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Monthly Archives: February 2009

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Twins 7, Yankees 3

The Yankees’ starters touched up Francisco Liriano this afternoon, but the next six Twins hurlers, including former Yankee farm hands Jason Jones and Sean Henn, held the line as the Twins beat the Yankees for the second straight day, this time by a score of 7-3 at Steinbrenner Field. The big story, however, was that Jorge Posada was a late scratch after reporting soreness in his surgically repaired shoulder.

Lineup:

L – Johnny Damon (LF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
R – Jose Molina (C)
R – Shelley Duncan (DH)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Doug Bernier (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Angel Berroa (3B), Francisco Cervelli (C), John Rodriguez (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), Colin Curtis (LF), Jesus Montero (DH)

Pitchers: Joba Chamberlain, Dan Giese, Jose Veras, Michael Dunn, Kei Igawa, Kanekoa Texeira, David Robertson

Big Hits:

The Yankees’ only extra-base hit of the game came off the bat of Mark Teixeira (1-for-3) as he shot the opposite field gap for a double while batting righty against the lefty Liriano. The only multi-hit game was by Shelley Duncan, who singled twice in three trips.

Who Pitched Well:

Jose Veras worked a perfect fourth inning, striking out two, mixing his slider and curve nicely and sitting around 93 with his fastball on the YES gun. Kanekoa Texeira pitched a perfect eighth. Kei Igawa pitched two efficient, soreless innings allowing just one baserunner on a single.

Who Didn’t:

Joba Chamberlain was leaving his pitches up in the zone and didn’t hit 90 mph on the YES gun. He did uncork one typically nasty slider for a swing-and-miss, but oherwise he used up his 22 pitches in the first inning and only threw 11 of them for strikes. In total, he allowed two runs on three hits, two of them booming doubles by Delmon Young and Jason Kubel, and didn’t strike out a batter. Dan Giese followed Joba by giving up four runs on four hits, including a Carlos Gomez homer, and a walk in his two frames.

Battles:

Jose Veras made up for his rough first outing with an impressive inning, but David Robertson was again disappointing, giving up a run on two hits in the ninth and getting his third out on an appeal because a baserunner left second base too soon on the warning-track sac fly that scored the run. Dan Giese hurt his candidacy for the long-relief job. Nick Swisher went 0-for-3. Melky Cabrera went 1-for-3.

Ouchies:

It’s impossible to say right now if Posada’s shoulder soreness is simply a typical post-surgical ache likely to pass with a couple of days of rest or a major red flag. Jorge, of course, is downplaying it, but that’s the sort of behavior that landed him on the DL to begin with last year. Posada tweaked the shoulder stretching in the on-deck circle before his first at-bat (the one in which he homered) on Thursday and played in both that game and Friday’s before mentioning it to anyone. To me, this is the key sentence from the above linked story:

Posada said he performed one stretching exercise that he was not supposed to, bringing the bat up over his head and behind his neck, when he felt something in his shoulder.

Anyone else get the sense that the obstianance of the aging Posada and Jeter is going to be as much of an injury threat as their advancing ages? Guys, follow your doctor’s orders and take the day off when you’re hurting. Please. Do it for the team.

Pete Abe did some pre-game reporting on Posada and has some audio from Jorge here.

Shake, Shake, Shake, Señor

Joba Chamberlain and the Yankee starters (save the rehabbing Hideki Matsui) take on Francisco Liriano and the Twins B-squad at Boss Field this afternoon at 1:15. The game is on YES and marks the spring debut of the WCBS radio team. I love baseball on the radio, but I’ve had a hard time stomaching John Sterling ever since Michael Kay jumped to TV. Still, let’s hope he gets to do this some 95 to 100 times during the regular season and 11 more times in October:

By the way, what ever happened to “no cheering in the press box?”

