If it Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix it. Oh, You Did Fix it? Huh.

This year’s trade deadline brought a bunch of change for many teams, but none more so than the Detroit Tigers and Oakland A’s. Both teams should theoretically make the playoffs because both teams have been great all year. Before the trade deadline, these teams were leading their divisions and cruising to an easy postseason berth. What shocked the baseball world was when Billy Beane traded his beloved prospects for a ton of high-caliber starting pitchers, plus Jonny Gomes. We were also shocked when Detroit pulled off a three-team trade for the Rays’ David Price. So, with these two teams on paper becoming world superpowers (kind of), what could possibly go wrong?

Well, let’s start with Oakland since I really really really really want them to FINALLY get to the World Series and so Brad Pitt can finally win the last game of the season. Now that I have accepted the fact that my Yankees will not get to the World Series, I can start choosing sides. Anyway, Oakland sent the home run derby champ Yoenis Cespedes to Boston for Jon Lester and Jonny Gomes, further ramping their rotation, even after their trade with the Cubbies. So what happened? Well, the Angels are now in sole possession of first place in the AL West, and they are not backing off. Oakland is somehow unable to consistently win games. It is worth noting they still have the second-best record in baseball, but this is not what they were expecting. They were expecting to be on a rampage, riding unicorns into battle and slaying their opponents mercilessly.

Let’s talk the Tigers now! With the acquisition of David Price, the Tigers have the most lethal rotation in baseball. I firmly believe they could out-pitch the Dodgers if need be, but ever since the trade, their offense has become sporadic and their rotation is a little shaky. They got walloped by the Twins two games in a row, including a 20-6 massacre. I am unsure if the Twins have scored 20 runs combined all year. Another example is when Price pitched in Tampa. He gave up ONE hit, a homer, and still lost the game. How messed up is that? Anyway, another factor is cause for alarm in the Motor City: Kansas City. The Royals have come out of the woodwork and overtaken first place in the AL Central. Now, Detroit is jockeying for a Wild Card spot. Well then.

So, is there reason to worry about these teams? Nah, not yet. If we get to mid-September and these two teams are in fact NOT riding unicorns and slaying their opponents, then I will worry. Pitching is the key to winning in the postseason, and Oakland and Detroit have that in spades. Once the new players settle in, I think both teams will be fine. However, after the deadline, these were not the results these two teams were hoping for. Like I said, everyone was expecting them to be riding unicorns and slaying every other team, but that is not happening. The unicorns are doing a slow trot, but hopefully this just means they are saving their energy for late September.

Pitching wins the postseason and these two teams have no reason to worry. They just have to get there first.

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Football has Micheal Sam. Basketball has Jason Collins. Baseball has…who? Exactly. Baseball is really the last sport to have an openly gay player. Players and managers have said that baseball is ready for this and that they wouldn’t mind a gay teammate in the locker room. I don’t know when we will have an openly gay player in the admittedly more conservative game of baseball, but I am very happy with the work MLB is doing to help facilitate that. Billy Bean (MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion) and Brian Cashman (Yankees’ GM) recently partnered together to visit a social services agency and met with LGBTQ individuals to chat, talk baseball, and learn. This is really cool.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article/nyy/mlb-ambassador-for-inclusion-billy-bean-partners-with-yankees-for-lgbtq-youth-event?ymd=20140814&content_id=89661514&vkey=news_nyy&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

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If you don’t follow Sean Doolittle on Twitter, you really should. He is pretty funny, and not to mention a great ballplayer. He took over the ESPN Insiders blog of Buster Olney this week and wrote a pretty funny article on saber metrics. His ideas may be unconventional, but I think they do have merit. Kind of.

http://insider.espn.go.com/blog/buster-olney/post/_/id/7721&ex_cid=InsiderTwitter_guestbloggerseandoolittle

Money (and Aces!) Must be Funny in a Rich Man’s World

As a New York Yankees fan, I am used to seeing big-name, big-money players on the field. I am used to seeing these highly-touted athletes come out and try to play to the back of their bubble gum card. I am used to this, so this year has been quite the sight to see. As far as starting pitching goes, this was supposed to be the year CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda got their groove back, the year that the super-human Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was gonna come in and save the day, and the year the young guns were going to show everyone what they were made of.

Hehehe funny how things work out sometimes, right?

