ST Game Thread: Robertson Returns

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Eighteen days ago, David Robertson slid down some steps while carrying boxes at his house. Yankeeland collectively freaked out as the setup man extraordinaire showed up for work the next day with a limp and walking boot, but thankful the injury was nothing more than a bone bruise. After two weeks of rest and bullpen sessions, Robertson will return to game action today with plenty of time to get himself ready for the regular season. All things considered, it could have been worse. A whole lot worse. Here’s the starting lineup…

SS Derek Jeter – scheduled for five innings
CF Curtis Granderson
2B Robinson Cano
3B Alex Rodriguez
1B Mark Teixeira
C Russell Martin
DH Andruw Jones
RF Eduardo Nunez
LF Brett Gardner

RHP Michael Pineda

Available Pitchers: RHP Mariano Rivera, RHP Rafael Soriano, RHP David Robertson, and RHP Manny Delcarmen are scheduled to pitch after Pineda. RHP George Kontos, LHP Clay Rapada, RHP Phil Wetherell, RHP Branden Pinder, and SwP Pat Venditte are all available if needed.

Available Position Players: C Jose Gil, 1B Eric Chavez, 2B Bill Hall, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Brandon Laird, LF Jayson Nix, CF Dewayne Wise, and RF Chris Dickerson will replace the starters.

Today’s game starts at 1:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Thinking Out Loud: The Tommy John Bullpen

(Madson via The Cincinnati Enquirer; Soria via Getty)

It’s been a pretty rough month for big name relief pitchers. Not only did Joba Chamberlain suffer an open dislocation of his right ankle, but both Ryan Madson and Joakim Soria blew out their pitching elbows. Those two guys will have Tommy John surgery in the very near future. Forgive me while I indulge myself a bit, but wouldn’t it be something if the Yankees bought low on both Madson and Soria next offseason? We can all dream a little.

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Based on how he’s been talking in camp, Mariano Rivera is likely to call it a career after this season. It’ll be a very sad day whenever Mo hangs ’em up, but it is inevitable. The Yankees do have two ready-made closer replacements already in-house, specifically Rafael Soriano and David Robertson. Who knows what we’ll be saying ten months from now, but at the moment those two are more than qualified for ninth inning work. The Yankees will still have to replace a dominant reliever though, and both Madson and Soria qualify as dominant relievers when healthy.

Madson, 31, signed a one-year pillow contract with the Reds this offseason, so he’ll again be a free agent next offseason coming off elbow surgery. Needless to say, the big multi-year offers won’t be rolling in. Soria, 27, is at the whim of the Royals. They can either pick up his $8M option for 2013 or cut him loose and let him become a free agent for the first time in his career. Again, it’s safe to assume those big multi-year contract offers won’t be rolling in for the Mexecutioner. Sucks for them, but that’s how this baseballing thing works.

This is Soria’s second Tommy John procedure, and the two-timers don’t have a great track record of recovery. Chris Capuano and Hong-Chih Kuo are the two most notable success stories. For the sake of argument, let’s assume Kansas City decides not to sink 15-20% of its payroll into Soria and lets him walk. The Yankees could look at both guys on one-year contracts, allowing them to re-establish themselves as dominant late-game relievers before hitting the open market after the season in search of that big multi-year deal they won’t get next winter. One-year pacts would still allow the Yankees to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold in 2014.

Let’s say they could get both Madson and Soria on one-year, $3M contracts with incentives. Add in David Aardsma, who the Yankees can retain in 2013 for just $500k, and that’s three Tommy John guys in the bullpen. Joba could make it four depending on how the ankle injury impacts his elbow rehab schedule. Now, not all of those guys would work out. We may think it’s routine, but elbow ligament replacement surgery is a serious procedure. Two of those four guys may flame out and be completely ineffective, but if the other two guys get back to being their pre-Tommy John selves, the Yankees would still come out ahead in the whole production vs. cost thing.

Anyway, I’m just thinking out loud. Everyone loves the idea of landing a super-talented player on the cheap as they come off injury (hence all the Grady Sizemore-related mailbag questions this winter) but that’s because we’re not the ones assuming the risk. The team has to pay them real money to pitch real innings, and coming off serious surgery like that is no piece of cake. A bullpen staff of Madson, Soria, Joba, Robertson, Soriano, and Aardsma is drool-worthy regardless of who ends up closing, and there’s no harm dreaming about it. We are Yankees fans, after all.

Open Thread: 3/24 Camp Notes

Raul finally showed up to camp today. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Yankees beat the Tigers 4-2 in ten innings today. Freddy Garcia started for the first time since getting hit in the hand by a comebacker about two weeks ago, and guess what? He got hit by another one [Anthony McCarron]. He stayed in the game though, he’s fine. Freddy allowed just one hit and struck out four in 4.1 IP before reaching his pitch count. D.J. Mitchell was off a bit, walking three and allowing the game-tying runs in the bottom of the ninth. He faced 15 batters and only three of them put the ball on the ground. Atypical.

Raul Ibanez, yes Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer. It came off Max Scherzer, so not exactly a soft-tosser. Dewayne Wise doubled in two runs in the top of the tenth to give the Yankees the lead. The Yankees only had five hits, a double by Jose Gil and singles by Mark Teixeira and Colin Curtis in addition to Ibanez’s bomb and Wise’s double. Cesar Cabral closed things out with a perfect tenth despite facing three right-handed batters. Here’s the box score and here’s the rest from Tampa…

Here is your open thread for the day. The Rangers, Islanders, Knicks, and Nets are all playing, plus MLB Network will be showing a game later tonight.

Tests show no microfractures in Joba’s ankle

Via Chad Jennings, tests showed no microfractures in Joba Chamberlain‘s right ankle following Thursday’s open dislocation. His is being kept in the hospital tonight as a precaution and will be released tomorrow. He will remain in a cast for six weeks. Infection is the main concern, particularly an infection of the bone which could end his career. Joe Girardi said the Yankees will take is slow with his rehab for obvious reasons, but this is certainly about as good as the news could have been.

Cervelli leaves game after hit-by-pitch

In what has become a rather unfortunate rite of spring, Frankie Cervelli left today’s game with an injury after getting by a pitch in his left leg, just below his knee. Thankfully it’s nothing serious. He iced it down after the game and told Erik Boland “it’s fine. No problem.”

Cervelli suffered a broken bone after fouling a ball off his left foot last spring, shelving him until May. The year before he missed time in camp with a quad strain. Two years before that he had his wrist broken by Elliot Johnson on a collision at the plate. Thankfully this latest March ailment seems like nothing more than the typical day-to-day stuff baseball players deal with.

Betances optioned to Triple-A among trio of roster cuts

Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees have optioned Dellin Betances to Triple-A and reassigned both Mike O’Connor and Juan Cedeno to minor league camp. This is the third round of roster cuts (round one, round two) and effectively reduces to second lefty reliever race to just Cesar Cabral and Clay Rapada. Rapada has been the front-runner all camp, but I’m starting to think Cabral will get the nod. He’s quietly been very effective and is several years younger than Rapada, so there’s at least a chance at upside going forward.

Report: Yankees offered Freddy Garcia to Marlins

Via Danny Knobler, the Yankees offered Freddy Garcia to the Marlins in a trade, but they weren’t interested. Garcia and Ozzie Guillen are close thanks to their time in Chicago together. Freddy has already indicated a willingness to pitch out of the bullpen, but apparently the team isn’t fond of the idea.

It’s easy to see that Garcia is the odd man out of the rotation at the moment, and he only figures to get pushed further down the depth chart once Andy Pettitte is ready to go. That’s assuming everyone stays healthy and effective, which is never the case. I’d rather not see the Yankees count their chickens before they hatch and trade Freddy before the season even starts; he could end up being pretty important within a few weeks. Enjoy the depth, it’s not a problem in March.