• CC tosses simulated game
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    As Mike mentioned yesterday, CC Sabathia’s scheduled simulated game was postponed until today. That happened a bit earlier, and CC threw 28 pitches in two “innings” to Hideki Matsui and Kevin Cash. He’s working on his cutter, which he says takes a while to get into a groove. Other than that, it’s just Spring Training business as usual. CC will make his spring debut on Friday night, which unfortunately will not be broadcast on YES. The following day’s game, featuring Chien-Ming Wang, will air on the network, as will tomorrow’s Phil Hughes start. · (12) ·

On January 3, 2008, the White Sox acquired Nick Swisher from the Oakland A’s for Ryan Sweeney, Gio Gonzalez, and Fautino De Los Santos. This seemed like a pretty good trade for the Sox. They had seen Swisher play center field more than any other position with Oakland in 2007, and thought adding his bat to their lineup would make the team better. As we know, things didn’t work out all too well there. Says his former manager Ozzie Guillen:

“When you have a bad season like that, a lot of people can be blamed if you want to be negative,” White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen recalled on Sunday. “(Swisher) did do some good things for us, playing out of position all season long. But when he started having trouble and was struggling, he couldn’t get control of that.

Part of the problem, I think, is that not only was Swisher playing a relatively new position for him — he hadn’t really played any center except for in 2007 — but also that he hit atop the batting order. Before 2008 he had hit leadoff a total of zero times in his major league career.

Ozzie is right in saying that “a lot of people can be blamed,” but it’s not only if you want to be negative. Swish definitely hit better when placed lower in the lineup, though “better” is a relative term here. In his 215 plate appearances from the seventh spot, Swish OPS’d a decent .779. That was a better OPS than what Ken Griffey Jr. mustered from center field in the second half.

Established players and rising stars stood in Swisher’s way. If the White Sox weren’t happy with Swish as a center fielder, they were stuck. Carlos Quentin, acquired exactly one month before Swisher, was in the midst of a breakout year, and established right fielder Jermaine Dye was having a good season. At first base, where Swisher did get reps, Paul Konerko was going to get every chance to prove that he could still hit. He did in the second half, posting a line of .270/.374/.535. In other words, there was no place to play Swish regularly if he wasn’t going to play center.

When the Sox traded him to the Yanks in November, it seemed like he’d finally have a starter’s role at one position: first base. Then, of course, the Yanks went out and got Mark Teixeira, complicating matters further. Where would Swisher play? That seemed to be a big question following the Teixeira acquisition.

Despite being displaced at one position, Swisher has a real chance for playing time with the Yanks, a chance he couldn’t get in Chicago unless he flourished in center field. All three outfield positions are open in one way or another. Swish could win the starting right fielder job over Xavier Nady, which is probably his best bet for playing time. He could take a good number of reps in center field if the Yanks so chose to do that, since there’s no budding superstar or established vet in that spot. Even at DH and left field, Swish could see some reps. Matsui and Damon are both 35 years old this year and could use days off here and there to stay fresh.

Had the White Sox hung onto him, Ozzie believes that Swish “would be in the same position he was last year — a fourth outfielder.” That’s the situation he could face on the Yankees too, but given the construction of each team, it looks like he’ll get a far better shot at significant playing time in New York. Which, I believe, will be Chicago’s loss and New York’s gain.

Categories : Players
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By nature, we Yankee fans are an arrogant bunch. It’s the New York in us, and we can’t help it. However, being arrogant and being confident are two different things, and I wanted to try to get an idea of how confident fans are in the general direction of their team.

Stealing an idea Taking a page from MetsBlog and Rays Index, I’m going to hold a weekly poll asking how confident you guys are in the team. I was originally thinking of conducting the poll once a month, but then we won’t be able to get a sense of how things like big wins, crippling losses, short term injuries, and the “honeymoon effect” of player acquisitions changes the perception of the team’s fan base. So from now on, every Monday morning you’ll find a poll like this, asking you to rate your confidence in the team.

Once we have a big enough sample (let’s call it two months), I’ll set up a permanent link somewhere on the site directing you to a graph showing how everyone’s confidence in the team has changed over time. But for now, please take a second to answer the poll question below. Thanks in advance.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
View Results
Comments (32)

With Opening Day 35 days and 16 hours (as of midnight) away, tickets are on everyone’s mind. The Yankees are trying to fill up the new Stadium, and over the last few weeks, they’ve faced a lot of criticism for their ticket polices.

Most notable was the brouhaha last week over the relocation policies. Many long-time season-ticket holders have been feeling slighted by the team, and the Yanks faced some flak over the obstructed views in the bleachers as well. While the team hasn’t been able to placate the rightfully disgruntled season-ticket holders, the Yanks dropped the bleacher prices $5.

Today, we have a few more ticket stories. First, Neil deMause reports that the Yankees are charging $8 more for standing room only tickets than they are for bleacher seats. DeMause sees this as a clear sign of things to come for the bleacher creature.

“The reason, obviously,” he writes, “has to do with the fact the Yanks held bleacher ticket prices at $12 from last year for PR reasons, but have no problem with charging through the nose for standing room, since there were no standing-room seats at the old stadium to compare prices with. Take it as a sign that bleacher prices will likely rise fast to meet market levels in the next year or two.”

If — or when — the Yanks raise their bleacher prices, the Creature will not take kindly to it. But as is often the case, ticket prices are about market economy. If the Yanks feel they can charge $20 for bleacher sets and sell out, they will do so, fans’ feelings or not. Ross at New Stadium Insider has a different take: He likes to roam the ballpark and sees SRO ticketing as a different way to enjoy the Yankee Experience.

* * *

On the scalping front, WasWatching finds an analysis of the impact the high price of Yankee tickets may have on scalping.

Basically, Paul Mulshine at The Star-Ledger posits that because prices for many seats at the new Stadium are priced prohibitively expensive, scalpers won’t be able to turn a profit on them. The Yankees may then attempt to sell them through a so-called Dutch Auction on the day of game if they can’t package them to season-ticket buyers. That is, the Yanks will start the ticket off with a high price and lower it as the game draws closer. Scalpers can’t cash in if the seats are too expensive to sell.

It’s an interesting theory, but it doesn’t quite work that way. The high-priced tickets have earned headlines, but the vast majority of tickets in Yankee Stadium are closer to affordable. Scalpers will have no problem getting their hands on those tickets to sell at a significant mark-up this year.

Steve Lombardi does wonder though who’s really going to pay even $500 a ticket to see the Nationals face the Yanks in a Thursday day in June. That’s a good question.

* * *

Finally, while we don’t have a set date yet for single-game tickets, Ross is eying sometime around March 17 for the big day. The Yanks are going to be offering a single-game pre-sale to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees season-ticket holders that day, and the general public should get a crack at whatever remains a few days later. We’ll update this info as we get a more concrete sense of the date.

Categories : Yankee Stadium
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  • Negron won’t turn state’s evidence
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    Ray Negron — a 36-year Yankee vet and the subject of an excellent profile by Alex Belth last year — has a new children’s book, and his editors want more. In fact, according to Ken Davidoff, they want a tell-all memoir in the style of the Joe Torre/Tom Verducci book. Negron though isn’t about to bite the hand that has seen him through thick and thin for the better part of four decades. As a close confidant of George Steinbrenner, Negron has seen it all behind the scenes in the Bronx. Yet, as he told Ken Davidoff, he is “not for sale.”

    “Joe Torre was supposed to be an icon in New York,” Negron said this past week in an interview. “To me, what he did with that book was just an insult to everything that’s supposed to be so good about the Yankees. You don’t take shots, you don’t talk negative, if you’re a manager.” Negron’s memoirs would be an era-spanning look inside a secretive organization, but I understand and appreciate his reverence and respect for the organization.
    · (10) ·

PeteAbe has a couple of small injury notes:

· Jesus Montero (strained right groin) was injured sliding to track down a passed ball. Joe Girardi said it seemed like a “moderate” strain. Given his status and youth, they’ll be cautious bringing him back.

· Jon Albaladejo caught a ball off the back of his left leg near the ankle and has a bruise. He’s day-to-day.

A pair of small nothings, if you ask me. Both guys have plenty of time to get healthy before the season starts. The more important injury news, that you might have missed earlier, is that Jorge Posada‘s shoulder is okay, and he could DH as soon as tomorrow. My educated guess it that the team will hold him back until Tuesday.

Former Yankee Updates: Chad Jennings checks in on some former Yankees and how they’re faring during Spring Training. Of note is the news that Carl Pavano managed to throw two scoreless innings without chipping a nail, stubbing his toe or bursting his appendix.

Here’s your open thread for the night. The Nets are the only local team in action because the Devils won this afternoon. Anything goes, just be nice.

Categories : Injuries, Open Thread
Comments (187)

It was an offensive day down in Florida today as the Yanks and Reds hammered out 33 hits and 24 runs. While three home runs paced the Yanks’ offensive, two unearned runs emerged as the difference as Cincinnati eked out a sloppy 13-11 win over New York in Sarasota.

For the Yanks, the game had two story lines: bad pitching and good hitting. Staked to a 2-0 lead, Al Aceves gave up three runs in the first. Jonathan Albaladejo, J.B. Cox, Damaso Marte, Brian Bruney, Christian Garcia and Mark Melancon followed, and every pitcher gave up at least a run. Melancon’s was unearned, and the darkhorse candidate for the ever-important 8th inning role racked up another two spring K’s.

Offensively, the Yanks blasted four doubles and three home runs as the team’s 19-hit onslaught led to 11 runs. Brett Gardner homered for the second time this Spring. He really wants that center field job. Robinson Cano, who had a hot spring in 2008 also, added four RBI on a double, a home run and a single. A-Rod also doubled twice, and Jeter had a three-single day.

In the end though, players who, Mo willing, won’t see the Bronx this year decided this game. An error by Eduardo Nuñez led to one earned run and a passed ball by Jesus Montero led to another. At this early point in the Spring, the Yanks’ bats are doing all we hoped, and while Damaso Marte’s surrendering two home runs isn’t a good sign, I like the results I’m seeing from Melancon.

Mike will have updates on some minor injuries to Albaladejo and Jesus Montero later this evening. The Yanks’ next game is set for tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 p.m., and the Yanks will now be sans A-Rod, Jeter and Cano as those three are off to the WBC. We’ll keep an eye on their Classic results.

Categories : Game Stories
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There exists a chasm between Yankees fans when discussing Ian Patrick Kennedy. There are those who saw his performance — and attitude — last year and took it as a sign that he’s finished in the Bronx. He doesn’t have what it takes, both physically and mentally, and the Yanks should trade him for whatever they can get. Then there are those of us (and I say us because I clearly fall into this camp) who think that he still has the potential to help the Yankees in the future. We base this on his potential, which really hasn’t changed, and the knowledge that some pitchers get shelled early in their careers.

This year is quite different for the former USC star, and he knows it. The biggest difference, of course, is his presumed spot on the team.

“I came to spring training thinking I had that job,” he said. “I was more content, where this spring training I’m hungry to beat out anybody I can. It’s go-time. It’s a little different.”

Mark Feinsand gave Kennedy a positive review on his first start of the spring — one hit, one walk, three strikeouts, and no runs in two innings. He might get one more opportunity to start a game before the real starting five take over the games. Then he’ll probably head across the street to minor league camp so he can get the proper work in.

None of this changes the fact that Kennedy has plenty to prove once the games count in 09. It is a positive sign, though, and we’ve been looking for anything positive from Kennedy since last season. The best case scenario for him is to pitch the entire season in AAA and get some major league innings in September. Some success there could put him in the conversation for a 2010 rotation spot, or make him a valuable trade chip for the Yanks.

Categories : Pitching
Comments (73)
  • Sabathia’s simulated game postponed; Jorge feels better
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    Mother Nature got in the way of CC Sabathia’s simulated game which was scheduled for this morning, so instead he’ll go tomorrow according to Pete Caldera. His first start of the spring is scheduled for March 6th, and this isn’t going to threaten that date at all. Caldera also notes that Jorge Posada’s shoulder feels better and he could DH tomorrow if the team lets him, which they won’t. Aaaaaaand exhale. · (19) ·

Kat O’Brien just got back from a trip down to the Dominican, and aside from all the talk about steroids and the various development academies comes this gem (emphasis mine):

Probably the best part of the trip was getting to talk to a lot of children and teens who hope to one day be major leaguers. We happened upon a bunch of kids practicing in San Pedro de Macoris, Robinson Cano’s hometown. They were all wearing jerseys with Cano on the back, and a coach told me Cano had bought uniforms for the entire league – about 6,000 kids. He also bought two ambulances for the town. So he is really beloved there, the coach said even more so than fellow natives Sammy Sosa and Alfonso Soriano. What people like best is that Cano still comes back in winter, often sitting and watching kids play baseball on Saturdays.

Awesome, you gotta love it when these megarish athletes give something back, whether it be providing an entire league with jerseys or taking a family on a Disney vacation. It’s amazing how little play stories like this get in the MSM. (h/t Jason)

Categories : Not Baseball
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