March 31, 2010

Hughes to make first start April 15

The Yankees announced today Phil Hughes will make extended spring straining starts in Tampa before making his first start of the season on April 15 against the Angels.

In other words, the Yankees will play their first eight games with 24 players. Check LoHud for full details of the plan, and explanation.

When I first heard the news, I thought why don’t they just start him in Triple-A for the beginning of the year? Girardi was asked that question by a reporter. Here’s the answer:

There will be nights when Hughes is available as an emergency, extra-innings reliever. “There’s a situation that could arise where you might need him to make a spot start, or you get rained out and they want to play a double header,” Girardi said. If Hughes were optioned, the Yankees would have to wait 10 days before calling him up (unless someone got hurt).

Jennings and Girardi make good points. Not every game is played on its scheduled time and lasts nine innings. It’s good to have an option like Hughes for emergency purposes.

Injury notes, Lineup vs. Twins

The Yankees play the Twins this afternoon at George M. Steinbrenner Field on ESPN and YES.

A couple of injury notes: Mark Teixeira, who was hit by a pitch earlier this week, is expected to travel with the team tomorrow. Alfredo Aceves is dealing with a back injury, and a trip to the 15-day DL is not out of the question.

UPDATE: Here’s the latest on Teixeira’s injury.

Lineup
Derek Jeter SS
Marcus Thames DH
Jorge Posada C
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Nick Swisher RF
Curtis Granderson CF
Brett Gardner LF
Ramiro Pena 2B
Juan Miranda 1B

RHP Phil Hughes

March 30, 2010

Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte amazes Yanks

Venditte

Pat Venditte is the only professional pitcher who throws both right- and left-handed. Today, Joe Girardi and the Yankees got their first look at the switch-pitcher.

After warming up with four pitches from the left and four from the right, Venditte allowed one run on two hits in 1-1/3 innings against the Braves in relief of CC Sabathia. Venditte walked a batter and didn’t strike out any.

Nick Swisher and CC Sabathia reactions: (via LoHud)

Swisher said he and the other outfielders were talking to one another when Venditte was on the mound in the sixth.

“We were like, he’s about to switch, he’s about to switch right now!” Swisher said.

Sabathia had no idea Venditte could pitch with both hands. When he came out of he game, Sabathia saw a left-handed pitcher coming in from the bullpen. Then he saw a right-handed pitcher on the mound.

“I was like, maybe that guy got hurt,” Sabathia said.

He also got to face a switch hitter, which allowed home plate umpire Mike Reilly to enforce The Pat Venditte Rule. Yes, the Professional Baseball Umpire Corporation made a rule for this guy.

According to Wikipedia, when Venditte walked on to Creighton’s baseball team in 2005, the team’s head coach only allowed him to pitch with one of his arms, “fearing the spectacle would become a ‘circus.’

I found that amusing.

Photo

Thoughts on final bullpen spot

The final spot in the bullpen might be the only thing up for debate at this point in the spring. The discussion is whether to keep a second lefty (Boone Logan or Royce Ring) or a long reliever (Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves). The four pitchers are battling for two spots.

Bullpen guarantees
Mariano Rivera
Joba Chamberlain
Damaso Marte
David Robertson
Chan Ho Park

I think Aceves has earned one of the spots because of his excellent past two seasons with the Yankees, but Mitre is the only one who can’t be sent to the minors. Mitre has had the better spring and Aceves is currently dealing with a minor back injury. If both are healthy, the Yankees should reward Aceves for his history with the team.

As for the final spot, Logan, Ring and Mitre have had great springs. But I think a long reliever would be more valuable to the team to eat up innings. Perhaps a second lefty at the end of the season and postseason would be worth it since they are used a lot more often in important situations.

If I had to pick between Logan and Ring, I’d go with Ring because he has more experience.

March 29, 2010

Poll Results: Hughes should be fifth starter

poll results17 The fans agreed with the Yankees’ decision to make Phil Hughes the fifth starter for 2010.

The move leaves Joba Chamberlain for the bullpen, which I know disappoints many fans who think it “stunts” his growth as a starter. Keep in mind that it is unclear whether the organization still views him as a starter.

After seeing what Joba offers as a starter, I am glad the Yankees went with Hughes. Yes, Joba showed promise with three solid starts at the end of July, but I think his style of pitching fits the bullpen better.

Hughes’ numbers as a starter might not be so great, but developing a changeup in spring training was a smart move. It shows he can be more than a two-pitch pitcher, like Joba, making him a stronger pitcher when going through a lineup more than once.

Next poll: Final spot in the bullpen?

Scott Proctor Featured Card of the Week

Remember Scott Proctor? As noted by this card, he led the Yankees and the league in appearances in 2007. He even has a Yankees blog named after him.

The latest news on Proctor came yesterday from MLB.com. Recovering from Tommy John surgery last year, he is aiming to be ready by Opening Day. But manager Bobby Cox isn’t guaranteeing him a spot on the 25-man roster.

"I can't make that call," Proctor said Saturday. "You have to go talk to the boss. I control what I can control, and that is not one of the things that's under my control. What I do is go out each and every day, [work hard] and make the decision very, very tough for them. But in the end, it is their decision, and I respect them for that. Wherever they put me, it's where they put me."

Good for him. It’s always fun to follow the Proctor.

By the way, next week's featured card will mark the start of a new series of cards. Get excited.

March 28, 2010

Gaudin reaches deal with Athletics

Chad Gaudin has already reached an agreement with the Athletics after being released by the Yankees on Monday, according to Ken Rosenthal.

Rosenthal said Gaudin will likely be used out of the bullpen to start the season.

So now ex-Yanks Gaudin and Edwar Ramirez will be in Oakland uniforms this season. Hideki Matsui is also in California with the Angels. Who will be the next Yankee to move to the west coast?

Mixed thoughts on Joba’s future

The Yankees need to get their act together. In short, Brian Cashman sees Joba Chamberlain as a starter, while three other members of the organization like him as a reliever.

I think many fans are under the impression that if a starter gets injured, Chamberlain would replace him. Now, that’s very much in question.

General manager Brian Cashman on Joba:

"Typically, when that stuff comes my way, my answer is basically: 'You know what, guys? I'm not going to deal with the hypothetical,'" Cashman said. "He's a starter that right now, the way this camp completed, his role on the club would be to help us out of the 'pen.

"What 2011 is going to be like, or 2012, or 2013, it's hard to fast-forward to it. ... If I'm asked the question, I'm not getting to '11. I'm dealing with '10. Is it possible he can be in the rotation? I'd say, 'It's all possible.' He's a starter that's right now needed out of the 'pen."

Pitching coach Dave Eiland on Joba:

"We get more out of his ability as a reliever," Eiland said. "We feel like he can be a good starter. We feel like he can be a great reliever."

Said Eiland: "He's in the bullpen, and he's there to stay, period."

Director of scouting Billy Epler on Joba:

Eppler: "In the here and now, I don't foresee any situation. Obviously, that's for Brian and Joe, but I don't think they foresee a situation where he would go into the rotation. He is going to be a reliever, and obviously we've seen what he's been able to do in that role. He's been able to be very dominant in that role. I don't foresee a situation where he would be starting at all."

Roberts: "Right. But does the question get re-asked next year, in 2011, like, is Joba a starter? Do you think that question will be asked again? Maybe he'll compete for a rotation spot next year?"

