Thursday November 1st, 2012
Alex Mednick (Baseball Analyst and Writer)
The St. Louis Cardinals came into 2012 as the defending World Series Champions. In 2011 they just eked their way into the post season on the final day of the regular season when they defeated the Houston Astros and the Braves, who were tied for the wild card spot with St. Louis, ended up losing to the Phillies in extra innings. Coming into the 2011 postseason, the Cardinals were huge underdogs. That didn’t stop them from going for what they wanted: to win it all.
While most analysts amongst the sport would not have guessed St. Louis would even make it to the World Series, yet alone win it, the Red Birds emerged to show their true colors. The current team that the city of St. Louis has assembled and gets to watch for 81 games a year is, undoubtedly, a team that plays on all cylinders and the highest octane fuel. They play with the intensity of a little league team that wants nothing more than the coach to bring them out for ice cream when they win. Watching the Cardinals brand of baseball is to watch baseball again as a game, and not just as a competition played by millionaire athletes with tremendous talent.
Watching the scrappiness of St. Louis native David Freese in the 2011 playoffs is the perfect example. His David Eckstein-like approach to the game reminds us all of one of our teammates back in middle school. The one at the sandlot that always slid hard, tried to steal home, and complained when the rest of us wanted to go home because “it was getting dark”. In 2011, David Freese and his 39 teammates played baseball together as a true team and sent Tony LaRussa home with a World Series title in his final year managing. Read the rest of this entry
Chuck Booth (Lead Baseball Writer): Follow @chuckbooth3024
I love the new era of baseball. One thing the 2nd Wild Card team enabled this year was a flurry of transactions right near the Non-Waiver Trade Deadline, plus we even saw a bunch of trades between Aug.01-31 as well. I am not going to breakdown the trades for who went the other way (unless both teams were in contention) since we have a dedicated page for that here. What I am going to do is see who made out well with their new player. I will tell you right now that the hands down winner was the San Francisco Giants for picking up Marco Scutaro and Hunter Pence. Marco Scutaro hit .362 for the Giants and smacked 90 hits in 61 games. He has parlayed another 19 hits in 59 AB during the playoffs (.322).
I am going to be writing a series of payroll breakdowns for each MLB team in the offseason. I have already compiled reports for the Boston Red Sox, Toronto Blue Jays, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Angels and Washington Nationals. These reports can be found in my author archives here. In addition to this, I am going to write another piece on Payroll Strategy specifically geared towards making runs at trades near the deadline. Look for those in the coming weeks. The work never ends here, and we will have you game ready for spring training when it comes to all of the clubs. Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday March 7th, 2012
Sam Evans: The Pittsburgh Pirates made a very aggressive move, acquiring Yankees starter A.J. Burnett a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately, due to a freakish injury, the Pirates will miss Burnett for the first couple months of the season. Let’s look at Burnett’s injury and the effect it will have on the Pirates roster.
During his healthy years with the Marlins, A.J. Burnett was one of the top pitchers in the N.L. East. After seven years with the Marlins, and three solid years with the Blue Jays, Burnett signed a five-year, $82.5 million contract with the New York Yankees. Burnett’s last three years with the Yankees haven’t been pretty. He had a decent year in 2009, but in 2010 and 2011 Burnett had ERAs over 5.00, and he didn’t eclipse two hundred innings in either year.
Burnett, the thirty-four year old right-handed pitcher came to Pittsburgh in a trade this past February 17th. The Pirates traded Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones for Burnett. The Yankees will pay part of the $30.375 million dollars left on Burnett’s contract. Read the rest of this entry
Friday December 9, 2011
Playing in his second season with the New York Yankees, Curtis Granderson had one of the best seasons of his career, which entered him into MLB records books. This season, Granderson was voted to the American League All Star game as starting center fielder. The left-handed hitter has home run power, a great glove, speed, along with athleticism on the field. His efforts off the field are as remarkable as his play on field. Curtis represented MLB at the White House in their anti-obesity effort and created the Grand Kids Foundation, focused on improving the educational experience for youth nationwide. Ten-year-old Haley had a chance to sit down with Curtis Granderson before a game in July, and talk baseball, but discovered the Yankees center fielder is an avid WWE fan along with being a published author and all- around nice guy.
Haley: In August my family is following the Yankees to US Cellular Field, Kauffman Stadium, Target Field and Camden Yards with stops at Miller Park, Wrigley and Busch Stadium. Do you have a favorite ballpark and why? Is there a ballpark where you feel you always play well other than Yankee Stadium?
