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MLB Staff Picks

The smell of peanuts and cracker jacks is in the air. After 152 days since the Red Sox walked off the field as champions, baseball is back. Our picks are in for this year’s fall classic. Here they are:

Writer

Pick

Brett Malamud

 I’m taking the Yankees over the Dodgers. Both teams have proven this offseason that they want to win now. The Yankees unloaded after missing the playoffs by opening their checkbook and spending close to $500 million. The additions of Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Masahiro Tanaka immediately make the Yankees a legitimate threat. But don’t think they’re the only team spending the big bucks. The Dodgers passed the Yankees for the MLB’s highest payroll, ending the Yankees 15 year streak, by spending $235 million this season. All and all I’d say Derek Jeter better start spreading the news that his final season will end with a ticker tape parade down the Canyon of Heroes.

Sam Breiter

 As an extremely optimistic Mets fan with nothing but the highest expectations, I’m always going to take my team. So along with my Mets, I’m taking the rival Yankees. The Mets have young talent in there rotation, and a growing lineup. They may make a huge move by the deadline, and Zach Wheeler will suprise people this year. Yankees, because they spent money this offseason and are clearly doing anything to win a year after missing the playoffs

Dan Lagnado

 In the NL I’ll take the Dodgers and in the AL I’ll take Detroit. Dodgers win a six game series behind Kershaw and Greinke who each win two games

Josh Halilej

 Tigers over Cardinals. Lots of solid pitching between the two of them. I think Justin Verlander comes back big this year and comes out as the Tigers’ #1 with Rick Porcello having an awesome year too finishing ahead of Max Scherzer in the pitching rotation. The Cards are going to need Yadier Molina to manage the pitching staff well, but they just don’t have the overall offensive firepower that Detroit does with the addition of Ian Kinsler. Watch out for the Rangers though if they can have someone aside from Yu Darvish step up in their rotation.

Seth Schuster

 Red Sox over Dodgers. Only a little bit of bias plays into this one…Both are great teams with amazing young talent. With the recent resurgence of John Lackey, John Lester, a healthy Clay Buchholz, and a young and very talented Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox will be the 2014 World Series Champions. With the leadership of David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, and Mike Napoli, look for the Sox to make a push for the repeat.

Ben Ozur

 Rays vs Dodgers. There’s no explanation for why the Rays are good every year, but the undeniable fact is that they are. However nobody is on the Dodgers level in terms of overall talent. Despite multiple holes including infield depth and major league ready pitchers in the minors, their superstar talent everywhere else will cover that up.

Ryan Gillman

 Dodgers over Tigers. The Dodgers are armed with a wealth of talent and the largest payroll in history. Anything less than a championship would be a disappointment.

Sam  Iryami

 Nationals vs Tigers. Nationals win. The Nationals have the best pitching rotation in baseball with the front four being Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Doug Fister. Pitching wins games. Although the Tigers have a great all around team, the team is full of veterans. However, they are definitely a contender for the World Series because of their many stars such as Justin Verlander, Miguel Cabrera, Ian Kinsler, and Max Scherzer. Both teams have unbelievable pitching and hitting, but I have the Nationals taking home the trophy in this one.

Zach Pokorny

 Dodgers vs Angels, but I’d pick the Angels because Mike Trout is amazing
Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

Derek Jeter has one last season in his hall of fame career and will make the most of it (Via Sabo News)

We hope everyone enjoys Opening Day and stays locked in to Dabuzzza here and on our twitter page this MLB season. We know we will.

2014 New York Yankees Preview

By Christian Pierre-Louis

Welcome back baseball fans!

The 2014 season is upon us and we have all waited patiently for the national pastime to begin once again. The New York Yankees open up spring training today down in Tampa, Florida and for the first time since 2009 there are a number of questions with this team. As you should know at this point, the face of the Yankees, heck, probably the face of baseball for the past two decades, Derek Jeter plans to retire at the end of this upcoming season. Who will replace him is one of the many questions that needs to be examined as the team opens up camp.

