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News of the Day – 3/24/09

Today’s news is powered by a guy who built a wiffle ball field in his own backyard . . .

  • Notes from Joe Girardi:
    • Alex Rodriguez is making progress in his rehab program after right hip surgery, but is unlikely to rejoin the team before it breaks spring training camp on April 1.
    • If the regular season were under way, Xavier Nady would be the starting right fielder over Nick Swisher.
  • More on the Nady/Swisher battle:

Nady, 30, was not impressed by his own performance this spring, hitting .256 with one homer and six RBIs in 43 at-bats through Monday. He said that he never viewed his situation as a competition.

“I still had the same mind-set going in, to try and get ready for the season,” Nady said. “I know Swisher is obviously going to be a big part of this team. We both plan on playing a lot, and I think we’re going to need everybody in order to have success.”

Swisher now projects as a reserve outfielder and first baseman for the Yankees as he attempts to rebound from a troublesome 2008 season with the White Sox.The 28-year-old is hitting .257 with no homers and eight RBIs in 35 spring at-bats through Monday.

“They wouldn’t have brought me over here if I wasn’t going to do something,” Swisher said. “We’re just going to see how it goes.”

  • Will Carroll believes that A-Rod may be ready by May 1.
  • Ken Rosenthal addresses one of the elephants in the Yankees clubhouse . . . how to handle the decline phase of Derek Jeter:

Scouts, however, have been buzzing all spring about Ramiro Pena, 23, and Eduardo Nunez, 21, both of whom have received increased exposure with Jeter participating in the World Baseball Classic.

Pena spent last season at Class AA, Nunez at Class A.

“They’re two of the better young kids I’ve seen … two legitimate core players for the future,” one scout says. “They’re not that far from being major-league ready — they have some tools and they know how to play.”

Will they hit?

“Their offense will not keep them from playing — they have at least survivor skills with the bat,” the scout says. “I enjoy watching them. They’re exciting players. They bring a lot of energy.”

As for Jeter, one problem with moving him off short would be finding him a new position. Center field would appear to be his most logical destination, considering that the Yankees are set long-term at first, second and third.

  • Chien-Ming Wang will most likely get the starting nod in the first of two exhibition games against the Cubs in the new stadium.
  • Here’s the lowdown on the food/concession choices at the new stadium, along with a snippet of the press release:

Concessions have been designed with the fan in mind. With 25 permanent concessions stands and 112 portable locations, lines will be shorter and fans can return sooner to their seats to enjoy the game. The point-of-sale ratio for fans has increased by over 50% from the original Stadium. Moreover, no matter where fans are in the Stadium, they will be able to keep in touch with the game. Open concourses throughout the Stadium will allow continuous viewing of the action on the field while at concession stands. Further, hundreds of state-of-the-art high-definition video monitors placed at concession stands and in dining areas will carry the live broadcast of the game. Credit cards (Mastercard, American Express and Visa) will be accepted at all stands and, for the first time, at all carts. Great locations to purchase food and drink include the Food Court on the third-base side of the Field Level, the Main Level Beer Garden and the Bleachers Café in center field.

Poll time!

[poll id="22"]

  • Steve Karsay turns 37 today.
  • On this date in 1933, Babe Ruth, another victim of the Great Depression, takes a pay cut of $23,000 from his previous salary of $75,000.
  • On this date in 1996, at Tampa’s Legends Field, Yankees infielder Tony Fernandez fractures his right elbow in a game against the Astros, and is placed on the 60-day disabled list.

[My take: . . . and thus was born the career of Derek Sanderson Jeter.]

  • And finally, it took 2 and 3/4 hours, but 20 owners drafted a total of 420 players in the inaugural Banter Battle fantasy baseball league draft.  Carl Pavano was drafted . . . willingly.  Ken Griffey, Jr. was not.  Many Yankees were taken, including Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy. Brett Gardner was drafted, Melky Cabrera was not.  Cody Ransom went undrafted.  All you need to know about the proceedings is that if you let Yahoo pick your team for you, you were apt to get some duds.  One team was given Pat Neshek (out for season after Tommy John surgery) and Curt Schilling in consecutive rounds. With 20 owners/teams, the talent sure got pretty thin in the later rounds, but most owners agreed they preferred this to “all-star” leagues.  Play ball!

