Spring training is here.. finally.. can this damn winter of our discontent be at long last over??? The crew tackles topics from motivational speakers in the clubhouse to can palyers be always “on” to how important is baseball compared to dealing with life… as another player succumbs to addiction and then to the guy no one really wants to discuss but there is always soemthing…
SO… let’s hear what the crew’s opining about… right now…
1) Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett gave the Yankees a motivational spring training speech over the weekend. What’s your opinion on motivational speeches for MLB players?
Archie: Not much, especially coming from another venue. I understand that the entire “Professional” sports guys support and help each other in events such as this, however; “What has Garrett won?” How motivated do you get from perennial losers? They finally have a decent year and now he is on the motivational speaking trail or does he have some connection to the Yankees organization that I missed?
And, exactly what are you going to say to a bunch of MLB players in the arena of motivation?
Earl: I’m indifferent. Everyone needs a pep talk from time to time, regardless of what they do for a living, but if the Yankees end up defying expectations this season, will a motivational speech by Jason Garrett really be the reason why? Sounds nice that Garrett came down to Tampa to help light a fire under the Yankees, but it gets a “meh” reaction from me.
Joe: OK… as the HC of the Cowboys Garrett has won 1 division title and coached the Cowboys to a 1-1 record in the playoffs… all in 2014. So, exactly what is he going to say to the Yankee players in terms of motivational stuff about winning? Or, maybe he is gonna go back and talk about his 2 SB rings (1993 and 1995) as a 3rd string backup to Troy Aikman?
The point is… I don’t think he has much to offer in terrms of telling anyone what it means to be a winner. Because, the only winning he has ever done was simply because he was lucky enough to be just good enough to be on a team that won 2 Super Bowls and not for any big contributions from him. So, I think the fac that he came into the Yanks’ locker room was more about Mgr. Joe Girardi being a nice guy and doing his new best bud a nice ego-boosting favor.
Oh, but wait… maybe what he really told the Yankee players was all about how to snooker an owner… like how he did when he snookerd Jerry Jones into giving him a 5 year deal for $30 mil to be the Cowboys’ HC.
Steve: It is what it is. I mean these guys are getting paid millions of dollars to play Baseball. What do you honestly need to motivate yourself to go out there and play hard. When I was growing up and playing Baseball, I never thought much of a coach giving motivational speeches. I was fine with the whole, go out there, give it your all, and have fun. That was all I needed. Why Jason Garrett was giving a motivational speech? I couldn’t answer that question.
2) Recently Jon Lester said the following: “You can’t go into a batting practice and just get through it. I’m trying to get those guys out regardless if it’s BP or those guys are my teammates or it’s a game. I’m trying to execute my pitches. I’m not going to just lob balls in and let them hit. It’s called pitchers BP for a reason. They get to hit the easy pitches later (off coaches) and see how far they can hit it. I’m trying to get guys out and get better. For me, I’m either all in or all out, there is no in-between.”
What do you think of Lester’s attitude? Can there be any “in-between” or is Lester’s “all in or all out” the best way for a player to approach the game?
Archie: At his level I can see where the intent defines the practice. In other words, why go out there just to see if he can get it over the plate? It is his “stuff” that gets players/batters out and not whether or not the batter’s having a bad day. IF HE is asked to throw BP in lieu of one of the coaches and he is asked just to “lob” them over so that the batter can see different arm angles that is one thing but for him to go out and throw BP so he can see where HE stands as far as being effective against ML talent, that is totally different and matches his statement clearly.
Earl: I like Lester’s approach to it. By going up there and just lobbing balls, is he really getting any work in? Are his fellow Cubbies really getting anything out of him lobbing balls? Or is Lester going out there and just doing his thing more helpful? I got to think that Lester going out there and performing as close to game situations as possible is more beneficial to him and the hitters on the team. They’re both learning.
Sometimes, I think, a player needs to understand that maybe he needs to see that its just a practice and maybe time to just work on getting stuff fine tunjed and leave it at that.
Steve: You have to, as a pitcher myself, go out there every time and give it your all. Some days you will have it, others you will not. But whether you go out there and pitch a complete game shutout, or give up 6 runs in the first inning. If you go out there and give it everything you have, you have nothing to be ashamed of. I love Lester’s attitude.
3) Been trying to avoid the question, but, I guess it does need to be asked… Do you expect Alex Rodriguez to finish the 2015 season with the Yankees or even be in MLB?
Archie: Well, I don’t see any buyers lining up to acquire about his availability. And, I don’t see where the Yankees are willing to put him on the shelf if he can produce even 75% of his previous offense. So, I would say that he will make it beyond the trade deadline with the Yankees and to the end of the season if he is productive.
Earl: If I have said it once, I’ve said it a million times: if I were the New York Yankees, I’d give him his money, and show him the door. I don’t think the Yankees really need the spectacle that is Alex Rodriguez. The organization doesn’t seem to want him around, so I don’t get why they just don’t pay him his money and let him walk. They’d be doing themselves and Major League Baseball the favor.
Joe: I think the Yanks are hoping that Rodríguez can see during spring training that he no longer can play the game well enough to even be a backup player and come to the realization it would be in his best interests to ask for a buyout that even the Players Union could endorse. Which frankly would be out of character for the MLBPA but in this situation they probably want to end this charade as much as the Yanks and MLB, so, they just might make an exception and allow a buyout to happen.
