game.

Robert Horry gives Steve Nash a cheap shot, drawing Amare Stoudemire off the bench. Stoudemire doesn’t throw a punch but is suspended for a key playoff game.

This would be similar to the NBA rule having to do with players leaving the bench during an altercation.  Doesn’t matter if it is just their toe crossing the in-bounds line, if they do it, bam automatic one game suspension.

A fine is one thing, but coaches do not want to miss games.  This would be about a close as a deterrent as losing a draft pick, and a stiff loss of wage from the suspension all rolled up into one.  I doubt we would see this again.  And if it does occur again, it would take six days to come out with an incomplete disciplinary action.

 

 

 

 

 

What The Ellsbury Signing DOESN’T Mean For Cano

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With righteous indignation ESPN’s Steven A. Smith lamented on First Take yesterday that since the N.Y. Yankees overpaid for Jacoby Ellsbury, they have to do the same for Robinson Cano.  With all due respect Steven A.,  Hogwash!

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ESPN’S Steven A., Smith on First Take

On balance, Steven A. is generally more rational and measured in his commentary.  He has demonstrated an appreciation for the business aspect of things on many occasions.  As he is a self-admitted Yankee fan, I will cut him some slack here, but he is wrong for several reasons.

To date, Cano’s representation, led by Jay Z, has handled this negotiation horribly.  Firstly, the 300 plus million they reportedly asked for and referred to as, “buying out Cano’s free agency”, when he still had a season left on his contract, is ass backwards. 

I am shocked that I have not heard anyone in the media call them on this.  You see generally you ask for less money when you are still under contract… Not more!  Dustin Pedroia’s 110 million dollar contract with the Boston Red Sox is a great example.  (In fact instead of asking how can the Yankees not overpay Cano when they overpaid Ellsbury, we should be asking how can Cano not accept the Yankees offer after Pedroia accepted the Red Sox?  Does Cano think he is that much better than him?)

Players generally settle for less while currently under contract when they want to stay with their current team, (as Cano professes to want to stay with the Yankees), and avoid the risk of injury taking away a nice payday.  It is commonly referred to as “the home team discount”.  Cano’s people, I guess wanted, “the home team surcharge!”

A simple rule of negotiation when you want to make a deal with someone is to start with a proposal that is in the ballpark of reality.  If I am applying for a job that pays between 10 and 12 dollars an hour and put a salary demand in my cover letter of 31 dollars an hour, I will not get that interview.  Maybe if I put 13, 14 or 15 dollars per hour, and I had superstar credentials, maybe I get call in for an interview and we negotiate.

Speaking of superstar credentials, Cano doesn’t have them.  Steven A., you admit this, and that Cano doesn’t draw at the gate like a Derek Jeter or Alex Rodriguez.  Cano doesn’t hit 40 home runs, (over 30 HR once!) doesn’t bat 350, doesn’t steal 50 bases, (doesn’t steal 10!), and doesn’t generate revenue by drawing crowds at the stadium, or on TV. 

Where the bleep do his reps get off asking for 300 plus million?   It is an insulting figure to the Yankees and the fans of the team.  Why?  A- Are the Yankees and the fans that stupid?  B-You can’t care too much about winning and ask for that number, even from the Yankees.  Especially in a year when they are trying to cut payroll so they can save on revenue tax and reload even more in the future.

Cano’s more recent $260 million figure, while less ludicrous than the 300 plus, is still ludicrous and not a reasonable starting point.  A- Because his credentials do not warrant it.  B- Because of the handful of teams that could possibly afford it, (Dodgers, Red Sox, Mets, Angels) no one is in.  Why should the Yankees bid against themselves?  They refused to do it with Jeter’s last three-year contract, and they’re right for not doing it with Cano.

Cano is not Albert Pujols, or Miguel Cabrera.  Side note, how is that Pujols contract working out?

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Steve A., the Yankees had given Cano and his reps. ample notice that they were going to pursue other free agents if they didn’t move on the Yankees offer of 7 years 160 million.  A great offer considering what Pedroia makes in Boston.  Had Jay Z and his partners showed more reasonableness in their figures, (maybe started out at 8/ 210 mill) perhaps the Yankees could have played it out and landed on 7/ 180.  But given their unreasonable demands to date, the Yankees had to believe it was possible Cano would not come down.  And maybe the one dumb owner theory would play out and Cano would get north of 200 from somebody.  (A figure you agree they should walk from.)

