Monthly Archives: March 2009

Merpeople

There’s been growing support going around the Mizzou campus for adding “gender identity” to the University’s non-discrimination clause.

Personally, I think it’s a waste of time and resources, although I’m open to compromises. Here’s what I propose. I’ll go along with adding gender identity if the University also adds merpeople into its non-discrimination clause.

This is the beginning of my campaign to add merpeople to it’s non-discrimination clause. If someone else can make up something to add to the non-discrimination clause, so can I.

The plight of merpeople is often overlooked

The plight of merpeople is often overlooked

2009 MLB Predictions

REGULAR SEASON

1. New York Yankees: 100-62
An offseason shopping spree of epic proportions make the Yankees the favorite in the loaded AL East. If everyone stays healthy, 100 wins may be an underestimate. But injury and age could catch up to the Yankees and cause them to miss the playoffs for a second consecutive year. If healthy, there isn’t a better starting rotation in baseball than CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, AJ Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Joba Chamberlain.

2. Boston Red Sox: 95-67
Boston made a whole lot of low-risk/high-reward type deals this offseason (Smoltz, Saito, Penny & Baldelli) and could end up catching lightning in a bottle. They were PR’d into re-signing catcher Jason Varitek and if he gets consistent playing time, he should work in detriment to the team. Their starting rotation is solid and only a few men do their job better than Jonathan Papelbon does his. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis will anchor the lineup, although I project their production to slip somewhat.

3. Tampa Bay Rays: 93-69
They’d win any other division in baseball by 5 games, but in the AL East, all theyll manage is third place. Their success last year was due to the health of their starting pitching, solid defense and effective relief work. Given the nature of starting pitchers and the fluidity of relievers, one certainly can’t bet on everything falling right for the Rays two years in a row. Their young nucleus of Longoria, Upton and Crawford should continue to develop and follow up their pennant-winning season with another successful campaign.

4. Baltimore Orioles: 78-84
Nothing special this year, Baltimore is raising some good prospects. I love their outfielders and catching prospect Matt Wieters has superstar written all over him. They’re still light on pitching, especially in the bullpen although getting Chris Ray (33 saves in 2006) should help stabilize the bridge to George Sherrill.

5. Toronto Blue Jays: 74-88
With Marcum and McGowan sidelined with injuries and AJ Burnett pitching for a division rival, an apparent strength from 2008 is now a glaring weakness. Roy Halladay is still an elite starter, but after that it’s a crapshoot. Litsch and Purcey are probably the most likely to eat up the innings vacated by Marcum, McGowan and Burnett, but problems abound when Matt Clement is a viable option.

1. Minnesota Twins: 88-74
Every year I slot them in the lower half of this division and every time they make me look stupid by contending. So this year, they’re second in my AL Central. Their young pitching should carry them all season and keep them in contention well into September. However, Mauer and Morneau need to be healthy and productive to make a playoff run.

2. Cleveland Indians: 84-78
The Indians dumped me last year, so I’m going against them again in a weak division. They added a closer to shore up bullpen problems and should get some bounce-back years offensively from a couple of key guys.

3. Kansas City Royals: 79-83
Whoa, right? I haven’t liked a whole lot of their offseason moves (Mike Jacobs, really?) but they’re grooming a nice young crop of players and their pitching is maturing. Meche and Grienke are a nice 1-2 and Soria is a door-slammer in the ninth. They should be a fun team to watch.

4. Detroit Tigers: 76-86
Still don’t trust their pitching, rotation or bullpen. The offense should be there, but this team is going to lose a whole bunch of 9-8 games. Verlander’s looked better this spring, but his peripherals still aren’t where they should be.

5. Chicago White Sox: 73-89
I have an unexplainable dislike of the White Sox and it makes me a little happy when I can pick them to finish in the basement. They’ll be heavily relying on John Danks and Gavin Floyd to build on their successful years from last year. This is an aging team that needs a shot of athleticism.

1. Oakland Athletics: 85-77
They made some smart moves this winter, bringing in Matt Holliday, Jason Giambi and Orlando Cabrera to boost an offense that ranked near the bottom in most categories in 2008.

