Today’s news is powered by a “60 Minutes” profile of Bill James . . . (and don’t trot out the “he works for our sworn enemy” line . . . I still enjoyed the piece).
- Mark Feinsand writes that Joe Girardi is quite happy with Jorge Posada’s arm strength:
. . . Girardi told reporters before the bus split for Fort Myers around 8 a.m. that Posada’s arm strength nearly resembled regular-season form Thursday night – and that watching the former All-Star throw to second between innings of his six-frame stint behind the plate “really made my day.”
“I feel good about it, I do. And last night’s the best I felt, because of what I saw,” Girardi said. “When he threw it, I went, ‘wow.’ That’s the expression I used when I looked at Tony (Pena). He said he felt great, and that was really positive.”
- Speaking of Posada, Andy Pettitte helped Posada test out his shoulder with a special workout on Friday:
Pettitte has worked with Posada since they were Minor Leaguers in the Yankees’ chain in the early 1990s — with the possible exception of Mariano Rivera, Pettitte is probably the pitcher Posada has caught most — so their workout Friday seemed appropriate.
Girardi said that he did not want Pettitte, now 36 and with a history of cranky back issues, making the trip to Fort Myers and then pitching. That assignment instead went to 22-year-old Phil Hughes, who allowed a run on three hits in 4 1/3 innings.
Striking out all seven batters from the third inning on, Pettitte said his stamina is improving. He said that it was difficult to believe that nearly two decades have passed since he and Posada began their journeys with the Yankees.
“But then I look around and see how big my kids are getting and how old they are,” Pettitte said. “It flies by when you blink your eyes. I’ve said it a hundred times, but it’s been a special run and great. Time definitely goes by fast.”
- The battle for the starting CF job is perking up:
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Thursday that Cabrera is very much alive in the spring battle to break camp as the team’s starting center fielder, despite a scorching-hot start by the challenger Gardner.
“It’s good to see both guys playing well, because it somewhat backs up your beliefs,” Girardi said. “The season is different than Spring Training, but they both look very comfortable playing and they’re both playing very hard. I’m happy with that. It’s always nice to have your beliefs backed up.”
Gardner entered Thursday batting .382 in Grapefruit League play, showcasing his plus speed on the bases and a surprising three home runs. But Girardi said that Cabrera has come on in the last week to 10 days, raising his average to .242 with two doubles and a triple in 33 at-bats.
- Over at Beyond the Box Score, Sky Kalkman takes a crack at optimizing the Yankee lineup.
- Derek Jeter is building one very spacious house down in Tampa:
Once completed, the seven-bedroom, nine-bathroom house on Davis Islands will be 30,875 square feet, according to Hillsborough County public records. To give you an idea of how big that is, the average Best Buy store is 39,700 square feet.
[My take: I wonder if he'll install a Starbucks in the house?]
- MLB’s Extra Innings cable package is once again available this season, though it seems they’ve cut the discount for early purchasers from $40 to $30 (full price normally $199, early purchasers discount used to be $159, this season is $169).
- Jorge Posada’s nickname in the clubhouse is “Sado”, with an amusing history to it:
I asked Jeter once about the origin of the nickname, and he said it came from a mispronunciation by the public-address announcer Bob Sheppard.
It seems that when Posada came into Game 2 of the 1995 division series as a pinch-runner, in just his second career game, Sheppard introduced him as “Jorge Po-Sah-Doh.” You have to hear Jeter do the imitation to get the full effect.
Anyway, Jeter was on the bench for that series but not active, and he thought it was hilarious. He has used the name Sado for his friend ever since.
[My take: Hmmm . . . I may have to name a future roto team "Po-sah-doh Masochists".]
- Posada offered high praise for Burnett’s stuff:
“He threw the ball, and halfway through, the ball picked up a couple of miles per hour,” Posada said. “It’s not like that, but it seemed that way.”
I asked Posada how many pitchers can do this – that is, how many appear to defy the laws of physics by making it seem as if their pitches rise and accelerate? He named Roger Clemens and Mariano Rivera first.
“And Pedro (Martinez), back in the day,” said Posada, who extended his arm the way a pitcher would and flicked his wrist. “Great extension, and the ball just kind of takes off.”
- On this date in 1936, Joe DiMaggio runs his spring training hitting to 12-for-20, in an 11-2 Yankees victory over the newly named Boston Bees. Before the next game is played, the prize rookie is left unattended with his foot in a diathermy machine. The resulting burn ends his spring training and delays his major league debut until May.
- On this date in 1986, the Yankees announce that their most celebrated off-season acquisition, 26-year-old pitcher Britt Burns, will not pitch at all this season because of a chronic deteriorating hip condition. He never again pitches in the major leagues.
- On this date in 2001, in a trade of highly touted prospects, the New York Yankees re-obtain third baseman Drew Henson along with outfielder Michael Coleman from the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Wily Mo Peña and cash considerations.
See you Monday!