So the Yankees paid Brian McCann and now Ellsbury.  Yes Steven A., they overpaid.  But that is what teams do to get players to leave a team and join theirs.  What were the Yankees suppose to do, wait?  Let Ellsbury and everyone else get signed?  There was a market and competition for Ellsbury in a price range the Yankees were comfortable with.  Where is the market for Cano?  Who is offering the absurd figure he is asking for that you agree the Yankees shouldn’t pay?  Good luck in Seattle if they end up being that team.

Cano was adequately warned and his team saw how the last major Jeter negotiation was handled.  They can’t claim to be surprised.  If the Yankees add another piece, or can no longer afford Cano, or do not want to budge off of their 7/160 or “only” go to 7/ 170, I have no problem with it.  Cano took a risk.  Sometimes risks payoff, sometimes they don’t.

Cano has showed zero loyalty to the Yankees in these negotiations so far, why should they should more to him than he is showing to them or to the fans?  If it is all about money to Cano then it is fair that it is all about money and business to the Yankees.

Paying Ellsbury $153 mill doesn’t prove they can still pay Cano $180.  All it proves is that they had that ballpark amount of money allocated to pay one player…Cano didn’t move on what was offered to him or make a reasonable counter, so the Yankees moved on.

If I had to pick between Cano at 7/175 or Ellsbury at 7/153… In two seconds I’d pick Cano.  But he didn’t give the Yankees that choice.  If they close him out or don’t have the money or inclination to go above that, blame Cano and or his reps. Not the Yankees.

 

Umpire Gets It Right With Obstruction Call

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If you asked any true baseball fan in April if they would like to see game three of the 2013 World Series end as a result of an obstruction call, my guess is 99.99% would say no.  I’m sure deep down, most of the fans of last night’s beneficiaries of the obstruction call, the St. Louis Cardinals, would agree.  But I’ve seen football games decided because a defensive lineman lined up in the neutral zone by a hair, and a field goal kicker getting to re-kick a missed field goal attempt as a result and making it.

What lining up in the neutral zone in the NFL, and obstruction in baseball has in common, is that intent is irrelevant.  The infraction was done or it was not done.  Granted, obstruction occurs far less frequently then lining up off sides.  But when it occurs, it is called.  It is not as if the umpires generally let obstruction go.  If that were the case, a Boston Red Sox player, and fan, would have a legitimate beef.  But when it does occur, and umpires see it, they call it.

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Homeplate umpire Dana DeMuth didn’t make the obstruction call. He called Allen Craig safe as a result of it.

In an article by Gorden Edes on ESPN.com, Sox pitcher Jake Peavy said the following: “I cannot believe you make that call from home plate,” I’m beat. I’m out of words. I don’t know what to say. I think it’s a crying shame a call like that is going to decide a World Series game. It’s a joke. Two teams are pouring their hearts out on the field and that’s the call you make.”

Another irrelevant fact is which umpire made the call, but in fact third base  umpire Jim Joyce did make the call on the play that occurred at third base when Sox catcher, Jarold Saltalamoccia threw the ball to Will Middlebrooks.  However, the only question that matters is, is it the right call.  Given that it is a rule that is in effect and is called when it occurs, the worse ending, Mr. Peavy, would have been if the Cardinals lost as a result of non-call here.  Allen Craig of the Cardinals was interfered with by Will Middlebrooks of the Boston Red Sox period.

Is it the best way to end a game?  Far from it.  Neither is the walk-off walk or the walk off hit by pitch.  But those unintentional plays occur too.  At least they’re by players and not by fan interference like what happened with Steve Bartman (no offense Steve, you’ve suffered enough), when he interfered with a foul ball that hurt his home town Chicago Cubs.

tombradytuckBut I’ll tell you what, if Boston fan wants to go back in time and reverse this call, I’ll use my mystical powers to grant this request.  IF, we can also go back in time and reverse the tuck rule call that enabled Tom Brady and The New England Patriots to go on and win their first Superbowl.  (And oh by the way the tuck rule is so silly it has been eliminated).

Move on Red Sox nation, you’re only down 2-1.