2. Anaheim Angels: 81-81
Last year my surprise was the Rays doing well. This year, I give to you, free of charge, the collapse of the Angels. Without Mark Teixeira and with Vlad a year older (2, actually), the offense just isn’t up to par and the pitching is questionable with the uncertain status of Ervin Santana, John Lackey and Brian Fuentes.

3. Texas Rangers: 77-85
With that offense and that park, they’ll hit their way to a couple of victories, but the pitching is still lacking. They should be in big for Ben Sheets when he’s recovered from his surgery, given his file checks out.

4. Seattle Mariners: 71-91
They started cleaning house last year, shedding some bad contracts and bad characters, but it’ll take more than a year to right this ship. (Get it? Mariners .. ship .. I amuse myself). Felix Hernandez deserves more help than he’s going to get, but it doesn’t look like he’s going to get any in the next few years.

1. Philadelphia Phillies 91-71
I want to pick them to finish second, but I can only see the Mets potentially overtaking them, and after getting burned by them the past two years, I won’t this time. The Philly offense will roll and so long as Cole Hamels doesn’t miss significant time, they’ll be fine.

2. New York Mets: 87-75
K-Rod and Putz certainly help, but not as much as most people seem to think. The starting pitching is still iffy behind Johan Santana, but the offense should help the Mets hang around both the division and wild card races.

3. Atlanta Braves: 86-76
They significantly upgraded their rotation, adding reliable inning-eaters Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez and Japanese star Kenshin Kawakami. Adding those three to holdover Jair Jurrjens should make up for losing Tim Hudson to Tommy John surgery for most of the year. Signing Chipper Jones to a 3-year extension as he enters his age 37 season is risky given his durability issues, but a nexessity nonetheless.

4. Washington Nationals: 76-86
They won’t be the worst team in baseball this year, but they’ll certainly still be pretty bad. Adam Dunn adds some much needed offense, and the eventual drafting of SDSU stud Stephen Strasburg will add the much-needed big arm. They’ll toil away all season, pitching decently and hitting every now and then.

5. Florida Marlins: 72-90
They cleaned house again, but could still end up surprising a lot of people, although outside Hanley Ramirez, they don’t really have a truly great offensive weapon. I foresee them being a streaky team, maybe starting hot, but ultimately fading away into obscurity.

1. Chicago Cubs: 92-70
They’ll be fine beating up their weak National League competition all season, but ultimately lose in October. Again. What’s one more penny when you’ve already got a dollar? The Mark DeRosa and Kevin Gregg deals made no sense and the Milton Bradley contract has it’s risk as well.

2. St. Louis Cardinals: 88-74
Especially if Chris Carpenter returns to his pre-injury form, the Cardinals could be a force in the National League. The Cardinals must hope that Ryan Ludwick can repeat his 2008 year and that they receive offense from someone not named Pujols. The closer situation needs to be settled, rookie Jason Motte could step in and provide some closure there.

3. Milwaukee Brewers: 82-80
The loss of Sabathia and Sheets certainly will hurt the Brewers in the standings. Without their pair of aces, the Brewers will struggle to prevent opposing teams from scoring early and often.

4. Cincinnati Reds: 82-80
Aaron Harang can’t possibly be as bad as he was last year, and Edinson Volquez probably won’t be as good. Johnny Cueto could mature and if a couple things develop, the Reds could hang around the wild card race. More likely, they’ll hang around .500 again

5. Houston Astros: 66-96
They can’t score runs, and outside of Roy Oswalt, they can’t prevent them either. That can’t bode well for a team that has basically traded its farm system away from players past their prime. I wonder if they’ll be interested in Roger Clemens again.

6. Pittsburgh Pirates: 63-99
I don’t like predicting teams to lose 100+ games because that’s a terrible team. But I thought long and hard about the 2009 Pirates. For a team that’s constantly rebuilding, they sure don’t have much of a foundation.

1. Los Angeles Dodgers: 91-71
With the return of Manny Ramirez, LA will make a return to the postseason. The pitching is there and the hitting is good enough to eek out a division title.

