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Ran-DUMB Sports Thoughts (1-21-10)

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Good day to you on this rainy Southern California afternoon. I hope you are doing well and staying dry (for everyone in California). The sports world is still going full speed ahead and I have some ran-DUMB thoughts about it.

NFL Playoffs:

The “final four” are set. The Saints and Vikings will go at it to see who will represent the NFC, and they should. All year they have been the two best teams in the NFC and deserve to be there. Brett Favre has had a great year, and good for him. I did not like how he handled himself during his last days in green Bay (and I didn’t like how they treated him either), but it is nice to see him play at a high level at 40 years old.

Drew Brees is playing out of his mind. He has been for the last 4 years where he leads in all major quarterback categories (except TD’s where he is tied with Peyton Manning).  Is he a Hall of Famer? I think he has a better case then Kurt Warner, especially if the Saints win the Super Bowl.

I think the keys to the game will be Bernard Berrian for the Vikings and Pierre Thomas for the Saints. Both are players that get forgotten behind the “big names” like Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin and Marcus Colston. But have major roles in their teams offense. If Berrian can free up and get deep that will open the middle of the field for Harvin and if Thomas can run the ball effectively then that will Brees with their passing game.

My prediction is Saints will win in a shoot out. I think the Vikings secondary is not as good as the Saints receiver depth and passing attack. Favre will have a good game I suspect, but I also think this is the end of his career. I say 45-38 Saints.

In the AFC I caught hell for saying the Jets were going to be a 9 win team and battle for a playoff spot in my early predictions, but I was right on and they made it. Mark Sánchez (or the “Sanchize”) has done a very good job in the post season thus far, especially for a rookie. But the Jets will need Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene to have a big day and Braylon Edwards to not drops passes.

On the Colts side it all starts with Manning. If the Jets can’t get to him or knock him down, they will be in for a long day. But I think the Colts will have to be able to run the ball in order to make the Jets not “peel their ears back” and rush Manning. Darrelle Revis will be matched up on Reggie Wayne, and if he can take away one side of the field, Manning may have some trouble.

As far as the keys, I will go with the key match up. Revis vs Wayne.  Revis has played all world all year and if he can continue to have the success ha has had this post-season, then the Colts will be in trouble. On the other end, I think the it will be Sánchez vs the Colts pass rush. If they can force him into making some rookie decisions, which could be turnovers, then the Jets are in big trouble.

As much as I wasnt to pick the Jets, since they are the underdog and led by a USC guy, I can’t bet against Manning. I like the Colts in a close game, 27-24.

NFL:

Did anyone else notice that Aaron Rodgers may be the starter in the Pro Bowl? Favre normally doesn’t go and Brees may be in the Super Bowl leaving Rodgers to get the start!

Norv Turner did a great job with the Chargers this year, but I don’t think he is the guy to take them to a Super Bowl. He is “to nice” of a guy to enforce any rules. There is no way three players of the Packers, Patriots, Saints, Colts, Dolphins or Eagles would be out less than 48 hours before a playoff game, especially at a strip club. Those teams coaches would not tolerate it and those teams players know it. That is a sign of lack of respect by the Chargers players for the coach and more importantly the team. I know he just got a three-year extension, but if their isn’t a change in discipline by Turner, unless they win the Super Bowl, he would be out after the 2011 season.

The Chargers have some big questions to answer it comes to their own free agents. Darren Sproles, Vincent Jackson and Shawme Merriman are all free agents not to mention LaDainian Tomlison is due a roster bonus, but his play has not been up to par for the past three seasons, so he may have played his last game for the Chargers.

I may be in the minority here, but I think that a new CBA will be hashed out in the 11th hour by the NFL and NFLPA. Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith both know that a work stoppage would hurt the NFL in the short and long-term.

I like the staff Pete Carroll is putting together in Seattle. Pete has a direction he wants the Seahawks to go and he knows who he wants to be apart of making it happen. Besides bringing Jeremy Bates with him to Seattle from USC, the hiring of Alex Gibbs as offensive line coach was a huge hire for him. The Seahawks running game will be one of the best in 2010, watch.

NCAA Football:

I think USC has hired the right guy to replace Carroll in Lane Kiffin. He is brash, cocky and he brought a great staff with him, in particular Ed Orgeron and Monte Kiffin. “Coach O” brings that swagger and no-nonsense attitude to the Trojans and they need that. But more importantly they are great recruiters.

Ok, I get Tennessee being upset that Kiffin left after a year, but he was up front with the A.D. and said that USC would be the only place he would leave the Volunteers for. But to me, it shows they are upset they lost a guy who was doing a good job rebuilding their program and didn’t want him to leave. They do have a right to be upset, but I find it funny that all these things Kiffin did (like the car accident for example) are just now being brought to light. I say there is a lot of sour grapes on their end.

Brian Kelly is starting to recruit  University of Cincinnati recruits and there is no mention of it, but why are people upset that Kiffin and company are recruiting Tennessee recruits now that they are at USC? They want the best recruits wherever they are coaching, and that means the will be  recruiting the same players whether Kiffin was there or not. Recruits should choose a school for the school, not the coaches.

I will say this about the recruits that stuck with USC through the coaching change, they have character and did a great job of making sure that class stayed together. If that is the type of players that will be representing USC for the next 3 and 4 years, the Trojans will be in good shape.

I like what Jimbo Fisher is doing (as far as recruiting) down at Florida State. But as much a I like what he is doing, I will miss Bobby Bowden.

Let’s stay on Bowden for a second. I think the NCAA made a big time mistake by taking away those 14 wins. They should have let him keep them, in my opinion.

NBA:

The NBA has it all wrong if Tracy McGrady and Allen Iverson make it to the All Star game, none the less get starting nods. McGrady and Iverson would be wrong for accepting the invites, knowing that they don’t deserve it.

What happened “King” James? I thought you were all in for the dunk contest? It is a shame that LeBron’s not because even though he wouldn’t have won it (in my opinion), he would have made it interesting.

