February 28, 2010

Join the Yankees Universe

I was just browsing Yankees.com and found the Yankees official fan club, Yankees Universe, has a new deal for 2010.

I’m strongly considering the Pinstripes Pack. Just for the tour and the next generation Gameday and audio experience.

Pinstripes Pack ($99.99)
- 2009 World Series DVD
- Yankees Cap
- Yankees Mug
- Portable Speakers
- Yankee Stadium Tour
- Flash Drive with exclusive content
- 2010 Membership Card
- New York Yankees Sticker
- Next generation Gameday and audio experience
- 10% discount at Yankees Clubhouse Shops located in Manhattan
- Special online yankees.com shop discounts throughout the season
- Access to members-only section with exclusive content
- Fast track entrance at Yankee Stadium, Gate 2
- Fast-track entrance at Yankees Museum presented by Bank of America
- A portion of all proceeds donated to Memorial Sloan Kettering

Ramirez DFA’d to make room for Park

The Chan Ho Park signing became official today, as the Yankees designated RP Edwar Ramirez for assignment.

Park will make $1.2 million this year as a reliever. I’d like to repeat, the “Yankees view him strictly as a reliever.”

Park had success with the Phillies as a reliever last year, but was unwatchable as a starter. There’s no need in trying out Park when the Yankees already have guys like Chad Gaudin, Alfredo Aceves, or even the loser of the Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain battle.

That’s it, that’s all. You will NOT see Park throw out the first pitch in a ballgame this year.

At least I hope not.

P.S.: Park has some beard shaving to do. I’ll post a pic when I see one.

February 27, 2010

Spring rotation set through March 13

Today, Joe Girardi announced the spring training rotation for the first 11 games. Check out the schedule here.

It’s great to see Girardi has paired Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain to pitch in the same games: March 5 vs. Rays and March 10 at Tigers. It doesn’t completely even the playing field, because the lineups they’ll be facing will be changing mid-game as well. Still, it’s the best Girardi can do.

Also note the team is taking it slow with Andy Pettitte because he pitched a lot last year and the extra month of postseason. I’m glad they’re being cautious with him, but I’m not too worried about the lefty. He’s a bulldog.

He’s scheduled to throw a simulated game on March 7 and will face the Nationals on March 12 in his first real game.

Cashman: Hoffmann’s spot is ‘his to lose’

Headline says it all, according to Chad Jennings.

I was surprised by Brian Cashman’s statement. The Yankees have a few outfielders vying for a spot on the roster, and I thought Jamie Hoffmann was last on that list.

The outfielders with a 99.9 percent chance of making the team are Cutis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Brett Gardner. Those three, plus a 12-man pitching staff, two catchers, the rest of the starting infield, a backup (Ramiro Pena most likely) and Nick Johnson, leaves two spots left on the 25-man roster.

Randy Winn
Marcus Thames

Winn is an obvious pick for me, but it’s a coin flip between Hoffmann and Thames for the final spot. Hoffmann has better defense, Thames has more power and experience.

You could also make the argument for Juan Miranda (1B/DH) for the final spot. He might be the best hitter of the bunch, but he’d be third or fourth on the depth chart for first base (so he’s probably not the guy).

Check out this post for a breakdown of some of the high-up minor league outfielders that could see time in the Yankee outfield.

February 26, 2010

Yanks should be taking care of Jeter

When the Yankees drafted Derek Jeter in 1992, the organization hadn’t won a World Series since the magical 1978 season. When he made it to the bigs, he delivered a championship. And then another. And another. And one more just for good measure, earning him a 10-year deal.

It took him the rest of the decade to get his fifth ring, but he did do it. Now he’s entering the final year of his contract, and the Yankees are saying they aren’t going to talk to him until after the season.

In Jeter’s press conference on Wednesday, he said he signed the long-term deal in 2001 just so he wouldn’t have to deal with being a free agent. Translation: he likes having job security.

If I’m Brian Cashman, I’m handing Jeter a blank check tomorrow and a three-year extension would be announced on Monday. Enough said.

Jeter’s milestones & more

Bill Chuck of the NY Times posted a nice article this morning that outlined nine Yankee milestones Derek Jeter will approach in 2010.

I think the coolest milestone might be stolen bases. He’s only 21 steals behind Rickey Henderson for the all-time Yankee lead. Will he get it this year? I think so.

For more milestones on Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Mariano Rivera and Andy Pettitte, check out my post from last month.

February 25, 2010

Jeter & A-Rod greet the press

Yesterday it was Derek Jeter. We already knew the Yankees weren’t going to negotiate a new contract with him until after the season. We also already knew the Yankees are the only team he’ll ever play for. Today, Alex Rodriguez offered a little more newsworthy stuff.

Compared to last year’s steroid cloud, today’s talk with the press was nothing. He said that admitting to using performance enhancers was a big step for him, and I think we all know how much of a difference it made in 2009.

“Now that you taste it, you just want to keep doing it again,” Rodriguez said. “There's no question for me that it wasn't a monkey, it was a humongous gorilla that came off my back. And I felt that.”

He dealt with steroids and a hip injury, but overcame it and won a World Series. Now that A-Rod doesn’t have anything to overcome, will he still have the motivation to win again? It sounds like it.

“It becomes an addiction,” Rodriguez said. "You just want to keep winning.”

But actions are louder than words.

February 24, 2010

Cash says Granderson is the center fielder

Brian Cashman talked about the outfield situation on Sirius XM yesterday and gave more than just a hint as to how the outfield was going to look (via River Ave. Blues).

So we have [Nick] Swisher in right, Granderson in center and Gardner, assuming he holds it down and wins it, will be in left.

But Granderson’s our center fielder. He’s an above average center fielder and that’s why we acquired him.

I’m not marking it down just yet though. That’s not Cashman’s decision. It’s Joe Girardi’s.

At this point, however, I agree with Cashman.

