In the seemingly never-ending march toward Opening Day, the Yanks find themselves yet again facing off against the Pirates. They didn’t take many regulars with them. So this game is bound to be filled with all the excitement of a late-September call-up game against the Royals.
It’s on YES and MLB.tv, and only the promise of potentially seeing Ross Ohlendorf pitch is a bright spot. Jeff Karstens draws the start, and it’s hard to say if the Yanks brought the four regulars with them that MLB requires for Spring Training away games. Maybe they think Morgan Ensberg counts.
Graig Nettles is battling prostate cancer, according to the New York Post. Nettles was diagnosed with the disease around Thanksgiving but put off surgery to come to Spring Training. He’ll go under the knife on April 8, and the Yankee community will be pulling for him. · (15) ·
Take a look at any architectural rendering of the new Yankee Stadium, and something is clearly missing from the pathways outside the stadium. The Yankee Stadium Bat, that familiar meeting place in the Bronx, visible from the Major Deegan, has not been included in plans for the new Stadium, and no one is quite sure what’s going to happen to it.
Anthony Rieber, in today’s Newsday, tried to get ascertain the fate of the Bat. He did not have much success:
The 120-foot Louisville Slugger outside Gate 4 — actually a boiler stack fitted to look like a bat, complete with a knob at the top, tape at the handle and Babe Ruth’s signature on the barrel — seems to have been overlooked as the Yankees prepare to make the move across the street to a new Yankee Stadium in 2009.
“We do not have knowledge of what will happen to ‘The Bat,’” Yankees spokesman Michael Margolis said.
A spokesman for the city parks and recreation department, which owns and runs Yankee Stadium, referred calls about The Bat to Mayor Bloomberg’s press office.
Said mayoral spokesman Joseph Gallagher: “The city is working with both the Mets and the Yankees on a plan to sell memorabilia from their respective stadiums that will be timed with the end of the 2008 season, and won’t interfere with existing plans to demolish the stadiums.”
It’s highly doubtful that the City and team will find too many buyers for a 120-foot boiler stack.
A few months’ back, a similar quandary arose for Mets fans. The Mets were not planning on transporting the home run apple to CitiField, and fans were not happy to hear that news. In fact, a few of them — a high school classmate of mine included — starting an online movement called Save the Apple. While it’s unclear if they saved the apple from the Shea, CitiField will include its own home run apple.
But what about Yankee Stadium? The Bat doesn’t exactly have any sort of storied history. Everyone and their uncles likes to use as a pre-game meeting spot because it’s rather easy to spot and centrally located. Otherwise, it’s a piece of engineering equipment made to look somewhat like a Babe Ruth bat. The colors don’t even look much like a wooden bat, but it is a part of Yankee Stadium. Fans identify with that part.
Since public support for saving the old Yankee Stadium never really materialized, what about that famous landmark behind home plate? Should we Save the Bat? Or should it serve as a marker of the old Yankee Stadium forever sitting where it now rests?
Photo of The Bat by flickr user wallyg.
With just over a week to go before his first scheduled start of the season, Andy Pettitte will be missing today’s scheduled Spring Training start with back spasms. Pettitte’s problem is his second of the spring, and while the Yankees are saying he should be in line to make his start on April 2nd against the Blue Jays, he won’t be able to go too deep into the game. Keep in mind also that Josh Beckett, who suffered from back spasms a few weeks ago, has yet to pitch in another Spring Training game.
The Yankees, coming off a perfect Spring Training week and at 12-7 on the Grapefruit League season, find themselves countering the Toronto Blue Jays today with Mr. Sunglasses himself, Kei Igawa. Despite a 3.38 ERA, Igawa has been far from impressive this spring. He has shown no modicum of control and has a 4:4 K:BB ratio in 8 innings. The Yanks are countering with their A-team lineup although, in my mind, the ordering is less than ideal.
In bullpen news, Joba Chamberlain is set to throw an inning today along with LaTroy Hawkins and Kyle Farnsworth. Nine days until Opening Day.
The game starts at 1:15 p.m. It’s on YES and MLB.tv. The Gameday will be available here closer to game time.
Update 12:20 p.m.: Lineup changes abound. Giambi moves to first; Duncan to left; Matsui will DH. Kei Igawa has been scratched, but we don’t yet know why. Jonathan Albaladejo will make the start instead.
Update by Mike 1:00 p.m.: Cano’s out and Woodward’s in. There’s a threat of rain and the Yanks want to see as much of the relievers as possible, which is why Igawa was scratched.
Via PeteAbe, the Yanks have added Morgan Ensberg to the 40-man roster and will pay him $1.75M to come off the bench and start against tough lefties this year. Carl Pavano lands on the 60-day DL to make room for Ensberg, who is out options and will NOT wear number 21. This basically means that the bench is set, with Ensberg joining Wilson Betemit, Jose Molina and whoever sits between the Shelley-Matsui-Giambi-Damon group on a given day. I suppose that Shelley could be shipped to Triple-A with a Cody Ransom-type taking his spot on the bench, but I think it’s unlikely. I like the move; Ensberg is a class act and one helluva complimentary player.
The Organizational Depth Chart has been updated accordingly. · (15) ·
Tim at MLBTR fills us in on a rather extraordinary nugget of info: Back when the Yanks were supposedly mulling around the idea of dealing for the A’s Joe Blanton, Billy Beane asked for Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain in return. Hopefully Cash replied with “Damn yo, why you gotta be wastin’ my daytime minutes for?!?” · (25) ·
Richard Sandomir chatted with Yankees COO Lonn Trost yesterday about ticket prices in the new Stadium, a topic near and dear to our hearts recently. For now, it sounds like single-game seats and season ticket holders will have seats that are not as good as they could get now. On the money front, the Yanks say tickets won’t be “significantly more” next year, but if that’s not a loaded phrase, I don’t know what is. · (12) ·
Over at Baseball Crank, they’re busy previewing each division using Established Win Share Levels. You can click on that last link to get an explanation as to how this is all formulated. As Mike might say, this is some voodoo at work here. But rest assured, it’s all just for fun. I don’t think anyone seriously believes that they can fully predict how a baseball season will unfold.
About the Yankees, he says:
The Hated Yankees have run off the road in October seven years running now, but the regular season juggernaut shows no sign of stopping. A lineup with four 34-year-olds, a 36-year-old and a 37-year-old could change that in a hurry – consider even how much the Yankees lose if A-Rod drops back to .290 and 40 HR – but there’s a lot of quality bats here and the Yanks’ bench, while not great, is not quite as bare as it was for much of the late Torre years. 2008 is an exciting year for purist Yankee fans who have waited a long, long time to see the team break in a significant amount of young talent (Melky getting an everyday job, two rookie starters and maybe three if Joba slots in for Mussina), but it’s also a year of risk.
Not bad, but not a shining review. Funny, then, how the EWSL system puts the Yanks at 101-61, atop the AL East. About the Red Sox, whom the system has checking in at 88-74, he says:
I can’t quite put my finger on one single reason why the defending champs are not rated higher by EWSL, other than the loss of Curt Schilling. The rest is little things – the mid-30s wearing-down of Manny, Lowell and Varitek, the uncertainty of two rookies in the rotation, the relative lack of solid relievers after Papelbon and Okajima, the difficulty of projecting health and productivity from the erratic backgrounds of Beckett and Drew, even the decision to carry a backup catcher with a remarkable facility for accruing service time without accumulating even a single Win Share (Cash has notched zero Win Shares in four of his five big-league seasons).
There’s nothing I’d love more than to see the Sox finish with under 90 wins. No, wait, yes there is. They could always implode and finish with 70 wins. Yeah, that’d be sweet (cue dream sequence).
So let’s stack these predictions up against PECOTA:
So it seems the biggest discrepancy the system has is with the Jays and the Rays. I think it’s quite crazy to go predicting that the Rays will win 88 games this season. But if that’s what the computer says, that’s what the computer says. Me? I’m glad that the people play the game.
What we’ll probably see is a mid-ground here, with both the Jays and the Rays finishing near the .500 mark. And by “near the .500 mark” I mean I’d figure the Rays to nab between 74 and 81 games, with the Jays more in the 79 to 86 category. Still, there’s plenty that will go wrong between now and then. For the record, I’m fairly confident that the Yanks won’t win 100 games, just like I’m confident that the Red Sox will win more than 90. Should be another interesting September, especially as we close out the season at Fenway.
That Joba Chamberlain kid, he sure can pitch.
One day after getting his official bullpen assignment for the start of the season, Joba entered the game as a reliever and blew away a few Blue Jays kids. Eleven pitches later, Joba found himself with three strike outs. It was a vintage Joba performance, if a pitcher with 24 MLB innings under his belt can be considered vintage.
In the post-game interviews, he shared some comments with Peter Abraham:
“It felt great. Just getting going, it’s like riding a bike. … I was more aggressive; just attack the zone. You let your competitive edge and your abilities take over. I think I did a better job of throwing my slider. It was back to the slider that I’m used to throwing and not trying to baby it.”
A couple of points worry me in this quote. Let’s unpack it.
First, Joba notes that he was more aggressive in attacking the zone as a reliever because he let his “competitive edge and…abilities take over.” This indicates to me that Joba the Starter spends more time — perhaps too much time? — thinking through his role as a starting pitcher.
Sports psychology tends to get a short shrift in a world in which athletes are supposed to represent some sort of ideal man, but starting pitchers have four days to prepare. The mind takes over. In one-inning stints that arise when the situation of the game dictates it, a pitcher can leave his thoughts at the door. If Joba is overanalyzing his starts, I’m concerned. He has the stuff to be a starter; he needs to overcome that tendency to suppress his competitive edge.
Next, I am no fan of hearing Joba discuss his approach to his slider right here. Supposedly, he was trying to baby his slider, and I think anyone that saw him pitch earlier in the spring would believe that. During his longer appearances, it seemed as though he was trying to be too fine with his breaking pitchers. Instead of attacking the zone, he was trying to nibble at the corners. He wanted the called strike instead of the swing-and-miss strike. With a 90 mile-per-hour slider, just attack the zone.
Again, this is an issue of mentality. Joba has to translate that reliever mentality into a starter’s mentality. He had accomplished this in the Minors, and I have to wonder if moving him into a high-octane role as a late-inning reliever pushed back some of that mental development.
Right now, I’m not complaining. Joba turns Yankee games into seven-inning affairs. But I’d hate to see this become an issue down the road.
Recently arriving in the mail was Richard Bradley’s latest called The Greatest Game. Bradley uses the 1978 playoff game between the Yankees and Red Sox as a way to explore the historic rivalry between the two teams. The book so far is excellent, and I’ll have a review when I’m through. To whet your appetite, take a read through an excerpt of the book posted on ESPN’s Page 2. It’s good stuff. · (2) ·