Friday, February 29, 2008

Some More Pics of the New Stadium

(this picture courtesy of

Yankees vs. USF Bulls

The Yankees defeated the Univ. of Southern Florida Bulls 11-4 today at Steinbrenner Field.

Joba Chamberlain started the game and was solid for two innings. Ian Kennedy followed and pitched the 3rd and 4th, then Phil Hughes came in to pitch the 5th. He may have had the best stuff, striking out two of the three batters he faced.

All of the "Big Three" looked good today combining to throw 5 innings of one-hit baseball while striking out six.

I know it was against a college team, but it's still a nice start.

Offensively the Yanks were led by reigning AL MVP Alex Rodriguez who went 1 for 2 with one hit, one walk, a sac fly, and 3 RBI. Jorge Posada also pitched in with double, and a 2-run triple -- Yes Jorge Posada hit a triple. He also scored 2 runs.

The Yankees scored one in the first, four in the 2nd, and four in the 4th, and were leading the game 9-0 in the top of the 6th. Then Kei Igawa came in to pitch. He loaded the bases, and gave up a grand slam to a pinch hitter, cutting the Yankees lead to 9-4. Igawa walked the number 9 hitter (on a college team) on five pitches to start the rally.

Jeff Marquez then came in and pitched a perfect 7th.
In the bottom half of the inning the Yanks added 2 runs extending their lead to 11-4. Alan Horne and Chase Wright pitched a perfect 8th and 9th to close out the game. So in the end everyone but Igawa did their job.

Pitching Totals:
Chamberlain 2.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Kennedy 2.0 1 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Hughes 1.0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.00
Igawa 1.0 1 4 4 2 2 1 36.00
Marquez 1.0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00
Horne 1.0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0.00
Wright 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.00

Full Box Score

*In other spring training news Johan Santana was roughed up in his first outing of the spring. He went 2 innings, and gave up 3 runs on 4 hits, one of the hits being a 3-run homer by Juan Gonzalez. Santana also struck out a batter. The Mets ended up losing their game 5-4.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hank Continues to Talk the Talk: Calls Red Sox Nation "a Bunch of Bullsh*t"

Jonathan Mahler, author of “Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning” has a very good feature about Hank and Hal Steinbrenner in the upcoming edition of The New York Times Magazine. In the article Hank had this quote about the Red Sox and their "Nation."
“Red Sox Nation?” Hank says. “What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans. Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”
I can't say that this was the smartest thing for Hank to do, but it is funny -- and true.

There was also an article about Hank in this week's ESPN The Magazine. In which Hank explains that he is not a clone of his father, and hopes to avoid making the same mistakes.

"I think my breeding background has absolutely had a bearing on my approach to baseball. Building through scouting and the draft, then having the patience to see it through, to see the young talent reach its potential, without panicking. While I was at Kinsman going over all of that data about the horses, I was also getting the scouting reports about minor league stats for the Yankees. Way back in the 1970's, I can remember seeing LaMarr Hoyt's number in Double-A and thinking, Wow! Then Dad traded him to the White Sox for a quick fix. He also traded Scott McGregor, Jose Rijo and Doug Drabek, and he wanted to trade Ron Guidry before they stopped him. We basically provided most of baseball's Cy Young Award winners, and it drove me nuts. I was sitting at the farm thinking, If I ever run the team, I won't be doing things that way."
He stands on the low-rise bullpen bleachers packed with Yankees coaches and scouts. He loves to mingle among those he calls "the real baseball people," alway has. ... While his father blustered and chased free agents, young Hank sat and listened to the scouts and coaches, the baseball people. "You can't learn enough from the guys who understand the game on such an intricate level," he says.
"The fear, it's not how I operate. The people here in the front office already know that. The people who know me know that. The Yankee fans have been very good to me so far, but I think it might take some time for people to get used to the fact that I'm not my dad."
But the apple didn't fall that far from the tree:
"I do, on occasion, reveal my father's from-the-hip-mouth," Hank says. "But unlike Dad, there's a plan. When I said what I did about football, I was simply saying out loud what I know a lot of baseball people believe. I opened the door. Now it's their turn to back me up."
Reaction to Hank's ascension will continue to be painted with different brushes, depending on the artist. Some stand with longtime Hank confidant Reggie Jackson, who says, "It's about time," while others, preferring to remain nameless, worry that Hank is a wild card, full of Gerogian bluster, and that it's impossible to predict how he'll react to being battered by the Red Sox -- or the media.
Here's what Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon had to say:
"I think it's exciting. Fans, other teams, everyone's in the process of sizing Hank up. And guess what? He's sizing them up too."

Jackson Appears to be on the Fast Track to New York

People have been so focused on all the excellent young pitching prospects the Yankees have that they've overlooked some of the very good position players the Yankees have in the system. One of those players is 21 year old outfielder Austin Jackson.


It's been a long road for Jackson since he was chosen in the eighth round of the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, and now that he's finally in the clubhouse for his first big league camp, he's discovered that there's not many opportunities to catch his breath at this level, either.

"I think they're trying to get the players in better shape," said Jackson of Yankees manager Joe Girardi's conditioning regimen. "You need to be in pretty good shape to get through 162 games. This year, it seems like Girardi is a little bit more serious about it."

It's good for Jackson, though, he said, because the more difficult things have gotten for him, the better he seems to have performed. ... the speedy outfielder struggled with mechanics at the plate and was forced to spend more than a season at Class A Charleston, working out the kinks.

"There were a lot of things I had to work on," Jackson admitted. "It was a lot different than high school, obviously. On top of that, the pitching pretty much dominated me early on."

The nearly 800 at-bats he gathered in low-A ball would pay off, and the 22-year-old emerged with a shorter, more balanced swing that saw him hit .345 (89-for-258) with 15 doubles and 10 homers in the Florida State League before he was promoted to Double-A Trenton for the season finale.

