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News of the Day – 2/24/09

Posted By Diane Firstman On February 24, 2009 @ 8:33 am In Diane Firstman,News of the Day | Comments Disabled

Today’s news is powered by a baseball-themed clip from Conan O’Brien’s final show:

Reporting to camp well ahead of pitchers and catchers, Posada has had plenty of time to work out the kinks. He is incrementally moving closer to getting behind the plate in a big league game, and he is still eyeing Opening Day on April 6 at Baltimore as the moment he will stick a few fingers down for CC Sabathia.

The 37-year-old made 15 throws from distances as far as 220 feet Sunday, drawing praise from Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who called it “substantially different than what I saw just four or five days ago.”

  • Ken Davidoff [2] writes about Joe Girardi philosophy when it comes to making out line-ups:

Torre’s early Yankees teams, particularly those from 1996-99, carried amazing depth on the 25-man roster.

Joe Girardi, part of that depth on those clubs, knows he won’t be able to match that. But in crafting the lineup cards this season, an admittedly crucial one for him, he hopes to strike that magical balance among stability, variety and versatility.

“I prefer to have a set lineup. I think it works best,” Girardi said yesterday after a second straight relatively tranquil practice that was light on the A-Rod. “But sometimes, similar to some of the teams that I was on, you’re better if there’s some platoon situations, or your bench is extremely strong, or everyone’s in the mix, or everyone’s healthy. We just have to see how it shakes out.” …

… Girardi struggled to get a feel for when to start his players and when to rest them, a failing that came to life Aug. 11 in Minnesota, when he benched Johnny Damon (10-for-24 in the previous five games) against Twins starter Glen Perkins. Justin Christian led off and went 0-for-4, and the Yankees fell meekly, 4-0.

The Yankees used 130 lineups last year, and they used their Opening Day lineup – Damon in leftfield, Derek Jeter at shortstop, Bobby Abreu in rightfield, Alex Rodriguez at third base, Jason Giambi at first base, Robinson Cano at second base, Posada at catcher, Hideki Matsui at designated hitter and Melky Cabrera in centerfield – only on April 1.

  • Joe Girardi decided to cancel workouts Monday and instead organize a team “field trip” to a local pool hall [3].  Mariano Rivera turned out to be the best pool player of the bunch:

The idea hit Girardi in the early days of Spring Training, realizing that camp runs longer this year because of the World Baseball Classic and a day of respite might be welcome before exhibition games begin.

It would also be a good way for Girardi to better familiarize himself with the team.

“I think every year you’re here as a manager, you want to have more knowledge about your players and their personalities,” Girardi said. “You want to feel closer to your players. You want to bring a group together. It’s important that a group is united when they leave Spring Training.”

Looking for an event that could not be impacted by weather, Girardi originally considered renting out a bowling alley, but the idea of having his pitchers whipping 12-pound balls down the lanes dissuaded him.

The Yankees found a billiard hall that could accommodate a large group, and Girardi told the Yankees to book it for a few hours. The tournament was expected to last about 2 1/2 hours — until lunch — but Girardi acknowledged it might take longer, with no real pool sharks known to be on the roster.

[My take: The mental image I have of Sabathia leaning over the table to make a tough shot scares me a bit.]

  • Over at LoHud, PeteAbe [4] has some nice photos from the pool event.
  • Girardi has proclaimed [5] that Coke will provide the Yankees with relief.
  • Nick Swisher’s [6] general attitude about life seems to be helping him deal with no longer being the starting 1B, and the rumors of a possible trade:

“I don’t pay attention to that stuff — you can’t,” Swisher said. “If somebody is interested in Swish or interested in X, that stuff has been going on for like three months now. All I can really worry about is just going out there and play every day. I love what I do and I have been blessed to be put in an unbelievable situation. I want to go out and make the best of it.”

[My take: Swisher refers to himself in the third person?  Who does he think he is ... Rickey?]

