Spring Training Game Thread: Baseball!

(REUTERS/Steve Nesius)

It may be March, it may be meaningless, but gosh darn it, the Yankees will play a baseball game today. After whooping the University of South Florida in yesterday’s tuneup, today the team officially opens their Grapefruit League schedule against future Yankee Cole Hamels and the rest of the Phillies. Here’s your first lineup of the (exhibition) season…

LF Brett Gardner
CF Curtis Granderson
RF Nick Swisher
DH Raul Ibanez
1B Eric Chavez
C Russell Martin
SS Eduardo Nunez
2B Bill Hall
3B Jayson Nix

RHP Ivan Novascheduled for 35 pitches or two innings

Available Pitchers: RHP David Phelps, LHP Manny Banuelos, RHP Dellin Betances, LHP Cesar Cabral, and LHP Mike O’Connor are all scheduled to pitch today. LHP Juan Cedeno, RHP D.J. Mitchell, LHP Clay Rapada, and RHP Chase Whitley also made the trip and are available if needed.

Available Position Players: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Jorge Vazquez, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Ramiro Pena, 3B Brandon Laird, LF Chris Dickerson, CF Dewayne Wise, RF Cole Garner, and DH Justin Maxwell will replace the starters. C Jose Gil, C J.R. Murphy, IF David Adams, IF Doug Bernier, OF Zoilo Almonte, and OF Melky Mesa all made the trip and are available if needed.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET, and the game can seen on MLB Network and MLB.tv. The blackout has been lifted in the Tri-State Area. Hooray baseball!

Cashman talks 2014 payroll plan

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Owner Hal Steinbrenner confirmed that the Yankees intend to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold by 2014 the other day, simply saying they don’t need to have such high payrolls to contend. He’s right, and I think we’re all in favor of the team being a bit smarter with its money. Building a core from within and augmenting the roster with strategic free agents sounds fantastic in theory, but putting it into practice is much more difficult. Yesterday it was Brian Cashman‘s turn to chime on in future payroll plan. Here are some select quotes courtesy of Chad Jennings

On payroll flexibility in the past vs. payroll flexibility in 2014
“I met with Mark Teixeira in D.C. (during the ’08-’09 offseason). They had no interest in pursuing that. It’s something I had massive interest in. I kept staying on it, and it was ‘No, no, no.’ It felt like (Hiroki) Kuroda this winter. (Ownership was saying) ‘No, we’re not going to stretch the payroll. Unless you move money, you can’t make that fit.’ At some point [ownership] made an adjustment. Going forward, especially in that particular year, that is not going to happen. This is something where there’s a strong motivation from a business reason because of how the new basic agreement is set up to get to that level for that year, no question. At the same time, it’s business as usual in terms of, the general manager’s job is to constantly bring to their ownership opportunities. My owner says yes more and his family has said yes on behalf of this franchise more than no when their GM asks for something. We’ve been very fortunate as a Yankee fan base and blessed for a long time by that. That, I think, will continue. But instead of being it being a set budget number that we’re trying to stay within, I think this is a more definitive lane that we’re going to have to bowl within. The safety lanes have now gone up for that year, and you can’t throw a gutterball on that particular year.”

On whether the new CBA hurts the Yankees more than other teams
“I don’t want to say it hurts the Yankees as much as, this is the landscape that everybody has to operate in. The only thing is, how does this landscape affect us with our current commitments? Decisions we made from the past will affect decisions in the short term going forward, until some of those contracts expire, or you move them at some point. A lot of those contracts, not that you want to trade them, either have full no-trades or 10-5 rights, so some of those circumstances you just have to hope they stay healthy and productive and they are finishing your career type contracts with the Yankees and you hope that you can maximize your potential with them all, but it will limit your array of choices on those contracts term years because those are legitimate commitments that affect the bottom line.”

On whether a set budget actually makes his job easier
“It’s easier when you have parameters. It was very difficult when it was just a general (rule). It would change on a daily basis, which was, ‘Don’t lose the player at all costs.’ That wasn’t a good negotiating position. And if it’s very vocal, and at the same time it’s public and private, you’re in a position to basically get rolled. It’s a one-way negotiation. Having parameters allows you to walk away. Having parameters gives you the ability to say no, and mean it, versus fake a no or try to pretend something when everybody realizes, oh, they can’t lose this guy. It’s an impossible position to negotiate from.”

The stuff about having a set budget improving the team’s negotiating position is interesting; we’ve certainly seen the club overpay for players the last few years, specifically when it comes to retaining their own. Cashman also went out of his way to mention that some of the their “current commitments” will make getting under the luxury tax threshold difficult, and they’ll just “have to hope they stay healthy and productive.” That applies to several players, but one in particular. One he wasn’t planning on re-signing back in the day.