The 2013 season was one full of frustration for the team and the legendary shortstop who only played 17 games coming off of a fractured ankle. One thing to look out for is whether or not he can stay healthy in his final season. He has work tirelessly this offseason to heal and gain strength back in his lower body, but at the same time he will be 40 years young this June and he cannot play every day in the field as he used to. The Yankees need to find another option at short just in case the injury bug comes back to bite Jeter. Is that answer Eduardo Nunez? The young infielder hit .260 with three home runs and 28 RBI last season, but he struggled in the field.

Another option the Yankees could go is to sign free agent SS, Stephen Drew. The shortstop is still without a home this season after helping the Red Sox win the World Series last year. Although he batted .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBI, he is great in the field and a good clubhouse guy. Whether or not the Yanks will reach out to him we will soon see.

The losses of many important players from last year’s team will impact this year’s team greatly. Mariano Rivera, who was the greatest security blanket in the history of finishing ballgames, is gone; Andy Pettitte, who was one of the most consistent, reliable Yankee pitchers to begin ballgames, is gone; Robinson Cano, who came up through the system as a teenager and blossomed into one of the most valuable players in the game, is gone. The infield is unresolved and troublesome; as of now Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson are starting at second and third respectively. Roberts used to be one of the best second basemen in the league, but he has spent much of the last five years on the DL. Kelly Johnson is a good defender, but at times his offense is a little suspect. Also, how will Mark Teixera come back? He injured his right wrist during preparations for the World Baseball Classic and was eventually diagnosed with a partially torn tendon sheath. He hit .151 in just 15 games before undergoing season-ending surgery on July 1.

With all that said, still the Yankees could win 95 games in 2014.

The front office has spent half a billion (!!!) dollars this offseason to put a winning product on the field and they expect no less than a championship with this roster even with all the losses stated above.

The outfield is outstanding with the additions of Jacboy Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, also holdovers such as Brett Gardner and Alfonso Soriano will be key in the success of this team. Beltran is one of the best clutch hitters in this generation and Ellsbury wreaks havoc on the bases. Soriano’s power will be much needed again this season and the combination of Gardner and Ellsbury will add a different dimension to the offense. The outfield defense is now much improved now that two of the fastest players in the league will patrol left and center. Beltran is no slouch in right as he has a rocket from out there and can gun people out. Behind the plate, the Yankees added Brian McCann this offseason and he is a major upgrade for this team. His offensive numbers will be like nothing we have seen in the past few years at that position for the Yanks. His leadership and fire will help the team and the young pitchers on the staff such as, Tanaka, Pineda, and Nova.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has put together another contender in 2014 (Via Getty Images)

Yankees GM Brian Cashman has put together another contender in 2014 (Via Getty Images)

Speaking of the pitching, the starting rotation has questions to answer themselves. How will star free agent signee, Masahiro Tanaka, translate to the MLB? Will CC Sabathia return to form? What version of Hiroki Kuroda will we see; the one pre August 15th or after? Well, it all starts with Sabathia, who struggled last season with different injuries and ended the season on the DL. He and Kuroda will have to perform to take the pressure off of Tanaka. Ivan Nova should look to continue his success off of last season and continue to develop into a quality pitcher. Following Nova will be a combination of David Phelps, Adam Warren, Michael Pineda and Vidal Nuno all fighting for the 5th spot. The best scenario would be for Pineda to get it because he is only a few years removed from being considered one of the best young pitchers in the game.

The bullpen also has questions and has competition between at least a dozen unproven names. David Robertson has been given the role of closer following Rivera. Clearly, fans cannot expect him to duplicate what Mo did, but he can be a quality closer if he limits his walks and locates his pitches. Now, who will replace Robertson as the set-up man? That spot is up for grabs, but as of now it looks like Shawn Kelly will get the opportunity. His stuff is at times electric, but he looked tired by the end of last season, so time will tell. The Yankees also signed Matt Thornton, who before his arm trouble was a great reliever for the White Sox.

