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Tag:Alex Rodriguez
Posted on: November 13, 2011 12:17 pm
Edited on: November 13, 2011 6:30 pm
 

Alex Rodriguez looking to return to form

Rodriguez

By Evan Brunell


It had to happen at some point, and it happened last season.

Alex Rodriguez failed to hit 30 home runs and drive in 100 runs for just the second time in his entire career, the only other time coming in 1997 in his second full season in the majors.

It was "the worst year of my career," Rodriguez told the New York Post. "Close to embarrassing."

Rodriguez refused to make any excuses about his lack of production, even though he never seemed right all year, especially after undergoing surgery for a torn meniscus in his right knee in July. When Rodriguez returned, his power decided to stay at home. In the first half, A-Rod clubbed 13 homers, hitting .295/.366/.485 in 80 games. After the All-Star break, though, Rodriguez could only appear in 19 games and hit a paltry .191/.345/.353. That would seem to point toward his knee being a problem.

“There is no secret that I am getting older,” Rodriguez said, batting the concerns aside. “But when I come in fit, ready and motivated, then age is just a number. … There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I will be myself, like always.”

Can Rodriguez really say anything else? Do you really expect Rodriguez to admit he's getting older and may not be the person he once was? No. Rodriguez has been one of the best players of this generation, and you don't get to that point without hard work and confidence enhancing your natural talent. Rodriguez isn't going to give up and assume his glory days are behind him, same as Jeter. Rodriguez is going to bust his tail to improve as much as he can. But what's interesting is that Rodriguez's season may have arguably outperformed his 2010 season, except without the identifying numbers of 30-100 to tout.

Baseball has seen a major shift toward dominant pitching over the last two seasons. While the year 2010 was popularized as the Year of the Pitcher due to the numerous no-hitters (and a perfect game that needed 28 outs), 2011 was just as favorable to pitchers. The advanced statistic titled weighted Runs Created plus, or wRC+, says Rodriguez actually had a better year in 2011 than 2010. The statistic essentially takes all of a player's offensive value -- hits, home runs, doubles, walks, and so forth -- and encapsulates it in one statistic that is also adjusted for parks and leagues, allowing for accurate comparison off of different seasons. For example, wRC+ would allow you to see just how good Ted Williams was as compared to Barry Bonds today, even though both players played in different eras.

Rodriguez's wRC+ for 2011 was 125, meaning he created 25 percent more runs than the league-average player. Last year, Rodriguez hit for a bit more power and played in 38 more games, so his counting statistics are obviously higher. However, A-Rod walked less in 2010 than he did in 2011, and that makes a difference, and that's why his wRC+ is two points lower. The aim of any player is to not make outs, and Rodriguez did that better in 2011 than in 2010, even if his overall power numbers dipped. And as we've seen, the knee may be the culprit of that power dip.

Of course, two points difference in wRC+ is not that much, so we can safely say that Rodriguez essentially repeated 2010 -- with a knee injury destroying the second half of his season. So Rodriguez may be right about the fact he'll be his old self in 2012 -- because his old self never really disappeared. But don't tell that to A-Rod, who said he expects himself to be one of the biggest acquisitions the 2012 Yankees could make.

“The Yankees made two big moves this offseason,” Rodriguez said. “Keeping CC, and I expect to be who I have been in the past.”

Rodriguez is so determined to right the wrong of 2011 -- and admits he still has trouble sleeping because New York could have won the World Series -- that he's starting his workout program three weeks earlier, focusing his attention to start on his right knee, affected by the torn meniscus. His goal is to drop five pounds and improve "functional movement," in which he is lighter and more agile. This is a mantra he followed in previous seasons, citing his first two seasons in New York of 2007-08 as the "best years of my career" as proof that "functional movement" can work. (This time is before he admitted using steroids as a Ranger, but supposedly, he was not using during his time in New York.)

