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New York Yankees 2012 Rotation at a Glance

Following a dormant pre-holidays period, the New York Yankees have been active in the trade and free-agent markets recently, signing former Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda to a one-year, $10 million deal.

The Yankees then traded stud catching prospect Jesus Montero and pitcher Hector Noesi to the Seattle Mariners for 22-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda and a minor leaguer. It was a flurry of activity that was aimed at improving the Yankees’ shaky starting rotation, which was considered a glaring weakness that needed to be addressed.

New York already has a bona fide ace in CC Sabathia, who has been good for at least 19 wins and 230 innings per year since joining the team before the 2009 season. Sabathia will continue to anchor the staff in 2012, but there was uncertainty surrounding who could be counted on after CC takes his turn.

Right-hander Ivan Nova, 16-4 last season, emerged as a solid No. 2. He logged 165.1 IP in his rookie season last year, along with a 3.70 ERA. Expectations heading into this season are that Nova will follow up his solid rookie campaign with another 15- to 20-win season.

The third spot in the rotation will likely be filled by the newly acquired Hiroki Kuroda. The veteran was 13-16 with a bad Dodgers team in 2011, but he logged a solid 3.07 ERA over a respectable 202.0 innings. On a contending team like the Yankees, Kuroda should be able to post a winning record in the high teens.

Slot No. 4 would feature another newly acquired Yankee, Michael Pineda. The young fire-baller struck out 173 batters in 171.0 IP during his rookie season, the most Ks by a pitcher 22 or under since Kerry Wood  in 1998. Pineda also ranked first among MLB right-handed starters in opponents batting average, holding hitters to a .184 BA.

The Yankees’ fifth spot is a bit more murky. A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes are expected to compete for the final turn in the rotation.

Burnett, who could be moved before spring training, possibly for an everyday DH, is the latest in a long line of overpriced, under-performing free-agent pitchers the Yankees have signed over the last decade. His high salary and low production could present a problem on the trading block.

Hughes, an 18-game winner in 2010, missed a large part of 2011 with arm fatigue, pitching only 74.2 innings and posting a 5-5 record. Hughes’ arm issues are a huge question mark, and he’ll face an uphill battle to make the rotation heading into 2012.

Garcia, 34, is coming off a 12-8 season in which he logged 146.2 IP and a 3.62 ERA. He’s a proven veteran who should be considered the favorite for the fifth spot.

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2010 Mets Disintegrating Like It’s 1993

The year was 1993. Bill Clinton took office and the Buffalo Bills lost their third straight Super Bowl. The World Trade Center was bombed, and two days later a fifty-one day standoff began in Waco, Texas between Federal law enforcement and a religious cult. On top of all of that, the New York Mets were about to have one of the worst seasons any baseball team or its fans ever experienced.

The team lost a pathetic 103 games in 1993, coming in dead last in the National League East (then comprised of seven teams), thirty-eight games behind the East Champion Philadelphia Phillies. But the incredibly poor play on the field simply set the tone for the derailing of the entire organization by several disastrous off the field incidents.

In April, outfielder Vince Coleman, who would play a pivotal role in the sinking of the franchise, accidentally injured pitcher Dwight Gooden’s arm while carelessly swinging a golf club in the Mets clubhouse before a game. Gooden, the one time ace and one of only three remaining players still with the club from the 1986 World Championship team, would go on to lose 15 games and be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which published a story about him titled “From Phenom to Phantom.” Gooden would be suspended from baseball the following year for testing positive for cocaine.

Coleman made headlines again in July when he tossed a lit firecracker into a crowd of fans waiting for autographs at Dodger Stadium, injuring three children, including a two year old. Coleman was arrested and the Mets suspended him for the remainder of the season and traded him to Kansas City that winter.

That same month, pitcher Bret Saberhagen admitted to spraying bleach on a group of reporters and was forced to apologize and donate a day’s pay to charity.

As if July 1993 wasn’t bad enough for the Mets and their pitching staff, pitcher Anthony Young set a Major League record on July 24 for consecutive losses in games in which he had the decision, with an unbelievable twenty-seven straight.

In keeping with the Vince Coleman-inspired firecracker theme, Saberhagen threw a lit firecracker under a table full of reporters in the clubhouse, which he explained was a “joke.”

Then there was Bobby Bonilla. The Mets outfielder threatened writer Bob Klapisch, who wrote the book “The Worst Team Money Could Buy: The Collapse of the New York Mets” (ironically, the book is based on the 1992 version of the team) telling him he would “show him (Klapisch) the Bronx.” One has to wonder if Klapisch wished he would have waited a year to write the book. The 1993 team certainly would have given him extensive new material.

What does this have to do with the 2010 version of the team? Well, we all know that the 2010 Mets are self-destructing on the field, and it appears that they are following the ’93 club’s blueprint for off the field antics as well.

Ace pitcher Johan Santana was accused of sexually assaulting a Florida woman on a golf course in October 2009, and reportedly offered her $1 million in “hush money” after the mysteriously delayed police report was made public by TMZ in June. The unidentified woman also alleged that Santana impregnated her during the encounter and is suing him for sexual battery, sexual assault, and false imprisonment. The Lee County Sheriff declined to press charges against Santana.

Reliever Francisco “KRod” Rodriguez was arrested on August 11 on charges of assaulting his father-in-law outside the family room of the Mets clubhouse at Citi Field. The Mets suspended the closer for two games, adding that he will not be “on the roster, with the team, or be paid” during the suspension before referring the media to the NYPD because it was a “police matter now.”

The 2010 Mets will not lose 103 games, and there has so far been no throwing of explosives or dousing reporters with chemicals. But the path to oblivion that this version of the team seems to be heading down is eerily similar to the 1993 squad. You have to wonder what’s next for this bunch of misfits and malcontents.



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New York Yankees: It’s Not Panic Time in the Bronx

With last night’s 8-6 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rays win over the Twins, the Yankees dropped into a tie with Tampa Bay for first place in the American League East. Today marks the first time since June 20 that the Yankees have not been in sole possession of first place in the East Division. Despite all this, it’s not time to panic in the Bronx.

Yes, the Yankees missed out on a major opportunity to distance themselves from the Rays last weekend by dropping two of a three game series in Tampa. But the fact remains that the Yankees are still in an excellent situation to win the Division as the dog days of August get underway.

Andy Pettitte will be coming off the disabled list soon, giving them a consistent, innings-eating lefty back in the rotation. Pettitte, provided he’s 100%, should ease the workload on the bullpen considerably.

The “Arod 600 Home Run Circus” is bound to end at some point. What has turned into a major distraction for everyone will end with one swing of the bat, hopefully sooner rather than later. In the meantime, Arod is still driving in runs for the Yankee offense.

The addition of Kerry Wood should alleviate some of the stress on Joba Chamberlain, hopefully helping him return to the form he’s capable of.

Nick Swisher continues to impress. The All Star RF had two more home runs last night and appears to be getting hot. In a lineup full of sluggers like Arod, Teixeira and Cano, getting major offensive numbers from players like Swisher is a nice bonus.

The Yankees schedule is relatively tame in August, which should assist them in at least holding a share of first place into the September stretch run. Their talent and experience will allow them to place some distance between themselves and the Rays in the last month of the season.

They’ll be ok, count on it.

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