Sunday, February 28, 2010

Cash On Cano: "He could have a Hall of Fame-type career"

From Mark Feinsand
Robinson Cano's first five years in pinstripes have placed him in the conversation when it comes to the game's elite second basemen, but as good as Cano has been, he knows that there's still plenty of room for him to grow.

"I have a long way to go and a lot of things to learn," said Cano, who was tied for sixth in the AL with a .320 average last season. "You can have great seasons, but in baseball, you never stop learning."

...

"If you want to be a superstar one day, you have to look at guys like him and Jeter, because they don't take anything for granted," Cano said. "Every year, it seems like they work harder."
Cano is absolutely right, and I'm glad he realizes his game needs some work. The fact that he has guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to look up to doesn't hurt either. But the work his game needs didn't stop Brian Cashman from heaping a ton of praise onto his second baseman:
"He's already one of the premier guys in the game, but that's the only thing separating him from taking it to a whole other level," Brian Cashman said. "If he can be more selective at the plate, he could have a Hall of Fame-type career."

...

"He's still young," Cashman said. "He really has a chance to make a name for himself that would last forever. That's the type of hitting talent he has."
Mark Teixeira even got in on the action:
"He has so much talent, it would be easy for him to say, 'I'm going to let my talent play and I'll have a decent year,'" Teixeira said. "But he wants to be one of the best - and he can be."

...

"The sky is the limit," Teixeira said. "I'm not overestimating it when I say he has the ability to win an MVP award. He's that good."
As many people have said already, due to the loss of Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, the Yankees are going to need a big year from Cano. Even though the other day he told Bryan Hoch that he doesn't "see that as pressure," I think he knows how important he's going to be for that lineup this year. That's probably why he's so determined to hit better with men on and be a little more selective at the plate--the two areas of his game that need the most work.
"I'm such an aggressive hitter, I don't want to take that away," Cano said. "I don't look for walks; I look for a pitch that I can drive. Learning to swing at strikes is something that will take time, but I'm trying to get better every single day."

SIH Fantasy League

Hey guys, Durden here...it's been a while hasn't it?

Last week I brought up the idea of a fantasy league in the comments section and everyone seemed to be pretty intrigued by it. After seeing that it was a well received idea by the SIH readers, I immediately made the league, anyone who reads the site is welcome to join.

To join, go here.

Enter the league id: 291625 (Full)
Enter the league id: 349156
Enter the league password: nyyankees27

* Please allow the other readers to join the second league if you have already made it into the first, Thanks.

This is a 12 team head-to-head league, the draft is tentatively set for March 15, at 6pm.

If the response is big enough, I will start another league to accommodate those who could not make it in.

Tex On His Lunch With A-Rod

This January, Mark Teixeira spent a few days in Miami to hang out with Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Long. He went to work out and hit with A-Rod, improve his game, and strengthening the bond between the two. Here's more from Kevin Kernan:
"I'll be 30 this year, Alex is going to be 34," Teixeira said yesterday. "We want to be great into our late 30s and into our 40s. Alex and I are hoping that we're going to be here for a long time and winning a lot of championships together."

...

"Everyone knows his work ethic," Teixeira said. "But he put me through a workout that I was tired for about a week, but what I loved is that he invited all the kids that worked out at Miami [the U], the minor league players, back to his house.

"He fed 'em, then we hit for two hours in his batting cage."

Teixeira got to see Rodriguez on his home turf and was impressed.

...

"What he does for that community," the first baseman said. "You walk around the Miami facilities and everyone is, 'Hey Alex.' He gives everyone a hug.

"His name's on the stadium. It's inspiring because when I'm in the offseason, I like to get away. I like to be by myself a little bit, but he just said 'Hey, guys, c'mon in.'

"The whole time we were there, he was talking baseball," Teixeira added. "He was teaching kids how to work, how to prepare, how to hit certain pitchers, how to go into spring training."

...

"He eats so healthy," Teixeira said. "That's how you stay young. You eat healthy and you work hard. What I've learned in my career, the more you talk baseball, the more you surround yourself with ballplayers and pick the brains of everyone, the better you are. I learned a lot from Chipper Jones, I learned a lot from Alex."

...

"We went out to lunch together a couple days ago," Teixeira said. "We reflected on the season, what made us good, and, 'All right, how are we going to get better?'"
Remember when Teixeira signed here last year and a lot of people were saying that these two hated each other? Well, I guess that was just the media trying to create controversy when there wasn't one. Tex made A-Rod sound like a freaking saint in this article.

I'm certainly happy that there was nothing to those rumors. It's always good when teams are close and teammates actually like each other. Sure, teams that are filled with players that hate each other, like the '77-'78 Yankees, can win, but it's got to be easier to do when everyone is getting along. Teixeira seems to agree. In the article he said that "The family atmosphere" that the Yankees had was "so important" to them winning it all last year.

And besides being close, it's good to see two of the best hitters on the team, getting together before spring training to work on their hitting and trying to improve their games.

We know this about the core four, but one thing I've noticed from a lot of the guys who won their first rings last year is that they're not satisfied with just one ring. Based on the things guys like Tex, A-Rod, CC, Hughes, Joba, and others have said, they seem to be hungrier to win now that they've tasted it.

Park Came Here To Win A Ring

From Marc Carig:
Chan Ho Park has arrived. Says he had offers to start elsewhere, but took a bullpen job with NYY because he wants a ring.
Remember, this is a guy who rejected a $3 million dollar offer from the Phillies earlier this offseason because he supposedly wanted a longer contract and to be a starter. I guess the only teams that were willing to give him that were not contenders. Either way, it's good to see he's coming here for the right reasons.

Edwar Ramirez DFA

With Chan Ho Park's arrival at Yankees camp down in Tampa today, the Yanks needed to open up some space on the 40-man roster, so they did so by designating Edwar Ramirez for assignment. This looks like the end of the Edwar era.

In 96 career games with the Yankees from 2006-2009, Ramirez went 6-2, with 2 saves, a 5.22 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP. In 98.1 innings pitched he allowed 57 earned runs on 93 hits, allowed 19 long balls, walked 56, and struck out 116. A lot of strikeouts, a lot of walks, and too many homers. If he only had a better fastball to go with that changeup he could be a pretty dominating reliever. Good luck Edwar, I hope you catch on some place else.

Carig's Q&A With Jesus Montero

Marc Carig recently spoke with Yankees top prospect Jesus Montero and asked him about his throwing, hitting long home runs, and fixing cars. Here is some of the Q&A:
Now they’ve even changed your throwing mechanics to help you get rid of the ball quicker?

They’ve tried to help me a little bit to throw the ball faster to second base. Last year, I got a lot of outs when they told me that, more than before. I’ve been working really good with that. Now, let’s wait for the game, see what we can do. ... Now I feel more comfortable because I get rid of the ball quicker than before.

You’re always smiling when you’re hitting. What is it about hitting that makes it look like you’re having a great time out there?

I like to have fun when I’m hitting. I love to hit. If we don’t hit in baseball, it’s not baseball. This is the best thing in my life: hit home runs, have fun, hit batting practice. Hitting for me is the best thing in my life.

...

Do you think it’s realistic right now, to be in the majors this season?

Well, that’s what I’m hoping for this year, for that opportunity. I want to be with them. I want to help the team this year. I’m working really hard right now, every single day, to get better and get the opportunity to play with them.

...

If it doesn’t work out at catcher, have you given any thought to what position you want to play?

