Happy April Fools Day! Today’s news is powered by one Sidd Finch:
“I’m standing in there to give this guy a target, just waving the bat once or twice out over the plate. He starts his windup. He sways way back, like Juan Marichal, this hiking boot comes clomping over—I thought maybe he was wearing it for balance or something—and he suddenly rears upright like a catapult. The ball is launched from an arm completely straight up and stiff. Before you can blink, the ball is in the catcher’s mitt. You hear it crack, and then there’s this little bleat from Reynolds.”
On to the news:
- Tyler Kepner reports on the latest round of cuts:
. . . the Yankees cut all of their long-relief candidates and told Jonathan Albaladejo that he had made the team. That means Brett Tomko, Dan Giese and Alfredo Aceves will pitch for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. . . .
Here are 24 players who will start with the team:
Pitchers: C.C. Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang, A.J. Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, Phil Coke, Damaso Marte, Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Brian Bruney, Mariano Rivera.
Catchers: Jorge Posada, Jose Molina.
Infielders: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Cody Ransom.
Outfielders: Johnny Damon, Brett Gardner, Melky Cabrera, Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher.
Designated Hitter: Hideki Matsui.
- Kepner also reports on the Yanks bargain basement bridges to Mariano Rivera:
On a team that spends more than $200 million on its roster, the Yankees’ bullpen is a bargain. Only one of Rivera’s setup men will earn more than $1.25 million this season. That is Dámaso Marte, a left-hander whose first team, the Seattle Mariners, let him go as a minor leaguer in 2000. . . .
The other relievers have much less experience, but the Yankees’ bullpen had a 3.79 earned run average last season, seventh best in baseball. Of the six relievers likely to set up for Rivera, only Phil Coke was drafted by the Yankees. The others came from discount bins.
José Veras signed as a minor league free agent after two pitching-poor teams let him go. Edwar Ramírez was released twice by the Angels and toiled in two independent leagues.
Brian Bruney was released by the Diamondbacks, who gave his roster spot to a fading veteran, Kevin Jarvis. Jonathan Albaladejo was released by Pittsburgh, signed by Washington and traded to the Yankees. . . .
- Signs are getting stronger that A-Rod will be rejoining the club around the middle of May:
Girardi said he spoke to Rodriguez via telephone on Sunday, and he reported that A-Rod has been increasing the intensity of his workouts.
Rodriguez told Girardi that he planned to throw on Monday, the first time he had done so since the March 9 procedure to repair a torn labrum in his hip.
“His rehab is taking another step,” Girardi said. “He seemed like he was in a good frame of mind. We miss him, and he misses us.”
Rodriguez has stayed in Vail, Colo., since the surgery, riding a stationary bike, working out in a pool and performing range-of-motion drills. He has also simulated the motion of swinging a bat.
- Its really official now . . . Bob Sheppard won’t be working the Yankees’ home opener:
“I will not be able to be at Yankee Stadium for the series with the Cubs or Opening Day,” Sheppard said. “My personal physician advised me to wait until I am ready. It is in the hands of God. I am looking forward to doing games in the new Stadium.”
[My take: Get well soon, Bob. You are truly the “Pride of the Yankees”]
- Brett Gardner was named outstanding rookie of Spring Training, write PeteAbe of LoHud. Pete does offer some caution with it though:
Gardner, 25, is batting .390 (23-for-59) in 24 games this spring, with 2 doubles, 2 triples, 3 home runs and 7RBI. He is leading the team in hits and stolen bases (5), while tying for the team lead in home runs. . . .
Good luck to Brett, given the fate of the last five winners …
2004: Bubba Crosby OF
2005: Andy Phillips INF
2006: Eric Duncan INF
2007: Kei Igawa P
2008: Shelley Duncan INF/OF
- For those of you worrying about a reported decrease in velocity from Joba Chamberlain, there’s this post from PeteAbe:
The Yankees confirmed that Joba hit 96 today and was at 95 throughout his start.
“I could feel it out of my hand,” Chamberlain said. “It felt better. There are some when you force it in and there’s others that come out of your hand great. There were some that came out of my hand, the swings misses with the fastball, I hadn’t got many of those in spring training. That’s part of just training your arm in the bullpen.”
Counting the game against Team Canada, Chamberlain threw 20 innings this spring and struck out 20.
His overall line this spring: 20 21 13 13 11 20.
His last three games: 13 12 4 4 6 14.
- The Times has an article on the seats with obstructed views at both the Yanks and Mets new venues:
. . . the 1,048 bleacher seats in Sections 201 and 239 have views partly blocked by the walls of the Mohegan Sun Sports Bar, which sits above Monument Park behind the center-field fence. Fans in Section 201, for instance, will not be able to see left field and, in some cases, even third base.
The Yankees are mounting five flat-panel screens on each side of the restaurant’s outer walls so fans can see on television what they miss live. After Newsday reported that these sections had obstructed views, the Yankees said they would charge $5 for seats there, less than the $12 that season-ticket holders will pay for other bleacher seats.
Alice McGillion, a spokeswoman for the Yankees, said obstructed-view seats were always supposed to cost $5 and that an invoicing problem led to the mix-up that had them originally being offered for more than twice as much. (The Yankees’ Web site does not reflect the new, lower prices.) Fans there will also get access to other parts of the park and to the Bleachers Café, which is above the sports bar.
- Over at the always informative MLBTradeRumors.com, Tim Dierkes has a Offseason in Review for the Yanks:
All of these offseason in review pieces have skewed toward the optimistic side. I guess I am just a glass-half-full kind of guy. If you agree with what I wrote above and peg the Yanks for 870 runs scored and 640 allowed, that’s a 105 win team. That’s extreme, but it would not surprise me to see this team win 100 games.
Bottom line: In a dream offseason for Yankees fans, Brian Cashman improved the offense, rotation, and first base defense drastically by signing three top free agents and more.
- There will be beer sales for the fans in the bleachers again:
Beer was banned in Section 39 at the old Stadium in 2000 to tame the sometimes overly passionate Bleacher Creatures, but with the move to the new ballpark, the taps will be turned on once again, a team official told The Post.
No beer vendors will come through Section 203, but fans will be permitted to purchase 12-ounce beers for $6 in the stadium and take them back to their seats or imbibe at the new Bleacher Cafe.
- Larry Murray turns 56 today. Murray went 1-for-20 over three season with the Yanks, before getting included in the deal that brought Mike Torrez to the Bombers. Fun fact: Murray’s career .177 BA is the third-lowest in the Expansion Era for anyone with as many plate appearances (471) as he had (John Vuckovich batted .161 over 607 PAs from 1970-1981 and Ray Oyler batted .175 over 1,445 PAs from 1965-1970) .
- A very happy 70th birthday to HOFer Phil Niekro. Niekro went 32-20 over two seasons with the Yanks (’84/’85). Fun fact: Over a three year period from 1977-1979, Niekro pitched 1,006.6 innings.
- On this date in 1969, Mickey Mantle retires. He ends his career with 2,415 hits and 536 home runs over 18 seasons.
- On this date in 2008, the Yankees set a MLB record by winning their 11th straight home opener. Oddly, the record had been held by the 1945-1954 Pittsburgh Pirates, a club which lost 100 or more games three times in that period. The Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 3-2. Chien-Ming Wang allows two runs in seven innings for the win over Roy Halladay.