Click to enlarge this image for a side-by-side comparison of the new and old Yankee Stadiums. (Courtesy of flickr user mfbyrne_pa)
As the new Yankee Stadium arises in the Bronx, we know a lot about the outside. In pictures, we’ve seen the new Stadium go up. Today, we learn that the entryway with the gold-etched lettering now features a few glass windows. From the outside, at least, the stadium in progress is quite the scene.
The inside is, of course, a different story all together. As shots from MLB.com show, the inside is far from complete, and the field, the last part of the project, is a mess of machinery and mud. In fact, throughout the whole process, information on the inside of the Stadium and its internal configuration has been hard to find. We know that the tier level seats will be more recessed at the new stadium. But what about the field and the sight lines? How do those compare?
This week, while digging around flickr, I came across the image at the top of the post. As the large version shows, the new field will have different dimensions from the old. The new stadium will still feature a 408-foot drive to centerfield and a 318-foot left field foul line. Right field moves in two feet to 312, and the power alleys appear to be 392 in left-center and 371 in right-center as opposed to 399 and 385.
While these dimensions are purely preliminary and could very well change, the new stadium, as it is displayed above, strikes me as a hitter’s park. Luckily, Phil Hughes and Chien-Ming Wang love those groundballs. (Check out this image from Baseball-Fever.com for an overlay of the old field on top of the new one.)
Meanwhile, the images, which seem to come from here and here, suggest that the front of the tier levels will be significantly more recessed than they are now. No longer will the upper reaches of the stadium hang over the loge and field level seats. Rather, most will be open-air seats. But a few changes will be made to help the stadium retain some intimacy.
Notably, foul territory behind the plate will be reduced. Again, the stadium will play as a hitter’s park with the fans much closer to the action. With these changes as well as a 53,000-seat capacity and a wider seating bowl, the last row of the tier level could be as much as 54 feet closer to the action. That’s a significant improvement even as it comes at the expense of the tier box seats (or, as they’ll be called, the Terrace Level seats).
Right now, everything here should be taken with a grain of salt. These are unofficial figures from folks who are, by and large, estimating what the field will look like. Until the Yankees unveil the final figures, we won’t know for sure. But we’re beginning to see the trade-offs. Some seats will be better than they are now; some will be worse. As much as I don’t want to see Yankee Stadium go because of the history, the nostalgia and the memories, I’m a bit excited to at least explore the new ballpark. I shudder to think, however, of the day the wrecking ball comes.
A couple hours after Chad Jennings informs us that utility infielder Nick Green chose not to use his opt-out clause, PeteAbe tells us that the Yanks cut fellow utility infielder Chris Woodward. Woodward hit .393-.414-.429 in 28 at-bats this spring, compared to Green who hit .160-.222-.280 in 25 AB’s. The Depth Chart has been updated accordingly. · (4) ·
Via Ed Price comes news that the Yanks bench appears set:
While the Yankees won’t say it publicly, their bench is set (barring unforeseen circumstances).
The Yankees have told people they plan to carry Morgan Ensberg. So assuming a lineup with Johnny Damon in left field, Hideki Matsui as designated hitter and Jason Giambi at first base (“He’s going to play a lot of first base,” manager Joe Girardi said today), the bench would be Ensberg, backup catcher Jose Molina, infielder Wilson Betemit and Shelley Duncan. That makes Betemit the only reserve middle infielder.
I like this bench. The Yanks are going heavy on the corner infielders and power hitters and light on the backup middle infielders, defensive replacements and outfielders. As Price notes, the Yanks will rely on Betemit to backup Robinson Cano and Derek Jeter. While doubts about Wilson’s middle infield prowess linger, barring any unforeseen injuries, I don’t expect seeing Cano and Jeter out of the lineup too often.
Considering last year’s Opening Day bench — Miguel Cairo and Wil Nieves, anyone? — I’d say Brian Cashman‘s done an excellent job turning one of the Yanks’ weaknesses into a clear strength.