I don’t know. Maybe in the future, two, three, five years more, maybe they’re going to put me in another position. But I’m working to be a catcher. I want to be in the big leagues as a catcher.

It doesn’t seem that you’ve got another position in mind.

No. I want to be a catcher with the Yankees.
It's good to see how determined he is to be a big league catcher, especially for those of us who are hoping that's where he ends up. For a player who has a lot working against him on the defensive end, that kind of determination is the only thing that will help Montero get over those hurdles.

Thinking about my last post on Posada, this is one of those areas where his leadership and team-first mentality help a lot. Sure, he may not want to relinquish his role as the team's starting catcher, but he's willing to help guys like Montero, even if it's not the best thing for Jorge Posada.

Between the effort and determination Montero is showing, the help from teammates like Posada, and the work of the Yankees coaches (minors & majors), Montero chances of becoming the big league catcher he wants to be aren't as slim as some might think.

Posada Not In Any Rush To Give Up Catching

From George A. King III:
The day when Jorge Posada is no longer the Yankees' every-day catcher is approaching.

Nobody squats forever, and at 38, Posada understands the deal. Yet for a kid who fought his way out of Puerto Rico and a junior college in Alabama and battled voices in the Yankees organization that insisted he wasn't good enough, he isn't going away just because of his age and reputation as a catcher whose switch-hitting bat outweighs his defense.

"I am going to make it tough, that's the way I was brought up," Posada said. "We got a lot of talent, but I am going to make it tough for them. I don't want to go away. I am having fun and enjoy playing. To tell you the truth, they are going to really have to rip [the uniform] off me."

...

"I see myself catching next year. I don't know what is going to happen beyond next year," said Posada, who can be a free agent after the 2011 season. "I think I can still do it. I am happy and I am fine."

And enough of a pro to know that while he wants to hold off the kids, they are teammates who look to him for advice.

"They understand. We do a lot of work together," said Posada, who hit .285 with 22 homers and 81 RBIs last year. "I am going to be there and help out. When we do the work, I am going to tell them what I saw. We are on a team here."
I've mentioned several times that over the past two seasons the Yankees have brought in great talent, but great character guys as well. Players that will do what the team needs of them and be happy about it, or at least act like they are. Usually when we speak about the great character of the new guys, we sometimes forget about the great character and leadership that had already been on the roster.

He's not the captain, but Jorge Posada has been one of the main leaders on this team for around a decade now. And just like it's going to be hard to get Jeter away from shortstop, it will be just as hard for Posada to give up his starting catchers spot. While this isn't necessarily good for the team, it's understandable. However, at the same time Posada shows how great a teammate he truly is by helping his toughest competition, all for the good of the team.

There are many players out there that will try to halt (or at least not help) a player's progression if it means they might keep their job longer. Players that will make rookies and prospects feel unwelcome in their own clubhouse. The Yankees are very lucky to have veterans, who know their time is running out, but are still there to help anyone who needs it. What these guys show by their actions is that they not only care how the team does now, but in the future as well.

Johnson Trying To Get Ready For DH Role

From Bryan Hoch:
When your most important job assignment is getting into the batter's box, there can be a lot of down time. That's something that Nick Johnson is trying to get used to.

Back with the Yankees primarily as a designated hitter, Johnson can glance at the first baseman's glove in his locker and know it probably won't be seeing too many summer afternoons in the Bronx. But he just can't stow it away.

"I'll always take my ground balls," Johnson said. "I love going out there, but I know I won't be. I'll just get in a routine DHing, embrace it and get comfortable with it, and get four or five quality at-bats, whatever it is."

...

"I'll probably have to not think too much," Johnson said. "You'll have whatever it is between the at-bats, so you try not to beat yourself up over an at-bat. Maybe you take a peek at the video room here and there, but you don't kill yourself over something, because you can do it for a long time. You stay loose, stretch a lot, hit off the tee or do flips, and go get 'em."
Joe Girardi also spoke about Johnson's DH duties:
"It's something that we're going to work on getting him used to in [Spring Training]," Girardi said. "Physically, you would think that it's a little easier to stay healthier. It's something that he's going to learn how to do. He might take to it real quick, you never know."

...

"The only thing you can do is give him a lot of DH days in Spring Training, so he figures out what he's most comfortable doing in between at-bats," Girardi said. "I think sometimes guys can get too caught up with going to watch too much tape."
I expect Johnson to handle the DH role well. He seems to have the right attitude about it and I don't think he'll be hurt by all that time in between at-bats. As we all know Johnson has had a history of being injury prone, so the time away from the field will probably be a good thing.

What are you guys expecting from Nick Johnson in his return to Pinstripes?

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rotation Announced, Gaudin To Start Spring Opener

Chad Jennings is reporting that the Yankees have decided to go with Chad Gaudin in the spring opener when the Yanks take on the Pirates on Wednesday. The rest of their spring starting rotation can be seen below:
March 3 vs. Pittsburgh

Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Alfredo Aceves

March 4 at Philadelphia
CC Sabathia

March 5 vs. Tampa Bay
Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain

March 6 vs. Toronto
A.J. Burnett

March 7 at Minnesota
Sergio Mitre, Chad Gaudin

March 8 vs. Philadelphia (ss)
Javier Vazquez
March 8 at Pittsburgh (ss)
Alfredo Aceves

March 9 vs. Pittsburgh
CC Sabathia

March 10 at Detroit
Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes

March 11 vs. Atlanta
A.J. Burnett

March 12 at Washington
Andy Pettitte

March 13 vs. Baltimore (ss)
Javier Vazquez
March 13 at Detroit (ss)
undecided

They have not released any info on which relievers will pitch on each day.

A-Rod Was In Fender Bender On Thursday

From Mark Feinsand:
Alex Rodriguez makes headlines virtually everywhere he goes, but the Yankees superstar managed to keep this week's car accident so quiet, even the team's general manager didn't know about it.

Just hours before a press conference in which A-Rod spent nearly 20 minutes discussing his desire to keep his focus on baseball, the third baseman was involved in a minor car accident in Tampa as he drove to Steinbrenner Field. A team source confirmed the incident, referring to the crash of his $400,000 Maybach as "a fender-bender and nothing more."

Brian Cashman told the Daily News that he was unaware of the incident until media reports surfaced on Saturday, and the GM didn't seem very concerned about the details.

"Nobody even brought it to my attention," Cashman said.
I'm surprised it took this long for the media to catch wind of this. It must have really been a minor accident. There were also stories floating around that A-Rod was texting at the time of the accident, but a spokesman for A-Rod denied those rumors. The good thing is that nobody got hurt, that's all that matters.

Team Bonding Activity Set For Tuesday

From Mark Feinsand:
Last spring, Joe Girardi took his players on a surprise trip to a pool hall, giving his team a chance to bond away from the field before the exhibition season started.

Girardi plans on repeating that move on Tuesday, and while he plans to switch up the setting - he won't say what the team will be doing, but it won't be a pool tournament - the idea behind the day away from baseball remains the same.

"I think it probably helps in terms of getting more time to get to know guys," Derek Jeter said. "In spring training, everyone is on different schedules. I don't even see half the pitchers until they're on the mound. Pitchers are in one place, hitters are in another, the fields are split up; to get everyone together like that is good."
So if you were Girardi what activity would you pick?

2010 Yankees Photo Day

I created this slideshow with 62 photo day pictures from the AP, Reuters, and Getty. They were all found on Yahoo! Sports and the Bronx Baseball Daily Facebook page.