February 23, 2010

Cano can hit in the clutch

I know last year Robinson Cano wasn’t productive with runners in scoring position last year, as evidenced by a .207 BA, but I don’t think he’s un-clutch. I think Joe Girardi summed it up best:

“There was a streak when he had made about 10 or 11 outs in a row with runners in scoring position, and he hit nine bullets,” Girardi said. “Over the long term that usually irons itself out, but when you don’t have 600,000 at-bats, it doesn’t iron out. His at-bats, a lot of times were very good with runners in scoring position. I didn’t think he had a lot of luck last year” – via Chad Jennings

He might be exaggerating a little there, but still, it was just one season. Look at his numbers before last year with runners in scoring position.

2006: .306 BA/.335 OBP/.500 SLG
2007: .290/.333/.441
2008: .263/.294/.359

They’re not great, but I’d definitely consider last year an outlier.

Aaron Boone retires

Just a reminder to rub in the heartbreaking homer hit by Mr. Aaron Boone in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against the Red Sox. Aaron Boone has retired from baseball.

Also from Hardball Talk: Jesus Montero turning heads after hitting the ‘M’ on the “George M. Steinbrenner Field” sign in yesterday’s batting practice. I’m telling you, this guy could really be a star some day.

Note: I only recently started following Hardball Talk (formerly known as “Circling the Bases”). Craig Calcaterra and the rest of the gang at NBC Sports do a nice job covering MLB.

Don’t expect Phil or Joba in Triple-A

Joe Girardi said yesterday that he’ll take “the 12 best arms.”

“We’ll make sure that we take what we feel are the 12 best arms,” Girardi said. “Having quality arms in your camp, and more quality arms in spots, is a luxury. It’s just our job to try and make the right decisions.”

This statement quells any idea of sending Phil Hughes or Joba Chamberlain to Triple-A.

I won’t even bother bringing up the debate again, unless anyone has some new points to make.

February 22, 2010

Hughes smart to work on changeup

Marc Carig of The Star-Ledger reported this morning Phil Hughes is working on his changeup. A good changeup can be one of the nastiest pitches if used correctly. Just ask Johan Santana.

“That’s going to be a big focal point for me this spring, even if it has to take its licks,” Hughes said, as he relaxed in front of his locker the other day. “I’ll throw my changeup as much as I have to, to get it to the point where it’s usable.”

Note: A changeup is a pitch most starters have, while it is not really necessary as a reliever. In other words, Hughes’ intentions are to win the starting job. Don’t believe me?

“I think it’s important that you have more than two pitches when you are trying to go through a lineup the second, third or fourth time,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “That’s when it becomes really important.”

Now you do.

Another important note: Keep this in mind when comparing Hughes’ and Joba Chamberlain’s springs. As Hughes said, there’s a good chance his changeup is going to get beat up a bit because he’ll be overusing it in order to get better at throwing it. This all ties back to my initial point of not choosing the fifth starter based on spring performance.

Chan Ho Park added, Sergio Mitre to be released?

parkThe Yankees have reached a tentative agreement with Chan Ho Park worth $2 million over one year, according to a report from The Korea Times early this morning.

The Yankees see Park strictly as a reliever, a role that he thrived in last year for the NL Champion Phillies (2.52 ERA, 38 appearances). Evidenced by this quote:

“I think we have a terrific bullpen. The more the merrier. You can never have enough.”

It’s worth noting Park may have passed an audition in the World Series last year, as he tossed 3-1/3 shutout innings against New York.

The Yankees will need to free up a spot on the 40-man for Park, and I believe the odd man out is Sergio Mitre. Brian Cashman said he was looking to trade Mitre or Chad Gaudin in the offseason, but both are still with the team  and are currently in position for bullpen roles.

I think it’s pretty clear now that Cashman will try and move Mitre for a minor leaguer, or may just release him. After all, he’s only making $850K.

For a hilarious background on Park, click here.

Poll Results: Fans confident in ‘10 team

poll results12 The majority of my latest poll predicted the Yankees would win 97-101 games, while the second-most predicted was 102 or more wins.

Those are some high expectations, but I don’t think either are out of reach. On the other hand, does it really matter how many games they win if it’s 97 or more? Just as long as they win 90+ they’ll have a shot at making the playoffs.

I plan on doing a full scouting report of all the AL East teams, but in short, I think the Yankees are easily the most built team to take home the division title. However, my dark horse pick this year comes from the AL East, so look out for that post in March.

Next poll: Who will have the best season in 2010?

Damon Featured Yankee Card of the Week

This marks the first and last time Johnny Damon will be the Featured Yankee Card of the Week. Damon is now a Tiger after accepting a one-year, $8 million deal with the help of Scott Boras.

Damon, 36, scored 410 runs with New York in four years of service. He also drove in 296 runs and stole 93 bases, while hitting .285/.363/.458.

His swap with Derek Jeter at the top of the order may have been the difference that helped the 2009 Yankees take home the trophy at the end of the season.

It’ll be interesting to see how much Jim Leyland plays Damon in the outfield. I don’t think the Yankees were really happy when he was manning left field, which is why I thought they were going to bring him back as the primary DH for 2010. But money got in the way of that brilliant idea.

I wish Damon the best of luck, just as long as he doesn’t get in the way of the Yankees’ plans of repeating.

February 21, 2010

Youkilis: ‘I’ve always wanted to pitch’

With the help of my friend Ian over at Sox & Dawgs, I found out that Kevin Youkilis told Peter Gammons and Tom Caron (NESN broadcasters) that he has always wanted to pitch.

He said he could always play any position in the infield, he’d try and stay away from the outfield, and he always wanted to pitch.

Why am I posting this? Because I want everyone to chant “Bring in Youk!” when the Yankees are up 18-5 in the ninth inning of Opening Day.

He probably wants to pitch because he saw how much love Nick Swisher got when he pitched last April.

Thoughts on Damon, Yanks offseason

After the Yankees signed Nick Johnson, I thought there was little chance Johnny Damon would return. After the Yankees signed Randy Winn, I knew he wasn’t coming back. Yesterday, Damon finally agreed to a deal with the Tigers.

