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:
|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.|
|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|
|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|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Dodgers vs Angels, but I’d pick the Angels because Mike Trout is amazing|
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.
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.
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
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
David Robertson RP
Shawn Kelley RP
Matt Thornton RP
Bench Hitters (may include/exclude guys not on 25-man roster):
Ichiro Suzuki OF
Brendan Ryan INF
Eduardo Nunez INF
Francisco Cervelli C
Austin Romine C
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.
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.
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.
Ben Ozur is an absolute baseball guru. He is a huge Mets, Jets, Knicks and Islanders fan whose life revolves around fantasy sports.