  • Speaking of possible trades, Ken Rosenthal [7] reports that Cashman hasn’t found any possible Swisher or Nady offers to his liking.
  • BP.com’s [8] Nate Silver has crunched some projections, and finds that A-Rod probably will NOT set the all-time HR record:

PECOTA’s best guess is that Rodriguez will run out of steam after the next three or four seasons and finish with 730 lifetime home runs, leaving him just shy of the marks established by Aaron and Bonds. Of course, there is a great deal of uncertainty in this estimate: if Rodriguez follows the path charted by Aaron or Frank Robinson, he could finish with well in excess of 800 home runs (and possibly as many as 900). On the other hand, if he draws Albert Belle’s ping-pong ball, he might not even top 600. Overall, the system puts Rodriguez’ chances of surpassing Aaron at only about 40 percent, and of passing Bonds closer to 30 percent.

One needs to remember that the way that Aaron and Bonds finished out their careers was far from typical. At least as common are folks like Jimmie Foxx (before Rodriguez, the fastest player to 500 home runs), who hit just 34 home runs after turning 33. Only about a dozen players have hit 200 or more home runs from their age-33 seasons onward; Bonds and Aaron are the only two to have hit at least 300.

In other words, Rodriguez still has his work cut out for him if he intends to catch them. Say what you will about his past performance, but for him to make it across this finish line would still represent a remarkable accomplishment.

[My take: One thing that is a wild card not mentioned in Nate's article is the impact of how the new Stadium will play.  Will A-Rod's homer rate change with the new venue? Will he turn into Bobby Murcer at Shea Stadium? (doubtful, but still possible).   Even with similar dimensions, who knows if the wind currents will carry fly balls differently than in the old stadium.]

  • Also at BP.com, Jorge Posada [9] gets rated as the 13th-best catcher roto-wise this coming season.
  • Want a one-of-a-kind [10] Mantle autographed ball?  One is up for auction (image not safe for work).
  • Over at Baseball Crank, Dan McLaughlin [11] does a yeoman’s analysis of Yankee veteran starting pitchers from 1975-2008.
  • Randy Keisler turns 33 today.  Keisler’s short-lived Yankee career ended after a 2001 season which featured 12 homers surrendered in only 50.7 innings.
  • Happy 35th birthday to Mike Lowell.  The current third sacker of the Red Sox was a 1995 draftee of the Yanks, and was dealt after 15 ABs in 1998, for the Marlins’ Mark J. Johnson, Ed Yarnall, and Todd Noel.
  • On this date in 1948, the White Sox trade Ed Lopat to the Yankees for Aaron Robinson, Bill Wight and Fred Bradley. Lopat will star for seven seasons in pinstripes, winning 21 in 1951 and going 16 – 4 in 1953.

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URL to article: http://www.bronxbanterblog.com/2009/02/24/news-of-the-day-22409/

URLs in this post:

[1] infirmary report: http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090223&content_id=3869746&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy

[2] Ken Davidoff: http://www.newsday.com/sports/baseball/yankees/ny-spken236046614feb23,0,4588738.column

[3] pool hall: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090223&content_id=3869426&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=mlb

[4] PeteAbe: http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2009/02/23/were-gonna-play-some-pool-skip-some-school-act-real-cool/

[5] proclaimed: http://yankees.lhblogs.com/2009/02/23/coke-to-pitch-out-of-the-bullpen/

[6] Nick Swisher’s: http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090222&content_id=3868470&vkey=news_nyy&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy

[7] Ken Rosenthal: http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/9253742/A%27s-can-likely-offer-Garciaparra-more-at-bats?CMP=OTC-K9B140813162&ATT=3498

[8] BP.com’s: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8543

[9] Jorge Posada: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=8544

[10] one-of-a-kind: http://www.cnbc.com/id/29350396

[11] Dan McLaughlin: http://baseballcrank.com/archives2/2009/02/baseball_the_ya_1.php

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