Saturday, February 28, 2009

Bad Day for Posada and Chamberlain: Yankees Battery Needs a ‘Shot in the Arm’

Jorge Posada was far along his road to recovery from an injury that left him without the ability to reach second base with his throws.

Joba Chamberlain was experiencing more off the field problems than those focused on performance, as a DWI infraction and identity imposter helped to shake up his offseason.

Both stars arrived at February camp in good spirits. They were confident that 2009 would bring positive outcomes for the team and for them as individuals.

The spring had started perfectly for Posada. The Yankee catcher had been attacking the baseball like he was in his 20s again, crushing line drives all over Florida.

Chamberlain had voiced his enthusiasm and devotion to starting pitching, and had come through all workouts without discomfort. His 2008 arm troubles have yet to resurface.

However, after an encouraging start for the Yankees this spring, something appeared wrong with two precious right shoulders.

Chamberlain was lit up in one inning in his first start of the spring on Saturday. He performed a distant third in terms of effectiveness among the young threesome of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, and himself.

There is nothing to be alarmed about, as Joba came through the game without reaggravating any injuries.

It is expected for many pitchers to struggle mightily early on, especially those who are inexperienced.

Their early goals are generally to work on fastball command and establishing both sides of the plate. A full repertoire of pitches is rarely utilized, and velocity is pulled back to avoid injury.

The bigger concern lies with Posada’s surgically repaired shoulder. Though neither Posada nor Girardi seems overly concerned, he was scratched due to increased soreness.

Soreness is anticipated in any rehabilitation program, but to experience it before attempting to catch a game is slightly disheartening.

Posada acknowledged that the pain did not affect him during the swing, but this implies that it still hurts significantly while throwing.

With opening day a little over a month away, any lingering soreness could prevent the progression of his rehab. These limitations could cause him to be unprepared to catch full-time as the team breaks camp.

Perhaps the soreness is merely a tiny roadblock on a long path back to success. There is a high likelihood that this is the case.

However, if Posada suffers a major setback at some point in the next few weeks, the Yankees will quickly awake from their World Series dreams.

Yankee fans, players, and office personnel will be watching Posada closely in the weeks and months to come. They know that the achievement of their ultimate goal may depend on him.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Yankees CF Battle: Grass is Always Greener With a ‘Gardner’

Most Yankee fans have been raised on the expectation that greatness will patrol the vast center field in Yankee Stadium.

New York experienced decades of being spoiled by the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, Bobby Murcer, Mickey Rivers, Rickey Henderson, Bernie Williams, and Johnny Damon.

This is a very long lineage of success which spans over 70 years. Included in this list are all-stars, sparkplugs, gold-glovers, Yankee immortals, and Hall of Famers.

Things began to change following injury problems to Johnny Damon and the diminished skills and subsequent release of Bernie Williams.

It has now been 10 seasons since a Yankee center fielder has played 150 games at that position. This trend is certain to continue in 2009, as two unproven youngsters are battling for a starting spot.

The first candidate is Brett Gardner, a one-dimensional ‘Roadrunner’ whose primary asset is his speed.

His range in the outfield makes up for his high school arm, and his base-stealing ability helps to limit the disadvantage limited extra base hits.

The second option continues to be Melky Cabrera, a promising and energetic fan favorite who has fallen out of favor within the organization.

Cabrera’s experience, decent power, and plus arm are all reasons to sing his praises. The problem is his anemic on-base percentage and limited base-stealing ability. He has also shown the tendency to embarrassingly misplay balls in the outfield.

While there is still a lot to be determined throughout spring training, Brett Gardner has clearly taken the lead in the CF race.

Already a favorite of Joe Girardi for his throwback aggressiveness and max-effort attitude, Gardner has displayed his potential early in spring training. He homered in his first spring at bat on Wednesday to send an immediate message to the coaching staff.

In today’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Gardner reached base in all three of his at bats. His day included a walk, single, double, run scored, and two stolen bases.

Establishing himself as a catalyst for the offense, Gardner was surprisingly the most impressive player on the field for either team.

On the other side of the position battle, Cabrera continued to struggle. He went 0-3 with three men left on base to maintain an OBP and batting average of .000 thus far.

He seems lost at the plate at times, and most of his child-like enthusiasm has begun to disappear. The pressures and ups and downs of playing in New York have taken a toll on Cabrera.

It is clear that neither of these CF options will produce eye-popping numbers or reach an all-star team. However, as the nine hitter in a potentially great Yankee lineup, they do not need to.

If Gardner is able to steal 35-40 bases while producing a .330-.340 OBP, the Yankees will be ecstatic.

Yankee fans may be left holding their breath for the arrival of Austin Jackson in 2010. The question is, would you rather anyone but a ‘Gardner’ to be taking care of all that CF grass?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Posada’s Debut Provides Yankees a ‘Ray’ of Light for 2009

Although the weather near the newly constructed Yankee Stadium is more suited for a December football game than America’s Pastime, it certainly feels like spring again.

As the Yankees played the Rays in Thursday’s spring home opener at George M. Steinbrenner field in Tampa, fans were reminded how important Jorge Posada is to their success.

Posada crushed a home run deep into the right-field bleachers in his first at bat of the spring, before later lacing an RBI double in the 5th inning.

Not only were the results encouraging, but also the always important ‘eye test’. Posada passed with flying colors, as his bat speed and fluidity were as impressive as his prime.

Posada was batting from the left side, where his surgically repaired right shoulder absorbs a lot of stress after the bat explodes through the zone.

He showed no signs of discomfort whatsoever, nor any desire to be cautious with his swing. His approach was aggressive and his competitive fire was once again unleashed.

Derek Jeter is unquestionably the Yankee captain as a result of his on-field guidance and leadership by example.

However, it has arguably been Posada who has provided the tough love and locker room motivation equally as vital to a team’s success.

The Yankees were incredibly lucky that backup catcher Jose Molina was as defensively impressive and consistent as he was in 2009. The adverse effects of Posada’s absence could have been much worse.

Offensively, however, there is no comparison. When he is at the top of his game, it is difficult to compare Posada to almost any catcher in the league.

Posada provides both power and plate discipline, allowing him to generate 20+ home runs while maintaining a career .380 on-base percentage.

Posada’s on-base percentage is nothing short of remarkable considering the demands of his position.

His career OBP is higher than Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, and Mike Piazza. They are often considered the best hitting catchers in baseball history.

While it is unrealistic to expect results similar to his career year in 2007, it is not out of the question to anticipate a bounce back season from Posada.

