Open Thread: March 9th Camp Notes

Another day, another win for the Yankees. They’re now 11-3 and have Spring Training‘s best record. Grapefruit League championship here they come. Anyway, this afternoon’s win featured three hits and two steals by Jacoby Ellsbury, a home run by Brett Gardner, a single and a walk by Aaron Judge, a double by Gleyber Torres, triples by Aaron Hicks and Dustin Fowler, and two hits apiece by Tyler Wade and Ruben Tejada. Yay offense.

Michael Pineda started and allowed two runs in three innings. He struck out one. People in attendance told me Pineda didn’t look too sharp. So it goes. Chase Shreve allowed a three-run homer to Matt Tuiasosopo, who is still kicking around, apparently. Ben Heller (1.2 innings) and Joe Mantiply (two innings) both had scoreless outings. Here is the box score for today’s game. It wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. (The video above is from yesterday’s game.) Here is everything else that happened down in Spring Training:

  • Joe Girardi said the first round of cuts could come this weekend. My guess is Torres, Jorge Mateo, James Kaprielian, Chance Adams, and Justus Sheffield are among those sent out. The big leaguers are playing more and more now, and the kids need to play regularly to prepare for the season themselves, so minor league camp it is. It’s that time. [Brendan Kuty]
  • Girardi added he is a big Jordan Montgomery fan. “Oh, I like him. We like him … I think you’ll see him continue to develop and get better and better, but I think he’s a guy that could possibly help us this year,” said the skipper. [Kuty]

Here is the open thread for the evening. MLB Network is showing a World Baseball Classic game right now (Canada vs. Dominican Republic) and will have more at 9pm ET (Mexico vs. Italy), 12am ET (Australia vs. Cuba), and 5am ET (China vs. Japan). Australia vs. Cuba will be on tape delay. The other three games are live. All three local hockey teams are in action tonight as well, plus there’s a bunch of college hoops on the schedule. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Open Thread: March 8th Camp Notes

The Yankees roughed up Canada in a World Baseball Classic exhibition game earlier today. Matt Holliday, Gary Sanchez, Aaron Hicks, and Kyle Higashioka all hit home runs. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled and Chase Headley tripled. How many outfielders had to fall down for Headley to triple? At least one. Hicks and Jorge Mateo both had two hits and a stolen base. Nice day for the bats.

Luis Severino started and had a tough go of it, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings. He served up a two-run homer to top Mariners prospect Tyler O’Neill. Severino struck out four, and afterwards Joe Girardi told Erik Boland “all the guys are fairly close” in the rotation competition right now. Aroldis Chapman struck out all three batters he faced. Johnny Barbato and Dietrich Enns each allowed a solo homer in their two innings of work. Another multiple inning outing for Barbato. Hmmm. Here is the box score for today’s game. It wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. Here is the rest of the day’s news from Spring Training:

  • The Netherlands has clinched a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic. They beat Chinese Taipei in the wee hours this morning when Jurickson Profar drew a walk-off walk. Didi Gregorius went 3-for-4 with three doubles. He drove in three runs and scored two others. Go Didi. Here is the full WBC schedule.
  • Bryan Hoch has the pitching assignments and hitting/fielding groups for everyone who didn’t play in today’s game. Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, and Jon Niese were among those to throw bullpen assignments. Niese has picked up a new changeup thanks to pitching coach Larry Rothschild. [Brendan Kuty]
  • Brett Gardner said he didn’t bunt for hit often enough last year and wants to change that. Specifically, he’s shooting for 15 bunt hits. That’s a lot. Only two players had more than 12 bunts hits the last two years (Dee Gordon had 16 in 2015, Cesar Hernandez had 15 in 2016). Gardner had five last year. His career high is eleven back in 2011. [Jack Curry]
  • The Yankees will be on the road to play the Braves tomorrow afternoon. Michael Pineda is lined up to start that game. It will not be televised. No YES, no MLB Network, no ESPN, no MLB.tv, nothing. Sucks.

This is the open thread for the evening. MLB Network is showing a live spring game at 7pm ET (Team USA vs. Twins) and well as live WBC games at 10pm ET (Netherlands vs. Israel) and 5am ET (Australia vs. China). South Korea vs. Chinese Taipei will be on tape delay at 8am ET tomorrow. The Knicks and Nets are both playing tonight, plus there’s a college hoops game on as well. Talk about any of that stuff and more right here, as long as it’s not politics or religion.

Thoughts two weeks into the Grapefruit League season

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Okay, fine, the Grapefruit League season isn’t exactly two weeks old, but it’s close. Thirteen days. So sue me. The Yankees continue their exhibition schedule today with a World Baseball Classic tune-up game against Team Canada. Luis Severino lines up to start. That game, unfortunately, will not be televised. Lame! Anyway, I have a few thoughts on things and stuff, so let’s get to ’em.

