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Adrian Beltre to the Rangers Is a Texas-Sized Mistake

It was only a couple months ago that the Rangers were (near) the top of the baseball world.  They fulfilled their role as David, when slaying the Goliath Yankees, and endeared themselves to millions of baseball fans across the country with their love of all things hustle.

But things changed for the Rangers in a New York minute (you knew that New York would get back in the discussion) when Cliff Lee, their undisputed ace, shocked the baseball world and fled back to Philadelphia.  Just like that, the Rangers rotation—a strength—turned into a weakness.  Panic spread across Texas.

So they did what any right-minded club would do—go sign the next biggest name available.  Because if you can’t have the prom queen, you should at least get her still cute best friend…right?  Except in this case, it’s wrong…very wrong.

The Rangers are closing in on signing 3B Adrian Beltre to a 6-year, $96 million dollar deal that frankly makes, well, no sense.  There are definitely positives to Beltre—he’s coming off a big season, he’s one of the best fielding third baseman (and players) in all of baseball, and he does have a power bat.  But for the few reasons that the deal does make some sense, there are many more reasons why it doesn’t. 

Why?  Let’s break it down:

  • Beltre will be 32 years old a week into the season—not ancient—but definitely edging towards the downside of his career.  On top of that, this will be his 14th season.  If there’s such a thing as a “young” veteran, Beltre isn’t it.  Do you really see this guy still going strong when he’s in his 17th, 18th or 19th year of his career (or the second half of his contract)?
  • In 13 previous seasons, Beltre has made the postseason ONCE!  That was in 2004-2005, while still with the Dodgers.  Beltre’s line was .267 AVG, one RBI, zero extra-base hits, three K’s, zero BB’s—a series that saw the Dodgers lose handily to the Cardinals in four games.  For the record, that was the same year he had his breakout season, when he finished second in the NL MVP race.
  • Beltre is notorious for having big years in the last year of his contract (see 2004 with Dodgers, 2010 with Boston).  I think we saw with Seattle what happens when the guy isn’t as motivated to play for the next big contract
  • Texas is a SMALL market team.  Giving an aging player a deal averaging $16 million a year is ABSURD.  Look at the Yankees with A-Rod.  A-Rod is making $30 million a year for the next eight seasons, yet is already being hampered with injuries.  Throwing this amount of money at guys over 30 years old with 10+ years of experience is a huge risk, especially for a team like Texas. 
  • As a team, Texas had a salary of around $55 million last year, which ranked 26th in the majors.  That means that they’re going to give Beltre a contract that composes nearly 29 percent of their salary from last season.  
  • How was this the price set for Beltre this offseason?  Carlos Gonzalez—a much younger OF coming off a major season, who has more upside than Beltre,  just agreed to a seven-year, $80 million deal with Colorado.  Are we to believe that Beltre is worth $16 million more (and a year less) than CarGo?
  • Where is Michael Young going?  Remember, your CURRENTLY highest-paid player who JUST HAPPENS to play third base.  He has three more years left on his deal, worth $48 million.  Are the Rangers ready to eat $16 million a year for Young to have Beltre play the same position?  Young is 34 years old and has a big contract for the next three seasons.  What team is going to be willing to eat that amount of money while taking Young on the downside of his career?  On top of that, Young has a no-trade clause in his contract with 22 teams on it, further limiting the options the Rangers have with him. 

Essentially, the Rangers panicked.  Look at the stats between Young and Beltre last year.  Did Beltre have an advantage?  Yes.  But not a major advantage, as Young—one of the most consistent players in baseball—had another strong season. 

So what if they move Young to DH, since Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t re-signed.  Young has DH’d in only 25 games since breaking into the majors in 2000, but there’s no room at SS (Elvis Andrus) or 2B (Ian Kinsler) where Young has had any other experience to play. 

The Rangers needed a pitcher to make up for the loss of Lee, not Adrian Beltre.  There’s a reason the Angels—a team with much more money than the Rangers—only offered Beltre $70 million, and the Athletics only offered him $64 million. 

They say everything is bigger in Texas; I guess that means the mistakes are, too.