The Yankees really need Rodriguez to show he's his normal self next season, in no small part due to the massive dollars left on his deal. Rodriguez still has a whopping six years and $143 million on his pact, and this is a man who will enter the 2012 season as a 36-year-old. Even for the Yankees, that's a massive investment in an aging player who may not be long for third base. But Rodriguez is well aware of all this and intends to continue being an asset on defense at third base.

“The standard is always 30-100, and no question I can perform at a really high level," Rodriguez said. "I am clear of my role and importance to the team and what I need to do to help us win.”

MORE: Rodriguez among baseball's 10 worst contracts

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 21, 2011 11:36 am
Edited on: October 21, 2011 6:22 pm
 

Tabloid compares Qaddafi's killer to A-Rod

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Today's lesson in bad taste? Brought to you by none other than the New York Post.

Here's the tabloid's front page from Friday (don't click if you're squeamish), comparing the assassination of a dictator to a baseball player's postseason failures.

Yep, Muammar Qaddafi was an evil dictator responsible for crushing the civil liberties of millions, using chemical weapons, aiding terrorism and the deaths of countless people. Alex Rodriguez is overpaid and went just 2 for 18 in the ALDS against the Tigers. Yeah, those two seem equal.

But hey, they have a picture of a guy with a gun wearing a cap with an interlocking NY and a picture of a bloody body of a dictator -- sounds like the perfect situation for an A-Rod isn't clutch joke. The Post's "joke" if you don't want to click on the link is that Qaddafi's killer had "more hits than A-Rod." Excuse me if I'm not laughing.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 2:15 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:59 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 New York Yankees

By Matt Snyder

Another season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: New York Yankees
Record: 97-65, 1st place in AL East. Lost ALDS 3-2 to Detroit.
Manager: Joe Girardi
Best hitter: Curtis Granderson -- .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 136 R, 10 3B, 25 SB
Best pitcher: CC Sabathia -- 19-8, 3.00 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 230 K in 237 1/3 IP

2011 SEASON RECAP

It was a pretty normal regular season for the Yankees, as they brought home their 12th AL East title in the past 16 seasons, but it wasn't drawn up the same way as other successful seasons. The pitching rotation from Day 1 was patchwork. Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon and a host of others -- such as Mark Prior -- were brought in during spring training to see if any would stick and it worked out to varying degrees with Garcia, Colon and rookie Ivan Nova. The offense was once-again mighty, as Curtis Granderson emerged as an MVP candidate to pick up the slack for the injured and struggling Alex Rodriguez. Still, in the end, this season will be viewed as a failure since the Yankees didn't win the World Series. If they don't win the World Series, they fell short of expectations. More than 20 other teams would have been ultimately satisfied by this campaign, but not the Yankees. Losing in the ALDS is a failure. Period.

2012 AUDIT

The Yankees are in a familiar spot. They're set up to contend for a World Series title again in 2012, but they are going to have to fill some holes -- namely that they need another reliable starting pitcher. Eyes can look forward and see they need to get younger pretty soon, but with several contracts locked in, the Yankees don't have much choice for 2012. And there is no reason to expect the Yankees to be anywhere but right in the playoff mix come September of 2012. It would be foolish to think otherwise.

FREE AGENTS

Robinson Cano, 2B (club option)
Eric Chavez, 3B
Nick Swisher, RF (club option)
Jorge Posada, DH
Bartolo Colon, SP
Freddy Garcia, SP
CC Sabathia, SP (can and probably will opt out)
Luis Ayala, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS

They will most certainly bring back Sabathia and Cano. From there ...
  • The rotation will have Sabathia, Nova, Hughes and probably A.J. Burnett. He makes too much money to not plug in there. He has the ability to be a decent fifth starter. Still, that rotation appears pretty top-heavy for a team that expects to be the best in the majors. So they need a legitimate second starter behind Sabathia. And he's sitting right there, if interested. C.J. Wilson of the Rangers is left-handed, which fits well in Yankee Stadium, and is a free agent. With the Posada money coming off the books, in addition to the Colon/Garcia money, the Yankees can likely outbid anyone else for Wilson's services. They could even backload a deal if need be, because people like Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter have expiring contracts in the next several years.
  • As I alluded to above, it's time to part ways with Posada and let Jesus Montero take over as the full-time DH. The youngster showed he has the ability to become a serious threat in the lineup and the Yankees need to inject some youth into the aging lineup. 
  • Pitching prospects Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances don't appear to be ready yet, but they're close. They will be monitored pretty heavily heading into 2012 and if Hughes or Burnett aren't getting it done, it's possible there's a change made. Nova is proof the Yankees aren't afraid to throw someone in the fire.
  • Swisher's situation in right is interesting. Is he worth eight figures? Probably not, according to most teams. But the Yankees can afford that and there aren't many better options out there. What if the Twins don't come to terms on a contract extension with Michael Cuddyer, though? It wouldn't hurt for the Yankees to weigh their options, but the best guess is Swisher comes back. 
  • Really, there isn't that much more that needs to be done. Russell Martin, Mark Teixiera, Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner and Curtis Granderson will again be everyday starters. The rotation has four men set and the back-end of the bullpen has a returning Joba Chamberlain along with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera. The biggest issue is getting one more starting pitcher and then filling the bench with also-rans like the Yankees did this year with Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez et al. Considering they were close, but not good enough, I fully expect the Yankees to throw the bank at Wilson and that will be the only significant offseason move concerning a player outside the organization. The only caveat to that is the Yankees will have to agree with Sabathia first -- and I do believe the Yankees will do whatever it takes to keep him -- which means they could miss out on Wilson in the meantime. If they do miss out, the leftovers aren't awesome. Edwin Jackson, Erik Bedard and Joel Pineiro look like the best bets. If they wanted to trade, they're probably looking at the likes of Wandy Rodriguez or Jeff Niemann (I don't think the Rays would part with James Shields cheaply), so expect the Yankees to be very agressive with both Sabathia and then Wilson.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 7, 2011 1:18 am
Edited on: October 7, 2011 12:40 pm
 

Grading the Tigers-Yankees ALDS



By Matt Snyder


Jim Leyland's tinkering. Leyland was roundly mocked on Twitter for his choice in the two-hole of the batting order throughout the series. He used a different lineup five different times in five games while Yankees manager Joe Girardi kept the same lineup throughout the entire ALDS. And look at the Tigers' three wins. Magglio Ordonez was 3-for-3 with a run scored in Game 2. Ramon Santiago was 2-for-4 with two huge RBI in a Game 3 victory and Thursday night in Game 5, Don Kelly opened the scoring in the first inning with a solo home run. Give Leyland credit for pushing the right buttons, specifically with who he batted second, but generally throughout the entire series.

The Tigers' back-end duo of Joaquin Benoit and Jose Valverde wasn't perfect in the series. Valverde made Game 2 interesting with a bad ninth and Benoit walked in a run Thursday night, even if it was an inherited runner. Still, the Tigers blew zero leads with either pitcher on the mound and the duo was a major reason for the series victory. Benoit in particular had to work out of some pretty rough spots, both in Game 2 and in Game 5. His stuff is nasty and he came up with big strikeouts when he had to have them. Valverde was shaky in his first two outings, but was anything but that in Game 5, with a one-run lead and the season on the line.

Justin Verlander struck out 11 batters and was masterful at times in his lone real start of the series: Game 3. He also gave up six hits, three walks and four earned runs. He did gather the victory, as he outpitched Yankees ace CC Sabathia. And we have to point out the Yankees do have a pretty damn good offense, too. It's just that this was a "C" effort for Verlander considering his body of work. You don't expect him to go out and give up four runs in a must-win game. He wasn't at his best, he was just good enough. That's a C-effort in my book. Probably in his, too. I also fully expect an A-effort in Game 1 against the Rangers.