2. Arizona Diamondbacks: 87-75
Keeping Randy Johnson probably would have made them the favorites here, but they’ll turn his innings over to younger, cheaper options. If their young hitters (Young, Drew, Upton, Jackson) continue to develop, they could absolutely make a run at the division with their pitching.

3. San Francisco Giants: 77-85
This is a team getting close, but they’re still not there yet. The pitching, led by Lincecum is good, but the offense could use upgrades at several positions.

4. Colorado Rockies: 71-91
Same ol’ story. No pitching coupled with some pretty good hitting. Their Cinderella run to the World Series two years ago is ancient history and they’re back to being an irrelevant schedule filler out west.

5. San Diego Padres: 64-98
They need to just dump Peavy and the rest of their vets and start over. Focus on power pitchers suited for that big park, and young, athletic position players that can manufacture runs and prevent them with the leather.

PLAYOFFS

Yankees over Athletics in 4
The Athletics slip into the playoffs from a weak conference and run into the Yankees and their stars. This year, with a much improved playoff rotation, the Yankees are too much for a young and promising Oakland club.

Red Sox over Twins in 4
Boston’s lineup is too patient and disciplined and is capable of taking the Twins young pitchers out of their zone. That, coupled with the Twins middling offense sends the Sox to the ALCS.

Yankees over Red Sox in 7
This year’s ALCS will feature some tough, grind-it-out games featuring good pitching and some wicked hitting. But ultimately, New York’s offseason additions prove to be the difference makers as CC Sabathia goes eight strong and Mark Teixeira delivers a big blow late to send the Yankees to the pennant.

Dodgers over Cubs in 5
Manny Ramirez spins the same tale he did last year, while LA’s arms quiet the Cub bats as Chicago is shown the door once again.

Phillies over Cardinals in 5
Behind the health of Cole Hamels and Chase Utley, the Phillies move on to a NLCS rematch.

Phillies over Dodgers in 6
Philadelphia wins its second consecutive pennant behind their slugging bats and good-enough pitching. Ryan Howard takes the MVP honors this time around.

Yankees over the Phillies in 7
New York brings too much pitching to the World Series and the Phillies ultimately spend the ninth inning of Game 7 watching Mariano Rivera mow through Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard.

AWARDS

AL MVP: Grady Sizemore, Indians
Sizemore is a unique player in the fact that he hits for power and average, can steal bases and plays elite defense at a premium position. Those types of players should be in the middle of the MVP discussion every year. The Indians should be better than they were last year, which will help Sizemore’s visibility on a national level.

He’s a guy that could potentially line up with 50 doubles, 10 triples, 30 homers, 30 steals, a .300 average and 100 RBIs, all while playing a gold-glove caliber centerfield. Those are MVP numbers.

NL MVP: Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
Obviously, Albert Pujols is the pick every year for this award. Hanley Ramirez is the only other player that matches the qualities that I listed above for Sizemore. Power, average, speed, defense and premium position.

With the Marlins moving him to the third slot in the lineup, he should see more RBI opportunities which will help his “MVP numbers” dramatically. His stolen bases may fall off, but his overall body of work should improve. He just has to out-shine Pujols.

AL Cy Young: CC Sabathia, Yankees
Sabathia ended up a Cy Young candidate without a league last year when he was dealt midseason to the National League. Staying in one league for the entire year will return the Cy Young hardware to the hefty lefty. A better offense and a better closer will allow Sabathia to avoid the deadly no-decision.

I kind of wanted to pick Toronto’s Roy Halladay, but he may end up being dealt midseason, much like Sabathia was last year. And if he isn’t, the Blue Jays probably aren’t good enough to get him the win total that baseball writers think Cy Young winners need.

NL Cy Young: Johan Santana, Mets
With Cole Hamels hurting, Tim Lincecum coming off a huge jump in innings, Johan Santana should sail to this award. He had a Cy Young caliber season last year, that went largely unnoticed as the Mets collapsed for a second consecutive year.

A sleeper is certainly possible, as we saw with Cliff Lee in the AL last year, but I don’t feel completely comfortable picking someone with Ricky Nolasco, Edinson Volquez or Yovani Gallardo’s track record.