Of the five starters the Yankees rolled out this year, one man is still standing: Kuroda. Who could have predicted that? Now, Michael Pineda is close to return and it is possible Tanaka will pitch again this year, but the real story here is how the Yanks lost so many pitchers and are only ONE game out of a Wild Card spot. It’s amazing how a patchwork rotation has held their own, despite having low-ish salaries and expectations.

The past four games, the Yankees have been battling the Detroit Tigers. Not only have they been battling the Tigers, but they have been battling the last three Cy Young winners: Max Scherzer, David Price, and Justin Verlander, in order. So, who do the Yanks send out in response? They send out Brandon McCarthy, Kuroda, and Chris Capuano. Then, in the fourth game of the series, they have to face Rick Porcello, who is chasing his 14th win. Who gets to go against him? Shane Greene. Wait, who?

Now, not only have these four pitchers held their own, but they have pitched at the same caliber or better than the star-studded Tigers rotation. Wait, what? This scrap-pile of pitchers pitched as well or better than the Tigers? For real? Believe it, folks. And guess what? The Yankees took the series, winning three out of the four games.

So what gives? Is it really possible that this elusive “money ball” kind of mentality could work for the most notorious spenders in baseball? The answer, as it turns out, is yes. I did some numbers crunching here: The NYY currently have $55,665,614 worth of salary on the DL, all of whom are starting pitchers pitchers. The current starting rotation is costing the Yankees an estimated $30,500,000, with McCarthy earning a third of that number. Crazy, huh? Ok, the Tigers starting rotation is making $73,925,000. So, guys who are making less than half the salary of the Tigers just took three of four games. Wait, what?

I don’t see the Yankees changing their big money ways anytime soon, which is fine! Someone needs to over-pay athletes when there are guys who are also capable, available at the half the price. But isn’t it funny when the expensive aces go down and these second or third rung guys come in and save the day? I don’t mean “haha” funny, more like “Hehe, oh dear God” kind of funny. This year, the Yankees are showing that they can keep pace with big-time starters and hitters, and still squeak out some wins, despite everyone telling them it doesn’t work that way.

So, the next time someone says that the Yankees can’t contend without money, just laugh and remind them of the 2014 season. If, by some miracle, the Yanks do make it into the post-season, it’s hard to say if they will go very far. However, they seem to be doing just fine right now, which is more than anyone was expecting.

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

And no, I am not talking about love here. No, this particular gift is the Biogenesis scandal. Thought we were finished talking about this, right? I had been hoping so, but alas, life does not work that way. Isn’t it almost poetic that Biogenesis founder Tony Bosch was arrested today, one year to the day after my man Alex Rodriguez was suspended? I know right? It’s nuts.

You all know by now that I love me some A-Rod and yes, I do miss watching him on the field this year. You also know by now that I am not a fan of how MLB handled the investigation, but you can’t argue with the results: MLB’s crackdown has worked thus far, with only one player getting a PED suspension so far this year. However, with the arrest of Bosch, more names could be getting dropped. In fact, every sports writer on Twitter seems to think that this whole mess will turn up more names of players who used Bosch’s, erm, services.

As we have seen over the course of this year, many of the players who had been suspended because of Biogenesis have been largely forgiven. Nelson Cruz was fan-voted into the All-Star game. Ryan Braun has largely been forgiven by all, especially by Brewers fans. Jhonny Peralta got a massive contract in the off-season. As you can see, a suspension may not be the end of the world anymore, but it isn’t what baseball wants or needs. The game needs to be played cleanly, no ifs, ands, or buts. How do we fix the PED problem? How big is the problem? We don’t know. We simply don’t know the scope of the problem, but I can guarantee you that if more names are dropped, we will have a better idea. How MLB will act during Bosch’s arrest and sentencing will be key. I am a little nervous, a little weary, but the show must go on, right?

All we can do now is wait and see what happens.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/mlb/2014/08/05/biogenesis-tony-bosch-new-names-revealed/13624217/

http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/biogenesis-founder-bosch-charged-with-distributing-steroids-080514

http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/11311178/anthony-bosch-surrenders-dea

Oh, What a Night! Late July, Back in 2014

I don’t think any of you will catch my Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons song title spoof, but for those of you who do get it, you’re awesome. My brain is too fried from this crazy trade deadline to come up with something more clever.

WHAT A CRAZY NON-WAIVER DEADLINE. Holy crap, I am still trying to wrap my brain around everything that happened over these last few weeks, especially what transpired in the final 24-hours. Rarely have we seen such an eventful deadline with such big names. Since I love making lists, let’s go over my picks for winners and losers, both short and long-term! Let’s do this.

