My apologies for being a bit behind the curve on these game recaps over the past week. The Yankees haven’t seemed to mind, as they’ve won seven straight going back to Saturday’s split squad sweep. Yesterday’s patsies were the Blue Jays, who went down 7-4.
S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
S – Nick Swisher (1B)
L – Hideki Matsui (DH)
R – Xavier Nady (RF)
R – Cody Ransom (3B)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)
R – Angel Berroa (2B)
R – Ramiro Peña (SS)
Subs: Shelley Duncan (1B), Doug Bernier (2B), Eduardo Nuñez (SS), Justin Leone (3B), Kevin Cash (C), Todd Linden (RF), Austin Jackson (LF-CF), John Rodriguez (LF), Francisco Cervelli (DH)
Pitchers: A.J. Burnett, Brian Bruney, Steven Jackson, Mariano Rivera, Edwar Ramirez, Dan Giese
A two-run homer off David Purcey by Eduardo Nuñez in the latter’s only at-bat. A triple by Xavier Nady (1-for-3), and doubles by Jorge osada (1-for-3), Nick Swisher (2-for-2), Ramiro Peña (1-for-3), and Kevin Cash (1-for-2).
Who Pitched Well:
Mariano Rivera needed five pitches to toss a perfect sixth. Edwar Ramirez pitched around a single in the seventh. Steven Jackson retired the only man he faced.
Brian Bruney gave up two runs on a single, a double, and an alarming four walks in a mere inning and a third. Dan Giese gave up four hits in his two innings of work, one of which was a home run by Bradley Emaus. Giese is looking awful homer-prone this spring, allowing four in 12 1/3 innings (or 2.9 HR/9).
The only other Yankee to allow four home runs this spring is Alfredo Aceves, who has done so in a mere ten frames. With Joe Girardi recently mentioning Kei Igawa as a long-man candidate for the bullpen, it would seem Giese and Aceves have both punched their tickets for Scranton.
That said, Igawa isn’t on the 40-man roster, nor is long-man leader Brett Tomko, and there’s no longer any obvious dead weight on the 40-man that can be removed to make room for him. The Yankees will also need to clear up a 40-man spot for a reserve infielder with Cody Ransom set to start the season as the everyday third baseman in place of the injured Alex Rodriguez. The only solution I can see would be to drop Juan Miranda, who is something of an afterthought with Mark Teixeira having secured first base. The Yankees would have to eat the $800,000 left on Miranda’s major league contract, but he just might slip through waivers.
Two other ways to clear space on the 40-man would be: 1) a trade; 2) outrighting Melky Cabrera, handing Brett Gardner the center field job without a net and exposing Cabrera to waivers. I imagine the Yankees are agressively shopping Cabrera right now–prompting Joe Girardi’s recent praise for him–though I can’t imagine that anyone would offer them anything beyond a marginal single-A player for him given the impending roster cruch.
Cabrera went 1-for-3 yesterday and has gone 2-for-9 with a double while Gardner has been away attending to a personal issue the last three days.
Here’s the latest on the Nick Swisher extra-base hits vs. Xavier Nady walks battle: Swisher XBH 3, Nady BB 0. All three of Swisher’s extra-baggers have been doubles. That said, with both outfielders getting their averages up to the .280s, Nady’s composite line is starting to look better to GPA (which is like OPS, but adjusted to the batting average scale and with on-base percentage properly weighted):
Nady: .286/.306/.571, GPA: .280
Swish: .281/.415/.344, GPA:.273
Of course, those stats don’t include the two WBC exhibitions, which included the first of Swisher’s three doubles.
Edwar Ramirez has quickly gotten his hat back in the ring with three scoreless, walk-less innings in which he’s struck out three batters.
Finally, I find myself leaning toward Ramiro Peña for the temporary utility infielder job. Angel Berroa continues to smack the ball around, but I’m convinced that once he cools off (likely upon facing better pitching), he’ll stay cold. Peña, meanwhile, won’t hit a lick, but he’s a better fielder and has a better plate approach (14 PA/UIBB, 2.22 K/UIBB in his minor league career vs. Berroa’s 27 PA/UIBB and 3.93 K/UIBB in the majors).
Obviously some part of me is seeing what it wants to see in the small-sample/weak-competition stats compiled by Berroa and Brett Gardner, but that part of me is guided by track record and scouting. Berroa’s just not a good baseball player, even if he gets hot now and again. Gardner, and to far a lesser degree Peña, are good baseball players, and while Gardner will surely cool off, he and Peña both do other things well that will help them retain value when they’re not hitting an unreallistic .415. In Peña’s case, that value is minimal, but it should be enough for three-to-six weeks of riding pine and serving as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, rolls for which Berroa is a particularly poor fit.
A.J. Burnett seems to have had no ill-effects from the ball he took off his pitching arm. Because of his tatoos, Joe Girardi can’t even tell if he bruised. Phil Coke does have a bruise from a comebacker that hit his leg on Wednesday, but he’s still expected to pitch over the weekend. Damso Marte (shoulder) threw another bullpen yesterday and is scheduled to pitch in Sunday’s game.