The New York Mets just got some great news going into Spring Training – Johann Santana will not pitch for the Venezuelan baseball team in the 2009 World Baseball Classic in March. Santana underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee at the beginning of October to repair some torn cartilage. He just recently started throwing and appears to be on track for the 2009 MLB season. The Mets had expressed concern about Santana not getting enough prep work in before Venezuela’s first game against Italy on March 7th in Toronto. But the club also stated that if he was physically able to pitch, they were not going to prohibit him from playing.
The World Baseball Classic did not want to insure Santana to play in the WBC because of the high cost involved. Because of the surgery, Santana fell within a “high risk” category, and neither the WBC nor the Venezuelan Federation wanted to risk any sort of injury to Santana.
Good news all around for Mets fans. As the staff’s ace, the last thing the Mets needed was for Santana to get injured during the WBC. He has already started participating in drills and has yet to experience any difficulties or discomfort with the knee.
Two MLB signings to report:
Adam Dunn signed a 2-year, $20 million deal with the Washington Nationals this week. He is set to make $8 million during the 2009 MLB season and $12 million during the 2010 MLB season. Current Nationals GM Jim Bowden drafted Dunn in 1998 when he was with the Cincinnati Reds, and Dunn will be reunited with former Reds teammate Austin Kearns. Dunn is valuable because he can play first base or the outfield. During the 2008 MLB season, Dunn had a .236 batting average with 40 home runs, 100 RBI’s and 164 strikeouts. Dunn has hit 40 or more home runs in 5 straight seasons. During his career, the 29-year old Dunn has a .247 batting average and a .381 on-base percentage. Dunn led the National League in walks in 2008 with 122. Dunn has also hit 278 career home runs and driven in 672 career runs. His left-handed power-hitting bat will be warmly welcomed in Washington, DC where no Nationals player hit more than 14 home runs or had more 61 RBI’s during the 2008 MLB season.
On the other side of the country, Bobby Abreu came to terms on a 1-year, $5 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. What a coup for the Angels! $5 million for a player of Abreu’s caliber – unbelievable. Although Abreu is getting older, he is still a force to be reckoned with. During the 2008 MLB season with the New York Yankees, Abreu hit .296 with 20 home runs and 100 RBI’s. He also had a .371 on-base percentage (he has a career .405 on-base percentage) and continues to be one of the more patient players in the game. Abreu can also still steal bases – 22 in 2008 and 25 in 2007. Abreu is expected to split time at Designated Hitter and in the outfield with fellow teammates like Torii Hunter, Vladimir Guerrero, Juan Rivera and Gary Matthews, Jr. During the 2008 campaign, Abreu became only the 3rd player with 200 career home runs, 200 steals and an on-base percentage greater than .400 (he joined Barry Bonds and Rickey Henderson).
With Spring Training starting in some camps today, there are still some free agents floating around. I’m sure we’ll be hearing some more players signings in the upcoming weeks. We’ll keep you posted here at MySportsToday!
Now that Spring Training is just around the corner, get ready for your regular baseball reports here at MySportsToday. One of the most exciting divisions is sure to be the American League East. The Tampa Bay Rays won the AL East and topped the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS to get to the franchise’s first ever World Series. Although the Yankees did not make the playoffs in 2008, the Yankees were the most active team in the off-season, signing free agents C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira. They also have steroids-using Alex Rodriguez and the ever-reliable Derek Jeter.
Our prediction – The Yankees win the division, but fall to the Red Six (your AL Wild Card team for the 2nd year in a row) in the 2009 ALCS. The Rays still have a great 88-win season, but fail to return to the playoffs.
Check out Jeff Passan’s AL East preview here. It is a good little cheat sheet for your 2009 AL East baseball season.
Now we know where Alex Rodriguez got his guns!
According to Sports Illustrated, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for 2 anabolic steroids – primonolan and testosterone – during his 2003 MVP campaign. In 2003, MLB and the players union agreed to conduct anonymous drug testing to determine if MLB needed to implement mandatory, random drug testing on a going-forward basis with the 2004 MLB season. A-Rod was 1 of 104 players that tested positive for steroids-use. At the time, steroids were prohibited from being used without a valid prescription, but there were no penalties in place if a player tested positive. The 2003 results were supposed to be anonymous and remain confidential, but with the Barry Bonds/BALCO investigation, federal agents began demanding documentation through subpoenas from various organizations involved with drug testing. One of those companies was Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., the company that handled A-Rod’s drug testing in 2003. And that is how the information was discovered and leaked concerning A-Rod.