1. Speaking of Severino, a few weeks ago we learned he’s changed his mechanics ever so slightly in an effort to improve the quality of his changeup. He now breaks his hands closer to his body. Nothing major. Severino says it helps with his changeup, and hey, whatever works, right? Anyway, let’s see what this actually looks like, shall we? Here is 2016 Severino on the left and 2017 Severino on the right:

2016-severino-vs-2017-severino

The GIF is synced up on the moment Severino begins his delivery, meaning when he moves his left foot. The difference with his hands is pretty easy to see. Last year Severino broke his hands out in front of his chest. This year they’re breaking down by his waist. How does that help his changeup? I have no idea. Interestingly enough, when he starts his delivery, Severino isn’t taking as big a step toward first base with his left foot, which is why he’s releasing the ball a split second earlier this year (GIF on the right) than last year (GIF on the left). His tempo this year looks better. That doesn’t mean he’ll perform better, of course, but one of the knocks on Severino throughout his career has been his less than picturesque delivery. Now it looks a little more streamlined and less herky jerky. Could be something, could be nothing.

2. Spring Training pitcher usage can give you a glimpse into the team’s internal depth chart, especially with prospects, and Jordan Montgomery has gotten much more run than fellow minor league starters Chance Adams, Justus Sheffield, Daniel Camarena, Dietrich Enns, Brady Lail, and Yefrey Ramirez this spring. Montgomery has thrown multiple innings on an every fifth day schedule, and each time he’s been the first guy out of the bullpen following the projected big leaguers. From the outside looking in, Montgomery appeared to be the club’s most big league ready pitching prospect coming into the spring, and his usage during Grapefruit League play all but confirms the Yankees see him that way. That doesn’t mean he can sneak up and win the fifth starter’s job or anything, but he is at the front of the line for a call-up whenever another starter is inevitably needed. The Yankees don’t seem to consider Adams, Camarena, et al quite as ready to help at the MLB level based on their sporadic usage this spring. Montgomery has been more of a priority. (I wonder how often Ronald Herrera would have pitched this spring had he not come down with shoulder inflammation.)

3. I have to think Matt Holliday will play left field and first base in a game at some point. Even if the Yankees plan to use him as a designated hitter and a designated hitter only, it would be wise to give him some action at those positions this spring, just in case. Holliday has played both positions before — he played ten games at first last season, his only experience at the position — but if he’s needed in the field during the regular season, even in an emergency, you don’t want it to be the first time he sees a ball hit at him all year. A tune-up appearance or two at first and in left is in the cards, I imagine. The real question is whether the Yankees will play Chris Carter in left at some point this spring. He’s played 77 career games out there, most in 2013 and none since 2014. It would be another way to get him into the lineup though. I mean, it’s hard to think of a reason not to put Carter in left field for a Grapefruit League game or two. Might as well try it and see what happens. But, if the Yankees don’t do it, we’ll know they have zero plans to put him in the outfield this year. First base and designated hitter only.

4. I don’t remember where I heard this — it’s possible it was something discussed during a game broadcast and not written in an article — but Johnny Barbato is working on a splitter this spring. He used a splitter earlier in his career, before the Padres moved him to the bullpen full-time, and now he’s trying to get it back. Barbato has good velocity on his fastball and he throws both a slider and a curveball, which we saw last year. Now he’s working on a fourth pitch, the splitter. And he’s worked multiple innings in each of his Grapefruit League appearances. Hmmm. Spring Training is the time of year when pitchers work on random pitches, so chances are this splitter business goes nowhere. Still, the Yankees went into last year planning to try Nick Rumbelow and Tyler Webb as starters — Rumbelow blew out his elbow in April while Webb did make some starts and extended relief appearances with Triple-A Scranton — and I wonder if they might try to same with Barbato. What’s the worst that could happen? He gets smacked around as a starter with the RailRiders and they move him back into a short relief role? Kinda funny how Barbato went from “I wonder if they’ll drop him from the 40-man roster to make room for Carter” to “wait are they going to try him a starter?” in, like, two weeks.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

5. I’m one of those weirdos who enjoys the World Baseball Classic — it seems folks hate the WBC, then the games start and they love it — because the players are really into it and the games are often intense. The Israel vs. South Korea game Monday was as entertaining as any postseason game last year. The WBC is also a chance to watch players we normally don’t get to see, either because they play in the minors or overseas. (Israel’s starting shortstop, Rockies farmhand Scotty Burcham, spent all of last season in the Low-A South Atlantic League.) Pools A and B have started in South Korea and Japan, respectively, so the game times haven’t been viewer friendly, but Pools C (Miami) and D (Mexico) start later this week. (Here’s the full schedule.) Marlins Park is completely sold out for Saturday’s game between Team USA and the Dominican Republic. That’s going to be awesome. So I guess that was the long way of saying I am pro-WBC and am glad the tournament has started. Yay baseball.