We're going with Mother Nature/Major League Baseball here. Game 1 was ruined by rain. We have absolutely no way of knowing how the series would have gone -- and, remember, I predicted the Tigers in five anyway, so this is no excuse for the Yankees' loss -- but we were deprived of the real series. If MLB moved the start time earlier or didn't start Game 1 at all last Friday, we'd have seen both Verlander and Yankees ace CC Sabathia make two full starts in the series. Instead, each was wasted in a rain-suspended Game 1 and could only turn around to make one more start. On the other hand, the weather reports aren't always predictable, so this was a tough call. Bottom line, we got screwed a bit, and there's nowhere else to place the blame than with whoever you believe controls the weather in New York City.

Yankees 4-5-6 hitters. Alex Rodriguez is a big scapegoat for many. He has been for years. In Game 5, he struck out with the bases loaded in the seventh inning and then ended the series with a strikeout in the ninth. The boos showered down upon him several times at home. Nick Swisher also struck out with the bases loaded in Game 5, and his was to end the inning. Combined, A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Swisher went 9-for-55 (.164) with five RBI in the entire series. A-Rod was the worst, going 2-for-18 (.111), but all three of these guys were bad. If you want to know how bad, here's another illustration: The only two runs Robinson Cano scored all series were on his own home runs. He was left on base seven times.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 18, 2011 1:35 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Chipper gets the Mets again

Chipper Jones

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Chipper Jones, Braves: For the 39th time in his career, Jones knocked in the go-ahead run against the Mets. His two-out RBI single drove in the game's only run as Atlanta's Tim Hudson and New York's R.A. Dickey engaged in a fantastic pitcher's duel. Hudson struck out 10, while Dickey allowed just three hits, two to Jones. It was also Jones' 153rd RBI against the Mets, only Willie Stargell (182) and Mike Schmidt (162) have driven in more against New York. Only Stargell has driven in more go-ahead runs against the Mets (40).

Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: After missing six games with a sprained left thumb, A-Rod returned to the Yankees lineup and made an immediate impact, collecting two hits, including his 16th homer of the season, a three-run shot off Henderson Alvarez to pull the Yankees to within a run of the Blue Jays in the sixth inning. It was the 629th homer of Rodriguez's career, putting him one behind former teammate Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all-time list.

Mike Moustakas, Royals: There were plenty of raised eyebrows when the Royals' third baseman struggled in his first two months in the big leagues. He was hitting just .182/.237/.227 in his first 53 games in Kansas City with just one home run. That .182 batting average after an 0-for-4 night on Aug. 16 against the Yankees was a low point. The next night he went 3 for 3 against the Yankees and since then he's hitting .385/.418/.548, raising his season line to .252/.301/.338. Saturday he went 3 for 5 with his third homer in four days, as the Royals picked up their seventh straight win.


Ervin Santana, Angels: In what may have been the Angels' last shot at the postseason, the right-hander gave up two homers in a five-run first in Baltimore. Los Angeles has now lost four of its last six games, while the Rangers won in Seattle. Santana retired just two of the first nine batters he faced, allowing a two-run homer to J.J. Hardy and a three-run homer by Mark Reynolds. He allowed just one more hit in his final six innings of work, but the damage was already done.

Rafael Furcal, Cardinals: St. Louis had a chance to get out of a sticky situation in the eighth inning, trailing by two, but with bases loaded and two outs, Octavio Dotel got Hunter Pence to ground into what appeared to be an easy play to end the inning. Furcal looked first at second for a force but couldn't get a hustling Chase Utley. Furcal had to double pump and try to get Pence at first, but with Pence running down the line, the Phillies outfielder was safe, scoring a run and leaving the bases loaded. The next batter, Raul Ibanez, hit a grand slam, making a close game a laugher. St. Louis had scored two in the eighth to pull within a run of the Phillies but then gave up six runs in the bottom half of the inning, in no small part to Furcal's mistake.

