Sunday stories: Spring training, Posada, Montero, Rivers

There’s nothing new from us yet, but while you drink your morning cup of coffee check out these stories.

  • Arizona ponying up for spring training. Florida has long been the favored site for spring training, but this year, for the first time, they will host the same number of teams as Arizona. The state has done a lot to accommodate teams, including subsidies for training facilities. Plus, I’m sure players enjoy training in the dryer weather. Give the Yankees fan base in Florida, I doubt they’ll ever make the move.
  • Jorge not thinking about the end. Clearly, a ballplayer won’t admit weakness, especially to the press. So when Jorge says that “they are going to really have to rip [the uniform] off me” to get him out from behind the plate, we can just attribute that to his competitive nature. But at a time when many focus on Jorge’s shortcomings, it’s nice to read a laudatory article on him.
  • Marc Carig has a Q&A with Jesus Montero that you’d probably have found anyway. My favorite quote: “I like to have fun when I’m hitting. I love to hit. If we don’t hit in baseball, it’s not baseball. This is the best thing in my life: hit home runs, have fun, hit batting practice. Hitting for me is the best thing in my life.”
  • It sounds like Mickey Rivers wants a full-time gig with the Yanks. He usually appears as a special instructor in spring training, but wants to work as a minor league instructor.

Finally, I have a serious question for people who read on the weekdays:

Should RAB focus more on weekend stories?
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Open Thread: Updated tribute video

We posted this video way back in November, but we’re reposting it because a) it’s awesome, and b) it’s been updated to include the 2009 season. It’s well worth ten minutes of your time, so check it out.

Here’s your open thread. The Nets and Knicks are both playing, plus the Olympics are in their second to last day of competition. At 10pm ET, Slovakia will play Finland is the hockey bronze medal game, so that might be worth a watch. Anything goes, so have it at it.

Early Spring Training rotation announced

Real live baseball is just a few days away, and Bryan Hoch has the Yankees’ early Spring Training rotation for us…

March 3rd vs. Pirates: Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, Al Aceves
March 4th @ Phillies: CC Sabathia (vs. Roy Halladay)
March 5th vs. Rays: Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain

The best part? All three games are on MLB Network (the Pirates and Rays games will be on YES as well), so we get to the see the Yanks in action. Based on how these things usually go, each of those guys mentioned above with throw two innings max, and the rest of the game will go to the lesser-knowns of the staff. We might even have ourselves an Andrew Brackman sighting.

Chad Jennings has the pitching probables beyond those first three games above, and he also mentions that Sabathia didn’t throw today because of the rain. He’s going to throw tomorrow instead, so don’t worry about it. Rumor has it Chan Ho Park should be in camp by then as well, though he’s about a week behind everyone else. Hooray for Spring Training!

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Former Yankees stick together

Over the past few years we’ve joked about the Pirates being the Yankees’ AAAA team. Since the Xavier Nady-Damaso Marte trade, in which the Yankees sent four players to the Pirates, three more players have gone from Scranton to Indianapolis. It appears they’ve formed a bond, likely because of their familiarity with each other. Dan McCutchen and Ross Ohlendorf, who came over in 2008, share a house in Florida with Steven Jackson and Anthony Claggett, whom the Pirates claimed when the Yankees designated them for assignment in 2009. Chuck Finder of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tells the story, which I figure appeals to Yankees fans more than Pirates.

There’s nothing I can really add to the story, so head over and check it out. I don’t think the Yanks will miss any of these pitchers, but it’s nice to see they’ve landed somewhere they can get a real shot at the major league roster.

2010 Draft Order finalized

Now that the Rod Barajas deal is official, all of the Type-A/B free agents are accounted for and the selection order for the 2010 draft is set. The Yankees didn’t lose or gain any picks this year, so they’ll be picking 33rd overall, then 82nd, 112th, 145th, and every 30 picks thereafter. It’s just the second time the Yanks have had as many as four of the top 145 picks since 2006, and the second time since 2003 that they didn’t gain or lose any picks because of free agent compensation.

The Blue Jays have a chance to do some real damage this year, because free agent compensation (Barajas, Marco Scutaro) and failing to sign three top picks in 2009 give them ten of the first 126 picks. Those same ten picks earned $9.2M last season, more than Toronto spent on their last two drafts combined, so it’ll be interesting to see how new GM Alex Anthopoulos and the game’s largest scouting department approach this. They need them, because their farm system is still pretty weak despite the Scott Rolen and Roy Halladay trades. The Angels also have a bevy of extra picks, including three of the first 30, and five of the first 40.

Open Thread: Getting after it

Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, and Jon Weber making plays at the wall today. All photos by Kathy Willens, AP.

It’s snowy in New York, but sunny in Tampa. Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain threw to real live batters today, even though they only bothered to swing at 11 of 60 combined pitches. Games are just five days away, though it’s likely one of Al Aceves, Chad Gaudin, or Sergio Mitre will start that opener according to Joe Girardi. Just 37 more sleeps until Opening Day…

Here’s your open thread for the evening. You get to pick between the Knicks and the Olympics, though the Canada-Slovakia hockey game will determine who faces USA in the Gold Medal game. Enjoy the night, and the thread.

Thames has an opt-out clause

Via Chad Jennings, Marcus Thames has a clause in his contract that allows him to opt out and become a free agent if he doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training. Veterans on minor league deals almost always get clauses like this, allowing them to look elsewhere for a job instead of getting stuck in Triple-A all season.

Thames and Rule 5 Draft pick Jamie Hoffmann are essentially fighting for one bench spot, and it looks like whichever one loses that battle will head elsewhere. The decision comes down to whether the Yankees prefer Thames’ power against lefties (and basically nothing else) to Hoffmann’s ability to play all three outfield spots proficiently, steal some bases, and maybe even be a non-zero with the bat.