Friday, November 11, 2011

Papelbon to the Phillies

When Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro said that the Phillies were going to be active this off-season, it didn't take him long to make a splash. It was announced today that the Phillies signed former Boston Red Sox closer Johnathan Papelbon to a 4-year $50-Million dollar contract with a vestibg option for a fifth year. In doing so, the Phillies shore up a big hole in their bullpen since former closer Brad Lidge and reliever Ryan Madson are both free agents. 

What do the Phillies get? They get a 30-year old closer who since coming up for the Red Sox in 2005 complied a 23-19 record with a 2.33 ERA in 429.1 innings pitched. Papelbon struck out 509, walked 115 and gave up 322 hits for a WHIP of 1.018. He recorded 219 saves in the ultra competitive American League East and under the scrutiny of some of the most demanding Baseball fans in the league.  Pitching under pressure is something that Papelbon was used to on a daily basis. A pressure that will not subside by playing in Philadelphia. The Phillies rotation has some strong bookends with their vaunted starting rotation and now Papelbon to shut games down.

Considering that Papelbon had expressed his desire to test the free-agent market numerous times, I believe that it's no surprise that he jumped at the offer made by the Phillies. So where does this leave Boston?   

I think (and personally believe) that the Red Sox can adequately replace Papelbon either from within or through free-agency. They have hard throwing Daniel Bard who would be the logical choice to close. They also have Bobby Jenks who can get some saves if he comes back from injury. On the free-agent front, there's a plethora of potential closets such as Francisco Rodriguez, Heath Bell. Joe Nathan, Jonathan Broxton the aforementioned Ryan Madson. 

So don't fret too much Red Sox nation, there's hope that the hole left by Papelbon's departure will be filled soon by new GM Ben Cherington.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Robinson Cano in Taiwan=Rockstar

I was watching the live feed of the MLB All-Stars vs. the Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) National Team on (The MLB Network will replay the game at 9pm) and I have to say that the Taiwanese have really taken to Robinson Cano. You could see a multitude of signs in the stands about Cano everytime the camera panned around. He really has become a fan favorite of the Taiwanese. Cano has been very visible during his short stay in the country while attending a children's hospital, doing media appearances and sightseeing with his teammates. (PHOTO CREDIT: AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Jack Curry of the YES Network has described some of the treatment Cano has received while in Taiwan on his twitter page. Here are some of the tweets by Curry:

Cano wore a T-Shirt emblazoned with Taiwanese flag, which made the fans chanted his name louder. He got rock star treatment and loved it.

Wild scene with Robinson Cano at a night market in Taiwan. 200 people chanted "Ca-no, Ca-no" & followed him around streets, stopping traffic

When Robinson Cano has stood in the on deck circle 2nite, its been akin 2 George Clooney being on the red carpet for a movie premiere

Curry also describes the rock star atmosphere surrounding Cano in his blogpost Cano, like Bieber, becoming a world celebrity.

What I didn't know was that Robinson Cano's father Jose Cano played professional baseball in the Uni-President Lions (1992-94) and the Wei Chuan Dragons (1998-99) in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) and with Jose accompanying his son on this trip, old memories will resurface while new ones are made.

Keep rocking like the rock star that we in New York City already know you are.


For Further Reading
- Click Here to access Jack Curry's blogpost Cano, like Bieber, becoming a world celebrity from the YES Network website dated October 30, 2011
- Click Here to Access Doug Miller's article Hardball in Taiwan a family affair for Canos from the MLB website dated October 31, 2011

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

What a Whirlwind Ride

I have to say that bar-tending has really made it hard from me to blog. Where I would have been jotting down ideas on slow nights prior to tending bar, now I find that my writing has been stunted. Hence why I posts here have been few and far between. So for that I apologize.

Anyhow, what a whirlwind ride for the 2011 World Series Champions the St. Louis Cardinals. Who, including myself, would have made that statement on the day that it was announced that Adam Wrainwright would be sidelined for the entire season due to Tommy John surgery. From the distractions due to Albert Pujols' contract situation to the potential of Tony La Russa not returning as manager (more on that in a bit) the Cardinals' improbable run to the title was every bit a Hollywood story. 

There's even a villain in the form of Nyjer Morgan who while twirling his imaginary mustache under his alter ego of Tony Plush proclaimed to the world that "Alberta" and the Cardinals would be watching the Brewers in the playoffs from the comforts of their houses. Well true believers, this may have been the proverbial straw to break the camel's back. To quote the immortal Popeye the Sailor Man: I've had all I can stand, I can't stands no more!. Indeed.

On August 25th the Cardinals were a whopping 10.5 games back of the Wild Card race. By the time September rolled around, the Cardinals engine was ignited and the team stormed to an 18-8 record winning series after series against such teams as Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Atlanta who they overtook for the Wild Card on the last day of the season leaving the Atlanta Braves dazed and confused. In doing so, what did the NL Wild Card Champs get for their accomplishment? The Cardinals were rewarded with a hefty prize of meeting the (some believed) uncrowned and eventual champions of Baseball: The 5x consecutive NL East Champion Philadelphia Phillies and their vaunted offense and lethal pitching. Lo and behold (as I predicted), the Phillies succumbed to the momentum gaining Clydesdales known as the Cardinals in a five games. In doing so, it set up for the opportunity for payback in the form of a pairing between division rivals Brewers and Cardinals in the type of "high noon" duel seen in the old Wild West days. 

As with professional sports, the one that makes the bold bulletin board statement usually ends up eating them and this time was no exception. The Cardinals lead by "The Big Chill" David Freese and "El Hombre" Albert Pujols put the Brew-Crew on ice, celebrating with some ice cold Buds at Miller Park as they defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in six games to advance against the offensive  juggernaut of the American League: The defending American League Champion Texas Rangers. 

The lawmen from Arlington believed that they sufficiently learned from losing to those Giants from the Bay Area in last season's Fall Classic but little did they know that these plucky little red-birds were up to the challenge. Trading blows for blows, the Cardinals stared into the massive chasm of defeat and took a dive into the darkness, taking the Rangers with them snatching a well deserved victory. The Rangers were left even more astonished than during last year's  World Series. In doing so the National League's royalty has added another title to it's now 11 World Series titles and 18 National League pennants. 

With their victory came the end of the  season and many unanswered questions for the Cardinals. Will Pujols resign. If so, will Freese become the man behind Pujols? Will Wainright return as dominant as he was in 2009 and 2010? Will Berkman be back in Cardinal Red? And the most important one after Pujols: Who will manage the Cardinals next season. 

Yes, future Hall of Famer manager Tony La Russa announced his retirement from managing.  La Russa, won 2,728 regular-season games, including 1,408 with the Cardinals to finish third in all-time wins behind Connie Mack and John McGraw to ride off victorious into sunset of the approaching cold winter that is the Baseball offseason. Well, its colder for the rest of us, since the St. Louis faithful will be kept warm with the memories of 2011.