Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Journey to the Return

The Alex Rodriguez story is one that may leave you scratching your head or wondering if it's real or just make believe. It's a cautionary tale , a tale that shows you even baseballs biggest stars are humans just like me and you. Alex Rodriguez was suspended by Major League Baseball for PED use for a whole year. During that time he was training both physically and mentally and is looking to make a return. ESPN Magazine chronicled his return and JR Moehringer wrote an excellent piece on the return. He was with Alex for six months and got to see the real A- Rod. JR described Alex and all the struggles he has dealt with. He described his struggle with getting abandoned by his dad and not going to college. He described Alex as a guy who loves the game and his family. He was able to show us more of the human side. He made you feel bad for him and shocked you by describing all his demons. He also spoke about the apologies he wants to make and how he is trying to become a better guy. He also discussed how hard it would be for Alex to tell his true story to his daughter Natasha. The bottom line is Alex made a mistake just like many others. Either move on from him or forgive it's simple.

Obviously it has been a bumpy road for Alex since last winter. First he went through surgery. He was then suspended 211 games. He appealed the suspension and rehabbed. Alex played In the minors and worked his way back. Rodriguez passed on his knowledge to the minor leaguers and often payed for all of there meals. The minor leaguers were thrilled to have him. He returned to the Yankees in August. Rodriguez dealt with the boos and the critics all year. They were deserved and self inflicted. However he was focused on the Yankees making the playoffs. He hit 7 home runs including a monster homer off of Ryan Dempster after he had been intentionally hit. The Yankees did not make the playoffs however and his fight with baseball resumed after the season. Once the appeal was over MLB suspended Rodriguez for all of 2014. After a long fight Rodriguez quit and took his medicine. Alex made his apologies recently and the focus shifted to his return.

On Monday A-Rod reported for Spring Training a few days early. He did some baseball activities and spoke to the media. He also posed with some fans for pictures and signed autographs for every fan. Rodriguez said he was just happy to be back playing the game he loves. He said he just wants to make the team. He said he made a lot of mistakes and he cringes when he thinks about it. He said he is PED free. Rodriguez will work extremely hard to produce for the Yankees. The Yankee players will be happy to have him back. The Yanks may still be mad but the truth is they need the right handed bat. People seem excited to see what Alex can do as Yankee ticket sales were already up 35% the other day.

Alex Rodriguez despite being an all time great felt that he had to resort back to PED's. In mid 2010 he met Tony Bosch and decided he needed some help. Rodriguez felt even at his stature he had something to prove. Once again he proved he was not comfortable in his own skin. He was not comfortable being Alex and his demons got the best of him again. When Rodriguez was 18 he was a Golden boy , baseballs next legend. He has now turned into a pariah , a guy the back page of the newspaper keys on , a guy we sometimes make bigger than the game , a guy we dehumanize. Rodriguez showed us that even the biggest of stars can fall. He has showed us that baseball players are just like anyone else. They have their flaws and their issues that go back to their early years. Rodriguez's story is a cautionary tale. A tale that shows us even someone as big as A-Rod can be punished. His story also shows us that even some one who has made as many mistakes as Alex can get another chance and even another chance.

 After reading the Espn article I though about how much of a shame the Rodriguez story is. A guy with as much talent as Rodriguez was so naive. A guy with as much talent felt he was never good enough. A guy who chose to play baseball is embarrassed to tell people he didn't go to college. Many former teammates said that they life him personally he just always was trying to prove something. He was always trying to fit in and be comfortable. Rodriguez has been his own worst enemy. His youth has haunted him and has shaped him at the same time. If you forgive Alex Rodriguez that's fine , if you don't that's fine too. I'm sure everyone has done something wrong in their life. If you ever stole , cheated , or did something else are you exempt from forgiveness ? Of course not. No one is telling you should forgive A-Rod and no one is telling you shouldn't. If your a Yankee fan you should want him to produce because that will only help your team. He was the key component of the 2009 team. If your a baseball fan whether you like him or not you will tune In that's for sure. What will Alex bring
In 2015? Your guess is as good as mine. I am not saying I support PED use however I think A-Rod can still show us something. Who am I to say he doesn't deserve another shot. I think everyone does. This could be his final shot to make things right and I hope he does.

