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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  • Musings on an A-Rod suspension

    In the post-game wrap-up today, Peter Abraham has an interesting quote from Joe Girardi. The Yankee skipper, it seems, is worried that A-Rod may still be suspended. “I think you have to be a little bit concerned any time you go in front of Major League Baseball,” Girardi said. “The precedent has been set with how they’ve dealt with players but there’s still always a concern. I’m hoping it’s a fact-finding mission and that he’s set to go on April 6.”

    Major League Baseball has never suspended anyone for past PED use, and the Players Association would throw a fit, legitimately, of epic proportions if they did so. The Yanks have every right to be worried about a suspension, but one will not come down for A-Rod on Sunday. I’d bet money on that.
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  • Yanks will take it easy with Joba this spring

    There was a little bit of panic when Joba was only throwing 88-89 in his start today, but it was clear that he wasn’t throwing with full effort. Turns out that yeah, the Yanks will be taking it easy on their ace-in-training during camp. “For Joba, he doesn’t have the same experience the other guys have,” said Joe Girardi. “We think it’s important to get him on the mound and build him up because he had the (shoulder) issue last year.” Also keep in mind that the regular members of the starting rotation won’t begin throwing in games until next week, and Joba’s scheduled to make two starts before then (including today), putting him that much ahead of the pace. Like we were saying earlier: relax, it’s February. · (37) ·

esteban-germanI wanted the Yanks to sign Juan Cruz back in early January, but alas, they never showed serious interest in him and Cruz ended up with the Royals. The terms: 2 years, $6M guaranteed with a $4M option for a third year. The Diamondbacks received Kansas City’s second round pick (because the Royals’ first rounder is protected) and a sandwich rounder as compensation, giving them 5 of the first 44 picks and 7 of the first 62. They can do some serious damage this year. You can see the up-to-the-minute draft order at our 2009 Draft Order Tracker.

To make room for Cruz on the 40-man roster the Royals designated utility man Esteban German for assignment, and I hope the Yanks at least kick the tires on him. German has been outrighted before (by the A’s back in 2004) and has plenty of service time, so if he clears waivers he’ll have the ability to refuse an assignment to Triple-A and become a free agent. Obviously, that’s when the Yanks should look at him, and on a minor league deal only. There’s no way you give him a Major League deal or claim him on waivers (putting him on the 40-man).

Basically, all German offers is versatility and a replacement level bat, although in 2006 and 2007 he was a 1-1.5 win player off the bench. He’s only played 36 innings at short the last three years, but he’s seen plenty of time at second and third. Offensively, about the best you can hope for at this point is .260-.310-.340 with maybe a dozen doubles and a rare homer, but hey, if he’s willing to come in and compete for a job, why wouldn’t you do it? The more competition the better, I say.

Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The Devils already won today, and both the Islanders and Rangers are in action tonight. The Knicks are also playing down in Miami. Oh, and here’s the box score of today’s game if you’re interested. Have fun.

Photo Credit: Dick Whipple, AP

Categories : Open Thread
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  • Posada, Girardi not concerned about sore shoulder

    As you probably already know, Jorge Posada was scratched from today’s game because of some discomfort in his shoulder, which according to Kat O’Brien occured when he was doing pregame stretches on Thursday. Posada played through the soreness the past two days – going 4-for-5 with a double and a homer – but the Yanks took him out of the lineup as a precaution after he told them about the pain today. Both Posada and Joe Girardi said they weren’t concerned and that was a normal part of rehab, but still. You have to be a little worried, right? · (25) ·

aj-cc-and-jobaJoba Chamberlain will make his first appearance of the spring this afternoon, and luckily for all of us the game will be on YES. He’ll be opposed by some guy named Liriano, and according to LEN3 ex-Yank Sean Henn is scheduled to make an appearance.