Robinson Cano, Yankees: It didn't end up hurting the Yankees, but Cano did cost the team a run in the fourth inning with a base running gaffe. Cano was on second and Mark Teixeira was on third with one out when Nick Swisher hit a liner into center. Cano assumed it would drop, while Teixeira was waiting to see what happened. Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus ran it down and as Teixeira went back to third to tag up, Cano raced around him for the inning's third out.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 7:15 pm
 

A-Rod could return Saturday

By Matt Snyder

Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez returned to the lineup August 21 after a seven-week stint on the disabled list. He only played four games in a week after going down with another injury. The two issues were unrelated -- as he had knee surgery in July and sprained his left thumb after his return. He hasn't played since the first game of a doubleheader August 28, but could take the field Saturday in the Bronx.

"It feels pretty good,'' he said (NJ.com). "We had a good day [Friday]. We pretty much did everything. We hit live for the first time. I met with the training staff. We're going to take at least one more day."

A-Rod told reporters he would be playing if it were the playoffs, but for now the best approach is caution, as to make sure he doesn't make the injury worse.

Rodriguez, 36, is hitting .289/.361/.478 with 14 homers and 53 RBI in 84 games this season. The Yankees have been using mostly Eric Chavez or Eduardo Nunez at third base in his absence.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 2, 2011 9:40 am
 

Pepper: Royals could resemble Brewers soon

Hosmer
By Evan Brunell

Promising turnaround: The Royals figure to lose at least 90 games, but the chatter in baseball remains overwhelmingly positive for Kansas City, who is drawing comparisons to Milwaukee.

Boasting the best farm team in the bigs, K.C. has already begun integrating its young players into the team, especially on offense where the Royals have a brand-new infield. Shortstop Alcides Escobar kicked off the year with the Royals after coming over from Milwaukee in the Zack Greinke trade, while Eric Hosmer received the first minor-league promotion at first base. Mike Moustakas followed soon to play the hot corner, while Johnny Giavotella just came up to man second.

Greinke, a former Royal, faced Hosmer in a rehab start in April and remarked that it was like facing a 10-year veteran.

“You probably know this,” Greinke told Sam Mellinger of the Kansas City Star. “But Eric Hosmer is really good. I mean, really good.”

Greinke is now with the Brewers, a team Mellinger says could be how the Royals look like in a few years if and when their young pitching prospects start bearing fruit.

The offense seems to have it all -- two defensive linchpins in Escobar and catcher Salvador Perez, home-run threats in Hosmer and Moustakas, and a capable bat in Giavotella. And we haven't even talked about the resurgent Alex Gordon in left field, or the fine season that Melky Cabrera has turned in. Yep, baseball in K.C. is looking sharp.

Going yard: The 1,000th career hit for Jeff Francouer was a home run. "He told us he was going to get it in his first at-bat and he did, he didn't mess around with it," manager Ned Yost told MLB.com.

Baby giraffe: Brandon Belt has gained a nickname -- that of "Baby Giraffe." Well, he met the real thing when Six Flags Discovery Kingdom named its newborn giraffe after Belt, of which you can see pictures on Belt's blog. (A Veteran and a Rook)

MVP pitcher? Cole Hamels disagrees with my assessment that a pitcher should be eligible for -- and potentially win -- the MVP, calling the Cy Young Award the pitcher's version.

"We only play once every five days and I don’t know how much we can affect a team by winning all 33 or 34 starts because you still have to win 90 something games to make the postseason," Hamels told the Dan Patrick Show, via SportsRadioInterviews.com. You need an everyday player to really go out there and play 140 to 150 games to really be a sorta MVP candidate.”

