Pitchers and catchers reported a few days ago, and as expected nothing happened. The beat writers were around to give us updates on who was throwing and who was at the minor league complex working out, but that’s about it. Still, there has to be something to talk about, and it seems the theme of the day is Mariano Rivera and his eventual retirement. It’s a subject no one really wants to think about, yet it’s addressed in a number of the New York papers.
Kat O’Brien opens with an ominous quote: “The end is coming. Sooner or later, it’s going to come.” My only follow-up would be, does this mean the end as in the end of his career, or the end as in the end of days, since we know Mo moonlights as the creator of the universe? Either way it doesn’t bode well for Yankees fans.
Pete Abraham, writing in his newspaper and not on his blog, focuses more on Mo’s injury last year, which started far before most of us imagined. Yet he still managed, despite feeling pain in his sleep, to produce one of the finest years of his career, tallying a WHIP below 0.70. And when it comes to this season, Mo knows he’s ready:
“It will be there,” he said. “It will be there. I don’t have those thoughts in my mind. When I go on the mound, I know that everything is going to be there. And if it’s not there that day, I know that the next time it’s going to be there. I don’t worry about those things.”
Of course, not every story focused on Mo himself. John Harper, who I like a lot less after he wasted my time by writing this article which I would inevitably read, opens up the same old can of worms “On the other hand, the start to spring training provides just as much reason to argue the other way on the Great Joba Debate: starter or reliever?”
Call it a debate if you will, but it is certainly not great. I know there are still some people reading RAB who believe that Joba should be in the pen. We’ve had this argument numerous times, and I feel that the Joba as a starter crew has met the burden of proof dozens of times over. Yet Harper still clamors for Joba to the bullpen, based on something he calls “logic.”
At least Harper invokes the one argument I find remotely acceptable for moving Joba to the pen: “Look at it this way: where would the drop-off without him be more dramatic this season, in the rotation with Phil Hughes as the No. 5 starter, or in the bullpen with Brian Bruney as Rivera’s set-up man?” That’s a well-reasoned, team-need-based argument. But because we can’t answer the question, it’s best for the Yankees to stick to what they’re doing.
They went out this off-season and signed two top of the rotation starters because they didn’t want to guarantee Phil Hughes a rotation spot this spring. I’m assuming nothing has changed between now and then. The Yankees will check out Hughes in Spring Training, obviously, and will have to take some time during the season to determine the drop-off from Joba to him. Similarly, the team will have to evaluate how well Brian Bruney can handle his role. Not only that, but they’ll have a good long look at Mark Melancon and determine how he can fit into the bullpen.
While I applaud Harper for making a reasonable argument, I also scold him for wasting time with it. The Yankees are bringing Joba along as a starter. That’s not going to change unless something else changes first. Spring Training itself should not evoke this debate.Call me when something changes. Even then, chances still are that Joba’s ideal role will be in the rotation.
Sorry for the tardiness. Enjoy.
It’s easy for us to overhype the Yanks’ prospects. We want every young kid to be the second coming of Derek Jeter or Bernie Williams, but more often than not, these youngsters end up being the fiftieth coming of Ricky Ledee. But this year might be different for the Yanks have a reliever earning a lot of pre-season buzz. As Chad Jennings writes, the Yanks are expecting big things out of Mark Melancon this year, and they view the 23-year-old as the heir apparent to Mariano Rivera. Those are some lofty expectations for a pitcher with just 20 AAA innings under his belt, but he sounds as though he’s up for the challenge. · (23) ·
Don’t expect Jorge Posada to catch before mid-March. He will play designated hitter before then, but as he recovers from shoulder surgery, Girardi expects Posada to start only 100 to 110 games behind the plate this season. From 2000 through 2007, Posada started 134 to 142 games at catcher each year.
Now, I know the Yanks shouldn’t be banking on Posada to reach those 2007 levels in terms of games played. He’s coming off a very serious shoulder injury and needs to be healthy for the remaining years on his contract.
However, if he catches just 100-110 games this year, the Yanks still need to find someone else to catch the other 52-62 games. Do they turn to Jose Molina? Do they turn to Kevin Cash? Neither of those two are very appealing options offensively. Molina played in 100 games and put up a line of .216/.263/.313 last year. Kevin Cash played in 61 games for Boston and managed a .225/.309/.338. Can you imagine one third of the season with those two guys in the lineup?
The Yanks have a strong farm system with some appealing trading chips. They shouldn’t use them, however, to acquire a catcher simply because they have depth behind the dish in the low levels of the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Francisco Cervelli up in the bigs if he can hit. Someone after all is going to have to spell Posada more often than we would like.
