For much of the winter, at least since the Mark Teixeira signing, there’s been plenty of debate as to who will start in right field for the Yanks. Two able-bodied vets are vying for the job: newly-acquired Nick Swisher and contract-year Xavier Nady. Via Bryan Hoch’s Twitter feed, we learn that Nady is the current favorite. This doesn’t appear based on spring performance, as Nady isn’t exactly lighting it up. Pete Caldera notes that “Nady has more in the bank with Girardi based on last season.” So was it really a competition at all?
Update (11:45 a.m.): Hoch’s Twitter feed just lit up again, letting us know that Kei Igawa has been optioned to AAA. Not huge news, hence no new post. · (97) ·
Last week was another good week in Yankeeland, as the team rolled to nine straight wins thanks to strong performances from CC Sabathia, Chien-Ming Wang and Joba Chamberlain. AJ Burnett struggled for the first time in pinstripes, but the important thing is that the members of the rotation are there for each other. Jorge Posada‘s return from offseason shoulder surgery continued to go well, as he threw out three potential basestealers on Sunday. A-Rod is ahead of his rehab schedule out in Vail, another plus.
Off the field, we learned that the Yanks are going to open the New Stadium to the Bronx community, and that they really don’t care about A-Rod‘s shenanigans. The center field job is apparently still up for grabs, but me thinks it’s not as open as the team wants it to appear.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. At some point in the next few weeks I’ll create a permanent link to a graph showing the change in fan confidence over time, but for now this will have to hold you over. Don’t worry, I’ll pretty it up eventually. Thanks in advance.
The Yankees made the hundred mile trip down to Port Charlotte to take on the defending AL champs today, riding the high from a nine game winning streak. Al Aceves took the mound as CC Sabathia threw in a minor league game back in Tampa (more on that later), giving up a run on two hits and walk in two and two-thirds innings. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. Steven Jackson gave up a pair of unearned runs while recording four outs, and Damaso Marte walked a batter in his first spring action with the team. Kei Igawa, who had been pitching like Superman lately, struggled this afternoon, putting eight runners on base (four hits, four walks) in just two and two-thirds innings pitched. He only managed to give up one run however, and struck out four.
The Yanks offense mustered only six hits against a pretty strong sextet of Rays’ arms. Melky Cabrera and Brett Gardner both went 1-for-2, although Gardner was caught stealing and Melky was hit by a pitch and threw a runner out at second. Xavier Nady, Nick Swisher, Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa combined for eleven hitless at-bats. Swisher drew a walk and committed a throwing error at first, Nady threw a runner out at second, and Ransom committed a fielding error at second. The most productive Yankee on the day was Robbie Cano, who went 2-for-3 as the DH. Overall it was a pretty forgettable day.
While the team was busy losing 4-0 to the Rays, the most important news of the day came out of the home base in Tampa. CC Sabathia pitched against a team of minor leaguers, giving up one run on seven hits and walk in five innings. He struck out three and threw 51 of 81 pitches for strikes. Jorge Posada caught him, and he threw out three of the four baserunners that attempted to steal second. After the game he said his shoulder feels 100 and is he’confident in his ability to throw. That is ginormous.
Brett Tomko starts against the Phillies in Clearwater tomorrow afternoon while Chien-Ming Wang will throw in a minor league game. The regular season starts two weeks from Monday. Woo hoo.
Ken Rosenthal spoke to a scout recently about two players who have gotten a lot of exposure this spring thanks to the WBC, Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena. “They’re two of the better young kids I’ve seen … two legitimate core players for the future,” the scout said. “They’re not that far from being major-league ready — they have some tools and they know how to play.” While no one questions their defense, there are concerns about their offense, however the scout added “Their offense will not keep them from playing — they have at least survivor skills with the bat.” Survivor skills with the bat? Who does that remind you of? (h/t Steve H) · (44) ·
I know it’s not the best picture in the world, but Andy from Sunny Daytona sent along this shot of CC Sabathia on the mound in his minor league game this afternoon. He also sent along these shots of the infield, the umpires chatting it up at home plate, and young Jose Mojica taking a lead off first. The season can’t come soon enough.
