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Sound Familiar? Oakland Athletics Pitching Will Take Them to Playoffs

The San Francisco Giants have just completed an improbable run to the playoffs which ended in a World Series victory.

The question sure to follow is who will be the Giants of 2011 and the answer is simple—it will be the Oakland Athletics.

The Giants made their run to the World Series on the strength of their pitching staff. Don’t look now, but the Athletics pitching staff is younger than the Giants’ and may be even better than theirs next season.

The Athletics pitching staff goes five men deep, and each one is capable of throwing a shutout, or in the case of Dallas Braden, a perfect game.

The rotation starts with their ace Trevor Cahill, who had a breakout season. He won 18 games while only losing eight games on a mediocre team. Many have questioned if Cahill is a one-year wonder because he relies on a hard sinker, but he is here to stay.

Cahill reminds me of a certain sinker-baller who has had a nice long career. Who is this mystery pitcher?

None other then Derek Lowe. He has made a career of firing his sinker into the strike zone in the upper 80s and low 90s. However, Lowe only possesses a slider to keep hitters off balance, while Cahill has an assortment of plus breaking pitches at his disposal whenever he needs them. 

Next in line is the pitcher who sparked a controversy and T-shirts made in his honor with the quote, “Get off my mound.”

Yes, it is Dallas Braden. By no means is Braden an elite pitcher. He is your average middle-of-the-rotation guy, but those types of pitchers are extremely valuable.

Braden does not throw overly hard and seems to throw more breaking pitchers than fastballs to compensate for his lack of velocity. Now this also reminds me of another pitcher, but who could it be?

I know, it is Jamie Moyer, who has carved out a major league career that has taken him to the age of 47. Braden has Moyer’s capability. He may never be an elite pitcher, but he can sure keep up the 3.50 ERA he compiled this season for years to come, making him an above-average pitcher in my book. 

The Athletics also possess a young lefty with one of the best breaking balls in the bigs. His name is Gio Gonzalez. It is hard to understand how Gonzalez has been traded numerous times already in his young career, but with a curve ball as good as his, he is on the verge of stardom. 

This past season, Gonzalez won 15 games while pitching a 3.23 ERA. He went over the 200-inning mark, which is the sign of a workhorse, and also compiled 171 strikeouts. His high strikeout numbers were no doubt caused by his sneaky fast delivery where the ball just pops up on the hitters.

Brett Anderson is another lefty member of the Athletics rotation. He has dealt with injuries the past few years, but possessing a mid-90s heater from the left side is never a bad thing. Anderson has the ability to be a premier strikeout pitcher in the bigs for years to come. Pitching to a 2.80 ERA isn’t too shabby either.

Last, but not least is a guy I believe has the ability to be the ace of the rotation in a few short years. He has some filthy movement on his fastball to go along with the velocity in which it travels to the plate. Vin Mazzaro is definitely an ace in the making. 

Mazzaro struggled this season, but his shutout against the Yankees proved to me that he is capable of performing on the big stage. The man has the same kind of movement which allowed another pitcher to compile a 20-strikeout gem this season.

Brandon Morrow was switched from the bullpen to the rotation on numerous occasions and once he reached the Jays, his career took off. 

Mazzaro could experience the same situation as early as next year. With these five talented pitchers on their staff, it should surprise no one if they dethrone the Rangers and take the American League West with ease.

Who knows, maybe they can follow in the Giants’ footsteps and prove the old adage true—you can never have enough pitching.

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The New York Yankees Must Play Hardball With Derek Jeter

Derek Jeter is one of the classiest guys in the Major Leagues and will go down as one of the best Yankees players in the history of the team.

With manager Joe Girardi’s contract figured out after he signed a three-year deal worth around $9 million it is now Jeter who will be the primary focus of the team. Brian Cashman knows he’s in for a delicate negotiation, but he needs to be sure Jeter signs on the Yankees’ terms.

Cashman is not afraid to make the tough decisions as he showed no mercy when he offered Bernie Williams a non-roster spring training invite. Williams looked at the offer as an insult and did not accept. Williams was one of the best center fielders in the game during his time along with his offensive output as a switch-hitter, yet there was Cashman making the cold-blooded decision.