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There is Always One

I don’t generally go for music that makes me feel sad, especially somber rock n roll or folk records. I admire Neil Young but many of his most famous tunes just make me want to weep. So I stay away. But there is one song of his that I’ve always loved, ever since it spent a brief amount of time in heavy rotation on MTV back when. (Funny how even with guys you don’t like there is usually at least one record that stirs you; I’m no Bruce fan but I dig “Tenth Avenue Freeze Out,” and I steer clear of U2 at all costs but have always liked “I Will Follow.”)

Here’s my favorite Neil Young tune, almost a gag record, but soulful and a lot of fun.

Hullo, Ball

You are divine.

Twins 5, Yankees 4

The Yankees took their first loss of the spring this afternoon in the first game in which they faced an opponent’s major league starters. Twins win, 5-4.

Lineup:

L – Brett Gardner (CF)
R – Cody Ransom (2B)
S – Nick Swisher (1B)
S – Jorge Posada (DH)
R – Xavier Nady (RF)
S – Melky Cabrera (LF)
R – Angel Berroa (SS)
R – Justin Leone (3B)
R – Francisco Cervelli (C)

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Ramiro Peña (2B), Eduardo Nuñez (SS), Doug Bernier (3B), Austin Romine (C), Todd Linden (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), Kevin Russo (LF), John Rodriguez (DH)

Pitchers: Ian Kennedy, Eric Hacker, Anthony Claggett, Andrew Brackman, George Kontos, Wilkin De La Rosa, Steven Jackson

Opposition: The Twins’ starters minus Joe Mauer.

Big Hits:

Justin Leone (1-for-3) homered off Twins’ starter Scott Baker. Brett Gardner (2 for 2, BB, 2 SB) singled and doubled off Baker. Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher were both 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

Who Pitched Well:

Ian Kennedy struck out three in his two scoreless innings while allowing just two baserunners on a walk and a single. Anthony Claggett pitched two scoreless innings of his own, stranding two inherited runners in the fourth and allowing just one of his own on a single.

Who Didn’t:

Eric Hacker failed to get an out in the fourth, giving up a run on three hits before getting pulled in favor of Claggett. He also walked two men in the third. George Kontos blew the save in the seventh by allowing a run on three hits. Wilkin De La Rosa gave up two runs on two walks and two singles in the eighth before Steven Jackson was brought in to get the last out.

Battles:

In a game they both started Brett Gardner (who got the nod in center) went 2-for-2 with a double, a walk, and two stolen bases, while Melky Cabrera (starting in left) went 0 for 3 and stranded three runners. Gardner led off the game with a single, stole second, and scored on a Cody Ransom single. That after homering leading off the first game of the schedule. Who does he think he is, Rickey Henderson? Nick Swisher went 2-for-3.

Come See About Me

Alex and Diane have both been kind enough to mention this already, but I just wanted to post a reminder that I will be appearing at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center this Sunday at 2pm along with Steven Goldman, Kevin Goldstein, Christina Kahrl, Jay Jaffe, and Neil deMause. This is ostensibly to promote Baseball Prospectus 2009, which we all contributed to (Banter readers note that the Yankees team essay was among my contributions), but for you it’s $6 (or free if you buy a book) to see Yogi’s museum and pepper some of the best baseball minds on the net with questions for two hours.

If you can’t make it on Sunday, I’ll also be at the 18th St. Barnes & Nobel in Manhattan on Thursday March 12 and the Rutgers University Bookstore in New Brunswick, NJ on Thursday March 26.

Would You Believe?

staten_island_ferry_7nov031

As I’ve gotten older I have become less embarrassed by what I don’t know, what I haven’t read, where I haven’t been.  Still, there are some places in New York that I haven’t visited, and I usually keep it to myself.   “I got my pride,” as Ralph Kramden once said.

Ellis Island, for starters.  Oy.  Never been.  I’ve also never taken a ride on the Staten Island Ferry.  Dude, never been to the Museum of the Moving Image out in Astoria.  The shame!  But for me, the greatest sin, is that I’ve never been to the Frick Collection.  Seeing as how I’m into fine art and all, this is almost unfathomable, not to mention, inexcusable.

Nevermind all that.  I’m going to the Frick tomorrow morning with my uncle, who is a painter.