Thames Can Opt Out If He Doesn't Make Roster

From Chad Jennings:
Thames signed a minor league contract, but he can opt out if he doesn’t make the major league roster.

“He was brought in to compete for a spot on the 25-man roster,” general manager Brian Cashman said. “And at the end of camp, if he makes it, great. If he doesn’t make it, he’s free.”
I'm sure this has been reported on somewhere else but this is the first time I'm hearing about it. It makes sense and it's the fair thing to do. They probably wouldn't have been able to sign him with out the opt out option.

Like Jennings says in his post, it will come down to either Thames or Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmanm. I'm not sure who the favorite is, but here's what Cash had to say about Hoffmann:
“It’s his spot to lose,” Cashman said. “Hoffmann is on the 25, with restrictions. He’s like an out-of-options guy. He either makes it or he loses it.”
That certainly sounds like he's the favorite, but in the end it performance will dictate this decision. Whichever player impresses the most this spring will make the team, Joe Girardi made that clear in this article from Bryan Hoch:
Girardi said that outfielder Jamie Hoffmann's Rule 5 Draft status will not affect his chances to make the team. "Maybe in some other camps, it might work one way or another, but here we're going to take what we feel gives us the best team," he said.
Who would you take as your 25th man?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Jorge On 5th Starter Battle: "“They’ve got to show it early"

From Pete Caldera:
Jorge Posada caught Hughes and hit against Joba (who threw a sharp slider that grazed off Posada’s front foot), and here’s what the catcher had to say about the essence of the competition: “They’ve got to show it early. They have to. All of them…They have to show it from the get-go.

“There were a lot of eyes on today’s BP. And as soon as they start throwing in games, you’re going to see guys pay attention," Posada said of Joe Girardi and his coaches.
Posada is absolutely right. I still think Joba is in the lead based on not having any limitations, Hughes could still win the job. Regardless of who is ahead right now an impressive or unimpressive spring will make or break this competition.

Caldera went on to describe each pitchers' BP session--how many pitches they threw, who they faced, what those batters did, which can be seen here.

Rhodes Helps Burnett With His Change

From Marc Carig:
Encouraged by a full season of watching CC Sabathia dominate hitters with his changeup, Yankees pitcher A.J. Burnett spent his entire offseason trying to improve his own version of the pitch.

Burnett said he's never spent more time trying to refine his changeup, even enlisting the help of an old friend and neighbor, Reds reliever Arthur Rhodes.

"I think it's a big key," said Burnett, who wants the pitch to be reliable enough to use when his curveball is off. "Whether I throw it or not, I don't know. But I've been working it."
Carig goes on to explain how the number of changeups Burnett has thrown has gone down, and last year was the lowest since at least 2002 (no data prior to '02) at 3.1%. Obviously he's lost some faith in that pitch and had decided to stay away from it as much as possible. Hopefully this extra work will not only improve the pitch, but give him the confidence to use it. As long as it doesn't take away from his other pitches, mixing in a good change with that fastball and hook would be deadly.

We've also learned this spring that Burnett is going to try to get his walks down and throw less pitches per inning this year, two areas he felt he struggled with last year.
"Not walk as many people and go deeper into games," said Burnett. "Be more efficient like the Big Man [CC Sabathia]."
Clearly control was a major problem for Burnett all season--it pretty much has been for his entire career. He had a AL-worst 4.22 BB/9, was tied with King Felix for most wild pitches with 17, and hit 10 batters. That's a lot of free bases given to the other team.

Efficiency was also an issue. At 16.72, Burnett had his highest pitchers per inning total since 2003. He also averaged 6.27 innings per start, which is OK, but could be better and was his the least IP per start for Burnett since 2004.

I don't have to tell you how much of a boost he and the Yankees staff would get if he improved on these two areas of his game.

Control, to me, is the main thing. If he has better control and is getting ahead of hitters, everything else will fall into place. He'll be in better counts for his changeup, he'll use less pitches because he'll be pitching up in the count instead of pitching from behind, and he'll go deeper into games.

Crawford, Rays Halt Talks Until After Season

From Mark Topkin:
Unable to reach a deal now, the Rays and Carl Crawford have decided to table any further negotiations on a new contract until after the season.

“We had an opportunity to exchange ideas with the club about a contract extension for Carl and it was clear to all of us that an immediate agreement was not going to materialize," agent Brian Peters told the St. Petersburg Times this afternoon. “Thus, we all agreed to table discussions until the end of the year. We’d like to minimize distractions for Carl and the club and keep the focus on baseball, so we don’t plan to comment upon Carl’s contract status again until after the season.”
This opens the door to two things: the Yankees now know they can wait until after this season to make their push for Crawford, who will hit the free agent market or they could possibly trade for him at the deadline if the Rays are out of it. If the Yankees want Crawford I think they're going to get him.

(Photo credit: Keith Allison)

2/26 Demolition Update

Here's some more photos from the past few days of demolition over at the old stadium. They're not really new in terms of showing any new demolition, but they show views we haven't seen from Gary Dunaier and some overhead shots from WCBS880's Tom Kaminski that show how they're taking down the upper deck. First the shots from Dunaier:



(click to enlarge)

And now here are the new shots (taken on 2/22) from Kaminski:






(click to enlarge)

Images used with permission from WCBS880.com.

For the main demolition page click here.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

A-Rod Offered Damon Advice on Free Agency

From Anthony DiComo:
Perhaps more than anyone, Alex Rodriguez wanted Johnny Damon back in the Bronx.

Rodriguez, speaking publicly Thursday for the first time this spring, said he reached out to Damon this offseason to offer advice on free agency.

"Johnny and I are very good friends, and we've always had a lot of dialogue, both in the offseason and the season," Rodriguez said. "I was just trying to share some of my experiences with him."

...

"I was crossing my fingers hoping that he would come back," Rodriguez said. "Johnny's a great player. He was an integral part of our world championship team, and we're going to miss him dearly. He's also a great human being, and he's always out there doing a lot of charity work."
I give him credit for being there for a friend and offering up advice, I'm just not sure that was the best thing for the Yankees and Damon?

To be clear, I AM NOT BLAMING A-ROD for Damon signing with the Tigers, that will always fall on Damon and Boras. Plus, that would be totally unfair unless I knew exactly what advice he gave, which I don't because he did not go into detail about it.

What I will say is that A-Rod has never, nor will he ever experience free agency in the position Damon was in this offseason. A-Rod is now basically signed until retirement and has always been a free agent when he was the best or one of the best players in the game, not a declining outfielder that nobody wants to see in the outfield. For him it was easy to sit back and wait for the money. Damon, on the other hand, never got the money he wanted and ended up having to sign for a lot less than he originally wanted heading into free agency.

Once again we have no idea what A-Rod said so he can't be blamed, I just think his view of free agency is much different that what Damon's should have been this time around. But who knows, maybe he told Damon to dump Boras, take control, and make sure he resigned here. That would have been some good advice.

(Update) Thanks to a well informed reader, I have found out at least some of what A-Rod told Damon. This comes from John Harper:
"Under further questioning, after the press conference, [Damon] also admitted that, at the urging of Alex Rodriguez and CC Sabathia, he made an A-Rod-like attempt to remain a Yankee in mid-January, personally calling both team president Randy Levine and owner Hal Steinbrenner to try to make a deal."
Then there is this from Tyler Kepner:
Damon amended that statement later, saying the Tigers became his priority only after he realized he would not re-sign with the Yankees. He knew that for sure in January, when he called the managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner at the urging of C.C. Sabathia and Alex Rodriguez.
So yea, you certainly can't fault A-Rod for anything here. It was good advice.