When it came time to offer Joe Torre a new contract Cashman offered him one with incentives. It was an offer Torre found insulting as it required him to take a pay cut and earn incentives the deeper the Yankees played into the postseason. It was an offer he felt he had to refuse.

Now with Jeter a free agent Cashman has to continue to keep emotions out of the negotiating table. Cashman and most Yankees fans know what Jeter means to the franchise. Unlike some superstars who make their teams worry at night, the Yankees never worry about what Jeter is doing.

He has been one of the most marketable players in the history of the team. There are people who are Yankees fans just because of the way Jeter plays the game.

He was quoted numerous times about why he hustles on every single play. Jeter said there is always one person in the stands who is there to watch him and he feels it’s important to show that person he put all his effort into every game.

And if you watch the Yankees you can tell Jeter plays with his heart and soul. People applaud the way he runs out a routine ground ball to the shortstop, but why? Aren’t batters supposed to run everything out? The answer is yes, but most Major Leaguers don’t and Jeter is the exception to the rule.

The hustling he puts forth shows up in his career stats. When you look at the back of the baseball card some people may be amazed at what they see. Jeter has accumulated 2,926 hits in his time in the big leagues to go along with his .314 career batting average. 

He is quickly rising past the greatest players who have ever donned pinstripes, thereby going past some of the game’s greats. He has passed Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig during the past two seasons. He holds the record for most hits in the postseason as well as extra-base hits.

This season, however, we witnessed the beginning of the decline for a living legend. We saw Jeter no longer able to cover as much ground as we have become accustomed to. We saw Jeter flailing at pitches he once was able to hit. 

We witnessed Jeter ground into plenty of double plays because of him losing a step or two in the speed department. We witnessed Jeter’s power disappear and all this added to a career-low .270 average.

The question becomes what do the Yankees offer to a 36-year-old shortstop who is the face of the franchise, yet is heading downhill? Do you overpay for the appreciation of what he has done for the organization or do you play hardball?

The answer to this writer is in between. Cashman should not have to spend $23 million for a shortstop who is not producing at the level he should be. Instead Cashman should only offer $15 million per year for three years. 

There is no team out there willing to come even close to shelling out that much money for a 36-year-old shortstop, so it’s not like Jeter will have anywhere else to go. It should also occur to Cashman to discuss the possibility of having Jeter change positions if it is deemed necessary.

Last, but not least, a personal services contract should be added to keep Jeter around the organization he helped build back into prominence.

Jeter is one of the greatest Yankees of all time, but he needs to be reasonable at the negotiating table and realize his play slipped and with it comes a pay cut. 

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Why Josh Hamilton is the Best Player In the Major Leagues

Josh Hamilton is a power hitting, center fielder for the Texas Rangers who are now representing the American League in the World Series.

Hamilton has proven during these playoffs that he does truly possess all five-tools to be a superstar player. How many players in this day and age require the Barry Bonds treatment in games? The answer not many, but there was Hamilton being intentionally walked three times by the New York Yankees in the deciding game of the American League Championship Series.

Honestly though, who could blame the Yankees for walking Hamilton. This is a guy who delivered the first punch against the Yankees in Games 1 and 3. He even provided the exclamation point in Game 3 when he blasted a second home run which immediately sent 55,000 fans scurrying for the exits.

The amazing thing about Hamilton is he will only get better with more years. Although it’s hard not to wonder what would have happened if he did not develop an addiction to drugs as a No. 1 draft pick of the the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

Heading into the draft, Hamilton had scouts salivating about his power and arm, especially because he was only 18-years-old. The Devil Rays selected him, hoping he would one day be a corner stone of their outfield equation.

They saw his powerful left arm of which he topped out at 95-mph when on the mound. They saw the speed of which he was able to gracefully cover as much ground as any center fielder they have seen. Then there was the sound of the ball coming off the bat.

Scouts compared him favorably to another young phenom who was selected out of high school. His name. Alex Rodriguez. Sure it was very high praise to bestow on someone so young, but it was also well-deserved.

Unfortunately for Hamilton and the Devil Rays things quickly turned sour. Hamilton the boy-hood phenom developed a drug addiction. The drug addiction took over his life, requiring a two-year ban from Major League Baseball and a trip to a rehabilitation clinic.