What famous NYC landmarks have you never been to?  You know, the ones you feel bad about.  C’mon, fess up.

Yankee Panky: Roid Rage

Alex Rodriguez’s performance at last week’s press conference was all anyone could talk about on the airwaves here in New York for days. Driving around as I did for much of the weekend, it didn’t matter if I turned on 1050 or WFAN, it was “Let’s skewer A-Rod,” followed by “What the hell is Jerry Manuel doing with the lineups,” “Fire Renney,” and “The Knicks play in New York, too, so we have to talk about them.”

On the written side of things, there was more diversity in the Yankee coverage, ranging from the requisite holier-than-thou columns on A-Rod to the investigative journalism unearthing the details of A-Rod’s PED story. The muckraking that ensued was to be expected, but with all this information being brought to light now, shouldn’t investigative reporting at this level been done proactively in the beginning of the decade, instead of reactively now? Of course, there has been a great amount of what we’ve all been waiting for: actual baseball stories from camp: roster projections, players to watch, the ongoing discussion regarding what to do with Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher, Joe Girardi’s personality, and the questions regarding ticket prices as Opening Day approaches.

Of all those articles, I was particularly drawn to one that added even more perspective to the steroid investigation. It was a blog entry posted Wednesday on the Daily News Web site by investigative reporter Michael O’Keeffe (not the Michael O’Keefe who played Danny Noonan in “Caddyshack” and was married to Bonnie Raitt), and it profiled a sports activist, Charles S. Farrell, who moved to the Dominican Republic to help open a sports and education academy. Farrell, a former director of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Sports, commented on the prevalence of steroids, the legality of them and the ease by which they can be obtained in a recent newsletter.

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News of the Day – 2/27/09

Today’s news is powered by the brainpower of Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman of “Mythbusters” (with special guest Roger Clemens):

  • Cliff has the recap of the Yanks 5-1 win over the Rays yesterday.
  • Here’s a link to something to make Banterites less nervous …. Georgie juices one.  (sorry … couldn’t resist)
  • Tyler Kepner writes of Posada’s progress to date.
  • The Bombers will be wearing a new cap to commemorate their inaugural season in their new stadium.
  • George Vecsey notes the number of major leaguers that have lost a bit of weight in the off-season, including Brian Bruney.
  • Those obstructed-view bleacher seats will now go for $5, rather than the original $12.
  • The Bombers and Bank of America have ended their long, drawn out negotiations for a major sponsorship deal.
  • Lonn Trost, however, states that the economy has not affected the Yankees’ sponsorship deals “one iota”.  Furthermore, with regard to those obstructed-view bleacher seats:

“Those seats are being sold at $5, not $12,” he said. “I think some seats may have gone out improperly invoiced. Those are going to be corrected, but those 600 seats are going to be $5.” …

“When we built the sports bar we knew architecturally there is an architectural shadow,” he said. “And that means there are a group of seats that are in the bleachers that if you are sitting very close to either the rightfield or leftfield side of the sports bar, you may not see the opposite side.

“We knew that going in, and to that extent we pre-prepared to put televisions in the wall, as well as that big screen so you don’t miss anything.”

[My take: You put televisions in the food courts so people don't miss the action.  You shouldn't have to put them in the actual seating area.  Whatever.]

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Yankees 5, Rays 1

The Yanks made their home and broadcast debut with a 5-1 win over the Rays this afternoon. They’ve now won their first two spring games by a combined score of 11-2.

Lineup:

L – Johnny Damon (LF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
R – Xavier Nady (RF)
S – Jorge Posada (DH)
R – Jose Molina (C)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)

Subs: Cody Ransom (1B), Angel Berroa (2B), Eduardo Nuñez (SS), Doug Bernier (3B), Francisco Cervelli (C), Shelley Duncan (RF), Brett Gardner (CF), Colin Curtis (LF), Kyle Anson (DH)

Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Phil Coke, Brian Bruney, Damaso Marte, J.B. Cox, Mark Melancon, Jonathan Albaladejo

Opposition: Carl Crawford and spare parts

Big Hits:

Jorge Posada (2-for-2) hit the first pitch he saw this spring into the right field bleachers, then hit a 405-foot RBI ground rule double in his next at-bat that likely would have gone out to dead center if not for a strong head wind. Shelley Duncan (1-for-1) crushalated a Calvin Medlock pitch in the seventh, dropping a three-run homer into the pond beyond the left field fence. Together, Posada and Duncan drove in all five Yankee runs.