Damon made perhaps the most defining play of the 2009 World Series when he stole third base in Game 4. Hideki Matsui provided the championship-clinching performance with six RBIs in Game 6. Now both are out of pinstripes and are playing for two of top competitors in the league.

If you’re Damon and could turn back the clock, would you accept a one-year, $6 million deal to stay in New York, the city you wanted to stay in the whole time. Or would you take the extra $2 mil to go play for Jim Leyland?

I think he’s regretting not accepting a deal with the Yankees. On the other hand, props to Scott Boras for getting him more money a couple days into spring training.

Damon or Granderson? I asked this to my Twitter followers yesterday: Who will have the better year? I think it’ll be pretty close, but possibly give a slight edge to Granderson since he’ll be hitting to a friendly right field fence.

Damon or Matsui? Who will have the better year? I answered this question for hotstove.com recently. I said Matsui will be more productive because the Angels will use him exactly the way the Yankees did. He still can hit.

February 20, 2010

Report: Johnny Damon agrees to deal with Tigers

Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports is reporting via Twitter Johnny Damon has agreed to a one-year, $7 million deal with the Detroit Tigers.

ESPN’s Karl Ravech reports the deal is for $8MM.

The Damon saga has finally come to an end. I think it’s time I change my blog’s banner.

The deal also completes a swap of a Curtis Granderson and Damon. Damon’s the better hitter, but Granderson’s got more speed, is younger and has the better glove and arm.

More on this later, I’m covering a women’s ice hockey game.

Girardi establishes rotation order

When the Yankees acquired Javier Vazquez, some questioned where he would be placed in the rotation. But Joe Girardi cleared the air on that issue today.

… the Yankees plan to go with CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte and Javier Vazquez – in that order — as their first four starters of the regular season. — via Chad Jennings

I was one of the people who thought Vazquez deserved to be ahead of Burnett, but I like the idea of alternating lefties and righties. Anyone think Vazquez should be the No. 1 or 2?

The more important debate: the lineup

Yesterday’s big news was Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain going head to head in bullpen sessions as both started their campaign for the fifth spot in the rotation. But don’t get wrapped up in that debate too much.

The second and fifth spots in the lineup are yet to be determined and those decisions will have a far greater impact on the season than the fifth starter.

Candidates to hit second
Nick Johnson
Curtis Granderson
Robinson Cano

My prediction
Johnson gets my vote here. He is the best guy at getting on base of the three by a longshot. The only downside of him up that high is that he’s the slowest of the three. I’m guessing he will be a guy who gets pinch-run for late in close games. I feel like Granderson could be a really big producer with the Yankees, and in order to do that he’ll need people on base ahead of him. As for Cano, I think he deserves a better spot in the lineup, but hitting second may put too much pressure on him.

Candidates to hit fifth

Jorge Posada

My prediction
I think Cano is bound for a big year in 2010. So even if he doesn’t start the year hitting fifth, I believe he will take over that role quickly. Does anyone remember that he hit .320/.352/.520 and was 17th in MVP voting last year? He’s the best slugger of the three remaining and is the best guy to protect Alex Rodriguez.

Having Granderson hit second and Johnson toward the bottom could create a logjam on the base paths with Posada, Johnson and Swisher (order doesn’t matter) at 6-7-8. This leads me to this Opening Day lineup prediction:

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

February 19, 2010

Hideki Matsui arrives at Angels camp


^ Hideki Matsui not with Yankees ^


Something is not right with this picture… Welcome to 2010, folks.

Photo: AP/Eric Risberg

Jose Molina signs with Blue Jays

Molina The Yankees’ 2009 backup catcher Jose Molina is staying in the AL East, but will be with baseball’s only Canada-based team, the Toronto Blue Jays.

Molina will be taking a pay cut from last year. He made $2MM with New York last year, but is only guaranteed $400K with Toronto. He’ll make double that if he makes the team right out of camp, but that’s no guarantee.

Farewell, Jose.

Also, Chien-Ming Wang’s deal with the Nationals is finally official.

Photo credit

Hughes and Chamberlain head to head on video

Sweeny Murti of WFAN has posted a video of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes in their first bullpen session of spring training. I can’t even imagine how competitive this is going to get.

My favorite part of the video, by far, is hearing the pop of the catchers’ mitts. But don’t be fooled. How loud the sound is doesn’t necessarily determine who is throwing harder. The pop is usually measured by how the new glove is. I learned this through personal experience.

As usual, check out Chad Jennings’ post on the two pitchers’ first impressions on the rotation competition.

Go to The LoHud Yankees Blog

LoHud My blog offers all the vital Yankees news an everyday fan needs to keep connected with the team, plus anything about the Yankees I feel is worth discussing.

Readers may have noticed I’ve been linking to Chad Jennings a lot recently. And I have good reason to do so.

When Peter Abraham left The LoHud Yankees Blog late in the 2009 season, fans were worried if the up-to-the-minute coverage was going to continue. Well, I don’t think any fans have been disappointed with the Abraham’s replacements.

Jennings, along with Sam Borden, have been reporting more updates on the Yankees than anyone else on their blog. Their spring training updates go as in-depth as who caught whom in bullpen sessions to Joe Girardi’s expectations for players in camp.

When the regular season rolls by, don’t expect anything less in their coverage.

If you are looking for every detail available to the public on the Yankees, you should be reading The LoHud Yankees Blog. If you read something there that you want to talk about more, you should expect me to have something posted. If not, then please ask!

I strongly encourage fan interaction. It makes the site more attractive and I want to thank everyone who has commented here before. Talking Yankees was all I wanted to do when I started this blog last January. Nothing’s changed.

February 18, 2010

Girardi already being cautious with starters

Having a healthy rotation throughout the season may be the most important key to any season for any team. Joe Girardi knows this and is already playing it safe with his starters.

Rather than having starters CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez throw bullpens today, Girardi decided it didn’t make sense for them to throw in groups since they never do during the season. – All according to Chad Jennings.

Makes sense to me.