Long-Term Winners
Boston Red Sox – This is a team who gave up 4/5 of their starting rotation, the rotation that WON them the World Series last year, but they got some good prospects, good offense, and unloaded contracts, which will really help them in 2015, much to the chagrin of this Yankees fan.

Arizona Diamondbacks – While I am super bummed about the departure of Gerardo Parra, the loss of Martin Prado is cushioned because I get to watch my favorite Venezuelan in pinstripes. D-Backs nation is a little stunned by the moves, but one has to remember that they have one of the best farm systems in MLB. With all of the prospects they got in these trades, the D-Backs will be set for awhile…just not any time soon.

Tampa Bay Rays – I know, I know, they just gave up their superstar pitcher David Price, but I think they will recover just fine. They got some good stuff in the three-team trade, and, although I think they should have gotten more, I bet they will do more in the off-season to become a viable threat again.

Short-Term Winners
New York Yankees – I am mad impressed with what this team did. There were no splashy moves, no big name trades, but they were able to vastly improve without surrendering team talent and only one top prospect. They got Brandon McCarthy, Martin Prado, Chase Headley, Chris Capuano, and Stephen Drew while surrendering Vidal Nuno, Yangervis Solarte, Kelly Johnson, and prospect Peter O’Brien. Not bad, Bombers, not bad…

Oakland Athletics – I put them in “short term” because they built this rock star team to win the 2014 World Series. I do not know how much of this team they will keep after this season is over, but dear God, watch out. When your rotation is Jon Lester, Jeff Samardzija (I spelled it right on the first try!), Scott Kazmir, Sonny Gray, and Jason Hammell, you don’t have much to worry about. Yes, they traded some hot prospects and Yoenis Cespedes (yes, I spelled that one correctly, too), but as I am sure Billy Beane is thinking, “YOLO”.

Detroit Tigers – I also put them in “short-term” because it seems like they will be losing Max Scherzer after this year. Yes, they got David Price, but my guess is that they will be looking to give him the long-term contract instead of Scherzer because of the inability to agree on a deal with Mad Max. Their rotation is killer, like, could probably strangle bears, but they will need to duke it out with Oakland to get to the World Series. My goodness, that will be a ridiculous October matchup.

St. Louis Cardianls – While I am a bit concerned that they so readily dealt Allen Craig, they did get John Lackey from Boston, which is never a bad thing. Lackey will do well there and he will probably get to go back to October, something his former Red Sox teammates will probably not be able to say.

Seattle Mariners Again, as is a trend here, Seattle did well during this trade, but I don’t know how it will shake-up long-term. They got some much needed offensive power and didn’t have to part with much to get it. I am not convinced that Seattle will be a contender this year, but they made some very smart moves at the deadline.

Losers
Boston Red Sox Yes, they are winners AND losers. Them trading away their whole rotation was a bit of a white flag for me, saying that they are not too confident about the rest of the season. Think about it: Clay Buchholz is now the “ace” of their staff. Yikes.

Philadelphia Phillies They REALLY needed to move some contracts and after a disastrous season, this was not an ideal way to end the deadline. So many of their players were in the trade rumors, yet nothing was able to come of it.

San Diego Padres They got rid of Huston Street (best baseball name ever, BTW) and Chase Headley, but didn’t really do much to improve themselves. With the mess they have in the front office, it’s not really surprising, but I think they could have done a smidge more to help themselves.

Pittsburg Pirates In a division like the NL Central, you would think the Pirates would do something! But nope. They did diddly squat, which was disappointing.

San Francisco Giants This is a team who really needed some help in the infield and could not get anything done. They got some pitching reinforcement in the Red Sox’s Jake Peavy, but Peavy can’t get San Fran to the post-season all by himself.

Los Angeles Dodgers – They sure don’t need the help, but they were mentioned in SO many deals that it is hard to believe they really only walked away with the Cubs’ Darwin Barney, who was claimed on waivers. They will be playing in October, no doubt, so I don’t think you can really think of them as total deadline losers.

Okay, that is a lot of teams. And yet, it’s still not all the teams involved in the trades! Good lands, I could be here all night. I think these are teams that really stuck out in my mind, for better or worse. This was probably the most exciting July trade deadline that I have seen and it is GOOD for baseball. I am so excited to watch the rest of the season unfold and watch how these teams compete for a post-season berth.

Okay, I need to unwind and reflect some more on these trades…just kidding, I’m already watching more baseball.