Keep an eye on Shannon Brown and DeMarr DeRozen as the two players that should be in the finals of the dunk contest.

The East has 4 really good teams, and the rest of the conference is weak, really weak, while the West is loaded. If your not an Orlando, Boston, Cleveland or Atlanta fan, sorry, you’re a mediocre team in a weak conference and wouldn’t even make the playoffs in the West.

 If the Lakers trade Andrew Bynum for Chris Bosh, Mitch Kupchak losses major points. He pulled off a steal in both the Gasol and Brown/Morrison trades, he would be on the other end if this deal were to go through.

Why is Mike Dunlevey still the Clippers head coach and GM? He is horrible and they need to hire a guy that can get the most out of that talent, and there is some on that team. Maybe Byron Scott would be interested in coaching the team that drafted him?

MLB:

I say it again, if I were Bud Selig I would make the McCourts sell the Dodgers. They are handicapping them by their divorce and it is a shame. They have some of the best young talent in the majors and should be a team that can go out and add free agents if they choose, not if the payroll (or lack there of) dictates.

What happened to the Angels being aggressive in free agency? They lost Chone Figgens and John Lackey and added 2 players that have major injury concerns (Joel Pineiro and Hideki Matsui).

I like the signing of Aroldis Chapman by the Reds. If he can put it together (like I think he can) the Reds will have a great young 1-2-3 punch with Chapman, Johnny Cueto and Edison Volquez. Just think if Homer Bailey can ever turn it around, the Reds will have a great young staff for a very long time.

Albert Pujols is everything that you would want your young kid to be on the field and off it. Pujols and Derek Jeter are the two classicist men in major league baseball.

NCAA Basketball:

Kentucky’s John Wall will be the number 1 pick in the NBA draft when he decides to come out (2010). He is lightning quick with great court vision, great leaping ability and he shows very good leadership. He is everything you would want in a point guard.

I like the way UNLV and Georgia Tech plays. But on the flip side I am disappointed in North Carolina so far.

What happened to UCLA? Time are tough all the way around over there. I am not a big UCLA fan, but I hate to see Coach Wooden’s school not playing the way UCLA is capable of playing.

Did anyone else hear about former Laker and current USC basketball commentator Michael Cooper say “F*** UCLA” during their live broadcast? The FCC will have a field day with that. Copper has since apologized and is looking to move past it.

Does anyone else miss Bobby Knight or am I alone on that one? I admire how he tells it like it is, and yes before anyone asks I would send my sons to play for him. He will teach them how to be a student athlete, but an athlete who is also a student.

Other Sports Thoughts:

Who care if Tiger Woods is in a sex rehab clinic? (Which happens to be down the road from Brett Favre’s house!!) Tiger feels he needs help and he is getting it, good for him. I think it is time for all the media to let him try to heal not only his life, but his marriage.

Glad to see that Brock Lesner is healthy again. I started to get into the UFC and MMA a few years ago thanks to a couple good friends and I have to admit, it is entertaining. Lesner is not the best in the business (Anderson “Spiderman” Silva is), but he maybe the most entertaining.

“Pretty Boy” Floyd Merryweather is not at fault for the cancellation of the “super bout” with Manny “Pac Man” Pacquiao, this time I have to blame Pacquiao. Wanting to have a “clean fight” is something we deserve, and hell for $35-$40 million, I get my butt beat Floyd…call me! But I do know one thing, all boxing fans deserved to see this fight and it is a shame it is not going to happen.

Entertainment:

I currently am working for a good friend of mine, an R&B artist by the name of TQ. His new album is dropping March 23rd entitled “Kind Of Blue”. Here is his first single off it called ELECTRONIC featuring Tha Vill:

If you are a consultant, P.D./A.P.D./M.D. or DJ and want to add it, just email me at j.arrigo.hubmusic@gmail.com

 Have a great day and thanks for the support.

Joe Arrigo

joeslockerroom@yahoo.com

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Written by Joe Arrigo

January 21, 2010 at 19:13

This Week In Sports & Life

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Today is  Thursday December 17th, 2009. It is the fourth day of a week that has had it’s up and downs for me and the sports world.

A couple years ago when I was doing a draft pod cast I had the opportunity to interview a very talented wide receiver out of West Virginia. He was an explosive player with great size and speed but there were questions about his attitude and off the field manners. His name was Chris Henry.

Chris was polite, articulate, funny and sincere. He seemed like a guy I would hang around with everyday. Our “interview” seemed like two friends talking about football and how exciting it is to see someone you know getting ready to live out his dream, to be an NFL player.

Tragically, Chris Henry passed away today after falling out of the bed of his truck during an argument with his financè yesterday. He was just 26 years old.  

Henry was drafted in the 2005 NFL draft (83rd overall) by the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals were the only team to interview him and told Henry that he would have to change his life style in order to be productive in the NFL.  He didn’t listen to them, at first.

Henry had 5 off field issues and a suspension by the NFL during his brief career. But after being brought back by the Bengals last year, he seemed to change his life for the better. There were no more “off the field issues” for Chris, instead he was planning a wedding in March. There were no more arrests, rather time spent with his three kids.

Chris Henry was living proof that a Bengal can change his stripes.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the Henry family, friends, loved ones and of course his kids. They also go out to the Bengals organization and his teammates.

My Life: 

On Monday I interviewed at a station in Southern California for a sports talk host opportunity. It would be the ideal job for me. I know the enviroment both in the work place as well as the community and the “media market”.

The person that would be my boss is a person I greatly respect and would relish the opportunity to work for. He is a person that knows how to groom “talent” and gets the best out of them.

I thought the interview went better than I ever could have hoped. He asked me questions both in radio philosophy and sports and I was honest and most importantly, me. I didn’t try to be someone I’m not. I didn’t give him the answers he wanted to hear or lie about anything. I was 110% honest. I was “The Open Book of Joe Arrigo”.

The way I figure it, I would rather be 100% me and NOT get the job knowing I did my best then a person that is fake and still not get the job because I didn’t lay it all out on the line. That is just not me, as my friends and family know, I wear my heart on my sleeve and call it like I see it.

