Peter Abraham checked in with his first on-field news roundup of the Grapefruit League, and it’s a good one. He has some updates on the Swisher/Nady situation and the center field battle. Most important, though, is his bullet on Joba. As we hinted at last week, the Yankees are going to use Joba as their fifth starter from Day One until he reaches his innings limits, and in the words of PeteAbe, there are “no plans to pitch him out of the bullpen.” I’m sure the usual talking heads will decry this decision, but it’s the right one for the good of the team.
It seems like every year the big stories at the beginning of Spring Training are about how Player X showed up looking trimmer than last year. Player Y looks to be in great shape. We saw that plenty of that last year, and I wouldn’t expect any different this year as we head into February. Up first this year: Robinson Cano. Kat O’Brien reports that he looks “very trim,” though we know that has little to do with how well he’ll perform.
The picture to the right is of Cano at a recent WBC workout for the Dominican team. It’s just one picture so it’s tough to tell if there’s any difference. According to O’Brien, Cano finished the year at 213 and now weights 208 (though she also notes that he probably played most of the year weighing more than 213). While it’s good to know that he did work out this off-season, it really means nothing in regards to his performance on the field. He’s put himself in a better position to succeed, no doubt, but he still has to prove it with the bat. It’s going to be tough to forget his slow starts the past two years.
Thankfully, Cano knows what’s at stake:
“I’ve just been working on my new stance,” Cano said, “just getting ready mentally and physically. … I know that I have to start in April, not in May or June.”
Or March, for that matter. Cano had a monster spring in 2008, hitting .446/.471/.646 in his 65 at bats. Even if he does tear it up again this March, we’ll be looking for how he transitions to April. Adding his bat early on could help the Yankees avoid the slow starts they’ve experienced the past two years.
The Yanks announced the list of players they’re inviting to Spring Training today, all twenty of them. Here’s the breakdown (PeteAbe gets enough links, so let’s give Mike Ashmore some love this time):
Catchers: Kyle Anson, Kevin Cash, Jesus Montero, PJ Pilittere, Austin Romine
Infielders: Doug Bernier, Angel Berroa, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo
Outfielders: Colin Curtis, Shelley Duncan, Austin Jackson, Justin Leone, Todd Linden, John Rodriguez
Pitchers: Kei Igawa, Jason Johnson, Mark Melancon, Sergio Mitre
Everyone on the 40-man roster tags along too, so the Yanks will have a total of sixty players in big league camp this year. Last year they had 66 players in camp; the only guy from last year’s group that’s still with the organization and healthy enough to participate in ST that didn’t get an invite this year is poor Eric Duncan. Can you call him poor when he got a $1,275,000 signing bonus? In reality, it is a shame what happened to the kid. He was one of the Yanks’ few legit prospects a few years ago, so they rushed him up the ladder to boost his trade value. For shame.
Todd Linden carved out a nice little niche for himself a few years ago as Barry Bonds’ late inning defensive replacement out in San Fran, but he’s got a 66 career OPS+ and a .290 wOBP. Bernier and Leone are just filler Triple-A guys, both can play a ton of positions. It’s unlikely either factors into the utility infielder situation, at least early in the year. Mitre is still rehabbing from having Tommy John surgery in July, so he’s just getting back on the bump.
Melancon was in camp last year despite having less than 8 pro innings under his belt after TJ, but he’ll be given every chance to win a bullpen gig this year. Montero, Romine, Jackson and Anson were in camp last year, but they’re just there for the experience. However with the WBC taking place this year, a lot of these young guys will be getting extended looks while the vets are off doing their thing. I’m looking forward to seeing Brackman more than anyone.
Anyway, it looks like Shelley Duncan cleared waivers after his DFAing. Justin Christian headed for the greener pastures of Baltimore, where he’ll actually get an opportunity to play. I wish him the best.
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Andy in Sunny Daytona, I think you should go and try out for this. It’s only what, a three or four hour drive down to Miami? That’s nothing. Plus I hear that your jiggliciousness rates a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale.
Here’s your open thread. Anything goes, just be cool.
Lost in the hoopla of the last week was a very brief note at the end of a Newsday article. The Yankees are going to have Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner fight it out for the center field job during Spring Training. Interestingly, this news seems to confirm that Johnny Damon and Nick Swisher probably won’t be in the mix for that job if all things go according to plan. Melky, by the way, had x-rays after getting hit by a Daniel Cabrera pitch on Thursday. They came back negative.
Yankee Spring Training tickets are, by far, the hottest commodities of the Grapefruit League. The team usually sells out its slate of home games in a matter of minutes. That being said, going to Spring Training is one of the sheer joys of March, and the Yankees’ Grapefruit League tickets go on sale tomorrow at 10 a.m. The scheduling and ticket information is available here, and PeteAbe always puts together a great Spring Training travel guide. If you have any inkling of heading to Tampa in March, snap up some tickets and take a trip. It’s well worth it.
The Yankees unveiled their Spring Training schedule today, and the party gets started early this year. The Yanks’ first Grapefruit League game is Feb. 25, 2009, and the Bombers are set to take on the Blue Jays in Dunedin, Florida. They play their first game in Tampa the next day. Individual game tickets will go on sale in January. For more, check out the official press release.
The Dodgers made some waves yesterday when the AP revealed some $90 tickets in the team’s new Arizona Spring Training home. That price tag comes as shock to this baseball fan who hasn’t missed a Spring Training trip since 1997. One of the joys of Spring Training has long been the price tag. It’s a time to kick back and catch a game under sunny skies in spring. The regulars play a few innings, and a bunch of prospects and non-roster invitees duke it out for the rest of the day. To charge $90 for what should be a $20 experience seems a bit excessive. But if the market can support, who am I to argue with economics?