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Derek Jeter Becomes Latest Undeserving Player To Win Gold Glove

Year after year, baseball’s end-of-season awards are usually room for debate and arguments.  The last few years the argument has shifted around the Cy Young, with topics ranging from “How important is wins to a pitcher’s stats (my answer is “not at all”), and Can a pitcher pitch in both league’s (a la CC Sabathia with the Indians and Brewers in 2008), and still be eligible for the award (yes, but I believe in a case-by-case study for that one). 

This time, however, the debate is based around the Gold Glove, and the Captain, Derek Jeter.

Let me get a few things out of the way: I am a Tampa Bay Rays fan and a New York Yankee hater, so it’s fair to call me biased if you don’t agree with this column.  BUT I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for Jeter, who is one of the greatest shortstops to ever play the game, and one of the greatest Yankees ever.  He’s a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer, and a guy I hold no ill will against. 

But Derek Jeter didn’t deserve to win the Gold Glove.  He didn’t even deserve to be in the discussion.  In fact, not only was Jeter wholly under qualified to win the Gold Glove, he was actually the WORST fielding SS in the AL this season.  And that’s not based off opinion—that’s based off facts.

The common fan looks at two stats when it comes to who deserves a Gold Glove: Fielding Percentage and Errors.  But these are very baseline stats, and don’t really work.  Why? Because fielding percentage doesn’t take into account difficulty of plays.  And errors are arbitrary—they’re decided by the official scorer at that particular game.  As a friendly scorer can rule what should be an error as a single.

People may not like hearing that, but the reality is this: Fielding Percentage only shows the plays made, NOT the plays NOT made.  Or to simplify it, it doesn’t show all the balls Jeter DID NOT get to because of his awful lack of range. 

But luckily for us, the fine folks at BaseballReference did run the stats on 59 shortstops this season using sabermetrics and advanced statistics to find out who was really deserving.  And in dead-last (and I mean dead-last) place was…you guessed it, Derek Jeter.  If you don’t believe me, check out the link here

To explain it in layman’s terms, these are the two key stats you should look at: Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average and BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average.  These stats show:  The number of runs above or below average the player was worth based on the number of plays made (thanks to

In Total Zone Total Fielding Runs Above Average, Jeter came in at -10, or 59th place out of 59.  In 58th was Danny Worth of Detroit, with a -5.  So you can see the HUGE jump between Jeter and the second-worst fielder. 

The best fielder according to this statistic was Josh Wilson of Seattle.  Second and third were Cliff Pennington of the Oakland Athletics and Alexei Ramirez of the Chicago White Sox, respectively.  Wilson had a 12 rating, Pennington and 11, and Ramirez a 9—all superior scores to Jeter’s -12. 

For BIS Defensive Runs Above Average, Jeter did move up…to 58th, or second-worst in the AL.  He had a -13 rating, which was far superior than KC shortstop’s Yuniesky Betancourt’s -21 score, but still only one of three amongst AL shortstop’s to be in the negative double-digits (the third being Jason Donald, or the guy who was called safe at first in Armando Gallaraga’s perfect game). 

With this stat, Alexei Ramirez of the White Sox was first (16), followed by Cliff Pennington (9), and Alex Gonzalez of Toronto (9).  You see the recurring theme, and the recurring players.

This award has nothing to do with team success.  It has nothing to do with leadership or likability.  It solely has to do with fielding.  And any advanced statistic will show you that Derek Jeter was shockingly undeserving of this award. 

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MLB Report: Is This the End of the Yankees Dynasty?

Last night, the New York Yankees were blown out for one final time in 2010, watching as the Texas Rangers celebrate with ginger ale on the pitcher’s mound after closer Neftali Feliz struck out Alex Rodriguez for the last out.  Good to see A-Rod finally help Texas to the World Series!

More seriously though, the Yankees’ window is quickly shutting, as even all the money in the world won’t be able to get the Yankees out of their current troubles.

They’re old.  They’re breaking down.  They’re overpaid.  Like really, really overpaid.  They spent $64.5 million on their starting rotation this season.  Texas spent $55.3 million on their entire team.  The Yanks rotation—once considered the class of the majors—was an absolute joke once the spotlight focused on them.  Phil Hughes crumbled in the second half of the season (8-7, 5.55 ERA), and lost both his starts against Texas.  