Eppler: "Um... I wouldn't consider that likely, no."

Shortstop Derek Jeter on Joba as a reliever:

"He's done a good job in that role; Joba is a guy that pitches on emotion, so being in the bullpen benefits his demeanor," Jeter said. "He gets by on emotion, and it's easier - or at least more fitting - to get by on emotion when you're in the bullpen. There are guys that can do it as a starter, but for him, I think being in the bullpen is a good thing."

March 27, 2010

TMZ was wrong about the rings

The Yankees will receive their rings at the home opener on April 13 — not the day after — according to a team source.

Girardi expects Joba to make team

This whole Joba to the bullpen situation is mind-boggling. I have seen several reports from trustworthy sources that Joba Chamberlain will be in the bullpen this season, but those all seem to be assumptions now.

“The assumption is that he’s going to pitch at a high level and earn his spot,” Girardi said. “I expect him to be on this team.

As for a role, Girardi is still not committing to Chamberlain in the eighth inning. Last spring it would have been difficult to predict that Phil Hughes would take that setup job.

“You’d like to see someone lock it down,” Girardi said. “There are a lot of quality arms down there that could do it.” - LoHud

I don’t understand why Girardi used the word “expect.” It’s as if Chamberlain is still fighting for a spot in the pen over these final spring training games. More likely, he’s not ready to reveal the look of his bullpen publicly.

---
The LoHud notes remind fans the Yankees have a losing record this spring. I haven’t checked their record once this spring. Girardi didn’t seem to care.

“If you’re getting the pitching, then to me, that hitting is going to come,” he said.

TMZ: Yankees getting World Series rings on April 14

TMZ is reporting the Yankees will receive their World Series rings on April 14 when they play the Angels.

Maybe this day was chosen to make it more convenient for Hideki Matsui. More likely, the Yankees are doing it to rub it in the faces of one of their biggest rivals.

April 14 is a 1 p.m. game — the team’s second home game of the season. If you want to go, $9 tickets are still available as of this morning.
yanks-ring.jpg
Information on the design was unavailable, but TMZ reminded fans their ring in 2000 included 22 major diamonds.

March 26, 2010

Papelbon’s take on Yankees-Red Sox games

“Man, this movie is so good I wish it would have never ended.”

That’s what Jonathan Papelbon thinks of Yankees-Red Sox games. If it’s cold out, “bundle up and drink beer” he added.

I’m sure when Papelbon watches Avatar he’s staring at the screen the same intense way he does when he looks in for the catcher’s sign.

Before continuing, you’ll want to head over to Craig Calcaterra’s analysis of Papelbon’s analogy. If you’re too lazy, at least read why he thinks the games are too long:

Mound meetings, equipment adjustments, extra bullpen throws and long stares into the catcher before each pitch, often by closers like Papelbon and Mariano Rivera who only throw one damn pitch most of the time anyway.

The last part is so true! Well, kind of. Both throw mainly one pitch, but deciding — and nailing — the location of each pitch is what makes them so good. On the other hand, there definitely is some added time for intimidation and suspense purposes.

Honestly, I couldn’t care less how long these games last. In fact, I wouldn’t mind them going even longer! It is the greatest rivalry in sports, and I’m sure there meetings are the most watched games of the regular season.

I feel like the longer the games the go, the more I get into them. The fact that the Yankees can blow out the Red Sox 20-11 on Friday and then lose 14-1 on Saturday is amazing. And those same teams went 14 innings without scoring a single run earlier that month.

As John Sterling would say, “you can never predict baseball.” It’s especially true for Yankees-Red Sox games. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

But I agree with She-Fan that the rivalry shouldn’t kick off the season. That’s just too soon to play three of the best games of the year.

Expecting the worst with A-Rod

This could be the worst day of the spring. Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to meet with the feds regarding his relationship with Tony Galea. If A-Rod does have any real connection with Galea — and received performance-enhancing drugs from him — all hell could break loose in Yankee camp just nine days before Opening Day.

March 25, 2010

Jeter wants to be owner, eventually

Derek Jeter an owner?

From the AP:

The New York Yankees shortstop tells The Associated Press that once his career is over, he envisions himself pursuing ownership of a professional sports franchise — like Michael Jordan.

Jeter, one of several athletes who endorses the Jordan Brand, was in Tampa Thursday at an event celebrating the launch of his ninth signature shoe, the Jordan Jeter Throwback.

If you were a baseball player, would you buy this shoe?

I would.

Could you imagine Jeter owning the Florida Marlins? But he said he plans on continuing to play baseball for a “long time.”

Two Yankee aces get lit up in one day

CC Sabathia, the ace of the rotation, got shelled against a Triple-A team, and Alfredo Aceves, “Ace,” allowed five earned runs against the Orioles.

Both pitchers were highly dependable last year and are seen as saviors when they’re on the mound. It’s pretty unexpected for both to get roughed up against two awful teams on the same day.

Aceves figures to find a spot in the bullpen with the latest Hughes news, and I believe he should.

Aceves has helped the Yankees too much the last two seasons for Girardi not to bring him back. No matter the spring stats, Aceves should be the versatile reliever the Yankees loved last year once again.

Oh, and Sabathia is still the real ace.

Phil Hughes finally announced fifth starter, Joba no guarantee for bullpen spot

Joe Girardi just announced Phil Hughes as the fifth starter this year, which means Joba Chamberlain is headed to the bullpen, right?

Apparently, not necessarily. The tweet from Marc Carig reads:

Girardi: none of the guys who didn't win job are guaranteed bullpen spots, Joba included.

This goes against what Girardi said on Feb. 22.

“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.”

I don’t see how Girardi could think Chamberlain doesn’t have one of the top 12 arms in the organization. Chamberlain belongs in the bullpen this year. Having him “ready to start” in Triple-A won’t do him any good. He’s already shown he can be a starter at that level. It’s time he proves he can get big league hitters out regularly.

However, Girardi did follow through on one promise he made on Feb. 17, saying he’d like to have the rotation set by March 25 (which happens to be today). I guess he didn’t need the final week to make the decision.

Pena beats out Russo for utility spot

Joe Girardi said he isn’t ready to announce the fifth starter yet, but he did reveal the winner of one position battle. Ramiro Pena will be the utility infielder, while Kevin Russo was reassigned to minor-league camp.

Pena had a decent year as the Yankees utility infielder last year. He hit .287/.317/.383 and played sharp defense at shortstop, second and third base.

The only way I see Russo playing on the Yankees this year is if an infielder gets hurt.

March 24, 2010

Edwar an Athletic & changes to LCS

When Edwar Ramirez was traded to the Rangers earlier this month, I predicted he would get rocked in Texas. Fortunately for him, he won’t have the chance — on a regular basis, at least.

The Oakland A’s acquired Ramirez today for infielder Gregorio Petit, according to the San Francisco Chronicle (h/t MLBTR).

So now Ramirez will get a shot in a pitchers’ ballpark!

Prediction: He’ll still get rocked.

In other news… Tyler Kepner reports a minor change to the scheduling of the League Championship Series this year. The change: no off day between Games 4 and 5.

Shortening the series by a game may force teams to start their fourth starter, which the Yankees are now prepared for (assuming Javier Vazquez doesn’t pull a Carl Pavano).

