Detroit Red Wings

Signed: Yankees Get Their Miller

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Andrew Miller’s career looked like it was over. The former 6th overall pick (Detroit) in the 2006 draft was derailed by injuries and ineffectivness. Then things suddenly turned around him for as a lefty specialist with the Boston Red Sox in 2012. It paid off for him today. The YES Network’s Jack Curry reported that the New York Yankees and Miller agreed on a four-year, $36MM contract.

The Yankees did not want to go to four years, but compromised once they were able to reduce the yearly average. Miller had reportedly been seeking $10MM per season. The Yankees have struggled to find a consistent left-hander out of the pen for the last decade. Guys like Boone Logan had some good streaks, but would often fail at the worst possible time.

Miller’s bust out season saw him strike out 11.4 batters per nine innings. He appeared in just 37 games in 2013 due to foot surgery, but saw his Ks/nine innings increase to 14.1. Last season, with Boston and Baltimore, he set personal bests with 62.1 IP, 14.9 Ks/nine innings, and a 0.802 WHIP. Good timing for a great contract.

Even with Miller signed, the Yankee cannot leave their bullpen as is. The team had a superb 1-2 punch at the back end of games last year as Dellin Betances emerged as a power right-handed set up man and David Robertson excelled as the closer that replaced Mariano Rivera. Robertson, as of this writing, is an unsigned free agent. Miller’s acquisition will strengthen the bullpen, but only if they resign Robertson or an equivalent. It would be a huge mistake to turn away Robertson if he wants four years after giving Miller four years, even if it’s likely to cost the Yankees an additional $50-$52MM.

Despite Miller’s numbers, Robertson is the better pitcher and it shouldn’t be assumed that Betances can step into the closer’s role.

 

Superman is Alive and well and living in Detroit

Up, up, and away!

Up, up, and away!

by Designated For Assignment Staff

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s……Ezequiel Carrera.

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The New York Yankees beat the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in the opener of a four-game series at Yankee Stadium Monday night, but it could have been an early blowout if not for Carrera. With the bases loaded and no one out in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Yankees’ Jacoby Ellsbury hit a drive to deep centerfield.

Carrera, playing shallow, raced back and took off like the caped Kryptonian…or at least, Jim Edmonds. The centerfielder snared the baseball and held on as he came in for a heavy landing. What could have been a three-run triple, possibly even an inside-the-park grand slam, turned into a sacrifice fly.

The Yankees eventually got a second run in the inning before second baseman Ian Kisler robbed Chase Headley of another run and ended the frame.

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NHL Playoffs: Bruins vs. Red Wings

Tuukka Rask Bruins 2014 favorites

Tuukka Rask has proven he can handle a heavy workload this season and seeks to avenge last year’s Stanley Cup finals loss.

by Christopher Wenrich

After savoring their Stanley Cup victory in 2011, the Boston Bruins experienced the bitterness of defeat at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013.  Once again, the Bruins are among the heavy favorites to win the Cup.

Boston Bruins
258 goals for (3rd)
171 goals against (2nd)
21.7 PP% (3rd)
83.6 PK% (8th)

The Bruins are strong in every aspect of the game and should be heavy favorites over the Red Wings.  Goaltender Tuukka Rask was spectacular this season, sporting a 36-15-6 record and a 2.04 GAA (4th), .930 SV% and a league-leading seven shutouts.  Rask is arguably the best goaltender in the National Hockey League and demonstrated this season that he can handle a heavy workload.

Having Zdeno Chara in front his a huge asset to Rask.  Chara’s reach is known to cause havoc in the passing lanes and disrupt scoring chances, but his offensive game should not be overlooked, as he tallied 40 points in 77 games.  The Bruins acquired Andrej Meszaros from the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline.  At the time, Meszaros was returning to his old form and he posted five points in 14 games with the Bruins.  Youngster Torey Krug also had a productive season, posting 40 points in 77 games.

Up front, Milan Lucic rebounded from a disappointing 2012-2013 season in which he registered 27 points in 46 games and a +8 rating.  In 2013-2014, Lucic notched 59 points and a +30 rating while scoring on 15.7% of his shots (he scored on only 8.9% last season).  Jarome Iginla was also productive with 61 points in 78 games in the 12th 30-goal season of his career.  Iginla’s 61 points was third among the Bruins and trailed only David Krejci (69) and Patrice Bergeron (62).

Aside from Rask in goal, Bergeron may be the key to the Bruins’ success.  In addition to Bergeron’s 62 points and +38 rating, he led the NHL in faceoff wins (1,015) and was third in faceoff percentage (58.6%).  Bergeron’s superb two-way play is a vital component to the Bruins’ success.

Detroit Red Wings
217 goals for (16th)
221 goals against (16th)
17.7 PP% (18th)
83.0 PK% (12th)

The NHL’s realignment plan brought the Red Wings to the Eastern Conference and they are heavy underdogs in their series with the Bruins.  Daniel Alfredsson led the team in scoring with 49 points in 68 games.  Defenseman Niklas Kronwall also had 49 points (78 games).  A defenseman leading or tied for the team lead in points is not a regular occurrence.  Prior to Erik Karlsson and Shea Weber this season, and Weber last season, the last defenseman to lead their team in scoring was the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Dick Tarnstrom in 2003-2004.

Pavel Datsyuk had 37 points in 45 games this season.  The 35-year-old Russian may not have the ability to post Crosby-like numbers, but very few play the game better than Datsyuk.  He still has the ability to control the tempo of a game with the puck and the to take the puck away from others.  Despite appearing in only 45 games, Datsyuk ranked 15th among forwards with 59 takeaways; Ryan O’Reilly (Colorado Avalanche) led the NHL with 83 takeaways in 80 games.

Although the Red Wings’ NHL rankings may look unimpressive, they are not a team to be underestimated.  In addition to Datsyuk’s injury, Henrik Zetterberg was limited to 45 games and Johan Franzen appeared in 54 contests.  Zetterberg is still recovering from a bad back and skated for the first time in over month on Thursday.  His status for the series is unknown.  For the Red Wings to have any realistic chance of defeating the Bruins, Datsyuk will need to be on top of his game.  Dastsyuk had 21 points in 19 wins this season, but only 16 points in 26 losses.  If Datsyuk and Franzen can generate some offense and not fall too far behind in the series before Zetterberg returns, the Red Wings may have a shot at pulling off the upset.

Christopher Wenrich is a contributor for Designated For Assignment.  Follow him on Twitter (@DuggerSports).