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New York Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez Was Loved? It’s True

A-Rod, A-Fraud or Alex Rodriguez.

There was a time when Alex Rodriguez was widely considered the best baseball player alive. Those days are long gone. We are now reduced to Oompa Loopma jokes and pictures of him making out with himself.

Rodriguez has 649 career home runs and 1,956 RBI, both good for fifth all-time. We should be celebrate not berate.

He will never be as beloved as Mr. Yankee Derek Jeter, or Mo, or even Andy Pettitte, who admitted to using HGH. But, there was a time when the Yankees couldn’t have won without him.

In 2009, Rodriguez slapped all those playoff demons in the face.

In his six seasons up to that point, he had done everything the Yankees had asked for, including two MVP’s. His playoff performances were quite the opposite.

He erased the 6-44 and 1 RBI debacle between 2005-2007, batting .365 with six home runs and 18 RBI. As a matter of fact, without Rodriguez anchoring their lineup, there’s a good chance the Yankees don’t even advance past the ALCS. 

There is a fascinating information on Baseball Reference, identifying and categorizing the best playoff performances by a single player who played in seven or more postseason games with a WPA (Win Probability Added) greater than .05. They rank his 2009 playoff performance as the best of all-time, surpassing even Barry Bonds’ coming out party in 2002.

In a 2009 article by Eric Neel on ESPN, Reggie Jackson gave a glowing description of A-Rod’s play:

“It’s wonderful to see,” Reggie Jackson said after Game 4. “I’m diggin‘ it. It’s like watching a star in a movie. We all knew he had it in him. And when you see it come out like this, there’s a real joy in it.”

Game two of the 2009 ALCS against the Los Angeles Angels, down 3-2 in the bottom of the 11th, Rodriguez hit one of the biggest home runs of his life off of AL saves leader Brian Fuentes. The Yankees would go on to win the game in 11 innings 4-3, and the series in six games.

At the conclusion of the season, he exorcised his demons and won the title that eluded him for years. There was even a chance he would be accepted as a true New York Yankee?

We all know that’s not true.

Rodriguez was supposedly the player with no flaw in his game. Someone who would challenge, and ultimately become the all-time home runs leader. 

Those days are long gone.

Accusations stick to this guy like Velcro, and every rumour brings another cringe. His reputation is tarnished, an admitted PED user and now he’s on trial for his life.

Devon can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. 

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A Season to Forget for Toronto Blue Jays’ Josh Johnson

The Toronto Blue Jays‘ hopes for the playoffs are on life support, sitting 15 games back out in the AL East and 10.5 games out the wild-card race.

When the Jays traded for every serviceable player on the Miami Marlins, the excitement in the Big Smoke was at the highest it’s been in years. The Boston Red Sox were coming off their worst record in 52 years, and the New York Yankees are ancient, leaving them to contend with the young upstart Baltimore Orioles and Tampa Bay Rays.

In that Marlins trade, Josh Johnson was the wild card of the bunch. Since missing 122 games in 2011 due to shoulder surgery, this was the year he was supposed to be the Johnson of old, the one who was a back-to-back All-Star in 2009 and 2010.

Johnson is 1-8 on the year with a 6.60 ERA. Since the All-Star break, he’s 0-3, has an ERA of 16.20 and opponents are teeing off at a .471 clip. There is nothing wrong with him physically. He doesn’t average 95 mph like he did in 2009, but according to FanGraphs, he’s averaging 93 mph on his fastball, and his secondary pitches are roughly where they should be.

Are his problems mechanical? They don’t appear to be. He has a very fluid delivery, and his release point never changes. Johnson’s issues aren’t mental either.

There is a huge difference between Ricky Romero and Johnson at this point. Romero, who saddled with the “Ace” title last year, was filled with pressure from day one. And it was obviously something that weighed on him.

Johnson doesn’t have that, and he’s throwing strikes at the same time. Romero lost his ability to throw strikes, and unfortunately every strike Johnson throws gets hammered.

