When the Yankees made their roster announcement last night, I breathed a sigh of relief. Up until the last minute, it looked as though the Yanks were going to take on a sub-par pitcher — Kei Igawa or Darrell Rasner — just to say they had a “long reliever.”
In my opinion, that’s an unnecessary cog. Why waste a roster spot on a pitcher just because? Considering the Yanks’ offensive potential this year, no deficit should be too big for the Bombers.
But, as Mike reported late last night, the bullpen came together nicely. For the first few days of the season, the Yanks will go with eight relievers; the four who were already inked in will be joined by Billy Traber, Ross Ohlendorf, Brian Bruney and Jonathan Albaladejo. While Scott Patterson probably should have made it over Albaladejo, that spot will go to Andy Pettitte when he is activated from the DL on Sunday.
While Peter Abraham see this roster as an indication that things haven’t changed with Joe Torre out, I disagree. The Yanks went with the arms who impressed in Spring Training, and they went with the bats on the bench. They’ve put together a powerful team, but at the same time, this is a team — especially in the bullpen — on a short leash. With numerous pitchers in the minors who can throw strikes effectively, a player who struggesl will get shipped out pretty quickly.
And that’s where Brian Bruney comes in. Last year, we had pretty much written off Bruney. We couldn’t decide what was worse: his attitude or his control. And when he was banished to AAA after throwing walk after walk, he threw a fit about it.
This year, he came to camp ready to pitch. He’s in great shape, and his pitchers are showing life. In 9 Spring Training innings, he gave up 9 hits and 2 ER while striking out 12 and walking 3. He’s been throwing strikes in the mid- to upper-90s all spring, and it’s not an understatement when I say that an effective Brian Bruney could be a very valuable cog in the Yankees bullpen this year.
Bruney is one of the Kyle Farnsworth-type players who GMs cannot resist. He throws hard but has no idea where his pitchers are going. When they’re in the strike zone, they’re nearly unhittable, but oftentimes, their outings as disastrous.
The key to Bruney this year will be his walks. He’s walked 114 in 148 Major League innings for a K/9 IP of just a shade under 7. That’s awful. If he can keep that number around 3 or 4 per 9 IP, the Yanks will finally see Bruney realize his potential.
There’s no doubt that the Yanks are taking some calculated risks this year. Some key pieces on this team’s pitching staff are, by and large, unproven youngsters or veterans on the cusp of AAAA status. But the crazy thing is that this just might work.
While we know that Bob Sheppard won’t return to the Bronx until this summer, another long-time voice of the Yankees is out indefinitely as well. Bobby Murcer, The Daily News’ Bill Madden reports, will miss Opening Day. The side effects of his recent treatment for brain cancer has left him too weak to return to the broadcast booth. Murcer plans to return this year; he just doesn’t know when yet. We’re all hoping he gets well soon. · (3) ·
Jose Molina C
Shelley Duncan 1B-RF-LF
Morgan Ensberg 1B-3B
Wilson Betemit 1B-2B-3B-SS
PeteAbe says that’s the roster, and there’s not much to complain about (keep your head up Scotty P., you’ll be up soon enough). The Yanks retroactively placed Pettitte on the 15-day DL (he’s eligible to come off on Saturday, Sean Henn was also DL’ed), and they eschewed a long reliever in favor of a whole lotta short relievers. Humberto Sanchez was placed on the 60-day DL, opening up a 40-man roster spot for a guy like Darrell Rasner when the time comes. I’m assuming Albaladejo’s the garbage time reliever for now, and will go down to Triple-A Scranton once Pettitte’s ready.
Don’t get too attached, the roster come September and October will look quite different.
Brett Gardner hit a homerun today. But the fun doesn’t stop there: Alberto Gonzalez and Justin Christian also went deep. Granted, it was only a minor league Spring Training game, but these three guys have combined to hit exactly 50 homeruns in 1,218 career games. If my math is correct (and please correct me if it isn’t), the chances of these three each hitting a homer in the same game is one in 1,540,200. Great googley moogley. · (12) ·
The good folks at LoHud.com have unveiled a nifty salary database. You can find out how much your favorite players make and compare them across leagues, teams or positions. While salary data is available elsewhere online, the LoHud tool is the first searchable database and is pretty handy if you like that sort of stuff. · (1) ·
Derek prefers his shaken, not stirred.
Tired of the new Stadium yet? Me neither. Let’s jump in.