It's there that he'll likely begin the 2008 season. Should he continue to produce, he may see time with the Yankees as early as 2009, which would create a stir in the veteran outfield. Still, it's something Jackson said would definitely make all of the work worthwhile.

"I've always wanted to be able to play in Yankee Stadium one day, and now they're starting to let younger players develop in the Minor Leagues and giving them a chance to play in the big Yankees games," Jackson said. "Younger players are starting to get more involved and be able to play at that level."

Who knows, in a couple of seasons the Yankees could have a homegrown outfield with Jackson, Melky Cabrera, and Jose Tabata.

The article also has are updates on Brett Gardner and Andrew Backman.

Pettitte: I Just Wanna Pitch

From George A. King III:

February 28, 2008 -- TAMPA -- Andy Pettitte doesn't have to move his lips for you to understand how tortured the pitcher is about his role in a possible prison sentence for Roger Clemens. His eyes tell you this is hell.

"I hate it, there is nothing else to say. You all know how I feel about it," Pettitte said today at Legends Field. "It doesn't take a whole lot to figure what's going on."

Of his words possibly playing a role in Clemens being indicted, Pettitte said, "It's extremely disappointing. Whenever you testify against two guys (Brian McNamee was the other) who are your friends it's extremely difficult."

"Until somebody tells me to go somewhere, I can't do anything," said Pettitte, ..."I have one concern and that is to try and help the New York Yankees. We have all been through so much already, I have to get ready for the season."

"I don't want to answer questions all day. I don't have a whole lot to say about the whole situation," Pettitte said. "I don't like any of this going on, I can't stand it. I told you how I feel about him. It's like part of my family. It's a bad deal."

"To tell you the truth, I am doing great until you guys start asking questions about it," Pettitte said.

Pettitte should have realized this was going to happen. This is the New York media we're talking about, he had to know that he was going to be asked about this over and over and over again, and that this would remain a major issue for a long time.

I just hope it doesn't hurt his game, because then he'll have to add Yankee fans booing him to his growing list of problems.

Murcer May Have Taken a Turn for the Worse

From Bill Madden:

According to an emotional e-mail sent to friends Thursday from Murcer’s wife, Kay, the Yankee broadcaster will undergo a brain biopsy on Monday in Houston after an MRI revealed an “area that doctors are concerned about.”

“Please pray that it will be determined to be necrosis (scar tissue from the radiation), and not another cancerous tumor,” Kay wrote in her e-mail. “It’s one of the two.”

“I’ve gotta go back to Houston on Monday for more tests, which means I’m going to have to miss the first two spring training games,” Murcer said. “I still hope to be in Tampa in time for the third game (on March 7) and I’m still planning on doing my full schedule of games for the regular season.”

Hopefully everything turns out to be fine and Bobby can get back to the booth ASAP.

Lineup For Tomorrow's Exibition Game

Here's the lineup for tomorrow's game vs. University of South Florida from Kat O'Brien:

Johnny Damon LF
Derek Jeter SS
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jason Giambi 1B
Jorge Posada C
Robinson Cano 2B
Shelley Duncan DH
Melky Cabrera CF

According to Joe Girardi the starters will play four or five innings.

When it was suggested to Girardi that this could be a preview of the opening day lineup, he said, "You know, that's a possibility. It's possible, we'll leave it at that".

Plug Matsui into the DH spot and that's probably the everyday lineup.

Here is the Yankees pitching plan for tomorrow from Peter Abraham, with a tip of the cap to Scott Proctor's Arm:

Joba Chamberlain -2 innings
Ian Kennedy - 2 innings
Phil Hughes - 1 inning
Kei Igawa - 1 inning
Jefff Marquez - 1 inning
Alan Horne - 1 inning
Chase Wright - 1 inning

Mussina Appreciates Chance to Prove He Can Still Pitch

From Peter Abraham:

"There are a lot of other people out there with a lot of other ideas. I appreciate Joe coming in, starting new, and giving me the opportunity to get back out there and do what I've been doing," he said yesterday after pitching two innings in an intrasquad game at Legends Field.

"They could have turned the page and moved on to another plan. But they said I could go out there and do what I'm expected to do, and hopefully I can keep doing it."

"I'm not going to sit back and say that no matter what happens I'm going to be a starter. I understand that's not the case," he said. "I'm not going to go cruising along like it was eight or nine years ago. My role can change, and I know that. ... I'm thankful they're still giving me the chance."
Then there was this from manager Joe Girardi:
"I looked at the numbers. He threw the ball pretty well, but he had one real bad month," Girardi said.
Was this truly the case? Was it just one bad month that tainted the entire 2007 season for Mike Mussina? Let's look at the numbers:

April: 0-1, 9.00 ERA, .407 BAA
May: 2-2, 5.22 ERA, .273 BAA
June: 2-2, 3.44 ERA, .270 BAA
July: 2-2, 5.08 ERA, .304 BAA
August: 2-3, 8.87 ERA, 396 BAA

Makes you wonder what numbers Girardi was looking at, doesn't it? Mussina was actually pretty awful all season song. With the lone exception being the month of June. Maybe that's what Girardi meant; he only had one good month.

But last season is last season, that's the past, it's not important now. What is important is that Mussina has a good 2008.

The key to that becoming a reality is that Mike Mussina stays healthy, which last year was a major problem for him. "One thing led to another," Mussina said. "When you do a hamstring, hamstrings take a long, long time and sometimes you need the offseason to heal them up. It never really got right and it led to other things. The whole year was a fight and it wasn't a lot of fun."

Girardi is confident that Mussina will bounce-back, "I'm counting on Moose. We're counting on him," Girardi said. "It's not an accident that he has over 200 wins and has been healthy all his career. Moose knows how to pitch."

