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Kyle Drabek: Toronto Blue Jays Righty Lighting Up the Mound in 2012

Toronto Blue Jays starting pitcher Kyle Drabek has turned things around and is having a great 2012 season on the mound.

After struggling through 2011 for Toronto and then being demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas after going 4-5 with a 5.70 ERA in 14 starts, Drabek is a new pitcher with superior control.

Last season, Drabek’s official rookie season, he appeared to become easily frustrated and rattled on the mound when faced with difficult game situations. As a result, he spent a great deal of time working on his pitching mechanics and his patience during the offseason and into spring training.

All of that appears to be far behind him, as he earned his spot on the starting rotation this season after an impressive showing in spring training. Dustin McGowan’s placement on the disabled list with shoulder inflammation created an opportunity for Drabek to once again prove himself as a viable starter for John Farrell.

He acknowledged that he has learned a great deal, saying, “I learned a lot from last year and it helps me out this year, especially with guys on base and things not going my way. Last year I tended to overthrow and this year I’ve been able to slow myself down and make the pitch that I need to.”

Drabek has a successful start to the 2012 season with a 2-2 start, 26 strikeouts, a 2.40 ERA, and a WHIP of 1.267 in 30.0 innings pitched.

His command and composure on the mound has significantly improved this season, and we should expect his progress to continue.

With some time to further develop and refine his pitching mechanics, Drabek may very well turn into one of the major stars for the Toronto Blue Jays and in MLB.

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Mariano Rivera Blows First Save Opportunity, but Yankees Look Strong

New York Yankees legendary closer Mariano Rivera blew his first save opportunity in the Opening Day game against the Tampa Bay Rays, but there is no need to be concerned.

The Yankees were quickly down by four runs in the first inning, but Raul Ibanez proved his worth with a three-run home run blast in the third inning.

Reliever David Robertson, a likely candidate to become the full-time closer after Rivera retires, walked one and gave up one single, putting runners on the corners, and then struck out three batters in the eighth inning.

New York held a 6-5 lead until the ninth inning when Rivera entered the game and blew the save. Carlos Pena got the game-winning hit off of Rivera.

Every game is important, but this is only one game. Losing the first game of the season doesn’t exactly boost the confidence of the team, but there is plenty of baseball ahead.

Back in 2009, the Yankees were swept by the Boston Red Sox in three separate series during the season. The Yankees went on to win the World Series that year.

The point is that although the Yankees fell apart, in the end they will get it together and have a strong season. They will regain their confidence and overcome, just like they always do.

For the first game of the season, the Yankees appeared to be solid even with some mistakes.

Losing the first game knocked the wind out of the players and the fans, but with 161 games left to play, the Yankees have plenty of time to take the AL East.

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MLB Spring Training: Toronto Blue Jays Kyle Drabek Will Have Bounce-Back Season

Toronto Blue Jays right-handed pitcher Kyle Drabek may have had a difficult and trying 2011 season, but he has arrived at this year’s spring training with a new and fresh perspective that will enable him to adapt and overcome last year’s issues.

Getting called up to the Blue Jays from Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, Drabek made his MLB debut on Sept. 15, 2010, against the Orioles and pitched seven innings, threw 101 pitches with seven strikeouts and gave up one hit and one earned run.

After three successful starts in 2011, he began to decline and was optioned down to Triple-A Las Vegas, where he continued to struggle.

In Drabek’s MLB overall experience, he has a win-loss record of 4-8, an ERA of 5.83, 63 strikeouts and a 1.72 WHIP in a total of 21 games since his call-up to Toronto.

Putting the struggles of the 2011 season behind him, he has learned from those experiences, both positive and negative, and will use what he has learned to grow in a positive direction.

He has changed some of his pitching mechanics, and he continues to work on them in spring training. He is learning how to adapt to certain situations and understands how to take something negative, learn from it and turn it into something positive.

In the past, Drabek would tend to overthrow pitches trying to work himself out of a jam. His pitching mechanics last season led him to tail off to the first-base side at the end of his delivery.

Pitching coaches have set up yellow lines on the mound in the bullpen for him to pitch from in an attempt to keep him on-line and not tail off. The changes appear to be working well for him, and he will continue to practice and develop new pitching mechanics.

Drabek pitched three innings on Thursday against the Houston Astros in the Grapefruit League, allowing one earned run and one hit.

Drabek’s father, former MLB pitcher Doug Drabek, gave him some advice explaining how important it is to not only learn from your mistakes, but also to learn from your achievements.

He is in the hunt for a spot on the rotation, and manager John Farrell seems to be impressed with what he has seen in Drabek so far this spring training.

