According to multiple reports, the Cardinals have agreed to a four-year contract with Cuban infielder Aledmys Diaz. The deal is reportedly worth a little less than $20M. The Yankees had interest in Diaz and even had him in camp for a private workout a few weeks ago, but they ultimately decided not to make a contract offer. Oh well.
In what was easily the most competitive game of the spring, the Yankees and Rays played to a 3-3 tie this afternoon. Joe Girardi managed to win, pinch-running when the Yankees were down a run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He also pinch-hit Scott Sizemore for Mason Williams to get the platoon advantage. The pinch-runner (Antoan Richardson) came around to score on a wild pitch. Pretty fun.
David Phelps was very strong, allowing three hits in five scoreless innings. He struck out one, walked zero, and recorded eight ground ball outs. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and struck out twice, Alfonso Soriano singled twice in three at-bats, and both Carlos Beltran and Derek Jeter took an 0-for-3. Jose Pirela had two hits off the bench. Dellin Betances continued his strong spring with another scoreless inning, striking out one and pitching around a double. Matt Daley chucked a scoreless frame as well. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here’s the rest from Tampa.
- The Yankees announced the first roster cuts of the year: Jose Ramirez (oblique) and Francisco Rondon (shoulder). Both have been sent down to minor league camp. Neither pitched this spring due to their injuries. Ramirez is on the 40-man roster, so was optioned down. There are still 64 players in big league camp.
- Kelly Johnson left today’s game after taking a fastball to the back, but he is fine. It was probably going to be his final at-bat of the day anyway. Johnson had an uneventful first day at first base, making all the routine plays. [Andrew Marchand]
- Hiroki Kuroda, David Robertson, and Matt Thornton all threw their scheduled bullpens. Tyler Austin (wrist) hit, either in the cage or regular batting practice. Scott Sizemore has been playing with a brace on his left knee following back-to-back torn ACLs. [Chad Jennings]
- Brendan Ryan (oblique) is feeling better and better. He hopes to return to game action on Wednesday. [Bryan Hoch]
- Tomorrow is the team’s first off-day of the Grapefruit League schedule and it’s a total off-day. A few guys might come in for extra work or medical treatment, but there are no workouts are scheduled at all.
Here is your nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game will
not be replayed on television anywhere replayed at midnight on MLB Network, after they re-air the Mets and Braves later tonight. The Nets are playing as well. You folks know how this works by now, so have at it.
Now that Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Manny Banuelos, and Mark Teixeira have made their Spring Training debuts, I feel like all the major milestones have passed. Well, we still haven’t seen Pineda pitch in a televised game, but that’ll happen Thursday. Eyes were on those guys for obvious reasons these last few weeks and now that they’ve all gotten their first games under the belt, it’s back to business as usual and preparing for the season.
Kelly Johnson will start this afternoon’s game at first base for the first time this spring and only the third time in his career. He played three games (two starts) and 18 total innings at first last season, his only other experience at the position. Given the roster, Johnson is Teixeira’s backup at first pretty much by default, so learning the position and getting comfortable around the bag will be pretty important. His first real test of the spring is today.
The Rays are up from Port Charlotte for this afternoon’s game and they brought a pretty representative squad. Desmond Jennings, Matt Joyce, Wil Myers, James Loney, Ryan Hanigan, and Jose Molina all made the trip. Former Yankee Jayson Nix will be in the starting lineup as well. Chris Archer, who dominated the Yankees in three starts last summer (three runs and 12 hits in 22 innings), will be on the mound. Here is Joe Girardi‘s starting lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- RF Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- 1B Kelly Johnson
- 2B Brian Roberts
- DH Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Yangervis Solarte
And on the mound is right-hander David Phelps, whose has some more serious competition for the fifth starter’s spot now that Pineda is pitching in games. Phelps is likely scheduled for four innings or 60-65 pitches, give or take.
Available Pitchers: RHP Dellin Betances, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Bruce Billings, RHP Danny Burawa, and RHP Matt Daley are all scheduled to pitch. RHP Preston Claiborne, RHP Branden Pinder, LHP Jeremy Bleich, and SwP Pat Venditte are the extra arms.
Available Position Players: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Russ Canzler, 2B Zelous Wheeler, SS Dean Anna, 3B Jose Pirela, LF Ramon Flores, CF Mason Williams, RF Adonis Garcia, and DH Jose Gil will be the second string off the bench. C Francisco Arcia, C Peter O’Brien, C Gary Sanchez, IF Corban Joseph, OF Zoilo Almonte, and OF Antoan Richardson are also available if needed.
It’s nice and sunny down in Tampa, with temperatures in the mid-70s. No chance of rain or anything like that. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and the game will be broadcast live on YES and MLB.tv. Enjoy.
