A-Jax makes a catchThe Yankees have played three games in the last twenty hours or so, meaning we haven’t had much time to recap all the action. Last night’s game against the Red Sox was a forgettable one, as the only regulars in the lineup were Brett Gardner and Xavier Nady, and even those two are fighting for starting jobs. Chien-Ming Wang made his third start of the preseason and didn’t fare to well, giving up seven runs (only one earned) and six hits in 1.2 innings, victimized by Juan Miranda throwing the ball into center field as he tried to turn a 3-6-3 double play. Both Mike Lowell and David Ortiz took the Wanger deep, Ortiz’s being a uber-clutch two run job in the second inning with his team leading by five.

Other than that, not all that much happened in that game. Brett Tomko threw 3.1 strong innings while Kei Igawa chipped in another scoreless frame. Xavier Nady doubled while Cody Ransom tripled, and Angel Berroa picked up two hits to raise his spring batting avg to .444. Boston won 8-4.

AJ Burnett flashed his greatness in today’s game, twirling four perfect innings on just 40 pitches. He was so efficient that he had throw an extra ten pitches in the bullpen. The fastball was an effortless 94-96, and the curve was dropping in for strikes at the knees. I know it’s just March, but Burnett had no-hit stuff today, and even a lineup of All-Stars wouldn’t have touched him. Johnny Damon hit a first inning solo homer before the Yanks tacked on two unearned runs in the fourth. Cody Ransom picked up another two hits, he’s been really impressive since A-Rod went down. Edwar Ramirez made his spring debut, and although he struggled to locate his fastball he still pitched an effective frame. Jason Johnson picked up the save in his debut, nailing down the 3-1 win.

As Burnett was carving up the Astros, Phil Hughes had his first rough out of the spring an hour south against the Pirates. He gave up first inning solo homers to Nate McLouth and Adam LaRoche, and finished the day with two hits and three walks allowed in 3 IP. He said afterward that he was working on his changeup, but overall he just didn’t have it today. Mark Melancon also had his first bad outing, allowing seven baserunners (six hits, one walk) and five runs in just two-thirds of an inning. It was bound to happen sometime, but as Ben noted in an email, this probably guarantees he’ll be in Triple-A Scranton to start the year.

The offense was highlighted by the Yanks’ two best prospects, as both Austin Jackson (pictured) and Jesus Montero knocked a ball out of the park. Montero’s shot was a salami, and he now has two career Spring Training homers to his credit, both grand slams. Mark Teixeira struck out in all three of his at-bats, so he clearly can’t handle the pressure of New York and is a bust. Doug Bernier drew three walks, Nick Swisher just one (today). The Yanks swept today’s split-squad action with a 13-10 win.

Andy Pettitte will take to the mound for the second time this spring tomorrow, when the Twinkies come to Tampa. Otherwise here’s your open thread for the night. The only local team in action tonight is the Devils, who are up in Montreal. Marty Brodeur has a chance to tie Patrick Roy’s NHL record 551 wins tonight, and me thinks it has to happen just because of all the stars lining up (Roy will be in the house, he played for Montreal, etc.). Talk about whatever your heart desires, just be nice.

Photo Credit: Keith Srakocic, AP

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He wasn’t invited to Spring Training, but Eric Duncan was summoned for today’s split-squad game as a bench player. Mike profiled Duncan earlier this month, just ahead of the A-Rod injury. No one thought, nor does anyone currently think, that Duncan can step into even a substitute role at this point. That doesn’t mean he’s not trying anymore.

He’s failing for sure — a .233/.295/.366 line as a 23-year-old in AAA is about as far from inspiring as you can get — but it’s not for lack of effort. Yet now with both corner infield spots locked down for the next eight years, Duncan realizes that if he’s going to become a major leaguer — and that’s his stated goal — it might have to be with another team. He’ll be a minor league free agent after this season, and if he performs well he might catch on with a team that has an opening.

He doesn’t blame the Yanks, though. From Mark Feinsand:

“Seeing those guys get locked up at the corners isn’t the frustrating part, because you know the Yankees are going to do whatever they have to do to win at this level,” Duncan said. “The frustrating part for me is knowing I can do better than what I’ve done. I know there’s more. If I do what I know I can do on the field, the other stuff will take care of itself.”

Here’s to hoping that something clicks this year and he shows why he was so highly touted coming out of Seton Hall Prep in 2003. It’s possible, but certainly far from probable. Yet if he can find his swing this year and can handle a corner outfield role, maybe he could help the Yanks in 2010.

Categories : Minors
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Burnett in the bullpenWe’ve got our first split-squad action of the spring today [insert "you usually have to pay double for that kind of action, Cotton" joke here], and each game will feature a former Yankee great. AJ Burnett will take on the Astros at home, who will have Aaron bleeping Boone playing first and batting fifth. Phil Hughes and Co. are making the hour long drive down to Bradenton to face on the Pirates, who are sending old pal Ross Ohlendorf to the hill. This will be Burnett’s second start and Hughes’ four appearance (third start) of the spring.

Short on bodies because of the double-dip, the Yanks brought Eric Duncan, Walt Ibarra and Edwar Gonzalez over from minor league camp and will have them suit up for Team Burnett. Here’s the starting … err … eighteen:

Home vs. Astros
Gardner, CF
Damon, LF
Nady, RF
Matsui, DH
Ransom, 3B
Molina, C
Miranda, 1B
Berroa, SS
Leone, 2B

Scheduled Pitchers: AJ Burnett, Dan Giese, Brian Bruney, Edwar Ramirez, Chris Garcia

Away at Pirates
Melky, CF
Swisher, RF
Teixeira, 1B
Posada, DH
Austin Jackson, LF
Cash, C
Bernier, 2B
Russo, 3B
Pena, SS

Scheduled Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Jason Johnson, Jon Albaladejo, Mark Melancon

Both Edwar and Jason Johnson will be making their spring debuts after battling a sore shoulder and retinal cancer, respectively. The game against Houston will be on YES at 1:15, but I think I’d rather be watch the squad out in Bradenton. Hey, it’s better than nothing.

Photo Credit: Gene J. Puskar, AP

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  • Pudge willing to play other positions
    By

    Still unemployed, Ivan Rodriguez said he’d be willing to play somewhere other than catcher if it helps the team win him get a job. This one comes from MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro (h/t BTF). Other than catcher and DH, Pudge has played 55 innings at first and two innings at second in his career (both back in 2006), but he specifically mentions first base and third base as possibilities. He’s currently hitting .545-.583-1.182 for Puerto Rico in eleven WBC at-bats. If Pudge is willing to play third for a while and then settle in as the backup catcher … no, I didn’t just … no way, right? · (12) ·

burnettelephant

One of the publicists for Busch Gardens in Florida sent us this photo of A.J. Burnett feeding Karnaubi, a 7300-pound Asian elephant. The park has five of these endangered animals in its Nairobi area, and Burnett, looking rather thrilled, helped feed one of them with his family on Thursday.

Now, that’s all well and good, but that is also a stunningly boring caption. So RAB faithful, let’s have a caption contest. The winner will receive a copy of The Greatest Game and the undying affection of everyone on RAB. We’ll do it run-off style with a general big vote and then one or two rounds of voting with the top entries.

To be eligible for the voting and the prize, make sure to put a valid e-mail address in the e-mail field down below. We’ll leave the caption contest open through Monday night. Click the image for a larger version, and have fun.

Categories : Whimsy
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  • Jennings takes stock
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    Believe it or not, the Spring Training is nearing it’s halfway mark, and Chad Jennings took it as an opportunity to take stock in what’s gone on so far. The rotation and infield have basically been set since December, but the bullpen, outfield and bench – as well as just about the entire Triple-A Scranton roster – still have some unanswered questions. I’ll tell you what, Brett Tomko is making one helluva case to win that long man job, especially after tonight’s effort. Anyway, make sure you give it a look, as usual Chad is spot on. · (16) ·

The Yankees are playing the Red Sox in Fort Myers tonight, but alas the game will not be seen by those of us in the New York area. YES asked MLB Network to black the game out (as well as the ones on March 22nd and 28th), which is their right. I’m not sure why, but it’s dumb. Apparently no one ever bothered to ask them if MLBN could broadcast Yankees’ games. In case you’re one of the lucky ones who will be able to watch the game, here’s the lineup:

Gardner, CF
Ransom, 3B
Miranda, 1B
Nady, RF
J-Rod, DH
Molina, C
Shelley, LF
Berroa, SS
Pena, 2B

Scheduled Pitchers: Chien-Ming Wang, Brett Tomko, Mike Dunn, Anthony Claggett

Teams are only required to send three regulars on road trips, so they obviously took advantage of it this game. Here’s a slightly abbreviated hodgepodge of Friday Randomness links:

  • Hey look, Michael Ynoa exists. Oh, and it’s not Inoa anymore.
  • John Dewan, the man behind The Fielding Bible I & II, made a pretty significant discovery. Apparently defense is worth roughly half as much as offense. That’s higher than I would have though, but he backs it up with some evidence. (h/t MLBTR)
  • Project Prospect profiled first round draft prospect Kyle Gibson. I am an unabashed Gibson fan (I love the combination of super projectability and college seasoning), so you’l be hearing lots about him between now and draft day. (h/t CBB)
  • Things aren’t looking so hot for Dustin McGowan as he battles back from major shoulder surgery.
  • Speaking of injuries, Alan Horne’s doing well on his comeback trail.

Here’s your open thread/game thread for the night. In addition to the Yanks, the Knicks and Nets are both in action tonight. Anything goes here, just be civil.

Categories : Open Thread
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The Yankees missed Jorge Posada last year. It was mostly for his bat — most catchers are there for defensive purposes, so it’s a huge plus when a team has a catcher who can hit. Jorge has been one of the top offensive catchers for years, and losing his bat, especially considering the drop-off to backup Jose Molina, was devastating. However, that’s not all the Yankees missed from their backstop.

Jorge has always been described as a strong clubhouse personality, someone who will get in your face if he thinks you’re doing something wrong. I know we can’t quantify what kind of effect that has on players, but it certainly means something. It might rub some players the wrong way, thus creating a negative effect, but it can also motivate players. That seems to be the case with Joba Chamberlain.

After Joba’s putrid start against Team Canada, Jorge approached the ace-in-training and let him know what time it is:

“I caught him in the bullpen after that and I told him what I saw was embarrassing,” Posada said Thursday before a spring training game against the Tigers. “I told him to throw the fastball and stop waiting for things to happen. I told him he has to pitch like he can every time no matter what. Whether it’s as a starter, reliever or even in the bullpen, people are watching.”

Would Joba have pitched the same game had Jorge not gotten in his face? Perhaps. We really can’t know. That’s why there’s always a debate over the value of intangibles. You can see something in someone — Jeter’s cool, calm demeanor, or Jorge’s firecracker personality — and say it’s good for the team. But how good is it really? And is it good at all? We can only know these things anecdotally, and no matter how strongly we feel we have no idea of how it actually affects other players.

That said, I’m glad Jorge got on Joba’s case. Young players often need reminders from vets of what the game’s all about. Jorge seems to understand that, and he’s not afraid to do something about it. I’m glad to have him back on the field and in the clubhouse.

Categories : Spring Training
Comments (22)
  • Yanks release limited single-game ticket info
    By

    As promised, we have an update on the status of the opportunity to purchase single-game tickets to Yankee games this season. Per New Stadium Insider comes word that the Yankees will be holding an online-only sale for 12 hours on March 23. Not everyone, however, will be eligible for this sale. Those that want to be entered into a drawing to earn a spot at this sale need to enter here by 10 p.m. on March 17. It sounds like most of us will have to go the StubHub/CraigsList/eBay route to get any single-game tickets this year. · (48) ·