With season previews abounding in New York papers these days, there’s no shortage of stories about the new Yankee Stadium. Last week, we enjoyed learning about the martini bar and other luxurious offerings that will come with the new Yankee Stadium Experience. Today’s story comes to us from Sam Borden of The Journal-News, and it focuses on the more practical aspects of the new Yankee Stadium.
In it, we learn about the Yanks’ approach toward designing this new stadium. They wanted, according to team COO Lonn Trost, to restore aspects of the old Yankee Stadium that were abandoned during the renovations in the early 1970s and keep other long-time attributes. For example, the eagles that currently adorn the stadium entrance will fit right in on the new stadium and will appear more like the 1923 originals which were removed in the 1970s.
Beyond beyond the cosmetics, Trost and Borden talked field dimensions and seating bowl configurations as well:
Home plate will be moved 20 feet closer to the seats; the black seats in center field, which were unoccupied and served as the “batter’s eye,” will be replaced by a large sports bar with black-tinted windows; the numbering of the sections will be revamped, meaning that now section 201 actually will be next to section 202, as opposed to the odd-numbers-in-right-field, even-numbers-in-left setup that currently exists…
Monument Park? It’ll be moved, too, though it’s actually moving back closer to where it was in the original park, when it was literally in deep center field in fair territory (players ran among the monuments on deep fly balls). In the new Stadium, it’ll be in center field again, but this time behind the wall…
Instead of being walled-off from the field, the concourses will be open, so that everyone will always be able to see what’s happening during the game. There also will be approximately 500,000 square feet of amenities for fans to enjoy, Trost said, in a “great hall” between the stadium entrance and the field level.
Contrary to what I reported yesterday, Trost said that the dimensions would stay the same. “The dimensions of Yankee Stadium were not going to change. They just weren’t,” Trost said, sounding a bit enthusiastic about measurements that have been in place only since 1988.
Borden wraps up the piece with a kicker about the attendance. We finally have a figure: Attendance at the new Yankee Stadium will be 52,326, down around 4000 from the current stadium’s capacity.
This I do not like. While it’s much better than what the Mets are doing — who decided cutting a New York sports stadium down to 44,000 was a good idea? — the Yankees are selling out every game in the Bronx. So their solution is to cut the number of seats? That doesn’t fly.
“We could have added more seats, but they would have had to just been higher and further from the field,” Trost said to Borden. “We didn’t want to do that. We wanted to make sure that each fan had a great view and could truly enjoy the new park as much as possible.”
And that, my friends, is selling a lie.
Chad Jennings is always thinking. He’s got a decent idea for the start of the season, wherein the Yanks would place Andy Pettitte on the DL. He’d be eligible to return on Saturday, so it wouldn’t hurt the Yanks rotation. They’d go Wang on Monday, Moost Wednesday, Hughes Thursday, IPK Friday, Pettitte Saturday. Of course, this doesn’t have the effect of splitting up Wang and Pettitte, which many think will be good for the bullpen. It does, however, open up another bullpen spot for a few days, which could be valuable in the season’s early going. · (21) ·
Check this out: four out of five ESPN analysts think that all the teams in baseball will combine to post an above-.500 record. This isn’t rocket science, it’s adding and subtracting, but apparently that’s too much to ask. Did you catch Olney saying “Tom Gorzelanny is what he is; Paul Maholm is the interesting guy on that staff” the other day on BBTN? Ridiculous. · (6) ·
The news on Wednesday surrounding Bob Sheppard’s health was sparse but promising. A few news outlets reported that Sheppard, while planning to miss Opening Day, would be back this season as soon as his health and wife allow it.
Well, George Vecsey of The Times went one step futher, and yesterday, he published an excellent column about the Voice of the Yankees. The lede is fantastic: Vecsey calls Sheppard’s house only to have Bob answer the phone. I would probably flip out if Bob Sheppard were to answer the phone in that very distinct voice.
Sheppard, Vecsey notes, was very sick last year. He couldn’t talk; he had to go the hopsital; and he eventually found himself down to 103 pounds. At 97 — Sheppard’s reported age — that is quite the health scare.