Two years out of baseball. If a player is out of the lineup for only a few days they can lose the timing they had for the next few weeks. Now imagine a player not swinging a bat against professional players for two whole years. The task of going up against the game’s elite seems impossible surrounding those circumstances, but not for Hamilton.

He was claimed in the Rule V draft by the Cincinnati Reds and found himself in the big leagues for the first time in his life. No one knew what to realistically expect from Hamilton and he probably didn’t know either. It’s what makes his next few seasons one of amazement.

Those skills he possessed which got him drafted all those years ago had eroded. In fact they will almost entirely the same from when he was the 18-year-old high school phenom. In his only season with the Reds, Hamilton blasted 19 home runs in only 90 games played showing the power bat he possessed. The Reds then sold high and sent him to the Rangers where he has finally made a home for himself and has developed into one of the games best players.

In two healthy seasons with Texas, Hamilton has blasted 32 home runs in each season and drove in at least a 100 runs in the process. And when the postseason came around he answered the call when the Rangers needed him the most.

Hamilton has no apparent weakness. And with the ordeal he has been through he has no fear. He is the most dangerous hitter in all of baseball. He also quite possibly could be the best player in the game today.

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New York Yankees Should Infuse Youth, Not Sign High-Priced Veterans

The New York Yankees teams in the past would spend their money at astronomical proportions during an offseason following an early playoff exit.

One must hope the Yankees of this season will not follow the same model as it has proven to be detrimental over the course of time. The Yankees do not need to spend big on free agents, but instead should look to within and infuse youth into an aging roster.

The first order of business is of course the much-maligned rotation, which helped give pitching coach Dave Eiland the boot. Most Yankees fans want Cliff Lee to play Robin to CC Sabathia’s Batman. First off the Yankees do not need Lee and after the allegations fans spit on his wife I’m not sold that all the money in the world would bring him to the Bronx.

If the money is the end-all for Lee then it could be bad news for the Yankees in this writer’s opinion. The Yankees are already on the hook for Sabathia’s contract for another five years and Mr. Reliable, AJ Burnett’s deal for another three years. 

Take the name, Lee, away from his numbers and you see a 32-year-old pitcher who has had career seasons the past two years. He is believed to be a seeking at least a five-year deal and it would be nonsense to think he can keep up the level he has pitched on the past two seasons for the length of his contract.

Following Lee there are talks of the Yankees looking into acquiring Jayson Werth of the Phillies or Carl Crawford of the Rays. Crawford is far and away the player Yankees fans most covet, but he would not be a good acquisition.

Crawford is a 30-year-old outfielder who relies entirely on his speed. He may have more power than the Yankees current left fielder, Brett Gardner, but signing him would be a mistake.

Gardner is a pesky hitter who works long counts and drives pitchers crazy. Once he gets on base, he then causes havoc. The pitcher is so worried about him because he’s a threat to steal on any pitch that they sometimes leave a cookie over the plate for the other hitters to feast on.

Both Gardner and Crawford’s games are based on speed and who would you rather have? A 30-year-old who may soon lose a step or a 26-year-old who is entering his prime years?

To help solve the rotation issues the Yankees would do good to bring along Ivan Nova who impressed in his short stint in the big leagues this season. Nova possesses a mid-90s fastball and sharp breaking curveball. He has trouble getting through an opposing lineup for a third time making it paramount to develop a third pitch, but he’s a cheaper alternative who could pay big dividends.

To help alleviate Jorge Posada who has shown that he cannot be an everyday catcher anymore, the Yankees should call up Jesus Montero. Montero started off his season slow, but rebounded to blast 21 home runs and hit to a .270 average.

The knock against Montero has been his defensive skills, but Yankees personnel believe his defense has improved enough to be a catcher in the big leagues. He is said to have Mike Piazza-type power to the opposite way and at worst he will be another Posada: someone who has below-average defense that can make it up with above-average offense.

To help out their aging left side of the infield the Yankees can use Eduardo Nunez to help give them days off. The Yankees made Nunez play multiple positions, so he can be super-utility player. He can play every day, but in different positions in order to give the older players rest.

Another player the Yankees are impressed with is somebody who has not gotten enough attention. His name is Brandon Laird and he played third base for the Yankees Double-A affiliate. This season he blasted 25 home runs, giving the Yankees hope he can fill a power spot in their lineup sometime soon.