He’s lining up the bullpen sessions in order of how they will start in spring training games. Girardi pushed Sabathia’s back to Saturday, taking into account the extra work he did in the postseason. He’ll also hold Vazquez back because last year he threw the most innings he’s thrown since 2003.

“We want to make sure that they are absolutely physically prepared to go out and have that same kind of workout,” Girardi said. “Really, the only difference is maybe one side session for each of them.”

February 17, 2010

Girardi wants rotation set by March 25

A note on the rotation from Joe Girardi in today’s press conference via Chad Jennings:

What happens to the pitcher who doesn’t win the No. 5 spot in the rotation? “I would envision that they go to the bullpen,” Girardi said. He would like to have that rotation spot decided by March 25, but he’s willing to let the competition continue into the final week if necessary. Girardi also stressed that it’s not all about spring statistics.

I didn’t get to listen to the press conference, but it sounds like Girardi agrees with me about not weighting spring training statistics so much in the Joba/Hughes decision.

Early morning’s trivia answered

For those who weren’t up early this morning, I’ll give you one last shot at this trivia question: What team has the most Hall of Famers? And it’s not the Yankees.

It’s the San Francisco Giants!

They lead all teams with 55 Hall of Famers. Five teams have 40 or more, one being the Yankees.

Team #HOFs
Giants 55
Dodgers 46
Braves 45
Yankees 43
Cardinals 42
Cubs 40

Answering 11 spring training questions

The offseason is officially over. It’s time for players to start getting back in shape for a 162-game, six-month season. But first, some questions need to be answered.

The LoHud Yankees Blog’s Chad Jennings thought up 10 questions the Yankees will face this spring training yesterday. Jennings gave his answers, so I will give mine (plus a bonus).

1. Who is the No. 5 starter? I say it’s Phil Hughes’ turn. Everyone saw Joba Chamberlain struggle to find the zone for the majority of last year. I’d definitely want to give him another year to see what he’s got as a starter, but not with a very promising Hughes breathing down his gnat-covered neck.

2. Where does the rotation’s odd man out open the season? Brian Cashman stands that Chamberlain or Hughes could start the year in Triple-A, but I doubt it. Even if I’m wrong about the first question, I say either must become the eighth inning guy. Without them, you’re looking at David Robertson or Alfredo Aceves in that spot. I’d rather pick between two guys that have career sub-two ERAs out of the pen.

3. Is Brett Gardner an everyday outfielder? Why not give him a chance? He immediately becomes an impact player if he can boost his batting average and on-base percentage up 20 points. I’m not sure if fans realize how much to value his speed. But they should, since the only team that has beaten the Yanks consistently in the last decade is the Angels. And arguably their top strategy is to steal bases.

4. Who is the starting center fielder? Acquiring Randy Winn changed my opinion on this matter a tad. He can play all outfield spots, and it’s definitely a plausible idea that he’ll take over for Gardner at some point this season. I think the Gardner and/or Winn in center is the better option over Granderson. I’m not really too concerned with where they all end up out there, but, whatever they decide, I don’t want to see Granderson going back and forth. He’s an everyday player. Keep him in one position.

5. Who bats second? I’ll take Nick Johnsons’s high OBP over Granderson’s speed any day. The No. 2 hitter is a table-setter. I see Granderson as a producer, which leads me to a bonus question.

*BONUS! Who bats fifth? Back in January, I argued Robinson Cano deserves the spot. Fans tended to agree with me in the poll, so I’m going to stick with it! Granderson and Jorge Posada will also contend for the spot, but Granderson hasn’t proven anything in New York yet. Cano has. Posada has too, but he’s aging and Cano is blossoming.

6. Is it worth keeping a Rule 5 pick on the roster? Jamie Hoffmann, in my mind, doesn’t compete with Marcus Thames or Winn. Let him go.

7. Does the team need a second lefty? Other than Damaso Marte, it’s slim pickings for bullpen lefties. I believe Boone Logan has the best shot to be a second lefty, if any at all. I want to see what this guy can do in spring training before I answer this question.

8. If not a second lefty, who rounds out the bullpen? It’s between Sergio Mitre and Mark Melancon. I wish Cashman had traded Mitre for a prospect to make this decision easier, but I’m going to go with the young gun anyway. Melancon has high potential as a reliever, and Mitre is a converted starter.

9. Who is the utility infielder? Jennings says Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo and Reegie Corona are fighting for the job. I’ll be watching Nunez, Russo and Corona closely in March on TV and MLB.com’s gameday before I vote Pena off the island.

10. Have any bullpen roles shifted? I don’t think so. I’ll do a quick run through just to clarify my opinion.

Mariano Rivera: Closer (I had to say it, don’t hate!)
Hughes/Chamberlain: Setup man
Marte: Seventh inning or lefty specialist
Robertson: Seventh inning
Aceves: Long reliever
Gaudin: Mop up
Melancon: Middle relief in blowouts

I couldn’t think of any other questions this team faces going into spring training, but if you have one, don’t be afraid to ask me!

Early morning Yankees trivia

I couldn’t sleep last night. Surprisingly, the Yankees weren’t on my mind, even though today is when pitchers and catchers report to Tampa (at noon, according to Yankees.com’s ticker).

But when I finally gave up on going to sleep, I started thinking about the Yankees.

First on the agenda: I stumbled upon some Yankees trivia over at the great baseball statistic site, Baseball-Reference.com.

What team has the most Hall of Famers?

Hint: It’s not the Yankees! I’d argue they might have the most upper echelon Hall of Famers, but that’s not what I’m asking. I’ll post the answer when Mariano Rivera shows up for spring training.

February 16, 2010

Chien-Ming Wang agrees to deal with Nationals

wang Chien-Ming Wang has agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with the Washington Nationals, the NY Daily News reports.

So long, Wang.

Wang is hit or miss. He was in Cy Young contention for two years, but injuries have plagued him the last two years and now nobody knows what to expect.