As I told my wife, and friends across the internet, it is in god’s hands know. If it is his will, than I will be at that station, if not, then I will strap up my chin strap and move on to my next play.  But I will say this, if I do get the job there will not be a person that works harder than me and puts the amount of time and effort into the job as me. I am the right person for the job. I know that in my heart.

The Sports World This Past Week:

Tiger Woods. My how fast “icon’s” fall when they show their true colors.

Look, I have no issue with Tiger Woods. What he did is morally wrong and the ONLY people he needs to answer to is his wife, Elin and his kids. Not his mom, mother-in-law or any other family, just Elin and the kids.  They are the ones most effected by his choices, not his sponsors, co-workers or friends.

I like the way NIKE has handled the situation. Stand by him and take a wait and see approach. He is not the first person or athlete to have an affair, nor will he be the last.  I personally lost all hope for athletes to be faithful once Michael Jordan was caught cheating on Juanita.

I do think the doctor that was caught trying to sneak HGH in the USA from Canada is a bigger story then Tiger’s cheating. This doctor treated Woods, Jose Reyes (the Mets All-Star short stop) and other athletes.

It’s time to let Tiger and Elin try to heal, but if he wants the media to start to go away he needs to have a press conference and accept responsibility for his actions. Until he does that, he will be on TMZ  and other celebrity rumor sites. Tiger, take a page out of Alex Rodriguez’s book this past year and look your wife, kids, fans, sponsors and fellow golfer’s in the eye and apologize.

MLB’ Hot Stove: 

The Boston Red Sox fans can no longer complain about the way the Yankees spend money on free agents. They have been just as guilty as the Yankees when it comes to over spending in the past and now this off season. I have no problem with teams spending on free agents, but the  Red Sox and Red Sock Nation are quick to cry and complain about the Yankees but don’t have a problem when they do it.

The Sox signings of John Lackey and Mike Cameron were about $97 million dollars. The Red Sox payroll is around $170 million and they still are looking to add Padres first basemen Adrian Gonzalez. I like both moves by the Red Sox, but don’t want to hear any complaining about the Yankees and their moves any more.

The 3 team trade that sent Roy Halladay to the Phillies, Cliff Lee to the Mariners and a slew of prospects to the Blue Jays was a deal that I think in the short-term has Seattle and the Phillies as the winners. But the Blue Jays and Mariners are the long-term winners in my opinion.

Bud Selig needs to intervene with the Dodgers. The divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt is hindering Ned Colletti’s ability to add quality players to the Dodgers roster. They need a second baseman and more importantly some starting pitching.

The Dodgers signed Jamie Carroll, Angel Berroa and resigned Doug Mientkiewicz but hows does that make them better than what they had last year? I would much rather have Orlando Hudson and Juan Pierre. There is NO WAY the Dodgers should have NOT offered arbitration to Randy Wolf, who wanted to remain a Dodger and was willing to take less money to stay. But because of the divorce situation the Dodgers are handcuffed.

I do hear the Dodgers are close to pulling the trigger on a deal that would send Reds starter Aaron Harang to the Dodgers with short stop Chin-Lung Hu and another prospect back to the Reds. That would be an upgrade over the other choices behind Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley.

Angels fans should be livid at owner Arte Moreno and the front office. Not only do they lose their starting third baseman and lead-off man in Chone Figgens, but they also lost their ace in John Lackey and likely will lose club house leader Vlad Guerrero. On top of that, they didn’t get a deal for Halladay done when they had all the pieces to do it.

I hope Hedeki Matsui can stay healthy for you and I hope that they land Jason Bay because if not, it will be a long season for the Halo’s because the Mariners are closing the gap in the AL West.

Kobe Bryant: 

Kobe Bryant is the best player in the NBA, period. Sorry LeBron James. Sorry D-Wade. Sorry Carmelo Anthony. Sorry Chris Paul. This is a no brainer. Kobe is the best “closer” in the NBA and more importantly the best leader in the NBA.

“Bean” is the best player on the best team in the NBA and has a will to win that rivals Michael Jordan. He plays hurt, tired, sick, with broken bones, torn legiments and still is the hardest working man on the court, all the time.   

“Bean” is a winner. His methods at one time seemed selfish, but he just wanted to win. Magic did it. Michael did it. Bird did it. Shaq did it (and left Orlando to do so), and LeBron is doing it. So why was anyone surprised that the NBA’s most competitive person was doing it when he wanted to win?

Since Kobe and the Lakers added Pau Gasol, Shannon Brown and Derrick Fisher, Kobe has been nothing but the best teammate one could be. He saw the Lakers trying to do what they told him they were going to do, try to win a title. Once he seen that, he was a good solider.

When the Staples Center chants “MVP, MVP, MVP” we all know that they have it right. I will say this right now, if the Lakers win another title (giving Kobe five), he should have his statue right next to Magic Johnson and Oscar De La Hoya’s in front of Staples Center.

NCAA Football:

It is time for the recruiting wars to be kicked up a notch. High School football players will be making their choice on where to go to school and play football for the next three to five years. No one does it better than Pete Carroll, Nick Saban and Urban Meyer.

USC’s “poor” 2009 season doesn’t seem to have an effect on a recruiting class that is one of the best. Carroll has landed 10 “prospects” that could have an impact right away in 2010. Florida is another school that, like USC, lands the nation’s top players yearly. Saban has built Alabama back into national prominence with three strong recruiting classes. 

This year there is a new cast of characters but the same story will be played out. Hundereds of kids will make a choice, some will regret it while others will thrive at their new schools. As quickly as we get to know their names, we will move onto the 2011 class and will start it all over again.

Written by Joe Arrigo

December 17, 2009 at 18:14

Posted in Life, MLB, NBA, NFL, Sports In General

If I Were A MLB GM For A Day

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The Major League Baseball free agent period is underway. We all play arm-chair GM’s on our fantasy teams or on our video games. So I thought to myself, why not be one on my blog?

