Today’s news is powered by a tour of the current home of the Oakland A’s:
- Heathcott, what you got?:
The Yankees have signed first-round pick Slade Heathcott for $2.2 million. He was drafted 27th overall, and the MLB recommendation for his slot was $1,107,000.
- Not only Heathcott, but Murphy and Cotham too:
The Yankees have also agreed to terms with their second-round pick, catcher J.R. Murphy, and a fifth-round pick, right-hander Caleb Cotham.
A catcher with power and good arm strength from the Pendleton School in Bradenton, Fla., Murphy’s signing bonus was for $1.25 million, Baseball America reported. A Vanderbilt sophomore, Cotham signed for $675,000.
- The fight to save Gate 2 rages on:
Despite the opposition of baseball romantics and some Bronx residents, the city plans to dismantle the classic Gate 2 from the old Yankee Stadium.
“I think saving it is a good idea,” Sandra Mullen, 33, of the Bronx, said of the majestic entrance opposite the new Yankee Stadium.
“I like the old stadium from when I was a child. The new one is beautiful, but the old one was a classic.”
Boosters of the effort to save Gate 2 want it incorporated as the front door to the new Heritage Park, a 10-acre park slated to fill the footprint of the House That Ruth Built.
- Tyler Kepner opines on the defense of Derek Jeter:
I’ve always contended Jeter’ defense has not hurt the team as much as some people think. Now, has he been better in the field this season? Sure, but look at the reasons, none of which have anything to do with Jeter himself.
He has a new infield coach, Mick Kelleher, whom he trusts and has known for many years. He has a better first baseman in Teixeira. And he plays behind pitchers more capable of hitting their spots than their predecessors, meaning, in theory, that hitters more often hit the ball where the fielders expect it to go.
Jeter is also playing on a new home field and might have made a change in his workout habits, though he never talks about that. I don’t know how those factors might have impacted him.
- Swisher wants to stick around:
“I think it’s pretty cool, just getting that opportunity,” (Nick) Swisher said. “I’ve been bouncing around from team to team the last couple of years, but knock on wood, hopefully I’ve found a home. I really feel honored to be part of this tradition.”
. . . Though Swisher is hitting just .242 in 111 games this year for New York, the numbers go beyond batting average. He has driven in 64 runs and is tied for the American League lead with 75 walks entering play on Monday.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi said that Swisher has given him about what was expected. While Swisher clashed with former skipper Ozzie Guillen in Chicago, Girardi said that Guillen did have positive things to say after the Yankees acquired Swisher in a November swap.
“I knew that he was an on-base guy that took a lot of walks and had power,” Girardi said. “I talked to Ozzie at the Winter Meetings, and he said that he was a better defender than he got credit for, wherever you put him.
“I expected production. I wasn’t exactly sure how we were going to use all the people that we had, but I knew that I was going to get him at-bats and he would provide depth at a lot of places.”
- Damon wants to stay too:
Before the season, there was a sense that the Yankees would allow (Johnny) Damon to move on and turn over his left-field spot to a prospect like Austin Jackson or a younger free agent like Matt Holliday. But Yankees officials seem to understand Damon’s value on the field and in the clubhouse, and now they would like him to return. When the Yankees want to keep a player and the player wants to stay, that is usually what happens.
“I don’t know where else I would want to go to,” Damon said. “Obviously, that’s not the right thing to say when you’re about ready to approach free agency, but I’m very happy with playing in New York, and my family’s happy I play for New York. There’s no bigger place to go. If you play well here, you’re going to get paid. New York has the resources.
“But we also have the chance to win every year. I don’t want to attempt to go make more money elsewhere, for more years, with a chance to be out of the race by the first of June.”
[My take: Johnny Johnny Johnny . . . when have the Yanks EVER been out-bid for a player they REALLY wanted.]
- CC isn’t hot in the Coliseum:
He has not had many good times on the Oakland mound. In his last five starts here, (CC) Sabathia is 0-4 with an 8.54 earned run average. In eight career starts, he is 1-4, 7.12. He will try to improve on that Tuesday, when he faces the Athletics on a field with football lines across it.
“I must have done something bad here as a kid, because I’ve got some bad karma going on,” Sabathia said. “Hopefully I can change that tomorrow. I pitch good in San Francisco, and that’s just as close and just as many people come out. It’s just one of those things.”
- Marcus Lawton (brother of Matt) turns 44 today. Lawton had a cup of coffee with the Bombers in ’89.
- Happy 65th birthday to Mike Ferraro. Ferraro washed out as a 3B in the late 60s for the Yanks, but managed three different Yankee minor league teams to 1st place finishes during the 70s.
- Not a Yankee, but the great Roberto Clemente would have turned 75 today.
- On this date in 1940, Jimmy Powers, sport editor of the Sunday New York Daily News, causes a flap when he suggests the Yankees’ poor play that season can be attributed to “a mass polio epidemic” contracted from Lou Gehrig. The former Yankee first baseman and his roommate, Bill Dickey, file suit and the newspaper retracts the story on September 26 and apologizes.
- On this date in 1983, in the continuation of the “Pine Tar Game”, Hal McRae strikes out for the last KC out and Dan Quisenberry retires the Yankees in order in the bottom of the 9th to preserve the Royals’ 5 – 4 victory. The conclusion takes just 12 minutes (and 16 pitches) and, as the only game scheduled at Yankee Stadium, is witnessed by a crowd of 1,245. An odd feature of the game is lefty Don Mattingly playing 2B and pitcher Ron Guidry in CF, as the Yanks try to cover all the options.
- On this date in 1989, Dallas Green is fired as manager of the Yankees and replaced by former SS Bucky Dent. It is the 17th time the Yankees have changed managers since George Steinbrenner took over the club in 1973.
- On this date in 1995, Phil Rizzuto retires as team broadcaster after 39 years at the mike, reportedly because WPIX-TV refused to allow him to miss a game to attend teammate Mickey Mantle’s funeral. Rizzuto eventually will return for the 1996 season.
- On this date in 2000, the Angels defeat the Yankees, 9 – 8 in 11 innings. Anaheim scores five runs in the 9th to tie the game before Darin Erstad’s home run wins it in the 11th. It is the 1st time in 12 years that the New Yorkers blow a 5-run lead in the 9th inning.