6. Great work by MLB ensuring the topic of conversation will be “how do we fix baseball?” when the new season begins in a few weeks. All this talk about pace of play and weird extra innings rules and all that has everyone discussing ways to speed things up and make the game more enjoyable for casual fans. Now everyone thinks baseball is broken. It’s not! Baseball is great. Are there ways it could be better? Of course. There’s always room for improvement and baseball is no exception. It’s just that now, instead of talking about the excitement of a new season and baseball being loaded with all these insanely talented young players, everyone is talking about fixing the game. Not great, Bob. Going to be tough to cultivate new young fans, something MLB is desperately trying to do, when everyone is perpetuating the myth baseball is broken. And this is all on MLB and the MLBPA too. They’ve made all these rule changes front and center.

7. Have you noticed just about all the Yankees commercials this spring are focused on the kids? Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge have been getting the face time, not big name veterans like Aroldis Chapman, CC Sabathia, and Masahiro Tanaka. Even Clint Frazier has been in some promo videos. It’s neat to see and also a bit of a shock to the system. It’s been nothing but Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera and Alex Rodriguez and all those dudes the last two decades. The Yankees are all-in on this youth movement and that even extends to their advertising. They’re selling the kids, not the veterans. The times, they’re a changin’.

Open Thread: March 7th Camp Notes

The Yankees walked off with a win over the Rays today thanks to a three-run rally in the tenth inning. How about that? Tyler Wade drove in the winning run with a ground ball booted by the shortstop. Ah, Spring Training. Rashad Crawford would have walked it off as the previous batter had the ball not hopped over the wall for a ground rule double, forcing the runner from first to stop at third. Anyway, two hits for Dustin Fowler and one each for Gary Sanchez, Chris Carter, Kyle Higashioka, among others. Higgy went deep.

CC Sabathia made his first spring start and looked exactly how you’d expect a 17-year veteran to look in his first spring start. Just going through the motions and getting his work in. He tossed two scoreless. Adam Warren allowed a set of back-to-back homers in his three innings. Chasen Shreve allowed a dinger too. Not the most interesting day on the mound. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here’s the rest of the day’s news:

Here is the open thread for the evening. If you missed it earlier, this afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES at 7pm ET. MLB Network is showing a different Spring Training game on tape delay at 7pm ET, then will have WBC games live at 10pm ET (Cuba vs. China) and 5am ET (Japan vs. Australia). All three local hockey teams are playing tonight as well. Talk about all that stuff and more right here, just not religion or politics. Thanks in advance.

Spring Training Game Thread: Sabathia’s First Start

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

We’ve officially entered the dog days of Spring Training. Everyone is just kinda going through the motions and waiting for the regular season to begin. Don’t get me wrong, the games are still fun to watch — how could they not be with this farm system? — but I’m ready for some meaningful baseball. I guess I’ll enjoy the stress-free baseball while I can.

CC Sabathia is making his first Grapefruit League start this afternoon. The Yankees have been taking a bit slow with Sabathia this spring following his relatively minor knee surgery back in October. There’s no reason to push it this time of year. Did you know this will be Sabathia’s 17th big league season? Crazy. He made three starts against the dynasty era Yankees in the span of the month during his rookie season in 2001, and allowed 15 runs in 9.2 total innings. He’s come a long way, eh? Here is the lineup the Rays sent up from Port Charlotte, and here are the players the Yankees will use today:

  1. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 1B Chris Carter
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Gleyber Torres
  7. LF Clint Frazier
  8. 3B Miguel Andujar
  9. CF Dustin Fowler
    LHP CC Sabathia

Available Pitchers: RHP Adam Warren, LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP Ben Heller, RHP Jonathan Holder, RHP Domingo German, and LHP Jason Gurka are all scheduled to pitch today. RHP Johnny Barbato, LHP Nestor Cortes, RHP Brady Lail, and RHP Eric Ruth are the extra arms. Cortes and Ruth are up from minor league camp for the day.

Available Positions: C Kyle Higashioka, 1B Francisco Diaz, 2B Rob Refsnyder, SS Ruben Tejada, 3B Tyler Wade, LF Pete Kozma, CF Rashad Crawford, RF Billy McKinney, and DH Greg Bird are coming off the bench later in the game. C Jorge Saez, SS Jorge Mateo, OF Zack Zehner, and UTIL Wilkin Castillo are also available. Crawford and Zehner are up from minor league camp.

It is cloudy yet warm in Tampa today. Not picturesque baseball weather, but it’ll do. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES. There’s also MLB.tv and the FOX Sports Go app. Enjoy the game.

Open Thread: March 6th Camp Notes

Today wasn’t a good day for the ol’ Grapefruit League pythag record. The Pirates walloped the Yankees pretty good. Bryan Mitchell started and allowed four runs on six hits and no walks in 2.1 innings. He struck out two. Jordan Montgomery allowed two runs in his two innings while Jon Niese chucked a scoreless frame in his spring debut. Evan Rutckyj took one on the chin. He allowed six runs and didn’t record an out.

Not a whole lot happened offensively. Both Jorge Mateo and Aaron Hicks had would be home runs knocked down by the wind. Hicks at least got a double off the wall out of it. Mateo’s well-struck fly ball turned into an out. Aaron Judge had a single and struck out for only the third time this spring. He’s batted 21 times so far. That’s a 14.3% strikeout rate. Hopefully that sticks. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here is the rest of the day’s notes from Tampa:

  • Matt Holliday took some ground balls at first base today. He played a few games at first for the Cardinals last season, so it makes sense for the Yankees to have him work there. Just in case, you know? I wonder if we’ll see Holliday play a game at first this spring. Or in left field, for that matter. [YES Network]
  • Mason Williams resumed hitting over the weekend and light running today. He’s been out since the start of camp with left patella inflammation. “I feel good right now, but we’ll see how it goes as I get going,” he said. [Lou DiPietro]
  • Kyle Higashioka has been learning Japanese this spring. His father’s family is from Japan and they’ve been pushing him to learn the language. Added bonus: it helps him with Masahiro Tanaka. “I thought it could be beneficial for the Yankees to have a catcher who speaks Japanese,” he said. [Billy Witz]
  • CC Sabathia is scheduled to make his first spring start tomorrow afternoon. I’m hoping Justus Sheffield will pitch too. We’ll see. That’s a home game against the Rays. It’ll be on YES and MLB.tv.

Here is tonight’s open thread. This afternoon’s game won’t be replayed anywhere, though I’m not sure why you’d want to sit through that again anyway. Today’s game was my “I’m ready for Spring Training to be over” moment. MLB Network is showing a spring game on tape delay tonight, and later on they’ll have a World Baseball Classic game (Israel vs. Chinese Taipei at 10pm ET). The Knicks, Nets, and (hockey) Rangers are all playing too, and there’s a pair of college basketball games on as well. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not politics or religion.

Spring Training Game Thread: Mitchell’s Third Start

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Like last spring, Bryan Mitchell has been the best potential starter candidate in camp aside from Masahiro Tanaka this year. Last spring Mitchell was electric, and if the fifth starter competition were based entirely on Grapefruit League performance, he would have beaten out CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova for the spot. Instead, he had to settle for a bullpen job before breaking his toe covering first base.

Of course, it’s still pretty early in the spring, so Mitchell is only making his third Grapefruit League outing today. It’s hard to handicap the fourth and fifth starter’s race at this point, though the fact he’s the only one of the fourth and fifth starter candidates who has yet to allow a run can’t hurt his chances. Mitchell will look to build on his strong early spring performance this afternoon. Here is the Pirates’ lineup he’ll face and here are the players the Yankees will use today:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. 1B Greg Bird
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. DH Aaron Judge
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. SS Jorge Mateo
    RHP Bryan Mitchell

Available Pitchers: LHP Jordan Montgomery, LHP Jon Niese, LHP Evan Rutckyj, LHP Joe Mantiply, RHP J.P. Feyereisen, and RHP J.R. Graham are all scheduled to pitch after Mitchell. LHP Jason Gurka, RHP Domingo German, RHP Jonathan Holder, and RHP Travis Hissong also made the trip. Hissong is up from minor league camp for the day.

Available Position Players: C Kyle Higashioka, 1B Wilkin Castillo, 2B Ruben Tejada, SS Gleyber Torres, 3B Miguel Andujar, LF Rob Refsnyder, CF Tyler Wade, and RF Billy McKinney will be the second string off the bench. C Francisco Diaz, IF Abi Avelino, and OF Clint Frazier also made the road trip even though they aren’t scheduled to play. Avelino is up from minor league camp.

The Yankees are on the road today, having made the hour long bus trip down to Bradenton. The internet tells me it’s cloudy and on the cool side. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET. If you’re in the Pirates home market, you can watch on ROOT Sports. If not, the game will be shown live on MLB Network, even in the New York market. There’s also MLB.tv. Enjoy the game.