Opening Day is a week from tomorrow, and the Yankees are heading up to the new stadium for a workout on Thursday. With just four Grapefruit League games remaining, the Yanks look ready for the season. They won again yesterday, beating the Braves 6-4, then trimmed the number of players in camp down to 31.
R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Johnny Damon (LF)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Xavier Nady (RF)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Melky Cabrera (CF)
R – Cody Ransom (3B)
R – Kevin Cash (C)
R – Brett Tomko (P)
Subs: Shelley Duncan (1B), Angel Berroa (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Justin Leone (3B), Chris Stewart (C), Todd Linden (RF), Brett Gardner (LF-CF), John Rodriguez (LF)
Pitchers: Brett Tomko, Alfredo Aceves, Dan Giese, Edwar Ramirez
Ouchies: Derek Jeter bruised his left pinky in a collision with Greg Norton at first base. He’s playing today.
Homers by Mark Teixeira (2-for-2, BB) and Robinson Cano (1-for-3). Xavier Nady and Melky Cabrera were both 3-for-4.
Who Pitched Well:
Brett Tomko tossed three scoreless innings, allowing three hits and a walk. Alfredo Aceves only allowed two singles and a walk in three innings, but did allowe a run. Both struck out one. Edwar Ramirez retired the last two men of the game to earn the save.
Dan Giese gave up three runs on three hits and two walks in a mere 2 1/3 innings, though he did strike out three and only one of the runs was earned.
Take another look at those pitchers. This was something of a final battle for the long-relief job. Brett Tomko (1.17 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 6.0 K/BB) has been by far the most effective of the three candidates, but he’s not on the 40-man roster, which could be enough of a barrier for the Yankees to look elsewhere. Dan Giese has posted great strikeout and walk rates (9.77 K/9, 2.30 BB/9), but has also allowed a team-worst five home runs along with a 1.66 WHIP and a 6.89 ERA. That would seem to leave Alfredo Aceves, but Aceves has allowed four home runs of his own and has an awful 7:6 K/BB ratio to go with his uninspiring 4.60 ERA. That could push the Yankees back to Tomko or back to their senses, as Pete Abe reports:
Joe Girardi threw a change-up after the game, saying it was “possible” they could start the season without a long reliever. That means Jon Albaladejo could make the squad instead of Alfredo Aceves, Dan Giese or Brett Tomko.
That is what happened last season and don’t bet against it this time around.
Pete is (likely correctly) assuming that Jose Veras, Edwar Ramirez, and Phil Coke already have the team made.
In other news, don’t look now, but Melky Cabrera, coming off a 3-for-4 day, is hitting .346/.434/.500 to Brett Gardner‘s .367/.436/.673. Also, Ramiro Peña is hitting .320/.370/.400 to Angel Berroa‘s .365/.377/.596.
The Yankees have cut the fat on their remaining non-roster invitees, reassigning Shelley Duncan, John Rodriguez, Todd Linden, Doug Bernier, Justin Leone, Chris Stewart, and P.J. Pilittere. Don’t count on seeing any of those guys again this year.
The Yanks also optioned David Robertson to Triple-A. I was disappoined by that move given howe well Robertson pitched this spring (1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 0 HR). Still, Robertson was out-pitched by Jonathan Albaladejo (0.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 8.0 K/BB), and has outstanding control, which stands in stark contrast to Robertson (4.05 BB/9 this spring). If Albaladejo does indeed make the bullpen over Tomko, I won’t mind that Robertson got farmed out. Farming both out, however, would be inexcusable.
The only non-roster invitees still in camp are Tomko, Berroa, Peña, and third-string catcher Kevin Cash. The players on the 40-man roster remaining in camp who are still on the bubble are Aceves, Giese, and Albaladejo. Two of those seven will make the Opening Day roster. I’m hoping for Albaladejo and Peña.
When the Twins claimed 26-year-old Double-A righty starter Jason Jones in the Rule 5 draft, I said he was unlikely to stick on the pitching-rich Twins. He didn’t, but the Twins wanted to keep him anyway, so they turned the claim into a trade, sending the Yankees a younger righty arm in San Diego State product Charles Nolte. The 23-year-old Nolte is a relief pitcher with an extreme groundball rate (4.82 GO/FO last year) who posted a 2.05 ERA in low-A last year. He’s a bit wild (4.4 BB/9), but has solid strikeout rates and has allowed just one home run in 94 2/3 innings as a pro.