The 2014 Yankees team is one of promise, but also one that is full of questions. It will be very interesting how this team unfolds this spring going into the season. All the hype and attention will be on Tanaka and Jeter, but it will be the role players that will define this team and help lead them to a 28th World Series.

Here is a look at the potential team roster on opening day:

Lineup        Player         POS

1       Jacoby Ellsbury    OF

2       Derek Jeter                   SS

3       Carlos Beltran     OF

4       Brian McCann      C

5       Alfonso Soriano   DH

6       Mark Teixera        1B

7       Kelly Johnson       3B

8       Brian Roberts      2B

9       Brett Gardner      OF

Possible Starters:

Starter        Player         POS

1       CC Sabathia        SP

2       Masahiro Tanaka SP

3       Hiroki Kuroda      SP

4       Ivan Nova            SP

5       David Phelps       SP

6       Michael Pineda     SP

Closers/Setup:

Player                 POS

David Robertson  RP

Shawn Kelley       RP

Matt Thornton     RP

Bench Hitters (may include/exclude guys not on 25-man roster):

Player                  POS

Ichiro Suzuki       OF

Brendan Ryan      INF

Eduardo Nunez    INF

Francisco Cervelli         C

Austin Romine     C

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Christian Pierre-Louis is a journalism major at Seton Hall University. He is a HUGE fan of the, LA Lakers, NY Giants, and NY Yankees. He is also an assistant sports producer at Seton Hall’s radio station WSOU 89.5 FM. You can follow him on twitter at @CPL_78.

A Letter to Derek Jeter

Dear Derek,

I never thought that it would ever come to this. Yesterday I was in disbelief as I read your letter announcing your retirement. Ever since I was a year old, you’ve been in the Yankees lineup. You became my favorite player when I was only two years old and I was able to name all of the Yankees and their numbers (true story). You’ve taught me many, many things over the years. Going back to 1995, your play in Columbus AAA convinced Joe Torre to name you the starting shortstop to open the 1996 season. In typical Jeter fashion, you homered on Opening Day. You became the leadoff hitter and led the Yankees to their first championship in 18 years. You were also a unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year. But that wasn’t important to you. You cared more about the championship, and satisfying Mr. Torre and Mr. Steinbrenner. But you weren’t done there. You led the Yankees to a three-peat in 1998, 1999, and 2000 and took home the World Series MVP in 2000. But you didn’t care. You wanted the championship. You were also named an all star 13 times. And while you were thankful for the honor, it wasn’t important to you. You wanted that World Series ring. You taught me to put the team before yourself.

I watched as each hit became more memorable, as you passed hall of famers on the hit list. But no hit will be bigger to me than hit number 2722. It came on September 11, 2009, the eight-year anniversary of the tragic attacks. It drizzled all afternoon and the game was in danger of not being played. I came home from school that day and my dad surprised me with tickets. I was so excited and I ran to my room to put on my Derek Jeter jersey. This could be the night that Derek passes Lou Gehrig to become the Yankees all time-hit leader. But as I hopped in the car, the drizzle became worse and my dad said, “I think we should turn around and go home.” I grew upset. “No!” I replied. “We have to go. If there’s a rain delay, we’ll just walk around the stadium. We have to go! It’s Derek Jeter and he has a chance to make history.” My dad complied and we proceeded to Yankee Stadium. There was a rain delay but we waited it out. You hit the ball down the right field line, and history was made. That is one moment I will never forget and I’m thankful that I was a there to see it in person. That season continued and once again, you led the Yankees to another championship.