By Peter Vitella

2015 Player Profile: Rob Refsynder

In 2015, middle infielder Rob Refsnyder will be looking to find a spot on this new Yankees team. Refsnyder is 23 years old and very versatile as he can play many positions on the diamond which could help him make this team. In 77 games in AAA Scranton Wilkes Barrie, Refsynder hit .300, 8 home runs, and had 33 RBI. Refsnyder also spent time in AA Trenton in 2014 and he hit .342 with 6 home runs and 30 RBI. This will be Refsynder's third season with the Yankees after being drafted in the fifth round of the 2012 MLB Amateur Draft. Refsnyder will be in a huge competition if he hopes to make the team. He will have to overtake the incumbent Stephen Drew as well as Brendan Ryan to start. Refsnyder does have youth and promise on his side and with an impressive spring he may be the Yankees starting second baseman.

Player Profile : CC Sabathia

CC Sabathia

CC has reported to camp and he is back over 300 pounds. Sabathia said he had to put the weight back on and his body was not used to be so lite. CC has talked about working on some new stuff to be successful similar to Andy Pettite. Sabathia has talked about these changes for some time now but fans have to hope he is recreating himself. For some time with the Yankees Sabathia was a true ace but he hasn't been good since 2012. In 2013 CC had a terrible year , his era was at 4.78. In 2014 he had an era over 5 but he missed a lot if time with injuries. Sabathia hopefully has reinvented himself however we really are not sure what we are going to get. Sabathia is another guy who is suffering towards the end of a big contract but the truth is you pay for the front end.

Peter Vitella

Friday, February 20, 2015

Player Profile : Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez

Alex Rodriguez returns to baseball after serving a year long suspension. Rodriguez has 654 career home runs and the Yankees need him to hit. The Yankees were 13th in the league in runs scored , and the bat is needed. Rodriguez issued a letter apologizing for his actions and said he was looking forward to putting the matter behind him. We are not exactly sure what A-Rod still has left but it will be interesting and exciting to find out. Rodriguez hit 7 homers in 44 games in 2013 , the last time he played. If he can hit at that pace he would bring some pop to the lineup. Regardless of anything A-Rod is a veteran presence in the clubhouse and pitchers still respect his power. Rodriguez will find at bats at DH , and potentially both corner infield positions. Joe Girardi has committed to him being on the roster but said he will have to prove himself for at bats.

By Peter Vitella

Player Profile : Nathan Eovaldi

I will be profiling some of the Yankees during the offseason. I will start with new accquistion , starting pitcher Nathan Eovaldi.

Nathan Eovaldi

The Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi along with Garret Jones in an offseason trade. Last year Eovaldi showed flashes of dominance with the Miami Marlins but he also had some weak performances. Eovaldi has one of the best fast balls in baseball. His velocity ranks third in the league at 95.7 mph. Eovaldi won just six games and lost 14 however his era was 4.37. His Whip was at 1.33 and his FIP for those saber fans was 3.37. Eovaldi struck out 142 batters in 199.2 innings. Eovaldi had his era down to 3.96 on August 13th however three poor starts late had his era jump. Eovaldi had his best start on August 8th when he pitched eight scoreless innings. Eovaldi should be in the Yankees rotation until Ivan Nova returns and if he fairs well he will stick around and send Chris Capuano to the bullpen.

By Peter Vitella

Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Trade 11 Years Later

Alex Rodriguez and The Trade

Eleven years ago today the New York Yankees and The Texas Rangers pulled off a blockbuster trade that would change baseball forever. Alex Rodriguez the best shortstop in baseball would go to the Yankees and agree to play third base. The 2003 AL MVP would change positions for Derek Jeter. Rodriguez and Captain Derek Jeter would team up to be one of the most talked about and best left side of an infield ever.