AL Rookie of the Year: Matt Wieters, Orioles
I love the makeup and tools of this kid. He’s a Joe Mauer with power. He’ll start of in the minors, but I expect him to push the Orioles hand, much like Evan Longoria did with the Rays last year.

He’s a major league hitter right now, and Baltimore will be able to get by as his defense continues to develop.

NL Rookie of the Year: Tommy Hanson, Braves
Hanson, like Wieters, will open the season in the minors, but when your parent club includes a 43-year old Tom Glavine, you’ll get your chance sooner rather than later, whether it’s because of injury or ineffectiveness. He’ll be able to mow through NL lineups without any pressure and cruise to the ROY award.

AL Manager of the Year: Ron Gardenhire, Twins
The manager awards are always the most difficult to predict because it really depends heavily on how players perform. But Gardenhire has finished in the top 3 for this awards in five of the past seven years. He’s got solid young pitching and enough potential offense to win the weakened AL Central and maybe make a run into the playoffs.

NL Manager of the Year: Tony LaRussa, Cardinals
Lou Piniella won last year, but watched his team collapse in the playoffs, although anyone who has followed baseball for the past oh, 100 years or show, should have expected that. Tony LaRussa is in a similar position to Gardy in the AL – he’s got some pitching, and if the bullpen works itself out, the Cardinals could be dangerous to make a run a la 2006.

March Madness at Mizzou

For the first time in 6 years, Missouri’s basketball team is dancing in March. The Tigers would have received an at-large bid even if they didn’t wrap up an automatic bid by winning the Big 12 championship.

I don’t care how my brackets turn out, I’m picking Missouri to win everything, upsetting Memphis, Connecticut, Louisville and Syracuse along the way.

And I felt I’d match the blog to the times. Enjoy DeMarre Carroll and Wheeler graduate JT Tiller for the next few weeks.

Up first, No. 14 Cornell!

Obama’s First 100 Days Update

We’re about halfway through Obama’s first 100 days, and while he’s busy trying to spend $1 billion per hour, release international criminals, and endorse a genocide, Americans have started to get to know the real Obama.

How many people? Obama’s approval rating fell below 60% for the first time in his administration, and if he keeps up his ridiculously destructive plans, it will contnue to fall.

While these polling institutions are spitting out poll results and mathematical findings, I decided to do my own study and came up with the following, infallible results:

Mathematical Fact

Mathematical Fact

I’m so glad Obama made time to fill out his NCAA brackets today. For some reason I assumed the man wouldn’t care about the college basketball playoff tournament. Something that is awarded based on production and merit? I didn’t peg Obama as a guy who’s all for that stuff.

Gender Identity & FOCA

On an additional note, a “big” movement around campus recently has centered around adding “gender identity” to Missouri’s non-discrimination clause.

While I certainly don’t advocate discrimination against anybody (okay, probably not entirely true) there are MUCH more important things that our university (student governments in general) can allocate our time and resources towards.

Last week in The Maneater (our student newspaper) ran a column by Marcus Bowen entitled Student Leaders Lack Maturity To Be Curators.

Now typically, the columnists employed by the Maneater are complete rubbish, but Marcus Bowen has impressed me. He writes about issues that are (read, should be) important to college students while other columnists write about sororities and the Jonas Brothers. Exactly what I want to read about when I open my paper (end sarcasm).

You can read over the responses The Maneater received from “tolerant” students. I emailed Bowen commending him for his public stance against this frivolity and we exchanged a few emails and eventually became Facebook friends. For those of you unaware, that now constitutes a serious friendship.

Bowen’s new column quickly addresses last week’s before criticizing FOCA.

Now, I’m not named explicitly in Bowen’s new column, but some of our conversation is used in it. See if you can find it, pretend it’s a game!

New York Yankee 2009 Season Outlook: Bullpen

LONG RELIEVER: Four pitchers seemed to be in the running for the long man, five, depending on how the Yankees view Phil Coke. The two returners from last season, Al Aceves and Dan Giese and the veteran minor-league deals, Jason Johnson and Brett Tomko.