(Via USA Today)

(Via USA Today)

I watched on television as you smacked your 3000th hit into the left field bleachers. And after about a minute of celebration, you said, “We have a game to play,” and got back to business. You went five for five that day, including the game-winning hit. That was what you cared about: helping the team. When you got injured in the 2012 playoffs, I cringed and feared that it was the last time I’d see you on a baseball field. I’ve never seen you in that much pain. Even after you dove into the stands against the Red Sox back in 2004, you seemed to be okay and told everyone you would play the next day. But you weren’t on this play. There was a long path to recovery ahead of you and you took it one step at a time. That first pitch you saw this past July, you belted into the right field bleachers. You taught me to never give up and to battle back when the odds are against you.

You are the kind of person who I strive to be each and every day. You are a huge inspiration to me both on and off the field. You will always be my favorite athlete in any sport. And so Derek, as your farewell tour begins, I’m going to leave you with a story. Back in April 2011, my family and I hit the road to look at colleges in upstate New York, as I was going to be applying that Fall. As we visited SUNY Oneonta, we decided to stay in Cooperstown so that we could check out the Hall of Fame. When we walked in, the admissions person greeted us. He convinced us to sign up for a hall of fame membership. He presented us with a catalog of different options for membership cards. We picked the Mickey Mantle one. We talked to admissions person for a few minutes. He asked each of us who our favorite hall of famer was. My dad tells him “Mickey Mantle is my guy.” My brother sister and mother are all asked as well. One at a time they reply: “Mickey Mantle” “Babe Ruth” “Probably Babe Ruth.” Suddenly the man turns to me. “Who is your favorite hall of famer?” I didn’t even have to think about it. With complete confidence in my answer and in the next few years, I knew the man that I’d say. And then I replied. “Derek Jeter.”

I’ll miss you Derek.

Sincerely,

Brett Malamud

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Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Who is Masahiro Tanaka?

By Ben Ozur

As is it wasn’t enough for the Yankees to sign All-Stars Jacoby Ellsbury, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran, they had to go out and get Masahiro Tanaka, a Japanese-born pitcher who was widely considered the best starting pitcher on the free agent pitcher. But, considering he has yet to pitch in the MLB yet, what should they expect out of him? The answer: there’s no real way of knowing.

There’s no denying the dominance that Tanaka presented in the Japanese league. Many people have compared him to Yu Darvish, the runner-up in the AL Cy Young award voting in 2013, in their numbers in the Japanese league and say that this is a good way to prove that he will have similar success in the MLB. What people neglect to acknowledge is that those numbers were also similar to those of Daisuke Matsuzaka. Though he had good numbers in his first few years in the US, he burned out quickly. Many people consider that hefty contract a failure for the Red Sox, but who’s to say that Tanaka won’t be the same for the Yankees?

In fact, if you were to rank the greatest Japanese-born pitchers in MLB history, once you get past Hideo Nomo, the list is really thin. The next few guys are most likely Darvish, Hisashi Iwakuma (third in the AL Cy Young voting in 2013), Hiroki Kuroda, and Koji Uehara. The first two of those only have two years of experience, so there’s no way to call them successes quite yet. For the most part, there have been more failures from Japanese-born pitchers coming stateside, namely Matsuzaka, Hideki Irabu, Kei Igawa, Hisanori Takahashi, Ryota Igarashi, and Yoshinori Tateyama. All of these guys were seen as high-ceiling guys, so teams paid them big bucks. None of them really panned out at all.

Masahiro Tanaka hopes to take New York by storm, after signing a monster sized deal with the Yankees

Masahiro Tanaka hopes to take New York by storm, after signing a monster sized deal with the Yankees (Via ChicagoNow)

What about his workload? He pitched in the Japanese league for seven years, collecting an astounding 1315 IP before the age of 25. That’s eerily similar to the beginning of Frank Tanana’s career. In his first six seasons (all of which were before the age of 25), he had 1321 IP. To that point, no one could deny the success Tanana had up to that point, considering his three All-Star appearances and three top-10 Cy Young award finishes. However, he really burned out. From 1979-1993, he had a 100 ERA+ (ERA adjusted for ballparks and league-average offense that year), which is considered league-average. In fact, from 1978-1993, he only had 6 seasons with an ERA+ over 100 (which means he was only above league-average 6 of those 16 seasons). With these two pitchers having very similar early-career successes and heavy workloads, could Tanaka burn out in a similar way that Tanana did?