During that incredible 2003 MLB season, A-Rod put up monster numbers with the Texas Rangers – .296 batting average, .396 on-base percentage, 47 home runs, 124 runs scored, and 118 RBI’s. In 2004, those numbers fell – .286 batting average, .375 on-base percentage, 36 home runs, 112 runs scored, and 106 RBI’s. But in 2005 and 2007, presumably when he was no longer taking steroids because of the more stringent MLB drug testing, A-Rod’s numbers jumped way back up – .321 batting average, .421 on-base percentage, 48 home runs, 124 runs scored, and 130 RBI’s and then .314 batting average, .422 on-base percentage, 54 home runs, 143 runs scored, and 156 RBI’s. So to say all of his numbers are tainted with steroids use would be a little misleading. It is interesting to note that 2 of his best numbers occurred in his first 2 years in Texas – were they steroids-induced? We’ll probably never know. 2001 – .318 batting average, .399 on-base percentage, 52 home runs, 125 runs scored, and 135 RBI’s and 2002 – .300 batting average, .392 on-base percentage, 57 home runs, 125 runs scored, and 142 RBI’s
A-Rod is a 3-time AL MVP with 553 career home runs. He is one of the few players that some critics claim could have caught Barry Bonds for the career home run record in order to return that status to a “clean” player. But now that is in jeopardy. A-Rod is currently the highest paid player in the game, having recently signed his 10-year, $275 million deal with the Yankees in 2007.
It should be interesting to see how all of this plays out. He has long been considered a “clean” player by media critics and fans throughout his career. This steroids infraction has gotta tarnish his image, especially with the clear drop in numbers during the time of the alleged use and then non-use. Will he get elected to the Hall of Fame? If the votes for Mark McGwire over the last few years are any indication – we think not…
The Philadelphia Phillies slugger is seeking a mammoth $18 million contract for the 2009 MLB season. It is the 3rd highest proposed salary submitted by a player in MLB history (Roger Clemens requested $22 million from the Houston Astros in 2005, while Derek Jeter requested $18.5 million from the New York Yankees in 2001 – both players signed contracts before their cases were heard).
Howard won the home run (48) and RBI (146) crowns during the 2008 MLB season – only his 5th full season in the big leagues. His best year was in 2006 when he won the NL MVP Award – .313 batting average, .392 on-base percentage, 58 home runs, 149 RBI’s, 104 runs scored and 182 hits. In 2007, Howard had a “down year” with “only” 47 home runs, 136 RBI’s and 94 runs scored.
An arbitration hearing will be scheduled in the upcoming weeks, but Howard and the Phillies can continue to negotiate to try to work out a 1-year deal that is mutually acceptable to each side. I guess we’ll have to wait and see…
Couple of deals to report today:
The Red Sox avoided arbitration with first baseman Kevin Youkilis and signed him to a 4-year deal with approximately $40 million. The deal with keep Youkilis in Boston through the 2012 MLB season and there is a club option that could keep Youkilis playing for the Red Sox through the 2013 MLB season. Youkilis finished 3rd in AL MVP voting in 2008 and he set career highs in the following categories during the 2008 MLB season – batting average (.312); home runs (29); and RBI’s (115).
The White Sox are going to give oft-injured Bartolo Colon another shot for the 2009 MLB season. The White Sox and Bartolo Colon agreed upon a 1-year, $1 million deal, that could increase to a maximum of $3 million if Colon reaches certain innings pitched thresholds. Colon pitched on the South Side of Chicago during the 2003 MLB season – he went 15-13 with a 3.87 ERA. Many critics felt like Colon didn’t live up to his potential during the course of the year, but he did set career highs in innings pitched (242) and complete games (9) that season. From 1998 through 2005, Colon was one of the most dominant pitchers in the major leagues. He made at least 30 starts each season and logged at least 200 innings in 7 of 8 of the years. Colon has been bothered by injuries each of the last 3 MLB seasons.
The Baseball Writers Association of America elected Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson to the Baseball Hall of Fame on Monday. Henderson received 94.8% of the vote to get elected on his first ballot. Rice received 76.4% of the vote to get elected on his 15th and final ballot.
Henderson is MLB’s all-time runs scored and stolen bases leader. In 25 MLB seasons, Henderson played in 10 All-Star Games and stole 1,406 bases. He owns the modern-day stolen bases in a season record with 130 (in 1982) and he is still the MLB career leader for lead-off home runs with 81. He is a career .279 hitter, with 297 career home runs, 1,115 RBI’s, 2,190 walks and 2,295 runs scored. Henderson won the American League MVP in 1990.