As has been the case for the last 18 months or so, Cashman was pretty candid and honest, which is refreshing. It’s close to impossible to put a positive spin on slashing payroll, but I think he (and Hal) did a decent job of relaying the message by being blunt and not sugar-coating things. They know the team is going to have to get production from young players to make it work, and they know they have big contracts already on the books that will make it difficult. The Yankees being run in a smarter and more efficient manner should scare other clubs, but I think the brain trust knows it’s going to be a hard sell with the fanbase.

“We’re still the Yankees,” said Cashman. “We’re still going to outspend everybody else. That’s not going to change. We’re still going to be there for our fan base, and try to make sure that every year is a year that they have legitimate hope that this could be a special season. That’s never going to change.”

Update: Cashman denies offer to Adonis Garcia

Friday: Via Bryan Hoch, Brian Cashman said the team has not made an offer to Garcia, nevermind one worth $16M. “That’s not true,” said the GM. We haven’t made an offer.” So that’s that.

Thursday: Via Jorge Ebro (translated article), the Yankees have offered 26-year-old Cuban infielder Adonis Garcia a six-year contract worth $16M. The Athletics offered six years and $18M, and would keep Garcia at shortstop while the Yankees want to move him to the outfield. He could make a decision by next week.

Ben Badler’s scouting report (subs. req’d) from January isn’t exactly glowing. Garcia, a right-handed bat, stands only 5-foot-7, 180 lbs. with “some feel for hitting and surprising power for his size.” He hit .270/.313/.461 during his winter ball stint this offseason, with at least one dramatic homer. Badler says Garcia is “around an average runner” who has played second, short, and third in the past, though he spent most of his winter ball time in left field. Chances are the Yankees caught a glimpse of him this winter and really liked what they saw, but $16M seems a bit excessive.

Open Thread: 3/2 Camp Notes

Beisbol!

The Yankees completely manhandled the University of South Florida earlier today, but that’s not all that happened in Tampa. Here’s the latest…

Here’s tonight’s open thread. The Rangers, Devils, and Nets are all playing tonight, so talk about those games or anything else. Go nuts.

[Photo via Bryan Hoch]

Yanks open exhibition schedule, crush USF 11-0

The Yankees played their first real live baseball game of 2012 today, beating the University of South Florida by the score of 11-0. Curtis Granderson opened the scoring with an RBI single in his only at-bat while Alex Rodriguez (1-for-2) and Eduardo Nunez (1-for-1 with a triple) were the only other starters with hits. Ramiro Pena and Zoilo Almonte made a run at the Big East Player of the Year Award by both going 2-for-2; Pena with a triple, a stolen base, and three runs scored while Almonte tripled and drove in four. Colin Curtis and Doug Bernier also had a pair of knocks.

On the mound, Adam Warren and Brett Marshall each allowed one hit in their two innings of work. Dan Burawa, Juan Cedeno, Graham Stoneburner, Ryan Pope, and Kevin Whelan all chipped in scoreless innings. Yankees’ hurlers struck out ten and didn’t allow a single walk or extra-base hit. Here’s the box score for your amusement. The official Grapefruit League schedule kicks off tomorrow against the Phillies.

No-hitters in Yankee history

Inspired by the advance copy I received of former Yankee PR director Marty Appel’s outstanding “Pinstripe Empire” — which, as far as I can tell, is the definitive and authoritative history of The New York Yankees franchise, and an absolute must-read for die-hards and casual fans alike — I was inspired to do some no-hitter research.

By my count, there have been 117 no-hitters in the AL (including postseason play), per MLB.com, and 133 in the senior circuit, though of course the NL also has more than a quarter-century of additional history over the junior circuit. Of those 117 AL no-nos, only 12 have been perfect games, and three of those 12 have been authored by Yankees. The National League, believe it or not, has only recorded eight perfect games in its 125-plus year history.

I was also curious to see how many seasons it had been since each team in baseball had been no-hit:

In pulling together this research I was actually pretty surprised at how many teams in baseball haven’t been no-hit in more than a decade. The Cubs are the current MLB leader, going on 46 seasons of not being no-hit. Oddly, the Pirates are right behind them, having not been no-hit in 40 seasons. The AL team with the longest no no-hit streak is Oakland, at 20 years. The Red Sox are right behind them, with their last no-hitter-against coming all the way back on April 22, 1993, against Chris Bosio. Even the Mets, for all of their laughable hijinks, have been able to avoid being no-hit since 1993. Of course, on the flip side, the Mets remain one of two MLB franchises (the other being the Padres) to never have had a pitcher author a no-no. For a list of all-time franchise no-hitters for and against, make sure to check out nonohitters.com.

