Thursday, 12 March 2009

The CF Battle

So unless something shocking happens we'll either see Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera patrolling Center Field in the new Yankee Stadium come the start of the 2009 season. Melky - who was the starter when the 2007 and 2008 seasons opened up is not the favourite for the gig despite not having any minor league options left.

Gardner has been on fire throughout spring training hitting .500 through 26 ABs including three that went out of the park. What I like about Gardner is that he's the perfect #9 hitter. He is essentially a second lead off guy and if he can get on base then he can provide speed - genuine speed - something that the Yankees have been lacking in recent years.

The alternative is Melky Cabrera who has never really fulfilled the tab of CF of the future. A player with limited power and poor plate discipline who whilst providing a good glove isn't what the Yankees have been looking for.

Gardner provides the club with a bit of spark and energy. If Gardner can get on 200+ plus times in a season then he'll do damage. With the CF winner being tabbed for the #9 spot then they'll be hitting ahead of Johnny Damon, a pesky hitter who makes contact. Gardner on base and Damon at the plate, sounds like a recipe for a lot of 1sts and 3rds to me for that clutch SS that wears the #2.

So even though we are only half-way through ST, for me Brett Gardner has already all but won the starting job.

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Fratton Yankees select Buster Posey

So today as part of an ongoing draft I was on the clock in the first round of our mL section. In years past I have concentrated on Japanese players and picked up the likes of Dice-K, Johjima, Fukodome and Kuroda but this year I have decided that my selections have been pretty poor compared to the rest of the league.

I had the 7th pick (and consider a lot of the top talent already went in previous years drafts) and I had a very short shortlist - Strasburg and Hanson, both were gone within three picks. So I did a bit of research and picked a player I had actually heard of - albeit not in a great light.

I am a big PTI fan and I watch it every single day (when its on obviously) and last summer my selection made headlines because his manager in college played him in every position. To hear what Tony & Mike had to say about it please watch the video below.

However the kid looks like a cracking prospect. I actually have two catchers on my ML roster - Jorge Posada (picked up as a FA late last season and I decided to pick him up as I saw him as a keeper) and Victor Martinez. Now Jorge is possibly not going to stay behind Home Plate for too much longer and nor is Victor Martinez so having a top tier calibre catcher in the minors in an excellent addition.

The thing is this kid can flat out rake as well. Look at this Home Run to Deep Center Field against Wake Forest.

So all in all I am going to the Minors for my minor league talent and not the best from outside America and hoping they'll move over to the US of A at some point in the near future. I just hope it's a good move on my part!

(For the record my four strong mL players are Uehera (Orioles) Kuroda (Dodgers) Gourriel (Cuba) and Niemann (Rays) - you could easily argue that straight away Posey become my #1 mL talent despite essentially being my 5th round pick!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Should Rick be Sut?

(Apologies for the awful pun)

For years those of us who live outside the US of A have had to deal with Rick Sutcliffe when watching games on MLB International. I know you guys get him just as much over there on ESPN but does anyone actually like him as the color analyst?

I caught a quick bit of Sutcliffe on the WBC the other day and he was praising Kevin Youkilis for going from 1st to 3rd on a single to RF. That is fair enough - that is a good baseball play. He then stated that Dustin Pedroia would've done the same and that is why the Boston Red Sox are better than the New York Yankees because that isn't the type of thing the Yankees do any more.

Sheesh I thought - that sounds like a spot of bias there but then during an ad break during the WBC we get clips of the 2008 season. It is 7-1 Rays against Boston with Papi at the plate and this is what Sut said, 'I don't pull for teams but I pull for guys - I hope Papi hits it out' - he did as we all know as the Sox came all the way back but should a broadcaster on a neutral network really be saying this kind of thing?

I know that I don't believe so. We all have seen announcers from other teams networks and think they are biased. That is slightly more fair as they are broadcasting to an audience that expects them to be but on national (and international) tv there should never be any bias shown.