Stephen Strasburg is expected to play a huge role in the future for the Nationals, but he probably won’t be able to pull the Nationals to the playoffs single handedly. If Wang returns to Cy Young form this year, then maybe they have a shot.

But that’s doubtful.

One more stinking day until PACRFST

It’s been a long offseason, and the Yankees WON the World Series. Imagine if your team didn’t make the playoffs. Just step in those people’s shoes for a second. Anyway…

  1. More day until all pitchers and catchers are expected to report to spring training.

Anthony McCarron of the NY Daily News blogged some early sightings at camp yesterday. Here’s the list of early birds:

Derek Jeter
Curtis Granderson
Francisco Cervelli
Eduardo Nunez

Phil Hughes
Joba Chamberlain
Boone Logan
David Robertson
Alfredo Aceves
Chad Gaudin
A.J. Burnett (supposedly)

Poll Results: Fans forecast Damon to Detroit

Poll results11 The Johnny Damon saga continues. He wanted to sign with the Yankees. The Yankees wanted Damon. But one thing stood in the way of an agreement: money, something which agent Scott Boras is obsessed with.

After I thought I made it pretty clear the Yankees were done looking for outfielders after acquiring Randy Winn and/or Marcus Thames. However, a decent percentage still predicted Yankees, but there’s really no shot.

The majority went with Detroit, and that happens to be the latest team that is “close” to an agreement with him. The reporters over at Fox Sports believe the deal could be a one-year, $7 million or a two-year, $14 million deal.

Sounds to me that the two parties just can’t agree on a length. In the end, I think this deal will get done before the end of the week.

Next poll: How many games will the Yankees win in 2010?

Yogi Berra Featured Card of the Week

Yogi Berra is a guy typically seen in Yankee camp. I’d expect he loosens up some of the shy, yet competitive prospects. No?

Wouldn’t you love to be Yogi? He’s most well-known for these three things:

  1. For his out-of-this-world humorous personality.
  2. For winning 10 World Series rings — the most ever by anyone.
  3. For still believing he tagged Jackie Robinson before he touched home plate in the 1955 World Series.

My favorite Yogi-ism: “When you get to a fork, take it.” This link to tons more Yogi-isms will make your day. I promise.

Fun fact: Berra grew up in the same town my mother did, Montclair, N.J.

February 15, 2010

Cervelli to miss time after Winter league head injury

After the Yankees announced longtime trainer Gene Monahan will miss spring training, backup catcher Francisco Cervelli announced he will be missing some time (up to a month) after a hitter’s backswing plunked him in the head, reported the NY Daily News.

“Nothing bad," Cervelli said. "No concussion. I came here to check my head and the doctors said no action for a month. The Yankees said no more and you pay attention, that's it.”

Looks like the Yankees already have the injury bug. Let’s just pray Nos. 2, 13, 20, 25, 42 and 52 can avoid it.

The article also noted Baseball America rated Cervelli as the best defensive catcher in the organization. Good to know.

It takes two to tango… and for PACRTST

Just two days left until pitchers and catchers report to spring training. Can. You. Feel. It?

  1. Two more days until A.J. Burnett will begin practicing his pie throwing (courtesy of She-Fan).
  2. Two more days until everyone who should be in camp will be in camp.

February 14, 2010

Eiland keeps Joba/Hughes stove hot

In an interview with WFAN, Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said, “there’s going to be restrictions, but they’re not going to be as strenuous as Joba” on the possibility of “Phil Hughes rules.”

Eiland also said there is no clear favorite; “everybody’s even.” That’s a little surprising because you would think Hughes and Joba Chamberlain would be favorites because I doubt the Yankees would want both in the bullpen — or even one in Triple-A.

My stance: Chamberlain had his chance last year and he blew it. Give Hughes a try.

I could go on and on about this, and so could anyone. If you disagree that’s fine, but everyone needs to understand there are plenty of valid arguments for both sides.

Three days left until PACRTST

PACRTST = pitchers and catchers report to spring training. So creative, aren’t I?

  1. Three days until Joe Girardi’s press conference.
  2. Three days until we can say, “Johnny Damon doesn’t have a team to work out with for spring training.”
  3. Three days until a lot of news breaks.

February 13, 2010

Yanks trainer Gene Monahan to miss time

It’s never good when the doctor is sick.

Yankees trainer Gene Monahan won’t be in camp at the beginning due to a “significant illness that possibly could sideline him for the beginning of the regular season,” the NY Post reported.

Monahan hasn’t missed a spring training in his 48-year tenure with the Yankees. Assistant trainer Steve Donohue will fill in for the time being.

Obviously some very sad news to start the year. Hopefully he’ll make a speedy recovery and rejoin the team.

And then there were four

Only four days left until pitchers and catchers report.

  1. Four more days until Javier Vazquez makes his return to the Yankees.
  2. Four more days until George M. Steinbrenner Field is flooded with fans.
  3. Four more days until constant tweets from the beats in Tampa, such as, “Javy is warming up.”
  4. Four more days until PFPs (pitcher fielding practice).

February 12, 2010

Two things that might excite you

I linked to this Bob Klapisch article before, but I didn’t see this nifty photo of Albert Pujols in pinstripes.


Looks good to me.

Speaking of first basemen… Jesus Montero, the Yankees’ highly-touted catching prospect, worked out at first in a workout on Thursday.

"I want to be a catcher in the big leagues, but this may help me get to the big leagues faster," he said.

Good to hear. If Montero is as big a prospect as everyone is saying, it’s nice to hear a willing-to-do-anything attitude like that.

From the sounds of those who have seen this kid play behind the plate, he sounds like he’s a quick learner. His strong arm threw out 32 percent of base stealers in Trenton after he started out the year in Tampa throwing out just 13 percent of runners.

He is projected to start the year in Scranton, but an injury to Jorge Posada or Francisco Cervelli or maybe a really impressive spring could give him a bid to the bigs.

Quoteworthy: Joba Chamberlain

Joba Chamberlain on his 2010 role. via Bryan Hoch:

“I could win 20 games and people are still going to think I could save 50.”