Do you think MLB changed the rules to avoid teams, like the Yankees last year, sweeping through the postseason with only three starters?

Dwight Gooden to face several charges

The ex-Yank Dwight Gooden is in trouble again.

Dwight Gooden, the former pitching star who has battled drug and alcohol problems, was arrested Tuesday and faces several charges, including driving while under the influence of drugs, after an accident in Franklin Lakes, N.J.

“Doc” Gooden was mainly a Met, but pitched for the Yankees in 1996, 1997 and 2000. Gooden pitched a no-hitter in ‘96, but didn’t pitch in the postseason that year. Injuries plagued the last few years of his career, and he’s been in trouble with the law multiple times ever since.

It’s official: Granderson to play center

According to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, Curtis Granderson — not Brett Gardner — will be the starting center fielder in 2010.

Thrre things that make sense about this move:

  1. For Gardner to take over in center, he would’ve had to convince the Yankees he was far superior, which he is not. Why?
  2. Because Granderson was the top acquisition of the offseason, and it’s very important for him to feel comfortable. The Yankees didn’t notice a wide gap in the defense, so they kept Granderson in center.
  3. Let’s say the Yankees went the other way and put Gardner in center. Then, Gardner loses his job due to awful hitting. That would result in switching Granderson back to center, which isn’t very easy on a guy who should be playing in the same spot every day.

    Granderson’s job in center is secure, and the only reason he won’t be out there is an injury.

March 23, 2010

A-Rod to speak with investigators Friday, ESPN New York to launch April 2

Two interesting news items for Tuesday: (I originally wrote “Wednesday” because I’m losing track of what day it is. I’m kind of overwhelmed right now.):

  1. Alex Rodriguez will meet with federal investigators in Buffalo on Friday to discuss his ties with Tony Galea. The Canadian sports physician faces four drug charges. A-Rod is considered a witness in the case, according to the Daily News.

    So far this spring, this news surrounding A-Rod is the only negative. Last year, there were significant injuries and a gigantic drug scandal. This has been an extremely quiet spring for the Yankees, but let’s hope they don’t sleep through April!
  2. My sports reporting professor brought in a guest lecturer for today’s class. His name is Patrick Stiegman, VP/Executive Editor & Producer of ESPN.com. Stiegman announced ESPN New York will launch April 2, just two days before the Yankees-Red Sox Sunday night game.

    New York will be ESPN’s fifth city with its own site, joining Boston, Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. These sites do an excellent job covering the teams, and I’m looking forward to following this season along with ESPN New York.

    I know the Mets main reporter for ESPN New York will be Adam Rubin (via The ‘Ropolitans), but I have no idea who they’ll get to cover the Yankees. My top candidate: Mark Feinsand of the Daily News.

Yankees roster, position battle notes

In light of a few recent roster moves, the Yankees Opening Day roster is nearly set. Here’s a quick recap of the moves and a look at the latest projected roster.

  • Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmann cleared waivers and returned to the LA Dodgers. This opens the door for Marcus Thames as one of the backup outfielders.
  • According to Ed Price, the Yankees placed Chad Gaudin on waivers early this morning. Gaudin had an awful spring, but he was more of a proven major league pitcher than Sergio Mitre, who now looks like the favorite for a long relief role.
  • The projected Opening Day roster (via LoHud):

    Pitchers
    Alfredo Aceves
    A.J. Burnett
    Joba Chamberlain
    Phil Hughes
    Damaso Marte
    Sergio Mitre
    Chan Ho Park
    Andy Pettitte
    Mariano Rivera
    Dave Robertson
    CC Sabathia
    Javier Vazquez

    Catchers
    Francisco Cervelli
    Jorge Posada

    Infielders
    Robinson Cano
    Derek Jeter
    Nick Johnson
    Ramiro Pena
    Alex Rodriguez
    Mark Teixeira

    Outfielders
    Brett Gardner
    Curtis Granderson
    Nick Swisher
    Marcus Thames
    Randy Winn

Not bad at all.

Touching on the two major position decisions: Hughes is the odds-on favorite to be the No. 5 starter and Gardner will likely be the starting left fielder.

As for the batting order: Johnson should hit second, Cano fifth, Posada sixth and Granderson seventh. The rest should be obvious.

There’s your update! It looks like this team has resolved its spring training debates and is ready to repeat as champions.

Please, send along any questions you have about this season in the comments or my inbox.

March 22, 2010

Poll Results: Hitting was key to last season’s success

poll results16Fans voted hitting as the most important aspect of the Yankees’ success last season.

The Yankees led the majors in runs, homers, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Certainly their offense played a major role, but I think the postseason pitching was more of a factor than people realize.

The three-man rotation worked very well, and the bullpen had five quality pitchers (Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson and Damaso Marte).

A-Rod Featured Yankee Card of the Week


Alex Rodriguez is bound for a big year in 2010. His consistency over a 12-year span is unmatched, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down.

Despite missing the first month of the season last year, A-Rod still managed to compile his 12th consecutive season with 30 or more homers and 100 RBI.

Fantasy baseball drafters will have to make the choice of how high to draft him. Yahoo! ranks him third, behind Albert Pujols and Hanley Ramirez. I’d say Rodriguez has the edge over Ramirez statistically, but Ramirez may have more value as a second pick since he’s a shortstop. There are a lot more options at third base than there are at short.

Consider that my first fantasy tip of the year. Expect them to come on a weekly basis.

March 21, 2010

So much for seeing Damon & Granderson

I was psyched this morning to see both Johnny Damon and Curtis Granderson slotted in the lineups for today’s game. Of course, the game was rained out.

Joe Girardi said it really messed up the pitching schedule and doesn’t know what he’ll do yet to get his guys the work.

UPDATE: The Yankees will have an intrasquad game tomorrow to fit everyone in.

Dream Yankees bedroom

You’re jealous.

No that’s not my bedroom (I wish it was). It’s Craig’s, a River Ave Blues reader. Definitely head over to this post to see several other awesome pictures of this dream room of Yankees paraphernalia.

Johnny, Grandy go head to head today

Johnny Damon and Curtis Granderson swapped teams this offseason, and there’s some heavy debate between who will have the better year.

Today marks the first time these two All-Star outfielders will play against each other directly with their new teams. Last time Damon faced New York, he smacked a solo shot off Sergio Mitre and Granderson garnered two hits in his last game against the Tigers.

Should be fun to watch these two go at it today, and I’m definitely looking forward to it this season. Here are the lineups:

Tigers Yankees
Brandon Inge 3B Derek Jeter SS
Johnny Damon LF Nick Johnson 1B
Magglio Ordonez RF Jorge Posada C
Miguel Cabrera 1B Alex Rodriguez 3B
Carlos Guillen DH Robinson Cano 2B
Don Kelly CF Nick Swisher RF
Gerald Laird C Curtis Granderson CF
Scott Sizemore 2B Randy Winn LF
Adam Everett SS Francisco Cervelli

And two fireballers on the mound: A.J. Burnett (0-1, 6.75 ERA) vs. Justin Verlander (1-2, 6.10).

MLB tells Yankees to speed up games

The Yankees, Red Sox and Dodgers played the longest games and also happened to have the top three team on-base percentages in baseball last year. So that makes sense, right?

