"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Monthly Archives: March 2010

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Dolla Dolla Phil Y'All

Phil Hughes has been named the fifth starting pitching in the Yankees rotation. This report from the AP has the details.

Taster's Cherce


Cheap it ain’t, but if you don’t feel like schlepping out to Queens, it’ll do the trick.

Beat of the Day

News Update – 3/25/10

This update is powered . . . by a song about Canada, sung in German, by animated cartoon characters:

Instead the key date is March 31 at 2 p.m. That is the deadline to release players with non-guaranteed contracts and owe just 45-day’s pay. So if the Yanks are unable to trade Gaudin between now and then, they almost certainly will release him and pay him that severance, which will be around $720,000.

Since the Yanks are obligated to that amount, I would assume they would be willing to pay at least that much of his salary as part of a trade and, perhaps, a bit more. The one advantage of having Gaudin pass through waivers is that the Yanks can send him to the minors. But there is no chance they would pay him $2.9 million to begin in the minors. After paying the $720,000, they could re-sign him at a lower rate and send him to the minors, but Gaudin probably would not accept that since he likely can find major league work elsewhere if the Yanks outright release him.


Midseason Form and Infielder Found

The official announcement of the Yankees’ fifth starter will be the big news today, but Wednesday’s headline was the performance of fourth-starter Javier Vazquez, who carved up an admittedly weak Nationals lineup as the Yankees cruised to a 3-1 win. Well, that and the fact that Ramiro Peña will once again be the Opening Day utility infielder.


R – Derek Jeter (SS)
L – Nick Johnson (DH)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
R – Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L – Robinson Cano (2B)
S – Jorge Posada (C)
L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
L – Brett Gardner (LF)

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Kevin Russo (2B), Ramiro Peña (SS), Francisco Cervelli (3B), P.J. Pilittere (C), Greg Golson (RF)

Pitchers (IP): Javier Vazquez (6), Damaso Marte (1), Mariano Rivera (1), Mark Melancon (1)

Big Hits: A triple by Alex Rodriguez (2-for-3), Doubles by Nick Swisher (1-for-3), and Nick Johnson (1-for-3, BB).

Who Pitched Well: Javier Vazquez needed just 77 pitches to get through six innings plus one batter. He didn’t issue a walk and allowed just one run on four singles while striking out six. Mark Melancon pitched a perfect ninth striking out two. Mariano Rivera worked around a double for a scoreless eighth, striking out two as well.

Who Didn’t: Vazquez gave up a single to the only man he faced in the seventh. Damaso Marte then allowed that inherited runner to score on a double by former Yankee Alberto Gonzalez, though Gonzalez was the only baserunner Marte allowed in his one inning of work.

Oopsies: Brett Gardner was caught stealing second by the former Yankee battery of Brian Bruney and Wil Nieves.

Cuts: The first real significant batch:

Kevin Russo: Russo hit .333 in camp, but Russo has always hit. The issue is that he’s not really a viable shortstop, and twith Alex Rodriguez now six years and one hip surgery removed from the position, the Yankees likely reasoned that they couldn’t go into the season with Russo as Derek Jeter’s sole backup at the position. Russo moved his name toward the top of the list of replacement bench players, but with the Yankees hoping to get 150 games or more out of each of their infielders, they properly opted to go with Ramiro Peña’s glove and versatility over Russo’s batting-average-dependent offense. It will be interesting to see if the Yankees stick him back at second base in Scranton or give him more exposure at short and third in the hope of increasing his defensive value.

Juan Miranda: Miranda didn’t hit much in camp and, as Scranton’s first baseman, will have to fend off the advances of Jorge Vazquez while battling with Jesus Montero to be the first name called when Nick Johnson goes down with an injury. Given that Miranda’s also in the last year of his contract, success in Scranton could just as easily get him traded as promoted.

Greg Golson: Golson hit .300/.364/.550 in camp and struck out just four times in 20 at-bats, which offers some hope that the tweaks made to his swing and approach by Kevin Long are already yielding results. If Golson can control the strike zone, he has the tools (speed, power, glove) and athleticism to be an upgrade on Brett Gardner, but he’ll have to prove it over a larger sample as Scranton’s center fielder.

Mark Melancon: Melancon was fantastic in camp, but there’s just no room in the Yankee bullpen: Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain or Phil Hughes, Damaso Marte, David Robertson, Chan Ho Park, Alfredo Aceves, Sergio Mitre. That’s seven. I’d like to have seen Melancon make the team over Mitre, but as I explained Tuesday night, I’m kind of okay with Mitre making the team, particularly given how strong the rest of the pen seems to be. Had Melancon pitched better in his extremely brief major league opportunities last year, he might have had the edge. As it is, he’ll likely force his way onto the major league roster in the first half of the season.

Jonathan Albaladejo: Albaladejo made the Opening Day roster each of the last two seasons but got hurt in 2008, failed to distinguish himself in 2010, was lit up in camp this year. If there’s no room for Melancon in the bullpen, Albaladejo has no chance. He should follow Edwar Ramirez out of the organization shortly.

Late Afternoon Art

Morning Sun, By Edward Hopper (1952)

Okay, so it’s the late afternoon, not the morning; the sun is still out, and this picture still sings.

Beat of the Day

I got it figured out:

What You Lookin' at Old Man?

Mr. Jordan goes to Spring Break for Deadspin (Part One):

So, the boys at Deadspin had this idea. Brilliant, really. Hilarious. They were sitting around the office one night, throwing out story ideas, coming up with nothing, getting frustrated, or maybe there isn’t actually a Deadspin office, and they really are just a bunch of guys hunched over their computers in the darkened basements of their mother’s houses, surrounded by boxes of cold pizza crusts and empty beer cans, emailing each other with one idea after another when one of them came up with this truly brilliant idea after having seen Jeff Bridges in “Crazy Heart” too many times. “Let’s throw the Old Man at Spring Break!” The Old Man with his white beard, threadbare thrift-stop Hawaiian shirt with the pink flamingos, OP shorts, Publix flip-flops, looking like a Florida derelict wasting away in Margaritaville, smoking his cigar as he tries to chat up some co-eds from Ann Arbor and Iowa City in Froggy’s and Razzle’s and the 509 Lounge with some pitiful, dimly remembered barroom rap that used to work for him 40 years ago, the co-eds thinking he’s a harmless old man, at first, like their grandfathers, until, after enough questions, they begin to think, maybe not so harmless after all, maybe a dirty old pervert actually, and they glance around the bar for a bouncer or a cop, which is why the boys at Deadspin told me, “We’ll have a lawyer on call 24 hours a day in case you need one.”

But what the hell, I’ll do anything for a story, and a check, small as it may be. What did Voltaire say? A friend asked if he’d ever had a homosexual experience. He said, yes, once. The friend said, then you’re a pervert. Voltaire said, no, “Once, a philosopher, twice, a pervert.” Which is why I drove south out of Abbeville, S.C., where I live now, in the up country, on Secession Hill in the Land of Cotton, on March 12, driving over two-lane country roads through Ninety Six and Newberry until I hit I-26 and then I-95 and headed south toward Savannah, Jacksonville, and my Spring Break destination, Daytona Beach. I had rented a white cargo van, stripped of seats in back, like a cave, threw a pillow and mattress on the floor, threw a bottle of Jim Beam Black in my duffel bag, my notebooks, pens and tape recorder in my man bag along with a 9-millimeter CZ 85 semi-automatic pistol with 15 hollow points in the clip and one in the chamber because, as Christian Slater said in True Romance, “It’s better to have a gun and not need it than to need a gun and not have it.” What the hell! I was going to sleep in my van, unless I got rousted by the cops in a motel parking lot at 2 a.m., the cops checking out my CZ, my CWP, then running my ID through their cruiser’s computer, looking for outstanding warrants, priors, coming up with only one — a firearms charge at Fort Lauderdale Airport in the late ’80s, a chickenshit charge, really, but a long story, the third-degree felony knocked down to a misdemeanor, adjudication withheld — and me in the backseat of their cruiser at 2 a.m., my hands cuffed for only the second time in 68 years (OK, third, if you insist on counting that barmaid in my St. Louis hotel room in the ’70s), trying to remember the telephone number of that Deadspin lawyer.

Strong Men Also Cry

Bronx Banter Book Excerpt


From 90% of the Game is Half Mental


By Emma Span

Many studies over the last decade or so, of varying reliability and scientific soundness, have attempted to find out just who baseball fans are. One found that 37 percent of American women identify themselves as baseball fans (compared to 49 percent of men); another poll had it at 44 percent to 66 percent but included those who said they “somewhat” followed baseball, which could mean just about anything, including vaguely noting the back- page headline of the New York Post on the subway each morning. Yet another study showed 51 percent of women calling themselves fans. Even if we assume for the sake of argument that the lower number is closer to the truth, 37 percent is nothing to sneeze at.

Meanwhile, a Scarborough Research report back in 2004 found that 42 percent of all baseball fans are women. And a 2002 Gallup poll found that while the percentage of men who call themselves baseball fans has been decreasing for decades, the percentage of women who say the same is holding steady. So yes, there are certainly more male than female baseball fans, but the chasm isn’t as wide as it’s usually represented to be.

You can tell a lot about what kind of audience a given TV show expects by paying attention to the commercials. I’ve spent thousands of hours watching baseball, which means I’ve sat through countless thirty- second spots for razors, hair regrowth serum, erectile-dysfunction pills, and beer ads showing guys choosing Coors Light over women. There must be nearly an hour of ads during a typical Mets or Yankees broadcast, if not more, and often not a single spot is targeted at me. I used to get a small pseudo- subversive kick out of how I was throwing a wrench into all these marketing strategies—Ha! I am immune to your marketing efforts, motherfuckers! I will not ask my doctor about prostate enlargement!—but then I just bought a TiVo, which is better.

Lest you think I’m being too hard on the Savvy Girls and their pink-splashed Guide to Understanding and Enjoying Baseball, it’s indeed occurred to me that maybe men and women do tend to watch the game a bit differently. For one thing, I’ve never played baseball, not even softball. So I don’t have that kind of connection to the game, which many guys I know seem to feel, even if they never got past Little League. And I’ve become plenty interested in statistics, but there’s no pretending that was any large part of what drew me to the game initially, or that it has much to do with why I keep watching (though the same could be said of plenty of men). I do accumulate baseball numbers in my brain, like most fans, and I enjoy doing so. I have a recurring fantasy in which someone desperately needs to know, say, the modern record for most wins by a pitcher in a single season, he’s absolutely frantic about it, and I get to finally use the information that’s been rattling around in my head for years and years: I turn to the guy and calmly inform him it was 41 Ws, Happy Jack Chesbro, 1904. (It’s going to happen any day now.) But no, numbers aren’t what sucked me in and they’re not what keep me here.

When I first got interested in baseball, and stopped treating it as background noise and actually focused on it, it was the characters that drew me in, the personalities, and the drama, more than any inherent beauty of the game. I didn’t really care what kind of pitch someone threw or whether a batter had shortened his swing; I just wanted to see if Paul O’Neill was going to be beating himself up all night, cursing his perceived failures in the dugout, terrorizing innocent water coolers. I wanted to see how the rookie replacing Tony Fernandez might overcome what I assumed had to be a bad case of nerves and succeed in the big leagues. I wanted Bernie Williams to do well because I wanted a shy, awkward dude with glasses to win one for shy, awkward people with glasses everywhere.

Jerry Seinfeld famously said that rooting for a sports team in the modern era is “rooting for laundry”—players come and go so frequently, and are so often mercenary dicks while they’re here, that we end up just cheering for the team as an entity, as embodied by whoever happens to be wearing its uniform at the time. It’s hard to argue with the basic truth of that (Johnny Damon in a red and white jersey is loathed; six months later he puts on a blue and white shirt and is hailed as a hero). But for me, especially in the beginning, it wasn’t the case. I was very much rooting for the individuals.


Taster's Cherce


I love coleslaw because its one of those salads that can be prepared in a seemingly endless variety of ways. I especially enjoy cabbage with caraway seeds or flipped with Asian spices and flavors. Or at a barbeque shack or a Jewish Deli

Oh man, I just dig me some coleslaw, period.

Hughes' Got It

According to Joel Sherman, Phil Hughes will be the Yankees’ number five starter to begin the season:

In the next few days, Joe Girardi will make it official that Phil Hughes is the Yankees’ fifth starter.

There are still meetings this week, still final statements that could be offered, still an injury that can change minds and needs. But this was a competition in the faintest of ways. As I reported in early February, the Yankees brass was going to enter spring privately viewing Hughes as the clear fifth starter frontrunner.

The reality is that no one else could win the job. Hughes could only lose it.

Deep Funk

Wyatt Mason had a long, and sometimes over-written, profile of David Simon, creator of “The Wire,” and the forthcoming “Treme”, in the New York Times Magazine last weekend. I still haven’t watched “The Wire,” but Simon’s new series looks compelling:

“There’s a thing about being capable of a great moment,” Simon told me on a break from shooting. “This city is capable of moments unlike any moments you’ll ever experience in life. To see an Indian come down the street in full regalia on St. Joseph’s Night on an unlit street of messed-up shotgun houses and one burned-out car, and he’s the most beautiful thing on the planet, and everything around him is falling down. It’s a glorious instant of human endeavor. It’s duende from the Spanish, chills on the back of your neck, and then the next minute it’s gone. Lots of American places used to make things. Detroit used to make cars. Baltimore used to make steel and ships. New Orleans still makes something. It makes moments. I don’t mean that to sound flippant, and I don’t mean it to sound more or less than what it is, but they’re artists with a moment, they can take a moment and make it into something so transcendent that you’re not quite sure that it happened or that you were a part of it.”

Serging Ahead

There wasn’t much variation in their performances to this point in spring training. That Chad Gaudin had pitched his way to the bottom of the list of the five “starters” competing for the last four spots on the Yankee pitching staff was clear, as was the fact that Sergio Mitre had simultaneously pitched his way out of that elimination spot. Exactly what the Yankees were going to do about that was less clear until the Yankees placed Gaudin on waivers on Tuesday, effectively removing him from the 40-man roster.

Gaudin, who pitched relatively well down the stretch last year (3.43 ERA, 7.3 K/9 in 6 starts and 5 relief appearances), was actually the Yankees’ (unused) fourth starter in the 2009 postseason, earning that distinction over Joba Chamberlain, who instead made ten appearances out of the bullpen. In January, Gaudin avoided arbitration with the Yankees by signing a one-year deal worth $2.95 million, but the contract was not guaranteed, meaning that the Yankees will owe him just $737,500 if he clears waivers and they release him (if they send him to Triple-A, they’ll still owe him the entire amount, but if he’s claimed, they’ll be off the hook entirely). Given that all they sent the Padres for Gaudin last August was cash, there will have been little waste involved in Gaudin’s brief time with the team.

With Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Alfredo Aceves, Jason Hirsh, and Zach McAllister all on hand and to different degrees ready to step into either the rotation or the bullpen, Gaudin is no great loss. Rather, Gaudin’s removal from the roster places increased emphasis on what Sergio Mitre has to offer.

With Gaudin out of the picture, it now seems likely that Mitre will be the twelfth man on the Yankees’ Opening Day pitching staff. His primary rivals are potential second lefties Boone Logan and Royce Ring, but Ring is a non-roster player and Logan has an option remaining, whereas Mitre is, like Gaudin was, a member of the 40-man roster on a non-guaranteed contract who would have to be passed through waivers to be sent to Triple-A. Mitre’s contract is small enough at $850,000 for the Yankees to eat the $212,500 they’d owe Mitre if they released him, but the club seems legitimately enthusiastic about how Mitre has been pitching this spring, and not without good reason.

I know that the prospect of Sergio Mitre on the Opening Day roster is anathema to a large part of the Yankee fanbase and the Bronx Banter readership in particular, but I still can’t completely hate on the Yankees interest in Mitre. I shrugged off the Mitre signing entering camp a year ago, remarking in my 2009 campers post that, “Mitre was never a high-ceiling starter, but rather a moderately successful sinkerballer, who had yet to put it all together in the majors prior to his [July 2008 Tommy John] surgery. He’ll be 29 next February and hardly seems worth even the minimal commitment.” Five months later, after Chien-Ming Wang had blow up twice and Phil Hughes had begun to establish himself as a dominant set-up man, I took a different view:

Mitre’s career line in the majors is certainly unimpressive (5.36 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 5.4 K/9), but he was rushed to the majors in just his third professional season at age 22, jerked between the majors, minors, rotation, and bullpen in each of his three seasons with the Cubs, and came down with shoulder problems in May of his first season with the Marlins in 2006. Given all of that, I’m tempted to just toss out those first four partial major league seasons in which Mitre went 5-15 with a 6.01 ERA in 25 starts and 26 relief appearances.Instead, I look at what Mitre did with a healthy arm and a rotation spot in the first half of the 2007 season under manager Joe Girardi. In 16 starts (not counting one aborted start in which he tore a blister during the first inning), Mitre posted a 2.82 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and a 3.1 K/9. Ten of those outings were quality starts and two others were scoreless but cut short by a tight hamstring. Mitre’s season fell apart in late July due to the elbow problems that led to his Tommy John surgery and wiped out his 2008 season.

As you can see, Mitre’s problems have had far more to do with health than effectiveness. That’s a red flag when a team throws $80-million, five-year contracts at a pitcher, but when the pitcher in question comes in on a make-good minor league deal, health concerns don’t concern me as there’s nothing there but upside.

Mitre posted a 6.79 ERA in nine starts and three relief appearances for the Yankees after I wrote the above, but his solid 2.46 K/BB, swollen .333 opponent’s batting average on balls in play, and absurd 22.2 percent home-runs-per-fly-ball rate (the major league average is around 8 percent) all suggested that bad luck played some role in that poor performance. Clearly Mitre was getting hit hard, but he was also unlucky and, theoretically, still building his arm back up after rehabbing from his TJ surgery.

In my campers post this year, I repeated much of the above about Mitre, but described Mitre’s 2009 K/BB ratio, which was a single-season career best for the right-hander, as “mildly encouraging,” later adding, “there’s some small hope that being two years removed from surgery could allow him to recapture some of his form from 2007, when over his first 17 starts he posted a 2.82 ERA with just five home runs allowed and a 3.10 K/BB.”

I don’t want him to be the fifth starter, and I don’t think there’s any real risk of that unless another starter suffers a significant injury, but I just can’t completely trash the Yankees continued interest in Mitre. I realize that spring training statistics are about as predictive as campaign promises, but Mitre really has been throwing the ball better this spring. Ignore his ERA, or even his slim hits total, and look at his 14 strikeouts in 14 innings against just three walks and one homer. Better yet, read the comments from Mitre, his manager, and catcher collected by Chad Jennings:

. . . what might have tipped the scales in Mitre’s favor?

He’s further removed from surgery: “Last year I felt good early when I was coming back from Tommy John and toward the later months of the year, I just kind of fatigued,” Mitre said. “The offseason really helped. Nothing hurts right now.”

His sinker is moving more: “I think the pitches are the same,” Mitre said. “I think the only thing that’s different is there might be more life to it as opposed to being flatter.”

He’s throwing harder: “His velocity is better,” Joe Girardi said. “He doesn’t seem to fatigue as easily. There is a difference.”

His command is better: “He’s a different guy,” Jorge Posada said. “You can tell that he’s healthy and the ball is just coming out of his hand a lot better. He’s throwing strikes. Location, that tells you that he’s back on track… He’s putting it wherever he wants.”

Mitre is a year younger than Chien-Ming Wang, further removed from injury, walked just 2.3 men per nine innings in his awful 2009 season, and now reportedly has more velocity and movement on his top pitch and is proving it with impressive spring training peripherals. There’s only one thing that upsets me about the Yankees taking another chance on this guy as the last man on the pitching staff, and it has nothing to do with how Mitre might pitch.

Going back to my campers post, I concluded Mitre’s entry by saying, “there are better, younger arms who deserve a shot at that last bullpen spot should it open up.” Gaudin’s struggles have opened that spot up, and 25-year-old fellow Tommy John survivor Mark Melancon, who has struck out eight in 6 1/3 spring innings against one walk and no homers, is more deserving than Mitre of that last spot, though I’m pretty well convinced at this point that Mitre will claim it.

I’m also convinced that Melancon will find his way into high-leverage work out of the the major league pen during the upcoming season the way David Robertson did last year, but there’s not as clear a path for Melancon as there was for Robertson last year when Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez seemed ready to cough up their spots. Maybe Mitre is that guy this year, but right now the Yankees seem to think he could be the new Ramiro Mendoza, and I’m not particularly motivated to argue with them.

Art of the Night

Nijinsky, by Franz Kline (1950)

Beat of the Day

These babes were bitchin’.

Taster’s Cherce

Momofuku’s famous pork buns:

Yeah, they are worth the trip. And if you are on the go, pop into the Milk Bar for ’em. You won’t be sorry.

[photo credit: Amuses Bouche]

Cutting Edge

When I was in fifth grade a classmate sold me his used Intellivision system. I’m sure he ripped me off–I’ve never been much of a haggler–but it was worth it even if the machine was half-busted. Those sports games were so much better than the ones for Atari.

Hey, even George Plimpton said so:

Waive Goodbye

MLB Rumors posts the latest from Ed Price…the scoop? The Yanks have placed Chad Gaudin on waivers.

Observations From Cooperstown: A Few Moments with Motormouth

Paul Blair is fast becoming one of my favorite people in baseball. Why’s that? First off, he’s a former Yankee who was a supplementary part of two world championship clubs in the 1970s. Second, with apologies to Devon White and Ken Griffey, Jr., he’s the best defensive center fielder I’ve seen over the past 40 years. And finally, he is one of those former major leaguers who is making a habit of coming to Cooperstown, a fact that is especially appreciated during the pre-season days of March.

Blair paid his most recent visit to Cooperstown last Saturday, as part of the effort to promote the second annual Hall of Fame Classic old-timers game. Blair, who will be playing in that game on Father’s Day along with former big league standouts like Bill Madlock and Lee Smith, greeted a number of fans as they waited in line to purchase tickets for the event. Acting as a personal greeter is an ideal job for Blair, who was nicknamed “Motormouth” during his playing days because of his willingness to talk to anyone–at any time.

Born in Oklahoma but raised in Los Angeles, Blair started playing baseball at the age of eight and developed an early appreciation for Jackie Robinson. “Jackie was the hero, the man who broke the barrier,“ Blair told the audience in the Hall’s Bullpen Theater. “He gave you a sense of hope.“

Blair had originally hoped to sign with the Dodgers in 1961, but instead settled for a contract with the expansion Mets. He played poorly in his first season, batting .228 in the California League while piling up 147 strikeouts at a time when K’s were far less tolerated than they are today. Left unprotected by the Mets–a decision that the New York brass would come to regret–Blair was drafted by the Orioles that winter. He went back to the California League, batted a cool .324, slugged .506, and began a steady climb through the Baltimore system.

It was during his minor league days that Blair picked up his memorable nickname. A recent slump had quieted the usually talkative Blair. After he broke out of the slump with a hit, a teammate needled him, asking if he would start talking again. The team’s manager, Harry Dalton, gave the players a quizzical look before saying, “Don’t get that Motor started.”

With the Orioles on the verge of championship greatness, Blair’s arrival in the major leagues timed out perfectly. He arrived in time to contribute to the 1966 world championship team and remained with the organization through its run of three consecutive World Series appearances, including the title year of 1970. So which of those Orioles teams was the best? “If I have to pick one, the ‘66 team was the best team,” Blair said before elaborating. “But I’m most proud of the 1970 team, which bounced back after losing to the Mets the previous fall. [In 1970], we won 108 games. We turned the ‘Big Red Machine’ into the ‘Little Toy Wagon.’ I was proud of that team because we came back from the loss to the Mets.”


Was That A Good Thing Or A Bad Thing?

The Yankees and Phillies combined for 16 runs on 24 hits, 15 of the latter for extra bases including Wilson Valdez’s two-run game-winning home run off Phil Hughes, as the Phillies won 9-7 on Monday. Earlier in the day, Hughes’ rival for the fifth-starter job worked five innings in an intrasquad simulated game. Also, the Yankees made a bunch of cuts. More below . . .


L – Brett Gardner (LF)
L – Curtis Granderson (CF)
S – Mark Teixeira (1B)
S – Nick Swisher (RF)
R – Francisco Cervelli (C)
S – Ramiro Peña (SS)
R – Kevin Russo (3B)
R – Eduardo Nuñez (2B)
R – A.J. Burnett (R)

Subs: Juan Miranda (1B), Russo (2B), Reegie Corona (2B), Jorge Vazquez (3B), P.J. Pilittere (C), David Winfree (RF), Greg Golson (CF), Jon Weber (LF)

Pitchers (IP): A.J. Burnett (4), Royce Ring (1/3), Phil Hughes (4 1/3)

Big Hits: A two-run, two-out homer by Mark Teixeira off Cole Hamels. Teixeira went 4-for-4 in the game, adding a double and two singles for eight total bases. A triple by Ramiro Peña (2-for-4). Doubles by Tex, Curtis Granderson (2-for-3, BB), Kevin Russo (1-for-4), Eduardo Nuñez (1-for-3), and Jon Weber (1-for-1 and now hitting .571 on the spring with four doubles but no other extra base hits and no walks).

Who Pitched Well: Royce Ring retired the only man he faced, lefty Raul Ibañez. So there was that.

Who Didn’t: A.J. Burnett started the game by giving up a double to Jimmy Rollins and a two-run homer to Placido Polanco on his way to a five-run first-inning. Though he didn’t allow a run in his next three frames and struck out four, he was responsible for seven hits, three walks, and a wild pitch. Phil Hughes reportedly impressed, walking no one, striking out six, and continuing to work with his changeup, getting one of those Ks with the pitch. Still, he gave up three home runs in his 4 1/3 innings, including a two-run walk-off by Wilson Valdez. Reports were that the wind was blowing out and that Valdez’s homer and the solo shot by Dane Sardinha were both wall-scrapers. Still, I have a hard time putting a pitcher who gave up 16 bases off hits, including a game-winning homer, in the above category. Can we get a ruling on this?

Meanwhile, in the intrasquad simulated game: Facing a lineup that included Randy Winn, Jamie Hoffmann, Mike Rivera, Juan Miranda, Jon Weber, Marcus Thames, Reid Gorecki, and Greg Golson, Joba Chamberlain gave up two runs on six hits and a walk while striking out just one in five innings. Those two runs came in the fourth which opened with a Gorecki double, a Hoffmann walk, and a Miranda double that drove in both runners. Outside of that three-batter sequence, Joba was sharp, getting tons of ground balls and a few infield-pop ups. He got four outs in the bottom of the fifth and just two of the 16 outs he recorded came on fly balls to the outfield, while six of them came on ground-ball double plays. Still, that lone strikeout is discouraging. I can’t say I feel much better about Chamberlain’s outing than I do about Hughes’, though both actually pitched pretty well, or so it seems.

Ouchies: Mike Rivera has a sore hamstring.

Cuts: Between Sunday and Monday, the Yankees farmed out ten players and dumped one other. They are:

Jamie Hoffmann, the Rule 5 pick received via the Nationals in exchange for Brian Bruney was returned to the Dodgers, putting an end to a complete waste of everyone’s time. Hoffmann hit .130/.259/.174 in 23 spring at-bats.

Reegie Corona, who will play second base in Double- or Triple-A depending on where Kevin Russo winds up.

Eduardo Nuñez, who will play shortstop in Double- or Triple-A depending on where Ramiro Peña winds up. Both Nuñez and Corona are on the 40-man roster and were optioned down.

Jorge Vazquez, who could actually wind up playing third base in Scranton, but more likely will split first base and DH with Juan Miranda and Jesus Montero’s days off from catching.

Brandon Laird, who should play third base in Double-A.

Colin Curtis, who impressed in camp with a supposedly rebuilt swing, going 6-for-12 with a double and two homers and two talks against just one strikeout, that after hitting .397/.472/.731 in 78 at-bats in the Arizona Fall League. Still, he should have to prove it in the unfriendly hitting environment of Trenton before anyone really takes the 25-year-old busted prospect seriously.

Reid Gorecki, who will likely be the fourth outfielder in Scranton.

Jesus Montero, who will be the starting catcher in Triple-A and be given serious consideration as a mid-season DH replacement should Nick Johnson’s annual DL stay be a long one.

Austin Romine, who will be the starting catcher in Double-A and could move up to fill Montero’s spot in Triple-A if/when Montero gets the call.

Jason Hirsh, who impressed in camp, striking out five in 3 2/3 innings with a hit batsman as the only blight on his record. He will be in the Triple-A rotation and should be on the short list of pitching replacements for both the rotation and bullpen.

Dustin Moseley, who posted a 9.95 ERA in camp and, in my opinion, doesn’t deserve a spot in the Scranton rotation, though he seems to be in line for one.

For more on these 11 players, see my campers post.

Battles: The battle for the backup infield spot is now clearly down to Ramiro Peña and Kevin Russo. Peña is the defense-first choice. Russo is the offense-first choice.

The battle for the fifth outfielder spot is now down to Marcus Thames, David Winfree, and Greg Golson. Jon Weber is still in camp and has hit well, but he’s a left-handed hitter and the Yankees want someone who can spell the lefty-hitting Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner against lefties (though Gardner doesn’t need a platoon partner). Winfree is hitting .278 with just one walk and no extra-base hits. Thames is hitting .107 with just one walk and no extra-base hits. Both are non-roster players. Golson, whom I didn’t think was a legitimate contender, has hit .300 with two walks and three extra-base hits and is a strong defensive center fielder to boot. Golson could use more development time to reach his potential, but he has only struck out four times in 20 spring at-bats and is already on the 40-man roster.

The only non-roster pitchers still in camp are Royce Ring, who is challenging Boone Logan for a second-lefty job that probably doesn’t exist, Amaury Sanit, the Cuba defector, and Zach Segovia. None of those three has been charged with a run yet this spring, but I don’t expect any of them to make the team.

, then gave up three more runs
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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver