Sunday, March 29, 2015

Podcast 43: A New Season Begins

The first podcast episode of the year looks back at the off-season and Spring Training, and looks ahead to Opening Day.




Leave your comments below or email me at ladybatting@gmail.com with your feedback. You can also hit me up on Twitter at @LadyWriting.

Coming up later this week: 2015 season predictions!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Yankees Spring Training Battles In Home Stretch

With a little more than a week left before Opening Day, Spring Training position battles are entering the home stretch. Right now, of the major competitions, only one appears to have an obvious winner. Another was dropped into someone's lap. The others aren't so clear-cut.

Fifth Starter: Adam Warren is the obvious winner here. He has blown the other candidates out of the water. Congratulations to him.

Backup Catcher: Austin Romine being out of options makes this a tough one. Neither he or John Ryan Murphy have been lighting it up this Spring, and I've heard no rumors that any teams are interested in Romine. My guess is that the job will go to Romine and Murphy will be the starting catcher down at AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

Opening Day Starter: As far as I'm concerned this shouldn't even have been a competition. The Opening Day starter should be the pitcher who had the best season in 2014. That man is Masahiro Tanaka. There was a brief period, however, that both he and CC Sabathia were being considered. That was a complete joke. Go get 'em, Tanaka-san.

Closer: Whether or not there is an actual competition for this job depends on what day it is, it seems. No one knows if there will be one closer or if Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller will share the job. While Miller has been decent, he hasn't exactly pitched like a closer. Betances hasn't even performed like a decent pitcher. The Yankees aren't outwardly worried about Betances, so perhaps he'll be named the closer. However, this one is just too tough to call.

Second Base: When camp opened, the players in the running for this job were Stephen Drew, Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela. A few weeks later the competition ended abruptly when Joe Girardi named Drew the starting 2B. Before his injury, Pirela appeared to be trying to force Girardi to change his mind. Refsnyder's five errors have assured him a spot on the Scranton roster this season.

Relievers: The best relievers this Spring have been Jacob Lindgren, Nick Rumbelow, Justin Wilson, and Chase Whitley. Esmil Rogers, who has been competing for the fifth starter's job, could pitch out of the pen as well. Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin and David Carpenter have been terrible. Shreve, Lindgren and Rumbelow will likely start the season in Scranton. Wilson, Whitley and Rogers have definitely earned spots in the pen. Carpenter and Martin have something to prove their final week in camp.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Why Mo'ne Davis Should Keep Cashing It In

As you've probably heard, the latest person to put their foot in their mouth on social media is a college baseball player, who posted an offensive tweet about Little League World Series star Mo'ne Davis.  Bloomsburg University 1B Joey Casselberry was kicked off his team as a result and, while apologizing, said, "...I am a huge fan of Mo'ne. She was quite an inspiration." Too little, too late.

In the offensive tweet, Casselberry referenced the fact that Disney is planning to make a movie about Davis' life. No doubt, Casselberry is sick of what is being called over-kill when it comes to Davis. He's not the only one who's sick of it. Plenty of people think that the whole Mo'ne Davis phenomenon has gone too far.

I would say the same thing myself except, I know better. It's too bad that a lot of other people don't know better. What everyone has to remember is that Davis plays team sports. She doesn't play tennis like Serena Williams or golf like Michelle Wie.  Women who play individual sports have a longer "shelf life," if you will, when it comes to playing and making money.  On the other hand, if you are a woman who plays a team sport, you pretty much slide into oblivion once you leave college.

Sure, there is the occasional WNBA player who makes a name for herself. Briefly. But for the most part, the fame ends once college is over.

Unless things change, Mo'ne Davis will experience the same thing once she leaves UCONN, or whatever college she ends up attending. You'll hear from her occasionally, but it won't be close to the number of times you hear about a star college basketball player who makes it the NBA.

So, I'm all for her cashing in and making as much money as she can right now.  Just keep right on doing what you're doing, Mo'ne.  Take the money and run.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Book Review: Abused By The Yankees

Remember Paul Priore? He was the clubhouse attendant who accused the New York Yankees of firing him because he is gay and HIV-positive. Priore also accused pitchers Bob Wickman, Jeff Nelson and Mariano Rivera of attempting to sexually assault him with a baseball bat, and Wickman of body-slamming him a number of times. He took the pitchers and the team to court, but walked away empty-handed when the suit was thrown out.

Now Priore has written what he is calling a “tell-all” book, about those alleged events and a whole slew of others he claims happened during his tenure as an assistant to his father, former clubhouse manager Nick Priore.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Sabathia Passes First Test of Spring

CC Sabathia finally made his Spring Training debut last night and, for someone who is no longer considered to be the ace of the staff, his numbers were pretty decent: 2.0 IP, 4H, 2R, 2ER, 0BB, 2K. He threw 31 pitches and, surprisingly, his velocity topped out in the mid-90s.

Most importantly, Sabathia reported no health issues after the appearance. If he continues saying that today, those two innings can definitely be considered a rousing success.

Something about all of this bothers me, however: Despite not being considered as such, CC Sabathia is being treated like the ace of the staff. He is on track to start on Opening Day. That is beyond unfair. A guy who, for all practical purposes, did not pitch last year, and who hasn't had a good year since 2012, should not be thought of as a potential Opening Day starter, not even as a courtesy. The only people who should be on track for Opening Day are Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. That's it.

Of course, I am probably worrying for nothing. Who's to say Sabathia's knee won't blow out before Opening Day? That's a real possibility.

I don't want his knee to blow out before Opening Day. But I don't want him to start that day either.  Hopefully the Yankees will come to their senses.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Theories & Mysteries Surrounding Tommy John Surgery

Though the season has yet to begin, a number of players are already scheduled to go under the knife for Tommy John Surgery this year. The latest victim, of course, is the Mets' Zack Wheeler.

The torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) seems to be aiming to rival such things as the 1918 Flu Pandemic or the Black Death. During those horrors people dropped like flies and no one knew why. Today, pitchers are dropping like flies and no one, it seems, knows why.

There are theories, of course: 1) Pitchers are throwing too much. 2) Pitchers aren't throwing enough. 3) Pitchers threw too much when they were kids. 4) Pitchers didn't throw enough in the minor leagues. 5) Pitchers throw too hard. 6) Pitchers don't throw hard enough. Some of these theories are mentioned here in a very informative article about TJ Surgery.

I guess you have to take these things on a case-by-case basis. When it happens to a young pitcher like the Marlins' Jose Fernandez or the Mets' Wheeler or Matt Harvey, you could say it was a combination of number 4 and 5. Masahiro Tanaka's torn UCL is probably a combination of 1 and 2. He pitched once a week in Japan, then had to get used to pitching every five days in the States.

Then there are the complete mysteries: The Rangers' Yu Darvish and the Yankees' Ivan Nova come to mind. This is definitely not a cut-and-dry issue.

If they haven't already done so, MLB needs to set up a committee to get to the bottom of this. Otherwise, if this continues, we could find ourselves in danger of losing, not just pitchers, but the game itself.