Granderson: I like the Anaheim Angles Stadium because it has good weather to play in and the playing surface is well taken care of, making it a nice place to play ball. I also enjoy the Rally Monkey because he is fun to watch but as a player it means that the Angels are doing well. Other stadiums that I like to play in are Mariners Safeco Field and of course at home in Chicago at US Cellular Field and Wrigley.
Haley: Since I am going to be in Chicago, who has the best Pizza in Chicago? Who in New York? Do you like Deep Dish or Thin Crust Pizza?
Granderson: My favorite Pizzerias in Chicago are Lou Malnali’s, Giordanos and Gino’s and in New York Artichoke Basille’s. Sometimes I like Dominos thin crust pizza, because I like my crust crunchy. If I am really hungry, I will order deep dish.
Haley: Coney Island Hot Dogs or Nathan’s Hot Dogs?
Granderson: Since I played in Detroit, I would have to say Coney Island Hot Dogs.
Haley: What is your favorite meal?
Granderson: I really love Thanksgiving dinner because you get to eat a little bit of everything and you can go back over and over for more helpings.
Haley: My little brother is a fan of WWE, I heard you are as well. Who are some of you favorite wrestlers of today?
Granderson: Of course I like CM Punk because he is a great wrestler and from Chicago. Jon Cena is another favorite. I also like the Divas because they work hard and are as good as the guys.
Haley: Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Granderson: I have an older half-sister, Monica.
Haley: In your book All You Can Be: Dream It, Draw It, Become It, you share the lessons that you learned growing up. What is one lesson you would tell the Baseball Youth readers if they haven’t read the book?
Granderson: The selection of friends, good and bad, positive or negative and the people you surround yourself with, will shape your whole life.
Haley: I also know you are an ambassador for MLB and have traveled to England, Italy, South Africa, China, and New Zealand. Is there any place you would really like to go and represent MLB?
Granderson: I have never been to South America so that would be amazing. I would also like to go to Japan and Australia, those would be on my top-3 list.
Haley: Why did you choose the #28 in Detroit and #14 in New York?
Granderson: I was given the #28 in college, which was great because the numbers 2 and 8 are my favorite numbers, so it was both of them together. When I became a Yankee, Joe Girardi was #28 so I chose #14 because that was my number from high school.
Haley: I get to go to a lot of Yankees games and have noticed that you have two rituals can you to explain them?
Haley: 1) When you step up to the plate you tap it with the bat from left to right then the top. Why?
Granderson: No particular reason. I guess it is just a habit.
Haley: 2) When you are leading off from first and the pitcher makes a move you always walk around first base same way every time. Why?
Granderson: Because I don’t want to get picked off or called out.
Haley: Do you have any other rituals or superstitions?
Granderson: I only chew sugar-free bubble gum. (Curtis asked Haley: “Do you like gum?” Make sure you take a hand full when you leave the dugout.)
Haley: What is it like in the Dugout before and after a game?
Granderson: It is a fun place filled with energy and lots of handshakes. We are always meeting people before games. After the game it depends if we won or lost. If we win everyone is happy and celebrating and if we lost we need to move on to the next game.
Haley: When you are on the road do you share rooms with your teammates?
Haley: A.J. Burnett has created a celebration for a walk off win, a pie in the face. Have you ever gotten pied?
Granderson: No, I have not been pied. If I get pied it means we won but I am afraid it will burn. (The pies are Shaving Cream)
Haley: Who is the biggest practical joker you have ever been on a team with? Have you ever been the victim of a practical joke?
Granderson: Brandon Inge on the Tigers will do funny pranks, silly ones and even some gross ones. We had a little battle going when I played for Detroit. Once I opened his car and filled it with paper and construction tape, making it a big mess inside the car and out. Jorge Posada is a real joker as well.
Haley: In 2007 you became just one of four players in MLB history to record 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 home runs & 20 stolen bases in a single season. What are some of your other accomplishments you are proud of?
Granderson: Graduating from University of Illinois-Chicago and that I am 1 of only 37 players with college degrees. Making it to the 2006 World Series.
Haley: Do you have any other favorite sports besides baseball?
Granderson: I like basketball, especially college ball. I also like hockey, football and bowling and I used to run cross-country.
Haley: What’s your favorite team?
Granderson: The Kansas City Jay Hawks.
Haley: Who would you consider your closest friends on the Yankees?
Granderson: Of course I have special bond with my fellow outfielders Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. But I also like to hang out with C.C. Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Russell Martin we go out to dinner and movies together.
***Reproduced with permission from Baseball Youth Magazine. This interview originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 2011 edition of Baseball Youth Magazine***
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