So what I decided the I would take three MLB teams, the Yankees, Dodgers and Brewers, and be their GM for a day.

Here’s what I would do if I were the Yankees GM for a day.

The 27 time World Series champions have a few “needs”. The Yankees need to add a starting pitcher or two and left fielder (or center fielder and move Melky Cabera to left).

With the Yankees all that matters is championships, so money is not an object or an obstacle. 

First thing I would do is call Toronto and offer a package of prospects for Blue Jay’s ace Roy Halladay. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos already said he has no issues trading Halladay with in the AL East. He would give the Yankees the best 1-2-3- pitching combination in baseball with C.C. Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Halladay. 

I would offer a package that would include Phil Hughes, catching prospect Austin Romine and pitching prospects Manuel Banuelos and Zach McAllister. I would consider top prospect catcher Jesus Montero, but my thought is a pitcher with MLB experience (Hughes) and three other top 10 prospects should be enough to land “Doc” Halladay.

If the Jays wanted Montero, then I would exclude two of the Yankees top 10 prospects and add a couple “B” prospects.

Next I would sign the 21-year-old left-handed pitcher and Cuban defector Aroldis Chapman. The 6’4 lefty can hit 100 MPH’s on the radar gun with good movement. He also throws a curve, slider, change-up and a splitter.

 Many scouts compare Chapman’s ability to the number one overall pick in the 2009 MLB draft Steven Strasburg. He doesn’t have Strasburg’s command or even mound presence, but ability wise he is very comparable. 

The price tag is reportedly $15-50 million, but for a player that would be the number one pick in the draft, and in a year or two could be a number three or four starter with top of the rotation stuff, he would be well worth the price.

My next move would to bring back Andy Pettitte. He proved his worth (and then some) with his post season performance  and would solidify the number four spot in the rotation. His price will be slightly more than what the Yankees paid for him this past season, but nothing like the money Rich harden or John Lackey would command.

Time to shore up the left field position. Johnny Damon, I mean Scott Boras is asking too much for Damon’s services. Boras compared Damon to Derek Jeter, umm sorry Scott, I know your trying to sell your client is no Derek Jeter. So I would move on since Damon will not sign a two-year deal. 

The person I think would be a very good fit is Curtis Granderson. Detroit is the place I would deal Dellin Betances, Brett Gardner and Jairo Heredia for Granderson.

The Tigers want to dump salary and Granderson had an “off year” in 2009. Some scouts and annalist (Like Keith Law) seem to think Granderson is a role player, but I think otherwise.

 He would bring Gold Glove caliber defense to center field at Yankee stadium and would keep the speed/power aspect at the top of the Yankees order with Jeter.  He is a younger, faster, more powerful version of Damon, and he plays better defense.

Finally, I would add the following relief pitchers to shore up the bullpen. Rafael Soriano and Mike Gonzalez would be a perfect right-left combination to bridge the starter to Mariano Rivera.

That’s it for the Yankees time to move on to the Brewers.

The Brewers are the opposite off the Yankees in the regard that they will not overspend for a player because they can not afford to take on a bad contract.

The Brewers cleared payroll to add a quality pitcher, and I think that they are the dark horse for John Lackey, the top pitcher on the market. But the price for Lackey’s services most likely will be as much as AJ Burnett got last year. Lackey wants $85 million for 5 or 6 years and that price tag may be too much for the Brewers.

So because of his price tag, I think the Brewers will most likely add Wisconsin native Jarrod Washburn and Erik Bedard. The two were teammates in Seattle and pitched well and would be an excellent duo to have behind Yovani Gallardo.

I may be in the minority but I think the Brewers need to sign a veteran player that can be a leader in the clubhouse and the perfect fit would be Mark DeRosa. DeRosa can play 3B, SS, 2B, 1B or left field. He also would give some much-needed protection in the line up to Price Fielder.

DeRosa also plays very good defense, and that is an area that the Brewers need an upgrade in. I know Mat Gamel, the Brewers top prospect, is also a third baseman, but the NL Central is a division the Brewers can win. With Alcides Escobar at short stop and the newly acquired Carlos Gomez in center field, the Brewers defense will be better, but their offense may not be what it has been in the past. 

I would also sign  Mark Mulder, who has a history with both Ken Macha and Rick Peterson. If he is healthy (which is asking a lot out of him) he could be a steal. Doug Davis is another player that would be on my radar. I know the Brewers were close to dealing for him at the trade deadline and he could be a good back of the rotation guy.

Finally, lets move on to the Dodgers.

 The Dodgers situation is more complex than any other in Major League Baseball. With the divorce of Frank and Jamie McCourt ongoing (and getting uglier by the day) the Dodgers may be hard pressed to make a big splash.

Well since I am the GM I will make the moves I feel will get the Dodgers back into the playoffs and a chance to play in the World Series.

One of the first things I would do is resign Orlando Hudson to a 3 year, $35 million dollar contract. He was a leader in the clubhouse and brings the intangibles needed to a winning ball club.

I would then sign John Lackey. I know, $85 million for 5 years is a ton of coin, but he is a proven big game pitcher who pitches from his stones. He has a World Series ring already and by signing Lackey, it would hurt the cross-town Angels.

I would also trade Juan Pierre. I know, Pierre has been a good solider since the trade for Manny Ramirez and the emergence of Matt Kemp in center field but $10 million for Pierre is a steep price for a 4th outfielder and he deserves a chance to start. I would trade Pierre to the Tigers for Edwin Jackson.

Randy Wolf is a guy that I would bring back at the tone of 4 years and $44 million. He has pitched extremely well in both his stints with the Dodgers and loves to pitch in his home town for his favorite team growing up.

I would also sign back Vicente Padilla, but for only 2 years. He pitched well for the Dodgers, in particular in Dodgers stadium. 

 A rotation of Lackey, Clayton Kershaw, Jackson, Wolf and Padilla would be a very good rotation and one that has a good mix of young pitchers (Kershaw and Jackson) and experience.