The Early Lows

Alex Rodriguez and the Yankees were up 3-0 on the Boston Red Sox in the 2004 ALCS. Rodriguez
batted 339 in the 2004 playoffs however things changed for A-Rod when the Yankees blew the series.
 Of course their was the famous play when he slapped the glove of Bronson Arroyo. Rodriguez took some criticism and the next year A-Rod had a miserable postseason. In 2006 A-Rod had another brutal postseason and Joe Torre even dropped him all the way down to eight in the order. In 2007 the Yankees had another bad postseason and Alex was not much better.

Derek Jeter Relationship

The Papers and the media made a lot of drama out of the frayed relationship between Jeter and Alex Rodriguez. When the Yankees lost postseason series people worried about the chemistry between the two stars. However when they won the World Series no one questioned the friendship. Personally I
never believed that they were not friends. If they weren't why would they always be together in the dugout sitting together ? The papers and the news always over blew the relationship. Jeter and A-Rod played in many all star games together and always will have an odd friend ship. They definitely had their differences but their friendship was apparently strong enough to make it work. They had their
highs and their lows. They make their case for one of baseballs best dynamic duos ever.

The Early Highs and the MVP Awards

Alex Rodriguez won two MVP Awards in his career with the Yankees. In 2005 Rodriguez blasted 48 home runs. He also batted 321 with 130 RBI. In 2007 Alex Rodriguez had possibly his best season ever. Rodriguez hit 54 homers swiped 24 bags and knocked in 156 RBI. Rodriguez hit his 500th home run in the 2007 season. A-Rod was named to the All Star team with the Yankees from 2004-2008. He had at least 30 homers and 100 RBI in every one of those seasons. Rodriguez also opted out of his contract and signed a 10 year $275 million deal.

The Admission and the Post Season Hero

In February 2009 Alex Rodriguez admitted that he used PED's during the 2001-2003 seasons with the Texas Rangers. It was shocking to many baseball fans. On top of all of this A-Rod would get hip surgery and miss the first month of the baseball season. When he returned he hit a home run on the very first pitch he saw. During the 2009 season Rodriguez hit two homers in one inning on the last day of the season to get to 30 homers and 100 RBI once again. Rodriguez would silence the critics and have a monster postseason. Rodriguez would have a monster ALCS and ALDS before hitting a game winning double in the World Series. Perhaps two of A-Rods biggest homers ever were his game tying homerun off of Joe Nathan and his extra inning game tying homer off of Brian Fuentes. The Yankees would win their 27th World Series and A-Rod was the best player throughout the postseason run.


A-Rod would have another 30 home run and 100 RBI season with the Yankees. He would make it to another All Star game. He would also belt his 600th career home run. In 2011 Rodriguez would be named an all star once again. However injuries would hurt his second half. For the first time in 13
years Alex would not have a 30 homer and 100 RBI seasons. In 2012 Rodriguez battled more injuries and hit a low point in his career when he was pinch hit for in the postseason. The Yankees were bounced out of the ALCS by the Tigers and Rodriguez took a lot of the blame despite most of the team playing terrible. Rodriguez hit just 118 during the whole postseason. During the offseason Rodriguez would under go more surgery and the surgery would sideline him for some time in 2013.

2013 and the Biogenesis Suspension

In 2013 Alex Rodriguez was Suspended for his involvement in the Biogenesis case. However he appealed the suspension and was able to play when he returned from injury in August. Rodriguez added a boost to the Yankees lineup and his return added some ratings and excitement. He played in
just 44 games and hit 7 home runs. His two biggest homers were the record breaking grand slam against the San Francisco Giants. A-Rod hit the grand slam that helped the Yankees win the game , it broke the all time grand slam record. Perhaps the best moment was when he was intentionally hit by Ryan Dempster against the Boston Red Sox. He then responded by blasting a home run. After the season Alex continued to defend himself however his efforts were for nothing. Rodriguez was suspended for all of the 2014 season. The suspension left a man who breathes baseball off the field for the first time in probably 30 years. Now the suspension is over and Rodriguez looks to make his

11 years since the deal

So did the trade work out? Of course the trade worked out. Alex Rodriguez put up monster numbers. Rodriguez even without playing in 2014 and being injured from 2011-2013 is still fifth in WAR amongst active players. Rodriguez is sixth all time in home runs in Yankee history , despite just ten seasons. A-Rod may have cost the Yankees a lot of money however he has also made them a lot of money. Rodriguez has helped the ticket sales , tv ratings and memorabilia sales. A-Rod has become one of the most notable figures in Sports history for the good and bad. If A-Rods first 11 years are indicative of anything we have no idea what to expect from the next few. Rodriguez has had moments that are not pretty during the Yankee tenure , however he has had some great moments as well. The main reason it worked out is because the Yankees one the 2009 title and he was a major part of it. Now Alex is trying to make a come back and we have to see what he has left.

