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Yankees 6, Reds 3

The Yankees are down to just 26 players in camp and are using non-prospects as late-game subs. They’re also cruising through their spring schedule, having won seven in a row and 16 of their last 18, including today’s 6-3 win over the Reds. They are very much ready to come north.


L – Brett Gardner (CF)
S – Nick Swisher (LF)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
R – Xavier Nady (DH)
S – Melky Cabrera (RF)
R – Cody Ransom (3B)
R – Angel Berroa (SS)
S – Ramiro Peña (2B)

Subs: Chris Malec (1B), Mitch Hilligoss (3B), Kevin Cash (C), Dan Brewer (RF), Taylor Grote (CF), Eric Fryer (LF), Francisco Cervelli (DH)

Pitchers: Joba Chamberlain, Brian Bruney, Edwar Ramirez, Phil Coke, Dan Giese

Opponent: The Reds’ starters

Big Hits:

Doubles by Melky Cabrera (1-for-2), Mark Teixeira (1-for-2), and Angel Berroa (2-for-4). Brett Gardner went 3-for-4 from the leadoff spot.

Who Pitched Well:

Phil Coke and Dan Giese each struck out two in a perfect inning. Brian Bruney retired the only two men he faced, striking out one of them. Joba Chamberlain allwed two runs on five hits (four of them singles) and three walks in 5 1/3 innings, but also struck out six and two of those three walks, and one of those runs came as he was running out of gas in the sixth. He’ll pitch in a minor league intrasquad game in Tampa on Sunday before joining the rest of the team in Baltimore on Monday.

Roster News:

With Xavier Nady and Brett Gardner officially declared the staring right and center fielders, the Yankees have finalized their Opening Day bullpen by reassigning Brett Tomko and optioning Alfredo Aceves and Dan Giese to Triple-A. That leaves Jonathan Albaladejo as the last man in the Opening Day pen which will look like this:

R – Mariano Rivera
R – Brian Bruney
L – Damaso Marte
R – Jose Veras
L – Phil Coke
R – Edwar Ramirez
R – Jonathan Albaladejo

I still want David Robertson in there, but he’ll likely be the first man up if any of the above struggles (though only Coke, Ramirez, and Albaladejo have options left).

The Yankees also reassigned Kevin Cash, guaranteeing that they won’t cary an extra catcher.

With Alex Rodriguez headed for the 15-day disabled list, the last spot on the roster is down to Angel Berroa and Ramiro Peña, and the Yankees will have to open a spot on the 40-man roster to make room for the winner, with Giese and Juan Miranda the top candidates to be dropped from the 40-man to make room. It seems likely that both players will travel north with the team for this weekend’s two-game preseason series against the Cubs, and the loser will then head over to Scranton to be the starting shortstop.

Meanwhile, the Scranton rotation will be Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, Kei Igawa, and Jason Johnson. Tomko will pitch out of the pen, but to his displeasure, though he doesn’t have an out in his contract until June 1. More importantly, why on earth are the Yankees wasting Triple-A starts on Johnson when George Kontos has nothing left to prove in Double-A?

Who Dat?:

Chris Malec was a 16th round pick out of UC Santa Barbara in 2005. A corner infielder who can also play second and the outfield, he has great plate discipline (182 walks against just 142 strikeouts in his three-plus minor league seasons), but is a bit undersized, lacks power or speed, and has been old for his levels.

Taylor Grote was drafted out of a Texas high school with the Yankees’ eighth-round pick in 2007. An athletic outfielder, he played left field for the short-season Staten Island Yankees last year and struggled at the plate, but he was just 19.

Mitch Hilligoss was drafted as a shortstop out of Purdue with a sixth-round pick in 2006, but he’s since moved to third base. He has speed, but neither patience nor power and was awful in High-A last year at age 23, hitting .241/.287/.298.

Dan Brewer was the Yankees’ eight-round pick last June, and was taken out of Bradley University. He hit well for Staten Island last year at the age of 20, albeit without much power, and stole 10 bases in 11 attempts. He projects as a utility man as he is athletic and played the infield early in his college career before switching to the outfield.

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1 monkeypants   ~  Apr 1, 2009 12:34 am

As I posted in the last thread, I am pleasantly surprised that Tomko did not make the team as some sort of obligatory “long man.”

This said, I will backtrack on my previous assessment of the Yankees picking him up: I had originally complained long and loud about him. But he had a good spring, and given the team's overall pitching depth, I would not mind if they kept Tomko around in AAA and released, say, Giese.

I still think that a trade is in the works, however.

2 Mr. OK Jazz TOKYO   ~  Apr 1, 2009 3:04 am

I anxiously await the Taylor Grote era..

poor Igawa, think he gets traded anywhere? What a salary for AAA!

3 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 1, 2009 6:17 am

[1] Based on the spring that he had, I wouldn't be suprised if the Yankees were able to trade Tomko for something small. It is indeed very comforting that Girardi and Cashman were not seduced by the spring performance of a veteran putting pedal to the metal in March. Similarly, I hope they make the same kind of decision in the Berroa vs. Pena battle.

4 OldYanksFan   ~  Apr 1, 2009 6:41 am

Anyone else pissed that Nady is starting over Swisher?

5 Raf   ~  Apr 1, 2009 7:15 am

[4] No, given the nature of the season. If Swisher is raking in a reserve role, and Nady is playing like, well, Nady, I may be a bit annoyed

6 Rich   ~  Apr 1, 2009 7:45 am

[4] Yes. Cash said the Yankees would be emphasizing patience at the plate and improved defense. Swisher is demonstrably better than Nady in both of those areas. The move makes very little sense.

7 monkeypants   ~  Apr 1, 2009 7:57 am

[4] I'm pissed, but not that much. This was sort of predictable, especially given Swisher's somewhat slow spring. This will work itself out, I think. Also, my anger is tempered by the fact that both are on the team. That is, at least they have a credible starter and a reasonable option off the bench regardless of which way they go. In days of yore Miguel Cairo would have been the back-up OF (and IF) because they carried three catchers and 13 pitchers.

8 monkeypants   ~  Apr 1, 2009 7:59 am

[3] Yeah, they could trade Tomko, or one of his pitching counterparts. I was actually thinking that that they still might move Melky or Gardner, capitalizing on their hot spring performances.

[2] I do have a hard time feeling bad for Igawa. Do you think that he is "sad" playing in AAA?

9 Rich   ~  Apr 1, 2009 8:07 am

[8] Given that Girardi has said that he believes that the game will be shifting to an emphasis on speed as a consequence of drug testing, I would be very surprised if Gardner is traded before AJack is ready or an established CFer is acquired.

10 monkeypants   ~  Apr 1, 2009 8:27 am

[9] So says Girardi...but we'll see what tricks Cashman has up his sleeve. Melky must certainly be on the block.

11 Rich   ~  Apr 1, 2009 8:32 am

[11] Supposedly, three teams are in the mix on Melky.

12 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 1, 2009 8:42 am

[4] I am not either. While I think Swisher is the better all around player, he is also more versatile and able to get ABs as a result. If you make him the primary RF'er, Nady is reduced to a pinch hitter. Also, with Arod gone, the Yankees are going to need some righty pop, so seeing if Nady can build on last year can't hurt.

[8] [11] I don't think the level of interest in Gardner or Melky would be high enough to warrant trading either, especially if you are absolutely unwilling to promote AJ. Three teams may be interested, but probably if the Yankees give him away. I know I'm probably Melky's biggest fan, but I simply wouldn't dump him. He is still only 24.

13 PJ   ~  Apr 1, 2009 8:45 am

[12] From what Cashman said on Francesa's show yesterday, even though there may be interest elsewhere, they intend on keeping Melky for now, especially after his best ST so far...

14 Raf   ~  Apr 1, 2009 10:00 am

I do have a hard time feeling bad for Igawa. Do you think that he is “sad” playing in AAA?

Regardless, I don't think he's thrilled with the way his ML career has developed. Especially, considering his time with the Hanshin Tigers

15 Yankster   ~  Apr 1, 2009 10:01 am

That AAA starting rotation is pretty wicked, no? They should clean up against opponents and be pretty fun to watch. Even Igawa has been great at Scranton. I might have to put together a road trip to watch these guys pitch. On a spectator $$ per pitch quality, this has to be getting toward the high value side of things, right? I guess the question is whether they lose pitching quality in the bigs (due to stress or pitch selection or whatever) or whether the bigs' bats are immune to the minor league effective pitches of Igawa and Kennedy.

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