Well, major league baseball doesn’t think so. The Official Playing Rules Committee is asking the three aforementioned teams to speed up their games.

“We have hitters that see a lot of pitches. The Red Sox have hitters that see a lot of pitches. We haven’t played the Dodgers so I don’t really know. But that’s going to be a part of it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

What are the Yankees supposed to do — give away outs? This is ridiculous. It’s not like they’re playing excessively long games consistently.

OK, maybe when the Yankees and Red Sox play against each other they do, but there are other contributing factors for that too.

I don’t think this committee has any valid point here.

March 20, 2010

Weber earns start in right today

Yankee outfielder Jon Weber is red hot this spring. Joe Girardi is aware and has him starting in right field today against the Astros. As Sweeny Murti noted, Weber hits left-handed. That will hurt his chances of making the club because the Yankees are looking for a right-handed hitter to come off the bench.

Today’s full lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames LF
Jon Weber RF
Ramiro Pena SS
Mike Rivera C

RHP Alfredo Aceves

Backups:
- Dustin Moseley, Boone Logan Mark Melancon, John Van Benschoten, Jonathan Ortiz and Craig Heyer.

- C Francisco Cervelli, 1B David Winfree, 2B Eduardo Nunez, SS Kevin Russo, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Colin Curtis, CF Greg Golson, RF Reid Gorecki, DH Jamie Hoffmann

March 19, 2010

Yanks should deal Mitre, not Gaudin

Joel Sherman reiterated the Yankees’ plans to deal Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre before Opening Day.

So which one will Brian Cashman part with? Which one do the Yankees want to keep? Let’s look at their numbers from last year with the Yankees.

Player W L G IP ERA K WHIP
Gaudin 2 0 11 42 3.43 34 1.452
Mitre 3 3 12 51.2 6.79 32 1.626

Not a big sample size, but the pressure was on and both were healthy. Gaudin clearly was better during the season, earning him the spot on the postseason roster. But Mitre has been better this spring and has the cheaper contract to make things more complicated.

On the other hand, Gaudin is two years younger and Mitre hasn’t proven anything in season play. I’m also really tired of hearing about “meat-tray” during games. Get rid of Mitre, for anyone or anything.

A-Rod, CC, Weber impress in win over Tigers

Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia were the two most important players of last year’s world championship team. Today, they showed why they are two of the highest paid players in the majors.

A-Rod launched a home run over the scoreboard in left field at George M. Steinbrenner field, and Sabathia fanned eight hitters over 5-1/3 innings.

The Yankees won 6-2, but that’s not what’s important in spring training. You hope to see your top players perform the way they should and your young players play better than expectations.

Jon Weber, a minor leaguer since 1999, has been absolutely on fire this spring. Including his two hits today, in 17 at bats this spring he’s racked up 10 hits and 15 RBI. This guy is a pure hitter and is seeking a spot on the bench.

I’m not saying he deserves it, but his performance is being noticed and he’s a guy you should know.

Split-squad preview

Let’s play two! The Yankees are splitting up again to play Detroit at home and Tampa Bay on the road. Here are the lineups:

Home vs. Detroit
Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames LF
Jamie Hoffmann CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Greg Golson RF

LHP CC Sabathia

Backups:
- CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Jonathan Albaladejo, Ryan Pope, Eric Wordekemper and Royce Ring
- C Mike Rivera, 1B P.J. Pilittere, 2B Eduardo Nunez, SS Kevin Russo, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF David Winfree, DH Jon Weber

Road vs. Tampa Bay
Brett Gardner CF
Curtis Granderson LF
Nick Swisher DH
Jorge Posada C
Randy Winn RF
Juan Miranda 1B
Ramiro Pena 2B
Brandon Laird 3B
Eduardo Nunez SS

RHP Sergio Mitre

Backups:
- Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin, Jason Hirsh, Amaury Sanit and Zack Segovia.
- C Jesus Montero, SS Reegie Corona, LF Colin Curtis, CF Reid Gorecki, RF Edwar Gonzalez, DH Austin Romine

Other notes:
- Good to see Jeter back in the lineup. The Yankees will see Austin Jackson and Phil Coke, but no Johnny Damon.
- If Mitre dazzles today, I wonder if he is considered for the fifth rotation spot.

March 18, 2010

Yankees notes on Mauer, lineup, rotation, Robertson

It was a pretty slow Thursday in Yankee Country. Colin Curtis’s second three-run homer of the spring anchored the Yankees over the Rays, 6-4. Chan Ho Park made his spring debut, pitching a perfect fifth inning.

Here are some interesting news items from today:

  • The reigning AL MVP doesn’t know where he’ll be in 2011. Joe Mauer is negotiating with the Twins, but the parties don’t seem to be getting close to an extension. The Yankees, and the rest of baseball, are keeping their ears open.

    As The Chuck Knoblog said, I think Mauer should be a Twin for life. He’s homegrown, he’s 26 years old and he’s already the face of the franchise and maybe all of baseball.

    Also, the Yankees have plenty of catchers in their system. No, there’s no guarantee any of them will become major league starters, but I’d like to give Jesus Montero and Austin Romine a chance before making a gigantic financial investment.
  • Craig Calcaterra reveals an interesting study about the Yankees lineup from an ESPN blog. Here’s the optimal lineup, according to Sky Kalkman:

    1. Nick Johnson
    2. Mark Teixeira
    3. Curtis Granderson
    4. Alex Rodriguez
    5. Robinson Cano
    6. Derek Jeter
    7. Nick Swisher
    8. Jorge Posada
    9. Brett Gardner

    Yeah. Right.
  • Joe Girardi said he’d like to have the fifth starter decided on by next Thursday or Friday, according to Tyler Kepner of the NY Times. The Yankees brass plan to meet this weekend to discuss the rotation.

    That gives Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain one more audition — maybe two — to fight for the job. My gut says Phil Hughes gets it.
  • Mark Feinsand of the Daily News featured the Yankees’ bright young reliever, Dave Robertson. Feinsand relates Robertson to Mariano Rivera, and Rivera says he loves Robertson’s willingness to learn to learn.

March 17, 2010

Marte OK, Joba keeps pace with Hughes

After getting hit with a line drive in today’s game against the Phillies, Damaso Marte “has a bruise on his lower back but was already going through exercises within a few innings of leaving the game,” according to LoHud. Girardi said he’s not concerned.

Joba Chamberlain pitched the last three innings against the Phillies, striking out three, walking one, and allowing two hits and a run.

Based on the postgame interview, it sounded like Joba really had everything working for him — especially control. Girardi had high praise for the righty, perhaps an attempt to keep the fifth starter race in question.

“Outstanding,” Joe Girardi said. “Worked quickly. Attacked the zone. He’s got to go out and throw more, and that’s what you want to see. Quality.”

Other notes:

  • Andy Pettitte pitched four strong innings in his spring debut.
  • Joel Sherman of the NY Post believes the Yankees have made several big mistakes with the new Yankee Stadium.
  • RAB’s Joe Pawlikowski analyzes last season for A.J. Burnett and CC Sabathia, and predicts how they’ll do in 2010.

Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine in a test during the 2009 season, according to Jon Heyman.

“I did make a mistake and I regret that I did it,” Washington told SI.com by phone from Surprise, Ariz., on Tuesday night. “I am really embarrassed and I am really sorry.”

