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Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

A-Rod’s statistics paint a picture of one of the greatest baseball players of all-time. The table below list some of his eye-popping career batting statistics.

A-Rod Stats
 

What about his honors? He was a 3-time MVP. He was one of only five Yankee greats--- Gehrig, DiMaggio, Mantle, Berra and Maris --- to win multiple MVP Awards. He was a 2-time Gold Glove SS, a 10-time Silver Slugger, a batting champion in 1996 and a 14-time All-Star. Clearly, I could go on with his yearly accomplishments but no more proof is needed to declare his greatness. He is second only to the Babe in most home runs hit in one decade (Babe 467 [1920-1929], A-Rod 435 [2000-2009]) and is the only player to hit at least 150 home runs for three different teams (NY, Sea, Tex).

My original draft of this blog written on Thursday painted an ugly picture of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, a manager who I really respect. Here are some of the pieces I wrote in that first draft. “Thursday night in Boston, Yankees DH Alex Rodriguez played his final road game of his career. For his final rode game, A-Rod was slotted in the 4th position in the batting order serving as the DH. A-Rod made it clear he wanted to start all three games against the Red Sox and start at third base in his final game at Yankee Stadium. Unfortunately, his manager refused both his requests. Why did Joe Girardi refuse his requests? For some absurd reason A-Rod sat out the first two games against the Red Sox. Did Girardi sit A-Rod for the first two games because he felt these were must win games and he had better player alternatives for winning these games? I don’t think so! Remember, the Yankees already waved the white flag several days ago by getting rid of two of the top closers in baseball and their best hitter. Considering A-Rod has been a model citizen this year--- never complaining about his lack of playi­­ng time, leading the cheers from the dugout and working with younger players such as Castro and Gregorius---, A-Rod earned the right to start the final four games of his Yankee career. Would the Yankees have turned down the same request if it was made by Jeter?  

Friday has come and has gone. A-Rod played his last game for the Yankees. The game was scheduled to start at 8 PM instead of the usual 7 PM. The reason for this was the Yankees planned a small celebration for A-Rod. The night started with a storm that one might have reasoned was delivered by the baseball gods to represent A-Rod’s career. Mariano walked his two daughters out of the dugout and they were embraced by their father. The sellout crowd continually cheered and chanted A-Rod’s name. He started the game but not at third base. In his first at bat he delivered a scorching line drive to right that split the outfielders and drove in the Yankees first run. You could see the joy in has face as he stood on second base. This was his only hit in four at bats. But there was a ninth inning surprise. With the Yankees leading 6 to 3 and Betances pitching, out trotted A-Rod with his glove on his left hand. Yes, he would play third base for one out and then leave the game as the fans cheered. Arriving at the dugout he was hugged by Girardi. Yes, Joe granted his wish to play third base in his final game even though it was just for one out.

So what about A-Rod’s future? Well, the Yankees are obligated to pay him the $27.5 million he is owed along with a nominal amount in his new position as advisor and instructor for the Yankees. From my readings the bilingual A-Rod loves to work with young players and will be valuable working with such Latin players as Gleyber Torres (just acquired in a trade) and Jorge Mateo (promising minor league SS).

More on A-Rod’s future in a follow-up blog.


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

In Part 3 of this 4-part blog we looked at the impressive Mets young pitching staff. We  now look at the future Mets positional players.

We begin with the infielders. At first base the much improved 28-year-old Lucas Duda has14 HR and 49 RBI at the break. It looks like the Mets made the right decision keeping Lucas over Ike Davis. At second base is the 29-year-old All-Star Daniel Murphy who is showing he is a potential.300 hitter. Let’s hope the Mets don’t trade him away. At shortstop is the slick fielding 25-year-old Ruben Tejada. Guess what Ruben has begun to hit. The question is will the Mets try to get JJ Hardy or Hanley Ramirez or stick with Ruben. The franchise third baseman is David Wright. He will only get better when the Mets can protect him with better hitters.

We turn now to the Mets outfielders.  It looks like in the Mets future the 25-year-old Juan Lagaras will be in center and the veteran Curtis Granderson will be in right. Lagaras can be a future candidate for a Gold Glove and after a slow start Granderson is now supplying the power the Mets thought they were getting when they paid up for him.. A dark horse candidate for the left field position is the 27-year-old Earl Campbell. After hitting .355 in Triple AAA, he was called up and has thus far translated his success in the minors to the major league level. He can also backup Duda or platoon with Duda at first base. The speedy Eric Young Jr. gives them a solid backup. Yes, the Mets do need another power hitting outfielder.