Anyway, use this as your open thread for the night. The Devils, Rangers and Nets are all in action tonight, plus Team USA is taking on Japan in the WBC semifinals. Anything goes here, just be cool.
Via Scot Gregor of The Daily Herald, the Yankees have acquired catcher Chris Stewart from the White Sox for a player to be named later. You probably remember that Stewart was with the Yanks last year, going 1-for-3 with a strikeout in his lone game with the Bombers. He hit .279-.352-.371 in 86 games with Triple-A Scranton last year. This probably spells the end for Kevin Cash. (h/t MLBTR) · (16) ·
Matt Holliday stands to be one of the most sought-after free agents come October. Today, Peter Gammons checked in on the A’s outfielder. Holliday is concerned with his upcoming 2009 campaign, but Gammons speculates on the future. Early indications are that the Angels, Red Sox and Yankees will be competing for Holliday’s services if he proves he can hit outside of Colorado this year. Of the Yanks, Gammons writes, “There are scouts who believe Holliday’s natural center/right-center power is best suited for Yankee Stadium.” · (49) ·
Today’s game on MLB Network is blacked out in the New York area because YES is a bunch of fascists exercised their contractual right to keep it off the airwaves in their market, but for those that live outside of NY, here’s your game thread for today’s action. CC Sabathia is pitching in a minor league game, while this squad will face David Price and the rest of the AL Champion Rays:
First pitch is scheduled for 1:15. Enjoy the game, lucky bastards.
The minor league spring scheduled kicked off yesterday, with Triple-A Scranton falling 6-2 to the Pirates’ Triple-A squad on the road. Ian Kennedy got the start, allowing two runs in four innings thanks to a couple of defensive miscues behind him. Chad Jennings spoke to manager Dave Miley after the game, who said he was happy with Kennedy’s performance. There’s no box score available for the game, but Jennings was able to confirm that Eric Duncan, Chris Malec, Colin Curtis, Kevin Russo and Edwar Gonzalez played in the game, while Eric Wordekemper, Grant Duff and Kevin Whelan pitched out of the bullpen. The minor league season begins on April 9th, three days after the Yanks’ season. · (3) ·
I know it’s just Spring Training, but anytime your team wins nine straight games you can’t help but crack a smile. Joba Chamberlain outpitched Jersey’s own Rick Porcello, allowing four hits and a run in 3.1 innings. He struck out five and walked none, throwing 61 of his 41 41 of his 61 pitches for strike. Porcello allowed two runs on four hits in 2.1 IP, uncorking a wild pitch as well. Joba appears to be over his early spring struggles, putting up a 9.1 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 11 K pitching line in his last three starts.
Melky Cabrera went 2-for-3 with a double and a stolen base from the leadoff spot, and was relieved by Brett Gardner who picked up a hit in his only at-bat. Johnny Damon went 1-for-3 with an RBI double, and on top of that he threw a runner out at the plate. You know it’s going to be a good day if Johnny D. guns someone down. Mark Teixeira and Frankie Cervelli also doubled, while Cody Ransom, Jose Molina and Angel Berroa chipped in 1-for-3 efforts. Juan Miranda put the Yanks on top for good with a two run homer off Fernando Rodney in the seventh.
Jon Albaladejo replaced Joba and allowed three hits in 1.2 innings of work, and lowered his spring ERA to 1.08. Mariano Rivera made his third appearance of the preseason, allowing his first baserunner (a hit) and striking out. He needed a whopping 12 pitches (10 strikes) to retire the side. Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras each gave up a run in an inning of work, and Zack Kroenke picked up the save with with a scoreless ninth inning in his first action since being returned by the Marlins. The 4-3 win was the Yanks ninth in a row.
Cervelli was optioned to Double-A Trenton after the game, joining the six others that were sent down this morning. Al Aceves will face the Rays tomorrow afternoon while CC Sabathia throws in a minor league game. MLB Network is carrying the game, but it’ll be blacked out in the New York area because YES wants it to be. Story of my life.