Who Pitched Well:

Everyone. The seven Yankee pitchers didn’t allow an extra base hit and walked only one man. The one Rays run came off J.B. Cox in the seventh on a pair of infield singles and a stolen base. Phil Hughes issued the one walk and hit two other batters in his two innings, but he wasn’t wild. Both HBPs came when pitches inside and under the hands clipped the jersey of a left-handed batter, and the walk was on a full count. Hughes actually looked to be throwing a lot of strikes (Pete Abe had him throwing 67 percent of 33 pitches for strikes). He used his changeup and curveball, didn’t allow a hit, broke two bats, and struck out two men with fastballs (sitting around 92 miles per hour per the YES gun), one of whom was Carl Crawford, who went down on three pitches.

Nice Plays:

Robinson Cano made a nice ranging play on a hopper far to his left. Mark Teixeira saved a wild throw by Alex Rodriguez and got the out call, though his foot appeared to leave the bag before the catch.

Battles:

Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner both went 0-for-2, but Melky’s two were weak groundouts, while Gardner was robbed of a double in the right field gap in his second trip when the swirling winds blew his hit back toward a diving Ray Sadler in center. Gardner tried to bunt for a hit in his first at-bat, but didn’t get the ball far enough away from home plate and was easily thrown out by former Yankee farmhand Michel Hernandez. Gardner also showed good range in the field. Xavier Nady hit a ground rule double down the right-field line in two at-bats. Phil Coke pitched two scoreless innings, suggesting he might be in the mix for the long-man position, which would be a good solution to that problem. Mark Melancon and Jonathan Albaladejo both pitched perfect innings late in the game. Melancon got two outs on the ground and the third by strikeout, but didn’t look terribly impressive to me, pitching deep into counts and sitting around 90-91 mph with his fastball. Albaladejo got two of three outs on the ground and had a few extra ticks on the gun.

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See Ball

The Yankees are running out their starters (save the rehabbing Hideki Matsui) for their first home game of the spring today at 1:15 against the Rays. This will also be the first televised Yankee game of the spring. Unfortunately, my laptop died last week and the new one’s still on order, so my traditional liveblog will have to wait until later in the spring schedule.

In the meantime, you can listen to my appearance on Kenrick Thomas’s Real Sports Talk podcast from last night here (I’m the first guest).

Also, with the arrival of the games, we here at the Banter have finally put together some guidelines for commenting on this site. The post below, which will be permanently linked on the sidebar, includes instructions on using HTML codes in your posts, but is also a code of conduct (adapted from that of our longtime colleague Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts).  We ask that everyone, new and old, familiarize themselves with these guidelines so as to maintain the high level of discourse we’ve become accustomed to here at Bronx Banter.

Commenting Guidelines

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Failure to comply with these guidelines or to heed the warnings of the site’s proprietors may result in disciplinary action, which could range from your comment being deleted to you being banned from commenting on this site.

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Kool with a “C”

Apropos of nuthin…the great Lester Young.

Card Corner–Billy Sample

sample1
As I avidly followed baseball in the early 1980s, some of my favorite ballplayers did not happen to play for the Yankees. One of those players was Billy Sample. He was playing for the Rangers at the time, a team with which I’ve never had any kind of affiliation. Sample wasn’t a star. He was a pretty good ballplayer, though, a speedy defensive left fielder who stole bases, hit for a decent average, and launched an occasional longball. In other words, he was a role player, one who had to overcome the stigma that comes with being five feet, nine inches tall. I’ve always liked role players, in part because they have to struggle—just like us. Little comes easy to them, but they find a way to contribute in tangible and important ways.