Before anyone jumps on me and says it is only a couple of examples I should say that I have noted it before and there are announcers that seem biased for the Yankees. It isn't just that he is biased that bugs me - it is the fact that he bring very little to the table. He doesn't have an easy style that you can just listen to, nor does he bring much expert nous to the air and he can't even tell a good story.

Sadly one persons view on a small blog won't do much but it has made me feel a little bit better anyways.

Thinking ahead

Players the Red Sox have signed long term...
and possibly this guy...
Players the Red Sox haven't signed long term...

Papelbon has stated again, and again, and again... that he wants paid as the highest paid closer in the history of ever...

What team does that again? Paps in pinstripes?

Monday, 9 March 2009

A-Roid Surgery - The Fantasy Impact

So the big debate in fantasy land was who was the #1 overall pick in standard 5x5 roto leagues. The three options seemed to be Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez. The injury to A-Rod has meant that there is little doubt he'll fall in leagues where everyone in drafting no (those where someone is pre-ranking will surely see him go far too early).

Neil H commented to me the other day that he thought A-Rod was a good pick in the 3rd round but now he has opted for the operation he is less inclined to take him til late. I have to admit that with the best case scenario seeing him missing four weeks of the season and a more conservative estimate of six-eight weeks and the chances of him making it through the season without a breakdown at 85-90% then I'm just not feeling him.

There is no way he survives until the mid-rounds but if he did I'm probably first looking at him around the 8th round which is just stunning in my mind. I am in four leagues of which only two are live drafts (one in a dynasty and the other a keeper - both of which A-Rod is obviously taken) but then there is the Division 1 and the Cider for Toddlers league.

The former is a standard 5x5 roto league with 14 players. The latter is slightly more specialised - which doesn't surprise me considering who the commish is (no offence Pete) and this is a 5x5 h2h league with RF/CF/LF instead of three generic OF spots and ten spots for pitching (5 SP and 5 RP). In both of those leagues I'm sitting here knowing that Roidy will go in the first two rounds - I'll be stunned if he doesn't.

Obviously it has a much bigger impact on the real world of the New York Yankees as now instead of protecting Tex in the clean-up spot - A-Rod will spend the first month plus of the season in Colorado in rehab. The line-up with A-Rod in and Cano/Matsui/Posada in 5-7 is much longer than with those guys in 4-6 in whatever order.

I had A-Rod penned in as having a monster season but now I think the #1 player offensively this year will be Josh Hamilton. Sadly you still can't take him til the middle of round one but if I'm in any league drafting 5th or lower - he's my man. Behind Hanley, Pujols, Reyes, D. Wright in whatever order Hamilton will just flat out rake. When you consider he's still learning and did what he did last year based on pure talent then you have to be scared about what he might do in the next few years.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Hello & Welcome (and for some - Welcome back!)

Hello everybody.

After a great season of blogging in 2005 and then again in 2006. Neil H and myself slacked off in 2007 and were positively mute in 2008. The reasons for this were I had a new job that curtailed my baseball watching abilities and my distinguished colleague was as well extremely busy with his job.

However due to my having left my previous employment my exclusive deal that I had for sports writing has disappeared and I am free to write on the blog again. We have discussed it several times over the past few weeks and have agreed to come back to the blogosphere and as part of that are relaunching with a new site, new name, new look and slightly altered agenda.

Our former blog YanksVSox will remain but will not be touched. To read our archives from over there then please go over and read the type of things you might expect from our 2009 version.

After a quick brainstorming session we came up with the name 'Down to the Final Strike' and that is where we are. You can expect a lot of Yankees and Sox news but we also plan to open it up a bit with plenty of fantasy baseball discussion and anything else that catches our eye from around the world of Baseball.

You can contact either of us via our e-mail addresses which are on the site and you can follow me on Twitter. I know that I am looking forward to the season (although the A-Roid injury has hurt) but having put the blog back in motion it has given me extra kick up the backside to keep going.

Any questions then please get in touch or leave a comment.

Let's play ball!