Yankees announce pitching plans

Via Marc Carig, the worst kept secret in camp has been made official: Ivan Nova will start the season in the Yankees’ rotation. Joe Girardi called the right-hander into his office and gave him the news this morning. Girardi also announced that Freddy Garcia, not Bartolo Colon, will be the fifth starter to start the season. Colon will be the long man, and the skipper plans to use him like he did Al Aceves in 2009. Good luck with that.

There’s also a chance Pedro Feliciano will start the season on the disabled list, reinforcing the belief that multi-year deals for even the most durable of relievers is sketchy at best.

Friday Open Thread

(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

It’s Friday, and you know how I know that? Because my Twitter feed has been filled with references to some lady named Rebecca Black, like they have for the last few Fridays. I don’t know what that’s all about, nor do I care. Anyway, go out and have fun, otherwise use this thread as you see fit.

Sounds like Gustavo Molina might actually make the Yankees

Via Chad Jennings, it’s sounding more and more likely that Gustavo Molina will be Russell Martin‘s backup come Opening Day.  “[Molina]’s a guy we’re looking at,” said the skipper. “With Cervi going down, and you have young kids that you really consider as everyday players, prospects. You want them to play everyday … The determination is, do you want to take them out of that for a month, a month and a half and retard their development a little bit?”

I’m on the record as saying I want to see Jesus Montero start the season as the backup, but I can certainly see both sides of the argument and honestly don’t have a problem either way. Just so you know, the 29-year-old Molina is a .122/.159/.146 (.142 wOBA) career hitter in 45 career big league plate appearances. That means he’s really awesome defensively. And no, he’s not related to the other Molinas.

The RAB Radio Show: March 25, 2011

The Yankees have been active during the last 24 hours, adding some pitching and outfield depth. That leaves us with plenty to talk about. We bring on Jay, whom you might know better as @jaydestro, to talk through the series of moves.

We also hit on some other topics, including our favorite surprises of the spring.

Podcast run time 40:33

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

  • Download the RAB Radio Show by right clicking on that link and choosing Save As.
  • Listen in your browser by left clicking the above link or using the embedded player below.
  • Subscribe in iTunes. If you want to rate us that would be great. If you leave a nice review I’ll buy you a beer at a meet-up.

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

Oh noes! Hughes’ velocity reportedly down

Via Danny Knobler, scouts are “stunned” by Phil Hughes‘ lack of velocity this spring, noting that he’s sat 87-89 with more 87’s than 89’s. Joel Sherman backs up the report, but says the Yankees and Hughes himself aren’t concerned because his velocity was down last spring as well. We seem to get a story on Hughes’ velocity at least once a year, though this year it’s a bit more of a concern considering his 80.1 IP jump from 2009 to 2010. The conspiracy theorists among us will probably think the Kevin Millwood signing indicates that the team is worried about their young right-hander, but I’m not sure I buy that.

Bottom line, if the Yankees were worried about Hughes at all, he wouldn’t be pitching this spring. His 22 Grapefruit League innings lead the team, and it’s not like he’s getting hit around either. If he’s still throwing 87-89 in May, then I’ll worry.

2011 Season Preview: Brian Cashman’s expiring contract

(Charlie Neibergall/AP)

Do general managers react to contract years in the same way as players? While the effect doesn’t apply to every player — see Andruw Jones‘s contract year in 2007 — Dayn Perry, writing in Baseball Between the Numbers, found that there is a small, but statistically significant, uptick in player performance when a free agent contract is on the line. Maybe that’s why the Yankees have a policy of not negotiating new contracts until the old ones expires. That policy applies to players, coaches, and executives alike. As such, Brian Cashman is headed into a contract season.

If we’re to believe Cashman’s peers and bosses atop the Yankees organization, this will not be an issue. They love Cashman and want him back. Cashman, by most indications, enjoys his position. In that way, I’m not sure that his impending free agency means much. The Yankees have been down this road before, and despite a poor 2008 season the team eagerly re-upped with Cashman. Now, three years and a World Series title later, I expect much of the same. The situation might change if the Yankees miss the playoffs, but given recent history I’m not sure about that.

It is fitting, though, that Cashman’s toughest season will come in a contract year. The Yankees have made some depth moves to help shore up the rotation, but at some point they’re going to need someone better than Freddy Garcia or Bartolo Colon, or perhaps even Ivan Nova, pitching in the rotation. That’s how competitive the AL East has become. It’s not enough to have just a solid rotation. The Yankees need to go above and beyond. They tried this winter, but were snubbed despite having made the best offer. Now Cashman has to get creative in order to upgrade. Money alone won’t get it done this time.

Maybe the Yankees’ brass is just making overtures to feign a sense of stability. Maybe Cashman really does pine to run a franchise where his moves aren’t downplayed because of his deep pockets. If one is true, the Yankees will be searching for a new GM this fall. But given most indications, the Yankees like Cashman. They did, after all, re-sign him after the team failed to make the playoffs in 2008. From Cashman’s angle, he hasn’t worked for another company his entire adult life. His family is settled in the area, and he wields more power than other GMs. It’s not a guarantee, but it’s still a pretty good bet that Cashman’s back for 2012 and beyond.