Production in the neighborhood of 18-20 home runs, 75-80 RBI’s, and a .270-.275 batting average are fairly reasonable. Especially if he is able to DH in excess of twenty-five games this season to rest his rehabilitated throwing shoulder.

If Posada can return to representing a dangerous offensive threat in 2009, the Yankee lineup becomes that much more explosive.

The benefits begin with taking large amounts of pressure off of Xavier Nady, Hideki Matsui, and Robinson Cano to carry the bottom half of the offense.

It will not be known until the summer if Posada’s arm is strong enough to last a full season, returning him to the force that the AL East has come to expect.

The truth is, Jorge Posada’s right shoulder may prove to be even more significant than AJ Burnett’s or Chien-Ming Wang’s heading into 2009.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How Does A-Rod Plan to Attack the Pressure and Negativity? He Comes Out Swinging

Alex Rodriguez has faced a whirlwind of controversy and animosity so far this spring, and many wondered how he would respond.

Normally perceived as a mentally weak player who performs at his lowest level when the moments are largest, A-Rod started off the spring as a fighter.

By crushing a Ricky Romero offering deep over the left-center field fence, he proved that he will not run and hide or fold under the adversity. Regardless of how the season manifests itself, A-Rod is ready to attempt to prove doubters wrong.

I apologize for the quality of the video footage, but spring training highlights are quite hard to come by:

By no means am I trying to say that Ricky Romero is Johan Santana, or that A-Rod is destined for his third Yankee MVP because of one meaningless spring training game.

What I am trying to get across is how important this game was for Rodriguez to begin to turn the page. The pressure was immense, and probably unprecedented for a game played in February.

While it may not be a reflection of what lies ahead for A-Rod or for the Yankees, it appears after opening day that the score is currently: A-Rod: 1 Pandora's Box: 0

The Yankees and Lent: 40 Days of Spring Training Sacrifice

In a somewhat strange coincidence, Major League Baseball’s spring training has perfectly aligned with the Christian dedication to self-restraint.

As it turns out, Palm Sunday also represents the New York Yankees first spring training game against the Toronto Blue Jays. As Lent begins, so does another baseball season filled with controversy.

The concepts of sin and abstinence from sin certainly relate to baseball more strongly than ever before. Ironically, Yankees opening day lies exactly 40 days from the official start of lent.

The team has rallied behind their sinning slugger Alex Rodriguez thus far, and more support seems to be on the horizon. What better way to show A-Rod that you are behind him in his repentance than to sacrifice some of your own vices?

Here is a list of some of the selfless commitments made by the Yankee family:

Alex Rodriguez:

No surprises here. Alex has promised to give up performance enhancers until at least April 16th, when the pressures of NY come back to haunt him.

It will be a very difficult road to redemption for Rodriguez, as “Boli” is sure to be easily accessible in the Dominican Republic locker room during the WBC. He has revoked his cousin’s passport, preventing his flight to Puerto Rico.

Joba Chamberlain:

Joba has decided to go the duration of spring training without drinking any alcohol.

He also promises to only drink in New York City, where public transportation is readily available. This will prevent him from having to attempt to drive home through the Nebraska cornfields.

Carl Pavano:

This former Yankee has not pitched for a paycheck in so long that he forgot he was a Cleveland Indian. After a discussion with Brian Cashman, he has agreed to miss all Yankees-Indians games for old time’s sake.

AJ Burnett:

Thankfully, Burnett has agreed to reach his DL quota during spring training. This will allow for at least 30 starts in his inaugural Yankee season.

CC Sabathia:

Sabathia has decided to give up fried Twinkies and Cinnabons until the home opener on April 16th.

He can make no promises to eat healthy thereafter, as a steakhouse in center field is simply too convenient to pass up.

Phil Hughes:

To avenge a terrible 2008 campaign, Hughes vows to give up his losing streak and live up to the hype. He forgets that this promise ends before real games begin.

He also forgets to promise to take better care of his body and avoid injury. As a result, he is expected to slip in the shower at some point during April.

Derek Jeter:

A man of virtually no sin, Jeter agrees to stop his womanizing ways in order to protect women’s hearts.

Meagan Fox’s manger calls to arrange a lunch, and he immediately rescinds his promise. Pressed for time, he promises to be nicer to A-Rod and pretend that he wants him around.

Hal Steinbrenner:

He tells Hank that for 40 days, he is allowed to give any input that he would like without any worry of disagreement or debate.

Hal never promises to actually listen to him or enforce any of what he says, ensuring the continued stability of the Yankee front office.

Scott Boras:

MLB’s super agent attempts to avoid the question, before sheepishly stating ‘no comment’.

After being pressured he admits selling his soul to Satan in the 1980’s, and worries of a potential conflict of interest.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Two-Year Anniversary of A-Rod’s Biggest Mistake

As it appears new incriminating information is released on a daily basis to help dig Alex Rodriguez’s grave, today we are reminded of an important anniversary date.

February 24th, 2007, was a day that may help to explain Rodriguez’s other errors in judgment a little more clearly. Two years ago today, he made an emphatic prediction.

As the words rolled off of his tongue, the reporter standing across from him must have checked his ears to make sure he hadn’t left his earplugs in from the night before.

“I was very impressed with the way he threw the ball,’’ A-Rod said. “He has it in him to win 15 games if not more.” With a 2007 spring roster that featured Phil Hughes, these quotes do not appear shocking.

The article’s headline said it all, however. A-Rod Predicts Big Things from Igawa. What was one of the key reasons for A-Rod feeling this way? “He throws harder than (Jamie) Moyer and (Tom) Glavine.”

So let me get this straight. He is bound for success at the big league level because he barely reaches velocities above two men who were a combined 85 years of age at the time.

Needless to say, Alex Rodriguez was wrong. He was very very wrong. Igawa did not just fail to win 15 games; he has not even started 15 games in his big league career to this point.

In the process of making even Hideki Irabu look like Sandy Koufax, Igawa has a career 2-4 record and 6.66 ERA. The devotedly religious can take this ERA as a sign if they would like.

It is judgmental blunders such as these that make me wonder if A-Rod’s steroid story is more accurate than he is given credit for.

Perhaps he truly is “na├»ve and stupid.” If he in fact believed that Kei Igawa was destined for greatness, is it that far-fetched to believe that he didn’t know ‘Boli’ was a steroid?

This also might explain some of Rodriguez’s struggles while in pinstripes, especially his tendencies to swing through high fastballs and chase off-speed pitches out of the zone.

If he is tantalized by Kei Igawa’s painfully average stuff, it would make perfect sense for him to have difficulty with pitchers who actually succeed at the Major League level.

A-Rod also managed to take Melky Cabrera and Robinson Cano under his wing the season before their Yankee careers were left in limbo.

