Monday, October 20, 2014

The Yankees Should Get Alexei Ramirez to Play Shortstop

The New York Yankees are in need of a shortstop following the iconic Derek Jeter's retirement from his MLB playing career. Today, I'm arguing that the Yanks should go after Alexei Ramirez to fill that role.  Ramirez is a durable, veteran player whom I think the Yankees may be able to acquire via trade.  He also has good defensive skills and is consistent as an overall baseball player.

In terms of durability, the last time Ramirez played fewer than 156 games in a year was 2009, and his low-water mark for games played in a season during his major league career is 136. That reliability would be good for the oft-injured Yanks, and in my opinion should put Ramirez ahead of less sturdy guys like Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki on the Yankees' list of Jeter replacements.

In addition to playing a lot every season, Alexei Ramirez has also played for seven years in MLB, which gives him plenty of experience.  I think this makes him a better option than other potential trade targets like Didi Gregorius and Jose Ramirez. Gregorius, in fact, has been brought up by at least two blogs as a possible replacement for Mr. November.  While age is a problem for the Yankees (Ramirez is 33), I would rather see them go with a more experienced yet slightly older shortstop so they can contend in 2015.  

I also think Ramirez would be a pretty feasible trade target for the Yankees should they in fact attempt to acquire him.  The Yankees are deep at the catcher, whereas the White Sox have Tyler Flowers and Josh Phegley.  Combine that with the fact that Brendan Kuty of wrote of the ChiSox being "linked" to Francisco Cervelli this season, and maybe it's not too much of a stretch to imagine Ramirez getting flipped for a Yankee catcher and another piece or two.

Of course, the Yankees shouldn't go after Ramirez just because of his ability to stay on the field and because they could conceivably pull off a trade for him.  He's a good baseball player too.  He's got a 9.2 defensive WAR for his career and has been fairly consistent every season in both baseball-reference WAR and fangraphs WAR. So Ramirez certainly has been good so far in MLB, a trend he'd hopefully continue if he were to end up in the Bronx.

Now there are certainly arguments one could make against trading for Alexei Ramirez.  The Yankees could sign a free agent, they could trade for another player instead, or Martin Prado could play shortstop.  But there's a good counter to every one of those rebuttals.  

I think Ramirez is better than many of the free agent shortstops on the market this off-season.  Take a look at this chart ranking 2014 MLB shortstops by their WARs.  

And yes, the Yankees could attempt a trade for, say, Ian Desmond or Alcides Escobar, but would Washington or Kansas City be willing to give up such important pieces of their teams?

There's also the possibility of Martin Prado sliding over to shortstop, a case that Michael Moraitis makes, and makes well, on  But while Prado does have good defensive numbers as a shortstop by at least some metrics, he's only played 108.1 big league innings at the position.  If the Yankees want to contend next season, they might be better off with a shortstop who's got more experience actually playing shortstop.  

The New York Yankees have lots of options to fill their vacant shortstop position in 2015, and they should get Alexei Ramirez to play that spot.  He plays in lots of games every season, has been in the majors for seven years, and I think trading for him would be realistic.  Ramirez is also good on defense and is consistent as a baseball player, making him a great pick to start for the Bronx Bombers next year.

**Note: All statistics and information used in this post came from, except where otherwise noted.  The number of innings Martin Prado played at shortstop was found on and confirmed via

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Sister's College Choice is Changing the College Football Teams that I Follow. Again.

A few months ago, my sister began classes at Penn State as the third and final child in my family to attend college.  She was excited about many things as she prepared to leave, including getting to go to Penn State football games.  

Now she and I spend some time talking about Nittany Lion football and I'm finding myself becoming not so much a fan of Penn State but a slightly bigger fan of Big Ten football.  I've watched the Big Ten Network with my father and checked out the conference's standings on in addition to my talks with my sister. These certainly aren't drastic life changes, but I've definitely tweaked the way I pay attention to sports because of where my sister's going to school.

And changing the college football teams I pay attention to definitely isn't a new phenomenon for me.  As a sophomore in high school I used to scan the bottom line of a sports channel (I can't quite remember which channel it was, but it had to be ESPN, right?) for scores of UPenn, Dartmouth, and Wagner games.  I had friends at each school, some of whom were members of the football teams at their respective colleges.  

Later on, after a four-year football career at Division III McDaniel College, I went to Boston University for graduate school and found myself checking the results of McDaniel's games.  

So maybe I shouldn't be surprised that I've begun to pay more attention to the Big Ten, not after I've made slight changes to the way I follow college football in the past.  I have to admit, though, that I'm nervous about my other sister starting graduate school at Boston College.  You see, Terriers and Eagles typically don't get along, especially when it comes to ice hockey.  I may have a dilemma on my hands.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why an Early Playoff Exit Might Not Be So Bad for the Detriot Tigers

Today the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Detroit Tigers 7-6 to take a 2-0 lead in the American League Division Series (ALDS).  At this point, the Tigers' chances for 2014 aren't looking too good, but I believe that an early exit from this year's postseason might not be such a horrible thing for Detroit and their fans.