Al Aceves impressed with some solid late-season starts in 2008, but has been sporadic in his performance this spring. A Mexican League veteran, has an underwhelming fastball that he compliments with good command and above-average offspeed stuff.

Dan Giese, like Aceves also performed well last year and has struggled to find a groove this spring. A strike-thrower, Giese doesn’t present great stuff but can be effective when he’s controlling all his pitches. He is susceptible to the big fly but is probably the favorite for the long man.

Jason Johnson got a late start in spring training and is probably the longest shot to make the team, but he finally got into a game and tossed a scoreless frame. He mixes a slider and a changeup in with his fastball, but doesn’t have the stuff to consistently challenge hitters. Like Giese, he allows too many homers.

Brett Tomko has been the most impressive of the long reliever competition and may end up overtaking Aceves or Giese before April 6. He induces ground balls and has four pitches that can be useful, however, once he loses his command, he’s done.

MIDDLE RELIEVERS: There’s a whole gaggle of guys that could work here, and the Yankees seem to be taking the approach if you throw enough stuff against the wall, some of it’s bound to stick.

Jon Albaladejo was acquired from the Nationals in 2007 and opened 2008 with the Yankees before going down with an injury. He’s pitched well this spring and has probably almost locked a spot for himself on the Major League roster. He keeps the ball down and commands his fastball well. He didn’t stick as a starter because he lacked good secondary pitches, but should be a capable middle relief guy.

Phil Coke has also probably pitched his way into the big league bullpen and has the ability to go multiple innings or to simply be a LOOGY. His power stuff is especially effective against lefties, although he is capable of shutting down righties too.

Edwar Ramirez also is coming back from an elbow issue, and can either be flat out dominant or extremely hittable, based on his changeup. He allows too many homers and is susceptible to the big inning. Doesn’t do a great job at limiting damage.

David Robertson came on strong last year, rocketing through the Yankees’ system with gaudy strikeout numbers. He’s almost strictly a one-inning guy and has high walk numbers to go along with his strikeout ones. Like Ramirez, can find innings getting away from him.

Jose Veras has shown an ability to handle late-inning situations and may find himself in some 8th innings down the road. He can be used frequently and has some durability. Like many other Yankee bullpen arms, issues too many walks to be projected as an elite reliever.

SETUP RELIEVERS: Damaso Marte and Brian Bruney have established themselves as the two men the Yankees will go to to bridge the middle relief to Mariano Rivera. One left and one right, Girardi will be able to mix his options based on matchups.

Damaso Matre came back from the WBC with pectoral soreness, and will be checked out medically in the next few days. But if he’s healthy, he’s a lefty shuts down lefties with his fastball-slider combo, although righties have hit him a little. If the pec thing turns out to be minor, he’ll be a main cog in New York’s fluid bullpen.

Brian Bruney is another flamethrower that has really cleaned up his act and behavior in the past few years. He struggles with his command at times, but if he gets ahead in the count, he has the ability to blow hitters away with his electric fastball. He also mixes in a slider with mixed results. He’s had some injury issues.

CLOSER: For at least the next two seasons, there’s no question for the Yankees in the ninth inning. It’s Mariano Rivera, just as it has been since 1997. Rivera is recovering from an offseason shoulder scope, but sets his own spring schedule and is on track to be ready for the season opener.

Mariano Rivera has been the best closer in the history of baseball because of the impeccable control of his cut fastball. Opposing batters go to the plate against Rivera knowing what pitch is coming, where it’s coming, what it’s going to do and how fast it’s going to do it and still can’t hit it. He had his best season last year at age 38, posting career bests in WHIP (0.665) and ERA+ (317). He walked only 6 batters the entire year and had a ridiculous 12.83:1 strikeout to walk ratio.

If I had to take a shot at the Opening Day (less than 23 days) bullpen, I’d go with Mariano Rivera, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, Jose Veras, Phil Coke, Jon Albaladejo, Dan Giese. I don’t see the Yankees carrying 13 pitchers, even to open the season because until Jorge Posada proves he can catch four or five times a week, the Yankees may need to carry three catchers, plus the fifth outfielder. After those seven guys, there are plenty of arms behind them should anyone falter or get injured.

