Yanks invite five more to Spring Training

Via Marc Carig, the Yankees have invited five more players to Spring Training: RHP D.J. Mitchell, RHP Ryan Pope, RHP Dustin Moseley, 1B Jorge Vazquez, and 1B/3B Brandon Laird. Obviously, Moseley is the new name here. The 28-year-old spend the last four years going up-and-down for the Angels, though he missed most of last season with an elbow strain. His peripherals (5.3 K/9, 12.3 H/9) don’t exactly portend success in the AL East, but there’s no harm in inviting him to camp.

Apparently the Yankees aren’t too bothered by Laird’s arrest last month, which is a bit surprising considering they basically benched George Kontos for over a month when he got pinched a few years ago. Here’s the list of original invitees.

Montero headlines non-roster invites

At long last, the Yankees have released the list of non-40-man roster players they’ve invited to Spring Training. Drum roll please…

Catchers
Kyle Higashioka
Jesus Montero
P.J. Pilittere
Mike Rivera
Austin Romine

Infielders
David Winfree

Outfielders
Colin Curtis
Marcus Thames
Reid Gorecki
Jon Weber

Pitchers
Wilkins Arias
Jeremy Bleich
Grant Duff
Jason Hirsh
Kei Igawa
Zach McAllister
Royce Ring
Amaury Sanit
Zack Segovia
Kevin Whelan

Sixty players in all will report to camp, some with more of a chance to make the team than others. They need all the catchers because there’s a lot of mounds in the Tampa complex, and someone has to catch all those guys throwing bullpens. Sanit’s a nice sleeper. He’s an older Cuban guy without blow-you-away stuff, but I bet he sees the big leagues at some point in 2010.

Obviously, I can’t wait to see Montero permanently damage some psyches with his bat.

Open Thread: Higashioka gets the call

Well, kinda. Robert Pimpsner of Baseball Digest tweets that the Yankees have invited 19-year-old catching prospect Kyle Higashioka to Major League Spring Training. I’m sure the Yanks’ 7th round pick in the 2008 Draft is excited for the opportunity, but this isn’t a sign that the organization has big expectations or anything like that. I’m sure they do, but this move is more along the lines of “we have more than a dozen mounds in the Tampa complex, and we need people to catch.” No shame in that.

Higashioka hit .253-.333-.332 in 247 plate appearances for the Short Season Staten Island Yanks last season, but he’s got some killer bat skills (only 31 strikeouts). He’ll get an invite with the intent of giving him a chance to show off his skills soon enough. For now, he should just soak it all up.

Here’s your open thread for the evening. The Devils, Rangers, and Knicks are all in action, plus the Pro Bowl is on ESPN. Nothing like watching the 6th or 7th best QB in the league get some playing time. Enjoy the thread.

Report: Joba’s going to show up early to camp

Via Mike Puma, fifth starter candidate Joba Chamberlain will show up to Tampa to begin workouts next week, about two weeks before pitchers and catchers are required to show up. Joe Girardi indicated that Joba, as well as Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre will compete for the fifth starter’s spot in Spring Training (though I suspect Mitre was lumped in as a courtesy), so it’s good to see Joba put the extra work in.

“I’m going to go in and understand a lot of guys are fighting for that spot,” said the righty. “Nothing is guaranteed.” That’s certainly nice to hear, at times Joba seemed a little too comfortable with his spot on the team last year.

Spring Training tickets on sale Friday morning

The Yankees announced this afternoon that Spring Training tickets will go on sale on Friday morning at 10 a.m. The Yanks play just 17 home games during the Grapefruit League action, and as always, tickets are sure to go fast. I’m a veteran of the Florida Spring Training scene, and this year, the prices seem a bit steep. The most expensive tickets are $31 and even the cheap seats are going for $17. That’s not an insignificant chunk of change to watch Colin Curtis roam the outfield for five innings. Anyway, the official site has all of the details. If you have the chance to go to Tampa, grab some tickets. It’s always fun to watch camp in action.

Joba dominant in final spring outing

Pitching for Double-A Trenton against Triple-A Scranton, Joba Chamberlain allowed two runs on two hits and a walk over five and a third innings earlier today. He struck out five, and after allowing the hits and walk to start he game, he retired the final sixteen batters he faced. He was removed after reaching his scheduled limit of 75 pitches. “It took me just a little bit to get going,” said Joba. “I wanted to work on fastball command and my changeup, and I think I did a great job with those two. I think it was one of my most productive days as far as consistency. It was good.” His first regular start is scheduled for Sunday at Kansas City.

Always optimism for the home team

What is our fascination with predictions? Why do sportswriters specifically feel the need to guess how a season will end on the day before it begins? The only three answer I can think of: 1) they want to sound smart, 2) their editors told them to, 3) everyone else is doing it. It’s still a fool’s game, so I’m going to refrain — though I will make a bold prediction, because no one expect that to happen.

The newspaper masses have assembled, and they’ve made their predictions for the 2009 AL East. Joy of Sox, one of the better Sox blogs, shares the Boston writers’ picks and the New York writers’ picks. You’ll never guess how each side picked.

Of the six writers from the Boston Globe, only two picked the Yankees to even make the playoffs, and none of them think the Yanks will take the division. Both of them, by the way, picked the Sox to win the World Series. On the New York end, we see that the Times loves the Yanks: both Jack Curry and Tyler Kepner picked them to win the division, though both had the Sox second and taking the Wild Card. Yet while every Red Sox writer had the Sox in the playoffs, one Yanks writer has excluded the hometown team. You can guess if you want, but I’m going to give it away: Bill Madden. He has the Rays winning 101 games. If there’s a 100-win team in the division, I certainly wouldn’t peg the Rays for the honor.

The lesson: don’t listen to the predictions. They mean nothing, and even that gives “nothing” a bad name. Just look at ESPN’s staff predictions. Ridiculous, right? Twins win the WC? Not that it can’t happen, but given what we know right now how could you possibly predict that?* Just stay away from what the “experts” say and enjoy the start of the season. It’s certainly one to get excited about.

* Answer: Matthew Berry knows that no one will remember his prediction when it doesn’t happen, but on the off-chance it does he’s going to reference it constantly in a reminder of just how smart he is.