The Tigers' bullpen has been terrible so far in the ALDS, giving up 10 earned runs in just 3.2 innings.  Getting knocked out on Sunday or Monday would, particularly if guys like Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria keep giving up runs like crazy, show Dave Dombrowski that the boys in stripes are in need of a serious upgrade when it comes to relief pitching.  

And now would be the perfect time to upgrade the staff.  

The roster of free agent relief pitchers available this off-season is deep, with guys like Luke Gregerson, David Robertson, and Andrew Miller hitting the market.  Signing two or more of the available bullpen arms would be ideal for a team that ranked fourth-worst in reliever ERA among MLB teams this season.  

To free up some payroll space for a few more arms, the Tigers could let free agents-to-be Phil Coke, Torii Hunter, and Joba Chamberlain walk.  Keeping Max Scherzer and Victor Martinez while losing all the less-valuable free agents would, of course, be a dream scenario for the Tigers, so perhaps Detroit will have to let Scherzer walk as well (I think they'll have serious issues offensively if they let V-Mart leave).  Losing Mad Max would be detrimental to the starting rotation, but sometimes you have to give something up to get value in other areas.  

In this case, perhaps relief pitchers giving up runs will result in a valuable future for the Detroit Tigers and their relief pitching.

**Note:  Statistics and information in this post came from, with the total number of earned runs given up by the Tigers bullpen during the ALDS calculated through a combination of and  The list of free agents for the coming off-season came from this Cot's Contracts page.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

A Review of the New York Yankees' Free Agent Pitchers

The off-season has begun for the New York Yankees and the team will soon have to choose players to fill out its 2015 roster.  Today I'm taking a look at the five Yankee pitchers who will be free agents and whether or not Brian Cashman should try to keep them in the Bronx.  

Free agent: Chris Capuano
Position: Starting Pitcher
Re-sign?: No
Capuano pitched relatively well during his time as a Yankee, but I don't think the team should re-sign him to another deal.  He put up a 3.85 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) in his 65.2 innings in pinstripes, which would be the second-best mark of his career over a full season.  He also turns 37 next August. For a youth-challenged, pitching-strong squad, the $2.25 million he made in 2014 could be used to address another area of need, like putting more bats into the lineup.

Free Agent: Rich Hill
Position: Relief Pitcher
Re-sign?: No
Hill's FIP as a Yankee was 2.01, but he's been up and down throughout his career in the majors.  His FIP has ranged from 5.83 with the 2008 Cubs, to 1.52 in just eight innings with Boston in 2011.  The ERA of infinity which he put up with the Angels this season also scares me, even though he allowed just one earned run in two games as a Halo.

Free Agent: Hiroki Kuroda
Position: Starting Pitcher
Re-sign?: Maybe
Kuroda will turn 40 before the next baseball season starts, and despite his consistency over his seven years in the majors (his FIP has ranged from 3.26 to 3.86 during his time with the Dodgers and Yankees), no one can keep producing forever.  I would guess that with Kuroda's age, no teams will want to match his 2014 price tag of $16 million.  If the Yanks believe he can pitch reasonably well next year, they could possibly re-sign him, though they might want to give him something more like $10 million, at most.

Free Agent: Brandon McCarthy
Position: Starting Pitcher
Re-sign?: Yes
Branny Mac, as I like to call him, had the ninth-best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the majors this season among qualifying pitchers.  By comparison, probable Cy Young candidates Corey Kluber and Chris Sale were tenth and eighth, respectively, in strikeout-to-walk ratio. McCarthy also put up the sixth-best MLB ground-out to air-out ratio among qualifiers and had a FIP of 3.22 as a Yankee.  I'm guessing he'll get a raise from the $10.25 million he made in 2014 but still remain less expensive than high-profile free agents like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, making him an attractive buy for a Yankee team already neck-deep in huge contracts and needing another bat.

Free Agent: David Robertson
Position: Relief Pitcher
Re-sign?: Yes
The incumbent closer was consistently good in FIP over his last three seasons as a Yankee, with his 2014 mark of 2.68 being his highest FIP over the last three years.  Re-signing him would ensure one of the two best pieces of a thin bullpen (the Yanks were 12th-worst in bullpen ERA among MLB teams this year) would stay in pinstripes for another season.  The downside of re-signing him, of course, would be that his price will likely go up, though I'm unsure whether the Yankees have any comparable talent in the lower levels of the organization.

**Note-All of the information and statistics in this post came from, with the following exceptions:  All comparisons between players or teams using 2014 stats came from; the list of Yankee free agents came from the following story on