What’s interesting about this case, which came later in the article, is that Washington warned commissioner Bud Selig that he might fail the test. When his guess turned true, the team decided not to fire him then.

“It was the right thing to do,” Washington said of his decision to come forward. “I couldn't deal with the result to come back positive and be a shock to those who've shown faith in me.”

He’s right. And it saved him his job.

MSG’s ‘The Lineup’ to premier Tuesday

clip_image001“The Lineup” is a new original series and interactive fantasy game that will determine the best baseball players in the history of New York.

“The Lineup: New York’s All-Time Best Baseball Players” will premier on Tuesday, March 23 at 10:30 p.m. ET on MSG Network with “Catchers,” the first of ten weekly episodes. Each 30-minute episode of “The Lineup” will present a number of nominees for consideration at each position, from the Yankees, Mets, New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers, with one episode dedicated to the best New York manager of all-time. MSG’s Fran Healy will host a panel, consisting of Hall of Fame Mets catcher Gary Carter, former Yankee bullpen ace Sparky Lyle, New York Magazine contributing editor and baseball aficionado Will Leitch, and executive vice president of the Elias Sports Bureau Steve Hirdt. The panel will whittle down a larger list of players from each position and determine the top five from each spot on the diamond. By the end of each episode, they will crown the top player at each position and name him to the official “Lineup” card.

With an interactive fantasy game launched in conjunction with the on-air program and hosted on MSG.com/lineup, viewers can see how they stack up against The Lineup's experts. Fans will try to predict the five players who will be nominated each week and ultimately who will be selected as the starter in the final “Lineup.” Participants will receive points for each correct pick and will be eligible for weekly prizes such as signed memorabilia from baseball greats like Don Mattingly, Joe Torre, Reggie Jackson and Derek Jeter. At the end of the series, the participant with the most points will win a Grand Prize. The site will also feature chats for fans to interact and debate each position, quizzes about the nominated players, photo and video galleries, and player statistics for fans to comb through before making their picks.

The first episode of The Lineup airs on Tuesday, March 23rd at 10:30 p.m. ET on MSG Network, but you can already head over to MSG.com/lineup and make your picks for the best catcher in NY baseball history. Piazza? Posada? Yogi Berra?

Comeback liner ends Marte’s day early

The only left-hander assured a spot in the Yankees bullpen left his first outing of the spring after Ryan Howard’s liner clipped Damaso Marte in the back.

Marte “stood bent over, hands on knees before walking off the mound,” according to a tweet from Yankees beat Sweeny Murti.

If Marte misses time, he’ll have trouble getting ready for Opening Day. This could mean southpaws Boone Logan and Royce Ring will be watched very closely the rest of the way as they battle to make the roster.

Tough luck for Marte here. He had a pretty terrible 2009 season, but figured things out in the postseason, tossing four scoreless innings in eight appearances.

Note: Marte had given up a three-run homer to right-handed hitting Jayson Werth before Howard’s liner knocked him out of the game.

The Yankees should never have given up Phil Coke (now with the Tigers),  but that’s just my opinion.

Pettitte to debut, Chamberlain to follow

The Yankees play the Phillies today at 1 p.m. in Clearwater, Flo. Andy Pettitte will make his first start of the spring (if rain doesn’t stop him) and Joba Chamberlain will make a highly anticipated appearance after Pettitte. Here’s the lineup:

Brett Gardner CF
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Marcus Thames LF
Randy Winn RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Ramiro Pena SS
Kevin Russo 2B

Chamberlain will receive a lot of attention today because he’s being compared to Phil Hughes constantly, and yesterday, Hughes shut out the Astros for four innings.

Keep in mind, though, those innings were against mostly backups. As Joe Girardi and Dave Eiland have been stressing, they aren’t just looking at the stats. Right now, Hughes has a huge lead in stats, but I don’t believe he has a huge lead in the race for the fifth starter.

Rivera escapes jam in first spring outing

Mariano Rivera needed 27 pitches to make it through his first inning of spring training, but, of course, no runners came around to score.

“It was nice to go out there and throw good pitches,” Rivera said, adding that it felt “day and night” from a year ago, when he was on the comeback trail from shoulder surgery.

He allowed a hit and a walk, but struck out one.

Mo said he got too excited when asked about walking a hitter, something he did 12 times all of last season.

It creeps me out to step back and compare him to other elite pitchers. No other pitcher has the pinpoint control that he does. I’m sorry, but that’s hard to refute.

March 15, 2010

Poll Results: Red Sox offseason just OK

poll results15 In my latest poll, the majority of fans graded the Red Sox offseason as OK, while a modest percentage voted it was a good offseason.

I fall with the majority because the Red Sox bolstered their pitching and defense, which is good. But the lineup is still lacking a few important pieces. Without a normal David Ortiz, Jason Bay, or Manny Ramirez, the team is different.

A lot of the weight lost falls on the shoulders of first baseman Kevin Youkilis.

Next poll: What was the most important part of the 2009 champs?

Cano Featured Yankee Card of the Week

Robinson Cano’s emergence as the No. 5 hitter makes him a hot topic. Cano hit .320/.352/.520 last year, and finished 17th in MVP voting despite batting mostly sixth or seventh in the order.

Now he’ll protect Alex Rodriguez and hit ahead of Jorge Posada.

Is this move permanent? I don’t think so. The fifth spot could be Cano, Posada or Curtis Granderson at any point this year.

But if Cano does hit behind A-Rod for the majority of the season, he’ll have a very good shot at driving in 100 runs for the first time in his career.

March 14, 2010

Yankee Opening Day lineup revealed early?

Joe Girardi was very careful with his words when talking about the lineup with the beats on Sunday. Still, another big hint slipped out, making the Opening Day lineup pretty obvious.

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

The most recent hint was on the fifth hitter, Cano. He said he stresses batting average — opposed to pop — in that spot. The power guy that expected to fight for the fifth spot was Granderson, who was also vying for the second spot. Now he’s likely to hit as low as seventh.

Granderson becomes the best No. 7 hitter in all of baseball. I’d go as far as saying it’s undeniable.

I’m glad Girardi is looking past Cano’s rough stretch in clutch situations last year. There’s no reason to believe that is a predictor for his entire career, as it is not a trend found in his career before 2009.

2009 World Series DVD Review

Shout Factory New York Yankees 2009 World Series DVD - MLB.com ShopMy dad and I finally found a night to watch the 2009 World Series DVD. In one sentence: It was a well-produced, exciting recap of the World Series that reminds you how much you’ll miss Hideki Matsui, Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera this year.

Recapping the season highlights: The DVD’s quick review of the regular season’s most memorable moments encouraged me to look at some of my old posts just for other exciting clips of the season. That’s the main reason why I bought the DVD, just so the year will stick in my brain forever. What a year to start this blog!