One winter day in 1984, I was doing some broadcasting for WHCL, the radio station for Hamilton College in Clinton, NY. As I was preparing my afternoon sports report, I noticed a transaction on the AP wire. It involved the Yankees. They had made a wintertime trade, sending an over-the-hill Toby Harrah to the Rangers—for Billy Sample. Yes!

I immediately began to think of what role Sample might play for the Yankees in 1984. Left field looked like the logical destination, perhaps in a platoon with the elder Ken Griffey. You see, the Yankees collected outfielders in the early 1980s the way that Adrian Monk collects phobias. Only stars played every day in the Yankee outfield back then, Hall of Famers like Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson. A player like Sample, a complementary role player, appeared destined to platoon in pinstripes.

Even so, a timeshare in left field looked appealing to Sample, who was glad to be out of Texas, a team that had lost 92 games. He also looked forward to playing for a new leader in Yogi Berra, a man with a reputation for being the consummate player’s manager. Unfortunately, no one could have anticipated that Berra would manage the Yankees for a mere 16 games in 1985. An early managerial changeover brought the worst of possible successors for Sample—the fourth pinstriped tenure of Billy Martin.

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News of the Day – 2/26/09

Since the games have finally begun (OK … only exhibition, but still) … today’s news is brought to you by someone who decided to videotape a Strat game:

  • ESPN recaps A-Rod’s day as part of the Yanks 6-1 Spring Training opener, and offers these tidbits:

The slugger had dinner Tuesday night with former Yankees star Reggie Jackson, now a special adviser with the team.

“I told him to hit the baseball. It’s really an old story. It never really changes,” Jackson said. “Hit the baseball, and hit it like heck. That’s really about all that really matters.”

The Hall of Famer also passed along some words from Yankees co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner.

“He said, ‘You deliver this message: Just tell him hit the damn ball and hit it when it counts. That’s really the most important thing that he can do. All the other conversations, they don’t matter. The more you talk, the more you have an opportunity to make a mistake.’ “

[My take: What an interesting contrast and comparison to be had ... A-Rod and Mr. October.  Who wouldn't want to be a fly on the wall for their conversations?]

  • Tyler Kepner points out the contributions of Swisher and Gardner in the win.
  • MLB.com offers a capsule recap of the game.
  • PeteAbe ponders why Igawa is not playing in the WBC, and gets a blunt assessment:

One of the Japanese reporters in Tampa covering Hideki Matsui was asked why Igawa was not considered for the WBC roster. He searched for the right words.

“They think … he is not so good,” the man said.

  • PeteAbe also gets some interesting quotes from Reggie regarding A-Rod’s revelations:

“The best answer I can give you is that I was disappointed. I was very lucky to have been a good player. When I started playing I was a fan. When I played I was a fan and when I left the game I am a fan of Derek Jeter, of Alex Rodriguez, of CC Sabathia. I like to be at games, I like to watch the games. … I get affected as a fan. You get saddened.

“I get angry sometimes. I’ve been reprimanded by the commissioner and the president of our team. I’ve pleaded with them to understand that I’m personally affected; I’m personally involved. I’m hurt; I’m bewildered. I don’t know that we ever get past it.”

  • The Babe Ruth monument has landed at the new Stadium.

[My take: No truth to the rumor that the Babe's view of the field is blocked by the center field restaurant.]

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Yankees 6, Blue Jays 1

The Yankees kicked off their exhibition schedule this afternoon with an easy 6-1 win on the road against the Blue Jays, though neither team played their full set of starters.

Lineup:

L – Brett Gardner (CF)
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
R – Shelley Duncan (DH)
L – Juan Miranda (1B)
S – Todd Linden (LF)
R – Kevin Cash (C)

Subs: Justin Leone (1B), Cody Ransom (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Kevin Russo (3B), P.J. Pilittere (C), Colin Curtis (RF), Austin Jackson (CF), John Rodriguez (LF), Jesus Montero (DH)

Pitchers: Brett Tomko, Jose Veras, Dan Giese, Kei Igawa, Christian Garcia, Michael Dunn, Steven Jackson, David Robertson

Opposition: The Jay’s B-squad

Big Hits:

Brett Gardner (1-for-3) led off the game by hitting Brett Cecil’s second pitch over the right-field wall. Alex Rodriguez (1-for-1, 2 BBs) added a two-run jack off Rickey Romero in the fourth. Robinson Cano and Austin Jackson (both 1-for-2) both doubled. Todd Linden (1-for-3) picked up an RBI single against B.J. Ryan. Kevin Cash went 2-for-3 and stole a base.