 I would also look to bring back Jim Thome to add some left-handed power off the bench. He is also a great clubhouse guy and a person that has the ear and trust of Ramirez.

That’s me playing GM for the day. I know the dollars may not be what some expect (one way or the other), but I think you get the picture. For people like Scott Boras who thinks he (and his clients) are recession proof, will have a rude awakening. Money will not be flying around like in the past. Instead more teams will be looking to add more quality players than one super star, and yes that includes the Yankees. 

 

Written by Joe Arrigo

November 20, 2009 at 20:50

Posted in MLB

Major League Baseball’s Hot Stove Heating Up: Trade Rumors

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The New York Yankees just finished their parade celebrating their 27th World Series. Do you know what that means? It is officially the MLB off-season and teams are looking to make a deal. For reasons that only they know you will see teams either cut or add payroll. And with that comes the trade rumors.

Here are some of the names and rumors that are making the rounds in a variety of MLB circles that I have been hearing and want is being reported by the mainstream media.

Curtis Granderson- CF- Detroit Tigers: The Tigers have one of the highest payrolls in Major League Baseball in a city that may have been hit the hardest by the nations economic crisis. Granderson is the guy that many teams want, including the Yankees, Angels and Cubs. 

All three are a teams that could afford to take on the remaining amount of Granderson’s contract,  $25.75 million guaranteed over the next three years.  The Yankees though seem like the most likely landing spot. They have a need for a center fielder that can play gold glove defense and leadoff hitter with pop. Granderson fills both those needs. He also would be cheaper than Johnny Damon, who is seeking a deal that would pay him in the $13 to $17 million dollar range.

The rumor is Brian Cashman and Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski met with each other at the GM meetings and had a “preliminary discussion” involving players changing teams in a Granderson deal. A deal could happen soon, real soon according to some sources close to both teams.

Roy Halladay- P- Toronto Blue Jays: “Doc” maybe the best pitcher in the big leagues right now and the Blue Jays know he will not resign with them after the 2010 season so they are willing to deal him (and that includes to other AL East teams). The Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, Marlins and Phillies all have been linked to him.

 

This will be steep for Halladay. By all accounts the Jays are looking for two pitchers with one being Major League ready and a positional player. All the teams involved have the players to get it done and he may be cheaper than free agent pitcher John Lackey.

B.J. Upton- CF- Tampa Bay Rays: Upton is a gold glove caliber center fielder coming off a bad year at the plate. He played most of 2009 injured (shoulder and ankle) and it effected his over all performance. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, the Rangers checked on his availability as part of their offseason routine, but no talks are ongoing.

Other teams that may have interest are the Yankees, Angels, Mets and the Cubs. The price for Upton will be steep if the Rays are willing to deal him, which I think is highly unlikely. Upton, when healthy, reminds me of Eric Davis, a 5 tool player that can the change the game offensively or defensively.

Adrian Gonzalez- 1B- San Diego Padres: Gonzalez is a bargain with a very affordable contract. He has been linked to the Red Sox, but the Dodgers, who almost dealt for him at the trade deadline, are also a very likely landing spot. Gonzalez plays very good defense and is a good clubhouse guy as well. 

Carl Crawford- LF- Tampa Bay Rays: Why would the Rays be willing to trade both Upton and Crawford? Because Crawford will walk after the 2010 season. Reports are he is miffed at Rays management because they picked up his $10 million dollar option. Reportedly, Crawford had a “handshake agreement” not to pick up the option which would have happened when he signed his current deal before the ’05 season, under a completely different regime.

Teams that Crawford could be a good fit for Crawford include the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox (if they don’t re-sign Jason Bay), Angels, Rangers, Braves, Brewers and Cubs.

Ryan Doumit- C/DH- Pittsburgh Pirates: According to multiple sources the Pirates “first made it clear” they were willing to deal Doumit before the trade deadline last June. Reports are  the Pirates “would not hesitate” to move him for the right package.

Doumit struggled through an injury-plagued 2009 campaign, posting a .250/.299/.414 line in only 75 games. He’s just one year removed, however, from a .318/.357/.501 season in which he played almost exclusively behind the plate. His ability to play multiple positions (including catcher), combined with his power, could make him an attractive option to a handful of teams such as Giants, Mariners, and Rays.

Justin Verlander- P- Detroit Tigers: The Tigers moving their ace is not something I see happening, but like the Granderson situation, the Tigers are trying to dump payroll.  Tigers’ GM Dave Dombrowski said “I won’t get into that because that is best kept internal.” He went on to say that the team is “looking to be fiscally responsible”.

Verlander had an outstanding year in 2009, winning 19 games and leading the American League in strikeouts. Verlander can become a free agent after the 2011 season, so you can bet he will be looking for a huge payday.

Edwin Jackson- P- Detroit Tigers: Jackson has been dealt from the Dodgers to the Rays, the Rays to the Tigers and is likely to be moved again this off-season. Jackson’s rumored suitors include the Brewers and Dodgers.

Though Jackson is coming off of a breakout season and is still until Detroit’s control through 2011, payroll considerations may force the Tigers to include Jackson in trade talks.

For more in-depth baseball rumors please check out http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/. It may be the best site for baseball rumors on the web.

 

 

Written by Joe Arrigo

November 15, 2009 at 00:36

Empire State of Mind

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“New York!!!                                                                                                                  Concrete jungle where dreams are made of, There’s nothing you can’t do,
Now you’re in New York!!!
These streets will make you feel brand new, the lights will inspire you,
Let’s hear it for New York, New York, New York”

Alicia Keys couldn’t have sung it better on Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind” song (off his Blue Print 3 album in stores now). And the New York Yankees seem to have an Empire State of Mind of their own.

Led by Derek Jeter the New York Yankees seem poised to win the American League and play for their 27th World Series title. The dynasty looks as if they are back and ready to go on another title after taking out the Minnesota Twins 3-0 in the Division Series Sunday night.

This series win was a complete team effort. 