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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35 comments

1 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:07 am

I just had my first of two drafts this past Saturday. It's a 10-team league, so it's closer to the All-Star league you mentioned, which is a bit disappointing as this is our first year down from 12 teams. At any rate, none of the players you mention were drafted, though the Yankees that were included every member of the starting rotation except Andy Pettitte. Every member of the intended starting lineup except the center fielder. And Mariano Rivera, of course. This is in a league largely composed of Mets fans. It's actually a keeper league. The kept Yankees were Rivera, CC Sabathia, Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. Derek Jeter went in the equivalent of the 11th round along with Robinson Cano. A.J. Burnett went in the 10th. Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui went in the 16th. Jorge Posada went in the 18th along with Xavier Nady (who was overdrafted in my opinion).

2 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:09 am

I don't believe Schilling stayed healthy enough over the course of his career to earn Hall of Fame induction. That said, his most impressive statistic won't get much mention. His 4.38 K/BB was the best by any pitcher with 1,000 or more IP since 1885. Mariano Rivera is fourth on that list with 3.83 K/BB.

3 ms october   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:40 am

[2] agreed on both counts cliff.
it will be interesting to see how his candidacy plays out though.

nunez is probably going to be the new it guy since peteabe was talking about him too.

i wonder if swisher had put up monster spring numbers if that would have mattered - or was nady as the starter as predetermined as it seems to be?

4 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 24, 2009 11:59 am

After watching Jeter in the classic, and especially compared to Rollins, I'm convinced he's going to really hurt the Yankees this year on both sides of the ball. His bat is noticeably slower and added to his minuscule range, he's not only not an elite player any more, he's very likely to be in the bottom half of all shortstops this year. Considering that his bat was never quick enough to pull the ball, the slowing now means he's going to miss the balls he used to hit the other way. It's going to painful to watch but by this time next year, the difficult decision about moving him will have been made that much easier. The problem is: Where?

Still, between the number of at-bats he'll get at the top of the lineup and the number of balls he'll fail to field, I wouldn't be surprised to see a negative win value from him. That's going to hurt far more than CF or RF.

5 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:02 pm

[4]

Would Jeter ever consider his own performance to be so poor that he is a detriment to the team.

Would he consider hanging them up after 2010, regardless of the fact he won't have the 3,000 hits?

6 SteveAmerica   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:09 pm

First of all, I hate WordPress. I don't interact with this blog as much as I want to because WP resets my password randomly every couple of days.

More importantly, Girardi is making a mistake on this Nady/Swisher decision. Foolish.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:14 pm

[4] I am not so concerned about his offense...he may not have looked great at the plate, but he was patient and worked the count well (at one point his OBP was over .400). I am, however, concerned about his defense. His range looks as if it has declined even more, which further pushes his defense into the liability column. I really can't see him playing more than 1-2 more seasons at the position.

8 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:24 pm

[7] Agreed.

But, his defense did seem to come around last season to just bad (as opposed to horrible). Then again, his offense suffered.

As I have said all along. this season will be the one to look at for Jeter, because it will show more clearly how much of last year was steep decline v. injury.

9 zack   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:25 pm

[2] Well, I heard Gammons schilling for the Schill already on ESPN yesterday, saying he is an absolute 1st ballot HOF, mostly by virtue of being a "money pitcher."

Once I had to turn my team over to the Yahoo auto draft, it basically drafted me a whole bunch of guys either injured or destined for AAA. on the other hand, I think that was basically all that was left!

10 williamnyy23   ~  Mar 24, 2009 12:59 pm

Schilling was a very good post season pitcher, but I think some people are confusing his resume. With Boston, Schilling's post seasons were only modestly good. Rather, it was his 1993 NLCS and his run in Arizona when Schilling really racked up post season glory.

11 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 24, 2009 1:30 pm

@5

I don't think so. They're going to have to pry the uniform off him. I could actually see him signing somewhere else in 2010, especially if the Yankees take a hard line on SS with someone like Hardy available.

I'm hopeful that this season will lead them to move him next year. But the cost may be a playoff spot, especially when combined with CF and RF on top of the injuries.

Jack Curry this morning said in passing that Cashman has consistently criticized his defense. Anyone have references or quotes? I've never seen that.

@7

Once pitchers realize that his bat has slowed, they'll start pounding the strike zone with heat. That's what happened last year (.250 .328 .329 vs. power pitchers). It's true that his OBP will help mitigate the damage, but I wouldn't be shocked to see it dip below .350 this year. Add a sub-.400 SLG and that's a negative value player with his defense.

