Thursday, November 21, 2013

Did A-Rod Make the Right Move?

Associated Press Photo
So unless you've been hiding out on a snow mountain in Siberia, you've heard of Alex Rodriguez' outburst yesterday during his arbitration hearing. Just to recap, arbitrator Fredric Horowitz ruled that MLB commish Bud Selig would not be forced to testify. A-Rod reportedly went into a rage and stormed out of the hearing, yada, yada, yada.

Several sports news outlets, ESPN in particular, have dispatched their insiders and legal experts to shed light on this situation and what it means. As most of us probably figured out once this latest news broke, Team A-Rod knew all along that Selig was not going to testify, which means that yesterday's antics were just that...antics.

Clearly the slamming of the desk and the use of profanity by A-Rod as reported, signifies that he will not testify during these hearings; a definite change from reports last week that said he was prepared to. This latest also a follow-up to the report that A-Rod "called in sick" from his scheduled pre-interview with MLB, also last week. It could also mean that these hearings could wrap up as soon as tomorrow which would definitely mean a decision before Christmas.

From the outside looking in, it appears that things are not going well for Team A-Rod and that they are moving to force this thing into federal court. With that said, I have one question...

Is this smart? Not that I take for face value every sports or legal analyst following this for their opinion; obviously the majority of them will report from their point of view. But no one seems to think a federal court case will go his way. One legal analyst on ESPN said this morning, that he doubts either side will even get to testify if it goes to court because the court will shut it down. Why? Because most courts would almost always rule that the arbitrator's ruling will stand. It would then be up to Team A-Rod to prove misconduct by MLB. How would they do that without the opportunity to argue their case? And if so, what evidence do they truly have of misconduct outside of what has been presented in arbitration? I would think that if they want a federal court to take them seriously, they're probably going to have to dig deeper than what Horowitz has already had his eyes on.

It's been my feeling from the beginning that A-Rod's cool demeanor (well, up until yesterday) through all of this could mean that his team has an "ace-in-the-hole" that they're withholding to play at the right time. If I'm right, then perhaps the best time would be during trial in federal court.

Stay tuned...

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A-Rod to Testify Next Week

Associated Press Photo
After a long hiatus, the Alex Rodriguez arbitration saga is set to resume next Monday, Nov. 18, with the star slated to testify on his behalf. It is expected that A-Rod will deny having purchased HGH or any PEDs from the now defunct Biogenesis anti- aging clinic, or from its former CEO, Anthony Boesch.

According to Newsday, who first broke this news, A-Rod will be required to meet with MLB investigators for a "pre-interview" before he testifies; this, a provision of the collective-bargaining agreement between baseball and the Players' Union. The meeting could bring further sanctions against A-Rod if investigators believe he's not telling the truth in his answers. It could also determine whether he actually gets to testify or not.

Stay tuned...

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Noteworthy News 11/12/13

Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson and Hiroki Kuroda all rejected their qualifying offers of $14.1 million which would have kept them in pinstripes for another year. Absolutely no surprise to me, although, I truly hoped that Grandy would accept as this will probably prove to be the nail in his Yankee coffin. However, according to this tweet by Mike Puma of The New York Post, the Mets are on the chase for Granderson. Makes sense; Mets had one of the worst offensive outfields in the majors last year. It would certainly feel strange to see Grandy in a Mets uniform, but it would be cool for him to stay in New York. I will still, however, keep my fingers crossed; I am truly a Granderson fan.

Several headlines came out of Yankeeland in the last day or two. Here are the most noteworthy:

  • Yesterday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Kansas City Royals are now in contention for the services of Phil Hughes, This would put Hughes back under the tutelage of former Yankee pitching coach, Dave Eiland.

  • According to Bill Madden of the Daily News, at present, Cano is garnering no interest from any major league team other than the Yankees. Right now, Cano's price tag is too high.

  • Jerry Crasnick of ESPN also tweeted yesterday that the Yankees have signed outfielder Antoan Richardson to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. Richardson is a switch-hitter with incredible speed and a lifetime on base percentage of .381.

  • Some positive news on Alex Rodriguez, our embattled third baseman met with the family of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic teenager from Long Island City who disappeared from his school on October 4 and hasn't been seen since. This, reported by Ken Davidoff, also of The Post. A-Rod spoke with Oquendo's mother, grandmother and brother at La Marina restaurant in Upper Manhattan in an effort to lend his support in their search for the missing teen. 