The Yankees were the only team with 100 wins in Major League baseball. They cut payroll by signing C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira this past offseason. And finally, in an offseason that was overshadowed by Alex Rodriguez’s positive test and admission to using “Boli” (a supplement banned by baseball), the Yankees still won the A.L. East.

But the Yankees are in a no win situation. If they don’t win the World Series then it was another season of “The Evil Empire” outspending everyone else and failing. But if they do win it all, then it’s because the Yankees out spent everyone else. They will not be as well received as any other team that could win it (outside of New York and Yankees fans).

 Much has been said in the past about these Yankees, like “25 players, 25 cabs”, but not this year. The additions of Teixeira, Burnett and most notably Nick Swisher has made the clubhouse a lot looser and closer enviroment then what it had been in the past.

Think of the cream towels in the face after a close or come from behind win. The laughing in the dugout during games. The hand shakes. It all points to a clubhouse that is special, and that was not the case in years past. It has made players more relaxed and more comfortable, especially Alex Rodriguez, who always seemed to be uptight and pressing.

The healing and bonding started right after Rodriguez addressed his teammates when he reported to spring training. He came clean and opened up to his teammates like never before. With Jeter, Swisher, Teixeira, Burnett, Sabathia leading the way, the Yankees joined their teammate in his moment of need to show support, and that was a defining moment for this team, in my opinion.

As we all know Rodriguez missed the month of April after hip surgery, and upon his return the Yankees (and Teixeira) took off. It took A-Rod a while to find his swing, but he seemed more relaxed, a better teammate something he said he would do, all season.

As Yankees fans know better than anyone else, Rodriguez has struggled in post seasons past. Here is a stat most Yankees, and baseball fans already knew, he entered this past post season in an 0-16 slump with runners in scoring position. No one knew what to expect from him this post season. The “experts” were split on his impact, but for the first time since he came to New York, the pressure wasn’t  on A-Rod’s shoulders. The Yankees “new investments”,  Teixeira, Burnett and Sabathia were getting the attention for their “new roles” in the post season for the Yankees. Rodriguez was at least fourth on the list.

Now back to the team, we’ll come back to Rodriguez a bit later.

All season long there was a different look to the Yankees. They seemed to have a different swagger about them and of course, Derek Jeter led the way. Jeter may have had his finest season at the age of  35. He batted .334, hit 18 hr’s, 27 doubles, a triple, stole 30 bases, scored 107 runs , drove in 66 and had 212 hits. Jeter also became the Yankees all-time hit king with a total of 2,747 hits passing the great Lou Gherig. He has to be near the top of the A.L. MVP race.

Jeter’s outstanding year may have been overshadowed by Teireira’s great year. He was everything that the Yankees had hoped an more after signing an 8 year $180 million dollar deal. He provided Gold Glove defense at first base and he was great in the clubhouse. Offensively Teixeira was the perfect number three hitter in the line-up. He hit 39 home runs (tied for the A.L. lead), drove in 122 runs,  hit .292 and slugged .565. 

 

Sabathia and Burnett were brought in to give the Yankees two front end pitchers to lead their rotation and give them two dominenet pitchers in the post season. Sabathia won 19 games, struck out 197 hitters and had a 3.37 era while Burnett won 13 and struck out 195 players with a 4.04 era. Burnett got off to a hot start was was the Yankees “stopper” early on, while Sabathia got better as the year went on and proved he could indeed handle New York.

The Yankees, as a whole, received outstanding production from Swisher, Johnny Damon, Melky Cabera, a healthy Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada and Robinson Cano. Cano, who was almost dealt to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp, hit .325, hit 25 home runs and drove in 85 Yankees. Cano also improved his defense as well after slipping the previous couple years.

The pitching staff got better as the year went on. Sabathia, Burnett, Andy Pettitte (who had a resurgence) and Joba Chamberlain gave the Yankees one of the better staff’s in the A.L. The fifth spot in the rotation is cause for concern for the Yankees, but Phil Hughes, who seemed to have found a home at the back end of the bullpen, seems to be the likely canidate to fill that void next year.

The bullpen in the post season is deep with Hughes and Chamberlain being the seventh and eighth inning pitchers setting up Mariano Rivera. David Robertson is yet another young pitcher that gives the Yankees even more options in the pen. Phil Coke is the “lefty specialist” and has thrived in that roll each of the past two seasons.

But as it has for the past 14 seasons, it all begins and ends with Rivera. He had yet another special season saving 44 games with an era of 1.76. His cut fastball is still the best in the game.  

Now back to Rodriguez.

After missing April, he ended his year batting .286, hitting 30 hr’s driving in 100 Yankees with a .532 slugging percentage. The numbers are not “A-Rodesqe”, but he became a better ball player and teammate this year. He has never loked so relaxed and joyful playing the game in pinstripes. This postseason it is showing. Thus far (after the Divisional Series) Alex is hitting .455 with 2 home runs, 6 rbi’s and a slugging percentage of 1.000.

But the difference in Alex Rodriguez came to the world’s sight on Friday, October 9th, 2009. He came to bat with no outs in the bottom of the ninth with the Yankees trailing the Twins by two runs. Teixeira had just singled and was on first. Five pitches later (on a 3-1 count) Rodriguez was circling the bases after he tied the game with a two run home run deep to just right of centerfield into the New York night. It was his Yankee moment and his October rebirth.

This appears to be another post season that the Yankees and Yankees fans will remember. The feel of this team is different. This Yankees team seems to be more like a family, more like a band of brothers with one common goal in mind, to bring home the World Series for the 27th time in Yankees history.

That is an Empire State of Mind.

 

E-Mail Joe @ joeslockerroom.wordpress.com

Written by Joe Arrigo

October 11, 2009 at 23:36

Posted in MLB

The Steroid Era, I Mean Issue In MLB

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Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Manny Ramirez, Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi, Andy Pettitte, Rafael Palmeiro, Mo Vaughn, Eric Gagne, Juan Gonzalez, Gary Sheffield, Mike Piazza, Kevin Brown, Jose Canseco and Alex Rodriguez. These players either admitted to using performance enhancing drugs, or “P.E.D’s”,  were suspended by Major League Baseball for “P.E.D.” use or were implicated in “The Mitchell Report“. They are a who’s who of baseball’s biggest names and they all have been tied to “P.E.D.’s”. There are many more names that have not been released for reasons that are both selfish and legal, but one thing is certain, “P.E.D.’s” were a huge problem for baseball and also a huge money maker. 