Rice won the American League MVP in 1978. In 16 MLB seasons with the Boston Red Sox, Rice hit 382 career home runs and played in 8 All-Star Games. He had a career 2.98 batting average with 1,451 RBI’s. During a 3-year stretch from 1977 through 1979, Rice averaged a 3.20 batting average, 41 home runs and 128 RBI’s. Rice becomes the 3rd player to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on his final ballot – Red Ruffing did so in 1967 and Ralph Kiner did so in 1975.
Other vote results include: Andrew Dawson with 67% of the vote; Bert Blyleven with 62.7% of the vote; Lee Smith with 44.5% of the vote and Jack Morris with 44% of the vote. Mark McGwire continues to face voting struggles with baseball writers. McGwire received only 118 votes, good for 21.9% of the vote – this is down from the 128 votes that he received in each of his first 2 years on the ballot.
Mets GM Omar Minaya took care of the biggest void the Mets had during the last 2 MLB seasons – the bullpen. Minaya signed dominant closer Francisco Rodriguez to a 3-year deal at a fairly “economical price” and then dealt a few players to land another legitimate closer (who will now serve as K-Rod’s set-up mane) J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. If the Mets had had either of these guys in 2007 and 2008, it probably would have been the Mets and not the Phillies who advanced to post-season play from the NL East. The Mets bullpen blew so many leads during the course of each season, one of these guys would have made a huge difference down the stretch.
Rodriguez has been as close to automatic as one can come during the last 4 MLB seasons with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. From 2005 through 2008, Rodriguez saved 45 games, 47 games, 40 games and a major league record 62 games. He has a career ERA of 2.35 and a career WHIP of 1.11 – fantastic numbers for a closer. He has also struck out 587 batters in 451.2 innings of work. The one concern – he has a lot of mileage on that dynamic right arm of his. Rodriguez has pitched in at least 59 games in each of the last 6 MLB seasons. In 2008, Rodriguez pitched in 76 games – a career-high and an absurd number for a closer. Rodriguez is still young – 27 years old – but it was a still a good move by Minaya to limit the number of years on the contract to 3. With those kind of innings logs, who knows how long this kid is going to be able to keep up his efforts.
Putz saved 36 games in 2006 and 40 games in 2007. For one of the worst teams in baseball in 2008, Putz played in 47 games and still saved 15 of them.
The Mets are still looking to add a starting pitcher. Tim Redding is close to signing an incentive-laden contract to give the Mets some depth in the back end of the rotation. The Mets are also still in the hunt for Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez or Randy Wolf.
So far so good for Minaya. I found this hot stove report a good read from Jeff Passan. The Mets still need to perform on the field, but by addressing the bullpen issues, I like the Mets chances for the dethroning the Philadelphia Phillies as the 2-time defending NL East champions. If not, it could be Minaya looking for a new job in 2010.
The New York Yankees introduced their most recent free agent signee – young, talented first baseman Mark Teixeira – who will likely be manning the corner position in the new Yankee for many years to come. Teixeira will wear #25 for the Yankees in 2009 – his usual #23 is no longer available since it was retired for Don Mattingly, the legendary Yankees hitter. The 28-year old slugger (who turns 29 in April) signed an 8-year, $180 million deal with the Yankees right before Christmas 2008. The Yankees out-bid their AL East rivals, the Boston Red Sox, as well as the Washington Nationals and Baltimore Orioles, to land the hottest free agent hitter on the 2008-9 free agent market.
Teixeira split his time with the Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the 2008 MLB season. He hit .308 with 33 home runs, runs scored and 121 RBI’s. He is also an above-average 1st baseman defensively – making only 5 errors in each of the last 2 MLB seasons – a remarkable stat for a first baseman who handles the baseball so often.
Teixeira has played in 5 full major league seasons during his career for the Texas Rangers, Braves and Angels. When he opens the season with the Yankees in 2009, it will be his 4th different team in a 3-year span. Teixeira is a career .290 hitter, with a .378 on-base percentage and a .541 slugging percentage. He has already slugged 203 home runs, scored 566 runs and driven in 676 runs.
Its not the first time Josh Bard has played for the Red Sox back in 2006 he played seven games and struggled. Now the Red Sox are giving him a second chance with a one year non-guaranteed contract with an team option for 2010. After 2006 he was traded to San Diego with Cla Meredith to pick up catcher Doug Mirabelli. With Jason Varitek being 46 and a free agent the Sox need to start looking at there catchers. Brad 30 batted .202 with one homer and 16 RBIs in 178 at bats for the Padres in 2008 and had a sprained ankle which put him on the DL for some time. His career average is .265 with 28 HR and 168 RBIs in 431 games.