Girardi isn't the only one confident in Mike Mussina: Bill James in The 2008 Bill James Handbook projects Mussina to have a outstanding season, going 11-7 with a 3.74 ERA.

Other projections - PECOTA: 9-8, 4.54 ERA, ZiPS: 11-10, 4.74 ERA, Marcel: 10-8, 4.50 ERA - were not as kind to Mussina. But they all do project that he will improve upon his terrible 2007 (11-10, 5.15 ERA for those who needed to be reminded).

I think Mussina will surprise people with a very solid season in 2008. Something like 13 and 7 with a 4.15 ERA.

--- What do you think, can Moose turn it around in 2008? ---

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chamberlain vs. Buchholz

Along with their annual Top 100 Prospects list, Baseball America has released their first edition of "Split Decisions." This is where their experts explain why they favored certain players over others. This time, they're discussing Joba Chamberlain and Clay Buchholz

From Baseball America via Yanksfan vs Soxfan:
*Note: Due to the fact that this content is subscriber only, I am only giving you a portion of their comments.

Jim Callis: "In terms of pure stuff, I think Buchholz' curveball and changeup are right up there with Chamberlain's fastball and slider. I'd love to have either of those guys, but I'd take Buchholz"

Chris Kline: "They're both fearless, but Chamberlain pitches off his fastball more consistently. And not that Buchholz is some soft-tosser, but I when I think of an elite pitcher who will come right after hitters with pure power, it's Chamberlain"

Will Lingo: "I know they're talking about moving him to the rotation at midseason, but Jonathan Papelbon was a starter at this time last year too. I just think Buchholz is a little more likely to end up as a long-term No. 1 starter."

John Manuel: "Chamberlain's superior fastball makes him the better bet to be a long-term ace. In fact, it makes him the best pitching prospect to come around since I've been at BA, surpassing Josh Beckett and Mark Prior."

In case you missed it: The Red Sox signed Colon and have interest in Garcia

A couple days ago Bartolo Colon and the Sox agreed on a deal. Colon will make $1.25MM if he makes the Major League team, and $7MM if he can make 30 starts.

He's been terrible over the past two seasons, and hasn't been able to stay healthy. In 10 starts in '06 he was 1-5 with a 5.11 ERA, in '07 he was 6-8 with a 6.34 ERA in 19 games. Here's another reason not to worry about this deal:

Colon vs. Current Yankees

J. Damon 51 18 2 6 6 6 .353 .421 .529 .950
A. Rodriguez 47 22 8 17 3 9 .468 .481 1.149 1.630
D. Jeter 36 13 2 5 2 10 .361 .395 .611 1.006
J. Giambi 28 8 2 4 4 10 .286 .375 .536 .911
J. Posada 23 7 2 13 6 8 .304 .448 .696 1.144
B. Abreu 12 3 1 3 2 3 .250 .333 .500 .833
H. Matsui 12 4 2 4 5 1 .333 .529 .833 1.363
R. Cano 5 3 0 1 0 0 .600 .600 .600 1.200
M. Cabrera 2 1 0 0 0 0 .500 .500 .500 1.000

According to MLB Trade Rumors the Red Sox are also interested in free agent pitcher Freddy Garcia.

Rob Bradford of the Boston Herald reports that free agent pitcher Freddy Garcia is in the Red Sox clubhouse today. He believes it's more than just a visit; the Red Sox may be evaluating his health. No signing appears close though. Garcia may have a dozen teams to choose from if he proves healthy and markets himself around June.

Michael Silverman confirms that Boston's training and rehab staff took a look at Garcia.

Individual Game Tickets go on Sale Friday

From the New York Post's Yankees blog:

Individual tickets for regular season home games will go on sale Friday, Feb. 29, online only at

Beginning Monday, March 3, tickets may be purchased at Yankee Stadium advance ticket windows, at area Ticketmaster outlets, via Ticketmaster by phone at (212) 307-1212 (or check local listing), and at all Yankees Clubhouse Shops.

Yankee Stadium advance ticket windows are located outside Yankee Stadium between Gates 4 and 6. Beginning March 3, they will be open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sundays from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Today's Intrasquad Game: The Geese vs. The Gators

Today the Yankees had their first game of the spring, an intrasquad affair between the Geese, and the Gators.

Today's Starting Pitchers

Here were the lineups:

The Geese
Melky Cabrera CF
Derek Jeter SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Shelley Duncan 1B
Morgan Ensberg DH
Wilson Betemit 3B
Jason Lane LF
Jose Tabata RF

Jeff Karstens RHP

The Gators
Johnny Damon LF
Jose Molina C
Bobby Abreu RF
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Jason Giambi 1B
Cody Ransom DH
Nick Green 2B
Chris Woodward SS
Brett Gardner CF

Mike Mussina RHP

The pitching lines for the game:

(innings, hits, runs, earned runs, walks, strikeouts)

Karstens 2 1 0 0 0 0
Patterson 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jackson 1 0 0 0 0 1
Traber 1 3 2 2 1 0
Ramirez 1 0 0 0 1 0
Ohlendorf 0.2 0 0 0 1 0

Mussina 2 4 2 1 1 1
Rasner 1 1 0 0 0 2
McCutchen 1 1 1 0 1 1
Henn 2 2 2 2 3 0
Albaladejo 1 1 0 0 0 0
Melancon 1 2 1 0 0 2

The Geese won the game beating the Gators 6-2.

The hitting star of the game was Morgan Ensberg, who was 2-3 with a double, a walk, and 3 runs scored. The Yankees committed 7 errors in the game
(Brett Gardner, Justin Christian, Chris Woodward, Cody Ransom, Nick Green, Eduardo Nunez and Marcos Vechionacci), so it was exactly what you would expect from the first game of spring training: Sloppy and pointless. At least nobody got hurt.