Finally, the Mets top prospect the 25-year-old Travis D’Arnaud will be their catcher for years to come. After being demoted to Las Vegas where he batted close to .600, he has returned and has begun to hit major league pitching. The 33-year-old Anthony Recker is an able backup.

To summarize neither the Mets or Yankees are a playoff contender this year. The Yankees go into the second half of the season as a .500 team. The last year the Yankees began a second half below .500 was 1992. The Mets enter the second half 5 games below .500 but they have won 8 of their last 10 games.

Whereas, the Mets future starting pitching is as good as any MLB team, the Yankee future starting pitching is in shambles. It was just announced that CC Sabathia will have season ending surgery on his knee. At 34, CC has thrown far too many innings. Neither CC nor Michael Pineda, who has started only 4 games in the last three years, can be counted on in their future plans. Kuroda is pitching well but will be 40 next year. The 25-year-old Tanaka will undergo TJ surgery. If everything goes well he will be the ace of the staff in the future. The rest of the future starters will be determined somehow. Look for the Yankees, who need two starters and are always buyers, to pick up two veteran pitchers from teams out of contention. The Mets must decide on whether they are buyers or sellers. They have so many teams in front of them their best decision is to forget this year and continue to stockpile for the future.

With money to spend and trading chips available, the Mets should try to get JJ Hardy and a power hitting outfielder. Even with only one new power hitting outfielder the Mets will be strong contenders beginning in 2015. The same is not true for the Yankees. The Yankees are too old and have a bloated budget already. Their biggest need is starting pitching. But they also need a shortstop, second baseman, third baseman (assuming the 39-year old Alex Rodriguez skills keep on diminishing) and one power hitting outfielder. With so many needs and so little trading chips and a depleted farm system, the Yankees have too many needs to fill and no way to fill them. I can’t see how the Yankees can be a future contender.

I predict the city of New York will become the property of the Mets starting in 2015 and for the foreseeable future. 


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The strength of the Mets is their young pitching staff. Assuming their young pitchers can stay healthy, the Mets will have one of the best and youngest starting rotations in baseball over the next 5 years.

Here is the way I see the future Mets starting rotation beginning in 2015. Returning from TJ surgery, the 25-year-old Matt Harvey will be the Mets ace. For the 2013 season Matt Harvey was an All-Star with a 9-5 record and an ERA of 2.27 with 191 SO in 178 innings. I see the 25-year-old Zack Wheeler as the Mets number two. This year Wheeler has an ERA of 3.90 with 105 SO in 108 innings. Behind these two the next three starting spots will be chosen from the following very capable current list of starters. Dillon Gee and Jon Niese are two 28-year-old veterans. Gee sports a 2.56 ERA with a 4-1 record this year. Niese, being a lefty starter, is a keeper with a 2.96 ERA and a 5-4 record this year. Both these young veterans should continue to improve. Then we have the surprise success story. His name is Jacob DeGrom. The 26-year-old DeGrom has 72 SO in 73 innings with an ERA of 3.18. The 32-year-old Carlos Torres has proven to be successful as a spot starter and a long-reliever. Torres currently sports an impressive 2.88 ERA with 63 SO in 59 innings. Sitting in the high minors waiting for their opportunity are the 24-year-old Rafael Montero, 21-year-old Noah Syndergaard, and the 23-year old Stephen Matz. Of these three you probably never heard of Matz. Matz, a left-handed pitcher, was the Mets number one draft choice in 2009. After TJ surgery he is now healthy with a fastball that consistently reaches 95.Yes, the Mets have assembled an impressive list of young starters that can rival any team in baseball.

The Mets late inning bullpen is also very impressive. Even if the Mets 2014 anointed closer Bobby Parnell, lost for the season with elbow surgery, cannot return to form in 2015; the Mets still have the closer position covered by the 25-year-old Jenrry Mejia. Mejia was converted from a starter to a closer. This year Mejia responded positively to the change by recording 11 saves in 13 opportunities with 65 SO in 64 innings. For setup relievers the Mets have the 25-year-old Jeurys Familia who has a 2.06 ERA with 40 SO in 48 innings. Mejia and Familia seem to be in a constant battle for the closer position which brings out the best in both of them. Other possible setup relievers include Vic Black, received in a trade, sporting a 1.76 ERA with 22 SO in 21 innings and the lefty Dana Eveland who has a 2.63 ERA in 13 games. Every team must have that one lefty specialist to get that one lefty batter out and the Mets lefty specialist is Josh Edgin who has 13 SO in 15 innings and an ERA of 1.76.

I give the Mets future pitching staff a grade of A. As is often said, “You can’t have enough good starting pitching.” We have seen far too often young pitchers going down with arm injuries that require TJ surgery. Having this many solid young starters and with their two old veteran pitchers Bartolo Colon and Daisuke Matsuzaka performing at a high level, the Mets have the trading chips to bring back a power hitting young outfielder and a young All-Star caliber shortstop. To get a big name position player I believe the Mets will also have to part with one of their young pitchers. Which one will go?  Niese is in demand by other teams because he is a lefty starter. If Matz is ready for the big leagues I could see the Mets letting Niese go. The good news is that other young Met pitchers are also in demand. Pitching is really a nice problem for the Mets.   

The expression good pitching will defeat good hitting may be true but good hitting is needed to be a serious playoff contender. We will look at the Mets possible starting positional players for 2015 and beyond in the next posting.

To be continued:


 
Posted By Dr. Stan, the Stats Man

The All-Star game represents the symbolic half-way point in the MLB season. The half-time break is always a good time to evaluate your baseball team’s future. In a previous posting I declared there would be no baseball in October in New York. Nothing has changed my mind. But, what I would like to talk about now is the future of the two New York teams. For this posting I will focus on the New York Yankees.

Growing up I witnessed two dark periods in Yankee history.  The first period was from 1965 to 1975 when the Yankees made no post-season appearances. This period began as my boyhood idol Mickey Mantle’s career came to a sad ending. Prior to 1965 during the Micks years the Yankees appeared in 12 World Series. The second dark period was during the Don Mattingly years. This period stretched from 1982 to 1994 when the Yankees made no post-season appearances. Donny Baseball did make his lone post- season appearance in 1995 when the Yankees lost in five games to Seattle.  

Are we about to enter a new dark period for the Yankee history starting in 2014? A good beginning for this analysis is the current Yankee regulars.  Let’s start with the pitchers.  At the start of the 2014 season the five starters were CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Ivan Nova. Now, Kuroda is the only one of the five left standing. Nova is through for the year with TJ surgery. Both Pineda and Sabathia are on the DL. It is unknown whether either one of them will return this year and can be counted on for the future. Sabathia, even before his knee injury, clearly was on the downhill of his career. Tanaka, there new number one pitcher, has a tear in his UCL and probably will have TJ surgery. What we have now is a new rotation consisting of Kuroda, Michael Phelps, Brandon McCarthy, Chase Whitley, and Shane Greene. Greene and Whitley are unproven rookies, Greene has looked great in his two starts but is unproven and Whitley has been hammered in his last four starts. Phelps is up and down as a starter. McCarthy is a slight upgrade to Nuno who he replaced in a trade. But, he came over sporting more than a 5.00 ERA which is a worry. The 39 year-old Kuroda wilted last year and will probably wilt again this year. A 39-year-old pitcher is not part of your future plans. Of course, if the Yankees want to go way over the 200 million dollar mark there are some excellent free-agent pitchers available in 2015 including Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Justin Masterson, Jon Lester, and James Shields. Adam Warren, Dellin Betances (the only trading chip the Yankees have), and David Robertson are excellent for the last three innings except with their increased workload I am concerned that they will not hold up. I give a grade of D to the starters and a grade of B+ to the bullpen.

The infield consists of Mark Texeira at first base. Tex has surprised me with his successful return from his wrist problem. His power numbers are fine but his average is hovering around the .240 mark, way below his career average. At the age of 34, his body seems to be letting him down.  At 36, Brian Roberts took over for Cano, the best second baseman in baseball.  Roberts has already played more games than he had in his last four seasons which says much about his future.  At shortstop the Yankees lose “The Captain.” They not only lose his offense but also all the intangibles he brings to the team. Yes, Brandon Ryan is a good glove but can the Yankees afford a .220 hitting shortstop? Third base is now shared by the rookie Solarte, a career minor leaguer, and the disappointing 32 year-old Kelly Johnson. Yes, the 39 year-old Alex Rodriguez can return next year but his already diminished hitting skills can’t be helped by his long layoff. The Yankees need help at second, short, and third. I give the Yankee infield a D grade.

To be continued:, 


 

 

 
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