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Masahiro Tanaka Bronx-Bound.
By: Mike Lindsley
The Yankees have signed Rakuten Golden Eagles pitching ace Masahiro Tanaka to a seven-year $155 millioin deal. Here is the breakdown:

The contract: Seven years. $155 million. Opt-out clause after the fourth year. Yanks also have to pay a $20 million posting fee which won't count against the 2014 payroll or luxury tax.

Scouting report: Balanced delivery. Wicked fastballs and a splitter as an out-pitch. Mixes pitches nicely. Throws a fireball dart from a tucked elbow spot.

Why it will work: Tanaka is just 25. That is a plus for an old Yanks team both with position players and the rotation. The Yankee roster is filled with injury question marks from a year ago and a ton of age. Tanaka is perfectly healthy and super young. Finally, Tanaka is what the Yanks need, on paper, a shutdown starter at the front end of the rotation who can give them a chance every fifth day and rest the bullpen.

Why it won't work: Tanaka may be durable and may be 25, but he is really at an age 27 or 28 considering he has thrown thousands upon thousands of pitches since high school. Tanaka tossed 160 pitches in the last Japanese World Series and then demanded more work and took the ball in relief in Game 7. Japanese pitchers have come and gone, been good for a short time and then have dissolved once big league hitters figure out how to hit them. Look at Dice-K, Hideo Nomo and others. Yu Darvish has been excellent for the most part. And the Yanks hope Tanaka can provide at least what Darvish has for Texas.

Prediction: Tanaka is very good in year one, solid in year two and good in year three and elects to opt-out of his contract. The Yanks will then decide if it is worth it to keep him. Hopefully they won't make the mistake of giving him more years and money like they did with CC Sabathia. New York will have to be smarter with their decisions the next few years if they are to get back to the playoffs consistently in the post-Mariano Rivera and Derek Jeter era.


A-Rod Suspended For 2014.
By: Mike Lindsley
Alex Rodriguez has used steroids. We all know it. He knows it, no matter how many ridiculous statements he makes or how many sketchy people he gets involved with. A-Roid, as he is called in funny circles, is a dope. And a doper.

And now an arbitrator has ruled that he is out of the 2014 season, both regular season and postseason, should the Yanks make it to October (good luck with that). Here are five things to take away:

1. A-Rod was guilty from the beginning. Biogenesis proved this. A-Rod proved it. His nut job group proved it. His lies over time proved it.

2. MLB is also full of crooks and bad people. MLB says A-Rod is guilty. Says who? Do we know A-Rod is a liar beyond liars and a drug user? Sure. But somehow, MLB still doesn't have a failed "drug test." Imagine that. The sport that says its own drug testing policy is the best in sports doesn't have a failed physical drug test on the guy they are going after A #1. What a bunch of sorry losers.

3. Derek Jeter, for 2014, you are free.

4. Could be the end for A-Rod. This guy's career could now be over. A year from now, A-Rod will be even older, even more broken down and even more scrutinized by all. He should just walk away.

5. A-Rod is still a Hall of Famer. Yes, this list has the ups and downs, the heads and tails, the black and white. Bottom line is, A-Rod put up the numbers. We don't know how many numbers were based on the PED use. But Rodriguez, like Bonds and Clemens, is a HOF with or without the ROIDS. Put him in. But put him into a wing where the Baseball Hall of Fame can educate baseball fans around the world about steroids. Don't put these scum bags in with the great players of all-time in what is known as "The Great Hall" and shame us all. Put them where they belong. In the cheating wing. But still in the Hall of Fame where they should be in some way, shape or form. MLB will disagree with it despite turning a blind eye to drug use so it could make money after the strike and beyond. And put A-Rod and Bonds and Clemens in and whoever else put up the numbers in.

Damn those idiot baseball writers who know far less about the game than they think they know. This sport is a sham no matter what thanks to the PED use, no closure, Bud Selig, no testing, the HOF voting; Need we go on? And that Hall of Famer-crook-liar-talented son-of-a-gun-since-Seattle Alex Rodriguez leads the way.