Included:
- A new taste to the clubhouse with A.J. Burnett and Nick Swisher
- The three walk-off win series against the Twins
- Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera major milestones
- Beating the Red Sox (a little more of that would have been nice!)
- Most comeback wins in the baseball, 51
- Yankees hit 244 homers in the season to lead the AL and set a franchise record
- Phillies hit 224 homers in the season to lead the NL

Didn’t include:
- Nick Swisher’s April, especially his inning on the mound
- Alex Rodriguez’s walk-off homer against Boston
- The crashing and burning of Chien-Ming Wang
- Love for Alfredo Aceves (he went 10-1)
- Robinson Cano (I don’t think they used his name once in the entire DVD! I guess hitting .320 is meaningless)
- Brett Gardner’s inside-the-parker (a truly inspiring story)
- Perhaps most importantly, the steroid controversy around A-Rod in the beginning of spring

Recapping the postseason: The majority of the DVD is the review of the World Series, so, along with the season, the ALDS and ALCS were zipped through. So they highlighted A-Rod’s turnaround.

To me, he’s only hit like that in one other stretch as a Yankee. That would be April 2007. Obviously that was a little longer of a stretch, but during both spans you got the same feeling whenever he stepped up to the plate. I remember that month vividly.

Recapping the World Series: How sweet it was. One thing that stood out to me was the decision-making by Joe Girardi in Game 3. To name a few of the series-altering decisions: Swisher having a huge game after resting Game 2, keeping Damaso Marte in to face Ryan Howard, and Matsui’s pinch-hit homer.

I liked how the DVD included interviews from the Yankees and the Phillies players/managers. It was nice to get the other perspective, especially after Jimmy Rollins opened his big mouth before the series began.

Best quote: “I was born ready” – Mo, when asked about his preparation for the series.

2nd best quote: “the most influential player that ever stepped into that stadium” – Pedro, before starting Game 2 at Yankee Stadium.

Highlights:
- Cliff Lee was unhittable in Game 1
- Matsui slugs homer off Pedro in Game 2 (foreshadowing) after Mark Teixeira’s low-lined homer to tie it
- Mo got a six-out save to tie series
- Everything went right for Girardi in Game 3
- Blanton bombed in Game 4
- A-Rod kept his cool after being hit three times in two games
- Utley had three homers off Sabathia in the series
- Damon’s double-steal in Game 4 is turning point
- Arkansas boys Burnett and Lee in Game 5 (I didn’t know that!)
- Utley ties Reggie Jackson’s five homers in World Series
- Game 6 Pedro, Pettitte (a lot of history between the two)
- Matsui 2-run homer, 2-run single, 2-run double, tying Bobby Richardson’s record

Annoying: The players always said something along the lines of, “got a good pitch to hit and put the barrel of the bat on the ball” when asked about a big hit. That got a little old, but what can you do?

Cool: The DVD used interesting facts as transitions throughout the season. At the end, it listed a bunch of cool facts. One of which has sparked the “Is Pettitte a Hall of Famer” debate. I’ll touch on the topic before the season begins.

Shh. I’m secretly taking this back to school with me. Until my dad reads this post, that is.

Lineup vs. Pirates, list of early cuts

The Yankees will play the Pirates at 1:05 p.m. today on the MLB Network. Here's the lineup:

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Nick Swisher RF
Marcus Thames LF
Brett Gardner CF
Randy Winn DH
Francisco Cervelli C
Jorge Vazquez 3B

Note: Joe Girardi reiterated that Nick Johnson fits the role of a high on-base guy to hit second in the lineup. I've already said to chalk up this debate.

In other news, George Steinbrenner is expected to attend the home opener at Yankee Stadium to witness the championship ceremony.

Here's a list of the first set of cuts from Girardi (also via LoHud):

RHP Andrew Brackman
RHP D.J. Mitchell
RHP Christian Garcia
RHP Kevin Whelan
LHP Wilkins Arias
LHP Kei Igawa
LHP Wilkin De La Rosa
LHP Jeremy Bleich
C Kyle Higashioka

March 13, 2010

Dice-K likely to miss start of season

Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com is reporting Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka left a bullpen session after five pitches with a stiff neck and is unlikely to travel back to Boston with the team after spring training wraps up.

Expect an update here from Terry Francona after today’s game.

UPDATE: “We’ll go kind of day-to-day on it,” Francona said. “We’ll wait and see how he shows up tomorrow, and when he feels good, we’ll repeat what we were going to do.”

The Red Sox rotation may be deep, but I’d say the Yankees’ rotation is just as deep and far more durable. Below is a comparison without Matsuzaka.

Yankees Rotation Red Sox Rotation
CC Sabathia Jon Lester
A.J. Burnett Josh Beckett
Andy Pettitte John Lackey
Javier Vazquez Clay Buchholz
Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain Tim Wakefield


Cliff Corcoran of Bronx Banter, a source I’d definitely recommend following, made a very interesting observation on the two rotations yesterday.

I think they're pretty similar. Young lefty ace? Check. Fragile ex-Marlin with great stuff? Check. New arrival who has been asked to be an ace in the past? Check. Elite prospect hoping to finally shake the prospect tag? Check. What worries you more, Matsuzaka's conflicts with the team and 2009 injury/conditioning issues or the mileage on Andy Pettitte's elbow? I think there's enough talent in both rotations that fortune will tip the balance.

Like I said, Cliff knows what he’s talking about.

Today’s game previews

The Yankees are splitting up today for two games. Below is where you’ll find each player today (all from LoHud).

Home vs. Baltimore
Gardner CF
Johnson DH
Posada C
Cano 2B
Granderson LF
Winn RF
Miranda 1B
Laird 3B
Pena SS

RHP Javier Vazquez

Scheduled to play off the bench: C Jesus Montero, 1B P.J. Pilittere, 2B Reegie Corona, LF Colin Curtis, RF Jon Weber, DH Kyle Higashioka
Extra players: C Mitch Abeita, INF Justin Snyder, OF Austin Krum
Available out of the bullpen: Royce Ring, Kei Igawa, Alfredo Aceves, Dave Robertson, Wilkins Arias, Jeremy Bleich

Road vs. Detroit
Jeter SS
Swisher RF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Thames LF
Cervelli C
Hoffmann CF
Winfree DH
Nunez 2B

RHP Chad Gaudin

Scheduled to play off the bench: C Austin Romine, 1B Mike Rivera, SS Kevin Russo, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Edwar Gonzalez, RF Reid Gorecki, DH Jose Gil
Extra players: C Ryan Baker, INF Luis Nunez, OF Dan Brewer
Available out of the bullpen: Sergio Mitre, Boone Logan, Grant Duff, Amaury Sanit, Zach Segovia

March 12, 2010

Rain, rain, go away

rainRadar as of 5:20 p.m. EST
The Yankees were canceled due to rain for the second day in a row today. Don’t fret, both scheduled starters A.J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte got their work done indoors.

But who am I kidding, everyone wants to see the Yankees play! Thankfully, checking out the 10-day forecast for Tampa leads me to believe the Yankees won’t be getting rained out anytime soon.

Here are some spring notes and links:

  • Tomorrow, the Yankees have split-squad games against the Tigers and Orioles at 1 p.m. The game against Baltimore can be found on MY9 with Javier Vazquez making the first pitch.
  • The Yanks have seen (were scheduled to see) a lot of ex-Yanks this week. To name a few… Steven Jackson, Jose Tabata, Austin Jackson, Phil Coke, Melky Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang, Brian Bruney and Johnny Damon.
  • Mark Feinsand of the Daily News tagged Phil Hughes and Brett Gardner as the early favorites in their respective position battles.
  • Derek Jeter was sent home yesterday with flu-like symptoms, but could be back in the lineup for one of Saturday’s games. Today, Jeter said it was food poisoning.
  • The great Mariano Rivera is expected to pitch in his first spring training game on Tuesday along with Damaso Marte. Chan Ho Park will make his debut later in the week.