The next best thing is that somehow he is determined to be medically unable to play the game and is permanently disabled. Insurance steps in and pays out a big part of the $61 mil he is owed and he is out of baseball.
Not sure that happens but it could.
The bottom line… as GM Brian Cashman has said: He is on the roster; he has a contract…
So, the Yanks will need to cut him and pay him his money… which most reports say principal owner Hal Steinbrenner does not want to do… or… he stays on the team and gets his money and eats up a valuable roster spot.
He is not getting traded to any other team because what team would give up anything unless he can play and then the Yanks would still need to eat a big part of the salary. And, if he can play then the Yanks would keep him any way regardless of the salary.
The bottom-bottom line… he is a Yankee at the end of the season.
And F— Alex Rodriguez, that’s all I have to say.
4) A lot of folks seem to be of the opinion that the Washington Nationals are the favorite to win the ring in 2015… do they have any weak spots that could seriously prevent that from happening?
Archie: They have a great group of starting pitchers and a solid back end of the game finishers. The middle will feature guys that were among some of the best last year in Stammen and Clippard. I have still not heard of the status of their closer from ’14 as what the Nats have done with Soriano but I expect them to exercise their option for the ’15 season and bring him back for one more. That would put Stammen, Storen and Clippard all towards the back part of the game setting up for Soriano. That is tough duty for teams looking to score late.
As far as offense goes, I don’t see many gaps or shortages there as well. Danny Espinosa is not a threat with the bat and will probably be the 8 hole hitter when in the lineup but his playing time may be limited IF they can convert Yunel Escobar to second base. The Nationals let Adam LaRoche walk away after 4 years and they hope to fill his shoes with Tyler Moore. Moore has a lot of potential and is a powerful hitter. The main downside with Moore will show if he continues to struggle getting on base or making contact. In the 3 previous seasons with limited playing time he has struggled at times with OBP. IF he can prove he belongs in that lineup and provides some pop for the Nats then they certainly on paper look to be the favorites to win the East and play for the NL Championship. It is way too early to discount what a few of the other teams have done during the offseason and claim they are the #1 contender over everyone this year.
I can see why people want to go with the Nationals but I’m not so sure they will do anything more than win the NL East.
Health could be one reason… too many key players… especially pitchers… get hurt and the season could go into the crapper in a hurry.
Another reason… they start believing in their press a little too much. Still got to play the games and sometimes the best team does not always win. Ask the 1960 Yankees or the 1969 Orioles about that.
Maybe add a middle reliever, but, Washington should win the National League, and, they are my pick to win the World Series.
5) It appears Josh Hamilton has suffered another relapse with cocaine and alcohol… a friend and mentor has suggested that “When you’ve been given three, four and five chances, and, it’s still not working, it’s best to say, ‘This is it.’ His life isn’t over, but his baseball career should be.”
Do you agree with that assessment?
Archie: It is truly a shame that MLB, and other sports as well, do not look as harsh at someone with this type of addiction as they would someone using Steroids. IMO they are on a more self-destruct path with the combination of alcohol and cocaine then they ever would be with steroids. And while I DO see a difference in the outlook that MLB takes in the two differences; one being it is only a self-destruct mechanism and the other is cheating; the fact that BOTH are against the rules and therefore BOTH should carry equally stiffer penalties for repeat offenders.
IT used to burn my ass that Darryl Strawberry playing in the Mecca that was New York was given chance after chance to rehabilitate but continued to flaunt his alcohol and cocaine abuse in the face of MLB. Also, that abuse led to physical abuse towards his spouse that led to divorce with his first wife. But yet MLB allowed him to keep coming back. NEVER did he serve a 162 game suspension but his crime was actually far greater than A-Rod or Manny ever created.
IMO if MLB or someone does not step in and force Hamilton into a true rehab as well as a clean program following he will be through after this year.
Earl: Reluctantly I agree. Josh is battling a demon. It’s a demon many of us thought he already slayed, but it appears his fight against addiction wasn’t over. It might be best for Josh to step away from the game and get himself back in order. Getting away from the media scrutiny and the pressures of the game might be the best thing for him.
Joe: 100 % The man is an addict and needs to completely devote his attention to getting sober. Eveything else needs to take a back seat. Hate to sound overly dramatic here, but, it seriously could mean his life.
Baseball is just not that important. He needs to bury his ego and face reality… he is ruled by an obessession with booze and dope and needs to find a way to be rid of/deal with that obssession or he will obsess his ass into a gutter on skid row or into a grave.
Steve: You know, I don’t know about this one. I always think that people deserve a second chance, and for Hamilton, he did get a second chance, and some. I look at it this way, he bounced back once, and earned an MVP, I think he can do it again. The man just needs to get his head right. But I don’t think we have seen the end of Josh Hamilton.
Editors Note: From ESPN.com (3/5)… The decision about whether Los Angeles Angels left fielder Josh Hamilton should enter rehabilitation will be made by an arbitrator after a four-person disciplinary committee deadlocked, a source told the Los Angeles Times. Hamilton suffered a drug relapse involving the use of cocaine and alcohol in the offseason, according to an ESPN source and media reports, and met last week with Major League Baseball officials in New York.
The commissioner’s office and the MLB Players Association each appointed a lawyer and a physician to the committee, which determines whether the drug policy was violated and a course of treatment, according to the Times report.
The committee deadlocked on the course of treatment, necessitating the involvement of the arbitrator, the source told the Times.
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