Tabata --- Melancon

Jeter and A-Rod

(hat tip to Peter Abraham for all the great updates today)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Yankees Want Giambi at First

From the New York Times:
Giambi was gone until August, limping along with a .200 average the rest of the way. Yet his availability to play first base now is pivotal to the Yankees’ design.

“It would give us a lot more flexibility,” General Manager Brian Cashman said. “With the emergence of Melky in center and with Johnny and Matsui in left, we have too many quality at-bats. Our preference would be to make sure we can get them all in the lineup, and Jason is the key to allowing that to happen if he can play first. It’s just an ‘if’ we don’t know.”

If Giambi could play first base — and Kevin Long, the hitting coach, said he could see him doing so in half the games — then the Yankees could use all of their best hitters in the same lineup.
He’s not as good at D.H.,” Long said. “His numbers just aren’t there. I think it’s very important to us as a club and him as an individual if he’s out in the field.”

Giambi has always been more productive at the plate when he plays in the field. His career O.P.S. is 1.008 as a first baseman, and .861 as a designated hitter. The problem is that when he plays in the field, he breaks down.

“I know it’s not the games yet, but it all starts with how he’s going about his business and the mechanics of his swing,” Long said. “I’m telling you right now, I’ve seen Jason for three years and this is the best I’ve ever seen his swing. That’s exciting.”

Then there was this from
"There's a competition at first base, so, if he's able to play first base, it allows us to be a little more creative in our roster," Girardi said Tuesday. "It allows us to be a little bit more creative in the way we use the DH."
"We have to make sure that from a physical standpoint that's where he's at his best," Girardi said. "He was great before he got hurt. I still think he's going to be really productive. I believe that. I look at the shape he's in. I look at the way he's doing his work. He's been outstanding. There's no reason he can't really be productive."
I wouldn't have a problem with Giambi playing a lot of games at first as if he could hold his own defensively, and stay healthy. But these are two very big "ifs." Over the past few seasons every time the Yankees give Giambi regular time at first base, he's been a liability defensively, and can't stay healthy.

The Yankees seem very optimistic that this year will be different, and that he will be able to handle it. I can't say I feel the same way.

Peter Abraham wrote an article today about how hard Giambi is working this spring.

TAMPA, Fla. - Most of the Yankees were finishing up breakfast and pulling on their uniforms at 9:15 a.m. yesterday. Jason Giambi suddenly burst into the room, his spikes on and glove in hand.

Giambi had been on one of the side fields working on his defense.

That early in the morning?

"I'm such a loser," Giambi said with a laugh.

For whatever the reason - advancing age, a new manager or going into the final year of his contract - Giambi has been newly dedicated this spring.

"My feet are finally healthy, that's the biggest thing," he said.
During batting practice on Tuesday Giambi focused on hitting the ball to the opposite field. "It will keep my swing a lot better if I work on hitting the ball the other way instead of hooking it to right field," Giambi told The Post. "I'm just trying to work on the things that have made me successful."

It's good to see how hard Giambi is working at improving his conditioning, and his game. Hopefully the work pays off and he can stay healthy.

--- What do you think: is Giambi the answer at first base, and can he stay healthy?

Theo Epstein is a B****

From Ed Price:
Theo Epstein, general manager of the Boston Red Sox, called Yankees pitcher Mike Mussina a "bad apple" for complaining about the team's trip to Japan in 2004.

The Red Sox open this season against the Oakland A's in Japan. Appearing on Boston radio station WEEI last Friday, Epstein said, "Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina spent the whole time bitching about it ... and by the time the Yankees team got back from the trip they were all using it as a crutch."

Told of the comments, Mussina said sarcastically, "Yeah, we used it as an excuse for winning the division."

Said Mussina: "You need a comment from me about him calling me a bad apple? I don't have one."

Since when do GMs call out opposing players for apparently no reason?

What a douchebag.

*** Updated 2/28, From The Star Ledger:

Earlier yesterday, Mussina got an apology from Boston Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, who last Friday called Mussina a "bad apple" for complaining about the Yankees' 2004 trip to Japan.

Epstein told a Boston radio station that when the Red Sox go to Japan next month, they need to "keep the (Kevin) Brown-and-Mussina approach from infiltrating our clubhouse." Epstein called Yankees GM Brian Cashman on Tuesday night and asked him to relay his apology to Mussina.

"That was nice," said Mussina, who added "there was nothing" to apologize for.
He's still a douchebag.

Baseball America's Top 100 Prospects

Baseball America has released its annual list of the top 100 prospects.

The Top Ten:

1. Jay Bruce (20) - OF, Reds
2. Evan Longoria (22) - 3B, Rays
3. Joba Chamberlain (22) - RHP, Yankees
4. Clay Buchholz (23) - RHP, Red Sox
5. Colby Rasmus (21) - OF, Cardinals
6. Cameron Maybin (20) - OF, Marlins
7. Clayton Kershaw (20) - LHP, Dodgers
8. Franklin Morales (22) - LHP, Rockies
9. Homer Bailey (21) - RHP, Reds
10. David Price (22) - LHP, Rays

Here's the complete list.

The Yankees had four players on the list, all in the top 50. Joba Chamberlain ranked at #3, Jose Tabata is #37, Austin Jackson is #41, and pitcher Ian Kennedy is #45.

Melky Honored to be Center Fielder for the Yankees

One of the great things I've noticed about many of young players the Yankees have recently brought up from their farm system is their understanding of what it means to put on the Yankee-pinstripes. They respect the history of the game, and the important role the Yankees have played, and will continue to play, in shaping that history. In other words: they get it.

Melky Cabrera is no different, from Mike Vaccaro:
February 26, 2008 -- TAMPA - If he thought about it the way you would think about it, the way I would think about it, then Melky Cabrera probably couldn't do the job he's going to be asked to do this season. Cabrera understands the value of the real estate he roams. He appreciates it. He reveres it. But he isn't overwhelmed by it. He can't afford to be.