Old Yankee Stadium rebuilt!

Despite the dreadful video of the old Yankee Stadium seats tumbling to the ground yesterday, Sean Kenney decided to rebuild the stadium brick by brick — Lego brick, that is (via IIATMS).

This was my dream growing up, and I’m not kidding at all.

March 11, 2010

Cervelli is going to be like David Wright

Yankees backup catcher Francisco Cervelli and Mets All-Star third baseman David Wright have one thing in common. And it’s not their bat.

It’s their ridiculously oversized helmets.

After Cervelli’s second concussion in four months (third of his life), he’ll wear a larger, more protective helmet for his dome. Here’s the comparison (via Star Ledger).

When I saw this picture, this post on my buddy’s blog came to mind. It’s hilarious.

UPDATE: Ben Shpigel of the new York Times says Cervelli’s got a new nickname. It’s “Gazoo,” which is named after the Great Gazoo. See video here.

Video: Old Yankee Stadium upper deck collapses


This is very, very hard to watch.

March 10, 2010

Pick your infield: Phillies or Yankees

When River Avenue Blues directed me to a column headlined “Phillies have best infield of baseball’s modern era,” I was expecting an in-depth comparison between the Phillies and Yankees.

Instead, he rambled on about the infield combo of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. Go to the column if you want a history lesson from the old-timer. But if you want to compare this year’s infields, keep reading.

For reference…

Yankees Pos. Phillies
Mark Teixeira 1B Ryan Howard
Robinson Cano 2B Chase Utley
Alex Rodriguez 3B Placido Polanco
Derek Jeter SS Jimmy Rollins


Awards: The biggest statement from the column I have a problem with is the one about all the awards the “Phils’ Fab Four” have accrued.

Every member of the current Phillies infield has been an All-Star. Polanco and Rollins have won Gold Gloves. All four have won Silver Slugger awards - Polanco as a second baseman in the American League. Rollins and Howard have been MVPs and Utley is in the MVP conversation each year. It is a much-honored group.

Awesome. Let me quickly recap the Yankees infield accolades.
- Teixeira: 2xAll-Star, 3xGold Glove, 3xSilver Slugger
- Cano: 1xAll-Star, 1xSilver Slugger
- Rodriguez: 3xMVP, 12xAll-Star, 2xGold Glove, 10xSilver Slugger
- Jeter: 10xAll-Star, 4xGold Glove, 4xSilver Slugger
Oh, and Jeter and Teixeira have been second in MVP, and Cano has received votes twice. I’d say the Yankees win the award battle.

Offense: These days, comparing home run and RBI totals won’t suffice. The most commonly accepted stat in comparing offensive skills is OPS or OPS+. OPS+ is a weighted version of on-base plus slugging percentage (100 is average, above is better, below is worse). So, let’s compare.

Yankees ‘09 OPS+ Phillies ‘09 OPS+
Teixeira 149 Howard 140
Cano 129 Utley 136
Rodriguez 147 Polanco 88
Jeter 132 Rollins 86
Total 557 Total 450


Sorry, it’s not even close. I’d say the Phillies have the better top 3 (despite the numbers), but the Yankees easily have the better four.

Defense: I’d say both have very good defenses, but having Teixeira as an anchor at first base gives the Yankees the slight edge. Howard had 14 errors, Teixeira had 4 (in four less games).

Forgetting someone? The column didn’t even include catchers, which is a position some might consider in comparing infields. And this category would no doubt go to the Yankees. I’ll take Jorge Posada, even at age 38, any day over Carlos Ruiz or Brian Schneider.

Granderson, Damon go head to head

Today’s game against the Tigers might be the biggest of the spring so far. Of course, I’ll be traveling during the game.

The first matchup you’ll see are outfielders Curtis Granderson and Johnny Damon. In a recent poll, fans voted Granderson would have a better year than Damon in 2010. I didn’t agree.

Second, you’ll see Act II of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes. In Act I, Chamberlain was awful and Hughes got touched for a homer. This time, Chamberlain doesn’t have an excuse, and it’s not expected to be so windy. Here’s the lineup:

Granderson CF
Johnson DH
Teixeira 1B
Cano 2B
Thames RF
Gardner LF
Rivera C
Vazquez 3B
Pena SS

A few other notes:

  • Go to Trenton Thunder beat reporter Mike Ashmore’s blog for a review of Jesus Montero’s recent career and his expectations for this year. Ashmore has seen this guy more than anyone.
  • Mark Newman, Yankees’ senior vice president of baseball operations, was charged with DUI last night in Tampa.
  • Nomar Garciaparra will retire with the Red Sox.

March 9, 2010

Edwar Ramirez traded to Rangers for cash

After being DFA’d by the Yankees to make room for Chan Ho Park, Edwar Ramirez has been picked up by the Rangers in exchange for cash considerations, Jack Curry tweeted today (via MLBTR).

Prediction: Ramirez will get rocked in the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

Jeter and Rivera are all-time Yankees

The day Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera sign with a team not named the Yankees is the same day I stop liking the Yankees.

I’m serious.

After reading another announcement from ESPN, and a text message alert, I’ve really lost it. It shows how stupid the Steinbrenners’ no extension policy is on multiple levels.

First, as I said, there’s no chance Jeter and Rivera sign with other teams after this year. If the Yankees don’t re-sign both of them, the entire city of New York will storm the stadium gates calling for George Steinbrenner’s head.

The other reason is because the media is actually making this seem like a big deal, and it’s going to be a distraction this year.

All throughout last year there were questions regarding expected free agents Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. But they weren’t the faces of the franchise. Jeter and Rivera are, and don’t deserve to hear the same malarkey.

The question surrounding Jeter and Rivera isn’t “will they be re-signed?” It’s for how many years will they be re-signed?

Get it? Good.

Yankees to play Pirates, again

The Yankees wil play the Pittsburg Pirates for the third time this spring today at 1:05 p.m. They beat the Bucs 6-3 in the spring opener and 6-0 yesterday. Behind CC Sabathia’s left arm, here’s the lineup today.

Jeter SS
Johnson DH
Posada C
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson CF
Swisher RF
Winn LF
Miranda 1B
Russo 2B

March 8, 2010

Spring training notes

After winning the spring training opener, the Yankees have been outscored 35-10 in four straight losses. Only the Angels are worse by percentage in the American League thus far (0-2).

  • Andy Pettitte tossed a simulated game yesterday and said he felt good. He’s scheduled to make his first real start against the Nationals on Friday.
  • Sergio Mitre added to his scoreless innings total yesterday, giving him five for the spring.
  • Mitre’s relievers, Chad Gaudin and Kei Igawa, didn’t have a very good time in today’s 11-0 drubbing.
  • Francisco Cervelli is feeling better a day after getting beaned.
  • Yanks scheduled for two games today. Notably, Nick Johnson is back in the lineup after a “tweaked back.”

Poll Results: Aceves deserves spot in pen

poll results14Of the four right-handed long relievers vying for a spot in the bullpen, Alfredo Aceves earned the vast majority of the votes.

