"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

News of the Day – 4/1/09

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:

. . . 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.

Categories:  Diane Firstman  News of the Day

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1 FreddySez   ~  Apr 1, 2009 9:15 am

That roster listing gave me a nervous moment, until I went to Tyler's piece and saw that yes, they're still going to add a utility infielder.

2 RagingTartabull   ~  Apr 1, 2009 10:18 am

For whatever reason I'm getting giddier and giddier about the possibility of seeing Ramiro Pena in person

3 ny2ca2dc   ~  Apr 1, 2009 10:32 am

Can someone clear up some procedural/rules uncertainty:

Someone, say Guise, has to be dropped from the 40-man in order to add Pena or Berroa as a UIF. Then either Pena or Berroa is added to the 40-man and 25-man with ARod on the 15-day DL. When ARod comes back he resumes his place on the 25-man, meaning Berroa/Pena gets dropped from the 25-man. If it's Pena, does he have to stay on the 40-man, or can he be outrighted to the minors and removed from the 40-man? It would suck to have to keep him on the 40-man indefinitely, or pass him thru waivers to get him off. Of course if it's Berroa on the 40-man and you want him off you just cut him and forget about it.

Am I correct in thinking since Pena doesn't have enough MiL (or ML) service time he can be taken on and off the 40-man at will?

4 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 1, 2009 10:44 am

[3] Players on the 15-day DL remain on the 40-man roster. Unless the Yankees move Arod to the 6-day DL, they can not use his roster spot. Because that seems unlikely, Pena/Berroa will likely be added at the expense of someone else. Had they been added to fill an injury slot, however, the only way to remove them is by waivers.

5 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 1, 2009 11:19 am

[3] No one can be taken on and off the 40-man at will. Once a player is on the 40-man, the only way go off it is through waivers.

I am sure that Cashman will be working the phones right through the weekend in an attempt to clear a spot on the 40-man via a trade (e.g. Miranda for a non-roster prospect).

A couple of possible variations:
a.) The Yankees trade a roster player for a utility infielder who is superior to Berroa or Pena
b) The Yankees purchase Berroa's contract (i.e. bring him onto the 40-man), and he turns out to be useless. Meanwhile, the bullpen is getting stressed out. When A-Rod returns, the Yankees DFA Berroa and purchase Tomko's contract.

6 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 1, 2009 11:22 am

Will Joba be staying in Tampa and pitching in a minor league ST game on Sunday? He is not scheduled to start with the Yankees until Sunday the 12th, so another tune-up start may be worthwhile.

7 williamnyy23   ~  Apr 1, 2009 11:44 am

[6] Yes...I read that somewhere.

8 JL25and3   ~  Apr 1, 2009 12:32 pm

Berroa is useless, but I think it would be a mistake to take Pena. It would mean putting him on the 40-man roster and using an option - all for the sake of a few weeks as a utility infielder. The need just isn't great enough to be worth it.

9 MichiganYankee   ~  Apr 1, 2009 12:44 pm

[8] Blowing an option doesn't really concern me. Pena will be 24 in July, and being out of options in his almost-age-27 season will be no great tragedy. Clogging up the roster spot is a bigger concern, as Berroa could easily be DFAd to make room for someone else. So if the intention is just to have another infielder on the bench in case of an emergency, I would go with Berroa. If, on the other hand, they actually intend to utilize the player (e.g. as an LIDR for Jeter), Pena's the guy.

10 SteveAmerica   ~  Apr 1, 2009 12:52 pm

I can't believe the hype about Ramiro Pena.

11 ny2ca2dc   ~  Apr 1, 2009 1:59 pm

I really don't think Pena is worth the 40man spot.

I'd love for the Yanks to give Dallas McPherson a $1MM signing bonus to join up, platooning him with Ransom might approach average production while Alex is out. And you wouldn't worry about the 40man spot, just DFA him when needed.

12 Shaun P.   ~  Apr 1, 2009 5:10 pm

[8] JL, I knew you had to be nearby when I read about Sheff's being dropped.

I'm with you and the rest - the 40-man spot might be too valuable to use on Pena just yet. I really like ny2ca2dc's idea in [11] too. My only hesitation is that McPherson can't play 2B or (especially) SS, so if anything were to happen to Ransom . . .

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