The Yankees won their third straight Grapefruit League game this afternoon, beating the Astros 9-6 in a back and forth affair. Ivan Nova got hit around really hard in the first inning but settled down in the next three. His finished with three runs allowed on eight hits in four innings, striking out five and walking zero. Manny Banuelos got roughed up in his spring debut. Five relievers combined to allow only two hits in the final 4.1 innings.
At the plate, Brett Gardner went 1-for-4 with a single while Mark Teixeira went 1-for-2 with a double off the wall (as a right-handed batter), a walk, and a strikeout. Kelly Johnson had a walk and a two-run homer in three plate appearances. Dean Anna and Austin Romine both had two singles and Mason Williams had the double off the wall you see in the video above. He also got picked off first base later in the game. Here’s the box score and video highlights, and here’s the rest from Tampa.
- The upcoming rotation: David Phelps (Sunday), Monday off, CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka (Tuesday, Tanaka will throw a simulated game), Hiroki Kuroda (Wednesday), Michael Pineda and Nova (Thursday, split squad games), Phelps (Friday), Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren (Saturday, Tampa and Panama), Tanaka and Sabathia (Sunday, Tampa and Panama). [Chad Jennings]
- Because of the Panama games, the first round of roster cuts will come later than usual this spring. They simply need the extra bodies since they’ll be playing seven games in four days from Thursday through Sunday. Joe Girardi is heading to Panama and third base coach Rob Thomson will serve as manager for the games in Tampa. [George King]
- Johnson will get his first start at first base tomorrow. He’s the backup first baseman by default. Bench coach Tony Pena ran him through a scooping drill today by hitting hard hit ground balls at him from second base. [Jorge Castillo]
- Brendan Ryan is “nicked up” and will be out until the middle of next week with a back/oblique issue. It isn’t considered a long-term problem. [Erik Boland]
- Sabathia and Tanaka threw their usual between-starts bullpen sessions. Tyler Austin did not hit today, but it was a scheduled day off for him and his balky wrist, not a setback. [Jennings]
This is your nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game will not be replayed anywhere, though MLB Network will carry and the Mariners and Dodgers live later tonight. The Devils and Knicks are both playing as well. Talk about anything and everything right here.
It didn’t go particularly well, but left-hander Manny Banuelos made his first spring appearance of the year this afternoon. He has missed nearly two full years following a pair of elbow injuries (bone bruise and Tommy John surgery). The first three batters he faced reached base, including a double by Jose Altuve (GIF) and a three-run blast by Chris Carter (video). Banuelos settled down to retire the next two batters before reaching his pitch count and being lifted.
I unofficially had Banuelos at eleven strikes and nine balls in the 20-pitch outing. He threw almost all fastballs with a handful curveballs but no changeups, his trademark pitch. Erik Boland says a scout had him at 92-94 mph with “no reason to think he can’t rebound” from the injuries. Banuelos was a little wild but that isn’t too surprising after missing two years. Hopefully he throws a few more innings in camp and fares a little better. Either way, the Yankees have already said he’s all but a lock to start the season in Triple-A. Makes sense.
There are a few more GIFs after the jump. As you can see, the camera angle during the broadcast was just awful. The center field camera must have been out in the parking lot somewhere. You can click each GIF for a larger view.
Last night, Michael Pineda return to a Spring Training mound for the first time in nearly two full years following shoulder surgery. He was impressive, or so we’ve heard. The game was not televised but the always fun anonymous scout quotes indicated he looked strong and better than he did the last time we saw him, in the weeks before he blew out his shoulder.
This afternoon, another one of the Yankees’ promising young starters will return to the mound. Left-hander Manny Banuelos is scheduled to throw an inning after missing most of the last two years with elbow problems, first a bone bruise and then Tommy John surgery. He threw in simulated games and in Instructional League last fall, but this is his first time in something that resembles a competitive environment. It’s easy to forget Banuelos is still only 22 after all the lost time. Getting him back and healthy would be a big boost to the organization going forward.
The Yankees are on the road this afternoon, making the short-ish trip up to Kissimmee to play the Astros. Mark Teixeira is in the lineup for the second time as he works his way back from wrist surgery, and Scott Sizemore is starting a game for the first time this spring. He’s missed most of the last two years due to back-to-back torn left ACLs. Dexter Fowler, Jose Altuve, and Jason Castro are all in Houston’s lineup. Hard-throwing righty Jarred Cosart will be on the hill for them. Here’s the Yankees’ starting lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Kelly Johnson
- C Frankie Cervelli
- SS Dean Anna
- 3B Scott Sizemore
- LF Zoilo Almonte
- RF Mason Williams
And on the mound is right-hander Ivan Nova, who was very impressive last time out. As good as I’ve ever seen him, regular season or otherwise. He’s probably scheduled for something like four innings or 65 pitches.
