Ryan Braun’s Suspension Overturned

National League MVP Ryan Braun’s 50-game suspension was overturned Thursday by baseball arbitrator Shyam Das. Braun’s case marks the first time a player has successfully won a challenge in their positive drug test.

Braun was due into spring training tomorrow so it will help ease the media attention, at least a bit.

Braun released the following statement following the decision: “I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision,” Braun said in a statement. “It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.

“We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as part of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least three in the past year.”

His attorney T.J. Quinn and Braun questioned the chain of custody and collection procedure. According to one source, the collector, after getting Braun’s sample, was supposed to take the sample to a FedEx Office for shipping. The collector thought FedEx was closed since it was late Saturday and felt the sample wouldn’t get shipped until Monday so he kept it with him over the weekend.

Policy states that the sample is supposed to get to FedEx as soon as possible.

Numerous clean athletes are furious with the latest issue in MLB’s Drug Testing system. Even some offenders of the drug policy are upset over the actions taken by the arbiter.

This will lead to more changes with the drug testing policy, you can be sure on that.


Hall of Famer Gary Carter dies at 57

Gary Carter, the Hall of Fame catcher who helped the New York Mets win the 1986 World Series, died Thursday at age 57. The Carter family used this quote to address the public today.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 pm.,” his daughter Kimmy Bloemers wrote on the family’s website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know. He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus.”

Doctors found four brain tumors last May. After months of chemotherapy and other treatments, doctors believed everything was under control. Sadly, back in January, more tumors were found and this time, could not be treated.

Carter, was an 11-time All Star. He finished his 19-year career with a .262 average, 324 home runs and 1,225 RBIs. In addition, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 after retiring in 1992.

AJ Burnett trade to Pirates “close”

After much speculation on a trade for AJ Burnett, it looks as though it may be finally completed by this weekend. Joel Sherman on the New York Post believes this trade will definitely be completed and Burnett will not be in Yankees camp when all players need to arrive next week.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN New York believes the Yankees will receive 13-15 million in salary relief in this deal. Also, he mentioned the Yankees will recieve grade A level prospects in return.

As a sidenote, ESPN learned that AJ Burnett rejected a trade to the Angels that would have given the Yankees Bobby Abreu. Burnett rejected the deal because his wife is afraid of flying and didn’t want to travel across the country.

Overall, say the Yankees get 14 million back on Burnett’s remaining 33 million dollars, the Pirates will pay 42 percent of his remaining deal. For a pitcher that has back to back seasons with an ERA of five, this is a steal for the Yankees. They will save approximately 7 million for the next two seasons and will use that money to go sign a DH (Ibanez/Damon) and a utility infielder in Eric Chavez.

When camp opens next week if the Yankees have subtracted Burnett and added Ibanez and Chavez, they completed a wonderful offseason.


Yankees Contact Cliff Lee’s Agent

The Yankees wasted no time declaring their interest in Cliff Lee. Free agency officially began at 12:01 am November 7th. At that time, teams could start talking contract details with any player on any team.

Early that morning the Yankees contacted Cliff Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker and told him that the Yankees would present an offer later to the lefty Lee. The Yankees have no other solutions to their pitching woes, so getting Cliff Lee is the ONLY move they can make. Establishing their interest right of the bat, lets Darek and Cliff know, the Yankees really want him. I’ll guess we will have to see what happens down the line.

In other baseball news, Jhonny Peralta signed a two-year, $11.25MM contract, according to an AP report (via ESPN.com).  The contract will also include a third year as an option, and a buy-out. Those terms were not included. Peralta did reject his one year option for the Tigers, but the Tigers were very optimistic they could re-sign Peralta at a discount.

A Yankee for Life

Earlier this week, Damon was placed on waivers by the Detroit Tigers. Within a day the Red Sox put a claim on him and it became Damon’s decision on whether or not to go back to Boston. He was supposed to accept to go to Boston, repair the relationships that were broken, win back the fans and talk about how great the 2004 Championship team was. Instead, it became more about the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry over everything else.

Damon knew all about the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry because he played on the Red Sox from 2002-2005. He led them to a World Series Championship in 2004 and was nicknamed Jesus. Everyone loved him. Then, he left Boston in 2005 and joined the Yankees in ’06. After joining the Yankees in 2006, Damon saw how much the Red Sox fans went from loving him, too hating him, instantly. Jesus became Judas. He realized,  he didn’t want to go through that again. Maybe Damon can’t fix what he did to the Red Sox after leaving them in 2005. Some people say that is why he didn’t go back to Boston. He knew he would have to face the Yankees again and didn’t want to go through the scrutiny of switching teams again. I, on the other hand, don’t believe it.

Damon loved the AL East, but never had any intention of going back to Boston. That is why he included them in his no trade clause. That is one small way of saying, I’m not interested. Damon was hurt after Boston let him go after 2005, believing he couldn’t be an everyday player/outfielder. The team and the fans pushed him out of town, like Boston does with most of it’s older players. It just so happened the Yankees welcomed him and he patrolled the outfield for all 4 years of his contract. The guy even helped them win a World Series in his final season. Once again, Damon was loved and the Yankees and their fans loved him. If it wasn’t for Scott Boras (Damon’s agent), Damon probably would have taken less money to play for the Yankees for one more season(they desperately wanted him). Instead, he signed a cheap one year deal with Detroit. Who knows, maybe World Series #28 would be more apt to occur with Damon. We will never know.

What we do know is Damon couldn’t take the easy move, pack up and head to Boston and hurt the team that loved him, the Yankees. He made sure to decline the Red Sox, who are only 5 games out of a playoff spot, to stay in Detroit who has no chance at the playoffs. He is still hurt by 2005 and did not want his relationship with the Yankees to be broken, like it was when he left Boston. The only difference is, the Red Sox front office wanted to let Damon go, while the Yankees tried so hard to bring him back this season.

By choosing to stay with the Tigers and not go to Boston, Damon chose the Yankees over the Red Sox. If his allegiance wasn’t clear before, it is now.

Grand Change for Granderson

Curtis Granderson was acquired by the Yankees in a trade from the Detroit Tigers last December. He was  the next long term solution in center field for the Yankees since Bernie Williams. Along with patrolling the outfield, Granderson was supposed to bring some power to the Yankees as well, since he hit 30 home runs last year with the Tigers. With the short porch in right field Granderson was seen as someone who might be able to hit 40 home runs this season with the Yankees.

Instead, he has only 10 home runs and a .243 batting average. Not exactly what the Yankees were looking for. Even though the Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long worked with Granderson all season, the results were not seen. Finally, Granderson realized he needed to make some big changes and asked Kevin Long for a “total reformation” of his swing.

Now, while it has been early, Granderson is already seeing results. Granderson is getting hits and seeing the power back in his swing. Now, if the Yankees can just get Granderson to hit lefties (2 for 4 last night) he might be the difference for the Yankees in the playoffs.

If Granderson can provide the average and get on base, he can use his speed to get into scoring position and provide the Yankees with opportunities to score runs. When the average starts turning around, the power will come for Granderson as well and that will definitely help the Yankees when it comes to October.

Maybe then it will be another grand day in New York if the Yankees can win World Series number 28.

Why the Yankees Need Haren

The Diamondbacks seem determined to move ace Dan Haren before his next start on Tuesday, and it appeared as though the Yankees became the favorite. Yes, Dan Haren is no Cliff Lee but Haren is still a solid pitcher. There are a few reasons why the Yankees should go get Haren.

First, Haren is only 29 years old and has a career ERA in the American League of 3.64 going along with 531 strikeouts in three seasons. This proves to the Yankees he can handle the more powerful American League as well as the National League.  While Haren is in the middle of the worst season of his career at 7-8 with a 4.60 ERA the Yankees can provide him with a better defense around him and an offense that will score runs.The Yankees are the leaders in runs and on base percentage in the league. That support could help Haren become a better pitcher in New York. Knowing he will get more runs every time he pitches will let him be able to attacking the strike zone more and be able to challenge pitches.

Second, Haren is owed 33 million in the next 2 1/2 years. Haren’s deal is why the Yankees want to make this move. His contract is reasonable for the next few years and unlike Lee, the Yankees wouldn’t owe Haren a major contract until the end of the 2013 season. Additionally, Haren would give the Yankees a pitcher to replace Javier Vazquez after the season. If Vazquez signed elsewhere the Yankees will receive a first round pick from the team that signs him because Vazquez should be a Type A free agent. Then, if Pettitte does retire, the Yankees would still have Sabathia, Burnett, Haren, Hughes which would still give them the best rotation in the league. Then, who knows, the Yankees could still sign Cliff Lee as well.

Third, adding Haren to the rotation this year would give the Yankees six pitchers once Pettitte returns from injury(which should be soon). When the playoffs come around the Yankees can go with Sabathia, Haren, Pettitte and maybe even Burnett in a four man rotation. That would allow Phil Hughes to go to the bullpen where the Yankees desperately need help. The Yankees would definitely have the best postseason rotation and adding Hughes to a bullpen of Joba and Rivera should be the key to bringing the 28th championship back to New York. So, a trade for a starter like Haren could actually help the bullpen as well, which is the Yankees biggest need.

Finally, getting Haren won’t acquire as much as Lee. The proposed players in the deal are Yankees top triple-A pitchers Ivan Nova and Zach McAllister along with other relievers the Yankees have in their farm system. The Diamondbacks have asked for Joba Chamberlain but the Yankees won’t add him in any deal. Also, the Yankees will be able to keep the top prospect in Jesus Montero which puts them in a great situation. Montero can then be kept as a possible trade chip for another deal down the road, or the Yankees can bring him up and use him to bring more offense to the team.

Now, the only question is, do the Diamondbacks make the trade with the Yankees?