Farrell has seen the positive changes in Drabek this year. He still has work to do, but Drabek has demonstrated signs that he is headed for a bounce-back 2012 season.

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MLB Spring Training 2012: Why Travis Snider Will Earn the Job in Left Field

Toronto Blue Jays left fielder Travis Snider showed up for the 2012 spring training with a new attitude and a new energy. He is playing the game from his heart, trying to earn his way into a full-time spot.

In a game last week, he produced, performed and delivered, leading the Blue Jays to a win over the Pirates, sweeping them on a two-game series in the Grapefruit League.

The Blue Jays and the Pirates were tied at three in the fourth inning, and Snider hit an RBI single. In the sixth inning he drove in two runs, giving the Jays an 8-3 lead.

Snider had a difficult 2011 season, being demoted to the minor leagues twice. While back in the minors, he worked with hitting coaches and made changes in his batting mechanics to make him more effective and consistent at the plate.

Clearly, it is too early to claim that he will have a breakout season because of one great game in spring training, but it is a good indication that the changes that he made have been effective for his hitting and for him mentally.

He said that batting practice can get monotonous, but he works hard and performs the necessary drills to be capable of making good decisions, getting himself back into game shape.

Snider is competing during this spring training against Eric Thames for the full-time position in left field. If he continues to perform and produce consistently, and if he continues to deliver for the Blue Jays producing RBI and getting on base, he will probably win the position that he covets.

He has worked incredibly hard putting in extra practice time, and has changed his attitude dramatically during this offseason. His drive and determination are producing strong results.

Unless there are some drastic changes, his 2012 season looks to be solid.

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Cleveland Indians: Asdrubal Cabrera Signs, Avoiding Arbitration

Asdrubal Cabrera and the Cleveland Indians have agreed to a one-year contract worth $4.55 million avoiding arbitration hearings.

Unable to agree on a long-term deal, Cabrera and the Indians inked the one-year deal on Friday, recognizing his talent and contributions.

During spring training, Cleveland and Cabrera may revisit the possibility of a multi-year contract, and they have expressed an interest in keeping Cabrera beyond 2012. 

Cabrera improved a great deal in 2011 hitting 25 home runs and 92 RBI with a .273 batting average in 151 games.

While it may be too early to indicate whether or not he will reach numbers like those consistently, it cannot be denied that he had a great 2011 season.

He was selected as a 2011 All-Star for the first time in his career, won the Gibby’s Defensive Player of the Year Award and received an AL Silver Slugger Award.

Adding to his list of accomplishments was his unassisted triple play on May 12, 2008.

2011 was certainly a breakout year for Cabrera. Over the course of his five seasons in MLB, he has collected 567 hits, 119 doubles, 10 triples, 43 home runs and 258 RBI with a .281 batting average in 2019 at-bats.

He slugged .460 in 2011, which was his best season overall.

Cabrera will continue to improve, and at the end of the 2012 season, I would expect to hear that he and the Indians have finally reached a multi-year contract that will benefit them both.

2012 looks as though it will be another solid year from Cabrera.

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Houston Astros: Jed Lowrie Trade with Boston Red Sox Makes Sense

Boston Red Sox fans were probably unhappy to hear that their powerful backup shortstop has been traded.

They may be upset, but the trade, which included right-handed pitcher Kyle Weiland, brought right-handed reliever Mark Melancon to Boston for much-needed pitching.

Houston Astros fans should be excited about the trade. Lowrie brings powerful hitting and a strong arm to the Astros.

When Mike Lowell was placed on the DL in Boston in 2008, Lowrie was called up from Triple-A. Lowrie received the call on April 10th, 2008. On April 15th, he hit 3 RBI against the Cleveland Indians.

Julio Lugo was placed on the DL later in the season. Lowrie was called up again on Aug. 1st, 2008. In his second call-up, he hit a game-winning single in the 12th inning against the Oakland Athletics, winning 2-1.

His first MLB walk-off home run was on Aug. 24th, 2008, winning 6-5. He had another game-winning hit on Oct. 6th against the Angels.

He ended the 2008 season with no errors in 49 regular season games.

Jed Lowrie had a phenomenal showing for his call-up to the major leagues. Unfortunately, circumstances slowed him down, but only temporarily.

Early in the 2009 season, he was put on the 15-day DL for a sprain to his left wrist. He attempted to rehab in the minor leagues and was reactivated by Boston.

On Aug. 8th, he was placed on the DL again for ulnar neuritis in his wrist. In his first game back, he hit a home run against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Adding to his resume, on Oct. 4th, 2009, he hit his first career grand slam against the Cleveland Indians.