Available Pitchers: LHP Manny Banuelos, LHP Cesar Cabral, RHP David Herndon, and LHP Fred Lewis are all scheduled to pitch. Herndon, a sleeper for one of the open bullpen spots, will be making his spring debut after missing most of last season due to Tommy John surgery. RHP Chase Whitley, RHP Chris Leroux, RHP Mark Montgomery, and RHP Danny Burawa also made the trip and are available if needed.
Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Corban Joseph, 2B Jose Pirela, SS Yangervis Solarte, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Ramon Flores, CF Antoan Richardson, RF Adonis Garcia, and DH Peter O’Brien will all come off the bench to replace the starters. C Francisco Arcia, C/1B Jose Gil, and C Gary Sanchez also made the trip.
It’s sunny with temperatures in the upper-60s in Kissimmee, so good weather for baseball. Today’s game will be broadcast live on MLB Network and MLB.tv, but not the YES Network. YES usually doesn’t travel for Spring Training games. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET and, by the way, the new expanded replay system will be available. Enjoy the game.
In his first Grapefruit League game in nearly two years, Michael Pineda struck out four and allowed a single in two scoreless innings of work against the Tigers on Friday night. The four hitters he struck out were Austin Jackson, Danny Worth, Rajai Davis, and Miguel Cabrera. Three legit big leaguers, including the best hitter on the planet. Not bad. Twenty-one of his 27 pitches were strikes.
According to Joel Sherman, Pineda’s fastball was clocked mostly in the 90-92 mph range with one 93. His slider was 80-82 mph. Not bad velocity following shoulder surgery but obviously not where he was sitting during his All-Star rookie season in 2011. “If I’m the Yankees, I’m pleased. Enough velocity. Sharp with slider and location. Appeared confident and aggressive,” said a scout to Sherman. So far, so good. Pineda’s next start will be Thursday’s game, which will air on YES and MLB.tv.
The Yankees are at home playing the Tigers tonight, but unfortunately the game will not be broadcast anywhere. Not on television, not on the radio, not online. That really bites because Michael Pineda is scheduled to come out of the bullpen to make his first Spring Training appearance in nearly two years, and I know lots of people (myself included) want to get a look at him. Sucks.
Hiroki Kuroda is getting the start, then David Robertson will come out the bullpen before Pineda. Alfonso Soriano is playing in right field for the first time not just this spring, but his entire career. He’s never played a game at the position before and given the current roster, he’s expected to split time there with Carlos Beltran this summer. Tonight is his first test as part of what amounts to a Spring Training crash course. You can follow the game on Gameday right here. Here’s the rest of the news from Tampa.
- Vidal Nuno (simulated game) and Adam Warren (bullpen) were among the pitchers to throw. Slade Heathcott (knee surgery) will hit off a tee for the first time tomorrow but he is not yet working out in the outfield. [Chad Jennings]
- Jose Ramirez (oblique) is getting better, but he is still receiving treatment and not scheduled to return to the mound anytime soon. Francisco Rondon (shoulder) will throw his first bullpen session tomorrow. [Marly Rivera]
- Robertson, Soriano, Beltran, Warren, Derek Jeter, Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, CC Sabathia, and Dean Anna are among those who will travel to Panama for the exhibition games next weekend. Sabathia and Warren will start the two games. [Mark Feinsand, Jennings]
Here is your open thread for the night. As I said, tonight’s game is not being broadcast anywhere. Here’s the Gameday link one more time. MLB Network will re-air a different game later tonight and all five of the hockey and basketball locals are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here. Enjoy.
Yogi Berra’s wife Carmen has passed away due to complications from a stroke suffered earlier this year, reports the Daily News. She was 85. The two celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on January 26th. “She died peacefully — she went the way she would have wanted to. We’re grateful that she and dad were able to spend some good time together (Thursday),” said Larry Berra, their son.
Carmen and Yogi met in St. Louis in the 1940s, at a restaurant where she worked as a waitress. Yogi was a minor leaguer and had just returned from serving in World War II at the time. Carmen played a big role in the operation of the Yogi Berra Museum in New Jersey, primarily working with donors and fund-raising events. Our condolences go out to Yogi, his family, and friends.
Last year, the Yankees got close to zero help from their farm system. The only player to come up from the minors and establish himself as a big leaguer was Adam Warren, who spent the year as the swingman. Guys like David Adams, Preston Claiborne, and Zoilo Almonte got off to hot starts, but they all tailed off once they were pressed into regular playing time. Austin Romine also failed to impress as the backup catcher. The system offered close to no help as the injuries mounted and the poor stretches turned into poor seasons.