Chad Jennings notes that Brett Gardner and Phil Coke will be presented with the 2008 Kevin Lawn Awards before the game, given to the organization’s Minor League Player and Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Back in September I gave those awards to Jesus Montero and Zach McAllister, respectively, but Gardner and Coke are certainly deserving.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:15. Here’s the lineup, courtesy of Bryan Hoch:

Damon, LF
Jeter, SS
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Posada, DH Swisher, RF
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF Molina, C
Molina, C Duncan, DH
Melky, CF

Scheduled Pitchers: Joba Chamberlain, Mike Dunn, Jose Veras, Dan Giese, Kei Igawa, David Robertson, Steven Jackson, Kanekoa Teixeira

Based on my highly scientific system of counting the number of pitchers scheduled to pitch and comparing that to the number of innings typically played in a game, I’m guessing we’ll get two innings out of Joba.

If you won’t be around to catch the live broadcast, MLB Network will be replaying it at 5pm, as will YES at 7pm. I might watch all three.

Update (1:01pm): Posada’s been scratched with shoulder discomfort. Hopefully it’s nothing serious. No word on the lineup change yet.

Update (1:07pm): Shelley Duncan’s the new DH.

Photo Credit: Reuters Pictures

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  • Giambi praises the Cap’n

    Praising Derek Jeter for his leadership has become something of a baseball cliché over the years. There is, after all, a reason why some fans derogatorily call him Captain Intangibles. But in a recent Bob Klapisch piece, Jason Giambi praises Jeter’s leadership and sounds genuinely sincere in doing so. “I’ll thank Derek until the day I die,” Giambi said. “What he did for me, after what I’d been through, made it possible for me to keep playing in New York. The fans forgave me because of Derek. I’ll never forget that for the rest of my life.”

    While I generally think that Klapisch painted an accurate picture of Giambi’s complex tenure in New York, I don’t like how he compared the situation to A-Rod’s. In comparing Giambi’s steroid problems to A-Rod’s he praises Jason and says the current Athletic is “unlike A-Rod, who’s had two chances to come clean (and still hasn’t).” This is a point blank attack that serves no purpose and is grounded in nothing more than unhealthy skepticism. It doesn’t help what is otherwise a solid example of a profile piece.
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Early on Friday morning, Bryan Hoch tossed up a brief post on the Yanks’ early spring TV ratings. Usually, no one outside a few suits at YES would care much about those numbers, but take a look at what Hoch had to say:

Yesterday’s YES Network telecast of the Rays-Yankees Spring Training game (1:00 pm) generated a 1.19 average TV household rating (88,000 TV households), making it the highest-rated weekday daytime Spring Training telecast ever on YES. The previous high was YES’ telecast of the Yankees’ game against Virginia Tech on March 18, 2008, which drew a 1.17 average TV household rating (86,000 TV households).

Keep in mind that this record-setting draw was for a mid-afternoon game on a Thursday in February, 39 days before Opening Day. While Phil Hughes started, he threw just two innings, and for the most part, a bunch of no-names destined for AAA or worse fought it out against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Of course New Yorkers wanted their first on-screen exposure to A-Rod since this whole steroid fiasco. Of course they wanted a glimpse of Mark Teixeira in those slimming pinstripes. Beyond that, though, 88,000 viewers on Day 2 of Spring Training in the New York area just shows a team that is popular beyond our conceptions of it.

This year, the Yankees are opening a new stadium, and they have the weight of baseball expectations surrounding them. They signed three of the top free agents this winter and are primed to make a run at October after missing the playoffs for the first time since 1995.

People might hate the Yankees. They met resent the success and the spending. They might boo A-Rod. But while one game does not a trend make, it seems as though 2009 will be the Year of the Yankees in New York City. Everyone will watch; everyone will talk about it; and 53,000 fans a night will actually get to be there to see it all go down, obstructed view and all.

As the toast of the town, the Yanks will find it good to be top. I just hope they can fulfill the lofty expectations as people take the time now in February to turn on the Grapefruit League in record numbers.

Categories : Spring Training
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