The Yankees say they believe Sheppard will return in July even though Bob’s aiming for June. The team may opt to keep him on the DL until the All Star Game just to make sure he’s healthy. As Vecsey writes, Bob Sheppard is Yankee Stadium:
Robert Leo Sheppard has been a highlight of any trip to the big ballyard in the Bronx since opening day, April 17, 1951, when he announced the name of Joe DiMaggio right after the youngster playing right field, Mickey Mantle. Roger or Reggie or Bernie might not hit a home run on any given day, but Sheppard would deliver the starting lineups, in a voice that would make everybody else in the joint sound like we were Archie or Edith Bunker speaking some other language…
The players want to make the majors just to hear Sheppard announce their names. Reggie Jackson still hasn’t gotten over hearing Sheppard, on a busman’s holiday, do a guest inning in Anaheim, Calif., back in the late ’70s. Reggie, in the on-deck circle, nearly flipped, hearing that voice 3,000 miles from home.
Lonn Trost, the Yanks’ COO, summed it up best: “If there was a scale of importance, Bob would be at the top. We feel uncomfortable without Bob and we hope he is with us for another 118 years.”
Only one more week until the minor league season starts, which of course means the return of DotF. Until then I’ll just whet your appetite with some random notes from around the netweb.
- Via Chad Jennings and the Baby Bombers comes word that the Yanks have released a few minor leaguers, most notably RHP’s Guillermo Villalona-Bryan, Nick Peterson and Elvys Quezada. Bryan was High-A Tampa’s Opening Day starter last year, over the likes of IPK and George Kontos, while Peterson’s claim to fame is holding down Short Season Staten Island’s closer job in 2006 until Mark Melancon showed up. With Quezada now gone, only Eric Duncan, Tim Battle, Steven White, Mike Gardner and Jeff Karstens remain from the Yanks’ 2003 draft crop.
- Jennings also has some great quotes from Alan Horne, who’s dominated this spring while working primarily on his slider and changeup, easily his third and fourth pitches. He could be putting himself in position for a monster season.
- I’ve finally settled on this year’s “Watch” subject, but an assist goes out to longtime reader Greg G. That’s all you’ll get for now, this year’s Watch will be unveiled next Wednesday.
- TJ rehabbers JB Cox and Chris Garcia have been throwing in minor league games this spring; Cox has looked particularly impressive, although Garcia struck out the side in his first inning back. Humberto Sanchez won’t see game action until May because he’s recovering from a knee surgery he had last fall in addition to his TJ recovery. Cox, Garcia and Melancon will all start the year with Tampa to take advantage of the warm weather, and I suspect that’s where Sanchez will go once he’s ready. Cox will head to Scranton once it warms up, and Melancon could pitch his way to Double-A Trenton by June. Garcia should stay on Florida’s west coast all year.
- Things aren’t going so well for Kevin Whelan. He left the Arizona Fall League early because of a sore elbow, and now he’s likely to start the year on the DL because of a sore shoulder. Whelan’s got sick stuff and a considerable ceiling, and there’s no reason for the Yanks to rush him back with all the relievers they have at Triple-A.
- Mike Ashmore has been doing a great job of breaking down BA’s list of the Yanks’ top 30 prospects list. I don’t know how much does it, but I applaud Mike’s ability to keep his site updated so frequently with such in-depth content.
- Some quick draft notes: Pepperdine RHP Brett Hunter is going be out until at least mid-April with a dreaded forearm strain (a common precursor to TJ), which will certainly affect his draft stock. Hunter has touched triple-digits in the past, and was ranked the the second best college righthander in the draft (behind Aaron Crow) by BA. Keep an eye on his condition as the draft gets closer. Personal cheeseball Gerrit Cole continues to just dominate California prepsters; this kid is as good as it gets.
- Speaking of Crow, check out his last three starts here, here and here. I was dead wrong when I said he was over-rated a few weeks back, that’s first overall pick type stuff right there.
- Last bit of college talk, I promise. How’s this for some pitching: San Diego freshman Kyle Blair set the school record with 16 K against Hawaii Hilo, only to have ace Brian Matusz tie that record three games later. Number three start Josh Romanski then threw a no-no two days after that. Crazy.
- Have you checked out Saber-Scouting yet? It’s great new site that mixes the world of sabermetrics (boo) with traditional scouting (yay), and is written by guys that actually know what the hell they’re talking about. Check out their scouting report on uber-stud Kyle Gibson.
- Did you see NoMaas’ Dr. Phil graphic? Instant classic.
Last, but certainly not least, please consider pledging for The Big Three K’s Craniosynostosis if you haven’t already. It’s our good deed for the year, and it’s a worthy cause and takes almost no effort on your part. Thanks in advance.