"I know where I am when I am out there," Cabrera said. "It is an honor to play there. But I have a job to do, and I know my team relies on me to do it."

Eighty-one games left for the most important patch of land in baseball history, if not all of American sport. And Melky Cabrera will be the one who gets to patrol that precinct, walk that beat, most of the time.

"I'm sure the older he gets, the more he'll appreciate the other people who have roamed the position," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he's like the rest of us, the older we get the more we appreciate things like that."

Besides, Girardi said, the most important name of all, to a 23-year-old kid like Cabrera, belongs to Williams, who was also shy, also a switch-hitter, also something of a skeptical heir to the throne when he first drew the assignment almost 18 years ago.

"I would think," Girardi said, "that he knows all about Bernie."

"I do," Cabrera said. "Bernie is a guy who played the position well, who played the game for the Yankees the way I want to. I know he always said what an honor it was to play center field for the Yankees, and now I know exactly what he meant."
"Whatever I can do to be a help, I try to do," he said. "Center field is important on any team, but especially on this team."

Another one of the young Yanks that "gets it" is Phil Hughes. Here he discusses his new blog with Tyler Kepner of The Times.

The New and Old Stadiums as Seen from Above

click to enlarge

(for the main updates page go here)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hank: Extension for Cashman "will just happen"

From Kat O'Brien:
The Yankees senior vice president said he will talk with Cashman about his contract, which expires after the season.

"We'll talk about it during the season," Steinbrenner said. " ... It will just happen when it happens naturally. I think you guys are trying to create controversy here where it doesn't exist."

Steinbrenner said Monday: "I think the big thing with Brian is the organization he put in place. It's not based on just one decision as far as, do a trade or don't do a trade, or sign a free agent or don't sign. He put Damon Oppenheimer in as the chief of scouting, which has obviously paid off huge. The way he works with Mark Newman, the way he works with (Joe) Girardi, the organization he's put in place. All those things are factors."

So although the Yankees haven't yet talked about an extension, Steinbrenner said "it "will just happen," noting, "I've known Cash for a long time. Even back in the 80s when he first started out. He's been with our family for a long, long time."
Regardless of what the '08 Yankees do, Cashman should get an extension. Yes, he has made some mistakes over the years, but who hasn't? He, with the help of Damon Oppenheimer, have turned the Yankees farm system from mediocre, to one of the best in the league. And since he's gained more control, the team seems headed in the right direction.

UPDATE 11:00 PM - Here another quote from Hank, and one from Cashman:

When asked if he wanted Cashman to return with the Yankees, Steinbrenner said, “as far as me wanting him to stay, I don’t see why not. He’s been with us a long time, and I like what he’s done with the organization.”

But Cashman is in no rush: “I’m not a big believer that things have to happen now,” Cashman said. “I have a contract I’m currently on. I’m not one that needs to have any feeling of security a year in advance. I’m more than happy to go through the season like so many players and coaches do. That’s part of our industry, and I’ve done it before. My topic is a topic for another day. The topic now is to get the team ready.”

Clemens May Face Perjury Charges

From The New York Times:

A Congressional committee has taken the first steps toward asking the Department of Justice to launch a criminal investigation into whether Roger Clemens committed perjury during testimony about his use of performance-enhancing drugs, according to three lawyers familiar with the matter.

A draft letter referring Clemens, but not his accuser, Brian McNamee, had been drawn up by staff members for the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform by the end of last week, according to two of the lawyers. However, all three lawyers, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly on the matter, said it was possible that McNamee could also be included in the referral by the time it is sent to the Justice Department.

If the committee does decide to refer Clemens alone, it could indicate that the Democratic majority, led by the chairman, Henry A. Waxman of California, had prevailed over any Republican reservations about the truthfulness of McNamee’s statements in the Mitchell report, a subsequent deposition and his testimony at a committee hearing on Feb. 13.

Things are getting worse and worse for the cheating Texan.

Hopefully Pettitte won't be dragged into any of this, but sadly, he probably will.

Now that's one UGLY shirt

You may be asking yourself: "What the hell is that?" Well apparently it's a Yankee Stadium vendor's shirt from the 70's. ... Nice, huh?

This is before my time, but does anyone remember these things?

Eiland Tells ESPN Radio Joba is Slated to Start in the Rotation

From's Game On blog:

Will Joba Chamberlain begin the season as the starter or in the bullpen?

That question has been asked repeatedly throughout the offseason, and there has yet to be definitive answer ... until now.

Although you won't read it any newspaper, Yankees pitching coach David Eiland said during an interview on ESPN Radio's Baseball Tonight that Chamberlain is slated to begin the season in New York's starting rotation.

I hope this turns out to be true, this is what I've felt the Yankees should be doing with Joba all along.

Big Guy's Minor League Notes

Spring officially starts in a week with the first pitch of the Yankees exhibition schedule in the Grapefruit League in Florida. Here's a brief look at some of the new position players from the minor leagues and free agent signings we may see in some of the games.

Brett Gardner: Outfielder - Gardner is a line drive hitter with great speed - the fastest prospect in the Yankees system. He is also a very good bunter. He stole 39 bases in ‘07 , while hitting .300 at AA Trenton before being promoted midseason to SWB where he hit .260. Defensively he uses his speed very well, and can cover a lot of ground in center. Gardner was very good in the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .343. He'll most likely be back at SWB for the start of the season and needs to bring his average up.