According to BrooksBaseball, in 2012 when Johnson went 8-14 with a 3.81 ERA, he threw 1,475 four-seam fastballs resulting in 48 strikeouts, allowing 16 doubles, four triples, 10 home runs and a .280 batting average against. BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) was .303. In 2013, the numbers are considerably worse.

In 2013, he’s hurled 705 four-seamers and has surrendered nine doubles, a triple and 10 home runs. Batters are dialed in at .355, with a .384 BABIP and a slugging percentage of .593.

It’s no surprise that he’s not fooling anyone, and that’s exactly the problem. You constantly hear baseball people talk about changing eye-level and keeping hitters off-balance. Opponents are too comfortable in the box against Johnson. The pitch selection is in need of an overhaul. 

Johnson is not the same pitcher he was, but that doesn’t mean he still can’t get hitters out. Brooks has identified the pitches Johnson is successful with, and if you compare 2009 to 2013, it’s night and day.

In 2009, Johnson was missing bats on a regular basis. He recorded 149 strikeouts with the fastball and 115 with his slider.

Over the last three years, Johnson has added a curveball to his repertoire. It has literally taken place of his fastball as an out pitch, or one that hitters don’t recognize coming out of his hand.

The raw whiffs on a fastball have dropped dramatically to 50, slider at 54 and his curveball at 33. But when you compare to 2012, Johnson is on pace to surpass his totals significantly. Last year his fastball was the result of 77 swings and misses.

All this tells me is that Johnson is behind the count more often than not, relying more on the fastball to get out of trouble, and batters are well aware of that.

When he needs a strikeout, he relies more on the breaking stuff than ever before. A slight dip in velocity can make the difference between a strikeout and a single. Pitching ahead and placing your pitches becomes his biggest priority.

The offseason will be very interesting. According to Baseball-Reference, Johnson is making $13,750,000 (Marlins are paying $2.5M) and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.

Jays fans are frustrated, no doubt, but at this point, re-signing Johnson at $15 million might be the best thing with no pressure of replacing him in the rotation. Heck, someone will give him that anyway next year.

Johnson has a history of success, and maybe this year is a one-off, but at 6’7″ and 250 pounds, Johnson still has the potential to be that No. 1 guy he was in Florida, the one Jays Nation thought they were getting in the first place.


Devon can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. 

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Cleveland Indians: Kazmir Looks to Improve Results, Takes Mound Against Royals

Last Saturday, we saw Scott Kazmir take the mound in an MLB game for the first time since 2011. What we saw was nothing short of scary. 

For me to sit back and criticize is not right. I’ve endured brutal experiences on the mound and completely understand the feeling you get when you work so hard for something have nothing to show for it. 

I have documented Kazmir’s return to the pros for many months and have written countless articles stemming from being released by the Los Angeles Angels, to his redemption story with the Sugar Land Skeeters. 

Kazmir proved his worth to the Cleveland Indians this spring going 1-0 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings. His fastball showed increased velocity and his command was back in check. He allowed one walk while striking out 13. 

His first start was postponed due to an abdominal injury—as reported by CBS Sports—resulting in an April 20 start in Houston against the newly relocated Astros. Kazmir was handed a 14-0 lead, and less than four innings later was removed from the game, charged with six runs on eight hits, allowing two home runs while striking out four and walking three. 

Obviously, this was not what anyone wanted, but that was only one game in a career that has seen many. 

Saturday, we’ll see Kazmir toeing the rubber, this time against the Kansas City Royals, in Kansas City. Let’s hope that with one start out of the way the nerves and location problems are a thing of the past. 

Throughout the latter part of his stint in Sugar Land and in his five starts in Puerto Rico, his strikeouts were up and walks were down. His rehab start with Columbus on April 15 was much of the same; five innings pitched, one run, five strikeouts and no walks. 

If you break down the numbers even further (courtesy of FanGraphs), you see that his fastball has picked up over four mph to top out at 90.7 mph. And his contact% (Total percentage of contact made when swinging at all pitches) is 79 percent, currently the lowest it’s been since 2008. 

