Via Chad Jennings, the Yankees have optioned Andrew Brackman, Brandon Laird, Melky Mesa, Kevin Russo, Steve Garrison, and Ryan Pope to various levels of the minor leagues. All six guys are on the 40-man roster, and the actual level they were assigned to isn’t important. They’re just paper moves for the time being. By my count, there’s still 40 players in camp, but that doesn’t count the injured Frankie Cervelli, Reegie Corona, and Colin Curtis.
Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees were the only team to watch Kevin Millwood work out at UC-Irvine today. They clocked his fastball at just 85 mph, though Millwood says he still wants a guaranteed big league contract. The Yankees continue to maintain interest in nothing but a minor league pact. Given the way Ivan Nova threw tonight (six no-hit innings) and how Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon have been throwing in camp (not great but good enough), the Yankees have zero reason to cave into Millwood’s demands. The name value does nothing for me.
For the first time all spring, Joe Girardi is trotting the A-lineup out there, starting all of the regulars in what is their expected Opening Day batting order spot. Of course those guys won’t play the full game, but Girardi did say that he was going to start tinkering with some lineup arrangements after yesterday’s off-day. Perhaps tomorrow we’ll get a look at Brett Gardner leading off with Derek Jeter batting second. He won’t bat eighth or ninth, so don’t get your hopes up.
On the mound will be Ivan Nova, who’s scheduled for 75 or so pitches. and could conceivably get five innings of work in. Here’s the starting nine…
Available Pitchers: Ivan Nova, Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Mark Prior, and David Robertson. Ryan Pope, Eric Wordekemper, Steve Garrison, and Romulo Sanchez are also in the house in case of emergency.
Available Position Players: Jesus Montero (C), Eric Chavez (1B), Doug Bernier (2B), Ramiro Pena (SS), Ronnie Belliard (3B), Eduardo Nunez (LF), Justin Maxwell (CF), Jordan Parraz (RF), and Andruw Jones (DH).
In other news, Sergio Mitre threw 26 pitches in the bullpen and felt “perfect.” He’d been battling some kind of oblique issue, but it appears all is (on its way to being) well. The game starts at 7:05pm ET and is being broadcast on YES. Smile, the regular season starts two weeks from tomorrow.
For the first time since 2007, the Yankees are expected to the begin the regular season with an Opening Day payroll below $200M. Dan Barbarisi hears from the team that the current payroll is right around $189M, but will jump to $192-193M if/when guys like Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, and Eric Chavez are added to the roster. Rafael Soriano‘s salary essentially replaces Andy Pettitte‘s, so the team still has $20-something million bucks burning a hole in their pocket after Cliff Lee joined those youngsters in Philadelphia. It’s too bad they can’t just buy players from other teams.
Cliff Lee already ticked off Yanks fans by snubbing them in favor of the Phillies. That’s fine. It’s part of the game. But insulting the Yankees using criteria that is actually more critical of the Phillies? This, sir, means war.
And we couldn’t get through the radio show without mentioning Manny Banuelos. I’m clearly baiting Mike here.
Also, new theme music!
Podcast run time 29:09
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Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich.
Via Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are one of ten teams listed in Felix Hernandez’s no-trade clause. Others include the Red Sox, Mets, Angels, Dodgers, and Phillies, so Felix clearly can’t handle the pressure of a big market. Am I doing this right? That’s how it worked for Zack Greinke, no?
Anyway, the reason big market teams are on everyone’s no-trade clause is because they are the clubs that can offer the most in exchange for waiving it. If a player wants an extension or an option picked up as a condition of accepting a trade, well the big market teams can give it to them. It’s that simple, it’s all about maximizing leverage. Should the Yankees and Mariners ever get in serious talks about Felix, the NTC will be the smallest of obstacles.
Here’s a few links to check out as you wait for today’s edition of the RAB Radio Show…
Even more on Banuelos
Didn’t get enough talk about why Manny Banuelos shouldn’t start the season in the big league rotation this morning? Luckily for you, Kevin Goldstein tackled the same topic today (subs. req’d), but did so a lot better than I did. “Twenty-year-old starting pitchers in the big leagues are rarities, but having a player like Banuelos, who has made just three starts above Class-A ball, in the big leagues would be nearly unprecedented,” said KG. “Make no mistake about it, Banuelos could at the very least hold his own in the big leagues right now, but the real question revolves around how long he could do it.”
It’s essentially the long-term gain vs. short-term pain argument, but I recommend reading the whole thing.
BA’s Top 20 Rookies
The gang at Baseball America compiled their list of the top 20 rookies for the 2011 season (subs. req’d), led by Jeremy Hellickson of the Rays. This isn’t a top prospect list, it’s a list of players poised to make the greatest contribution to their big league team this year. Hellickson has himself a guaranteed rotation spot, so it’s easy to see why he edged Freddie Freeman of the Braves. Jesus Montero came in at number ten, noting that in the best case scenario he’d “push his way into the catcher and DH slots for 300-400 productive at-bats.” In the worst case, Hey-Zeus could end up back in Triple-A. Big whoop.
No other Yankees farmhands made the cut, though I’m sure Ivan Nova at least garnered some consideration. The fact that Montero is ahead of guys with guaranteed Opening Day jobs like Brent Morel, Michael Pineda, Jake McGee, and Jordan Walden says a lot.
The Soriano Contract
We’ve ripped Rafael Soriano‘s contract to shreds on this corner of the interweb, but what about an objective opinion? Tim Dierkes of MLBTR examined the contract this afternoon, explaining why it’s not guaranteed that Soriano will opt out of his contract even if he has an excellent 2011 season. “A strong 2011 might allow Soriano to find a three-year deal for around $25MM,” said Tim, “but that’s not a big enough improvement over the two years and $23.5MM that would remain on his current deal. Getting three years as opposed to one after the ’12 season has added appeal, but the Yankees backloaded Soriano’s contract so that it’ll still be a tough choice for him.”
There are a ton of closer-types scheduled to become free agents after the season, so Soriano would have to compete with several other viable alternatives on the open market next summer should he choose to go that route. Then again, when’s the last time a player had an opt-out clause and didn’t use it?
How a suspension screwed the D’Backs and helped the Yankees
When the Yankees signed Juan Carlos Paniagua for $1.1M last week , most of us thought “cool” and moved on. Not the Diamondbacks though. Both Ben Badler and Nick Piecoro explain that Paniagua was originally known as Juan Carlos Collado, and had signed with Arizona for $17,000 back in 2009. MLB later suspended him because he falsified his name (but not his age) and then voided the contract for that same reason. The problem is that Paniagua went from throwing 88-90 to the mid-to-upper 90’s during the suspension, raising his prospect status considerably. Hence the seven figure payout.
“[Paniagua] was probably working out with the Diamondbacks [during the suspension], getting instruction, eating better and then they lost the rights,” said a scout to Badler. “It’s crazy.” It’s messed up and completely unfair, especially if Paniagua really was working out at Arizona’s facility during the suspension. Then again … go Yanks!