It’s not a guarantee that Tanaka will be a failure (at least the Yankees hope not). With his dominant split-finger fastball, many people compare him to the early years of Iwakuma and Dan Haren. Those are two very favorable comps. But again, there’s no way of knowing.

Did the Yankees take a risk in signing this guy? Absolutely. The Yankees signed a guy that has not thrown a pitch against MLB hitters. Adding the $20M posting fee, they spent $175M to acquire his services for seven years. This is the exact same contract that the Mariners gave as an extension to Felix Hernandez. At the time of the extension, Hernandez was clearly a proven elite starting pitcher. The same cannot be said for Tanaka.

No one in recent history has dominated the Japanese league the way that Tanaka did (except for Darvish, perhaps). But that doesn’t guarantee success for him here in the United States. We won’t know exactly what to make out of this guy until he debuts with the Yankees.

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Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.

Are The Yankees Better?

By Christian Pierre-Louis

Let’s see if I have the events of the last two or three days correct…

On Thursday, Brian McCann was officially introduced and actually became the first member of the Yankee organization to acknowledge Jacoby Ellsbury was a Yankee now as well. Soon after, we wondered if the Yankees had made any progress with Robinson Cano, only to learn that he was on his way to Seattle. Thursday night Cano and Jay-Z met with the Mariners brass and a deal appeared close.

Friday morning, the deal was falling apart. Later Friday morning, it was back on. Before Friday morning was over, Cano was a Mariner for the next ten years. By Friday night, Carlos Beltran was a Yankee.

Somewhere in between, the Yankees had a deal to bring back Hiroki Kuroda.

Oh, and Curtis Granderson also signed with the Mets.

Pardon me while I take a moment, to collect myself.

Okay, so now the important question–are the Yankees better?

Well, a lot of people said and wrote before that the Yankee off-season could not be a success with Cano playing somewhere else, and some still believe that to a degree. They needed significant upgrades even with Cano, and now have to fill that void too.

Yes, they are somewhat better. They have improved at catcher and their outfield is better. The infield still has some questions, especially with the known returnees Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira coming off major injuries.

The pitching still has some holes, namely at least 1 quality starting pitcher with 30 start durability, and some extra bullpen arms after the losses of Joba Chamberlain, Boone Logan, and that other guy who used to wear 42.

The Yankees still have work to do. And to see how much money they’ve sunk into this already and all the holes they still have to fill kind of shows you what a smoke and mirrors trick it was to get 85 wins out of the 2013 team.

Robinson Cano bolted for Seattle and the Yankees responded by spending their money elsewhere (Via Brett Malamud)

Robinson Cano bolted for Seattle and the Yankees responded by spending their money elsewhere (Via Brett Malamud)

So…better than they were in 2013 right? Let’s put it this way:

Here was the Opening Day starting lineup, April 1 vs. Boston:

CF-Brett Gardner

SS-Eduardo Nunez

2B-Robinson Cano

1B-Kevin Youkilis

LF-Vernon Wells

DH-Ben Francisco

RF-Ichiro Suzuki

3B-Jayson Nix

C-Francisco Cervelli

And here was the lineup vs. Tampa Bay from September 25, the last day the Yankees were still in mathematical playoff contention:

3B-Eduardo Nunez

DH-Alex Rodriguez

2B-Robinson Cano

LF-Alfonso Soriano

RF-Vernon Wells

1B-Mark Reynolds

CF-Curtis Granderson

SS-Brendan Ryan

C-Chris Stewart

That’s 15 different players between those two lineups, and you can probably only guarantee that Alfonso Soriano and Brendan Ryan are on the roster next Opening Day, let alone the starting lineup. That’s an amazing amount of turnover. Is there a possibility the Yankees have nine completely different names for Opening Day in just one year?