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Noteworthy News 11/7/13

Last night, Robinson Cano won his fourth consecutive Silver Slugger Award and fifth overall. There's really no question as to whether Cano is the best offensive second baseman in the majors. He lead the pack in 2013 with 27 home runs and 107 RBI, and was second in slugging percentage at .515. While most of us would probably agree that the $300 million starting price for which he and Roc Nation are asking for is a bit on the "very unlikely" side, I think it's still safe to assume that Robbie will be the biggest winner coming out of free agency.

There was not much else happening in Yankeeland in over the last 24 hours, but at least two headline made me smile:

  • The New York Post reported yesterday that fans are showing their support in changing River Avenue to Rivera Avenue in honor of Mariano Rivera. So far, about 500 supporters have come down to Foley's Pub in Midtown to sign the petition.

  • And in more Mo news, reported yesterday that he and Andy Pettitte will be honored by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). They will each receive the Joe DiMaggio Toast of the Town Award. I couldn't possibly think of any two New York athletes who deserve the award more. Kudos!

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Balfour to the Yankees? Not Bad

Lon Horwedel / Associated Press
Monday, MLB Trade Rumors put out its list of the Top 50 free agents for 2014 with predictions of where they could end up. Of course my full attention went to those players predicted to join our boys in pinstripes, and I came upon one prediction that I actually liked : Grant Balfour as closer.

We fanatics have the unfortunate task now of continuing to watch Yankees baseball without the security of having Mariano Rivera to close games. It's been thought for the past few seasons that, upon Mo's retirement, the easy choice would be to move David Robertson from set-up man into the closer's role. Makes sense. In the 339 games he's pitched in his career, D-Rob boasts a 2.76 ERA with 428 strikeouts and an opposing batting average of only .221; not to mention a WHIP of 1.25. These are sick numbers. But as David has himself admitted, and as most well versed in baseball are aware of, there is a mental aspect to closing that you have to be prepared for. When the game is on the line and you're what stands between a win and a loss, the pressure can be insurmountable, and D-Rob has not done well in the few games he's closed. Of the 18, he's blown 10. Granted, only 18 save opportunities spread through a span of 8 years is not much of a sample size for judgment; how could he have more with Mo as closer? Nonetheless, Robertson has faired far better as the bridge to the closer; it's a role the Yankees know he's great in and probably don't want to mess with.

Balfour is coming off of one of his best seasons as a career reliever. In 65 games as the closer for the Oakland A's, Balfour saved 38, pitching to a 2.59 ERA with 72 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.19. The numbers earned him his first All-Star bid. It's a good guess that Balfour played a huge role in Oakland's success this past year. As they showed all season long a propensity to come back late in games, wins were likely with Balfour closing.

He throws 3 pitches: four-seam fastball. slider and curveball. His fastball is his best pitch which he throws in the mid 90's and uses to induce groundballs. The slider, his swing-and-miss pitch, has good downward movement and excellent velocity. The curveball is his least used. Moves early at a speed in the low 80's.

The one thing about Balfour that Yankee fans would need to get used to is his temperament. He does not have the reserved cool of a Mo or D-Rob. He gets fired up as a means of motivation and is extremely emotional to the point of theatrics at times. We were spoiled for many years by Mo's ability to stay calm in any situation and leave each game on the field once it's over; Balfour will be the complete opposite. However, it might be refreshing to see his passion on the mound; could be a way for him to connect with a stadium crowd needing a boost after this last dismal season.

So Balfour gets my vote. Plenty of upside and the Yankees probably won't break the bank to sign him. What do you think?

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Noteworthy News

Perhaps newly-donned sports agent Shawn Carter, a.k.a. Jay-Z, should pay a bit more attention to MLBPA's manual on player regulations. Reported yesterday by ESPN's Jerry Crasnick, the super agent may have violated said regulations by giving his client, Robinson Cano, a $33,900 watch as a birthday gift. Agents are not allowed to give gifts in excess of $500 without the price tag being reported to the union. Bad boy Mr. Carter...bad, bad, boy! Here are some more interesting notes from around the Yankeesphere:

  • Curtis Granderson says he is considering accepting the Yankees $14.1 million, one-year offer but will continue to weigh his options. Granderson told MLB Network Radio that the offer is "definitely something you have to think about," and that he "appreciate[s] the Yankees extending that offer to [him]."

  • The Yankees are doing their due diligence in the unlikeliness that Cano does not return. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported yesterday that the Yankees made a call to the Cincinnati Reds on second baseman Brandon Phillips.

