Yankees vs. Red Sox: Preview of Opening Night

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sabathia beckett headshots.pngThe Yankees and Red Sox will open the 2010 baseball season this evening with a game under the lights at Fenway Park.  It will be televised on ESPN2, while women’s college basketball teams from UConn and Baylor duke it out on ESPN.  That’s a blog post for a different day.  Here’s a look at tonight’s projected starters and lineups:

YANKEES

On the hill: CC Sabathia

The big lefty finished 19-8 last year with a 3.37 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 34 starts, rewarding the Yankees for investing a monstrous contract in him during the 2009 offseason.  He’s the ace of baseball’s most successful franchise and will look to get off to a positive start in 2010.  Sabathia was 3-1 with a 2.22 ERA against the Red Sox last season and held their powerful lineup to a .172 collective batting average.

Lineup:

SS Derek Jeter
DH Nick Johnson
1B Mark Teixeira
3B Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
C Jorge Posada
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
LF Brett Gardner

RED SOX

On the hill: Josh Beckett

Beckett and the Red Sox are inching closer and closer to inking a four-year contract extension thought to be worth around $68 million, or about $17 million annually.  The 29-year-old was 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 199 strikeouts in 2009 and will try to put his value on display this evening against the Yankees.  He struggled against the Bombers last season, allowing 34 hits and 19 earned runs in five starts (32 innings).

Lineup:

LF Jacoby Ellsbury
2B Dustin Pedroia
C Victor Martinez
1B Kevin Youkilis
DH David Ortiz
3B Adrian Beltre
RF J.D. Drew
CF Mike Cameron
SS Marco Scutaro

There’s no shame in getting far too worked up for Opening Day.  It’s silly, sure, but it’s only natural.  The winter is long and rough in a lot of baseball cities and the arrival of the regular season tends to warm the soul, if not the actual ballparks in which over 2,500 games will be played during the next seven months.  Tonight, it all begins with a singular but intriguing matchup between two longtime rivals.  Let’s friggin’ do this.

Report: Teams reluctant to gamble on Cliff Lee

Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cliff Lee throws during the first inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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In Saturday’s column for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo suggests that free agent Cliff Lee is seeking a guaranteed major league deal between $6 and $8 million plus incentives. That is turning some otherwise interested teams away, as the lefty is still recovering from a torn flexor tendon in his left elbow. Lee hasn’t pitched since July 31, 2014.

Last month, Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker said the pitcher would need “a perfect fit” to pitch in 2016. He also noted that Lee has begun a full offseason throwing program.

In his most recent season, Lee compiled a 3.65 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 12 walks in 81 1/3 innings for the Phillies. The Phillies had signed him to a five-year, $120 million contract in December 2010 but declined a club option for the 2016 season, instead buying him out for $12.5 million.

Orioles reconsidering signing Yovani Gallardo

Yovani Gallardo
AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez
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In an article for MASN on Friday, Steve Melewski noted that the Orioles were reluctant to forfeit their first round draft pick (14th overall) in order to sign free agent starter Yovani Gallardo. The club is now reconsidering its stance and rechecking the right-handers medicals, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Gallardo, who turns 30 on February 27, posted a 3.42 ERA with 121 strikeouts and 68 walks over 184 1/3 innings for the Rangers last season. The Rangers had acquired him in a trade with the Brewers, sending Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel, and minor leaguer Marcos Diplan to Milwaukee.

Gallardo has posted an ERA below 4.00 in six of his last seven seasons. He remains unsigned into February, however, because his strikeout rate has rapidly decreased with each year since 2012. Per FanGraphs, that rate was 23.7 percent in 2012, then went to 18.6 percent, 17.9 percent, and 15.3 percent progressively. Some of that may have to do with diminishing fastball velocity, as Gallardo’s 90.4 MPH average marked a career low among his eight full seasons with at least 100 innings pitched.

The Orioles lost starter Wei-Yin Chen, who signed with the Marlins, and the back end of their rotation is highly speculative with Kevin Gausman, Mike Wright, Odrisamer Despaigne, and Tyler Wilson. Adding a veteran like Gallardo, even if he is apparently declining, may be stabilizing.

Freddy Garcia is calling it a career

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Elsa/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez passes along word from the Dominican Republic that right-hander Freddy Garcia will hang up his cleats for good after Sunday’s Caribbean Series championship game.

Garcia will start that game for the Tigres de Aragua out of Venezuela. He’s taking on Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.

“Venezuelan fans are expecting something good from Freddy and so is everybody,” said Tigres de Aragua manager Eddie Perez, who also serves as the bullpen coach for the Atlanta Braves. “Knowing that it’s his last game is going to make it very special. We all hope he pitches a really good game so he can retire in a good way and bring the title for Venezuela. Everybody who is rooting for Venezuela expects him to do well.”

Garcia’s last major league game was in the 2013 postseason. The 39-year-0ld will finish with a 4.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 6.4 K/9 in 2,264 career regular-season innings. He had a 3.26 ERA in 11 playoff starts, winning a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005.

Video: 2016 will be a season to remember

Carlos+Correa+Houston+Astros+v+Arizona+Diamondbacks+Ctyu5RiU3SWl
Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America
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MLB.com put together this very cool video montage reviewing the 2015 season and setting us up for what should be a wild 2016. Young stars, veterans chasing milestones, unpredictable divisional races.

It’s so close to spring training. Let’s do this.