All your favorite MLB writers and analysts and managers and more talk about the awesomeness of Babe Ruth. Enjoy.
Via Andrew Marchand, Mariano Rivera praised just about everything you could possibly praise about the soon to be 20-year-old Manny Banuelos. “I like everything about him,” said Rivera. “The makeup and how he keeps his composure. I notice situations and how you react in situations. Where you make your pitches in tough situations, where you spot your pitches, he has the ability to do that.” Considering the source, this put a smile on my face. “If [Mariano] says that, maybe it is real,” responded Banuelos, who will celebrate his birthday on Sunday.
“Stay humble, stay within yourself, God will take care of the rest,” said Rivera when asked about what he’s told Banuelos. “You don’t try to put that junk in your mind because that will hurt you.” Amen brother.
The latest from Tampa…
- The Yankees are playing the Pirates tonight, but the game isn’t on television anywhere. Rafael Soriano is scheduled to pitch, and Eduardo Nunez will come off the bench to play the outfield. That’s interesting. (Erik Boland & Chad Jennings)
- Mariano Rivera threw live batting practice for the first time today, and could make his Grapefruit League debut on Friday. (George King)
- “There’s nothing hot,” said Brian Cashman about the pitching market. “I’ve got nothing going on. Zero.” Both Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon can opt out of their contracts if they don’t make the team out of Spring Training, though Colon has expressed an interest in being the longman if he doesn’t crack the rotation. No word on whether or not Garcia is willing to do the same. (all Marc Carig)
- The Yankees brain trust and the beat writers played their annual game of paintball, so Chad Jennings held us over with a look inside the GMS Field clubhouse. Sounds rather big. The team officials topped the beat writers 4-1. You’re letting us down, fellas. (Yankees PR Dept. & Mark Feinsand)
Here’s the open thread for the evening. MLB Network has the Orioles-Red Sox game (live) while SNY is carrying a replay of today’s Mets-Astros game. The Rangers, Knicks, and Nets are all in action at different times as well. Enjoy.
Mark Teixeira hasn’t played for the Rangers since the middle of the 2007 season, but he still owns a pro athlete-sized house in the Dallas area simply because he can’t sell the place. The house was listed at $5.75M but has since dropped to $4M, but Tex still can’t find a taker. We’re in a recession, you know. In the meantime, he’s renting the place out to New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton for $15,000 a month. I know nothing of multi-million dollar mansions, but that strikes me as a bargain considering what one bedrooms go for in the city these days.
Aside from the whole fifth starter competition, the storyline of the spring has been the Yankees’ young arms. You can’t find anyone that doesn’t love Manny Banuelos, and Dellin Betances has wowed everyone with a high-octane fastball and a knee-buckling curveball. Danny Wild of MLB.com caught up with the right-hander, asking him about his elbow surgery, whether he prefers starting or relieving, his upbringing, the whole nine.
Meanwhile, Aris Sakellaridis spoke to two of Dellin’s brothers, who recapped their meetings with Yankees adviser Ray Negron and chairman Hal Steinbrenner. As you can imagine, reaching the big leagues is a dream that Betances shares with his entire New York born and raised family. Make sure you check both pieces out, some great stuff in there.
There was a bit of a hoopla last night into this morning regarding the Yankees and Aroldis Chapman. Word was that the Yankees made him an offer significantly larger than the one, but Brian Cashman debunked that. Still, you have to wonder what the situation would have been if Chapman had signed. Mike and I dive into the topic.
The Yankees plan to play Eduardo Nunez in left field tonight during the later innings. What does this say about his chances to make the team?
Podcast run time 27:44
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Last week, while eulogizing Duke Snider, Joe Posnanski broke down the Hall of Fame by position. His main point centered on the lack of center fielders elected, but in the process he noted that there are just as few third baseman in the Hall. That might seem odd at first, but a glance at the career bWAR leader board for third baseman makes it a bit clearer. There just don’t seem to be many overly encouraging third basemen on the list.
Or are there? Yesterday Beyond the Boxscore’s Adam Darowski looked at Hall of Fame third basemen in a different way. Instead of using straight WAR he used what he terms weighted WAR. That is, it places a greater emphasis on seasons in which the player produced 3 or more WAR, and even greater emphasis still on seasons with 6 or more WAR. He suggests that , based on this view, a number of other third basemen deserve enshrinement. That led me to wonder where Alex Rodriguez stood among them.
Figuring out A-Rod‘s case is a clean job, since he moved to third base in 2004 and hasn’t moved around since. During his shortstop years he produced 61 bWAR, which ranks 11th all-time among players with at least 75 percent of their games at shortstop. And that’s just the first nine years of his career. In the following seven seasons he has produced 40.9 WAR at third base, which puts him 18th, just behind Adrian Beltre. I asked Darowski about his wWAR, and said it was 67.4, which, if we look at his chart, places him on this list. A 1.6 WAR season, says Darowski, will put him within his wWAR cutoff. A 5.1 WAR season will put him ahead of Robin Ventura in wWAR.
If numbers with aggressive acronyms don’t do it for you, here’s another accomplishment A-Rod is nearing. If he hits 32 home runs this season he will have 300 since he moved to third base. There are only 10 third basemen in history with 300 or more home runs. None of them, of course, has 300 home runs as a shortstop. In fact, the only player in major league history with more than 300 home runs, with 80 percent of his games coming at the position, is Miguel Tejada, who has 300 exactly. A-Rod had 345 before 2003.
(After I finished this, Adam wrote up shortstops using wWAR. His 182.3 career wWAR destroys all non-Schmidt third basemen and non-Wagner shortstops.)
For some people we’re prone to exaggeration. Chuck Norris is a bearded Superman. Matt Wieters is the Hulk with a baseball bat. That need not be the case with Alex Rodriguez. The facts are mind-blowing on their own.