  • Alex Rodriguez' attorneys decided to take their battle with Major League Baseball up another notch, calling for MLB investigators to be probed by the feds. As reported by The New York Post, Lanny Davis, an advisor on Team A-Rod, released what we'd call on the Boulevard, "fighting words" in his assessment of Bud Selig & Co., and implied that perhaps their purchase of stolen documents from Biogenesis or the information MLB filed with the IRS, requires federal involvement into their "misconduct." Fanatics, this thing, is just getting started.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Noteworthy News

The measure of true greatness? When the accolades and achievements continue to come, even after retirement. Yesterday, Mariano Rivera was named AL Comeback Player of the Year by Major League Baseball; a remarkable accomplishment following a great bounce-back season, after suffering an ACL injury in 2012 which sidelined him for the year. Congratulations Mo, I don't think we fanatics ever get tired of saying that. Here's more news from around Yankeeland:

  • Our beloved former manager Joe Torre will join great former managers Tony LaRussa and Bobby Cox on the Hall of Fame expansion era ballot next month. Also on the ballot as a holdover, is our much loved, missed and esteemed, Mr. George Steinbrenner.

  • The New York Post reported yesterday that the Yankees are looking at Detroit's Omar Infante as a possible replacement at second for Cano, should they fail to re-sign him. Detroit has no plans to extend a qualifying offer to Infante, so if the Yankees did acquire him, they would not forfeit a draft pick to his former team.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

Monday, November 4, 2013

A-Rod Allegedly Failed Drug Test in 2006

Angel Franco / The New York Times
According to a report in The New York Times yesterday, Alex Rodriguez tested positive for a stimulant test in 2006; three years before his name was leaked as one of the 103 baseball players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003.

Information given to The Times on the failed test were from two sources involved in major League Baseball's collective bargaining drug program. According to the report, A-Rod was not identified for the failed test because players are only suspended for stimulant tests if they fail more than once.

A-Rod's lawyers vehemently deny the charges, noting that he has never failed any test given by MLB under it's drug program. The Daily News reported this morning, that Alex's lawyers filed an application with the arbitrator overseeing their appeal of his suspension, Fredric Horowitz, claiming that MLB leaked this "lie" to the media. Lanny J. Davis, a representative from A-Rod's camp, released this statement:

"The ethically questionable and possibly illegal misconduct of Major League Baseball in its investigation of Alex Rodriguez -- such as the knowing purchase of stolen documents for $125,000 in cash in a satchel in a Florida restaurant and putting in a good word with prosecutors for someone reportedly under federal and state investigation for distributing drugs to teenagers in the name of getting Alex Rodriguez -- is not just unseemly, it is shameful.

"I believe a federal investigation of this misconduct is needed -- and specifically, of the commissioner of baseball and the extent of his involvement and knowledge of the professional misconduct by investigators he hired, as reported by The New York Times." (via ESPNNewYork)

The Daily News also reported that a spokesman for MLB declined to confirm or deny whether A-Rod failed the stimulant test, citing their office's adherence to its collective bargaining agreement regarding announcements of drug violations by its players.

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper

The Boulevard Is Back!

Good Monday morning folks! After a six month hiatus, and with my deepest apologies for what I can only describe as poor time management skills on my part, Bomber Boulevard is back. I know, it sucks to have to make a comeback on the heels of our biggest rival team--the Boston Red Sox--winning the World Series, but I find that now I have the time to get back to the business of baseball; most importantly, Yankees baseball.

So in the coming weeks during this offseason, the plan is to make note of every rumor; every acquisition; every trade and every salacious detail of the "Alex Rodriguez vs Major League Baseball Arbitration Drama" that is reported. While I'm sure that A-Rod will supply us fanatics with plenty of headlines to get us through this offseason, the Yankees should be making much noise as well; coming off of a season that I'd dare say was horribly painful to watch--particularly down the stretch as they completely collapsed and failed to make a real run for the playoffs--Brian Cashman & Co. have a lot of work to do to get this team back to being the biggest threat in the AL East.

And of course, I will bring to you all my final farewell to the great Mariano Rivera. I know it's been weeks since his last game was played; weeks since every team had cast their final good-bye; weeks since every sports writer and baseball blogger bid their adieu. But for me, Mariano's exit was more painful that I'd realized it would be and the words still have not come to me completely. But they will come, and I will get to share my feelings for Mo with you all.

So there. Baseball is officially over and it's time to get crackin' on the offseason. Stay tuned!

Follow Rasheeda Cooper on Twitter: @ra_cooper