Aceves won the hearts of fans when he first joined the team at the end of 2008. He didn’t slow down in 2009, going 10-1 with a 3.54 ERA in 84 innings.

I agree with the fans here. Sergio  Mitre is off to a good start this spring, Chad Gaudin might have the best background and you don’t know what to expect with Chan Ho Park.

Next poll: Rate the Red Sox offseason

Joe DiMaggio Featured Yankee Card of the Week

The only reason why I’m bringing Joe DiMaggio up is because he popped up in my Google Reader on Friday.

Another Yogi-ism.

Read this tweet by a Rays reporter (via Hardball Talk). That’s Yogi for you.

Like Craig said, I can’t really weigh in on this because I haven’t seen him play outside of a few video clips. If any older fans want to share some wisdom on the matter, chime in down in the comments.

Note on Evan Longoria: He’s my early prediction for AL MVP. Expect full preseason predictions to come out some time this week. And hopefully a new banner too.

March 7, 2010

Cervelli to visit doctors for concussion

Sam Borden report Francisco Cervelli, who suffered his second concussion in four months yesterday when he got plunked in the head, will visit a team doctor at the minor-league complex today and will see a neurologist tomorrow.

Obviously the Yankees are going to be cautious with the backup.

My catching depth chart has Jesus Montero right behind Cervelli at the moment. The Yankees are probably reluctant to speed up Montero’s development, but I think his bat is major-league ready.

When do you think we’ll see Montero at Yankee Stadium?

Lineup vs. Twins

The Yankees have a two-hour road trip today to face the Twins. Sergio Mitre will get the start. Below is the lineup.

Brett Gardner CF
Nick Swisher DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Robinson Cano 2B
Marcus Thames LF
Jamie Hoffmann RF
Mike Rivera C
Ramiro Pena SS
Brandon Laird 3B

The backups weren’t listed.

March 6, 2010

A motivated Burnett in 2010

A.J. Burnett had some interesting comments after his first outing of the spring today.

“I don’t feel like I’ve had the success that I should have,” he said. “I’m a .500 pitcher and there’s a reason behind that. I know I’ve battled injuries in the past, but over three-quarters of my career I’m a two-pitch pitcher, so there’s got to be some theory behind it. Why not learn another pitch? It’s only going to help.”

Sounds like Burnett did a lot of thinking over the offseason. In 207 innings, he went 13-9 with a 4.04 ERA and struck out 195 hitters. That’s not terrible, but it’s not worth the $16.5 million he made last year.

He said only one of the five hits he allowed today came off a changeup — the rest off fastballs. I think Burnett has a lot to work on if he wants to add a changeup to his repertoire, and I hope he’s talking about it with CC Sabathia.

I wa

Analyzing the bottom half of the lineup

Joe Girardi spelled out who will hit second for the Yankees this year. That man is Nick Johnson, as long as he’s healthy. I think eight and nine are pretty clear too: Nick Swisher at eight, Brett Gardner or Randy Winn at nine. So who will bat Nos. 5-7?

Candidates
Robinson Cano
Curtis Granderson
Jorge Posada

I’d almost certainly expect two different lineups for Joe Girardi this season (one vs. righties and one vs. southpaws). Here are my projections from both sides.

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

Posada’s career splits heavily favor hitting from the right side (.299/.268), so that gave me reason to put him fifth against lefties. I fully expect Granderson to make an improvement against lefties with the help of hitting coach Kevin Long, but pitchers still would definitely walk A-Rod to face him at this point.

But not against righties. Granderson is an exciting young player and is a huge producer vs. righties. With Yankee Stadium’s short porch in right, fans should expect another 30-homer season out of Grandy.

I chose to put Cano behind Posada against righties so there wouldn’t be back-to-back slow runners with Posada and Swisher.

In sum: These three spots are very tough decisions, and it might be that Girardi just plays it by the book all season and mixes it up every day.

March 5, 2010

Act I: Phil-Joba analysis

First, here are their pitching lines:

Phil Hughes: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 HR
Joba Chamberlain: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K

I’d say it’s pretty clear Hughes is the fifth starter at this point of spring…

But seriously, Hughes looked good and Chamberlain had an excuse. Hughes threw some nice changeups and gave up a wind-blown homer, and Chamberlain had been throwing up for a couple days prior to the start.

Girardi said in an in-game interview he was pleased with Hughes and expects to see a much better Chamberlain in his next outing.

Girardi implies Johnson is No. 2 hitter

Not sure if everyone caught this yesterday, but Joe Girardi made strong implications that this year’s No. 2 hitter will be Nick Johnson — not Curtis Granderson.

"On-base is extremely important to me because the guys behind him can all hit the ball out of the ballpark," Girardi said, again not naming names. "So, yes, you'd love to have a guy that had an extremely high on-base percentage that can run and hit for power. But if you had that guy he might hit somewhere else."

But what about speed? Shouldn't the guy hitting second have enough speed to avoid double plays?

"You like to have guys who can run," Girardi said. "But as I said, because of the guys in front of him, that becomes less important. You don't have to be a flyer."

These comments are tailored toward Johnson (first quote) and Granderson (second quote), and Girardi makes it very evident which attribute he weighs more.

As long as Johnson is healthy on Opening Day, you can pencil him in to the No. 2 spot, sandwiched between Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira.

Quick summary of Webcast

I touched on a lot of important topics in yesterday’s Webcast, and I wanted to reiterate a few of the major points I made.

Granderson/Johnson: Don’t expect Curtis Granderson and Nick Johnson to make up for all the lost production of Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon. The two lost couldn’t play defense anymore, but they certainly could hit.

Johnson’s health: Already a concern in camp. Joe Girardi is being cautious with him, as he should, but you hate to see a back issue after a few innings of work. Remember, Johnson will be a full-time DH for the first time in his career this season. Maybe that will keep him healthy.

Jeter/Rivera: Both all-time Yankees. But should the Yankees give Jeter six years like Jon Heyman brought up yesterday? I really am mad the Yankees won’t re-sign both them now. There’s no reason to let them become free agents. Neither will play for any other team in their careers (I’ll take up any bets countering that).

Watch out for the Orioles: Expect my full division breakdown sometime next week (spring break for me). The Orioles are my dark horse this year. Nobody’s really talked about them, but they made a lot of moves this offseason (and they weren’t selling!).

Today’s the Rays

So far this spring, the Yankees have beaten the Pirates on a walk-off homer and lost to the Phillies by a run in a pitchers’ duel. Today, the Yankees host the Rays.

Most important thing to watch for in this game is definitely comparing Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in their first appearances of the spring. Hughes will get the start (1:05 p.m. on YES), and Chamberlain will relieve him (probably after two innings).

And you won’t have reason to turn the channel when the Yankees are batting. The Rays are sending out David Price. Here’s the lineup he’ll face (via LoHud):

Jeter SS
Granderson CF
Teixeira 1B
Rodriguez 3B
Posada DH
Thames LF
Cano 2B
Swisher, RF
Cervelli C

And the expected backups: C Jesus Montero, 1B Juan Miranda, 2B Reegie Corona, SS Eduardo Nunez, 3B Kevin Russo, LF Reid Gorecki, CF Greg Golson, RF Jon Weber, DH Jorge Vazquez.

Ed. note: I’m pretty sure I’ll get to watch this game in full! Finally.

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