I believe we will see flashes of the Kazmir of old against the Royals Saturday. Kauffman Stadium is a little more spacious and that short porch in left is non existent. The Royals’ bigger names are left-handed (Gordon, Hosmer, Moustakas), so his numbers should become more respectable after Saturday. 

It has been a long road back but we shouldn’t judge him on one game.

Devon can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook.

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Scott Kazmir Impresses Again, Blanks White Sox

The comeback continues, and for the second time this spring Scott Kazmir has held his opponent scoreless. 

It’s a long shot that Kazmir could make the starting rotation, but there is also nothing that says he can’t. 

Against the Chicago White Sox Friday, Kazmir went two innings, struck out three, gave up one hit and for the second time did not walk anyone. That, in my eyes, is the biggest factor. 

Kazmir has struggled in recent years with control problems. If he can harness his fastball—that appears to be creeping up in velocity—and continue to throw strikes, there’s no telling how far he can go. 

According to Paul Hoynes of the The Plain Dealer, Kazmir hit between 90-92 mph on the gun Friday. 

In addition, Cleveland Indians Manager Terry Francona, who was quoted in The News-Herald, had nothing but good things to say about Kazmir’s recent performances:

“He’s interesting,” Indians manager Terry Francona said. “There’s not a lot of effort, and the ball is coming out really nice. That’s a good combination.”

In two outings so far this spring, the former first-round draft pick has tossed four innings, surrendered two hits and struck out four without walking a batter.

Devon can be can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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Former Yankee Shane Spencer Hired as Hitting/3B Coach for Somerset Patriots

The five-time Atlantic League Champion Somerset Patriots have hired Shane Spencer as their hitting and third base coach. For those who don’t remember, Shane Spencer was in large part responsible for one of the greatest playoff moments in the history of the game.

In Game 3 of the 2001 American League Division series, Terrance Long hit a lined shot down the right-field line. With Jeremy Giambi rounding third, right fielder Spencer overthrew the cut-off man, resulting in Derek Jeter—completely out of place—picking up the errant throw. With a backhand flip to catcher Jorge Posada, he tagged out Giambi at home, turning the tide of the series.

Shane Spencer spent parts of seven seasons in the Bigs, five of those with the New York Yankees.

Never the main attraction, Spencer was one of those irreplaceable pieces of the Yankee’s dynasty in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In nearly 1,700 career at-bats, Spencer collected 84 doubles, belted 59 home runs and knocked in 242. He batted .262 with an OPS of .754.

According to The Messenger-Gazette, Spencer will be replacing Travis Anderson, who has served as the hitting/third base coach since 2010. Anderson will continue to stay on with the team in other capacities.

According to Brett Jodie, manager of the Patriots who spoke with the Gazette, Spencer’s knowledge and experience will be of great value.

“Shane brings a wealth of knowledge to our staff. His experiences as a player and coach will be extremely valuable in helping us produce a championship caliber team. I very much look forward to working with him towards our common goal.”

The Patriots begin play at home on April 18. If you are looking for more information on Spencer and the Patriots, please visit their website.


Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and he can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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Toronto Blue Jays Sign Laredo Lemurs Strikeout Artist Mike Benacka

The Toronto Blue Jays have shown once again that it doesn’t have to be a blockbuster deal to raise some eyebrows. 

With the game’s global reach, Major League Baseball teams know no limit to where they can find talent, and according to the American Association, the Jays have signed Laredo Lemurs closer Mike Benacka.  The deal comes a week after the Jays signed Quebec Capitales lefty specialist Tony Davis

Benacka, 30, has spent the majority of his professional career in the Oakland A’s organization (2008-2011). Over the course of his six professional seasons, three of which were in Independent ball, Benacka has appeared in over 240 games and saved 56, including 12 as the Lemurs’ closer. His ERA sits at an even 3.00, and his overall record is 22-13.

But the pièce desistance: 12.3 SO/9, including 15.7 SO/9 while in Laredo this year. (Statistics courtesy of Baseball Reference). 