“Moving Chamberlain in front of Rivera was not only the right move for 2008, but forever. Finding somebody to dominate the seventh and eighth innings is harder than discovering a fourth and fifth starter.” There you have it, folks. George King called Joba a fourth or fifth starter in the Post’s season preview. · (44) ·
Updating the ongoing Bob Sheppard story, Neil Best at Newsday reports that the Voice of the Yankees will miss his first home opener since 1951. In February, Sheppard speculated on a June return to the stadium, but now the 97-year-old declined to set a target date for his debut during the Yanks’ final season. “I don’t know when it will be, but it will be,” he said. Here’s to you, Bob; the sooner, the better. · (4) ·
The AP reports that Andy Pettitte threw a successful bullpen session this morning and is now on target to start the third or fourth game of the season. To keep a retroactive DL stint an option, Pettitte will face Minor Leaguers on Saturday or Sunday depending upon how his back responds to today’s pitching. Mike Mussina will, in all likelihood, start game two against the Blue Jays.
In other pitching news, the Yankees have apparently claimed Felix Heredia off waivers from the Reds. With the minors stocked with better arms, I shudder to think why.
Update by Joe: As many have pointed out, this seems to be a technical error on ESPN’s part. Rest assured, there is no Heredia redux. · (19) ·
For a team that’s never won more than 70 games, the Tampa Bay Rays are surrounded by buzz this year. Certain measures on Baseball Prospectus are predicting as many as 89 wins for the Rays while other people have tempered expectations of a .500 season for the AL East’s perennial bottom-feeders.
No matter the prognosis, it’s safe to say that the Rays are no longer the doormats of the American League. Why then is the team still run that way?
Earlier this week, after a very hot spring, Rays prospect Evan Longoria was exiled to the team’s AAA club in Durham. He wasn’t sent down for seasoning or maturation; rather, he was demoted because the Rays don’t want his arbitration and free agency clocks to start ticking. As Rays bloggers have noted, Longoria should be up in the Majors by the end of May, and the Rays will still hold his rights through the 2014 season. Had they allowed Longoria, the better third baseman in their camp, to head north with the team on Opening Day, they’d see him hit free agency in 2013.
Fans of the Rays are more or less unhappy with this move. Rays Index surveyed his fellow Tampa bloggers and found a mixture of outrage and disbelief. The players themselves are not too happy about the news either as quotes from Jonny Gomes and Carl Crawford show.
Rays of Light feels betrayed by management. “I can’t help but feel we were lied to by the Rays. Though they said prior to Spring Training that he would get a chance to compete for the job, I don’t really feel like that’s what he was allowed to do,” Scott Caruso wrote. For a team in need of fans, sending down one of their better players in the name of business sure isn’t a very popular idea.
But, hey, we’re Yankee fans. What do we care about the Tampa Bay Rays? If the Rays, who have played the Yanks hard over the last few seasons, are weaker for it in April and May, who am I to complain? Well, from an on-field perspective, the move is great. But from the economic perspective, it’s fairly despicable.
The Rays as a team don’t enjoy a high revenue stream, and they don’t have too many fans who pack their unremarkable stadium. Instead, they survive on small payrolls and revenue-sharing payments from the game’s big guns. So with these riches, the Rays are opting to weaken their team in order to save a few bucks down the road.
While some fans ridiculed Hank Steinbrenner for noting that the Yankees fund the Rays, the truth is that the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers and Angels all fund the league’s poorer teams. If the Rays aren’t going to use these funds to field the best possible team, shouldn’t the Yankees have their revenue sharing contributions back?
An independent commissioner could step in and stop this exploitation of loopholes in the service time rules, but Bud would never dirty his hands over this issue. Meanwhile, in the Bronx, we can just raise our eyebrows and wonder why exactly the Yankees are left funding everyone else if everyone else isn’t going to put the money to use.