No turkeys here … just the news:
- Tom Boorstein of SNY.TV gives us something to feel good about …. the Yankees bullpen depth going into 2009:
… The Yankees didn’t have any shortage of capable arms last season. No one except Mariano Rivera perfect, but most people in the ‘pen outside of LaTroy Hawkins had extended stretches of quality pitching. None of them appears to have been particularly lucky either.
(Girardi) didn’t have a true stud setup man a la Scot Shields of the mid-2000s or Rafael Betancourt of 2007. But he did have more than his share of guys who more than filler. By not relying on one or two arms exclusively — ahem, Joe Torre — Girardi discovered he had multiple trustworthy options warming up behind Monument Park. Yes, (Edwar) Ramirez had his rough stretches in which he gave up home run after home run, but Girardi didn’t bury him. He used him in some lower-leverage situations until he felt ready again to bring him in a big spot. He had a similar approach with Veras. He even stopped using (Kyle) Farnsworth, a personal favorite, during his struggles in April and May.
Want more good news about the bullpen? The Yankees have plenty of potential that wasn’t tapped in 2008. Humberto Sanchez brought over in the Gary Sheffield deal, has been plagued by injuries but has big-league stuff. Brian Bruney walks too many hitters. But if he harnesses his control and can turn in a full season — he missed a good portion of 2008 with a foot injury — he could be a nice middle reliever. Jonathan Albaladejo, whom the Yankees fleeced acquired from the Nationals in exchange for Tyler Clippard, will be coming off a shoulder injury but has a promising arm. And don’t forget Chris Britton, who has never gotten a true shot despite his more-than-capable performance at Triple-A and in brief Major League stints during the past two seasons.
- The L.A. Times reports that the Angels, failing to gain any traction in re-signing Mark Teixeira, are now focusing on C.C. Sabathia:
The Angels appear reluctant to guarantee more than seven years in a contract for Teixeira, said a source familiar with the club’s thinking. They appear more likely at this time to pursue Sabathia, with an offer in the range of Johan Santana’s six-year, $137.5-million contract with the New York Mets.
Teixeira remains the Angels’ top priority — the club would sign him but does not want to miss out on Sabathia while waiting to see whether Teixeira’s asking price falls. The Angels are not believed to have made a formal offer to either player.
- More info on the re-built Cano … this time from the Post’s George King:
“He hired a personal trainer from New Jersey who is kicking his [butt], and he looks great,” (hitting coach Kevin) Long said. “His body fat is at 11 percent, his stomach is cut.”
The Yankees have been concerned about the 6-foot Cano’s body weight – listed at 205 pounds – for a while. That, according to Long, shouldn’t be a worry.
“He works on hitting and doing agility drills for two hours, rests and goes to the weight room for three hours,” Long said of Cano, who enters the second-year of a four-year, $30 million deal. “There isn’t a whole lot of heavy lifting. It’s more cardio and light weights.”
Because they wanted him to continue to work on the closed stance he started to use in the final month of the season, the Yankees allowed Cano to DH for Estrellas in the Dominican Republic Winter League. Through three games he was hitting .250 (3-for-12).
While Cano works on his body, Long attacked the head with the hope the free swinger can develop early-count plate discipline.
“If he is going to be a third- or fifth-place hitter, which we need him to be, he has to learn about the strike zone and taking a lot more often than not,” Long said of Cano, who drew 26 walks last year. Only 11 players with at least 477 at-bats drew fewer walks than Cano.
“He can do that, because he hits as well as anybody with two strikes.”
- MLB.com notes that the Yankees have announced their 2009 Spring Training schedule. Highlights of the article:
- Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Feb. 13, with the their first workout set for Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14. The first full-squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 18.
- They begin their Grapefruit League slate on Feb. 25 against the Toronto Blue Jays, the earliest first game in at least 60 years.
- Ticket prices for Spring Training games at George M. Steinbrenner Field will remain the same as last season.
- Don’t look for ex-Yankee Mel Stottlemyre in a Mariners uniform next season, according to the Seattle Times. New manager Don Wakamatsu informed Mel that there would be a new pitching coach in ’09.
- Sam Militello, who made the majors at the tender age of 22 (and was done with his career in baseball by 26) turns 39. Happy 53rd birthday to Jay Howell. Larry Gura, a Yankee nemesis (11-6, 3.10 ERA) after his trade to the Royals, turns 61.