By Peter Vitella

The 2015 Yankees A “Sleeper” Team

The New York Yankees come into 2015 as a team without an identity. Their long time captain, Derek Jeter has retired and with him goes the old Yankee dynasty. The Yankees did add some players in the offseason, as they acquired Andrew Miller, Justin Wilson, and David Carpenter, who will be used to fortify the bullpen and possibly mimic the success of 2014 Kansas City Royals. Jeter’s replacement will be a young, light hitting shortstop in Didi Gregorius. The Yankees also see the return of former MVP Alex Rodriguez, as he comes back from a season long suspension. He will battle both Chase Headley and Garrett Jones for at bats at both the DH and third base position. Carlos Beltran comes back healthy after an injury riddled season, and Brian McCann looks to build on a successful second half of the season in pinstripes. The Yankees have a realistic shot at a deep playoff run, as both the division and the league have become weaker. The 2015 Yankees are truly a “sleeper.” 
The Yankees lineup is very balanced and could be a force to be reckoned with. Speedsters Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury strike fear into opposing catchers and pitchers, as the two combined for 60 stolen bases. The 31 year olds also cover A LOT of ground in the outfield, as they are both Gold Glove caliber outfielders. The three through seven slots can be mixed and matched, but the names Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and Chase Headley all seem like excellent options for any slot in this lineup up. Teixeira and Beltran come into 2015 healthy while A-Rod returns from a season long suspension hungry to prove all of his doubters wrong. Also, Brian McCann and Chase Headley will both look to continue the strides they made in the second half of 2014. The two spots in the lineup will be filled with the middle infielders, Gregorius and Drew but they are not to be laughed at. These two players have an average of .318 OBP (On Base Percentage) which gives manager Joe Girardi confidence in late game rallies. This Yankees starting lineup, with the bench players ready to fill in, can become a force in the highly competitive AL East. 

The pitching staff on this team is also very talented and could become a top staff. Yes, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia will be coming back from injuries, but when healthy these pitchers all have front of the rotation stuff. Sabathia is the key name in this equation. He will look to channel his inner Brandon McCarthy, as the Yankees will ask him to throw his newly improved cutter. Sabathia learned the cutter from a lefty with one of the best cutters in history, Andy Pettitte. Another name to look at is Michael Pineda who will have a HUGE chip on his 6’7 shoulder after a season riddled with injuries and conspiracies. The Dominican product was accused and later suspended for illegal use of pine tar. Pineda has a live fastball, as he can touch 100+ mph consistently. His use of his change up will be key because if he can mix his blistering fastball with a knee locking changeup, he could be Cy Young Award material. Ivan Nova will miss time as he recovers from Tommy John Surgery, but his “replacement” may be the next great Rothschild product. Acquired in the offseason in a trade that sent Martin Prado to Miami, Nathan Eovaldi will look to make a name for himself and his 100 mph fastball in New York. Eovaldi is young and will eat a good amount of innings, but he shows that the future along with the present are bright in the Bronx. 

The New York Yankees have been the class of Major League Baseball and North American sports since their inception in 1903 and in their 112th year a return to greatness is very plausible. The AL East is no longer the powerhouse division it was, as 87+ games will most likely decide who wins the division. If the Yankees don’t win the division, then one of the two wild card spots will be open but may be difficult to attain. Teams like the Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim may all qualify before the Yankees. Fear not Yankees fans, as this team is deep, healthy, and seasoned. The Yankees have a perfect combination of speed and power along with youth and experience, which keeps the team balanced. If the pieces stay healthy and another top player is added by the trade deadline, expect the Yankees to make a deep run in the playoffs.


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