My comeback? Don't look at games played. Look at at-bats. A hitter will generally receive roughly 600 plate appearances a year, while a pitcher will face a few hundred more hitters over the course of a season. Position players may play in significantly more games, but pitchers impact the games they pitch in far more than a hitter. It all balances out.

Bryce running: Bryce Harper, on the disabled list for Double-A, ran for the first time since straining his hamstringo on Thursday. The team is hopeful he can participate in the minor-league postseason. (Washington Post)

Baseball in the Netherlands: The Dutch look to be in prime position to host a baseball game in 2014, with the Netherlands preparing to submit a bid for a game to be played in Hoofddorp, a small city outside of Amsterdam. You don't hear much about baseball and the Netherlands, but interestingly enough, it's considered "the baseball powerhouse of Europe," Alex Remington writes. (Fangraphs)

Walk angry: Adrian Gonzalez struck out on a called strike to end the Yankees-Red Sox game on Thursday, with New York coming away with a victory after Mariano Rivera loaded the bases in the ninth inning. "That pitch was down, I should still be hitting. That's all I have to say," he told the Boston Globe. Maybe, but Gonzalez shouldn't have swung at two painfully obvious balls. For someone with his plate discipline, he sure looked antsy up at the plate.

Banged-up Sox: J.D. Drew's return to Boston figures to be delayed at least a week, but Kevin Youkilis could return as early as Friday. Another injured Sox player, Clay Buchholz, made 35 throws from 60 feet and reported no progress with his back. Buchholz's return may not happen until the playoffs, but if he can come back, it's a major shot in the arm. (Boston Globe)

Hobbled Yanks: Mark Teixeira had to leave Thursday's game with a bruised right knee after being hit by a pitch, and he looks as if he will miss a few games, the New York Post writes. Alex Rodriguez, meanwhile, is hopeful he can rejoin the starting lineup on Friday but admitted he just isn't sure to the Post.

Big step: Adam Wainwright will throw his first bullpen session shortly after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The season is lost for the Cards right-hander, but he can get himself ready to go for the 2012 season. It's possible that if a St. Louis minor-league affiliate goes deep into the playoffs that he could make a rehab start before baseball shuts down. (MLB.com)

Under the knife: Twins top prospect Kyle Gibson will wrap up a disappointing year by undergoing Tommy John surgery. Gibson was expected to win a rotation spot at some point during the year, but now Minnesota will have to cast its eye to 2013 for any significant production out of the first-rounder. (Minnesota Star Tribune)

Backpacking: A new trend is emerging in baseball as part of an old one. The junior member of a bullpen has always been expected to haul a bag full of snacks, drinks and pain medications to the bullpen. Lately, however, the bag has morphed into gear designed to embarrass the player -- a Hello Kitty backpack -- for example. The New York Times looks at the increasing trend.
 
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Posted on: August 29, 2011 10:01 am
Edited on: August 29, 2011 10:21 am
 

Jeter, A-Rod banged up

By Matt Snyder

The left side of the Yankees infield went down after the first game of a doubleheader Sunday in Baltimore. Shortstop Derek Jeter fouled a ball off his right knee in the third inning and stayed in the game, but it swelled up in between games, causing him to miss the second. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez had some lingering soreness from a jammed thumb that had bothered him for the entire previous week. Both players are listed as day to day and are likely to miss Monday's series finale in Baltimore.

“It’s been bothering him,” Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said of Rodriguez’s thumb (NYTimes.com), “but today it got pretty sore, a lot more sore than it’s necessarily been the last few days. So it’s something we’ve got to get right.”

Jeter had X-Rays between games, which were negative, but was unable to walk without limping.

“We iced it in between games and it swelled up and became a challenge,” Jeter said (NYTimes.com).

Expect to see Eduardo Nunez at shortstop and Eric Chavez at third base as long as both Jeter and A-Rod are sidelined. Jeter's injury seems less likely to linger, considering it's a bruise, but he'll certainly need the swelling to subside in order to play. Still, neither of these injuries are serious.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com