I was away from the Internet for most of yesterday, and when I returned it turns out that A-Rod still did steroids. Damn. I was kind of hoping that my hiatus would undo all that. What I did find upon returning, though, is that a number of Yankees, including Jorge Posada, Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Andy Pettitte — a/k/a The Rings — want to join A-Rod as he faces the media when he reports to camp. It sounds like a plan. If the Yankees want to keep the situation under control, having the most admired players on the team standing up for Alex is the way to go. Will it work? You never know with the New York media. I think it’s a quality game plan, though. · (14) ·
Pitchers and catchers officially report to Tampa for the time today, but as we already know, just about everyone is there already. PeteAbe has a list of who’s throwing in the bullpen today:
Pete also says that Brian Bruney, Dan Giese, Jose Veras, Jon Albaladejo, Kei Igawa, David Robertson and a handful of minor leaguers will also take the mound. Oh, and apparently no one’s told CC to lose the beard yet.
Now here’s a question: Given the concerns about Posada’s shoulder, would it be prudent for the Yanks to let Molina be the personal catcher for say, Burnett and Joba this year? My highly unscientific reasoning is that 1) Burnett can be wild, so it would be nice to have the better defender back there, and 2) Joba has better splits throwing to Molina (.178-.264-.228 against) than Posada (.231-.300-.307). This would also split up the chore of each guy having to learn two new pitchers. Posada’s familiar with Pettitte and Wang obviously, so now he can focus on CC while Molina tackles AJ.
There’s also the added benefit of Posada working with two lefties, who are naturally better at controlling the running game. Given the uncertain state of his shoulder, that’s a pretty big bonus. A “catcher rotation” like this would put Posada on pace to catch about 98 games this year (basically 60% of a 162 game season), but skipping a few Joba starts will put him up around 105-110 games caught, right about where they want him. It would also keep him fresh for the stretch run, theoretically.
Eh, I guess I’m just thinking out loud.
Via Jim Street of MLB.com, the Mariners have signed RHP Josh Fields, their 2008 first round pick. Fields was a senior and ran out of college eligibility, which is why the August 15th deadline didn’t apply to him. So why do Yankees fans care? Because as Lane Meyer of NoMaas explains, Fields’ signing eliminates the compensation pick Seattle would have received if he didn’t sign, so now the Red Sox pick one spot ahead of the Yanks instead of one spot behind them. You can see the updated pick order at our 2009 Draft Order Tracker. Oh well, such is life. · (18) ·
As the name implies, the Yanks have signed veteran righty Brett Tomko to a minor league deal, and PeteAbe says he gets an invite to Spring Training. Tomko had a decent year in 2005, going 11-7 with a 4.04 ERA for the Giants, but since then he’s bounced around with a Dodgers, Padres and Royals. His strength has always been limiting walks (2.89 BBper9), and I’m guessing he was brought in to provide a little competition for the long man spot. It’s basically a no risk move, because if he stinks they’ll cut him with zero consequences. Realistic best case scenario: Tomko pitches well during the spring and the Yanks are able to trade him for a Grade-C prospect before Opening Day. (h/t MLBTR) · (16) ·
Per the AP, former Yankee Jim Leyritz found himself back behind bars earlier today when he violated the terms of his bond. According to authorities, Leyritz, who will go to trial for DUI Manslaughter charges on May 25, had been drinking while out on bail. Leyritz’s lawyer disputes these claims and has already filed a motion for release and an emergency hearing. This whole saga has been one tragic story. · (9) ·
TFGIF. On to the links:
- As usual, PeteAbe’s got you covered from camp. He’s got audio from the Yanks’ new ace and the full Spring Training roster, and he even found the time to sit down for an interview with The Big Lead. I’m unemployed and I can’t even find time to drop my laundry off at the laundromat so the people there can wash my clothes for me. Man am I lazy.
- Tim Dierkes ran through all of this year’s Spring Training cliches at RotoAuthority. Unlike these guys, I put on 15-20 pounds this offseason.
- Part of me wishes the Yanks had more young players on their roster so I could put one of these together for RAB. The other part of me realizes how awesome it is to have CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira.
- Dan Turkenkopf at THT took a look at which pitchers allowed the most quality contact against based on some fancy math. He uses AJ Burnett as an example.
- Here’s another list of the worst contracts in baseball, except this list isn’t retarded. (h/t Neyer)
- AZ Snakepit sat down to a chat with Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes; here’s parts one and two. Hopefully one day we’ll get to do something cool like that.
- Maury Brown penned an open letter to Bud Selig.
- I know this is a few weeks old, but I feel ya Bally Star.
As you may or may have noticed, we added a small new feature to the site. Each comment now has a little box just above the reply button; if the button is orange, that means it’s a new comment. If it’s gray, that means you’ve seen it already. It updates after someone leaves a new comment and you hit refresh. Right now, hitting refresh without a new comment on the post doesn’t change anything. If we can solve the caching conflict, that functionality should be restored.
Here’s your open thread for the night. The Devils and Rangers are both in action, and the NBA is off for the All-Star Break. Anything goes, just be nice.
Photo Credit: Gene Puskar, Associated Press