12 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 1:45 pm

[11] Again, we shall see this year. According to his career stats, he has always had worse numbers against power pitchers than average or finesse pitchers, and by a wide margin. But then again, is that unusual for any MLB hitter?

Citing his very poor numbers v. power pitchers last season doesn't really reveal anything new. The situation still remains: if last season was a sign of decline, then his numbers will continue to worsen; if last year was due mainly to injury, we will see some offensive bounce back. No matter what, Jeter will hit worse against power pitchers. The real issue will be what his baseline next year is.

13 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Mar 24, 2009 1:54 pm

Ms October. I think you mean Peña. Pete was indeed talking up Eduardo Nuñez, but Nuñez has never played above A-Ball. Ramiro Peña was headed for Triple-A to start the season. I still think Angel Berroa will wind up on the ML bench, but I'd prefer Peña because of his youth and defense. That said, i don't think either Peña or Nuñez will ever hit in the majors.

I have to admit, I lean toward Bum Rush's take on Jeter. I just hope we're both wrong.

14 SteveAmerica   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:01 pm

Jeter was actually average according to UZR last year.

15 cult of basebaal   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:02 pm

His bat is noticeably slower and added to his minuscule range, he’s not only not an elite player any more, he’s very likely to be in the bottom half of all shortstops this year.

maybe, or maybe it's just a matter of inconsistent playing time after rushing to get ready for the WBC.

i figure i'll wait a while before throwing dirt on his bat this season.

his pasta diving, on the other hand ...

16 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:08 pm

Is anything short of a DL-trip going to take Jeter off of shortstop before his contract is up? I say no. Jeter is never going to bench himself, unless he was really bad, and the team had a guaranteed better replacement on hand (and they don't). Girardi won't bench him either, unless Jeter is that bad and Girardi is that desperate. And even then, the lack of alternatives is going to give him significant pause.

We can debate what might happen to Jeter's performance, and what should be done with him, but for now, its just a thought exercise. For better or for worse, barring significant injury, Jeter is going to play SS regularly for the Yanks until (at least) 2010.

And when he can't play SS regularly anymore, if he stays with the Yanks, he'll DH, because there is literally no where else to put him.

17 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:12 pm

Hell yeah I hope I'm wrong. But every sign suggests I'm right. It's not like I'm happy this is happening. But the team needs to wake up fast. They were too slow to replace Bernie. That cost them at least two post-seasons if we count 2003 as the wake up call. They've never helped Jorge with an able backup and that cost them the post-season last year.

Now it's Jeter.

I just can't believe with that history the backup they'll carry is Berroa. Just terrible management of the roster there, esp when a guy like Grudzielanek is still available. Awful, awful, awful. They could have easily matched the Indians package for DeRosa. Plus, what better way to light a fire under Cano's ass than to bring in a vet to challenge him? It's like Cashman thinks Torre is still managing the team.

18 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:20 pm

Is anything short of a DL-trip going to take Jeter off of shortstop before his contract is up?

If they fail to make the post-season this year without an obvious injury excuse, I can certainly see the media finally covering the implications of a lackluster season from the Captain. The problem is he'll always manage a .290 to .300 average so they'll have to look deeper than the mediots typically look.

The other problem is the NY media is in love with him. They'll look everyone else first. That's unlike most NY stars who faded.

19 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:23 pm

Meant to finish my thought:

That’s unlike most NY stars who faded. The media were the one to signal the end.

20 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:30 pm

[18] If he manages a .290 or .300 average, then he will likely hit at least as well as last season (102 OPS+)., which is not that much of a problem. His declining power means that his SLG is bound up more and more with BA. The real problem would be if his average dips significantly, because (unlike 2004) he won't compensate with lots of doubles and HRs.

21 regnad kcin   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:39 pm

http://www.littlefenway.com/fenway/field.php

Nice Wiffle ball field, but this is the king of the heap. Little Fenway is the site of the annual Travis Roy Foundation WIFFLE Ball Tournament, named for the Boston University hockey player injured and left paraplegic 11 seconds into his first shift of his first game at BU.

There is now a Little Wrigley abutting Little Fenway.

BTW, nice to see that Yankeeland is now aware of what the rest of the world has been aware of for years, namely that Derek "Past a Diving" Jeter has been murdering his team with his defensive play. The only problem I see with moving Jeter to center field is the question of whether or not he still hits well enough to justify an outfield slot.