Edwar Ramirez, Steven Jackson, Anthony Claggett, David Robertson, J.B. Cox, Brett Tomko, Mark Melancon all will probably open in Triple-AAA, with Aceves in the Scranton rotation. Kei Igawa (who hasn’t allowed a run this spring) will also return to Triple-A to fill a rotation spot. Who knows? Maybe he even contributes something to the big league squad this year, in any sort of capacity.

Splitting Up America

Here’s a letter that a friend shared with me, about the growing schism that divides the American Left from the American Right. I’m passing it along because I’m beginning to think it’s not the worst idea.

Dear American liberals, leftists, social progressives, socialists, Marxists and Obama supporters,

We’ve stuck together since the late 1950s, but the whole of this latest election process has made me realize that I want a divorce. I know that we tolerated each other for many years for the sake of future generations, but sadly this relationship has run its course. Our two ideological sides of America cannot and just will not ever agree on what’s right. So let’s just end it right now while we can do it on friendly terms. We can smile, shake hands, chalk it up to irreconcilable differences and each go our own way.

So here’s a model separation agreement.

Our two groups can equitably divide up the country by land mass, each taking a portion. That’s going to be the difficult part, but I’m sure our two sides can come to a friendly agreement. After that, it should be relatively easy. Our respective representatives can effortlessly divide other assets since both sides have such distinct and disparate taste. We don’t like redistributive taxes so you can have those. You are welcome to the liberal judges and the ACLU. And since you hate guns and you hate war, we’ll take the firearms, the cops, the NRA and the military. You can keep Oprah, Michael Moore and Rosie O’Donnell. But you are going to be responsible for finding a biodiesel vehicle big enough to haul them around.

We’ll keep the capitalism, the greedy corporations, the pharmaceutical companies; we will keep Wal-Mart and Wall Street. You can have the homeless, the homeboys, the hippies and illegal aliens. We will keep the hot Alaskan hockey moms, the greedy CEOS and all of the rednecks. We’ll keep the Bibles and we’ll let you have NBC and Hollywood.

You can be nice to Iran and Palestine and we’ll retain the right to invade and hammer anybody that threatens us. You can have the peaceniks and the war protesters. When our allies or our way of life are under assault, we will provide them with security. You won’t have to worry about it. We will keep our Judeo-Christian values. You are welcome to Islam, Scientology, Humanism and Shirley Maclaine. You can also have the UN, but we will no longer pay the bill.

We will keep the SUVs, the pickup trucks and the oversize luxury cars. You can have the compacts, the subcompacts and every Subaru station wagon you can find. You can give everybody healthcare, if you can find any practicing doctors. We will continue to believe that healthcare is a privilege and not a right. We will keep “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the national anthem, and I am sure you will be happy to substitute in their place “Imagine.” I’d like to teach the world to sing “Kumbaya” or “We are the world.” We will practice trickle-down economics and you can give trickle-up poverty your best shot. And since it so offends you, we will keep our history, our name and our flag.

Would you agree to this? If so, please pass it along other like-minded liberal and conservative patriots. And if you do not agree, just hit delete. In the friendly spirit of parting, I’ll bet you ANWAR which one of us will need whose help in about 15 years.

Sincerely,

John J Wall

Law student and an American

P.S. You can also have Barbara Streisand and Jane Fonda

Torgos Basketball: Game 5

TORGOS —– 25 33 – 58
ADMIRALS — 27 19 – 46

With both teams already eliminated from the playoffs, the first half resembled a matchup of two teams fighting for the dignity of finishing off the season with a win. But the second half was all Torgos.

After Jaryd and Nate scored all 25 of the Torgos first-half points, the Torgos finally received some solid play from the rest of the team. Logan went 3-for-5 from the field in the second half for six points and Kyle scored five points and hit a fadeaway three. Paul and Mike added ten points as the Torgos finished off their season on a high note.