Lowrie had some difficulty at the start of the 2010 season. He developed mononucleosis, which kept him out for much of the first half of the season.

He made his season debut on July 21st against the Oakland Athletics after his recovery. Showing that he can’t be held back permanently, he hit a walk-off home run in the 11th inning against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Lowrie had a stellar beginning in the 2011 season, with a batting average of .516 in his first 31 at-bats.

On April 18th, he hit a home run and 4 RBI going 4-for-5 at the plate. He started a triple play against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 16th.

Boston enjoyed great success at the hands and the bat of Jed Lowrie. His career batting average is .252 with 19 home runs and 117 RBI.

Boston decided to trade him with Kyle Weiland in a deal for Mark Melancon on Dec. 14th, 2011. Red Sox fans will feel some pain to see him go, but they will have success with Melancon.

Houston Astros fans will have the privilege of being recipients of a highly-skilled hitter, shortstop and occasional first baseman.

He will bring speed and power to a lineup that desperately needs a kick-start. Lowrie will show that he is the go-to guy when they need a clutch hitter or a clutch play.

The Astros will reap the benefits and enjoy the rewards of this trade.

Good move, Houston.

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Bernie Williams: 5 Reasons the Yankees Legend Needs to Be in the Hall of Fame

Bernie Williams, one of the most loved Yankees by the fans, accomplished some impressive feats during his Yankee tenure. His success in pinstripes almost didn’t transpire earlier in his Yankee years.  Williams had become the regular center fielder in 1993. George Steinbrenner considered trading him in 1995, but Buck Showalter, the manager at the time, talked Steinbrenner out of making that giant mistake.

Steinbrenner was known as being controlling and difficult to approach.  Thankfully, he listened to Showalter’s advice about Williams.

Each year, the Baseball Writers Association of America votes by mail on eligible candidates for election into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. Bernie Williams is on the Hall of Fame ballot for 2012.  Gaining 75 percent or more of the votes to get elected is not an easy task. 

Looking back at Williams’ career, I think that he put up consistently strong numbers and earned his place to become enshrined in the sacred halls of the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Take a look at five reasons why he should be in the HOF.

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New York Yankees: 5 Keys to Aging Yankees Remaining Competitive in 2012

New York Yankee fans have been blessed with a successful baseball dynasty for quite some time.  The occasional bump presented itself and has led to some problems since 1996, but overall, the Yankees have been a major baseball force.

The Yankees organization is filled with talent galore, with pitching, catching, fielding, hitting and base-running.  Popular players have come and gone, but core players have remained.

Great talent will come up from the farm system, but what about the older players who have been the backbone of the Yankees?  How much longer can they play effectively and productively as they age?

Jorge Posada will likely either retire or end his career elsewhere.  Let’s hope that he chooses retirement and goes out as a Yankee.

Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez and Mariano Rivera are three of the best players in Major League Baseball.  They have collectively been the heart and soul of the Yankees.  As they age, what can they do to keep their edge and remain competitive in the 2012 season?

Some of the keys to aging Yankees remaining competitive may seem very simple and obvious, but these keys are crucial and essential.  Let’s take a look.

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New York Yankees: Andruw Jones Remains in Pinstripes

Andruw Jones and the New York Yankees have come to terms and settled on a one-year contract.  The agreement will not become official until Jones completes a physical.

His contract is for $2 million, plus additional potential performance incentives of $1.4 million, according to

Jones has been a benefit to the Yankees as a fourth outfielder who is able to come off of the bench cold and perform well.  He is a powerful hitter and has had great success against left-handed pitching.  According to, this may open up the possibility of Jones replacing Brett Gardner against left-handed pitchers.

During 77 games that he played in the 2011 season, Jones batted an average of .247, 13 home runs and 33 RBIs.  Against left-handed pitching, he batted .286, and out of 36 hits, 16 of them he took extra bases.

Over the course of his career beginning in 1996, he accumulated 420 home runs, which makes him eighth in the major leagues.  He is one of only four players who have 400 home runs or more, and 10 Gold Glove Awards.

When the 2012 season begins in April, Jones will turn 35 years old.  This will be the start of his 17th season.  He has continued to show that he has the ability to put up solid numbers.  His age doesn’t seem to be slowing him down, but at 35 years old, I think that a one-year contract was wise.

Signing Andruw Jones to keep him in pinstripes was a smart move.  The Red Sox expressed some interest in Jones, but Brian Cashman played this well and kept him in Yankee blue.

In no way was this a major or blockbuster Yankee singing, but Jones delivers.  He is solid, dependable and consistent.  He’ll have another good year.

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