Who Pitched Well:

Everyone except Jose Veras. The other seven pitchers combined for eight shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a walk.

Who Didn’t:

Jose Veras gave up the lone Blue Jay run in the third on a one-out John McDonald double, a hit batsman, a wild pitch, and a sac fly. He then walked two batters before getting out of the inning.

Battles:

Gardner‘s home run was no small thing. Last year he hit just three home runs between the minors and majors, spring training included. Cecil, meanwhile, allowed just six in 118 1/3 innings. Kevin Long’s been working with Gardner to get his legs into his swing. If Gardner can hit for power this spring, he’ll take the center field job with ease. His throwing error came on a strong throw to the plate that just happened to hit the runner. Swisher affirmed his ability to reach base at a high rate by drawing two walks, but didn’t hit a ball fair in three trips, striking out in his other turn at-bat. Veras put himself in an early hole in the bullpen battle, but David Robertson was also wild in his one inning of work (issuing a walk and uncorking a wild pitch). Pete Abe reports that Robertson loaded the bases in the ninth. I assume two of the Yankees’ other three errors (one by Leone, the other two on throws by Peña and Russo) were involved. Veras and Robertson did combine for four of the Yankees’ seven strikeouts, but  Steven Jackson was perfect, getting two groundouts and a strikeout.

More:

  • Melky Cabrera has switched to Bobby Abreu’s old number 53.
  • I’ll be on Kenrick Thomas’s Real Sports Talk podcast tonight at 10pm. Give a listen.

Play Ball

The Yankees start their spring schedule this afternoon in Dunedin, where they’ll face the Blue Jays starting at 1:05. The game won’t be televised, on the radio, or even available via on-line gamecast, but you can follow it via Peter Abraham’s liveblog over at LoHud. Joe Girardi is running out his B-team, save for the three WBC participants (Jeter, Cano, and Alex Rodriguez). Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher get the starts in center and right. Brett Tomko will take the mound to start.

Check back this afternoon for my recap of the game.

Meanwhile, here’s a recap of some of the things we’ve learned since camp opened:

Injuries: There’s been nothing but good news on the four recovering Yankees. Chien-Ming Wang has experienced no pain in his foot. Jorge Posada has been stretching out his arm without discomfort. Hideki Matsui and Mariano Rivera are coming along more slowly, but without cause for concern. In Rivera’s case, the slow progression is typical of how he gets ready in the spring, as he tends to throw most of his spring innings in the second half of March.

Aches and Pains: Edwar Ramirez has been shut down for a few days with shoulder bursitis. Otherwise, there have just been a few sore hamstrings (Jeter, Marte) and a couple of stomach flues (Sabathia, Cervelli), but nothing thus far that has effected a player’s availability for more than a day or two.

Lineup: Mark Teixeira will bat third ahead of Alex Rodriguez. Hideki Matsui will be the DH making only “emergency” appearances in the field. Neither of these things were unexpected.

Rotation: Joe Girardi just announced today that the opening rotation, barring injury, will be Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, Pettitte, Chamberlain. That order properly staggers the lefties and pitching styles the five starters and puts Chamberlain in the five spot where he can be skipped occasionally to keep his innings down. That said, Girardi also said the plan is for Chamberlain to make about 30 starts. At an average of six innings a start, that would be 180 innings–too many coming off a seasons of 112 1/3 in 2007 and 100 1/3 last year.

