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 Yankees, Mets must avoid Tiger scenario

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PostSubject: Yankees, Mets must avoid Tiger scenario   Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:15 pm

Beware of warning signs
Yankees, Mets must avoid Tiger scenario
By Nick Cafardo
Globe Staff / December 14, 2008

Oddsmakers, fans, and legions of experts declared the Detroit Tigers favorites to win the World Series after they pulled off an eight-player deal at the 2007 winter meetings in which they acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis.

Well, it didn't turn out that way.

In fact, the Tigers' best acquisition turned out to be Armando Galarraga (13-7, 3.73), obtained from the Texas Rangers last February, and not Willis, who spent most of the season in the minors after an injury, as well as a poor performance in eight games (0-2, 9.38 ERA).

Cabrera also got off to a slow start, changed positions (from third base to first), and finished strong, but by that time the Tigers' hopes were shattered. They finished last.

The Tigers are a reminder that sometimes the big splashes don't add up. They were hoodwinked on a deal for Edgar Renteria in which they gave up promising righthanded starter Jair Jurrjens, who went 13-10 with a 3.68 ERA over 188 1/3 innings for the Braves. Kenny Rogers got old. Jeremy Bonderman got hurt. Nate Robertson and Justin Verlander were disappointing, and the team eventually traded a declining Pudge Rodriguez to the Yankees.

A year later at the winter meetings, the Yankees and the Mets made the biggest moves in their respective leagues. Two days after the Yankees signed CC Sabathia to a seven-year, $161 million deal, they agreed to terms with A.J. Burnett on a five-year, $82.5 million deal. It's likely that Derek Lowe and possibly a big-name hitter such as Mark Teixeira or Manny Ramírez are still Yankee targets. The Mets got two top relievers - season save record-holder Francisco Rodriguez, signing him to a three-year, $37 million deal, and J.J. Putz in a trade with the Mariners.

The Mets got the biggest name on the pitching market last season - Johan Santana - and still didn't make the playoffs. The Diamondbacks swung that huge Dan Haren deal with Oakland. No playoffs for them, either.

Are the Yankees with Sabathia and Burnett and the Mets with K-Rod and Putz now considered the favorites, or are they primed for Tiger-like falls?

"The one difference is that the Yankees are loading up on pitching while the Tigers did get Dontrelle, [but] there were still questions about their bullpen and their starting rotation," said one National League executive. "If the Yankees get another guy [Burnett], re-sign Andy Pettitte on top of Sabathia, I'll take my chance that they might be the best team in the American League."

The Mets are thinking that K-Rod, who didn't get the five-year offers he was seeking because of fears his fastball is declining, is their savior with Billy Wagner out for the season after Tommy John surgery. Putz has been up and down because of a sore elbow and there are questions whether he'll be effective as a setup man rather than a closer.

In response to the K-Rod situation, Mets general manager Omar Minaya said, "Yeah, we did look at the fastball . . . [it] was up in September. His fastball is not the same fastball as he had in 2002, but the hitters we've talked to say his changeup is as good as there is in the game. He's been smart enough to make adjustments and he now has different weapons to get you out."

The Yankees should be loaded in the bullpen, loaded in the rotation (after another move or two), and have one of the game's best players in Alex Rodriguez. But they also have a catcher (Jorge Posada) who has to show he can throw again; a second baseman (Robinson Cano) with all the talent in the world who has to produce like it; an aging left fielder (Johnny Damon); a shortstop (Derek Jeter) who doesn't have great range; and an offense that probably needs a little more thump (though they're close to trading for Mike Cameron to be their center fielder).

Minaya still needs a starting pitcher and could re-sign lefthander Oliver Perez or Lowe, and needs a left fielder (could Pat Burrell or even Ramírez be reentering their sights?).

Tigers manager Jim Leyland knows the feeling that comes with failed expectations. He took last season hard. He thought he had a great team entering spring training, but the Tigers turned out to be a dog. They became the highest-paid team ($130 million) to finish last.

What went wrong?

"I don't go back like that," said Leyland. "I don't chew on yesterday's breakfast. I didn't talk about 2006 going into 2007. That's history. We've been through this a thousand times. Everything that could go wrong went wrong. We didn't do a good enough job. Our organization last year was just the opposite of 2006. We had a bad year, which was a surprise.

"We need to get that confidence and professional swagger back, and I think we lost that last year. I think we were asking some people to do things they weren't capable of doing, and I think that's very unfair. We had too many times last year when we didn't hold leads, we let leads get away, and I've always said that's the most discouraging thing that can happen to your ball club, that it just tears your heart out. We got to within four games, and all of a sudden we started losing games from the sixth inning on, lead after lead, and if we would have held half of those, we'd have been in the hunt close to the end. But we didn't."

It was clear that the Yankes and Mets lost their swagger, as well. But both Yankees GM Brian Cashman and Minaya have been proactive. Now we'll see if their teams can avoid being the 2008 Tigers.

Continued with other Boston & NYY team stuff...

Nick Cafardo can be reached at cafardo@globe.com.
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PostSubject: Re: Yankees, Mets must avoid Tiger scenario   Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:17 pm

Great article! I also add that I think we changed too many players and I agree with Cafardo, we "were hoodwinked on a deal for Edgar Renteria"!!!!!


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
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PostSubject: Re: Yankees, Mets must avoid Tiger scenario   Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:46 pm

I hope Yankees and Mets miss the playoffs in 09


Doubt that will happen!
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PostSubject: Re: Yankees, Mets must avoid Tiger scenario   Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:25 am

Yankees spent their money on Free Agents, Tigers got their guys in trades.....
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