Signing high-priced veterans would put the Yankees in a cycle which is hard to get out of. All one needs to do is look back to the 2002 and 2003 teams. They were filled with older players and were playoff failures, losing to teams who were more athletic and younger at every position.

This year’s playoff exit happened the same way. The Texas Rangers beat out an aging Yankees team. To continue to compete against teams such as the Rangers and Rays, the Yankees need to continue to infuse young players to complement their aging core.

Youth leads to success and the Yankees should follow that memo this offseason. 

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Why the New York Yankees Should Focus On Re-Signing Andy Pettitte First

Most Yankees fans and media for that matter have focused on one name for the Yankees to target during their annual free-agent bonanza. 

The name should be familiar to every baseball fan by now. His name is Cliff Lee and over the past two seasons he has proven himself to be not only a difference-maker, but a clutch postseason performer. 

Last season after the Phillies acquired Lee in a trade from the Cleveland Indians, there was no looking back. No one would catch the Phillies as it seemed Lee would pitch a complete game almost every time he took the hill. Pitching to an ERA just a shade over one over the course of half a season is impressive, but none more than his history in the postseason.

Lee almost single-handedly took the Phillies to the World Series because of Cole Hamels not performing up to par throughout the season. In game one of the World Series against the Yankees, Lee pitched a complete game while striking out 10 batters. It was complete domination on the part of Lee and it has continued into this postseason.

Lee has become the first pitcher in history to have three, 10 strikeout games in a postseason career. For someone who had to be demoted in order to correct a flaw in his delivery this is impressive stuff.

No wonder the fans are clamoring for Lee, but I for one do not want the Yankees to go after Lee. He is a 32-year-old pitcher and the Yankees are already tied to CC Sabathia for another five seasons and AJ Burnett for three. 

Do you think it would be a good idea to be tied down to three pitchers going into their mid 30s? What is the likelihood of them breaking down over the course of their contract. It is a situation the Yankees should not want to enter.

The Yankees should instead resign someone who would only be looking for a one-year deal, but has proven himself to be Mr. Reliable. His name is Andy Pettitte and he is the most successful pitcher in postseason history. 

This season Pettitte was off to the best season in his career with a record of 11-2 and an ERA a shade below three before injuring his groin. There were many questions concerning how Pettitte would react in the postseason after not pitching for most of the second half. 

Yankees fans should have known better then to doubt Pettitte. In the playoffs he showed why he is the best in history. Against the Twins Pettitte allowed only two runs through seven innings of work and earning the victory.

For the American League Championship series, Pettitte was lined up to be opposed by Cliff Lee. Heading into the matchup, every media member gushed about Lee and thrust Pettitte into the background. 

Did they forget that Pettitte was the Yankees most consistent pitcher this season? Did they forget that Sabathia struggled early and that it was Pettitte holding together the staff with his 38-year-old left arm?

No matter, because once the game began people noticed Pettitte is one of the best performers to step on the mound in the postseason.

Yes, Pettitte gave up the early two-run home run, but surrendered nothing after it. Pettitte learned from his mistake and the Rangers hitters could do nothing against him as the Yankees hitters could do nothing against Lee. 

Pettitte stood toe to toe with the “God-like” Lee, and if not for one pitch the two may still be dueling it out. Unfortunately for the Yankees, they do not have another pitcher like Pettitte and it is the reason they were eliminated in the ALCS.

Pettitte proved himself to be the ace of the Yankees staff this postseason even at an advanced age. Not convincing Pettitte to come back for one last run would be the biggest mistake the Yankees could make this offseason.

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The New York Yankees Lost to the Better Team in the Texas Rangers

There will much discussion in the coming days concerning the New York Yankees’ failing to reach their mission statement of defending their World Series title.

Their mission was no secret; it was even on their manager’s back. Title No. 28. If the Yankees had obtained the World Series victory, then and only then would their season have been considered a success.

Unfortunately for the Yankees, their season is now deemed a failure.

But this should not be the thinking.

The New York Yankees started their season on a hot streak like no other. They blew by teams through the entire month of April, mainly without the contributions of Mark Teixiera and Alex Rodriguez. Even Curtis Granderson was a no-show until the month of August.