Alex Rodriguez may be a fantastic baseball player, and one that is destined to place asterisks next to many sacred records.

However, one thing A-Rod will never be confused with is a successful judge of talent. ‘Poor judgment’ is a term he expects to hear many times throughout 2009.

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Rotation Ready to Put the ‘K’ Back in Yankees

Fans remember the buzz generated last season every time Joba Chamberlain reached back for 100 MPH on the stadium radar gun.

However, their memory might not be as quick to recall the last time a Yankee starting pitcher had velocity worthy of sleepless nights for opposing hitters.

Surprisingly, no Yankee rotation has had even three starters accumulate 100 strikeouts since 2004. Javier Vazquez lead the team that season with only 150, while also posting a 4.91 ERA.

To put this into perspective, Randy Wolf accounted for 162 strikeouts in 2008. Wolf will never have his fastball confused with Bob Gibson’s, and does not make hitters worry about putting the ball in play.

A pitcher equipped with ‘swing-and-miss’ ability is an incredible advantage to any rotation. While it tends to increase pitch counts, it allows for the ability to escape jams and neutralize a team’s best hitters.

The Yankees last reached the World Series in 2003. During that season, they had three starters eclipse 180 Ks, including Mike Mussina’s team high of 195. The dynasty years also saw David Wells, David Cone, and Orlando Hernandez post high strikeout totals.

Before an eventful offseason, the Ace of the Yankee staff was Chien-Ming Wang. While his career high of 104 strikeouts has not affected his regular season dominance, it has clearly affected his postseason performance.

Facing the best teams in Major League Baseball in October, a pitcher needs an out pitch to maneuver through potent lineups. It is this go-to pitch that has made Josh Beckett and Cole Hamels so electric in recent playoff runs.

Wang’s sinker is a devastating pitch, but the Yankees’ defensive liabilities up the middle make it difficult to maximize his effectiveness.

AJ Burnett, CC Sabathia, and Joba Chamberlain will add a dimension to the Yankee rotation not witnessed since the glory days. All three possess unhittable breaking pitches, and all three have approached 100 on the radar gun.

So long as Burnett and Chamberlain spend more time toeing the rubber than lying down on trainer’s tables, the 2009 rotation should keep many hitters from ever leaving the batter’s box for first base.

In their last full seasons in the American League, Burnett and Sabathia struck out 231 and 209 respectively. Even if Chamberlain is limited to only 150 innings in 2009, he would account for 171 Ks based on last year’s averages as a starter.

This would account for a total of 611 strikeouts for these three starters alone, which is already more than the entire Yankee starting rotation from 2008 (601 Ks).

While it takes much more than swings and misses to assemble a top-flight pitching staff, these three flamethrowers are not one-trick ponies.

They know how to pitch, and they can utilize all of their pitches in any count. This not only makes them intimidating, but very dangerous.

For the first time in half a decade, the Yankees will be capable of unleashing a pitcher than can truly dominate a game. Mariano Rivera may even find himself taking a few close games off this summer.

The Yankees will try to hook the Rays and reel them back in after finishing far behind in 2008. There is one key difference this season, as they will once again be fishing with dynamite in 2009.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

In Case You Missed It: A-Rod's Press Conference

There have been mixed reviews regarding A-Rod's performance during this pressure-packed and vitally important press conference.

What cannot be disputed was how powerful and meaningful having the full support of his teammates was to him.

For those of you who did not watch the YES Network coverage, here is a picture that truly 'speaks a 1000 words'.

Whether or not their motivations are for A-Rod's personal benefit or for their own goals of winning another title, the team has clearly displayed their desire to rally around him.

Here are the videos of A-Rod's press conference in its entirety. The conference is broken up into three sections, including his opening statement, and the question and answer segment separated into two parts:

Alex Rodriguez's Opening Statement:

Part 1 of Reporter's Question & Answer Segment

Part 2 of Reporter's Q & A

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Alex Rodriguez Hits Ground Rule Double at Press Conference

Alex Rodriguez did not quite produce the strength necessary to hit a home run during this afternoon’s highly publicized press conference.

However, he came a lot closer than many analysts and journalists had speculated.

While appearing on networks such as ESPN and YES, Alex read a prepared written statement before answering questions.

A-Rod began by acknowledging how intensely nervous he was, but one of the most telling images of the afternoon occurred before Rodriguez ever opened his mouth.

The cameras panned over to the Yankee players that were in attendance for support, and the lens was barely wide enough to capture the entire group.

Virtually every single member of the Yankees’ roster and organization was present, including new arrivals and those who use interpreters for their own interviews. It was a truly powerful moment, and one that Rodriguez seemed moved by.

In his prepared statement, Rodriguez stated that he “has to earn trust back,” but that he is confident in his future efforts to reacquire that luxury.

He went on to clarify the source of the steroids. A-Rod claimed that his cousin had introduced him to a substance sold in the Dominican Republic used to vastly boost energy levels during workouts.

Though he would not give specifics about his motivations, aside from naivety and curiosity, he did clarify aspects of the use itself.

Rodriguez attested to being directly injected with the substance at least twice a month, and that he felt a defined boost in energy as a result.

However, he did downgrade the effects in saying that it “is 50% mental,” and that “if you believe it will make you better, it probably will.” He was partially attributing the drug’s benefits to a placebo effect.

A-Rod earned a lot of credibility and respect among reporters by confessing to the use of a recently banned amphetamine during his time in Seattle.

This was a substance not banned until recent years, and represented an admission that Alex easily could have withheld. His candid response to the question asked of him was a big step in the right direction toward reacquiring his lost trust.

Possibly the most contrite message of the press conference was delivered toward his teammates. Having to stop at once point due to his emotions, Rodriguez apologized and stated that this would “have been impossible without you all here.”

A-Rod went on to assure his teammates that 2009 would “be the best season of our lives,” and that this “was the perfect opportunity for him to become a better teammate.” He feels that the team will come through the crisis as a closer family than ever before.

Rodriguez also showed maturity in refusing to deflect the blame onto others, or even toward recovery from an injury like his teammate Andy Pettitte did.

He took all of the blame solely onto his shoulders, and even resisted the urge to blame the culture in Texas for his problems. He stated a clear message that it was not where he played, nor who he played with; it was him that was responsible.

It is to be expected that all of the intimate details were not going to be released, and that some answers would be vague and somewhat enigmatic. That being said, A-Rod did much better than anticipated in answering the bevy of questions thrown at him.