Granderson To Wear Contacts This Year

From Mark Feinsand:
Curtis Granderson's struggles against lefthanders last year have been well-documented, as have his late-season problems with judging fly balls.

Granderson won't assign blame for either issue to his eyesight, but after being diagnosed with 20/30 vision following his trade to the Yankees this winter, the outfielder is wearing contact lenses for the first time in his career.

"They said, 'Your vision is 20/30, so let's see if we can improve it,'" Granderson told the Daily News. "For most people, they'd let it go, but since we can possibly make me see better to hit, who knows. We'll see."

Granderson began wearing the lenses this winter, although he said it was hard to tell whether they would help his game yet.

"I've been wearing them for a while, just seeing what could possibly happen with that whole thing," Granderson said. "I'll just kind of get used to them, see what's going on. Worst-case scenario, I'll just take them off."

Whatever can help him improve those two areas of his game the better it is for the Yanks, so do what you gotta do, Curtis.

Murti: Is Jeter Headed For A Quick Decline?

From Sweeny Murti:
We all know that Derek Jeter will get his money. If Brian Cashman has to take a few bullets between now and next fall, he’s prepared for that. But what do you think Cashman will have a harder time dealing with—-if he waits to sign Jeter and it costs him a little more at the bargaining table, or if he signs Jeter now and watches a future Hall of Famer’s numbers fall off the cliff?

Don’t think that’s possible? Last year, at age 35, Jeter hit .334 with a .406 on-base, 18 home runs, 30 stolen bases. He also won praise for his defense by committing a career-low 8 errors and winning a well-deserved Gold Glove. It was probably one of the three or four best seasons of Jeter’s career.

There’s another player, who at age 33, hit .336 with a .415 on-base, 20 home runs, 30 stolen bases. He tied his career-low for a full season by committing only 5 errors and won a well-deserved Gold Glove. It was probably one of the three or four best seasons of his career.

The next year Roberto Alomar’s OPS dropped nearly 250 points. Over the next three years he totaled 20 home runs and 28 stolen bases, and 24 errors, his lightning quick hands and feet no longer able to play at an All-Star level.

The scary part is this—go to Alomar’s page on baseball-reference.com (http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/alomaro01.shtml) and scroll to the bottom. Every player has a list of the ten closest players he compares to statistically for his career. The number one guy on Alomar’s list, the player he most closely resembles statistically…is Derek Jeter.

Don’t get me wrong…this is not me telling you that Jeter is going to hit .264 this year and fall off the map. I think Jeter has shown himself to be very conscious of what his body needs at this stage of his career and the work it takes to maintain this level of play. But when the skills erode (especially bat speed), they might go quickly.

Jeter will decline eventually, there's nothing anyone can do about that, but I'm not ready to buy into the idea that it will happen as quickly as it did for Alomar. Steve Lombardi put it this way this morning:
Of course, Alomar had back, leg and eye issues which led to him “getting old” in a hurry. And, as far as we know, Jeter has no such concerns.
Which leads to the key for Jeter to hold off his decline: staying healthy. It's normal for a player in their mid-30's to start breaking down, especially a clean player. But just like there have been many players who have broken down with age, there have also many who have played into their 40's and were able to remain healthy and maintain a relatively high level of play.

Will he be able to do it as an everyday shortstop? Not likely. But as we've seen over the last few seasons, Jeter has been doing everything he can to stay in shape and keep making the adjustments necessary to maintain his excellent play. One of the next adjustments will be a position change, an idea we all know Jeter isn't to fond of. However, at some point he will have to get over it and do what he needs to do.

So what do you think, will Jeter decline as rapidly as Alomar?

A-Rod's Press Conference

Here's some quotes from A-Rod's press conference today. They come to us via Pete Caldera, Anthony DiComo, and Chad Jennings, first here's the quotes from Via DiComo:

About the difference between today and his PED press conference last year:
"It's definitely a much different day," Rodriguez said. "That's clear to me. Last year, obviously, was a very embarrassing day, and something that I wouldn't want to go back and do. But looking back, I certainly thought it was a very important day."
On winning it all:
"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."

...

"It becomes an addiction," Rodriguez said. "You just want to keep winning."
On Jeter's contract situation:
"Derek Jeter was born to be a Yankee, and he was born to wear pinstripes," Rodriguez said. "He's our captain and we need him here, and I envision he'll finish his career here. When you think of Derek, I can't envision him wearing any other uniform."
And now some more from Jennings:
“I’ve done a lot of growing up and realized a lot of things,”

...

“I kind of divorced myself from the idea of numbers.”

On the Johnny Damon situation:

“I was just crossing my fingers, hoping he would come back.”

And finally, a few more from Pete Caldera:
- On being in the same press tent as a world champ, a year after his steroids-admission press conference: “Looking back, it was a necessary step for me…very important.’‘

...

About winning the World Series in general: He said he had lunch with Mark Teixeira yesterday and they talked about the addiction of winning, and how they “badly want to do that again.’‘
...

“I’m going to take the same approach (in 2010)."

You can listen to the audio of A-Rod's press conference over at LoHud.

He's certainly started off 2010 the right way and didn't say anything stupid, at least nothing that was quoted in these three articles (I have to assume it would be there if he did), so that's good. I'm glad he's not going to change anything this year--he doesn't need to. And while I'm not sure I believe it, I love that he said he “kind of divorced" himself "from the idea of numbers.”

HGH Testing Coming To The Minors

From Michael S. Schmidt:
Major League Baseball, which had long been skeptical about a viable test for human growth hormone, now plans to implement blood testing for the substance in the minor leagues later this year, according to an official in baseball with direct knowledge of the matter.

The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to be identified discussing a decision that has not yet been made public.

The decision to move ahead with blood testing comes one day after a British rugby player was suspended for testing positive for H.G.H. It was the first time that an athlete had been publicly identified for testing positive for the substance and was seen as overdue proof that the blood test, which has been in limited use for six years, actually works.

Over the past decade, the minor leagues have been the place where Commissioner Bud Selig has introduced new steps against the use of performance-enhancing drugs. The majority of minor leaguers are not members of the players union, which has allowed Selig to take drug-testing measures without the union’s consent. For instance, testing for steroids was initiated on the minor league level before the union later agreed to its use in the majors.

Selig plans to use the same blueprint with H.G.H., with a second baseball official confirming on Tuesday that Selig will now move to get the union’s approval to test for H.G.H. on the major league level.
This is something MLB, among other sports, has needed to do for years. Apparently there is finally a reliable test and I'm glad to see Bud Selig doing the right thing. I'm sure there are going to be player's union people who will be against any kind of blood testing, but that's just too damn bad. If the players care about cleaning up the game completely than this is something they're going to have to accept.

Sox Admit They Can't Live Up To Yankees Standards

From Daniel Barbarisi (hat-tip to Was Watching):
The New York Yankees are famously held to the highest standard in baseball, that of “World Series or bust.” The perception is that every season that does not end in a World Series trophy is considered a failure by the Steinbrenner family.

After a decade of consistent winning, Boston’s ownership group — John Henry, Tom Werner and Larry Lucchino — sat side by side and mulled over an interesting question; with all the recent success, and the outcry that begins when the Sox bow out early in the playoffs, have they, too, reached that point?

Henry paused — then shot that idea down.

“I think that our goal every year is to make the playoffs. If we make the playoffs, we’re going to win at some point in the postseason. We’ve been fortunate to do that twice,” Henry said.

Moments later, he turned to Lucchino. “Do we have a stated goal of number of wins?”

Lucchino had that answer at the ready.

“We always kind of get fixated on 95. That’s a nice round number that we like and we achieved last year, of course,” Lucchino said.
They try and they try, but they'll never be the Yankees.

I've never had a problem with the Yankees "World Series or bust" mentality, in fact, I wish all the teams I rooted for had that same mission statement. It may not be fair to the players and could add some extra pressure, but they're being paid millions of dollars to play a children's game so who cares. Tough it up and grow a sack.

People have said to me, "But doesn't it take the joy out of winning?" and to them I say no, it doesn't. Maybe having the highest payroll does a little, especially because we consistently having to hear about it. But the "World Series or bust" mentality does not and never will.

Besides the 1999 New York Knicks, who lost to Spurs in NBA finals, I have never rooted for any team which didn't win a championship and I was still pleased with their season and wasn't left bitterly disappointed. The only other team that comes close is the '03 Yankees because of how they beat Boston and how satisfying that was. The bottom line is New Yorkers love winners, not almost winners. We are only satisfied with being the best.

Save Gate 2 Suffers Major Setback

From Benjamin Peim:
It still ain't over till its over.

That's the vow a group of Yankee fans made Tuesday after losing the latest - and possibly final - battle with the city to save Gate 2 at the old Yankee Stadium.

The city Public Design Commission on Monday granted preliminary approval to the Parks Department's plans to commemorate the old Yankee Stadium - without retaining Gate 2.

Now the Gate 2 fans say they will pursue legal action to save it from the wrecking ball.

"I'm definitely going ahead with an injunction," said group member Tim Reid, 55, of Boca Raton, Fla.

...

The Parks Department plans to commemorate the House that Ruth Built by putting in engraved plaques and preserving elements of the stadium frieze and the famous bat statue outside.

"It feels like you just found out a good friend of yours had terminal cancer," said John Trush, 58, of Washington, N.J. "But we're gonna figure out a way forward."
From these next quotes it seems like the Gate 2 folks just don't have those in power on their side:

Residents and local officials have said they feared that adjusting the plans for Gate 2 would further delay construction of the new park.

"I really hope they rethink and don't delay this project," Community Board 4 District Manager Jose Rodriguez said of the gate fans' plan to fight the decision. "There's a community that wants its parks online already."

...

A Parks spokeswoman said yesterday, "Parks looks forward to advancing the design and approaching the next step, which is to seek final approval from the Public Design Commission."

Like I said the other day, I cannot believe that people actually need to fight for this, the fact that they're losing that fight is disgraceful. Why are we so quick to knock down and erase our history in this country? I understand the residents of the community want their park, and there's nothing wrong with that. But wouldn't it be better for the community to build a park that will immediately become a tourist attraction as well?

As a pretty big Yankees fan myself, I have no warm feelings about the current plans for Heritage Park. It's not a place I ever need to see or go to. With Gate 2 preserved it will go from a empty park where our beloved stadium once stood to a holy site for us fans, and a must-visit when we take our trips to the stadium.

Besides waiting a little longer I only see positives in keeping Gate 2; for New York City, the Bronx, and the residents of the community. I wish more people saw it that way.

Posada, Vazquez Happy To Be Working Together Again

From Mark Feinsand:
Vazquez threw his first bullpen session of the spring today, and when he glared in from the mound and saw Posada’s familiar face behind the plate, he felt a sense of comfort.

“I asked him, ‘Do you remember the way I pitch?’” said a smiling Vazquez. “I’ve known Jorge for a while now. It’s good to have him back there.”

Posada was equally pleased to see his former teammate back in pinstripes.

“It’s good to have him back,” Posada said. “He really cares and he really understands how we do things here.”

...

“It’s easy for me to call his game,” Posada said. “He has four outstanding pitches, so you can’t go wrong with any of them when you call it.”
As Feinsand mentions in his post, it doesn't look like we'll be dealing with any pitcher-catcher controversy with these two, which is always good. The less controversy, the better.

Posada also said that Vazquez has matured as a pitcher, and is now using his slider and changeup more to compliment his fastball and curve. I haven't noticed this because I stopped paying much attention to Vazquez once he was shipped out of here after his ALCS disaster. But I think this change will help him a lot in his second go around with the Yanks.

To me it looked like he became far too predictable in 2004, especially in certain counts and oddly enough, when he got ahead of hitters. 14 of his 33 home runs came when the batter had two strikes on him. In 2004 and 2005 he allowed 33 and 35 home runs, his two highest totals of his career, and one of those seasons was with Arizona so it wasn't an AL-NL thing.

Since then he's gotten those home run numbers down and last year allowed a career-low 20. He's also mixed in two of his best seasons of his career ('07 & '09). Keeping hitters guessing and keeping the ball in the yard will be a big keys for Vazquez this season, especially in a hitters park like the new stadium.

2/25 Demolition Update

These pictures are especially painful because they actually show the final piece of the outer outfield wall coming down. They great (and sad) shots come from Gary Dunaier:

(click to enlarge)

For the main demolition page click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Baseball America's Top 100 Propsects

Baseball America recently came out with their list of the top 100 prospects around baseball. Yankees catchers Jesus Montero and Austin Romine both made the list. Montero came in at no. 4, behind only Atlanta outfielder, Jason Heyward, Nats pitcher, Stephen Strasburg, and Marlins outfielder, Mike Stanton. Romine was ranked 86th. Two recently traded Yankees also made the list, Austin Jackson (76), and Arodys Vizcaino (69). You can view the entire list here.

Cashman: "These are great Yankees that we have a devotion to"

From the sound of this quote (via Bryan Hoch) from Brian Cashman regarding Jeter, Mo, and Girardi, and their expiring contracts, it seems the Yankees will do everything in their power to bring all three back.
"These are great Yankees that we have a devotion to," Cashman said. "We appreciate what they do. I feel there's a time and place, and I know ownership agrees, for these discussions. Right now, we feel that [the time is] not a year in advance of when the contract expires.

"They're priceless to our fans. We know that. There's a bond there and we recognize that they're special. We'll obviously approach players at the end of the season and start working on 2011, but this is about 2010 right now."
Unless they all have the worst seasons of their lives they're all coming back.

Some Quotes From Curtis

From Bryan Hoch:
There, manager Joe Girardi addressed his entire roster for the first time as a group in 2010. For the team, it served as the start of the pursuit of another World Series title, but for Granderson, it was a completely new beginning altogether.

"It's exciting. It's kind of like the first day of school all over again," Granderson said. "There's a bunch of names that if you quiz me right now, I'll forget them, but that's part of it. You've got to adapt and adjust and learn everybody. That's all part of the process of Spring Training."

...

"You come in, and you understand what it takes to win," Granderson said. "You've got to work -- nothing is going to be handed to you. We're going to work hard and it all comes from this clubhouse and the team. If we don't want it and we don't go out there and do it, it's not going to happen."

...

"The big thing that [Girardi] mentioned, which I can attest to being on the other side, is that the bulls-eye is always on the Yankees' back," Granderson said. "No matter how good or bad they are, or what they did the previous year, everybody wants to go and beat New York."
He also spoke briefly about his spot in the order:
"It could be anywhere [in the lineup] from [Nos.] 1-9," Granderson said. "That's kind of how my situation was in Detroit. It could be anywhere, and wherever it happens to be, I'm going to look forward to it and be ready for it."
The Yankees and Brian Cashman have seemed to go out of their way to find not only talented players, but good character guys as well. Pretty much everyone they've brought in the last two seasons has been a plus in the clubhouse and Granderson seems like another.

According to Chad Jennings, Granderson is also preparing for his first role call as a Yankee:
“I’ve got to prepare for that,” Granderson said. “I’ve got to talk to these guys to understand the full logic and understanding and concept of it all to make sure I don’t mess it up.”
Curtis, it's simple, especially if you're in center. First you will hear rhythmic clapping until the first pitch is thrown, then Vinny, the bald guy with the goatee, will yell, "Yoooooooooooooooooooo, Cur-tis!" That's when the rest of the RF bleachers will start chanting your name, whether they continue with Cur-tis or switch it to "Gran-der-son". At that point you let them chant it three or four times and then turn around, wave, tip your cap, salute, point, whatever, just acknowledge them. That's all there is to it.

Albaladejo Drops 30lbs

From Marc Carig:
The last time many of you saw Jonathan Albaladejo, he had just gotten smoked in the head with a baseball, and his black eyes made him look like a raccoon. A fat raccoon.

That's not me being harsh, I'm only using Albaladejo's own self description, just the way he did the other day when he was telling me about finishing the season at a bloated 290 pounds and feeling like his arm lacked life.

"I just was... fat, " he said. "I had to do something."

So he hired a friend to help. With the guidance of a personal trainer he knew well from his days pitching in the Puerto Rican winter league, Albaladejo got serious for the first time about working out. He ran more than he had ever before.

Then he lost weight by eating. *

Indeed, Albaladejo discovered the nature of metabolism. In the past it wasn't unusual for him to neglect eating. So when hunger did strike, he often made poor choices. To make matters worse, missing meals slowed his metabolism, his body's natural response for being deprived of food.

So, to lose weight, he ate. And what he ate was better for him. Combined with exercise, he sped up his metabolism, and the weight started falling off.
Carig goes on to say how there was a bump in the road for Albaladejo when he visited Puerto Rico and had his mom's cooking. He gained four pounds in a week and decided he couldn't stay any longer.

Apparently, many players and coaches have been shocked by his appearance. Hopefully it can translate into some positives on the field. It's going to have to, because with the addition of Chan Ho Park the Yankees pen is pretty crowded.

The Captain Speaks, Talks Contract

From Bryan Hoch:
As Jeter addressed his expiring deal on Wednesday at a news conference outside George M. Steinbrenner Field, the 35-year-old shortstop said he can't imagine himself in the lineup for any other team.

"This is the only organization I've ever wanted to play for," Jeter said. "That's still true today. I was a Yankees fan growing up, and this is where I want to be. I've never envisioned myself playing anywhere else, and hopefully I don't have to."

He also said he doesn't have a problem with the Yankees new policy of not discussing contract extensions until after the season:

"I don't have a problem with it," Jeter said. "That's the new policy that they have. They have every right to do that. I signed a long deal, I'm still under contract with that deal, and they have the right to do whatever they want."
And as always he's taking the right approach into the new year:

"I've never gone into a season focused on the next season. My approach since Day One is to do whatever you can to help the team win in that particular year. I'm not thinking about what's going to happen next season."
As for how long Jeter plans to hang around, he's not putting any limitations on himself:

"I never put limitations on how long I can play," Jeter said. "I'm going to play as long as I'm enjoying myself. I'm having a blast right now. You work extremely hard in the offseason to make adjustments.

"I think I've done that, and I'm going to have to continue to make adjustments through the years. I want to play as long as I can, as long as I'm having fun, and as long as I'm being productive."

He's also not looking to become a free agent for the first time in his career:
"I've never been in that situation," Jeter said. "I've never been a free agent; I've never wanted to be a free agent. That's why I signed such a long deal. I felt, the longer the better, because I didn't want to have to answer these questions."
This also seems like it will be the last time we hear from Jeter regarding his contract:
"I think it's unfair to be talking about myself when we're trying to win," Jeter said. "That's the approach I've always had. It's not going to change. I know it's going to cause speculation and stories out there, but it won't be a distraction because I won't be talking about it."
After most Jeter quotes I'm left with little to say. He doesn't stir the pot, he doesn't create any controversies, and he says pretty much exactly what you'd expect him to say. This, is no different. For more from Jeter, check out this nice post from Mark Feinsand.

Yanks to Pettitte: Take it easy

From Anthony McCarron:
As part of the Yankees' plan to take it easy on the starters they relied on so heavily during the postseason, Andy Pettitte began his winter throwing program 15 days later than normal.

That's partly why it felt so good for Pettitte to get back on a mound Tuesday when he threw his first bullpen session of the spring. Asked jokingly if he remembered how to approach a pitcher's mound, Pettitte smiled and said, "Yeah, it's been a couple weeks since I got on there. But it felt good to get going. It's part of the process, building up your arm strength."

Joe Girardi and pitching coach Dave Eiland called Pettitte during the winter and asked him to push back his throwing because the Yanks used only him, CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett in the postseason.

...

"They wanted me to do it and I told them I would do it," Pettitte said of delaying his throwing. "You're kind of not crazy about it because I'm a creature of habit."

Still, Pettitte said, he really did not mind waiting. He usually starts on New Year's Day, but began throwing Jan.16.
Here's another quote from Pettitte via Chad Jennings:
"He pays attention," Pettitte said. "He's constantly thinking, 'What can help us? What can keep us healthy?' like no manager I've been around. He wants us to feel good. He wants to take care of us, whether it's baseball, our families, that's the way Joe is. He's constantly thinking of ways to help us in life and to get us through this baseball season."
Once again Girardi is showing his awareness of players and their health. Besides talent, having a healthy team is the most important thing for any team that fights to make the playoffs every year, and Girardi knows it. Having the players buy into the system and respect Girardi is also huge.

Last year, with the exception of Wang and A-Rod's surgery, the Yankees steered clear of major injuries and I don't think it happened by accident. This team has learned how to properly handle its players and a lot of the credit must go to Girardi.

Cash: Granderson Is Our Center Fielder

Brian Cashman was on Sirius XM’s MLB Home Plate to discuss various topics with hosts Jody McDonald and Jim Bowden. One topic that came out was center field. Here's the question from McDonald and Cashman's answer (hat-tip to Was Watching):
Host/Jody McDonald: “With the acquisition of Curtis Granderson and Johnny Damon leaving you now have three guys for two spots – [Brett] Gardner and [Randy] Winn and Curtis Granderson – manning left field and center field. Are you going to try to make a decision as to what’s the best position for Curtis Granderson and leave him there? Is Curtis going to be asked to go back and forth between center and left? How’s it going to shake out as to where Curtis Granderson plays defensively this year?”

Cashman:
I think that what’s taken place is when you’re asked questions like ‘Is there a possibility of Gardner playing center?’ I’m like, well, if we feel Gardner makes us our best team with Gardner at center because we’re blessed to have two above average center fielders patrolling Yankee Stadium’s outfield out of the three man alignment. So we have [NSwisher 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. But to be quite honest if somebody asked, ‘Hey, but is it possible Brett Gardner might be a better center fielder?’ Our defensive metrics on Brett Gardner made him one of the elite center fielders in the game. I’m not saying he’s the top but he’s close to it. So in fairness we acknowledge that but does that mean it’s the right thing to do to move Curtis Granderson over to left? I’m not saying that but I’m also open minded to say, alright, we’ve got a new player. We’re gonna see how our team fits and we’ll make decisions accordingly as we see things playing out. But Granderson’s our center fielder.”
Cashman is speaking about how things are right now, on February 24th, in Tampa. He's obviously left the door open for either to play center depending on what their performances dictate. At some points in the quote he doesn't even sound sure that Gardner will win the left field job, so I think he's taking a wait and see approach.

As I've said many times, if both are in the outfield I like the idea of Gardner in center and Granderson in left, but either way the Yankees will see a much improved defensive outfield in 2010, which is really all that matters.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Igawa To Work Out Of The Pen In 2010

From Joel Sherman:
In last-ditch try to get something for $46M Yankees plan to have Kei Igawa work exclusively as LH reliever in camp and probably minors
Uhhh.... yea, good luck with that.

In his career in the majors, lefties are hitting .316/.402/.500 against Igawa in 87 plate appearances. However, he was very successful against lefties last season down in Scranton, where he held them to just a .189 batting average compared to righties, who hit .320 against him. Then again, the minors are certainly not the majors.

Jack Curry To Join YES

From YES:
Jack Curry, who covered the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball at The New York Times for nearly 20 years as its Yankees beat writer and most recently as its national baseball writer, has joined the YES Network as a Yankees studio analyst, program contributor, and a columnist on the Emmy Award-winning YESNetwork.com.

...

"I look forward to this new chapter of my career, and am eager to contribute to YES on air and online," said Curry. "Through my work on Yankees Hot Stove and its pre-game shows, I am already very familiar with YES' high quality of work. I'm eager to provide insight and information to our television viewers and Web readers."
Here's what John Filippelli, president of production and programming at YES, had to say:
"He boasts a superb knowledge of the game, has tremendous sources throughout the league, and has earned the respect of everyone in the game. He will be a tremendous addition to our Emmy Award-winning multi-platform Yankees coverage, and will complement Bob Lorenz, our pre- and post-game host, extremely well in the studio."
Curry always did a good job on the Hot Stove shows, and did a great job while writing for the Times. He clearly knows his stuff and should be a nice addition to YES.

Damon's Parting Shots

Johnny Damon, always willing to share his thoughts (sometimes a bad idea), expressed some negative feelings about the way the Yankees dealt with him this offseason as he was welcomed in his new home of Detroit. Here are the quotes via John Harper:
"We're coming off a great year and you're told you've gotta take a pay cut," Damon said. "You're kind of like, 'A pay cut? What the heck?' It's a little humbling.

"You're like, 'Wow, is that what they really think of me? Or what I do for the ballclub?' I did a lot for the ballclub. I even recruited (free agents) for those guys. I did everything."

Obviously, Damon felt that helping the Yankees win a World Series was enough to warrant a new contract at the $13 million a year he'd made for his four years in pinstripes. As a result, he admitted that, yes, agent Scott Boras told GM Brian Cashman not to bother making an offer if it was for less than $13 million per.

"I let Scott do his work," Damon said. "That's why he's there. In the end, I think he did a great job. It's funny, though. Every time I'm a free agent, I'm always on a new team."

...

"At one point I told Cashman, 'All I want is two years,'" Damon recalled. "I told him, 'I want to see Derek Jeter get 3,000 hits and I want to have a chance to win some more.'

"I wanted to be on a team longer than any other team I've been on. Because hopefully I've got a few good years left and I can start pushing up on the all-time runs list, and get 3,000 hits."
...

"I called Hal Steinbrenner," Damon recalled, "and he said, 'We just can't do anything.' I said, 'Thank you very much, I had a great time playing with you. Now it's time for both sides to move on.'"
Cashman had this response:
"When we signed him (for four years, $52 million), he was playing center field, a premium position, and the market was high. Now he's a left fielder, he's 36, in a collapsed market. Why would he not expect to take a pay cut?"
Cashman clearly understands simple concepts that might exceed Damon's intelligence. There are so many reasons why Damon should understand the need for a paycut. Maybe he does, after all, he did end up taking one to play in Detroit.

Tex Arrives In Camp Ready To Defend Title

Today is the day that the rest of the position players arrive and tomorrow will be the first official full team workout. This is when spring training really begins. Mark Teixeira was one of those who made their first appearance in the Yankees clubhouse today and he seems ready to defend the title. Here's more from Pete Caldera:
Mark Teixeira said that there wouldn’t be any lack of impetus to go for another world championship again.

Why? “Cause we’re the Yankees,’’ he said. “If you get complacent, it’s going to be a tough year for you."

...With the new guys replacing Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui, “I don’t think we’re going to skip a beat,’’ the always-optimistic Teixeira said.
Here's a couple more quotes from Teixeira via Chad Jennings:
“You’re always kind of looking for something else and trying to figure out what we did wrong, what we can improve on, what we can change to make it all the way every spring training,” Mark Teixeira said. “For us I think it’s, let’s just keep doing what we’re doing. That was kind of our motto all last year during the playoffs.”

...

“We feel like we’re just as capable of defending our championship as we were winning it last year,” Teixeira said. “We have a great team. The core group of guys are back, and hopefully we get a little bit better this year.”
Good stuff, Mark. That's pretty much exactly what any Yankees fan wants to hear.

Robinson Cano also arrived today, and admitted he was sad to find out that his best friend, Melky Cabrera, had been traded. He also said that Cabrera wanted to remain a Yankee, but was dealing with the situation well. Hopefully that doesn't effect Cano's performance on the field. It shouldn't.

Jennings reports that Cano said he wants to improve in RBI situations, something we all complained about last year.

I'll have more quotes and pictures from today's arrivals later on.

Update on the New Writer Search

First let me say that no decisions have been made yet. I've gotten many more applicants than I had expected and to be honest you all sound like you could be great for the blog. Based on that I am going to need about a week to figure everything out. Also, if I haven't responded to your emails it doesn't mean anything. Things have been a little crazy in my neck of the woods.

Still, if you haven't emailed me yet and would like to write here please feel free. And once again prior blogging experience is obviously a good thing.

I have also decided that since so many of you want to have your voices heard that besides adding the new group of writers I will also be starting a "From the Fans" post where the comments will be shown on the sidebar. The idea is a mix between SB Nation's fanposts (which I wanted to do, but cannot on blogger--if you know how to do this and I'm just an idiot for not figuring it out please let me know) and TYU's Perpetural OffTopic Post. So a big hat-tip must go out to both SB Nation and TYU. It will go up sometime next week and will be a never ending comment stream for you guys to post what's on your mind that day as long as it is Yankee related.

Heyman: Yanks Might Be Eying Crawford

Towards the end of Jon Heyman's article on the Red Sox yesterday (hat-tip to Was Watching), he had this nugget about the Yankees interest in Carl Crawford:
One reason the Yankees were reluctant to go for a two-year deal for Johnny Damon might have had little to do with Damon and been a greater reflection of what they think of Carl Crawford. The Yankees love him. Crawford is almost sure to be too rich for the low-revenue Rays, and the Yankees jump to the head of the class for interested teams. Remember, too, that the Yankees passed on Matt Holliday. It all seems to set up nicely for Crawford.
This could be just pure speculation on Heyman's part, after all the Yankees did offer Damon a two-year deal, but that was before they traded for Curtis Granderson. I'm sure many others are thinking the same thing regarding Crawford and the Yankees, I know I have.

With how things went down this offseason, adding Crawford next year makes a ton of sense for the Yanks. Adding his speed and defense to an already potent lineup would make give the Yankees a lethal combination of speed and power.

In my mind, the only thing that could stop the Yankees from landing Crawford would be a breakout season by Brett Gardner. That could definitely change their plans. Otherwise I think he ends up in Pinstripes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Damon: "The Tigers Were My First Choice"

From the AP:
“This is where I wanted to be,” he said Monday after completing his $8 million, one-year contract. “The Tigers were my first choice. I love it here and think I am a good fit.”
I honestly don't even know what to make of this, but I guess I'll just throw it in with the rest of his I only want to play here, or I'll never play there quotes. Here's one to refresh your memory from back on August 17th:
“I don’t know where else I would want to go to,” Damon said. “Obviously, that’s not the right thing to say when you’re about ready to approach free agency, but I’m very happy with playing in New York, and my family’s happy I play for New York. There’s no bigger place to go. If you play well here, you’re going to get paid. New York has the resources. But we also have the chance to win every year. I don’t want to attempt to go make more money elsewhere, for more years, with a chance to be out of the race by the first of June."
For more nonsense from Damon, check out this collection of quote from the guys over at TYU.

I've often wondered why a player feels they have to make up some B.S. when they sign with a new team. Remember when A-Rod's dream was to be a Met, then a Red Sox, and then a Yankee?

For this quote alone I hope he gets booed when he comes back to the Bronx.

(Update)
Apparently what he actually said was after the Yankees were out of the picture the Tigers were his number one choice. So I guess the quote wasn't as bad as it might have seemed.

Burnett Blames Himself For Issues With Posada

From Chad Jennings:
“It all went back to when I was right,” Burnett said. “If Jorge was going to catch me or not, it would be irrelevant because when my mind’s right, then everything is a lot easier for Jorge.”

...

“I think sometimes when people talk about the relationship, they make the relationship bigger than it is, like it’s what they do when they’re not in the game together,” manager Joe Girardi said. “To me, it’s just the understanding of the pitcher when he’s on the mound that day and what you need to do. That’s the relationship that you continue to learn.”

...

“That’s what started it all,” Burnett said. “I never questioned Jorge. Never would, never did. I questioned myself, and then everybody thought I questioned Jorge. He’s caught in this league for a long time, and I can do nothing but learn from him, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Jennings also reports that Burnett says he wants Posada to catch all his games, and the only problem they had was a communication issue, something he obviously wants to fix. This is good for the team. They don't need these two having problems all year. I'm glad Burnett is looking to fix whatever problems he had with Posada, hopefully Posada does his part.

New Save Gate 2 Video

Check out this nice video from the Save Gate 2 folks:



As we've seen by the increase in speed of the demolition of The Stadium, it's getting to be make or break time for these guys. I, am hoping that this can be one of those times where a few people with a great idea can actually get something done. Some part of that grand old stadium should remain intact.

As a Yankees fan it sickens me to think that nothing will remain standing, and all that will be left will be an empty field and a sign saying "Yankee Stadium once stood here." ...Some tribute.... We're talking about the most famous sports venue since the Roman Coliseum here, not Shea Stadium. As the video correctly states, Yankee Stadium is not only part of sports history, but American history as well. It's embarrassing that people even need to fight.

Long Talks About Trying To Fix Granderson

We are all aware of Curtis Granderson's struggles against lefties last year. Turning that around will be one of Kevin Long's biggest challenges this season. Luckily for him, Granderson, and the Yanks, Kevin Long likes a challenge. Here's more from Mark Feinsand:
"It does give me some satisfaction that people believe in me," Long said. "I like challenges."

...

"They're all going to hit some bumps in the road, and when they do, they'll need some positive reinforcement. There's a trust built between myself and each individual player. I'm the go-to-guy. When something is a little bit off, they feel comfortable coming to me. That's been built over the past four years."
"You almost have to be like a psychologist," Girardi said. "You have to figure out how each person learns and what their trigger points are. Kevin is good at that."

...

"K-Long is going to find a way," Jorge Posada said. "He's not going to sleep until he makes Granderson a better hitter against lefthanded pitchers. That's just who he is - and we're lucky to have him."
He's already worked with Granderson once prior to spring training and now comes the hard part. If Long can work some magic, I'm sure we'll see some early signs during the spring, but the real proof will be down the road in the regular season. Like I said a few weeks ago, I never was a fan of Long, but he's shown what he can do so now I'm pretty confident that he'll get Granderson at least back to respectability against lefties.

Yanks Sign Park

From Thomas Harding:
Right-hander Chan Ho Park, who pitched for the National League champion Phillies in 2009, announced early Monday that he has reached a one-year agreement with the World Series champion Yankees, according to Korea's Yonhap News Agency.

Park, 36, a native of Korea, made the announcement at Park 61, a fitness center he opened in Seoul after last season, when he went 3-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 45 games, including seven starts, for the Phillies.

The press conference occurred after 1 a.m. ET. The Yankees have not made a formal announcement. The contract is reported to be for $1.2 million, with incentives that could net an extra $300,000, provided Park passes a physical.
$1.5 million is not going to hurt the Yankee financially, but I really didn't think the Yankees were ready to hand over another MLB contract--shows what I know. If Park can handle the AL East and pitch like he did out of the pen for the Phillies last year this could be a big addition for the Yanks. There is also the chance he'll struggle like he did the first time around in the AL, although all that was as a starter.

He will be working out of the pen for the Yanks, so anyone concerned that the Yankees might make him a starter can rest easy. Here's a quote from Park, via Chad Jennings:
“I wanted to play for a champion-caliber team this year again,” he said. “I am not certain how much longer I will play baseball, but it will be huge experience and memory to play with the Yankees.”
What are your thoughts on the Yankees most recent move?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Looking For Some New Writers

(Update) Up to 30 emails... This is going to be tough. If I haven't gotten back to you yet it doesn't mean anything. I'll get back to all of you, just give me some time. Thanks a lot!

(Update)
We've received 20+ emails from people wanting to join the team. I thank all of them for their emails--I never thought I'd get that many. I'm still going to leave this up until tomorrow so please feel free to keep the emails coming. If I haven't responded to your emails yet I will get to them later today, either way I have not made any decisions yet. Most of the emails are from people who won't be able to post everyday, but fairly regularly. I'm still looking for someone to help me with the day-to-day stuff and anyone with a large knowledge of the minor league system.

I'll post another update tomorrow morning and we'll go from there.

(original post)

Hey guys, with the new season officially underway I was looking to expand the team of writers on the blog. Any past experience blogging about the Yankees is obviously better, but it's not necessary. The types of posts I'd be looking for are opinion pieces, statistical analysis, news related items, and minor league news/reports. But pretty much anything else about you'd like to write about our Yankees would probably be fine with me as long as it's relevant to what is going on in Yankeeland at that time.

If you'd like to join the SIH team, please email me (SlidingIntoHomeBlog@gmail.com) with some info about yourself and the kinds of posts you'd like to write.

Thanks, looking forward to hearing from you.

(I will leave this post on top until Monday--All new posts will be just below this one)