While playing for the York Revolution and Lemurs in 2012, Benacka appeared in 49 games and recorded 13 saves. He surrendered only 36 hits in 59 innings and struck out an eye-popping 98 batters. 

More than likely, he will begin the season in Double-A. Whether or not he makes it to Toronto is another story.

With the superb pitching staff and bullpen the Jays have, it’s going to be a tough nut to crack, but every appearance will be an audition. And if Benacka pitches like he did in Laredo, it won’t just be the Jays looking to use his services. 

The Jays have now signed two Independent pitchers in the last two weeks and they—and other major league teams—may not be done. The American Association has reported that Benacka was the fourth Laredo player signed by a Major League organization this year, along with Chris Murrill to Tampa Bay and Chaz Roe and Matt Way to Arizona.

Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and he can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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Scott Kazmir Inks Minor League Deal with Cleveland Indians

It appears the comeback is complete. 

After spending time in the Independent Leagues with the Sugar Land Skeeters and more recently in the Winter Leagues honing his craft, Scott Kazmir is back. 

According to, ESPN and multiple other reports, Kazmir signed a minor league deal with the Cleveland Indians and is invited to spring training. Pitchers and catchers are to report on February 10 in Arizona. 

It really has been a long road for Kazmir, who was once a highly touted first-round pick out of the New York Mets organization. 

Kazmir is still amongst the all-time leaders in Tampa Bay Rays history, sitting in the top five in multiple categories, including wins, games started, innings pitched, strikeouts and k/9 (statistics courtesy of Unfortunately, control issues and injuries set off a chain of events that led to an unsuccessful stint with the Los Angeles Angels and then put him completely out of the game. 

Fortunately, the Independent Leagues have a funny way of accentuating the positives of players who were overlooked by MLB teams in the draft or resurrecting the careers of people who were lost and forgotten. 

The Sugar Land Skeeters took a flier on Kazmir this past year, and despite some rough patches that included a nine-walk performance against the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, he regained the form that once made him an All-Star, leading to people around the game to again take notice. 

In 14 games with the Skeeters, he put together a 3-6 record with a 5.34 ERA, with 51 strikeouts in 64 innings, and walks, his Achilles heel, were under control for the second half of his Skeeters season, as he allowed three walks or less in five of his six final starts. 

His progress was seemingly overshadowed by the performances of Jason Lane, who just signed with the Minnesota Twins and Roger Clemens, who started a comeback trail of his own. Yet Kazmir, determined to get back to the Show, continued his comeback, joining the Gigantes de Carolina of the Puerto Rican Winter League. 

In five starts spanning 22 innings, he went 0-2 with a 4.37 ERA, which was nothing earth-shattering, but if you read between the lines—eight walks and 22 strikeouts—there is much more there than what the win/loss record suggests. 

A decrease in velocity, which was once a negative in the later part of his career, has also shown resurgence. According to Kazmir’s Twitter account and reports through Jon Heyman of CBS, he was once again touching between 90 mph and 94 mph on the radar gun. 

Much of this hype gained some steam during the baseball Winter Meetings held in Nashville. Many rumours were swirling that a variety of teams were interested (previously reported by The GM’s Perspective), and it appears the rumours were true! 

Everyone looks for a comeback story, and this one fits the mould perfectly.

Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and he can be reached at You can follow the GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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Jose Canseco Jumps Leagues, Signs with Rio Grande

Jose Canseco, age 48, has left the Worcester Tornadoes of the Can-Am League and signed with the independent Rio Grande Valley WhiteWings of the North American League. 

The Valley Morning Star reports that Canseco—still an official member of the Tornadoes—will make his debut with the WhiteWings in the coming days. 

Canseco played 20 games for the Tornadoes, putting up numbers you would expect from a 48-year-old: .194 BA, one home run, seven RBI, and 24 strikeouts in 84 at-bats. Aside from his low numbers, the fact that his former club had no prior warning of his departure leaves a bad taste in their mouths. 

The Worcester Telegram spoke with Tornadoes’ owner Rich Breighner, who says he was shocked when he heard the news from his GM Jorg Bassiacos, Friday at 9pm via text message—several hours after news of Canseco’s new signing had been published in social media. 

I’m sure Canseco will draw some fans to the game, but if you can’t do things the right way, people won’t take you seriously. I truly hope Canseco is in this for the long haul, and sticks with the team for the remainder of the season. 

This signing is not the only reason Canseco is making headlines. On Friday the Boston Herald reported that Canseco filed for bankruptcy protection. 

Apparently, Canseco has less than $21,000 in total assets with more than $1.7 million in liabilities, along with a considerable amount owed to the IRS. All parties involved could not be reached for comment. 

With just over a month left to go before the end of the season you can bet this isn’t the last time we’ll hear about the former MLB MVP. 

Hopefully it’ll be positive news, dealing with monstrous home runs.

Devon is the founder and executive director of The GM’s Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals and Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario, Canada, and can be reached at You can follow The GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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MLB and NAIA Make Beautiful Music Together

In the past two MLB drafts, quite a few college players from the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) have heard their names called.

Last year, 45 NAIA athletes (including 33 pitchers) were lucky enough to get drafted, something many baseball players can only dream of. This year, 44 players from 28 schools were drafted by 24 of MLB’s 30 professional organizations. 

The first player taken was Dane Phillips from Oklahoma City University. Phillips, who hails from Nacogdoches, Texas, was drafted by the San Diego Padres (70th overall) in the second round.

The NAIA normally does not get a lot attention when compared to its NCAA counterpart, but with a .410 BA, 14 home runs, 67 RBI, 26 doubles and a .767 slugging percentage, you can see why the Padres were high on Philips. 

The glory is always received by the NCAA, but the NAIA is making some serious noise. Baseball is baseball, and if you can play, you can play regardless. 

Take Shaun Valeriote from Brock University, for example. He became the first Ontario University Athletics player to be drafted. The stigma is that collegiate baseball in Canada might as well be a universe away. But with great scouting from the Toronto Blue Jays and their staff, this one draft pick certainly sheds that image that Canadian universities do not produce quality Major League talent. 

According to the NAIA, “fourteen percent of participating institutions had players drafted in 2012. Since 2008, the NAIA has averaged 42 individuals selected each year by MLB clubs.”

Take into consideration that when I attended York in Nebraska form 1997-2001, we rarely played in front of crowds of more than 300. Despite that, my teammates, myself and multiple others in our conference went on to play professional baseball in various leagues. 

It really does say something when barriers are broken down and the talent rises to the top. 

Congratulations to all those drafted on their tremendous accomplishment.

For a complete list of the 44 NAIA players selected, please click here (courtesy of the NAIA).


Devon is the Founder and Executive Director of The GM’s Perspective. He is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies. Currently, Devon is a Manager at a financial institution in Northern Ontario Canada, and can be reached at You can follow The GM’s Perspective on Twitter and Facebook. His full bio can be seen here.

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Jose Canseco Headlines a Busy Day for Drug Officials

Jose Canseco, who has been busy on Twitter with his usual rants, has been suspended by the Mexican League for refusing to take a drug test. According to ESPN, Quintana Roo Tigers‘ Team President said,   that doping-control doctors advised Canseco against taking the test because he was using a medicine to produce testosterone.

Canseco has been pledging his innocence, claiming that he has a prescription for testosterone and “can’t live without it.”

With his time in the Independent Leagues finished and now banned from the Mexican League, his playing days may again be officially over. 

In major league news, Jason Pridie, a former second-round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays and now a minor leaguer in the Oakland Athletic organization, is faced with the possibility of a 50-game suspension for violating MLB’s drug policy. 

Pridie has had limited success in the pros. 2011 was his best year to date, as he played 101 games for the New York Mets. He batted .240 with four home runs and 20 RBI. 

ESPN reports that Pridie’s suspension was caused by a “drug of abuse,” not performance enhancers.


Devon is the founder of The GM’s Perspective.

Devon is a former professional baseball player with the River City Rascals & Gateway Grizzlies.

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