Rodriguez’s press conference went a long way in repairing his image and showing true remorse by the presence of Don Hooten. He has agreed to form an anti-steroid partnership with Don, a man whose family was torn apart by the steroid use and ultimate death of his son Taylor.

A-Rod has admitted his mistakes, and is ready to move on. He hopes that he can put this all behind him, and return to a focus on baseball. Of course the New York and national media outlets will never allow this to happen.

He ended the conference with expressing his desires to be ‘judged from this point forward.”

It remains to be seen if what was said today was the whole truth, or if there are more chapters of his steroid story waiting to be written.

Either way, A-Rod managed to hit one in the stands today while in front of the microphone. We will pretend that we didn’t watch it bounce over the wall.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Roger Clemens Could be the Tip of the Pitching & Steroids Iceberg

The steroids burden was once misconceived as being carried solely on the ever-expanding shoulders of Major League hitters.

The restrictions that growing muscles can place on a pitcher’s mechanics and arm flexibility were enough to initially turn a blind eye to a potential epidemic.

As time wears on, it is clear that the motives for the use of performance enhancing drugs were as strong for those on the mound as they were for those digging into the batter’s box.

The dominoes started to fall with Andy Pettitte’s HGH admission last spring, as well as Clemens’ pathetic attempts at fighting the facts. To a lesser extent, the Eric Gagne’s and Brendan Donnelly’s of the baseball world also fell into the trap.

I worry that when the mystery list of 103 is revealed, if it ever is, there will be numerous prominent pitchers appearing on it.

Pitchers may have felt stronger pressures than anyone, attempting to compete with the hitters that they watched hit towering upper-deck home runs on a daily basis.

For the hitters that chose not to ‘juice’, they at least knew that the game of baseball was being shaped in order to cater to offensive production. Mounds have been lowered, fences have been moved in, and bats have been transformed into weapons.

Since the 1960's when Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax dominated, not one change has been made to MLB to benefit pitchers. The ‘Year of the Pitcher’ in 1968 was the final season categorized by 1-0 scores.

Ironically, even with all of the advantages given to pitchers during the prime of his career, Gibson admitted that he would most likely have used steroids if given the opportunity.

As honest a statement as this coming from a former star like Bob Gibson is very refreshing. However, it is also very telling.

Pitchers as intensely competitive as Gibson would not have sat back while hitters’ biceps and bat speed were enhanced enough to catch up to his fastball.

Men who would buzz your chin with a 95 MPH fastball for simply digging into the box would not allow you to get a leg up on them with performance enhancers.

Though not always turning to a syringe or a pill, pitchers have searched for ways to circumvent the rules for over a century. Tricks such as sandpaper, Vaseline, pine tar, and saliva were/are used to doctor the baseball to create an advantage.

Some refer to this as gamesmanship as opposed to cheating, but it reverts back to a central theme regardless of your stance. Hitters are not the only athletes looking for a leg up on the competition.

If pitchers are willing to risk their reputations in order to give their changeup a little more bite, what is stopping them from using HGH to recover faster between starts?

It may never be leaked or released, but do not be surprised if more Cy Young winners and Hall of Fame candidates end up being exposed for using more than just Vaseline on the mound.

I miss the times when an impending strike was the biggest issue spread across Major League Baseball, but times have clearly changed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Girardi Defends A-Rod Despite His Disappointment

As if anything else would have been anticipated from the Yankees' manager, Joe Girardi defended his star steroid user.

While being interviewed on WFAN and the YES Network with Mike Francesa, Girardi discussed the A-Rod situation, and repeatedly reflected on how genuinely regretful and apologetic he appeared.

Girardi was later attacked by media personnel at the Yankees training facility in Tampa, Fl. He gave another quick synopsis of his feelings regarding the Rodriguez situation, focusing on the distractions and possible disciplinary actions resulting from the fallout.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Yankee Restraint: Patience with Pettitte and Abreu Lands Them Teixeira

The Yankees have long been considered an organization characterized by a drunken sailor, and rightfully so. They tend to throw their riches at every attractive option available, and answer to critics at a later date.

This offseason seemed to be no different, as ‘$423.5 million’ has been stamped into the brains of every baseball supporter. This time, however, the Yankees intertwined blind aggression and fiscal awareness into their negotiations.

When it came to obtaining the best pitcher on the market, the Yankees did whatever it took, regardless of the circumstances. These were the George and Hank Steinbrenner Yankees.

In denying arbitration to two established veterans in Bobby Abreu and Andy Pettitte, the Yankees showed a clear awareness of where the market stood. This was a glance back in time of the Gene Michael Yankees.

Instead of inevitably committing themselves to $32 million in aging talent, the Yankees made the difficult decision to let .300 20 HR 100 RBI 20 SB walk out the door. Then they used leverage and realism in not offering Pettitte ‘Ace’ dollars in his decline phase.

The result was a savings of $26.5 million in guaranteed money. Even if Pettitte reaches all of his incentives, the Yankees are netting a $20 million payroll reduction.

Brian Cashman could now address the Yankees’ one remaining weakness. He essentially turned a 35 year old outfielder with limited range into a slugger with gold glove defensive ability in Mark Teixeira.

What is the difference between what Teixeira and Pettitte will make compared to the 2008 version of Abreu and Pettitte? It is the cost of a Brian Bruney or two; nothing more than an arbitration eligible middle reliever.

New York may have spent their profits like Armageddon was approaching, but their payroll remains virtually unchanged from 2008.

What they did was replace Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi, Mike Mussina, Abreu, and Pudge Rodriguez with CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett, and Mark Teixeira.

Next year we are sure to see more of the same. Hideki Matsui, Andy Pettitte, and Johnny Damon’s nearly $40 million will be transformed into a star outfielder and middle of the rotation starter.

What the Yankees do is retool according to the financial flexibility that they earned through a century of success and cerebral ownership.

They have gotten away from the tactical nature of assembling a roster that netted them four World Series Champions in five years.

Thankfully, the large commitments are once again being given to those in their prime, as opposed to the aging stars we have grown accustomed to.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Donnie Racquetball: Not Just Baseball's "Hitman"

Compliments of The LoHud Yankees Blog and Peter Abraham, the great Don Mattingly is back. However, he is carrying a slightly different piece of sports equipment, and fans are chanting an altered form of his famous nickname.

Enjoy as Donnie shows the importance of purchasing his own Mattingly V-Grip technology. I personally enjoy the orange headband and sports shades, though i do miss seeing him in a pinstriped #23.

Check out Mattingly's baseball products at his website

Monday, February 9, 2009

One Down, 103 to Go: The Boston Steroid Story Left Untold

Alex Rodriguez was the ‘victim’ of a vendetta against the New York Yankees, as well as yet another book intended to ridicule the star slugger.