The Yankees were not oblivious to this — Hal Steinbrenner called a staff meeting and essentially had the scouting and player development staff audited to figure out why there were no internal solution. No major personnel changes were made, but some procedural changes were implemented and the minor league complex in Tampa was renovated. Turning around the system probably won’t happen overnight, but the team did take some steps in the right direction these last few months.
At some point this season, the Yankees will have to dip into their farm system for help. It’s inevitable. Injuries will strike and fringe players will play their way off the roster. When that happens, the first attempt at fixing the problem will come from within. The Yankees have shown they will be patient and not jump right into the trade market when they need help these last few years and I have no reason to think that will change in 2014. Here are the prospects who could come up and help the MLB team this summer.
Catcher: John Ryan Murphy
Murphy, 22, got his first taste of the big leagues late last year, but that was nothing more than a September cup of coffee following a breakout season in Double-A and Triple-A. He hit .269/.347/.426 with 29 doubles and 12 homers between the two levels and has improved so much defensively that he is now viewed as a no doubt catcher long-term. Had the Yankees not signed Brian McCann, the temptation to start Murphy in 2014 would have been be great. Instead, he figures to bide his time in Triple-A and await an injury after jumping Romine on the depth chart. Of course, he might be nothing more than trade bait. Sleeper: Eh, there really isn’t a sleeper behind the plate for 2014.
Infield: Dean Anna
Similar to Murphy, Anna figures to be the first called up whenever injury strikes the infield. The Yankees acquired the 27-year-old from the Padres in a minor offseason deal and he can do a little of everything except hit for power. He can get on base and play both second and short, where the offensive bar is pretty low. I’d say the chances of Anna coming up and being an impact player this summer are remote, but he does enough to potentially help the team both at the plate and in the field if pressed into duty. Sleeper: Jose Pirela, who’s hit .264/.334/.401 and played four positions (second, short, third, left) at Double-A the last three years.
Outfield: Zoilo Almonte
Technically, Almonte had his chance to help the MLB team last year. He came up in mid-June and had five pretty great games to start his career, but it went downhill fast and he finished the year with a .236/.274/.302 batting line in 113 big league plate appearances around an ankle injury. Almonte, 24, offers sound corner outfield defense and a switch-hitting bat, and there’s a case to be made that he’s a better fit for the bench than Ichiro Suzuki right now. Instead of making the Opening Day roster, Zoilo will have to settle for a trip to Triple-A, where he will be the first called up whenever an extra outfield body is needed. He’s the clear first in line. Sleeper: Ronnie Mustelier, who didn’t get a shot last year but could hit his way into the conversation again.
Right-handers: Dellin Betances, Mark Montgomery, Jose Ramirez
Of everyone in this post, the 25-year-old Betances probably has the best chance to crack the Opening Day roster. He finally found something resembling sustained success in the bullpen last year, pitching to a 2.06 ERA with a 93/28 K/BB in 65.2 innings after shifting into a relief role. It feels like a foregone conclusion that Betances will get a chance to not only stick in the big leagues this year, but also assume a high-profile, late-inning role. The time is now for Dellin.
Had Montgomery not gotten hurt last year, he probably would have been called up instead of Claiborne. Instead, the 23-year-old struggled to throw strikes while missing time with shoulder problems. Montgomery will likely have to show he’s back to being the guy he was from 2011-12 before getting a chance to help the MLB team with his wipeout slider. Ramirez, 24, has had trouble staying healthy over the years and sure enough, he’s already been sidelined with an oblique problem in camp. When right, his fastball-changeup combination is electric and could have a huge impact out of the bullpen, assuming the Yankees are ready to give up on him as a starter given his career-long lack of durability. Sleeper: Danny Burawa, assuming he can figure out how consistently throw strikes.
Left-handers: Cesar Cabral, Vidal Nuno
I wouldn’t be a complete shock if either Cabral or Nuno made the Opening Day roster, but, more likely, they figure to serve as up and down arms this season. The 25-year-old Cabral is a pure lefty specialist with a low-90s fastball and a sweepy slider, and his late-season cameo was impressive (nine lefties faced, six strikeouts). Nuno, 26, has a deep enough repertoire to start and we saw him do that last summer before his groin injury. In a perfect world, he’d turn into a left-handed 2009 Al Aceves, a rubber-armed swingman who could come in for one batter or four innings without much of a problem. Sleeper: Fred Lewis, who lacks sexy numbers but has the fastball-slider combination to help as a specialist.
* * *
The Yankees do not have a Xander Bogaerts or a Gregory Polanco in their farm system, that super high upside MLB ready prospect with a clear path to big league playing time in 2014. Any help they get from within this summer figures to come in small doses, from bench players or relievers. Sure, Murphy could take over as the starter if McCann gets hurt or Nuno could grab the fifth starter’s spot and run with it, but that would be a surprise. The system is not a position to provide an immediate impact right now unless it involves trading prospects for a big leaguer.