Juan Miranda: 1st base - Miranda was signed as a FA from Cuba. He should be sharing 1st/DH duties at SWB with Eric Duncan at SWB to start the season. He hit righties very well but struggled against lefties (.223 in 112 AB in '07) and also needs to work on his defense. He hit .265 with .832 OPS at AA Trenton. He was impressive at the Arizona Fall League, where he hit .295 with 7 HR, and 17 RBI, in 22 games. He will be one of many fighting for the first base spot, but will most likely start the year in SWB.

Alberto Gonzalez: Shortstop - The slick fielder was a Sept call up to NY. He does needs to work on his offense, though. He hit .266 between AAA and AA. He did have a very good winter league where he hit .341.

Justin Christian: Outfielder - Plays good defense with very good speed and can steal bases. In an oddity, he only hit .235 at AA, but hit .325 in 40 games after being promoted to AAA. Overall .271 in 105 games with 35 stolen bases.

Jose Tabata: Outfielder - Tabata is highly rated prospect with an abundance of talent. The corner outfielder is recovering from wrist surgery and did not play winter ball. Last year he hit .307 at A-Tampa and should start the year at AA Trenton.

Austin Jackson: Outfielder - Another one of the Yankees top prospects, very talented and athletic. He had a breakout 2nd half of the year in ‘07 after being promoted to A Tampa hitting .345 there. Defensively he has above average range, and a plus arm. He was very good winter league in Hawaii, so good that he was rated the 2nd best prospect. He should start the year at AA Trenton next to Tabata in the outfield.

Jesus Montero: Cather - Montero is an 18 year old power hitting catcher, who can go to all fields, and has tremendous bat-speed. He also has a very good eye for someone his age. He should start the year at Charleston. He had a great winter league hitting .358. He's already 6-4, about 230 and could eventually be switched to 1st base.

Francisco Cervelli: Catcher - Closest to the majors out of all the Yankees catching prospects, but also has the lowest ceiling. He has great defensive skills who knows how to handle pitchers. He hit .279 at A-Tampa in ‘07 and will start the year at AA Trenton.

Marcos Vechionacci: -
3rd baseman. Vechionacci hit .267 at A Tampa in 103 games. He should start the year at AA Trenton.

Colin Curtis: Outfielder - He was a teammate of Red Sox 2B Dustin Pedroia at Arizona State. Curtis, who the Yankees rate as a plus hitter, hit for a combined .270 with 19 homers between Tampa and Trenton in ‘07 . He's an average defensive outfielder, but has well-rounded tools.

Eric Duncan - 1st base/DH and former 1st round draft pick. Duncan hasn't hit over .250 in any of the last 3 years and wasn't protected from the Dec. Rule 5 Draft. He just turned 23 and needs a good year at the plate at AAA SWB. In 2007 in 113 games he hit .241, 712 OPS, 11 homers and 61 RBI.

Nick Green: Utility infielder - Signed 30 day minor league deal will try for utility role in NY. Played with the Yanks in 06 and hit .240 with 2 homers. In 07 hit .245 at AAA Indianapolis and .337 at AAA Portland. He’s a career .240 major league hitter.

Morgan Ensberg - 3rd baseman. Ensberg is trying to recover from a bad shoulder that hampered him in ‘07. He's played 1 game in his career at 1st. Hit .232 with 8 homers in ‘07 for the Astros. But in ’05 he had a career high of 36 homers with Houston. He’s a career .265 in the majors.

Jason Lane: Outfielder -He hit .178 in ‘07 with 8 homers for Houston. Had career high 26 homers with Astros in ’05, and is a career .241 in the majors.

Greg Porter:
Outfielder - Porter hit .345 with 7 homers at AAA, and .297 at AA in ‘07.

Bernie Castro:
Infielder -Hit .280 in 118 games at AAA in ’07, and a career .253 major league hitter.

Cody Ransom:
Infielder - Hit .260 with 28 homers at AAA in ‘07. In 19 games with the Astros he nit .229.


-The SWB team lost a lot of minor leaguers to free agency and a lot were signed as possible replacements with spring training invitations to try to win a job with the big club.

-Other minor league catchers in camp: 2007 draft picks, Austin Romine and Chase Weems, as well as Kyle Anson, Jason Brown and P. J. Pilittere.

-Former Yankees lefty reliever, Ron Villone signed a minor league deal with the Cards. Bubba Crosby signed a minor league deal with the Mariners.

Here's an article about one of Big Guy's favorites: Mark Melancon

- Another Melancon article from today's Post by Joel Sherman

- And here's an article on Eric Duncan

(as always I'd like to thank Big Guy for his great contributions)

Hank Irks Sox

From the Boston Globe:
Hank Steinbrenner touched a nerve with Sox chief operating officer Larry Lucchino with comments to the New York Post, in which he implied strongly that there were Red Sox players on performance-enhancing drugs.

Asked how bad fans in Boston might react to Andy Pettitte, Steinbrenner said, "I don't think they would want to be hollering too loud at Andy up in Fenway. They had plenty of players doing this stuff, too. It's just that those players weren't mentioned in the Mitchell Report."

Asked about the comments, Lucchino responded in an e-mail, "It serves no purpose at this point to comment on Senator Mitchell's Report and his major contributions to Baseball, or on Mr. Steinbrenner's gratuitous and reckless accusations. So, no comment."

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Joel Sherman Discusses Jeter's Defense

With the recent release of the UPenn study, Derek Jeter's defense has become a hot-button issue around the world of Yankee-baseball. Today Joel Sheman gives us his take on the situation:

What is being missed here is the preponderance of evidence against Jeter's defensive game. This is not just one set of Ivy League academics calling Jeter the majors' worst fielding shortstop. Just about every respected baseball statistician who has publicized results reveals Jeter is, at best, among the poorest defensive shortstops in the game.

You can attack methodology; you can say no perfect formula has yet been devised to encapsulate all the elements - positioning, speed of the hit ball, field conditions - into a single defensive statistic. However, these metrics keep evolving in sophistication. And Jeter keeps faring poorly in nearly every study year after year. Do you think there is a conspiracy? Do you think statisticians en masse have covertly met and made their quest to soil Jeter's glovely reputation?