The Torgos played their best half of the season in the second half, playing hard and unselfish. They had eight of their ten assists in the second half, including a baseline pass from Jaryd to a wide-open Kyle who buried a three. Mike backed off a rebound in the waning minutes, allowing Nate to grab his tenth rebound, completing the teams first double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Mike hit Paul on three pick-and-roll baskets in the second half and the Torgos shot fourteen free throws, a season high. The Torgos finish their first season of competitive-league play on a high note and with a record of 2-3, having won their last two games.

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TEAM LEADERS
Points: Nate (12.8 PPG)
Rebounds: Jaryd (7.0 RPG)
Assists: Jaryd (2.2 APG)
FG%: Nate (69.0%)
3P%: Nate (81.0%)
FT%: Nate (11-11), Paul (4-4), Kyle (1-1) (100%)
Turnovers: Mike (6.4 TPG)

New York Yankee 2009 Season Outlook: Outfield

CENTER FIELD: The Yankees 2009 outfield is a little crowded and the 8-spot is no exception. The Yankees opted not to make a trade for someone like Milwakee’s Mike Cameron (and rightly so in my opinion) and instead seem content letting the consistently regressing Melky Cabrera and the gritty and grinding Brett Gardner battle it out.

Brett Gardner has been compared to the style of Brett Butler because of the two men’s ability to bunt, slash line drives and work a walk. Gardner’s best tool is his speed, rating out as a 70 on the classic 20-80 scouting scale. He is an impeccable basestealer and can put himself in scoring position by taking an extra base. His speed plays well in centerfield, but he can also cover left and right if need be. His arm is adequate in center and he covers it by making good reads, taking good routes and using his speed to have above-average range.

Melky Cabrera The league has started adjusting to Cabrera and he has not yet made the necessary adjustments to keep up. His defense remains an asset, although mostly due to his plus arm. His range is middling and his reads and routes slightly below average. He is a switch-hitter, although his offense has dropped significantly each of his three seasons with the Yankees. Cabrera must respond to his late-season benching and eventual demotion.

LEFT FIELD: Johnny Damon will make most of the starts in left given his health. Damon enjoyed a bounceback year in 2008, after stuggling with injuries and inconsistencies in 2007. Damon’s range has lessened with age, although he’s still acceptable in left. His arm leaves much to be desired, but plays suitably in left. Damon hits off his front foot, slashes the ball to left and still has significant pull power, especially in Yankee Stadium. If Damon gets banged up Nick Swisher and Xavier Nady could see extended time in left field. Hideki Matsui’s surgically repaired knees will limit his exposure in the field for the Yankees.

RIGHT FIELD: Much like centerfield, the Yankees have multiple options in right field. The departure of Bobby Abreu opened up the position and the acquisition of Mark Teixeira bumped Nick Swisher off first base and into the outfield mix.

Capable of covering all three outfield spots, in addition to first base, Nick Swisher is looking to come back from a down year where White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen used him inconsistently. Epitomizing Billy Beane’s moneyball approach, Swisher is an extremely patient switch-hitter with surprising power both left-handed and right-handed. He’s an all out player which leads to occasional recklessness in the field and on the basepaths. Swisher works the count, leading to a lot of walks and strikeouts.

Xavier Nady, acquired from Pittsburgh along with RP Damaso Marte, was tabbed as Bobby Abreu’s replacement in right field until Nick Swisher was bumped off first base. Nady is a run producer coming off a career year. Playing in his contract year in 2009, the Yankees hope for similar production. Lacks the plate discipline to become an elite outfield bat and the mobility to become an elite defender. Has an suitable arm to cover right field, and more range than his predecessor.

MLB Free Agents – Where Did They Land

Back in early November, I predicted where 30 of MLB’s free agents would sign and how much they would sign for. Now I’m going back to that post and seeing how well I did.

I, like many free agents, agents and GM’s, did not anticipate the economy’s dip hitting baseball as hard as it did. As a result, only five of the thirty free agents signed deals worth more than I predicted for them.

I correctly pegged the teams for 14 of 30 free agents and got the years right for 12 of them. I didn’t get any of the money parts right but was within $5 million for five free agents (Burnett, Bradley, Moyer, Renteria and Affeldt)

Here’s a table outlining my predictions and what actually happened.

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