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 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.
Mike Mussina announced his retirement from the Major Leagues the other day. During his 18-year career, Mussina pitched for only 2 teams – the Baltimore Orioles and New York Yankees, he started 536 games, he amassed 270 wins and he had a career 3.68 ERA. At age 39, he became the oldest player to win 20 games for the first time in his career (Mussina’s friend Jamie Moyer had previously held that honor when he won 20 games in 2001 at the ripe old age of 38). With a 34-start, 200+-innings pitched, 3.37 ERA season under his belt during the 2008 MLB season, it appeared that Mussina had plenty of juice left in his tank to hit the “all-important” 300-win milestone.
So why retire now? As ESPN’s Buster Olney writes, Mussina is not like most super star athletes who seek the limelight and always want to be remembered for their achievements and awards. Mussina would rather retire to the Quiet Life in Pennsylvania, surrounded by the beautiful Pennsylvania landscape and watching his own children make names for themselves in their respective sports. What a nice way to be able to go out…