AJ Burnett was good for a 10-15 record, and a 5.26 ERA this season—just good enough for an $80 million deal, and a Game 4 loss.  

And who could forget Javy Vazquez, who went 10-10, with a 5.32 ERA, and was reduced to nothing more than a long-inning reliever—a kind term for mop-up duty—once August turned to September? 

Even Andy Pettitte wasn’t the same after his arm injury, and chances stand at only 50/50 that he decides to return next season.  Heck CC—or Cash Cow—was good for a 5.62 ERA in three postseason starts, getting bailed out by his offense in all of his appearances.

The hitting wasn’t much better.  Derek Jeter hit .270 this season, or 44 points below his career average.  His OBP was 66 points lower than the year before.  And at 36, his fielding is slowly starting to deteriorate.  Now the Yankees will have to shower him with a new deal because—let’s face it—they’re not getting rid of “The Captain.”

Nick Johnson was an absolute disaster of a one-year deal, and makes you wonder why they didn’t re-sign Hideki Matsui, or at least make a run at Texas DH Vladimir Guerrero.  

Mark Teixeira started with his usual first-month slump, but never broke out of it.  A-Rod’s .270 average was 33 points below his career average, though he was good for another 30/100 season.  But at 35, A-Rod had another terrible postseason (.219 AVG, zero HR, three RBI) and isn’t exactly a fan favorite.

Jorge Posada is 39, and is coming off a year in which he batted .248, his lowest since 1999.  Look around the league, and you’ll notice how few catchers there are that are over 35.  Having a 40-year-old catcher is almost unheard of.

Mariano Rivera is eventually going to retire.  Who in that bullpen is taking over for him?  Do you trust Joba Chamberlain to really be the closer of the future?

So where do the Yankees turn from here?  The Royals have put Zack Greinke on the trading block, but their No. 1 target is Cliff Lee, who dominated them in the World Series last year, and in Game 3 of the ALCS this season.  The best postseason pitcher in baseball right now, Lee is set to turn 32, but when has age ever mattered to the Yankees?  

But at the end, it may not mean much.  Joe Girardi was out-managed all series by Ron Washington, making dumb decision after dumb decision.  If we want to credit him with helping the Yanks win the Series last year, you have to fault him for them getting blown out of the ALCS this season.

Texas got hot at the right time.  As a Rays fan, I know this better than any Yankee fan.  On paper, I take both the Rays and Yanks over the Rangers.  But the Rangers steamrolled the Yanks, and save an eighth-inning rally in Game 1, the Yankees get swept in this series.  So for Yankee fans, take solace that the brooms remained in the closet.

Lance Berkman, Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson were the only three hitters who even bothered showing up for the playoffs.  And as much as everyone loves Brett Gardner and his great hustle, the fact is he batted .185 in the playoffs, and had only five home runs in 150 games this season.  

I’d never count the Yankees out, because they like buying shiny new players, especially in a state of depression.  Remember their spending spree two years ago, when they didn’t make the playoffs (Hello CC, AJ and Teix!).  I’m not saying it will be to that magnitude—especially with Jeter, Girardi, Mariano and potentially Pettitte all needing new deals—but this team will do everything possible to get Carl Crawford, bring in Cliff Lee and possibly look into Rafael Soriano to take over for Mo in a couple years.  But for now, let’s all rejoice—the Bronx is Burning.  And all that money is only fueling the fire.


Michael Perchick is the writer/editor of TheJockosphere, a sports/Twitter site, reporting the top tweets and news directly from athletes.  Follow him on Twitter @TheREALPerchick, and at

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MLB Preview: Top 12 Pitchers 25 Years and Younger

With Cliff Lee dominating yet another playoff team, it’s time to think about the next wave of pitchers in baseball.  As good as Lee is, he’s already well into his 30s.  As are Andy Pettite and Roy Halladay—two other postseason aces. 

So we take a look at who’s ready to carry the mantle, and see who the next Top 10 pitchers in baseball are. 

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MLB History: Is Cliff Lee Our Generation’s Sandy Koufax?

After watching Cliff Lee dominate my Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, and dominate, well, everybody, throughout the playoffs last season, people are starting to rank him as one of the greatest postseason pitchers of all time.  The only way to compare them is to put Lee up against the greatest postseason pitcher of all time, Sandy Koufax.

Let’s take a quick look at the pitching lines.

Sandy Koufax: 4-3 record, 57 innings, 32 hits, 10 runs, 2 home runs, 11 walks, 61 strikeouts

Cliff Lee: 6-0 record, 56 1/3 innings, 32 hits, 11 runs, 1 home run, 6 walks, 54 strikeouts

Those numbers are strikingly close.  But Koufax’s numbers are a bit skewed.  Of those 10 runs he allowed, only six were earned (good enough for a 0.95 ERA).  Plus Lee got beat up in Game 5 last year of the World Series when he allowed five earned runs—one less than Koufax did in his entire postseason careerand he STILL got the win.  As good as Lee has been, there’s only one Sandy Koufax.  

In the 1965 World Series, Koufax pitched on three days rest and on two days restthrew two complete game shutout victories.  Cliff Lee has NEVER pitched on three days rest in his life.

That’s the argument for Koufax being better.  For Leehe does have the better record (though I firmly believe that wins are as much a team category as a personal category).  He does have nearly half the amount of walks that Koufax did (though both had precise control), and let up one less long ball.  But the big argument would be Lee has had to face the DH in four of his starts, while Koufax never did.  Lee’s best argument of being the best postseason pitcher ever is in the strength of the line-ups he’s had to facethe Yankees (now twice), the Rays, the Rockies, and the Dodgers.  

But is that enough to put Lee over Koufax?  Definitely not.  Sandy Koufax is one of the five greatest pitchers…EVER.  Cliff Lee isn’t.  Sandy Koufax was a two-time World Series MVP and a four-time World Series champion.  Lee has never won a World Series.  His performance in the 1965 World Series is the greatest ever.  Pitching with severe elbow troubles, winning Game 5 (on three days rest) and Game 7 (on two days rest)with complete game shutouts, neverthelessis an achievement that is almost impossible to think about today.  

The final argument: Koufax retired when he was 30.  His arm simply gave out on him. Well kind of.  In 1966his final season, all Koufax did was pitch 323 innings, with a 27-9 record, and a 1.79 ERA.  After the World Series that year (the Dodgers were swept), Koufax retired due to traumatic arthritis in his arm.  Cliff Lee didn’t make his first postseason start until he was 31 years oldor a year older than Koufax was when he RETIRED.  Lee had years of experience in the regular season, while Koufax was thrust into the limelight and spotlight of the postseason at a much younger age.

Cliff Lee is simply filthy, and a guy I certainly don’t want to see in the playoffs.  But Sandy Koufax is the best that ever was, and the best that ever will be.

Michael Perchick is the writer/editor of TheJockosphere, a sports/Twitter site, reporting the top tweets and news directly from athletes.  Follow him on Twitter @TheREALPerchick, and at 

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MLB History: The Top 10 Pitchers With The Best Chance To Reach 300 Wins

A few days ago, my friend and I had a debate over the HOF credentials of Fred McGriff.  I said- the guy nearly had 500 Home Runs, that’s gotta get him in.  My friend countered back- almost, but not 500.  

When the argument shifted to Mike Mussina, he stood up for him.  He said how Mussina almost had 300 wins.  I countered- almost, but not 300.  


I bring this up because with Mussina’s retirement two years ago, it’s conceivable that we won’t see another 300-win pitcher in a long, long time. Jamie Moyer, the current wins leader, hasn’t pitched since July 20th, and at 47 (he’ll be 48 next month), it’s tough to believe that he’ll reach the coveted 300 mark.

So who are the guys with the next best shot: 

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MLB Report: Why The Tampa Bay Rays Will Be All Right In 2011

As a diehard Rays fan, last night’s Game 5 loss hurt especially hard.  Yes, it was an elimination game that ended what I thought would be a season ending with the World Series coming to Tampa.  

But it also means the likely end to 1B Carlos Pena, LF Carlos Crawford and closer Rafael Soriano.

Crawford—the heart and face of the franchise for the past nine seasons, will likely (and rightfully so) seek greener pastures next season.  But contrary to popular belief, the Rays will be just fine come next season. 

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