Joba has been made fun of before on this blog, and I’ll do it again now.

I’d be satisfied if you won 10 games — something you failed to do in 31 starts last season. I know, I know. “Joba Rules” and the bullpen are to blame for that. But still. Ten? Alfredo Aceves had 10 wins last year.

For your information: The Yankees went 20-11 when Joba started last year.

Five days until Yankee pitchers and catchers report to spring training

Now the number is five.

  1. Five more days until Feb. 17.
  2. Five more days until the Yankees begin molding another championship team.
  3. Five more days until the Joba/Hughes debate gets hotter than ever.
  4. Five more days until we see Kei Igawa.
  5. Five more days until Yankee pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

February 11, 2010

Less than a week a way

That’s right. I’m doing a countdown until pitchers and catchers report until spring training because how slow the news has been.

We only have to wait six days (almost five) until we can see how the 2010 Yankees are jiving.

February 10, 2010

Snow day link dump

Here at Quinnipiac, we are all celebrating our first snow day of the year. Nothing big going on today, yet, so here are a few links for you to check out.

I’m off to the gym.

February 9, 2010

‘That one’s headed for New Hampshire’

chase wrightI was reminded of the infamous Jon Miller call of Mike Lowell’s fourth homer in a row against the Yankees on Sunday Night Baseball. That dinkus of a pitcher who allowed four homers in a row against the Red Sox was Chase Wright. And you’ll never guess who the Brewers just picked up.

Being the New Hampshirite that I am, I laugh and hope him the worst.

Photo credit

February 8, 2010

Yanks announce extra spring training invitees

The Yankees announced today they extended 20 spring training invitations to players outside of the 40-man roster. For full descriptions of all the players, check out Trenton Thunder beat reporter Mike Ashmore’s blog.

Kyle Higashioka
Jesus Montero
P.J. Pilittere
Mike Rivera
Austin Romine

David Winfree

Colin Curtis
Reid Gorecki
Marcus Thames
Jon Weber

Wilkins Arias
Jeremy Bleich
Grant Duff
Jason Hirsh
Kei Igawa
Zach McAllister
Royce Ring
Amaury Sanit
Zack Segovia
Kevin Whelan

Yanks add Thames for outfield competition

marcus-thames The Yankees signed added Marcus Thames to a non-roster contract to compete with Brett Gardner, Randy Winn and Jamie Hoffmann for the final outfield spot, according to SI’s Jon Heyman.

This is not the first time Thames has been with the Yankees, as he was drafted by them in 1996 and homered on the first pitch he saw in the Majors against Randy Johnson.

Here are his career stats.

Poll Results: Fans expect big impact from Vazquez

poll results10 My latest poll shows Yankees fans are forgiving Javier Vazquez for his wretched second half and postseason performance in 2004.

This might be explained by Vazquez revealing he was in fact injured in the second half at his press conference on Dec. 22.

“In the second half, my arm didn’t feel as good as it did in the first half, and it was really the first time in my career, and really the only time in my career, that I felt my arm wasn’t where it’s supposed to be. I started getting treatment a little later than I should have. I never said anything. I went out there every five days. I hated not being out there. That might have been my mistake, I never said anything.”

I believe him. He was an All-Star that year, and he returned to that form after leaving the Yankees, especially last season when he placed fourth in Cy Young voting.

I’m surprised Curtis Granderson didn’t receive a higher percentage of the votes. His bat is far superior to Melky Cabrera’s and has a chance to make a great impact on the team, even if he hits as low as ninth in the order.

Also, Nick Johnson should’ve gotten some more love too. After all, he is projected to hit second this year…

New poll: Where will Johnny Damon end up?

Bill Buckner Featured Card of the Week

Everyone’s favorite Red Sox player is this week’s featured card of the week. In the 1986 World Series against the Mets, Bill Buckner let Mookie Wilson’s chopper to first trickled under his glove and the Mets went on to take the World Series.

Buckner was the man every Red Sox fan blamed for continuing the “Curse of the Bambino.”

Until the Sox finally broke the “Curse” in 2004, Buckner was a name nobody in New England wanted to hear.

Yankees fans used the name to their advantage, and some some still do.

February 7, 2010

Do you think the Yankees will win the Super Bowl?

It’s amazing what the Internet can bring us sometimes.


yankees super bowl

I agree with Frankie B.

Yankees at the Super Bowl?

Tonight’s the biggest night of sports on television. The Super Bowl is being held in Miami this year, and although the Yankees haven’t reported for Spring Training yet, I’m betting there will be some World Champions at the scene.

I know Derek Jeter has a new mansion in Tampa, but that’s four hours away from Miami.

Of course, I’ll be watching and posting about any glimpses of Yankees in the stands.

News updates:

  • Yankees haven’t made any moves for the Major League roster since acquiring Randy Winn.
  • Johnny Damon is still out there and Scott Boras is still trying to find a team for him.
  • Pitchers and catchers are expected to report on Feb. 17, but we already know Joba Chamberlain will be arriving earlier.

February 6, 2010

115-year-old Babe Ruth vs. Albert Pujols

Today is Babe Ruth’s 115th birthday. All hail:

  • The Sultan of Swat
  • The Wali of Wallop
  • The Rajah of Rap
  • The Caliph of Clout
  • The Wazir of Wham
  • The Colossus of Clout
  • Maharajah of Mash
  • The King of Clout
  • The Colossus of Crash
  • The King of Swing
  • The Terrible Titan
  • The Kid of Crash
  • The Jovial Giant
  • The Great Bambino 

Credit WikiAnswers for all the nicknames. I only knew the ones in bold.

Anyway, I’m a stats guy — not a sabermetrician — but enough to spend time compiling a lot of numbers. I thought it would be interesting to stack up Albert Pujols’s year-by-year stats to Ruth’s. There are only a handful of players who can hit for average and power. These two might just be the best ever at the rare combination.

I compared home runs, runs batted in, batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage between Ruth and Pujols. I started the stats with Ruth in 1920 because it was his first year as a Yankee and a full-time position player.