This all fed into the belief that this Yankees team was head and shoulders above the competition, which was not the case. Last season, the Yankees were driven by the strength of their pitching staff, while having the resiliency to come from behind and win games behind their offense.

This season, there were not many of those dramatic wins. There was no sense of destiny for these Bombers. On most days, they just resembled the Yankees teams from the early part of this decade: old.

Their captain, Derek Jeter, had a season that showed his age. There is no telling what Jeter will contribute next year, but the Yankees are hoping a man of his great pride will perform to his previous levels.

Jorge Posada cannot be an every day catcher anymore. If people did not see this before the playoffs started, then now, after its completion, they must agree. The Yankees paid for Posada’s horrible defense and throwing arm as teams consistently stole bases off Yankees pitching.

A.J. Burnett pitched some clutch games last season, but this year, he reverted back to his head-case form. The good news for the Yankees is no matter how much he tries, he cannot be worse than he was this season.

Even Alex Rodriguez, the reason they won the championship last season, suffered a drop in production. Two times this season, Rodriguez went through droughts of over 100 at-bats without connecting for a home run. Yet, he was still able to drive in over 100 RBIs, for a bit of good news.

Javier Vazquez, a pitcher the Yankees expected big contributions out of this season, gave them nothing. He proved once again that he cannot pitch in the pressure cooker of N.Y.

With everything that surrounded these Yankees, it is actually a testament to their fortitude as players in going as far as they did. They could have just laid down on many occasions throughout their end-of-season funk, but they instead insisted they would turn it on when needed. 

To their credit, against the Twins, they did everything they needed to in order to win. A tidy three-game sweep over the Twins set them up for a date with the Texas Rangers in the American League Championship Series.

It was there that the Yankees met their match. The stories coming into the series concerned Cliff Lee and how he could dominate the Yankees. Turns out the Yankees shouldn’t have worried so much about him but, instead, the Rangers team as a whole.

The Rangers outplayed them in every facet of the game. They out-pitched them, out-hit them and you can even say out-managed them. The Rangers are younger, more athletic, more potent and have better pitching due to new team president Nolan Ryan.

Ryan made the Rangers staff in his image. He does not believe in pitch counts, and for this reason, the Rangers staff was stronger than the Yankees at this point of the season.

The Yankees season is not a failure by any stroke of the imagination. You cannot buy championships as people routinely complain the Yankees try to do. No, what they instead try to do is make the best team because they have an owner willing to spend the money.

You can bet the Yankees will be big players in free agency this offseason in an effort to get younger and more athletic to close the gap between them and the Rangers and Rays. Their owner would not have it any other way.

It’s unfortunate the Yankees lost, but they lost to the better team in every facet of the game. 

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C.C. Sabathia Will Cause the Yankees To Have a Big Dilemna after Next Season

C.C. Sabathia is the unquestioned ace of the New York Yankees pitching staff, but he could leave for greener pastures after the 2011 season.

Sabathia was the Yankees No. 1 target during their free agent bonanza before the 2009 season began. General Manager Brian Cashman knew the rotation had to be upgraded, and there was no one better than Sabathia available.

Sabathia had won over executives throughout baseball for his willingness to pitch on three days rest for three consecutive starts during the Milwaukee Brewers run towards a playoff berth. Sabathia knew he was going to be a free agent and could have protected his arm from injury, but instead showed the most important thing to his is winning.

Cashman had heard the rumors swirling of Sabathia not wanting to play on the East Coast, preferring instead to stay near his hometown in California. Because of the rumors, Cashman made a last ditch effort to obtain Sabathia’s signature on the dotted line by traveling out to California himself.

It was obvious Cashman was not going to leave Sabathia’s home without a commitment and by offering over $60 million more than any other team, he got his man. However, there was one part of the contract which has not received much attention as of late.

A little clause in Sabathia’s contract allows him to opt-out after his first three years are completed. Sabathia had insisted the clause be put in the contract for him to sign on the dotted line, so Cashman reluctantly did it.

Sabathia had said he wanted the clause just in case his family did not adapt well to N.Y. However, after being the single most important piece to last year’s World Series championship and following it up with a 21-win campaign, Sabathia is in position to make even more money on the open market. 

Through his first two starts of the playoffs, Sabathia has not been dominant, but if he can turn it around and have a few Cliff Lee-like outings, he can see the money floating around him. 

