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Yankees 6, Braves 4

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.

Big Hits:

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.

Who Didn’t:

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.

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1 monkeypants   ~  Mar 29, 2009 8:15 am

So, it looks to me like Tomko has all but sealed up a roster spot. I have a feeling someone is going to get the axe...that is, unless Cabrera or Gardner is traded to clear a space on the 40-man.

2 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 29, 2009 8:33 am

Farming both out, however, would be inexcusable.

I really hope they start using Scranton as the place holder for the 26th and 27th men, especially in the bullpen. With the number of arms, they can easily swap out folks based on needs. For instance, they could scrap the long man to start the season then bring him after the second series and swap out the weakest link for, what, ten days? With at least Robertson, Jackson, Claggett, Giese, and Aceves they can mix and match if other guys are struggling. There's no reason to carry a pitcher if they're not getting the job done - that included Veras as well as Bruney.


Anyone know what Nolte throws?


Giese gets DFA'd for Berroa or Peña?

3 RIYank   ~  Mar 29, 2009 8:37 am

So, have I got this right? The bullpen will definitely include

Mo, Bruney, Veras, Coke, Edwar, Marte

and the question is whether they'll add Tomko or Albaladejo?

4 monkeypants   ~  Mar 29, 2009 8:58 am

[2] I still don't understand why this team (indeed, most any team in this day of 12 and 13-man pitching staffs) would need to carry a long man.

5 tommyl   ~  Mar 29, 2009 10:52 am

I also don't see why Coke can't be a usual reliever and then used as a long man in emergencies. He was a starter for almost all of last year.

6 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 29, 2009 11:43 am


From April 8 to the 22nd they play everyday. If one pitcher, say Wang, gets run up early on the 11th, then two days later another, say Joba, burns through 100 pitches in 4 innings, the bullpen is a mess without one guy to pick up three or four innings.

7 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 29, 2009 11:44 am


Good point. I'm sure they're thinking that too.

8 Mr. Max   ~  Mar 29, 2009 12:20 pm

Alby was a starter, Coke was a starter, so they can cover emergencies. The fear if Ohlendorf-itis...

Bruney and Veras can't be swapped regularly because they are out of options, so unless they are traded, they stay on the 25 man. They don't make it past waivers.

9 Mr. Max   ~  Mar 29, 2009 12:20 pm

Sorry, the fear IS Ohlendorf-itis

10 monkeypants   ~  Mar 29, 2009 12:56 pm

[6] But of course, the problem is solved with your solution at [2]: to use AAA to swap in arms as needed. I'd rather not burn a roster spot on a long man who may not ever be needed, when the team is carrying 12 pitchers AND is stacked with arms at AAA...all for a two week stretch in April.

11 Bum Rush   ~  Mar 29, 2009 1:28 pm


Right, so I can see them thinking that Coke can throw 3 innings in a pinch. Then after the game they demote him for ten days and bring up Aceves or Tomko. If they get used in those ten days, swap out the weakest arm for Robertson or Jackson.

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