The Yankees are in transition like we haven’t seen before, not even after 2008. With the core of this team either coming off injuries or suspensions/appeal hearings/other legal proceedings, it is an unbelievable revamp.

And, again, the Yankees aren’t done.

Let’s face it–this Yankees off-season is more exciting than the regular season. Too bad they can’t sell tickets to watch this stuff.

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Christian Pierre-Louis is a journalism major at Seton Hall University. He is a HUGE fan of the, LA Lakers, NY Giants, and NY Yankees. He is also an assistant sports producer at Seton Hall’s radio station WSOU 89.5 FM. You can follow him on twitter at @CPL_78.

BREAKING: ROBINSON CANO REPORTEDLY AGREES WITH MARINERS

By Brett Malamud

Multiple sources have reported that Robinson Cano has agreed to a 10 year, $240M contract pending a physical to take place on Monday. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Enrique Rojas

The deal marks the end of Cano’s tenure in pinstripes. Meanwhile, the Yankees just wrapped up a contract for one year, $16M with Hiroki Kuroda, and according to CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman, have turned their attention to Shin Soo Choo and Carlos Beltran. Don’t be surprised if they make a run for Omar Infante as well, as they now have freed up the $175M that they offered to Cano.
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Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Reaction to the Ellsbury Signing

By Sam Breiter

If you did not get the chance to hear yet, Jacoby Ellsbury signed a multi million-dollar contract last night. No, he won’t go for a second straight title with the Boston Red Sox, but rather he has decided to sign with their number one rival. Yes, Ellsbury is a member of the Evil Empire and will be wearing pinstripes next year, and with the money he now making, I think he will survive shaving off his beard. Ellsbury over the next seven years will be making $153-million and will be making well over $20-million per season. This was after he denied Boston’s $14.1-million qualifying offer, so he obviously made a good financial choice. So the question lies, was he worth the deal? Ellsbury, who is now 30 years old, will be playing in the Bronx most likely until he is 37. Ellsbury is known for his quickness, great fielding ability, and contact at the plate. Although, his power, and on base percentage has been inconsistent. Some people may call Ellsbury a five-tool player, but besides 2011, he has never really been known for hitting the long ball. Ellsbury, who has been playing for seven seasons, has found himself getting substantial injuries in two seasons. In 2013, Ellsbury was healthy for much of the season, and had a batting average of .298, with 52 stolen bases.

With the help of his agent Scott Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury joined the Evil Empire, and signed a seven year deal with the Yankees (Via Red Sox Nation)

With the help of his agent Scott Boras, Jacoby Ellsbury joined the Evil Empire, and signed a seven year deal with the Yankees (Via Sox Nation)

Even though he has proved to still have potential to be an MVP candidate, I don’t not believe this was a smart contract. By the middle of his contract, it’s doubtful Ellsbury will be able to steal 50 plus bases, as he does so well. Additionally, he has proven to be an injury threat, and it just isn’t worth it to pay a guy $20 million in a season who has battled injuries, and is running out of his prime. The Yankees signed Ellsbury to make a statement, they wanted to prove to the fan that we have money, and we will spend it. They already made a statement signing McCann to his overpriced deal, and it is no surprise that Ellsbury got equal treatment. Congratulations Yankees, you have achieved what you have always done best, spending money for current talent. In four years from now when Ellsbury is 34, batting .270, and stealing 15 bases at most, all were going to hear about is what a terrible deal this was. These big $100 million dollar deals for veteran stars always ends in terrible fashion especially when they come from another team. Don’t forget A.J Burnett, and Carl Pavano, and Alex Rodriguez. The Yankees have a history of these disastrous contracts, and Ellsbury will soon be added to this list.

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Sam Breiter is a high school senior at Plainview- Old Bethpage JFK High School. Sam is looking to major in sports management, with a minor in communications next year.  He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite teams are the Mets, Giants, and Knicks. You can follow him on twitter at @baseballbreiter