"This study has been done a zillion times and the same conclusion is reached every time," an AL official said. "What do you think that means?"

For Jeter devotees, it means assailing the geeks. But as an AL executive said, "this isn't geeks vs. jocks. This is myth vs. reality." In reality, most baseball officials laugh off the three Gold Gloves Jeter won from 2004-06 in the way they do the four Bernie Williams won as having more to do with offense, fame and winning than with actual defense.

One AL official said, "You particularly notice with groundball guys like [Andy] Pettitte and [Chien-Ming] Wang how many grounders went through that shouldn't have. Pettitte must have had a culture shock going from Adam Everett in Houston, who was the best [shortstop], to Jeter, who is not in that league."

Perhaps the strongest condemnation came from Jeter, who said, "Last year, I didn't have a good year defensively."

It doesn't sound like much, especially since Jeter limited a serial inadequacy to just 2007. Except Jeter is not one to ever publicly apologize for, or criticize, his own game. But this is more than words with Jeter. He rededicated himself in the offseason with exercises designed to improve his lateral quickness and first-step explosiveness. One Yankee official saw this version of Jeter and said, "He set the clock back five years."

This is the elephant in the room. Will the Yanks move Jeter off of shortstop when the time comes - assuming that time is not here already - or will they be like the Orioles, who kowtowed well past Cal Ripken's expiration date at short and hurt the organization?
Sherman also tells us that the Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman aren't worried about where Jeter is going to play next, they're too focused on the present. "I am comfortable with the left side of the infield at this moment in time. Do I have concerns in future years? Let me get to future years." said Cashman.

This Week in Yankees History

February 24th - March 1st

February 24th

- The White Sox trade P Ed Lopat to the Yankees for C Aaron Robinson, Pitchers Bill Wight and Fred Bradley. Lopat will star for 7 seasons in pinstripes, winning 21 in 1951 and going 16-4 in 1953. Eddie would be part of the Yankees starting rotation of Reynolds, Raschi and later Ford that won 5th straight World Championships.

1974 - Former Yankee INF Mike Lowell (1998) was born. Mike was drafted by the Yankees in the 20th round of the 1995 amateur player draft. Mike appeared in 8 games batting .267. With Scott Borias starting at 3rd base, Mike was expendable. On
February 1, 1999, Mike was traded by the Yankees to the Marlins for pitchers Mark J. Johnson, Ed Yarnall, and Todd Noel.

1976 - Former Yankee P Randy Keisler (2000-01) was born. Randy was drafted by the Yankees in the 2nd round of the 1998 amateur player draft. Randy went 2-2 in 14 games before being released by the Yankees. He criticized the Yankee management in their handling of young pitchers.

February 25th

- Former Yankees 1B/3B /OF Danny Cater (1970-71) was born. As a Yankee, he hit .301 and .276, after coming from the A’s in the Al Downing trade. He was traded to the Red Sox for P Sparky Lyle in March of 1972

1941 - Yankees sell 1st B Ellsworth “Babe” Dahlgren to the Braves for undisclosed amount of cash. Babe replaced Lou Gehrig at 1st base when his famous consecutive games played streak ended during the 1939
AL season at Detroit.

1944 - Former Yankees Manager (1990-91) and Coach (1985), Stump Merrill was born. In 1985, he was a 1B coach for Yogi Berra, but was replaced when Billy Martin took over the team. Stump was a manager in the Yankees farm system for from 1978-1990, before replacing Bucky Dent as manager in 1990. He went 49-74 (1990) and 71-91 in 1991. In 1992, he was replaced by Buck Showalter. From 1993-2004, Stump was once again a Yankee minor league manager.

1963 - Former Yankees OF Paul O’Neill (1993-2001) was born. On
November 3, 1992, Paul was traded by the Reds along with Joe DeBerry to the Yankees for OF Roberto Kelly. He was a member of the AL All Star team 4 times. He appeared in 4 World Series with the Yankees. His best season was in 1994, when he won the AL Batting Crown with a .354 BA.

1994 - The Veterans Committee elects former Yankees long-time shortstop Phil Rizzuto (1941-42, 1946-1956) to Baseball’s
HOF. Phil won the 1950 AL MVP award and the 1951 Babe Ruth Award. Long-time Red Sox rival HOF Ted Williams said that Phil could beat you with his glove or bat.

February 26th

- Former Yankees P Rip Collins (1920-21) was born. He went 25-13 in 64 games before being traded to Red Sox in 1921.

1933 - Former Yankee 1st/OF/Catcher Johnny Blanchard (1955, 1959-1965) was born. He was signed by the Yankees, as an amateur free agent in 1951. His best season was in 1961, when he hit .305 with 21 HRs with 54 RBIs in 243 at bats under 100 games. During July 1961, Johnny hit 4 HRs in 4 consecutive appearances during a 3 game series. He appeared in 5 World Series with the Yankees hitting .345. On
May 3, 1965, John was traded by the Yankees along with P Rolland Sheldon to the Athletics for C Doc Edwards.

1935 - The Yankees release longtime star OF Babe Ruth, freeing him to sign a $20,000 contract with the Braves of the NL. Ruth's new contract with the Braves also gives him a share of the team's profits. In 1934, Ruth had endured one of his worst seasons with the Yankees-at least by his lofty standards-with a .288 batting average, 22 HRs and 84 RBIs. In 1935, he will play just only 28 games for the Braves, before announcing his retirement on June 2 at the age of 40. Ruth will hit the final 3 HRs of his MLB career on May 25 against the Pirates, giving him a final MLB HR career total of 714. His last HR will clear the right field grandstand at Forbes Field and will travel an estimated 600 feet.

1968 - Former Yankees 1B J. T. Snow (1992) was born. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 5th round of the 1989 amateur player draft. He appeared in 7 games batting .143. He refused the Yankees request to learn how to play the outfield, since Don Mattingly was at 1B. His refusal to switch positions resulted in a trade to the Angels for P Jim Abbott.

1971 - Former Yankees reserve OF Matt Luke (1996) was born. Matt was drafted by the Yankees in the 8th round of the 1992 amateur player draft. He appeared in 1 game with no at bats before being picked up on waivers in 1997 by the Dodgers.

1991 - Bill Veeck, the colorful owner of the Browns, Indians and White Sox (twice) and Yankees great 2B Tony Lazzeri are elected to the HOF by the Veterans Committee.

February 27th

- Former Yankees reserve catcher (1931) and Coach (1932) Cy Perkins was born. Cy was a veteran catcher picked up from the A’s. He batted .255 for the Yankees. He would become a Yankees Coach on the 1932 World Championship team.

1907 - The Yankees acquire C Branch Rickey from the Browns in exchange for INF Joe Yeager. As noted by Lyle Spatz, Rickey will not play on Sundays, while new C Fritz Buelow will.

1912 - The Yankees announced that, they will begin to wear pinstriped uniforms.

1948 - Newly elected to the
HOF are Yankees P Herb Pennock and Pirates Pie Traynor. Needing 91 votes for selection, Pennock, who died a month before, gets 94 votes, Traynor 93. Just missing are Al Simmons, Charlie Gehringer and Bill Terry. Herb Pennock was the GM for the Phillies at the time of his death, he had suffered a heart attack.

1953 - Former Yankees C/DH Ron Hassey (1985-86) was born. Ron came from the Cubs in 1984. In 1985, he hit .296 in 92 games. He was traded to the White Sox, but he was required in 1986, he hit .298 in 64 games.

1962 - Former Yankees P Greg Cadaret (1989-1992) was born. Greg came to the Yankees from the A’s in the Rickey
Henderson trade. He went 22-23 with 7 saves as a Yankee, before being sold to the Reds.

1969 - Former Yankees P Willie Banks (1997-98) was born. Willie was signed as a free agent by the Yankees. He was a former NJ
All State HS Pitching star, who had been originally signed by the Twins. He went 4-1 in 14 games with the Yankees, before being traded to D-Backs in 1998.

1985 - Veteran INF Toby Harrah, an original
Texas Rangers member, is traded by the Yankees to Texas for OF Billy Sample and a player to be named later.

1988 - Former Yankees Coach (1984-85) and Minor League Manager Doug Homquist passed away. Holmquist managed for the Yankees in the minor leagues from 1978 to 1983. As the Yankees awarded World Series rings to their minor league managers as well, they gave Holmquist one. While managing in the minors, he worked with Willie McGee, Pat Tabler and Steve Balboni.

February 28th

- Former Yankees INF Marty Perez (1977) was born. On March 14, 1977, Marty was traded by the Giants to the Yankees for OF Terry Whitfield. He appeared in 1 game with the team before being traded on April 27, 1977 by the Yankees along with P Dock Ellis and OF Larry Murray to the Athletics for P Mike Torrez.

1959 - Mickey Mantle of the Yankees ends his holdout after one day. Mantle agrees to a salary of $72,000 and a bonus of $2,000. He had been asking the Yankees for $85,000 after batting .304 with 42 HRs and 97 RBIs in 1958.

1970 - The Yankees acquired veteran INF Ron Hansen (1970-71) from the White Sox. Ron was at the end of his MLB career battling with back problems. He batted .297 in 59 games, before fading in 1971 to .207 in 61 games and being released.

February 29th

1924 - Former Yankees player, and President, Al Rosen (1978-79) was born. Al took over the Yankees GM duties after Gabe Paul left the team in 1977. His personnel moves including bringing in Bob Lemon as Manager during the 1978 AL East race, allowed the Yankees to catch the Red Sox and win the
AL flag.

2000 - After being suspended yesterday by MLB for 1 year for testing positive for the use cocaine, Yankees OF/DH Darryl Strawberry is invited to join the Newark Bears during his suspension. The
New Jersey franchise, which is a member of the Atlantic League, is located near Strawberry's Fort Lee home.

March 1st

- Former Yankees P Ron Klimkowski (1969-70, 1972) was born. Ron came to the Yankees in 1967 in the Elston Howard trade with the Red Sox. He appeared in 48 games, going 6-8 with 1 save before being traded to the A’s for OF/DH Felipe Alou. He would return to the Yankees in 1972, going 0-3 in 16 games with 1 save.

1953 - Former Yankees reserve OF Larry Murray (1974-76) was born. Larry was drafted by the Yankees in the 5th round of the 1971 amateur player draft. He appeared in 20 games, going 2 for 12, before being traded to the A’s in the Mike Torrez trade during the 1977 season.

1969 -
Yankees long time All Star OF/1B Mickey Mantle announces his retirement as a MLB player (1951-1968) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. at the Yankees spring training camp. He is the last of the Yankee stars from the dynasty teams of 1949-1964 to retire.

1993 -
Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is reinstated as general partner of the team. Commissioner Fay Vincent had banned Steinbrenner from day-to-day activities with the Yankees because of his relationship with convicted gambler Howie Spira.

1998 -
The Yankees christen Legends Field, their new $30 million 31-acre complex in Tampa. The field has the exact dimensions of Yankee Stadium. On hand to see Phil Rizzuto toss out the 1st ball are former Yankees Whitey Ford, Catfish Hunter, Ron Guidry and Chris Chambliss, who then watch the new Yankees beat the AL Champions Cleveland Indians, 5-2.

previous week

(as always I'd like to thank Clipper51 for his great contributions)