I put ‘victim’ in quotes because any professional athlete who knowingly takes illegal substances to artificially impact his or her performance is not truly a victim.

Regardless, it appears that a soon-to-be released book about A-Rod is being constructed by SI’s Selena Roberts. In many ways, she benefited the most by ensuring that he was left holding the smoking gun. Her selfish agenda gave her the incentive to leak A-Rod’s name and his alone.

The Alex Rodriguez saga has inspired me to take a peak into the mystery surrounding what players’ positive steroid test results from 2003 are being left undiscovered.

It was intriguing to focus on The Boston Red Sox, a team that has been left out of the discussion while their biggest rivals are constantly targeted.

These are some of the key people surrounding Boston’s untold steroid story:

1. Senator George Mitchell:

Hired by Major League Baseball to unearth the magnitude of the steroid issue across the league, Mitchell was also a current Director for the Boston Red Sox.

Five prominent Yankees were ironically released in The Mitchell Report, including Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Gary Sheffield, Jason Giambi and Chuck Knoblauch.

The only prominent Red Sox named were former players Mo Vaughn and Clemens, conveniently only linked to performance enhancers following their departures from Boston.

Whether or not his investigation was biased can be left to a future spirited debate. One statement that Mitchell did say, however, seemed to be slightly damaging to the Red Sox.

While discussing an acquisition of Brendan Donnelly, Red Sox personnel were concerned with his rumored steroid use. Not for the fact that he was an abuser of performance enhancers, but instead because he “could be a breakdown candidate.”

The Red Sox decided to sign Donnelly as a result of determining that his velocity did not change dramatically over the years. So long as performance did not suffer, they did not concern themselves with what he ingested.

Though on a much smaller scale, this discussion is important to analyze Boston’s mindset regarding steroid users. If they were willing to take risks on middle relievers past their prime, why not turn their heads for a superstar slugger?

2. Nomar Garciaparra:

The first prominent Boston player inevitably a member of the 103 mystery positive tests is former SS Nomar Garciaparra.

When analyzing the stats, Garciaparra is an ideal candidate for steroid abuse. After bursting onto the scene as a rookie in 1996, he enjoyed four of the best seasons that his position had ever seen.

After injuries decimated his 2001 season, Nomar responded strongly in 2002 and 2003. He played 156 games in each season, the most games played of any point of his career. It was thirteen more games played than any year since his rookie year in 1997.

Two of the most publicized benefits from the use of steroids and HGH are healing rapidly from injuries and the energy to recover faster from day to day.

These factors would have enabled Garciaparra to rebound from debilitating injuries, as well as to cope with the daily grind of a Major League season like he did in 2002 and 2003. The experimental tests in question were administered in 2003.

Finally, it is important to remember his 2001 Sports Illustrated cover photo (above). Taken following arguably his best season in which he had 75 extra base hits and hit a robust .372, Garciaparra looks more like an NFL linebacker than a shortstop.

3. Dustin Pedroia

I am completely and entirely just kidding. The current AL MVP and most likeable player in Major League Baseball, Pedroia forever exonerated himself from any steroid speculation after this dance performance:

Pedroia displays more rolls than a bakery, and his undefined body is more than enough evidence that he swallows more donuts than anabolic steroids.

4. David ‘Big Papi’ Ortiz

David Ortiz was signed by the Red Sox in January 2003, after he was released by the Minnesota Twins. This was ‘coincidentally’ both the year of the tests and Big Papi’s miraculous breakout season.

Ortiz could not beat out Jeremy Giambi for the first base job to open the season, yet he suddenly acquired consistent light-tower power that landed him fifth in the MVP race at the end of the season.

Big Papi was playing in his seventh AL season, which seems deep into a career to have such a rapid turnaround. Ortiz had a career high of 20 home runs upon arriving in Boston, and was more than doubling that total by his second year there.

In 2005 and 2006 in particular, Ortiz averaged more home runs per year than he had in his final three Twins seasons combined.

Coupled with a very drastic increase in power numbers starting in 2003, Ortiz began to experience injury problems at a young age.

In the summer of 2006 at only 30 years old, Ortiz suffered from an irregular heartbeat. It is well documented that heart conditions can commonly result from the use of steroids.

Ortiz next was forced to play all of 2007 with a knee injury, and missed a large portion of 2008 while battling a painful wrist injury. Steroid users are more susceptible to injuries of joints and tendons, and Ortiz’s injury history is textbook.


There are many more examples of Red Sox suspects, stemming from outbursts of anger from Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez. It was interesting to witness a seemingly ‘fun-loving’ man suddenly snap and throw a traveling secretary to the ground.

Jonathan Papelbon is also very muscular and well-built for a closer, and has the tendency to become enraged on the mound. This same ‘mound rage’ was the trademark of Roger Clemens, and later pointed to as hindsight evidence to his use of steroids.

The fact is that there are at least 103 more names being hidden from the public eye. The odds suggest that every team has at least one more steroid user for MLB to uncover.

It only seemed fair to analyze the Boston Red Sox, a team that has floated far under the radar due to the New York Yankees’ selfish hogging of the negative spotlight.

A-Rod Comes Clean About Steroid Use

News broke within the last few minutes that Alex Rodriguez has acknowledged using performance enhancing substances from 2001-2003.

Following my instructions to perfection thus far, A-Rod has admitted that the reports of a failed test are entirely accurate, making no excuses or claims of defamation.

Rodriguez also took the correct course of action in completely quarantining his use of steroids within his time in Texas.

This allows him to be sucked in to the rampant drug abuse of the Rangers’ clubhouse, while exonerating himself of cheating during his years in Seattle and in pinstripes.

It was clear all along that the only path towards redeeming and salvaging his legendary career was to start off with a public apology and admission.

America will now wait with bated breath to hear Rodriguez’s interview with Peter Gammons tonight on ESPN at 6 PM.

If he comes out of the segment appearing remorseful for his actions, as well as displaying an honest approach to the questions asked of him, he will have taken the correct first steps.

Road to Redemption: A-Roid Must Confess to Survive

We are still in the wake of the stunning announcement that even the “hardest worker in MLB” enjoyed an anabolic cocktail before workouts.

The news has barely had a chance to sink in, but the shockwaves have already traveled beyond The Milky Way Galaxy.

Major League Baseball has been through all of this before. They have watched as record holders, surefire Hall of Famers, and heroes of the game were sucked into the black hole of steroid use.

The blacklist has included the religiously dedicated, the publicly beloved, the publicly despised, the seemingly natural, the obliviously enhanced, and hitters and pitchers alike.