22 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:41 pm

[19] Bum Rush, I don't know what the media coverage was back in 1951, but I think the only reason DiMaggio retired is because Mantle was there - and Casey said Mantle was playing CF.

23 Shaun P.   ~  Mar 24, 2009 2:54 pm

[20] Don't leave defense out, monkeypants. Jeter could always overcome his poor defense because he was so damn good on the offensive side. If his offense slips a lot, say down to +10 runs, that doesn't hold true anymore.

Will his offense get that bad in '09? I don't know. In 2008, his RARP and VORP were both around +34 runs compared to a replacement level shortstop, but WARP1 had him at +21 runs overall; the numbers don't work quite so nicely (neither VORP nor RARP are used to compute WARP1), but let's say that's a -10 on defense. His '09 PECOTA card projects a weighted mean VORP of 25. A -10 on defense would make him worth a win and a half, so still on the plus side.

For right now, his '10 projection is 20 VORP, '11 is 13, and '12 is 11. So, my guess is, he doesn't start being a net negative until probably 2011. (Note, too, FWIW, that PECOTA projects Jeter to play only 99 games at SS in 2011.)

[21] I can't speak for the rest of "Yankeeland", but at the Banter at least, folks have been talking about Jeter's bad defense for years.

24 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 24, 2009 3:02 pm

Jeter's slash stats against power pitchers - 2000 to 2008

2000 .330 .430 .505
2001 .248 .349 .349
2002 .250 .339 .394
2003 .324 .453 .412
2004 .280 .354 .394
2005 .236 .362 .425
2006 .311 .384 .424
2007 .319 .414 .500
2008 .250 .328 .329

25 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 3:03 pm

[23] Oh yes, I agree.

My main pint is that despite all of the griping, last season Jeter was still a productive player with his bat, especially given his position. So, more of the same--while not up to Jeterian standards--is actually not that bad at all.

Now, if his defense declines a bunch, then we have a different story. Still, most of the defensive stats show that Jeter has not been "murdering" the Yanks for years [21]: he has been below average and that's about it (see Replacement Level Yankees good write up on Jeter). So the notion that he is getting worse and worse on defense does not seem to be accurate.

Overall, then, i agree with your final assessment. Jeter will be a highly overpaid but around average SS (offense and defense combined) this year and next. And the optimist in me says that we will see a slight bounce back on offense, so he will end up being an overall positive (by a bit).

26 Diane Firstman   ~  Mar 24, 2009 3:15 pm

r.i.p. HOFer George Kell, 1949 AL batting champ
http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=4011970

27 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 3:32 pm

[24] So, 2008 was basically a replay of 2001?

28 SteveAmerica   ~  Mar 24, 2009 7:25 pm

[21] Derek Jeter has not been murdering the Yankees with his defense, that is a ridiculous, ignorant or just plain dishonest overstatement of the facts.

29 SteveAmerica   ~  Mar 24, 2009 7:57 pm

This is the first time I've seen Burnett pitch this spring, and I have to say I'm impressed with his ability to attack the zone early. I'm trying hard not to fall too hard for him, but if he stays healthy...wow. Nice #3.

30 SteveAmerica   ~  Mar 24, 2009 7:58 pm

Also, Posada threw Ellsbury out on a steal attempt. Warms my pea pickin' heart.

31 monkeypants   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:07 pm

[29] [30] Yep...and now we finally some baseball that matters to me!

32 SteveAmerica   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:29 pm

[31] Yep, I'm pretty burned out on all the sideshows:
-Jeter sucks
-A-Rod is a distraction/cheater/weird-o
-WBC
-Swisher's clubhouse mojo

Can't wait for games, should be an exciting baseball season between the lines.

33 Just Fair   ~  Mar 24, 2009 8:43 pm

Gardner sure wants to be starting the CF. A healthy Burnett sure would help the good guys' chances of finishing first. [30] Every catcher needs a nice phantom tag every now and again. : ) / 2cents

34 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Mar 24, 2009 9:15 pm

[29] i find myself falling in love too..you know we'll have out heart broken when he misses two big starts with bunions or a sore uvula..

35 Bama Yankee   ~  Mar 24, 2009 9:40 pm

[34] "Sore uvula.." okay, I was in a hurry when I read that the first time... I'll let you guess what I thought you had typed... ;-)
There for a second, I thought you were really taking a shot at the dude. LOL

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