I also decided to keep in 1925 for Ruth even though he missed significant time. I figured he already has the edge over Pujols anyway. As shown by the numbers, it still doesn’t put Pujols, who’s hardly missed any time, ahead of Ruth.

If you’re just interested in the totals, just from 1920-28 and 2001-09, here’s a quick data table:

Babe Ruth Stat Albert Pujols
421 HR 366
1181 RBI 1112
.356 BA .334
.494 OBP .427
.745 SLG .628

And here are the graphs… (click to enlarge)

Ruth Pujols HR

ruth pujols RBI

ruth pujols BA

ruth pujols obp

ruth pujols slg

February 5, 2010

The iron men

The Yankees have a very durable group of guys leading their rotation. In fact, I just looked through every other team’s rotation, and I couldn’t find one more stable.

This idea popped into my head after reading a couple other bloggers post about how the Yankees should be expecting injuries to this year’s rotation. Obviously you have to expect some bumps and bruises, but I’m certainly not expecting any of the “big four” to be missing a month or more. Here’s a quick rundown:

CC Sabathia: In nine seasons, he’s made over 30 starts in all but one season, and has started 103 games in the last three seasons. I don’t think anybody has pitched more innings in the past three years than the big lefty (724).

A.J. Burnett: OK, so he’s the only guy I have some doubts about. Then again, he’s been completely arm-trouble free for the past two years (67 starts, 428.1 IP). His history of injuries before 2008 is something to take not of, but it doesn’t lead me to believe his name will appear on the disabled list this year.

Andy Pettitte: In 11 full seasons with the Yankees, he’s started less than 30 games just once. His rookie year he started at the end of April and made 26 starts. More recently, he’s gone five straight years with over 32 starts. Pettitte turns 38 in June, but are you really worried about his health?

Javier Vazquez: Ten straight years of at least 30 starts and 198 innings. Need I say more?

So for those who think Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes will be full-time starters by year’s end, think again.

What $103,579 can buy…

So many other things besides Alex Rodriguez’s 500th home run ball. The article from the Daily News lists a few other notable home run balls sold.

  • Barry Bonds – 756 - $752,467
  • Mark McGwire – 70 - $3 million
  • Roger Maris – 61 – $5,000

I collect some memorabilia, but I’m not going to spend over $500 on anything. Maybe after I become rich and famous I will.

Freddy Guzman steals home

Remember Freddy Guzman? The outfielder was added to the Yankees roster in October as an extra speedster off the bench. He made the postseason roster, but the situation to steal never arose.

Well, yesterday Guzman stole home for the Dominican Republic Leones del Escogido. And no, the Yankees cannot re-sign him. Why? Because the Phillies already did — to a Minor League contract.

February 4, 2010

Derek Jeter interview reaction

jeter interview
Snapshot from the interview

Derek Jeter was interviewed on MLB Network last night by Harold Reynolds. If you didn’t see it, you can find it here. Here’s my reaction to a few notable things he said.

HR: What is the Yankee way?
DJ: Handle yourself like a professional on the field and you have one goal — and that’s to win.
Reaction: This is why he’s captain. Could anyone have said it any clearer?

HR: What’s it like to be known as the all-time hit king for the Yankees?
DJ: Mind-boggling.
Reaction: It really is. So many legends in baseball have played with the Yankees, but not many of them lasted very long for various reasons. Babe Ruth lost five full years as a pitcher for the Red Sox, Joe DiMaggio lost three years in his prime to the military, Mickey Mantle was never healthy, and we all know how Lou Gehrig faded out of the game. Anyway, Jeter has a great chance to become the first Yankee with 3,000 hits. It should happen in the beginning of 2011.

HR: What’s your mindset when you are walking to the plate in a critical situation?
DJ: I try to keep it simple. I don’t try and do anything differently.
Reaction: This brings up the idea of is “clutch” something that can be measured? Can you name anyone who has been consistently clutch throughout an entire career? That’s why I’m not really high on everyone worrying about Cano’s lack of clutch hitting last year. It was just one year. Let’s see what happens this year.

HR: When are you going to quit playing?
DJ: As long as I’m having fun I’m going to play.
Reaction: I want to stress this. I’m not sold he’s going to drag out his career and go for all the records everyone expects him too. I’ve always had the thought in the back of my mind that Jeter could be a guy to retire early. I still think that.

HR: What is it going to be like playing against Joe Torre?
DJ: It’s going to be a little awkward. It was extremely awkward to see Mattingly in a Dodger uniform — that’s even more so than Mr. T.
Reaction: Haha. I noticed Jeter paused for a little bit at first before answering this question. I think he really misses “Mr. T” and that his divorce with the Yankees may not have been stressed as much as it should have.

HR: What’s the key to a repeat?
DJ: You have to have that same hunger.
Reaction: Absolutely.

I think Harold asked 20 questions unrelated from each other in a 10-minute span. Nice work…

February 3, 2010

Joba wants to start, willing to relieve

The New York Post had a couple items on the looming Joba/Hughes decision today.

First up: Mike Puma spoke with Joba Chamberlain at the Thurman Munson awards dinner last night.

Joba on being a starter:
"I made 31 starts last year, and hopefully I'll make the same and get about 200 innings," Chamberlain said. "As a competitor, you want to be out there every fifth day [starting]. I want that opportunity. I have to go out and prove it, and I nderstand that. I like it that way."
Joba on being a reliever:
"Being down [in the bullpen] for two stints, you get to see how good [Rivera] is, and you know there is going to have to be somebody who comes behind him that replaces the legacy that is Mariano," Chamberlain said. "If that opportunity comes, great. If we sit down and they say that, then we'll get after it."
Remember, Chamberlain pitched his final game last year as a reliever and had 10 more appearances in the postseason. Most importantly, his pitching style did in fact change and arguably was a more effective pitcher.

Second item: Joel Sherman blogged about the repercussions of Phil Hughes and Chamberlain switching roles in 2010.