Regardless of who is involved, there seems to be only one way to creep back into the hearts of the media and the hometown fans. It is a clear and simple message — come clean, and get clean.

While Roger Clemens, David Justice, and Barry Bonds battle to protect their image and credibility, public perception continues to label them as guilty until proven innocent. Others like Rafael Palmeiro and Mark McGwire have suffered the same fate, and have simply chosen to disappear into exile.

Those who have been most successful in bouncing back from controversy have ironically been the active players. The best recipe has been a sincere apology and confession coupled with answering as many media questions as legally allowed.

Luckily for Alex, he has two excellent examples within his team’s clubhouse of how to handle the adversity surrounding a positive steroid test.

Jason Giambi and Andy Pettitte were forgiven in New York following confessions, and Andy is as beloved as ever before even following a poor performance in 2008.

A-Rod may not have a decade of success and World Series titles under his belt. What he does have is a 31 ounce toothpick in his hands on game day that he still uses as a dangerous weapon.

Alex’s ‘Road to Redemption’ begins in front of a microphone. The first sentences that roll off of his tongue under pressure will determine the next nine years of his Yankee career.

Acknowledging his previous steroid use, and apologizing to the fans, city of New York, and Yankee organization is a nice start. Performing on the field would at least bring forgiveness within driving distance.

Alex’s best course of action is to quarantine suspicions solely in his time with the Texas Rangers. Whether or not it is true, it is very believable.

In 2001, Alex teamed up with Pudge Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Ken Kaminiti. They are all previously targeted or admitted steroid users. Alex can claim that his years in Seattle were all-natural, and that he stopped in 2004 when testing programs were initiated.

Alex can state that he was caught up with the wrong people in Texas, and apologize for a terrible error in judgment. He can try to erase three seasons from his incredible career, in order to attempt to save the other ten full seasons up to this point.

If he takes this path, and there are no clubhouse personnel or steroid suppliers ready to testify against his public statements, Alex may be on his way to salvaging a pinstriped career.

In all likelihood, he forever lost his chance at receiving a bust in Cooperstown. However, if he takes all the proper steps from here on out, Alex just may manage to save face in the city that so desperately wants a reason to like him.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Steroids: Alex Turns Out to be A-Fraud After All

As each day goes by, Jose Canseco seems less and less insane. It appears that virtually every reference that he has made about a player's use of steroids is later uncovered as accurate.

The latest victim is Alex Rodriguez, ironically the inevitable heir to Barry Bonds' home run throne. On pace to enter the 600 home run club somewhere around late April in 2010, A-Rod will inch closer to the most coveted record in all of baseball.

It is fitting that Alex is dating the 'Material Girl', because his obsession with statistics and lust for attention and money has driven him as far as to inject himself with performance enhancers. Apparently his fixation on becoming the greatest player to ever live has pushed him toward cheating to reach his goal.

In an interview with Katie Couric on 60 Minutes (displayed above), Alex vehemently denies ever using or being tempted to use performance enhancing substances.

In an acting job as believable as Rafael Palmeiro, A-Rod pretends that he never felt the need to turn to steroids in order to get a leg up in a sport he already dominated.

Alex went on to defend Barry Bonds, who may or may not have supplied him with the source of his newest vice. He claims that the true home run record holder is Barry Bonds, and seemed to dismiss the concept of an asterisk being placed next to Bonds' accomplishments.

As if his tenure in the Bronx did not already experience enough choppy seas, A-Rod has now added a black eye to his entire career. The clouds of suspicion that have hovered over the game's best player have finally rained down the evidence needed to seal his fate.

Fans who desperately want to like Alex have been given another reason to turn their backs on him. Those who secretly, or even publicly, hoped only failure for him have another reason to celebrate.

News like this truly makes you appreciate the ghosts of Yankee past. Superstars like Whitey Ford and Mickey Mantle never used performance enhancers, although the availability and variety of such substances was scarce.

In fact, they did everything in their power to impede their performance. Drinking and all night partying resulted in Mantle seeing three balls coming out of the pitcher's hand; he simply tried his best to hit the one in the middle.

Alex will have a lot to answer for in the months leading up to opening day. His inability to cope with the day to day pressures of New York will only be further magnified.

The only thing that can save him now is a World Series MVP award. After all, winning makes even the biggest dissenters come on board. Ask Eli Manning.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Happy 114th Birthday to Babe Ruth

February 6th, 2009, is a time when Barry Bonds is battling more court judges than starting pitchers, and signing more checks to his lawyer than autographs.

Ironically this date also represents the 114th birthday of George Herman "Babe" Ruth. The greatest hitter of his generation, and possibly in baseball history, Ruth slugged 714 home runs while ingesting thousands of hot dogs instead of performance enhancers.

The true staggering stat produced by The Babe has to do with his batting average as opposed to his power. Ruth hit .370 or better in SIX of his Yankee seasons.

Possessing the ability to hit for such a high average while leading the league in home runs is a truly remarkable feat. His pitching prowess makes him one of the most dynamic baseball players to ever play the game.

"The House that Ruth Built" may have taken its last breath in 2008, but the memories of The Babe and his building will never die.

2009 AL East Contenders Bullpen Analysis: Where Do The Yankees Stand?

Rays Bullpen Grade: B

Tampa Bay has unquestionable depth in the middle relief, with JP Howell and deadline acquisition Chad Bradford coming off of the best seasons of their careers. Grant Balfour also exploded onto the scene with 82 strikeouts in only 58.1 IP, as well as a 0.89 WHIP.

Even Dan Wheeler was finally able to put together a solid season in the American League. Wheeler, Bradford, and recent free agent signing Brian Shouse will provide an important veteran presence within a very young pitching staff.

Another interesting dynamic affecting the bullpen is the starting rotation’s tendency to not go deep into games. Scott Kazmir, Matt Garza, and Andy Sonnanstine combined to leave 40 starts before the end of the 6th inning in 2008. Adding a rookie to the rotation in David Price will only add to this problem. That is a lot of extra innings for a bullpen to throw without breaking down.

The Rays also have no dependable option for the 9th inning. If any baseball fans question the importance of the closer role, ask the Philadelphia Phillies if they could have won it all without Brad Lidge last season.

Wheeler was exposed down the stretch in pressure situations, blowing six games from the end of August through October. He was later replaced by rookie David Price in the ALCS, and Price’s move to the starting rotation in 2009 will eliminate their best closer option.

Troy Percival’s age and recent injury history, coupled with Balfour’s nearly 5.00 ERA in the postseason, leave the Rays without a proven stopper at the end of games. Tampa Bay cannot be given a higher bullpen rating than the Sox and Yankees without this necessity. However, if a talented young flamethrower like Balfour finds a way to step up, the Rays will be in good shape.

Red Sox Bullpen Grade: A-

The Red Sox also have the luxury of dependable middle relief, especially with the emergence of Manny Delcarmen. Boston has excellent balance in its bullpen, adding two solid lefties into the equation with Okajima and Javier Lopez. Okajima further adds to their versatility with his ability to frustrate right-handers with his changeup.

The Sox were also able to add Ramon Ramirez this offseason via a trade with the Royals. He is coming off of a breakout year, but it remains to be seen if he can adapt to the daily pressures of Red Sox Nation.

Depending on how Boston fills out the fifth spot in its rotation, they could also be adding two rising stars into the bullpen mix with Masterson and Bowden. Both blessed with electric stuff, these two could become the key wildcards to watch.

What sets Boston far apart from Tampa Bay is that they also possess Jonathan Papelbon, a lights out closer with ice water in his veins. It is an incredible advantage to have the ability to shorten games, and to know that a win is secured before the 9th inning begins in most cases.

Papelbon has recorded 113 saves and only 14 blown saves in his three full seasons as closer. His intensity and mean streak, whether it irritates you or not, is what makes him so effective at his craft.

Yankees Bullpen Grade: B+

When discussing the Yankees bullpen situation, where else can you start but with Mariano Rivera? Some fans worried that he was slowing down after the worst statistical season of his career in 2007.

Rivera responded with arguably his best in 2008, and reclaimed his place atop the closer world. A remarkable 13:1 strikeout to walk ratio and 0.67 WHIP said it all. I for one am completely unconcerned about a recovery from routine arthroscopic surgery. He pitched the year of his life through pain, and will return in great shape thanks to his work ethic.

The Yankees’ issues lie in the middle relief. A strength became a question mark with Joba’s permanent switch into the starting rotation. They will have to rely heavily on Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and the re-signed Damaso Marte.

Veras and Ramirez both have fantastic stuff, and can get out left-handed hitters as well as right-handers, which is a key to being a successful reliever. Both do have issues finding the strike zone from time to time, and will have to improve in that area to earn the setup role.
Damaso Marte is an interesting debate. Will he be able to pitch as consistently in 2009 and he did down the stretch in 2008? I am confident that Marte, now comfortable in the bright lights of New York, will build on the mere two runs he allowed in sixteen appearances to finish the season.

The emergence of Brian Bruney and Phil Coke will help to ease the burden. If they can perform anywhere near as well as they did last year, the Yankees will have excellent bullpen depth. Minor leaguers Mark Melancon and Humberto Sanchez could burst onto the scene in the second half if needed, but the winner of the setup role is the true key to the Yankees’ bullpen success in 2009.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Historical Bronx Trend: Burnett and Sabathia Could Start Slow

The pressures and expectations of playing baseball in New York are as embedded in the fabric of Yankees jerseys as the pinstripes that line them. If nameplates were a part of Yankee history, some acquisitions might as well have had ‘JESUS’ or ‘MOSES’ written across their backs.

Superstars are depended on to be saviors in the Bronx before ever stepping foot between the foul lines. The weight on their shoulders is often too much to carry in the opening months of their first seasons, and it leads to a statistical drop off while they grow accustomed to playing in New York.

Slow starts in the Bronx are generally more associated with position players, similar to what Sheffield, Tino, and Giambi experienced. Hitters can be placed under a media microscope day after day in order to magnify their struggles, as well as constantly feed into a players’ intensifying frustration.

However, recent trends have shown that the Yankee adjustment period has also harmed the pitching staff.

Mike Mussina started 1-3 with a 4.78 ERA through the end of April 2001, his first Yankee season. He finished an impressive 17-11 with a 3.15 ERA.

Roger Clemens had a 4.60 ERA in his first Yankee season, the highest at any point of his career. Roger was coming off of back to back Cy Young seasons, which truly shows how much the Bronx affected him. Clemens’ second season resulted in a much lower 3.70 ERA, and he went on to win another Cy Young in his third year.

David Wells produced a 4.21 ERA in his first year. He battled for a Cy Young with an 18-4 record and 3.39 ERA in his second season.

The interesting thing to point out here is that Clemens, Wells, and Mussina all arrived in the Bronx via leaving another AL East franchise. Clemens and Mussina spent their entire pre-Yankees careers pitching in the AL East, and the majority of Wells’ seasons were spent pitching in Toronto.

Regardless of their familiarity with the division, the lineups, and the stadium environments, these three established and successful starters were unable to get out of the starting blocks cleanly.

David Cone had a 3.80 ERA in his first half season after being traded to the Yanks, and had an excellent 2.80 ERA in his second year in pinstripes. Cone was accustomed to media pressures and what it takes to succeed in New York from his time with the Mets. He also arrived in New York as a proud owner of a World Series ring, yet still needed time to adjust to the Bronx.

You would have to go back to Orlando ‘El Duque’ Hernandez in 2000 or Jimmy Key in 1993 to find pitching acquisitions that began their Yankee careers white hot. Hernandez was aided by his unorthodox pitching style, as well as the benefit of no AL hitters ever having seen his stuff before.

However, this analysis does not necessarily mean that CC and Burnett will have poor first seasons in the Bronx. Mussina proved that a hot start is not necessary to put up tremendous numbers in season one. Yankees supporters can agree that performing at high levels in August-October is much more important than April-May anyway.

You never know…Burnett may be able to use his past dominance in Yankee Stadium and Fenway Park as a stepping stone toward a confident and smooth transition into pinstripes.

Aside from a terrible start to the 2008 season while with the Indians, CC Sabathia does not have a history of slow starts. Perhaps the stresses of a contract year and the uncertainties regarding his future were to blame for the early season hiccup.

The lesson learned here is not to automatically expect the worst if either or both pitchers start off 2009 a tad chillier than you had hoped. Even the best pitchers felt a wobble in their knees when they toed the rubber for the first few times as a Yankee.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pillsbury ‘Joe’Boy: Torre Gives Cookie-Cutter Answers on WFAN

Joe Torre was about a half hour late to his much anticipated radio interview on WFAN with Mike Francesa. He ironically made us all wait anxiously for him in the same way we awaited the release of his controversial book The Yankee Years.

Amidst a very hectic book signing tour, Torre sat down to attempt to clear up any animosity felt from New York’s side of the equation. Yankee fans were a ticking time bomb waiting for him to slip up and say the wrong thing, to give them all a reason to put the final nail into Joe’s Yankee coffin.

He of course never did. Torre tiptoed around sensitive topics, and fabricated responses to others. He ‘owned up’ to certain phrases scattered throughout the book, yet filtered the blame for others down to co-author Tom Verducci. Joe sounded rather rehearsed, as if his publicist was talking through him. To be fair, I suppose that is to be expected.

Torre may not have made any comments that will appear on the back page of the New York Post, but he did attempt to explain himself by addressing the key topics:
Torre on the book itself:
-Joe was “very surprised at the reaction and fallout from the book”, and felt in his heart that “he never violated the sanctity of the clubhouse.”
-He claimed that he paid strict attention to only releasing information that was already suspected by the media, or that supplied insight into a player’s true personality.
-He agreed to write the book before the 2007 season, and “would have written it even if he were still a Yankee.”

Torre on his motivation:
-He wanted to “celebrate the twelve years that he spent in NY”, as well as to show how hard it truly was to assemble a dynasty — as opposed to public perception.
-Joe also wanted to “give a taste of the truth of what goes on in baseball.”
-The book was a two-year project, and was not founded on bitterness. However, he does admit that “the last chapter would have been different” had he stayed in pinstripes.

Torre on Wells (who threatened to knock him out):
-“I’d guess that he hasn’t read the book yet.”
-Joe acknowledged that they had their differences, and added that “Wells and Kevin Brown drove me nuts from time to time.”

Torre on A-Rod/A-Fraud:
-He felt that Alex “was trying to be something he wasn’t”, and that he “put on an act.”
-Joe echoed Larry Bowa’s comments that ‘A-Fraud’ was an open and public joke among coaches and Alex, not a cruel mockery behind his back.
-He thinks A-Rod will win here and find a way to relax under pressure. He wants him to “trust his ability more than trying to be perfect.”

Torre on Cashman:
-Their relationship began to change in 2006 as a result of Cashman’s valuing of numbers analysis over the heart and potential of players.
-They argued over OBP being the determining factor in not bringing Bernie Williams back as a bench player.
-He feels that Cashman wanted him back for one more year, but went along with Hank, Hal, and Randy Levine in not offering a multi-year contract.
-Joe believes that Cashman “saved him once or twice from the hatchet,” but that he feels he no longer had an ally when he left the Bronx.

Torre on player personnel decisions:
-Joe wanted Tino Martinez and Nick Johnson for first base, and did not advocate the signing of Jason Giambi. He felt that “a move to sluggers was not the way to go.”
-Following the 2003 World Series, he told Cashman to trade Weaver for Kevin Brown.
-His biggest disappointments were the acquisitions of Carl Pavano and Randy Johnson. He admits that “Pavano was at the top of my list,” and that he did not expect Johnson to be so uncomfortable in NY.

Torre on regret:
-There is nothing that he said that he wishes was not included in the book, nor does he have any second thoughts on the process.
-Joe does regret the language that Tom Verducci used in describing Alex Rodriguez, and stated that he had nothing to do with the ‘single white female obsession’ comments.

Torre on possibly tainting his Yankee legacy:
-He said that he “can’t concern himself with what people think because he can’t change it.”
-He “can’t control it affecting his legacy,” but again stated that he “loved his twelve years here.”
It is very interesting that Joe refuses to admit that bitterness played a role in the book, or that he would be crushed if his legacy were destroyed in the Bronx.

If a utility infielder like Cody Ransom is wearing Torre’s former #6 come April, I am sure that he will be very upset at the realization that he will never receive a Yankee monument.

Perhaps Torre does not want to give the Yankees the satisfaction in knowing that he would be miserable in losing his reputation in the city that constructed his Hall of Fame coaching career. Like it or not, Joe may just have to face that truth.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sabathia Tailor Made For Pinstripes

In the weeks leading up to the much anticipated arrival of spring training, CC Sabathia is already proving to be a perfect fit for Yankees pinstripes. I am of course referring to his actions off the field, and not the benefit of the illusionary ‘thinning effect’ of the pinstripes themselves.

The 300-pound hurler, and recent addition to the Yankees’ nine-figure contract club, has made an excellent first impression to the Yankees universe. CC’s personality has been as pleasantly striking off the field as his unhittable slider will be on it.

Joba Chamberlain has been publicly raving about how much he has enjoyed Sabathia’s company, one of the first signs of how inevitably beloved he will be in the ever-changing Yankees clubhouse.

It will be absolutely priceless to watch the daily interaction between these two, especially in the dugout during their days away from the mound. The team should have its collective head on a swivel in anticipation for plenty of pranks on the horizon.

Sabathia has gone as far as to fly to Florida to participate in Derek Jeter’s recent charity golf event. There is no better way to cement your place in the clubhouse than to rub shoulders with the Yankee captain, and CC is clearly making a strong effort to be immediately accepted and respected in NY.

CC’s scheduled coast to coast move of his family from California to their soon to be New Jersey home is another positive sign. The important phrase associated with the move is the perceived “full-time” stamping.

Sabathia used to live in Cleveland with his family during the season, before returning to his California home for the offseason months. A full-time relocation implies that the Sabathias are here to stay for the duration of the contract (or at least initially committed to).

Reports of CC and his family having reservations about a journey aboard the money train to the Bronx may or may not be true. What we do know is that they are all making a spirited effort to make it work.

Though a full-time commitment to NY was not always expected of his wife and children, a determined and dedicated CC Sabathia was never questioned. Once the ink dried on the contract’s pages, CC’s focus was entirely directed at doing whatever it takes to get a ring for his finger, his team, and his new city.

The heart that Sabathia showed as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers is more than enough evidence of what is to be expected from the southpaw workhorse.

Though initially not thrilled to be shipped to Wisconsin in mid-season, he never complained or pouted. He instead carried the team on his back into the playoffs, compiling an 11-2 record and 1.65 ERA.

Even while knowing he would never throw a pitch for the Brewers organization following 2008, Sabathia pitched countless games on short rest down the stretch. As the pitches and innings piled up, CC risked the most important offseason of his life in favor achieving the Brewers first playoff appearance in 26 years.

Greg Genske (agent) was holding his breath every time CC took the mound after only three days of rest. He was always just one ‘pop’ or tear away from becoming more like his teammate Ben Sheets than the only unquestioned ace on the market.

As it turns out, his long-awaited exploration of free agency went more perfectly than even Sabathia could have imagined. He was coveted more than the head cheerleader in high school, and secured the most lucrative contract ever signed by a pitcher.

Whether CC’s Yankee footsteps will follow the path of David Cone or Vazquez and Pavano is yet to be seen. If nothing else, CC Sabathia knows that he has a job to do, and he will not rest until he finishes it.
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