For those who don’t think Sabathia won’t opt-out of a $161 million dollar contract, they should consider these two factors. For starters just look at how fragile the state of pitching is.

This season saw the debut of a flame-throwing rookie phenom named Stephen Strasburg. In his first major league start, Strasburg struck out 14 batters including a stretch of seven in a row. Unfortunately, he only lasted a few more starts before he had to undergo Tommy-John surgery.

Pitching is hard to predict and pitchers never know when their career could end, in which case it makes it important to make as much money as possible during their careers. Secondly there was another famous Yankees player who opted out of a contract which was much bigger than Sabathia’s.

The man in question is Alex Rodriguez. He opted out of a $252 million contract to only sign a contract which was worth almost $50 million more than his previous one.

We will find out soon if Sabathia cares about winning or money more. If he cares about money, we will see him pull an A-Rod, and if it’s winning, then more championships are on the horizon.

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Mariano Rivera: How Long Can He Keep Dominating the Opposition

Mariano Rivera is a 16-year Major League veteran, and at 40 years old he is still dominating hitters in their 20s, but the question is how long can this continue.

Take a look at Rivera’s career, and it’s easy to tell this is a future Hall of Famer on the mound. What he has been able to do while seemingly only throwing one pitch has been incredible. Rivera has a career ERA of 2.23 which accompanies his 559 career saves. 

Rivera has been the rare player who seemingly has gotten better the more he has aged. Take the last three seasons for instance in which he competed at the advanced ages of 38, 39, and 40 years old. In those seasons, he pitched to a 1.40, 1.76, and 1.80 ERA respectively.

Those seasons rank among the best he has pitched in his entire big league career. The reason why is simple: He does not rely on velocity in order to get hitters out. Rivera specializes in making hitters get themselves out because of the movement on his trademark cutter. 

The pitch has such late movement that a hitter knows what is coming but is still helpless in trying to hit against him. Rivera has been especially unhittable in postseason play where he has cemented his Hall of Fame resume.

Rivera has pitched in 90 postseason games, recording 41 saves in 135.2 innings while pitching to a 0.73 ERA. That’s right, Rivera’s postseason ERA is more than two times better than his ERA in the regular season. Against tougher competition, Rivera raises his game to the next level which makes him one of if not the most indispensable Yankees.

However, this season is the last on Rivera’s contract, and the question the Yankees must ask themselves is how long Rivera can keep pitching on the level he has his entire career. There are two comparable players for a pitcher such as Rivera, and they are Greg Maddux and Trevor Hoffman.

Maddux like Rivera did not rely on velocity and instead relied on precision and movement on his pitches. Rivera has pinpoint accuracy and can place the ball anywhere he wants within the zone. If Rivera continues to place the ball wherever he wants without losing movement on his fastball then he can pitch as long as he desires.

The lack in velocity has not seemed to effect him this season as he still broke the same amount of bats he has throughout his career. However, Hoffman is a case where the aging process has obviously taken its toll. 

His fastball has lost so much velocity that there is minimal difference between the fastball and change-up rendering his pitching ineffective. Rivera is a proud man, and he would not want to go out a shade of his former self. 

The decision is all his. As long as Rivera wants to pitch and has his trademark cutter, he will continue his assault at the saves record in a Yankee uniform before delivering his Hall of Fame introduction speech in Cooperstown.

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Jamie Moyer May Perhaps Find Himself in Cooperstown One Day

Jamie Moyer has continued to prove his doubters wrong each and every time he picks up the baseball, but after another surgery his career may just be over.

In the beginning of the season Moyer, 47, had the same amount of wins as perennial Cy-Young contender, Roy Halladay. Moyer and Halladay may have been members of the same team, but they could not have been more different.

Halladay has been blessed with a golden arm, able to touch the mid 90’s on occasion. Moyer on the other hand has never been able to come close to that speed. He has lived his life by throwing in the upper 70’s to low 80’s, speeds that wouldn’t even get him a glance from a Division 1 baseball coach.

However, Moyer has proved to people that it is not how hard you throw, but where. Moyer has won 267 games in his career and even more impressive, more of his wins have come in his 40’s than when he was in his 20’s.