The Tanaka Tale.
By: Mike Lindsley
So that was too easy to predict. Masahiro Tanaka is officially posting for MLB clubs to bid on him and will eventually be in the United States, as long as the winning bid, somewhere around $20 million, can negotiate by January 24. What will a big league club get with Tanaka? We can only guess right now because of the unknown of Japanese pitchers, but on paper it looks like this:

The good: Tanaka's stuff is nasty, with control and velocity. His "wipeout slider" is MLB-ready. Many teams will have issues with him in his first two years because he brings such a different look to hitters in what scouts call a stretch delivery very low to the ground. Think high strikeouts. Think not many walks. Think Yu Darvish if things go well. But if they does not happen, what will be the cause? Well...

The bad: From CNNSI.com: Let's examine the rarity of Tanaka's workload. In addition to Tanana, only two other pitchers since 1961 have thrown 1,315 major league innings through age 24: Larry Dierker (1964-71) and Bert Blyleven (1970-75). But what's even more rare is that he carried an unusually high burden as a teenager. At ages 18 and 19 with the Rakuten Eagles, Tanaka threw 359 innings. Only two pitchers in major league history ever threw more innings as a teenager and they did so ages ago: Bob Feller (1936-38) and Pete Schneider (1914-15).

Uh oh. Tanaka has thrown piles of innings as a member of the Rakuten Golden Eagles. Before that? He threw a ton of innings as an 18 and 19-year old. This is a huge risk to give a guy $100 million over five or six years when he could break down any time because of use. Tanaka seems like he has a durable body but he is also wiry.

Prediction: Tanaka signs for $110 million and five or six years with either the Yankees, Dodgers or Cubs.


Robinson Cano To Seattle: The Winners And Losers.
By: Mike Lindsley
Robinson Cano is off to coffee, fish, rain and, yes, the Seattle Mariners. 10 years. $240 million. Here are the winners and losers of the deal:

Winners: Yankees. New York didnít want to give him the years. Plus, even though Cano is as talented as anyone in the game or maybe more so, he doesnít play hard. He is buddies with Alex Rodriguez. He doesnít hit in the postseason. New York wants to get rid of those images on the team. Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury might be injury- prone and struggle in October also, but they do play hard and they are solid defensively, another area the Yanks have to get better in considering their all-time closer Mariano Rivera is gone and the starting pitching is suspect to say the least. Finally, this opens up the door for two more signings. You might be wondering how the Yanks can sign Ellsbury and McCann and resign Hiroki Kuroda and try to get under that $189 million payroll threshold so they donít have to pay a luxury tax. Well, without Rivera on the books and Andy Pettite as well, plus Cano, the Yanks have removed around $51 million. Derek Jeterís option year deal was also less money. And Curtis Granderson is gone. The A-Rod money is still to be determined as he battles along in the Biogenesis scandal.

Other winner: Joe Girardi. Girardi hustled as a player and loves players who hustle for him as a Yankee manager. Girardi once benched Cano because he was so lazy. He wonít have to worry about Cano leaning on just his talent in games anymore.

Losers: Robinson Cano. He is 3,000-plus more miles away from his home in the Dominican Republic. His games are now at 10 PM on the East Coast. No one will watch him based on viewer tonnage unless he plays against the Yanks or Red Sox or even the Mets or Nationals or Cardinals in interleague play. His market value has gone down. He has no protection in the Mís lineup right now. He is in a pitcherís ballpark (the only saving grace there is Cano is an average guy more than a power guy and thanks to his talent he could hit .330-.340 with 22-25 HR instead of .300 with 30-35 HR). He loses the ďYankeeĒ national connection and in Seattle, he isnít even the face of the franchise. Felix Hernandez is. Oh, and the Mariners are behind the Seahawks and Sounders (thatís soccer, America) in popularity. This is an overall horrendous move for Cano.

Other loser: Jay-Z. The guy wrote about New York in a song. He loves the Big Apple. He is part owner of the Brooklyn Nets which makes for great cross-promotion. And he takes his first big sports client, a YANKEE, to Seattle to play? Uh, fail. Who could win and lose: Seattle Mariners. The Mariners will sell more tickets but itís not like they brought in Ken Griffey Jr. at age 25 here. Cano is a great player, but not that much of a draw, nor is he the gameís ultimate best at the plate and in the field it is arguable. The Mariners will also be in the conversation now in terms of getting more free agents to build around Cano in the lineup. But, the Mís also have to deal with 10 years of a contract and paying the guy until age 40 and we know that never works out. Plus, if the team loses and they donít build around Cano and King Felix in the rotation, Cano becomes upset, which makes the agent upset, and then the Jay-Z-Cano team will want out of the Northwest. The Mís, on paper, win and lose NOW, but what will happen in the future to sway it to one side or another is still to be determined.

Why it really happened: New York was never going to give 10 years to Cano. This wasnít about the money (donít listen to the sports talk hosts who say it is about the money ONLY). The money was equal on both sides. $20 million from the Yankees and $24.2 from the Mariners. It was a matter of seven or 10 years. Cano wanted 10. So did Jay-Z. That is why Cano is a Seattle Mariner. Period. End of discussion.


Just Wrong to Sign Jacoby.
By: Mike Lindsley
The New York Yankees have had some bad signings since 2000. Since then, the team has won only one World Series in 2009. And yes, there is a direct correlation to not winning it all or choking in the playoffs or in the case of 2013, not making it at all, with bad signings and not building a team with a farm system underneath it that you can rely on (for farm system success, see: Cardinals, Reds, Rays, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Giants, etc over the last decade-plus). The recent signing of Jacoby Ellsbury will help continue the World Series drought and idiotic make-up of the Yankees. Here is the list of reasons why:

1. Ellsbury has missed 264 games the last four seasons combined. He is anything but durable.

2. Robinson Cano isn't exactly the favorite player of this website, but he is a hell of a lot more durable than Ellsbury. And speaking of Cano, Why exactly pay Ellsbury just under $22 million annually when you might have been able to negotiate Cano down to $22-$25 million per year? The point here is that Cano isn't the ultimate answer. But if Ellsbury is, then Cano looks more like the answer.

3. Ellsbury relies on his lower body like a certain former Met, Jose Reyes. When he gets injured in the lower body area, his whole game suffers. Not good. And when Ellsbury plays unhealthy, the former Red Sox CF doesn't play the field well, which will hurt the Yanks defensively, an area they can ill afford to fail in considering how that pitching staff looks for the next five years.

4. Isn't Brett Gardner a darn good centerfielder? Now the Yanks move him to left and they take away a guy with solid range who not only comes from the farm (yea, that word means nothing to New York), but set an example as a grinder and a worker who stuck with the team. This is just wrong.

5. Ellsbury is 30. A three-year deal maybe would make sense. But the Yanks again overpaid for a player who will be aging badly when he enters years 4-7 on the contract. Just a horrendous move.


McCann Brian Produce For The Yankees?
By: Mike Lindsley
And so here we are again. The Yankees, who missed the playoffs last year and watched Mariano Rivera retire, are at it again. The Yankees, who added old players instead of removing old players in 2013, are at it again.

Catcher Brian McCann is the latest. Five years. $85 million. Vesting option for a sixth year that could push the deal towards $100 million.

McCann is slightly different than say Alfonso Soriano or Vernon Wells or whomever else in terms of age. He is not yet 30. Soriano helped the Yanks but he turns 38 next year and the Yanks had to take on the back side of that contract for 2014. Wells was good for a a month or two and then was a mess.

There are unknowns, goods and bads with this signing, just like many others for the Yanks. Let's look at all of it:

The good: McCann, as mentioned, isn't yet 30. He is in the prime of his career. He has hit at least 20 home runs in each of the last six seasons. That number should reach 30 in the Yankee Stadium air tunnel as he is a lefty. McCann is a good clubhouse guy who brings toughness and competitiveness to a team that needs both. He hit .256 last year with 20 HR and 57 RBI in 102 games. Not exactly Yogi Berra. But Yankee catchers hit a brutal .213 and eight homers in 2013, so even McCann's numbers are an improvement.