In the start of the 1990’s baseball was thriving on and off the field. MLB had signed a huge televisiondeal with ESPN and baseball was on 4 nights a week, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday nights as well as Saturday afternoon on NBC (and later FOX). Business was booming off the field as well as on it. The “Bash Brothers” were in Oakland dominating, Pittsburgh was the class of the NL East with Bonds, Bobby Bonilla and Andy Van Slyke leading the way, Atlanta had become an up and coming team thanks to John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Steve Avery and Toronto was a team that had arguably the best overall talent in baseball. The only thing missing was the Yankees being a dynasty and a home run chase.

Then, in 1994, things changed. The collective bargainingagreement had expired and the players went on strike after union chief Donald Fehr rejected the owners “final offer” on a new C.B.A. There was no baseball for 232 days, including no World Series. There were 931-948 cancelled games (these numbers also account for the fact that postseason series can be of varying lengths, in addition, 12 other games scheduled to be played prior to August 12, 1994 were canceled for other reasons, mainly weather-related). It was the first time since 1904 that a World Series was cancelled and baseball became the first pro sport to lose its entire postseason due to a labor dispute.

Baseball returned in March of 1995,  but the fans did not. They felt hurt, scorned and angry that greed got in the way of “the national past time”. Stadiums that were normally filled to capacity were now half, and in some cases only a quarter filled. Fans made signs that condemned both owners and players a like for their role in the strike. No one in baseball had seen this coming, after all it had survived wars, racism and gambling  scandals. Owners didn’t know what to do. Then in 1998, after two years of fan backlash, two players put baseball on their back for a season to remember chasing Roger Marises single season home run mark and but baseball back in fans hearts for all the right reasons, so we thought.

Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa took sports fans on a whirl wind journey in the summer of 1998 as they both took aim at former Yankee great Roger Maris and his single season home run record of 61. The chase was memorable for many different reason including ther Cubs and Sosa trying and McGwire’s Cardinals both trying to reach the post season in the same division against each other. But even more memorable was the bond that the two men shared, and seem to relish, during the chase. They liked and openly rooted for each otherto break the record and on September 8th McGwire hit #62 off the Cubs Steve Trachsel as Sosa watched from right field. The two embraced at home plate as a celebration  soon there there followed. It was a celebration not only for McGwire and Sosa, both fan favorites, but for baseball and it’s journey back into America’s hearts.

All seemed well with baseball for the next few years then Barry Bonds, who seemed to have noticebly a lot bigger, step to the plate. 

It was 2001 and the whispers about steroids and not just Bonds, but McGwire and other players had started to get louder and louder. Bonds was hitting at a torid pace. In the first 50 games he hit 28 home runs and had 39 by the All Star break. That season he led the majors in base on balls, with major league record 177 walks, and had a .515 on-base average, a feat not seen since Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams over forty years earlier. He was poised and determined to break McGwire’s single season record of 70 home runs set in the magical 1998 season and Bonds did by hitting 73 home runs that season.     

Bud Selig was now the commissioner of baseball and was starting to get pressure from the the media and U.S. Congress to test for steroids. Jose Canseco had written a book alleging that McGwire and others used steroids and had said over 85% of MLBplayers used “P.E.D.’s”. Selig along with current and former MLB players and Fehrwent before congress and were asked “tough” questions about steroids in baseball. On this day, march 17, 2005, the lives, careers and legacy’s of McGwire, Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and the game of baseball was changed for ever.

Baseball has many different era’s to it’s long and rich history. They are the 19th century era, the dead ball era, lively ball era, expansion era, free agency era, the long ball era and now the steroid era. Baseball loves to embrace it’s past. The players, teams, moments, records and even the era’s itself. In the history of baseball there have been many black eyes in the sport, most notably the exclusion of African American players, but yet baseball has done things to persavere  and make the wrong right. Why now is baseball trying to run away from the “P.E.D.” issue and hide the names of the guilty and the cheaters hoping fans forget about it or just let it go? 

If baseball. the players union and Bud Selig want to move on and put this shameful era to rest, then release the names of the other 103 players that tested positive for banned substances so no more names can be leaked and have fans and players relive this painful era. The owners, MLBPA and even Bud Selig are just as guilty as the players who cheated. Owners and MLBPA reaped the benefits financially form the cheaters. The owners and Fehr knew that there was a “P.E.D.” problem in baseball and turned a blind eye because their bank accounts kept getting bigger and bigger. Only when Congress threatend them did the owners attempt to “clean up” baseball and did so with MLBPA dragging their feet.

The question now is do these players involved in the “P.E.D.” scandal belong in the Hall Of Fame. I say, yes. My reasoning is simple. If players that played in baseball when African Americans were not allowed to play are in the H.O.F. then “P.E.D.” players belong because players in the former era didn’t play against the best competition, so their number were inflated. Ty Cobb was an open racist and he is in Cooperstown. The MLB Hall Of Fame has players who doctored balls while they pitch and used corcked bats while batting. That is cheating last time I checked and whether you use P.E.D.’s, throw a spitball or a corked bat, cheating is cheating.

I do however think that players that played in the “steroid era” should have their own wing in Copperstown and it should have a plaque saying something like “Baseball, like life, has had it’s good times, bad times and regretful times. Baseball, like life, is not emune to times where better judgement was not used. Please take into consideration that through the many era’s of baseball and it’s rich history there have been times that the parties involved with baseball have done things that gave them an advantage that may have inflated their numbers.”  