It’s been an improbable journey that may end up taking him to the Hall Of Fame as a pitcher that just didn’t quite fit the mold. It’s for that reason that many kids look up to Moyer.

Many children will have their dreams of playing in the majors end after high school because they “do not throw hard enough.” Many college coaches don’t seem to realize that there’s more to pitching than just throwing hard.

In all fairness, there aren’t many pitchers that can throw in the upper 90’s. Fans love to see pitchers light up the radar gun because it is rare to see. That fact is proven by the amount of media coverage given to Stephen Strasburg, No. 1 pick of the Washington Nationals last year.

ESPN broadcasted three of Strasburg’s starts while the other two were picked up by TBS and the MLB network. Watching a guy pitch with as much velocity as Strasburg can dish out is exciting for everyone, but there are stats that show it doesn’t always equate to success.

Kyle Farnsworth has always had a 100 mph fastball at his disposal meaning most would expect him to be the most dominating pitcher around, but that is not the case. Farnsworth has a career ERA of 4.38, not exactly the mark of a great pitcher.

Then there’s the case of a pitcher losing velocity as he gets older. Randy Johnson had lost his upper 90’s heat by the time he put on his pinstripes and suffered because of it. Johnson could not get batters out with any consistency and was out of baseball within three years.

This year, Johan Santana went through the same type of crisis while pitching for the New York Mets. His fastball averaged 89 mph, down six mph from his prime. It resulted in an up and down year.

Pitchers that throw hard have a tough time adjusting to learning how to pitch. They never had to hit corners and change speeds before thus leading them to be hit hard when age starts to wear on them. Pitchers that never could throw hard may not have as many chances to make their mark as their counterparts, but do have a longer shelf life.

Moyer may not have the wow factor that a power pitcher does, but for many kids dreaming of making it to the big leagues, he is their inspiration that one day they may get a chance.

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New York Yankees Will Once Again Be Big Players in Free Agency

No matter what happens during the 2010 Major League Playoffs, the Yankees will immediately get to work in the offseason to either win a third straight title or try to get back on top after a one year hiatus.

One free agent target most everyone in the industry agrees the Yankees will get their hands on is current Rangers ace Cliff Lee. Lee has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past three seasons and is bolstering his playoff resume with each gem he twirls in October.

In game one of the American Division Series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Lee pitched one of the best games in his career, striking out 10 in a crucial match-up with Rays ace David Price. The Rangers knew if they could win game one then they would have a great chance of winning the series and Lee made sure that was taken care of.

For the Yankees to obtain Lee’s services they better come prepared with a blank check and a willingness to outspend every other team. It has been rumored that Lee prefers to pitch in the Bronx, joining up with his old Indians teammate CC Sabathia, but he will not take a discount to do so.

Another target of the Bombers can be a person who currently plays in the Far East and his name is Yu Darvish. Not much is know about Darvish, but he possesses four quality pitchers to go along with his mid-90s fastball. Darvish is not a free agent meaning he will require the posting fee, ala Matsuzaka, but unlike his predecessor, he may be worth the money.

The Yankees don’t seemingly need anyone to fill out their outfield as all spots are currently occupied. Nick Swisher is signed on for another two seasons, Curtis Granderson, who looked like he would be run out of town, is swinging a hot bat and Brett Gardner surprised many with his breakout season.

However, the Yankees are the Yankees and a run for Carl Crawford is not out of the question. Gardner faded fast down the stretch after a hot start while Granderson is a new man after some mechanical adjustments. 

If the Yankees were to sign Crawford, Gardner would be displaced to the fourth outfielder spot where he is best suited and would give the Yankees a very strong defensive outfield. To make it clear, the Yankees don’t need Crawford, but signing him would make the lineup just that much stronger.

Besides throwing their hat in the ring for Darvish’s and Lee’s services, the Yankees still have a need in the rotation. A.J. Burnett is not quite doing the job in New York and Andy Pettitte will most likely retire, leading to voids in the rotation. The Yankees would be best served looking for rotation fillers such as Hiroki Kuroda or a Jon Garland

Both of these pitchers have the capability of eating up innings while keeping their teams in every game. It is something that neither A.J. Burnett nor Javier Vazquez can seem to master. For the Yankees to continue to try to make a modern day dynasty, they need more pitching.

As the old adage states, you can never have enough pitching.

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