The bad: McCann has a solid skill set, but not an overwhelming one. He has already had shoulder surgery. The former Brave's numbers are solid but not great, so he was clearly overpaid by the Yankees. McCann has also been a horrendous 2nd half player the last three years and is for the most part a non-clutch hitter in the playoffs.

The unknowns: McCann could produce and be a good fit, but either way you look at it, it is the Yanks spending again and not shifting the franchise into the re-building mode with the farm system being a priority. What does this say about prospect Gary Sanchez if he is ready for the 2015 season? This is a tough spot for New York though, in defense of management, because the catching position is so bad they had to fix it. We just don't know right now if McCann is the right answer now or for the next few years.

What's next? Was the McCann signing considered a priority over Robinson Cano? It could be. If the Yanks sign Carlos Beltran or Shin-Soo Choo before chasing Cano, you will have your answer. The Yankees likely want Cano back but for no more than $165-200 million and six or seven years. You get the feeling that they are willing to walk away from Cano and spend $200-$300 million elsewhere to build a contender for the next 4-6 years with multiple players who can fill holes all over the baseball diamond.


Syracuse Chiefs Announce Christmas Merchandise Sale
By: Syracuse Chiefs
The Syracuse Chiefs are pleased to announce the team's semi-annual Merchandise Sale, scheduled to take place from Monday, December 2nd to Friday, December 6th, or while supplies last. Chiefs merchandise including baseball equipment, team hats, blankets and stuffed toys, among others, will be available during the sale. In addition, game-used items such as catchers' gear, cleats, batting helmets, warmup clothes and hats are also available for purchase.

The Merchandise Sale will take place in the hallway of the Chiefs' home clubhouse at NBT Bank Stadium from 9:00am to 5:00pm on the selected dates. Fans who attend the sale will also have the opportunity to view the team batting cages and team clubhouse.

"This event will be a great way to interact with the fans and show them some rarely-viewed behind-the-scenes areas", said Chiefs general manager Jason Smorol. "We invite our fans to come get an early start on their holiday shopping!"

For more information on the team's Merchandise Sale, please contact Jeff Irizarry, Manager of Community Relations & Social Media, at jeff@syracusechiefs.com, or via the Chiefs' front office at 315-474-7833.


The New Derek Jeter? Dustin Pedroia, of Course.
By: Mike Lindsley
He has already won three World Series titles in his career, the latest being a 2013 triumph over St. Louis. He is the face of the franchise. He is adored by his fan base in Boston. He plays the infield. His clubhouse presence is followed by all. He was Rookie of the Year in 2007. He gets the big hits and makes the huge plays in the field at the crucial times. He has actually also won an MVP.

Sound familiar?

It should, other than the MVP part. Dustin Pedroia is the new Derek Jeter. Famed franchise. Face of that franchise. Big market. Handles everything the right way. A player your kids can look up to on the diamond. A leader. Clutch. Destined for the Hall of Fame.

Now sure there are some differences. Jeter was really young (26) when he won his gulp, fourth World Series title in 2000. Pedroia has been in the league eight season already and has two titles and is 30. But look at everything else Pedroia does on the field. He makes the big plays and gets the big hits in the biggest situations. He plays hard. Winning is the only thing that matters. In typical Jeter fashion, did you see Pedroia lose his mind in disbelief when Boston lost Game 3 against the Cardinals on an obstruction call? Pedroia was beside himself. He just cannot accept losing. Jeter is the same way.

You link Pedroia with the Red Sox the way Jeter was linked to the Yanks all those years. David Ortiz may give the speeches and swear on the field and capture an MVP in the Fall Classic. But Pedroia is the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox and could be a lifetime player for the franchise. Ortiz started with the Twins.

So while names like Harper and Puig and Trout come along, as well as the young pitching, and we try to see who the next face of baseball will be, maybe he is already here and might just be a little older than those fellas and reside in Beantown and thus we can all save time.

If Derek Jeter was the face of baseball and there is a new face in his prime, well, Dustin Pedroia is that guy. The roll fits. The glove fits. The player fits.

And as a baseball fan, you should be just fine with that.

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