Baseball can’t and shouldn’t hide from the “steroid era”. Yes it is a black eye for the national past time, but in order to let that black eye heal, they must first release every name that tested positive for steroids or “P.E.D.’s” , that way fans, players and owners don’t have to relive that era every time a new name is leaked out. Time and honesty heals all wounds and until baseball and the MLBPA come completely clean, this wound will remain open.

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 29, 2009 at 23:05

Posted in MLB

The 2009 Yankees: Tradition Reborn

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The 2009 New York Yankees are a different team than what Yankees fans have grown accustom to in recent years. This group of players seems to have a bond that is reminiscent of the teams managed by Joe Torre that won multiple World Series, something that has been missing in the Yankees the past few years.

The reason starts with the additions of Mark Teixeira, C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and most importantly Nick Swisher. All four players have been known in baseball circles as great teammates and “team first” guys. Swisher is the ultimate teammate and the ring leader. When he was acquired by the Yankees in the off season from the White Sox many baseball pundents thought the Yankees were replacing Jason Giambi with him, but when the Yankees added “ Tex ”, Swisher was a player without a position.

In spring training, he won a position battle with Hideki Matsui (as the DH) and an everyday spot in right field after Xavier Nady went down with an elbow injury. His style of play quickly won over Yankees fans and teammates a like making him a fan favorite, but his biggest impact has been in the locker room with his presence and leadership. He has quickly become a leader amongst the likes of Yankee captain Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez.

Sabathia’s signing was not a surprise to anyone who follows baseball because of the Yankees poor pitching in 2008. When he signed his 7 year 161 million dollar deal the expectations went through the roof for C.C. and what he would bring on the mound, but maybe his biggest impact has been in the locker room. Bob Uecker said on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball that “C.C. is the nicest guy I have ever met in baseball”; he went on to say he (Sabathia) was a huge influence in the Brewers locker room.   

Sabathia had started off slow, but he has done that the past few years, but now seems to have picked up where he left off in Milwaukee where he was the best pitcher in baseball last year. He has been the front line, big time starter that goes deep into games, a need for the Yankees the past few seasons. I think he will only get better as the season goes on.

A.J. Burnett has matured a ton since his days as a Florida Marlin. While playing for Toronto he learned a lot from Blue Jays ace Roy “Doc” Halladay. “Doc” showed him how to spot his breaking ball, take something off his 95 mph fastball while spotting it and remain effective late in games but more importantly, he showed him how to pitch. In Florida , Burnett was known to look at the scoreboard after every pitch to see how hard he threw (sometimes reaching triple digits). Burnett has matured to become one of the Yankees club house clowns and leader of the cream towel crew.

Teixeira has been everything the Yankees front office, teammates and fans have expected and more. After a slow start at the plate he has become the hottest hitter in baseball since May 8th (the same day A-Rod returned to the line up) leading the AL in homeruns and hitting well above .300. He also has been stellar in the field, playing at a Gold Glove caliber level all year. He has saved countless errors by diving and digging out poorly thrown balls as well as robbing opponents of extra base hits. 

“ Tex ’s” personality has also rubbed off on his teammates. His signature moment happened while playing against the Texas Rangers at the new Yankee Stadium in early June. He was drilled twice by former teammate Vincente Padilla, the second time in the right shoulder. Teixeira went to first base and the next batter took out Elvis Andrus breaking up the double play and soon thereafter a three run home run by Matsui gave the Yankees the lead. When Nelson Cruz came to hit later in the game, Burnett threw at Cruz to let the Rangers (and any other teams watching) know that the Yankees are a band of brothers who have one another’s back.

The aforementioned players are not the only reason the Yankees are having a great start to the 2009 season. Robinson Cano’s play is back to All-Star form after a sub-par 2008. Cano was over aggressive and impatient last year, which made him off balance at the dish, but he seemed to have reverted back to his old strategy of patience and hitting the ball where it is pitched. Cano entered tonight (June 19th) hitting .328 with 12 HR and 42 RBI, not to mention playing a very solid defensive second base.

What can you say about Derek Jeter? He is one of the most consistent players ever and could be the greatest Yankee shortstop of all-time. He will go down as the Yankees all-time leading hitter (possibly by the end of this season) and the ultimate leader (on and off the field). He is one player that has NEVER been linked to any type of scandal, yet he continues to play at a level very few have ever played at.

Alex Rodriguez came into this season with various scandals over his head, and not to mention his hip surgery. The steroid scandal rocked the sports world, MLB and the Yankees organization, but I firmly believe that it brought this club closer together. When his teammates came out to support him when he arrived in Tampa for spring training, you could see the emotion on his face. You could see he had a burden lifted off his shoulders and he could now “just be a baseball player”. His teammates support (and even protection in some cases) seems to have given Rodriguez a new energy.

A-Rod will always be a “lightning rod for controversy” for various reasons (his contract, personal life and lack of a World Series title to name a few reasons), but he is human. His biggest flaw is he tries to please everyone (or so I have been told) for whatever reason, and only God and Alex knows why, but this I know, what he can do on a baseball field only a few men have done it better.

The Yankees also have a great supporting cast of players that have came up big so far this season, Posada, Rivera, Joba Chamberlain (who looks to have turned the corner and is becoming a dominant pitcher), Melky Cabrera, Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Ramiro Pena and Francisco Cervelli to name a few. I don’t mean to short change them (and others not mentioned) for what they have done, because I can go on and on (especially about Damon, Joba, Rivera and Melky) about their accomplishments thus far.

The “old” Yankee stadium will be (and is) missed. Much can (and should) be said about the “new” Yankee stadium and how often balls fly out for home runs, or how many times the Yankees can come from behind to win a game there or how it is the crown jewel of stadiums in Major League Baseball, but one thing will remain the same, the Yankee tradition. A tradition of winning (26 time champions), Hall of Famers and Legends. This 2009 team has the makings of a team of destiny….a destiny which could include a 27th world title. 

 

Please don’t forget to subscribe to Joe’s locker room. You will be notified every time I add a blog. Thanks for reading.

Joe

Written by Joe Arrigo

June 19, 2009 at 06:13

Posted in MLB