Yankees

The Yankees have thrown 11 no-hitters (including the three perfect games) in franchise history, with 10 coming during the regular season. The franchise’s first-ever no-no was thrown by George Mogridge on April 24, 1917, against the Red Sox (being 1917 this game is not captured by B-Ref’s Play Index). Here are the remaining 9 regular season no-hitters in Yankee history:

Rk Player Date ? Opp Rslt IP H R ER BB SO HR Pit GSc WPA
1 David Cone 1999-07-18 MON W 6-0 9.0 0 0 0 0 10 0 88 97 0.259
2 David Wells 1998-05-17 MIN W 4-0 9.0 0 0 0 0 11 0 120 98 0.477
3 Dwight Gooden 1996-05-14 SEA W 2-0 9.0 0 0 0 6 5 0 134 86 0.644
4 Jim Abbott 1993-09-04 CLE W 4-0 9.0 0 0 0 5 3 0 119 85 0.351
5 Dave Righetti 1983-07-04 BOS W 4-0 9.0 0 0 0 4 9 0 92 0.509
6 Allie Reynolds 1951-09-28 (1) BOS W 8-0 9.0 0 0 0 4 9 0 92 0.235
7 Allie Reynolds 1951-07-12 CLE W 1-0 9.0 0 0 0 3 4 0 88 0.796
8 Monte Pearson 1938-08-27 (2) CLE W 13-0 9.0 0 0 0 2 7 0 92
9 Sad Sam Jones 1923-09-04 PHA W 2-0 9.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 86
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/29/2012.

Interestingly, nearly half of the team’s no-hitters came during the 1990s. Since their last no-hitter on July 18, 1999, there have been 25 no-hitters thrown in MLB, four by the Red Sox and three by the Phillies. The Yankees have also been on the receiving end of a no-no during that time, the unforgettable six-pitcher debacle on June 11, 2003, which I had the bad fortune of attending. However, to even it out, I was also in attendance for Doc’s no-no in 1996.

Rather impressively, despite more than 100 years of history, the Yankees have apparently only suffered a complete-game no-hit shutout a mere five times since 1919 (and one was a rain-shortened six-inning affair). The last time the Yankees were no-hit for nine innings prior to the 2003 Astro debacle was on September 20, 1958, against Hoyt Wilhelm. The last time the Yankees were no-hit for nine innings at home pre-Astros was August 25, 1952.

All of this no-hit talk got me thinking that the Yankees seem somewhat due to no-hit another club, although clearly they’ve gone through much longer droughts than 11 seasons. As a Yankee, CC Sabathia has 15 starts of 7 or more innings and 3 or fewer hits:

Rk Date Opp Rslt App,Dec IP H ? R ER BB SO HR Pit GSc WPA
1 2010-04-10 TBR W 10-0 GS-8 ,W 7.2 1 0 0 2 5 0 111 80 0.314
2 2010-09-02 OAK W 5-0 GS-8 ,W 8.0 1 0 0 3 5 0 95 82 0.470
3 2009-09-26 BOS W 3-0 GS-7 ,W 7.0 1 0 0 2 8 0 96 81 0.475
4 2011-07-26 SEA W 4-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 1 1 1 3 14 0 102 82 0.167
5 2011-04-05 MIN L 4-5 GS-7 7.0 2 0 0 1 6 0 104 78 0.278
6 2009-08-08 BOS W 5-0 GS-8 ,W 7.2 2 0 0 2 9 0 123 82 0.503
7 2010-09-13 TBR L 0-1 GS-8 8.0 2 0 0 2 9 0 119 85 0.537
8 2009-07-07 MIN W 10-2 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 1 3 1 100 69 0.167
9 2009-05-19 BAL W 9-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 1 7 0 105 73 0.393
10 2010-06-03 BAL W 6-3 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 3 3 1 7 2 94 65 0.135
11 2009-06-26 NYM W 9-1 GS-7 ,W 7.0 3 1 1 0 8 1 99 75 0.249
12 2010-09-28 TOR W 6-1 GS-9 ,W 8.1 3 1 1 2 8 1 111 79 0.358
13 2011-07-16 TOR W 4-1 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 1 1 3 8 0 110 77 0.339
14 2009-08-13 SEA W 11-1 GS-8 ,W 8.0 3 1 1 2 10 1 105 80 0.178
15 2009-09-07 (1) TBR W 4-1 GS-7 7.0 3 1 1 4 10 1 118 73 0.371
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 2/29/2012.

Sabathia may have come closest to his first career no-hitter this past summer, when he was absolutely cruising against the punchless Mariners before multiple rain delays ruined what could have been the latest chapter in team history (not to mention seemed to derail what had been an utterly glorious run of pitching).

Still, this year’s team may be as poised as ever to take a run at a no-hitter, given the strikeout-heavy tandem of CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda.

The RAB Radio Show: March 2nd, 2012

Baseball is back. By the time you read this the Yankees’ first spring training game will be underway. Of course, there’s plenty to talk about this week.

  • New playoff format. Mike and I discuss the latest on the second WIld Card, which will be implemented this year. There’s some funky formatting going on, though.
  • Those rumors of the Yankees’ desire to get below $189 million in 2012? Hal Steinbrenner says that is indeed the case. Mike and I run down the possibilities.
  • Plus stuff on lineups, rotations, and all the Yankees miscellany you can handle.

Podcast run time 41:25

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.