Sherman on what would be the "Hughes rules:"
Whatever the Yanks would decide, Hughes would almost certainly not be allowed to work without restrictions that keep him well shy of 200 innings.
Sherman is absolutely right. Nobody should expect Hughes to throw over 200 innings if he wins the job in spring training.

I want to link back to this post again on why I think this big decision should NOT be made based on who is more impressive in spring training. I've only received one refuting argument so far, and I still think I have a valid case.

Can you name all the 2009 Yankees?

If you’ve never heard of Sporcle, you may consider killing me after clicking that link. It is the ultimate procrastination tool. Sporcle is a trivia quiz Web site that can trip you up on anything from sports to geography.

I found this quiz today (via this comical Yankees blog) and I thought I’d share it with the rest of you. It’s question: Can you name the players who appeared in at least one game for the New York Yankees during the 2009 season?

I can! … on my second try…


February 2, 2010

Reed Johnson signs with Dodgers

The Yankees were pursuing FA Reed Johnson before they eventually wound up signing Randy Winn. This morning, Johnson reached a one-year, $800,000 deal with the Dodgers.

Most fans who had gotten over the Johnny Damon divorce were advocating for the Yankees to pick up Johnson, who would have been a nice fit to platoon with Brett Gardner. Just look at their career splits:

Gardner vs. RHP: .260/.328/.361
Gardner vs. LHP: .241/.310/.316

Johnson vs. RHP: .265/.324/.383
Johnson vs. LHP: .313/.378/.463

Instead, the Yankees ended up with Winn, whose splits last year don’t mesh well with Gardner’s.

Winn vs. RHP: .292/.354/.397
Winn vs. LHP: .158/.184/.200

It’s a small sample size, but it’s possible lefties have just finally figured out Winn.

Something to keep in mind: Winn is a switch-hitter.

In the end, this really isn’t anything to be too mad about. We’re talking about backup outfielders here, not the meat of the lineup.

Why did Damon wake me up this morning?

OK, It’s my fault for having ESPN’s text message alerts activated, but this morning’s text was completely unnecessary and it woke me up.

“Detroit Free Press: OF Johnny Damon would like to play for Tigers, according to agent Scott Boras.”

Really? I never would have guessed. A guy out of a job with virtually no suitors left is willing to play for a team on the rise and in a big city.

So uncalled for! Damon has already passed up his best offers. He’d be crazy not to sign with the next team that offers him a job for money.

February 1, 2010

Girardi: Winn adds depth to outfield

Joe Girardi was at Bernie Williams’ charity function on Saturday and had time to talk about the offseason.

Most notably, he said this of the Randy Winn acquisition:

"I know people have talked about Randy Winn replacing Johnny Damon, and that wasn't why we signed Randy Winn. We signed Randy Winn so we'd have depth to make sure we have depth and make sure that we have competition. If someone gets hurt, we have enough people to fill the spot. Randy Winn has been an everyday player for a long time. We're comfortable with him in that spot."

Like I said when the Yankees first picked him up, Winn is not the future. He’s just a guy to keep Brett Gardner on his toes. Since the Yankees couldn’t come to terms with Johnny Damon, a fourth outfielder was a necessary addition.

Here’s what Girardi said of the Damon situation:

“I don't think anyone is quite sure from our standpoint where Johnny is going to end up. But Johnny was a great Yankee, we loved having him, and we're going to miss him.”

Link dump: Piliere Q&A and Jennings analysis

I hope people realize pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in just 16 days! And you know some are coming sooner.

I thought these three posts were worth a read:

  • You’ve been hearing a lot from ex-scout Frankie Piliere recently. He’s a great source and he answered 10 questions for Pinstripe Alley. Definitely worth your time.
  • LoHud Yankees Blog writer Chad Jennings looks at all the changes from this year’s team to last year’s.
  • Jennings  also previews the spring training battles. Also a must-read.

Chamberlain reporting early to Yankees

chamberlain4  Joba Chamberlain told Mike Puma of the NY Post that he’ll report to spring training in Tampa this week and “with the idea he’s a starting pitcher for 2010. Team brass has told him to have that mindset.”

This is his first step toward convincing me he should start over Phil Hughes this year. Remember, I do not want this decision to be made based on their spring training performances, but it seems that’s the way it’s going to play out.

I wonder if we’ll see Hughes report early now too. Wouldn’t that spark a friendly competition?

Photo credit

Poll Results: Yankees better than last year even without Damon

poll results9 In my latest poll, the fans voted the 2010 Yankees will be a better team than the ‘09 Yanks. My first thought was the third answer — “With Damon it is.” But let’s take a closer look.

Key additions:

Key losses:

If you only compare the big names, Granderson and Johnson replace Damon and Matsui, but then the Yankees also got Vazquez. I think Damon and Matsui would have been a better tandem, but Vazquez should be a great No. 4 and make the Yankees better overall in 2010.

Next poll: Which addition will be the most valuable in 2010?

Bernie Williams Featured Card of the Week

Bernie Williams was in the news last week for holding his eighth annual Hillside Food Outreach Neighbors Helping Neighbors Benefit Dinner and Auction on Saturday. (Couldn’t he have thought of a shorter name?)

Just kidding Bernie, you know I love you.

Will Williams show up to spring training this year? I hope so.

Starting the new month on the right foot

… Back from my first off-day in over a month. Let’s just say I was sicker than Kobe’s game-winning, fadeaway jumper against the Celts yesterday.

How did he make that? Seriously? I think the best part is how he was teaching Paul Pierce how to execute the fadeaway properly.

Anyway, I made up for yesterday’s lack of posts with a lot of posts today.

  • Featured Yankee Card of the Week — 9:30 a.m.
  • New poll + poll results — 10:30 a.m.
  • Chamberlain makes a smart move — 12 p.m.
  • A couple sweet links — 1:30 p.m.
  • Girardi agrees with me about Winn — 3:00 p.m.

Plus, if anything big breaks (I’m not expecting anything) I’ll check in again.

  © Blogger templates The Professional Template by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP