Monday, February 28, 2011

Burnett's Crazy, Man!

So apparently AJ Burnett tried to kill Greg Golson while throwing live BP. I'm pretty sure Burnett hit a player last year in Spring Training too. Rothschild must be wondering if there is some sort of clause that let's him back out of his contract with the Yankees at this point. If I were him, I would quickly plan an unexplained month long absence circa June. There's really no other choice at this point.

Ivan Nova Impresses

While things are still way too early to tell, Ivan Nova took a good first step this spring training pitching 2 scoreless innings inducing 4 groundballs and 2 strikeouts. I say its a good first step, but its smart to remain skeptical. It is the first outing after all and hitters are still getting used to how heavy the bat feels, while pitchers are still trying to remember which one their glove hand is. There's also the simple fact that Nova never had a problem getting through the first few innings. It was always the second time through the lineup that he ran into trouble. But that being said, it was an encouraging outing, and since we have suspect rotation pieces, its a good sign early in the spring. Unlike this ice rain we're having up north, which has found its way through my hatchway and into my basement giving me the in-door swimming pool I've always dreamed off.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tomorrow Bartolo Colon Pitches

Tomorrow we'll begin to get a look at some of the competition for the back end of the rotation. If prior spring training memories serve me correctly, Colon will only pitch a couple innings, but at the very least we'll know if his command is really what they're saying it is. Good command, even with a lackluster fastball, can produce good results. Mike Mussina's 20 win season was made more impressive with his 85 mph fastball missing bats. The problem is that Mussina was always a finesse pitcher and Colon was always a power pitcher. Tomorrow we'll get our first food for thought in the great rotation rounding debate.

Martin Learning the Pitching Staff

Among the challenges Russell Martin faces this Spring Training, is getting to know all of his pitchers. The fact that the Yankees don't really know who all of those pitchers are doesn't help, but even getting to know the three certain members of the rotation in such a short time may prove difficult.

"It's important to get off on the right foot," explained Martin. "Like the first day I got to camp, there's this kid sitting in the clubhouse. He was just sitting there, looking at me. So I signed a baseball and gave it to him. Turns out that was Phil Hughes. He's still not talking to me. So that's not a good example."

Besides trying to get Phil Hughes to acknowledge him in public, Martin is also trying to build a good rapport with the Yankees' most enigmatic pitcher, AJ Burnett.

"Everyone knows he's got great stuff, it's just getting him to harness it," says Martin about his job as AJ's catcher. "He's got tattoos too. Funny story, the first day I walked into the clubhouse, there's this guy with spiked hair and a bunch of tattoos, kind of looking like a high school drop out who had made a series of increasingly poor life decisions. I'm all, 'Hey dude, not to be a d@#k, but you've gotta do a better job cleaning this place up. There's $#!% all over the place!' Turns out that was Burnett. People should wear name tags the first day of camp. Really."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Boy Meets His Idol

Among the new faces at camp this year is off-season target, well, sort of, Rafael Soriano. A closer turned set-up man, Soriano recently got to meet his boyhood idol, Mariano Rivera, when Mo finally arrived in camp (Mo does what he wants).

"It was a strange first meeting," recounted Soriano. "When you close, you want to be the best, and Mo is the best. I alway tried to emulate him. When we met, I'm all, 'Hi I'm Rafael, like the ninja turtle.' He's all, 'I'm Mo, as in way mo' saves than you, %!*@#' I wept for days. Why would you introduce yourself to someone like that? But then Jeter pointed out that Mo did have way more saves than me. But I'm like, 'He didn't need to call me a %!*@# though!' And Jete's all, 'You've been weeping for days!' So I guess Mo was right on both counts."

Where's the Follow-up Question?

This article over at discusses future Yankees set-up man Joakim Soria's desire to rid himself of his current nickname due to its violent connotations. No problem there. I do, however, have a problem with this sentence:

"Soria pointed out that Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, two of the best closers in history, have no nicknames."

Umm . . . We call Mo, 'Mo' and 'Sandman'. I'm pretty sure that for years Hoffman had been known as 'That old guy who still closes.' Get your facts straight people.

This Year's Nick Johnson?

Not to jinx anyone, and I do hope I'm wrong, but I think Russell Martin will be this year's Nick Johnson. His knee still isn't ready to go, and all this talk of stiffness has me a little worried. The Yanks aren't pushing it, but a surgically repaired knee (and hip) is a surgically repaired knee (and hip). It's not even about setbacks. Maybe it's not 100% because it's not the same knee anymore. I hope I'm wrong, but if I had to guess at the player least likely to contribute this year due to injuries, right now I'm looking at Martin.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Scary Stuff

Interesting article by Bob Klapisch on Jorge Posada's having potentially suffered two concussions last season. Thanks to LoHud for the heads up. Just for some additional context, here is an SI article about Justin Morneau who says he is still not 100% after having suffered a concussion trying to break up a double play last July.

Hank Hates Mansions Part II

Now that some time has passed since Hank's statement about mansion building, he has had time to recant and re-think his statement. He said that that specific statement was not directed at Jeter, instead it was directed at all those other Yankee players building mansions last year, which was apparently more than we thought.

"Everyone was building mansions last year." Explained Hank Steinbrenner. "Donald Trump, Jay-Z, Colonel Sanders, all of them. It wasn't just Jeter."

But when told that none of those individuals play for the Yankees, Steinbrenner gave a more complete explanation.

"Look, mansion building distracts baseball players. It doesn't matter if you're the one building it or not. Every day I'd walk in the clubhouse and the players would be reading the latest news on Donald Trump's new mansion. I'd ask them why they weren't taking batting practice and they'd tell me, they were more interested in the bathroom curtains that Trump was choosing for his latest monstrosity."

So there you have it, Hank was not actually refering to Derek Jeter's mansion, but mansion building in general, which apparently acts as a distraction to baseball players everywhere.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Hank Hates Mansions

Hank Steinbrenner, who I assume will shortly no longer be allowed to speak to the media, has called out his team for being too busy building mansions last year to bother winning a World Series. Of course, only one player was building a mansion in 2010, the offensively challenged Derek Jeter.

"Look it's one thing to build a publicly financed stadium with more luxury boxes, less seats for the public, and a moat around a special section of seats behind home plate. But when you're building a mansion, during the season, that's unacceptable", explained Hank.

When RJG caught up with Jeter, he was surprisingly gracious about Hank's apparent shot across the bow.

"Look, building a house is distracting. Sometimes you're up at the plate and all you can think of is whether you should've gone with platinum embossed bathroom fixtures instead of gold. Maybe you should've built a higher fence. Maybe the lighting in the memorabilia room won't be ideal. It's very hard to play baseball and build a house. I'm still not in love with those curtain rods."

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What's Happening?

Has the media grown bored with A-Rod? The guy shows up to Spring Training lighter than usual and all I come across are articles about Jeter's road to 3,000. Two years ago I would've been reading about suspicions of an eating disorder and how his relationship with some starlet is the cause of the weight loss. We've already had an incredibly boring Winter, I don't want an entire Spring of boring baseball related coverage too. These guys just do drills for weeks, have one fun day, and then play games whose box scores I will still read, but not study diligently. I expect more from you, news media.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spring Training Coverage

A couple of news items from the first few days of camp. CC has indicated he may opt-out of his contract at the end of the season. I think in response the Yankees should just opt-out this season. Just go ahead and stop paying him. See how he likes it.

Joba Chamberlain has arrived at camp noticeably heavier than he was last year. How much heavier? The scale broke when he stepped on it so nobody knows, which is a smart move on the part of the young pitcher.

Posada says he's comfortable with his new role as DH. You know that's a lie because if he was comfortable being the DH he would've arrived next week with the rest of the position players. Instead he's in camp this week going, “I'm still a catcher right? Guys? I can still catch every now and again? I'll still catch. I'm still the catcher.”

Burnett is also a hot topic of discussion. Can Rothschild fix him? Teach him to consistently repeat his mechanics? Probably not. Well . . . I didn't say it was a long discussion.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Would You Make This Deal?

Ken Rosenthal wrote an article offering a hypothetical trade idea where the Cardinals would trade Albert Pujols to the Yankees for Mark Teixeira. Its not a trade that's actually being talked about by the Yankees, just one that Rosenthal is suggesting. The basic situation is that Pujols wants a ton of money and the Cardinals are having a hard time working out an extension with him. The Yankees, who failed to do anything of real discernable value this off season, could look to make a big splash with this kind of deal. So would you trade Teixeira for Pujols?

I personally am not so sure. If I'm building a team there's no doubt I choose Pujols over Teixeira to play first. Especially considering Teixeira's three month warm up period before he remembers how to hit each year. But the truth is Pujols could realistically be looking for $30 million a season, which is crazy! Even for a player of his caliber. I wouldn't be upset if the Yankees made this deal, but I would be surprised that they pursued it. Teixeira can swing a bat, and he's certainly one of the best defensive first baseman in the game. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rock it Don't Shock it

Today spring training really starts, and this spring training opens up with a lot of questions that direct competition will have to sort out. Who will back up Russell Martin as the catcher? Who will round out the back end of our rotation? Who will end up in our bullpen? What about our bench? But the most intriguing question of all is who will Cashman bring in? Cashman mentioned yesterday that if there is a deal to be made he's ready to rock and roll. However, he meant it literally. If a starting pitcher becomes available Cashman will go back on tour with his garage band named B. Cash's Budget Smashers! Although some fans are excited for the bands reunion, I'm more intrigued by the slim options. Names the Yankees have been tied to include Scott Kazmir and Francisco Liriano in the trade market, and Kevin Millwood in the free agent market. I still think Liriano is the best option, though Kazmir could be that ever elusive lightning in a bottle. Millwood might work out as he's one year removed from a respectable line in the AL (3.67 ERA in 31 game starts for Texas in 2009). But that smell in the air is the smell of opportunity, unless you're in Newark in which case you're smelling something else, but down in Florida, anything can happen.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Let's Start It Like This Son

That's right. A Raekwon reference. Deal with it. Today pitchers and catchers report. That basically means pitchers and catchers have to at least call someone and let them know that they are in the state of Florida. Or on the way. Or planning on coming. Tomorrow is when baseball season really begins. First workouts. Sure, it's mostly stretching and going over locker assignments, but it's still a workout of sorts. A ball or two may even be thrown. Soon position players will join their battery mate mates, then it's really on. We can finally taste baseball again. In an off-season where the wisdom of our biggest moves were highly debatable (Mo AND Jeter to multi-year deals?), we can finally focus on what is important. Namely A-Rod.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Francisco Liriano

The latest news is that with the Twins going into spring training with 6 starters for 5 spots, they may look into trading Francisco Liriano. Any starter who is up for trade is going to register on the Yankees radar and no doubt this has. Liriano is an intriguing option. Back in 2006 it looked like him and Johan Santana were going to become the best 1-2 pitchers in all of baseball. From there they looked poised to start a chain restaurant together cashing in on their fame, and staring in movies along side Brad Pitt, designing airplanes and stuff like that. But then Liriano needed the Tommy John. He missed all of 2007, and came back in 2008 making 14 starts with respectable numbers (3.91 ERA). 2009 proved to be very difficult for Liriano as he posted a career high 5.80 ERA. He apparently missed Johan Santana and rumors that the movie deal with Brad Pitt were falling through were clearly on his mind. He came back last year determined to get that movie deal back and pitched very well. He made 31 starts with a 3.62 ERA giving up just 9 homeruns over 191.2 innings. But then something happened. Brad Pitt no longer wanted to do a sequel to Troy, and Liriano's dream role as Paris just wasn't going to happen. With his focus now solely on baseball, the question is what are we willing to give for a player like Liriano? A left-hander owed just $4.3 million this season, but who comes with some injury concerns?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vizcaino's Contract Voided

The Yankees have reportedly voided releiver Luis Vizcaino's minor league contract after he injured his achilles playing winter ball. Aparently while storming the walls of Troy, he was struck by an arrow guided by the greek sun god Apollo who Vizcaino had insulted when he chopped off the head of a statue bearing his image. He then spray painted large eye brows on the Apollo head, and later put a Grocho Marx mask on it and a cigarette in its lips. This final act didn't sit well with Apollo who gave up smoking years ago. Its bad for you. So anyways, the big news is that Vizcaino's contract with the Yankees has been voided, though the even bigger news is that we had ever signed him in the first place. When asked about the voiding Brian Cashman had this insight: "When did we sign Vizcaino?" Indeed.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Breaking News: Jeter Does Not Have Crystal Ball

After years of speculation this story finally comes to rest. Rumors had abounded as to whether or not Jeter had powers of clarvoyence or soothsaying. These rumors later led to the ultimate conclusion that Jeter owned a crystal ball, which he could use to see the future. Jeter dispelled this rumor to the chagrin of gypsy Yankee fans everywhere:

“I’m not a fortune teller." Jeter said "I don’t have a crystal ball at the house. I have a job to do (this season).” Source.

With this controversy out of the way, it is widely believed that Jeter will now be able to focus on baseball and have a major come back this year.

"Yes, this controversy's been hanging over his head his entire career." Explained newly converted DH Jorge Posada. "Last year it really came to a head, effecting his performance on the field. He would go out to play, and the fans would be ruthless. They would call him names like "fortune teller" and "diviner" and say "Hey Jeter, why don't you tell me which stocks are going to climb tomorrow." and stuff like that. It really wore him down. Then in the clubhouse all the guys would want him to read their palms. It just wasn't fair to him."

But with the controversy put to rest, it is only natural to expect an MVP for the aged shortstop next season.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Early Arrivals

With the first early arrivals to Tampa, we're finally smelling baseball in the air again. So far Hughes and Jeter have arrived early. Both actually live in Tampa so they technically arrived early back in October, but that's besides the point. We're close now. Real close. Soon we'll find out who will play on our bench. We'll find out who will fill out far too many rotation spots. In more problematic news, A-Rod was seen at the Super Bowl last night being fed popcorn by Cameron Diaz. With Spring Training just around the corner, shouldn't he be watching his diet more strictly? He better be in shape when he gets to Tampa, or Cash is really going to have toe a hard line when it comes to negotiating A-Rod's next contract (you know Hank will make him do it).

Friday, February 4, 2011

Its Official: Andy Pettitte Retires

Its official, Andy Pettitte has announced his retirement from baseball, and will not pitch this season. I'm happy for Andy, because it seems like he's been wrestling with retirement for a few years now. He's finally at that point, and who can blame him? He wants to spend more time with family, and he's certainly has that right. Where that leaves the Yankee rotation is basically where it was prior to his retirement only without the speculative hope that Pettitte may return. I think the good thing is that we're not left wondering. We now know that he is not coming back, and we need to pull our attention to the next pipe dream. My new pipe dream is actually an old one, Felix Hernandez. Once the Mariners start sucking this year, I think the Yankees can make a strong push for him. I'd say June or July perhaps.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Positive Development

While the northeast has been covered in snow, and with more on the way, I started thinking what could help keep my spirits up on what has been a snowy miserable winter. The thought that spring training is just two weeks out would raise my spirits if it wasn't for the fact that the term "spring" is relative, and I'll still be covered in snow. No, the real glimmer of hope is that Joel Sherman is back from his vacation, and is updating his blog again. Though I can't say I always agree with Sherman, he is very knowledgable, always appears to have some insight that other reporters and writers don't have, and he builds his arguments well. In a recent post, Sherman mentioned the idea of seeing some of our pitching prospects compete for that 5th spot in the rotation. In other words, its not just Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon who are competing for that spot, but some of the prospects we've been hearing so much about. Personally, I think it would be a good idea to let the spot go to competition. Ivan Nova could win it, so could Mitre I suppose, but it would have to be with some of these triple A prospects in the mix. I think it would showcase a bit of our talent, and those who don't make it will at least get a feel for what it will take to make it in the majors. Perhaps things aren't as bad as they seem. If Burnett can become a passable starter, we really should be a competitive team. If Pettitte comes back its a completely different conversation.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yankees Sign Garcia: Nothing More to Worry About

The Yankees have signed formerly relevant starter Freddy Garcia to compete with Bartolo Colon to see which starter will be dropped first. Its a tough competition because Colon was the better pitcher in his prime, but has apparently taken to eating contests since then. Garcia was not the pitcher Colon was, but pitched last season with some success, and its worth seeing what his surgically repaired shoulder can do. After missing out on Duchscherer, probably the most promising of the rehab cases, the Yankees had few options left. One things for sure, if the Yankees think they can get Pettitte for $12 million they may be in for a surprise. It was just two seasons back Pettitte took an incentive-laden contract from the Yankees, which he considered insulting, and it doesn't take Scott Boras to see the leverage in this situation. If I were Pettitte I would propose another incentive-laden contract. He can take the $12 million as a base salary and then include incentives like for each win, the Yankees take him out for ice cream, and for 100 strikeouts, he gets an ipod, and maybe for his birthday, they have to give him a nice pair of slacks. Or he can just ask for the $16 million he was making before. Either way, the Yankees are going to pay up.