Spring Training Game Thread: The First of Many

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The grass was a little greener (or less dead, anyway), the sun was a little brighter, and the New York air a little less nauseating when I woke up this morning. Why? Because baseball will be played today. I don’t care that it’s just a Spring Training game, it’s baseball, and we’ve been without it for far too long. I enjoy these games because of the prospects and stuff, but mostly because there’s no stress. Who cares who wins and who loses? There’s plenty of time to worry about that later. This brand of baseball is for pure entertainment in my book.

Bartolo Colon gets his first crack at winning a rotation spot this afternoon, though we really shouldn’t put too much stock in his performance since it’s just his first outing. That works both ways, regardless if he pitches well or poorly. It is worth noting that Colon did pitch in winter ball, so he’s theoretically ahead of the hitters as far as readiness, if you get my drift. He’ll throw two innings or 35 pitches, whichever comes first. I’m guessing the latter.

Brian Schlitter, who the Yankees lost on waivers to the Phillies after claiming him off waivers from the Cubs, is scheduled to pitch today for Philadelphia. Here’s the lineup, or at least the one that will start the game. Joe Girardi said yesterday that the regulars will get two at-bats then hit the showers…

Derek Jeter, SS
Nick Swisher, RF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robbie Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, DH
Curtis Granderson, CF
Frankie Cervelli, C
Brett Gardner, LF

Scheduled to Pitch: Bartolo Colon, Joba Chamberlain, David Robertson, David Phelps, Hector Noesi, and Eric Wordekemper.

Also Scheduled to Play: Austin Romine (C), Jorge Vazquez (1B), Kevin Russo (2B), Eduardo Nunez (SS), Brandon Laird (3B), Colin Curtis (LF), Greg Golson (CF), Justin Maxwell (RF), and Andruw Jones (DH).

The game can be seen on either YES or the MLB Network, and begins at 1:05pm ET. George Steinbrenner will be honored during a pregame ceremony; here’s that press release. Enjoy the game.

Calm Down, It’s Only Spring Training

Prior, you stay safe inside that go-cart and don't hurt yourself, so you can pitch during the season, all right? (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

In a few hours, we will be all be watching real, live baseball. We will be watching New York Yankees (some more questionable than others) play major league baseball. Some of them – 24, 42, 30, 2, 13 – will be wearing numbers that we recognize. Most of them will be wearing weird numbers we don’t know. We will judge them by a tiny selection of at-bats off pitchers, many of which are struggling for major league jobs. We will wonder what this means for the rest of the season.

Now, I’m as guilty as anyone at this. I’m going to try my Mo-damned best not to yell at my computer during Spring Training. I will try my best not to moan in anguish when Gardner lays down a sacrifice bunt or get too excited watching Austin Romine hit home runs. Because, let’s be honest, it’s Spring Training. The stats don’t matter. Okay, maybe they matter a little. No, wait, they really, really don’t. Try your absolute hardest to pay no attention to anything that happens. Just soak it in. It’s been a long offseason.

The 2009 season was a particularly good example of how Spring Training stats mean absolutely nothing. Angel Berroa hit .377 with seven doubles and two home runs in 61 plate appearances, but couldn’t even manage to stay on the team the whole season and the Yankees released him in July to have the Mets sign him. Through the entire regular season, he only managed to hit .143/.208/.184 in six less PA. Another stunning example of this is the notorious Kei Igawa, who posted an impressive 0.73 ERA in 12.1 IP. Luckily, he had absolutely no major league innings that year. Chien-Ming Wang (4.15 ERA in  21 IP) had a better ERA than CC Sabathia (4.26). Brett Gardner hit three home runs in 64 PA in Spring Training and 3 home runs in 248 PA during the regular season.

Things didn’t change in 2010, as far as random statistics went. Colin Curtis, who hit that hit that memorable pinch-hit home run, had two home runs in ’10 Spring Training and went 6-for-12. Mark Teixeira, king of glacial Aprils, went .362 in 47 PAs with three home runs. Francisco Cervelli hit .344 with two doubles. Sabathia, again, didn’t do so hot: he picked up an impressive 7.23 ERA with 15 ER. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want that guy pitching on my Opening Day.

The Yankees as a team went 9-20 in Spring Training 2001 and, if my memory serves, they did pretty decent when it mattered.

So, here’s the end to a short post: don’t worry about Spring Training. Stay away from the bridges. Try not to accuse Cano (who, by the way, posted a .377 with two home runs and four doubles in Spring Training ’10) of being lazy, and don’t get on Sabathia for his bad Marches. Try to enjoy watching Bartolo Colon either a) pitch decently or b) make a fool out of himself. Either way, it’ll be entertaining. The games don’t count. Baseball’s been gone for a really, really long time. Let’s try to enjoy at least one game before we start filling up the game threads with doom proclamations and death threats. Just one. That’s not too much to ask, right?

(Just a warning: if you do start with the doom proclamations, I (and many other people) am going to make fun of you.)

Open Thread: February 25th Camp Notes

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

The latest on the last day without Yankees baseball until (hopefully) November…

I’m not sure if you’ve seen it already, but MLB.com is having this Dream Job contest where all the winner does for a year is watch baseball and blog about it, basically. I applied, and I don’t think you should. My odds will be better that way. Anywho, here’s the open thread. The Rangers, Devils, Knicks, and Nets are all playing, so there’s enough going on to keep you entertained through this yucky weather. Smile, there’s a baseball game on tomorrow.

The Banuelos Watch

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

If you’re a new reader, let me explain what all this about. Every season we select one prospect to follow as the season progresses, tracking their stats in the sidebar for all to see and celebrate. Last year we watched Jesus Montero, but it’s time to get back to our starting pitcher roots.

Pint-sized (5-foot-10) lefty Manny Banuelos is the best pitching prospect in the Yankees system, owner of a 2.59 ERA in 215.2 career innings. He’s struck out 228 (9.5 K/9) in that time and walked just 66 (2.8 BB/9), surrendering just ten homers (0.4 HR/9). Banuelos reached Double-A at age 19 last season, just months after having an emergency appendectomy. He’ll return there this year, but there’s a good chance he won’t stay there for long.

Past watches have highlighted guys like Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, so Banuelos has a tough act to follow. Once the actual watch goes up on the sidebar (later tonight or tomorrow, it’ll be below the Opening Day Countdown), you’ll see two rows of stats. The top one will be Banuelos’ most recent start, and the bottom will be his season performance. It’s pretty simple, but it’s always worth explaining.

The minor league season doesn’t begin until the first full week of April, but I plan on keeping track of everything this year, including the appearances Banuelos makes in the Grapefruit League. Anyway, I hope you all enjoy following along this year.

Yankees scouts bearing down on clubs with excess pitching

Via Joel Sherman, the Yankees have their scouts bearing down on teams that they believe will have pitching available during the summer. Those teams: the Cardinals, White Sox, Braves, Athletics, and Angels. We’ve covered every one of those teams at some point this winter except for the Braves, and there’s still plenty of time to do that.

This isn’t a surprise, of course the Yanks were going to have their scouts looking at teams with pitching. It’s good to see exactly what teams they’re focusing on though, and as long as it’s not Kyle Lohse, I’m cool with it.

The RAB Radio Show: February 25, 2011

With Mike out again, I’m bringing in the heavy artillery. Today’s co-host is Jay Gordon, whom you might know better as @jaydestro on Twitter. We talk some Andrew Brackman, some young arms vying for roster spots later this year, and, really, young talent in general.

Then we move onto the CC Sabathia opt-out issue, but in a way we haven’t done on RAB. Basically, the idea is to look into the future and see what the free agent market could potentially bear. Jay reads down the names from the 2012-2013 free agent class, and we try to decide if any of these guys is going to hit the market in the first place.

Podcast run time 52:57

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: “Smile” by Farmer’s Boulevard used under a Creative Commons license