Joba, Nova, Hughes and Wade all throwing in Tampa already

Pitchers and catchers aren’t due to report for another eight days, but many of the Yankees’ hurlers are already in Tampa preparing for the season according to the AP. Joba Chamberlain threw 15 pitches in his second half-mound session yesterday, saying he’s “happy with the progress and feeling good.” Unlike the other guys in camp, he’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.

Ivan Nova threw off a mound yesterday, which is only notable because he ended last season with a strained flexor tendon. The team says he’s fully healed and healthy, but there’s always that little bit of concern until you hear that he got back on a mound and didn’t report any problems. Phil Hughes and Cory Wade also threw off a mound, and Derek Jeter is scheduled to hit on the field for the first time on Monday.

Open Thread: Scott Pose

(Photo via LIFE.com with a hat tip to Brooklyn Ed)

The name Scott Pose might not ring a bell, and no one would blame you if it didn’t. He’s most notable for being the very first batter in Florida Marlins history, hitting leadoff and playing center field for the expansion franchise during their first ever game in 1993. He reached base on an error by the second baseman in at at-bat.

Pose only played in 15 games for the Fish that year, toiling away in Triple-A until he resurfaced with the Yankees in 1997. He went up and down a few times, helping fill out the bench when Tim Raines, Bernie Williams, and some others battled through minor injuries. In 54 games (18 starts) and 96 plate appearances with the Yankees, Pose hit .218/.292/.264 with three steals. While with Triple-A Columbus in 1997 and 1998, he hit a combined .300/.377/.415 with 60 steals in 190 games.

Today is Pose’s 45th birthday, and he’s been out of baseball for about ten years now. The majority of his big league career (202 games and 353 plate appearances) came with the Royals (133 games and 214 plate appearances) after his short stint in pinstripes. Pose is a forgotten Yankee, but he’s a former big leaguer, and that alone is one hell of an accomplishment.

* * *

Here is tonight’s open thread. The three hockey locals already played, but both the Knicks and Nets are in action tonight. I’ve heard something about Linsanity over the last few days that sounds intriguing. Anyway, talk about whatever you like here. go nuts.

Mailbag: Bobby Abreu

(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

George asks: Would Bobby Abreu be a trade candidate for LH DH? Looks as though the Angels are shopping him and he’s signed for a year at $9 million. I’m not sure as to whether the Angels would take on A.J. Burnett‘s contract or not, but something may be worked out if it makes sense.

This was emailed in on Thursday night, before we learned that the ten teams included in Burnett’s no-trade clause are all on the West Coast. So right away we can forget about the Yankees trading him to Anaheim for anyone even though they could really use some rotation depth beyond that stellar top four.

As for Abreu, he definitely makes some sense as a left-handed DH. Putting aside the money and logistics for a second, Bobby still does three things exceptionally well: he draws a ton of walks, steals bases, and stay in the lineup (140+ games in each of the last 14 seasons). His batting eye remains one of the very best in the game, with a 14.7% career walk rate and 13.3% in 2011. He also stole 20 bases (21 to be exact) in 2011 for the 13th consecutive season. You have to figure he’ll slow down at some point — he likely already has, but his instincts have kept him productive on the bases — but if nothing else, he still fits into that Yankee mold of working the count and grinding away at-bats. That style fits perfectly into that seventh hole of the lineup.

On the downside, Abreu’s batting average has sunk into the .250s over the last two seasons (.254 to be exact) after sitting at .285+ for more than a decade. All those walks have resulted in a .353 OBP over the last two years rather than one that’s approaching or above .400. Don’t get me wrong, a .350-ish OBP is still pretty good, but it’s not what we’re used to seeing out of Bobby. Furthermore, his power has started to dry up at age 37 (38 in March), as he hit just eight homers in 585 plate appearances last season (two came in one game against the Yankees, if you remember). Part of that is the pitcher friendly ballpark in SoCal, but not all of it. It’s also worth noting that his performance against left-handed batters has completely tanked the last few years (like, sub-.290 wOBA bad), so you’ve got to consider him a strict platoon bat these days. Obviously, he can’t play defense either.

The Angels owe Bobby $9M in 2012, and he can become a free agent after the season. He’s reportedly open to a trade given the club’s crowded outfield/DH picture, but there’s a sense that they may hold onto him for the time because they don’t have another reliable left-handed bat with Kendrys Morales still on the mend. That said, Jayson Stark recently heard “they’d [trade him] for a middling prospect, just to move the money.” Ideally, they’d get a right-handed bullpen arm in return, he added Stark. The Yankees have middling prospects and a right-handed bullpen arm or two (George Kontos?) to spare, so matching up for a swap doesn’t figure to be difficult.

I don’t necessarily endorse it, but if the Yankees can free up some cash by trading Burnett, Abreu would be a viable DH option. The Halos would have to eat some money and take a lesser prospect in return, but it’s not the craziest thing ever. Someone from the Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Russell Branyan group might be more logical and affordable however, especially since Bobby isn’t guaranteed to outproduce any of them. In situations like this, oftentimes the easiest way to go (sign a free agent) is the best.

Rosenthal: Pirates one of four teams in on Burnett

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Pirates are just one of four teams with interest in trading for A.J. Burnett. One of those four teams is on his no-trade list, and the Yankees feel Pittsburgh makes the “most sense” as a trade partner. It might have something to do with them being in the NL, or a non-contender, or both. Yesterday we heard that the Pirates are willing to take on $10M of the $33M left on his deal, but the Yankees are holding out for a 50-50 split.

Austin, Gamel among Keith Law’s sleeper prospects

After posting his top 100 prospects list on Thursday, Keith Law followed up yesterday with a list of sleeper prospects for each team (Insider req’d). “Third baseman Tyler Austin has turned himself into a pretty good defender over there, defying earlier predictions he’d have to move to first,” said KLaw of his sleeper pick for the Yankees. “[He] has a whole-field approach to hitting with pull power right now, and runs well for his size with a perfect stolen-base record in the pros.” Austin hit a combined .354/.418/.579 between the two short season leagues last summer after being drafted as a catcher in 2010.

“Also watch right fielder Ben Gamel, younger brother of Mat,” added Law. “Ben shows a lot of promise with the bat, with good ability to square up the baseball and plenty of hip rotation for future power.” I’ve always been a bit of a Gamel homer, so I’m glad that’s been validated some.

Open Thread: Denzel vs. Robbie

In case you missed Robinson Cano‘s appearance on Jay Leno’s show last night, here’s the video. He played a game of Yankees trivia with Denzel Washington, and … I won’t tell what happened. Just watch.

When you’re done with that, use this as your open thread. Both the Knicks and Nets are playing tonight, but you can talk about whatever you like here. Enjoy.

Update: Yanks, Pirates continue to talk about Burnett

Friday: Via Jon Heyman, the two sides continue to discuss a Burnett trade, and the Pirates are said to be willing to eat $10M of his contract. The Yankees are pushing for a 50-50 split, however. Heyman says there is hope for a deal. Joel Sherman adds that the ten clubs on A.J.’s no-trade list are all West Coast teams simply because his wife doesn’t like to fly. I get the sense that this is just a stare-down; each side is waiting for the other one to blink and take on more money. If the Yanks manage to unload half of A.J.’s deal and get something more than a non-prospect in return, it’ll be a minor miracle.

Thursday: Via Buster Olney, the Yankees want Garrett Jones from the Pirates in any deal involving A.J. Burnett. They know they’ll have to eat most of the $33M left on Burnett’s contract, but the problem is that Pittsburgh has no interest in dealing Jones and talks haven’t progressed at all. Jones, 30, is a late-blooming left-handed DH candidate who’s tagged righties for a .360 wOBA and a .208 ISO in his three seasons. He’s spent most of his defensive time at first and right field. Larry looked at him more in-depth a few weeks ago.