Bullpen: Really, the only thing we’ve learned about the ‘pen is that Phil Coke will not be starting, but will indeed be in the mix as a reliever. That doesn’t mean he’s made the team (though he has an excellent chance of doing so), only that the Yankees have recognized where he’s most valuable to them. We’ve also been told the Yankees intend to take a long reliever north, but I think that would be a mistake and will believe it when I see it.

Finally, there was one piece of news that was bigger than baseball, that being Jason Johnson’s optical cancer. After experiencing blury vision, Johnson got himself checked and caught the tumor early enough that his doctors were able to quickly get the disease under control, delaying his arrival to camp only briefly. Johnson’s disease doesn’t change the fact that he has no business being in camp with the Yankees, but while I won’t be rooting for him on the field, I’ll be rooting hard for him off of it. You can read more on Johnson from my good friend, optical cancer survivor Steven Goldman.

News of the Day – 2/25/09

Today’s post is powered by a classic personality pitching a (for its time) classic baseball video game:

  • Edwar Ramirez has been diagnosed with mild bursitis in his right shoulder, and won’t pitch again until this weekend.
  • Mariano Rivera notes that his shoulder is well on its way to full recovery:

“It’s feeling strong and now I am building muscle,” Rivera said of the shoulder, which was operated on after last season. “I have been throwing, playing long toss and it’s getting better every day.”

The next step for Rivera is to get on a bullpen mound, but he isn’t sure when that will occur.

“I don’t want to push it,” said Rivera, who vowed on the first day of spring training he would be ready by Opening Day, April 6.

  • Tyler Kepner has a nice piece on Hideki Matsui’s efforts to get all the way back:

Matsui will be 35 in June, and his knees have made him a full-time designated hitter. He had surgery on his right knee after the 2007 season, then on his left knee on Sept. 22. Matsui delayed that operation so he could play in the final game at Yankee Stadium.

He stayed in the United States until December, working to strengthen the knee. In Japan, he practiced jogging on grass. He did not jog here until Monday, and he ran the bases gingerly after a round of batting practice Tuesday. He will not be ready to play when the Yankees visit the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday in Dunedin. …

Matsui spent 10 seasons playing his home games on artificial turf at the Tokyo Dome. At 6 feet 2 inches and 220 pounds, Matsui said he was among the bigger players in Japan and worried about damage to his knee cartilage.

“I knew there was a certain level of stress that was being put on my knees and my lower body in general,” he said. “I did have that fear that at some point, something was going to happen.” …

“I still feel I have a lot of baseball in me,” Matsui said. “Yes, I did get injured the last few years, but in terms of how I feel physically and my baseball skills, I don’t feel like I have any issues.”

  • Kepner also details the positional battles to be address over the next five weeks:

With Edwar Ramirez dealing with bursitis in his right shoulder, there could be another opening in the bullpen. Mariano Rivera, Brian Bruney and Damaso Marte are locks. The Yankees will probably take a long reliever, too, which leaves three more spots from a group including Jose Veras, Phil Coke, Dave Robertson, Jonathan Albaladejo, Mark Melancon and Ramirez. …

Others who will try to squeeze onto the roster include the versatile infielder Cody Ransom (who is on the 40-man roster), and non-roster players like shortstop Angel Berroa and catcher Kevin Cash. Among the other non-roster players with major league experience include Shelley Duncan, Todd Linden and John Rodriguez.

(more…)

You Could Look it Up

stevegoldmanxm_1

BP’s Steven Goldman

Yo, the Baseball Prospectus crew will be at the Yogi Berra Museum & Learning Center this Sunday promoting the new annual.  That’s March 1.  They’ll be on at 2 p.m.  For more info, call (973) 655-6891.

Check, check ‘em out.

The Ice Cream Man is Coming

My friend Kevin is a painter. I met him in college and we spent a lot of time smoking cigarettes, laughing, drawing, and talking about painting.  “Modigliani paints the best babes,” he told me one time.   He just might be right about that.

Kevin is still painting.  Here is his website.

Recently, he painted this picture of the President.

mcgoff

Kev is selling t-shirts of the painting for those of you who might be interested in that sort of thing.   I think they are pretty cool myself.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver