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.

Will Burnett work in more changeups this season?

We can count on a few stories to pop up multiple times every spring. Some players show up in the best shapes of their lives. While that’s probably the most common spring cliche, pitchers developing new pitches over the off-season ranks pretty close. The attached assumption is that another pitch means another weapon. Many pitchers, however, never implement this new pitch. They can work on it all off-season, but until they start throwing it in games they won’t really know how it works. And since throwing it in games can cost runs, some pitchers shy away.

We won’t know until April whether A.J. Burnett will use his changeup more in 2010, but he certainly worked on it this off-season. In fact, as Carig tells us, he worked on it harder than in any previous off-season. Adding a dependable changeup to his arsenal could keep hitters even more off-balance when his curveball is working well, and could provide a backup plan on days where his curveball falls flat. But even given his hard works and the effect it could have on his success, Burnett won’t commit to mixing it in more often. “Whether I throw it or not, I don’t know,” he said.

To help him better develop the changeup, Burnett sought out 40-year-old Reds reliever Arthur Rhodes. It sounds perfectly normal for pitchers to seek advice from their elders, especially when they live nearby in the off-season. Rhodes has been a fine pitcher over his 18-year career, striking out nearly a batter an inning while maintaining a 4.15 ERA (107 ERA+). Without the 82 innings he’s pitched against the Yankees, though, that would be a 3.88 ERA. He has also allowed eight runs in 6 playoff innings against the Yankees, though seven of those runs came during two games in the 2000 ALCS.

I’d love to see Burnett work in a third pitch, but it’s not a simple process. I assume he’ll throw it a bit more often once the spring games start to see if he can get a feel for it. But even then he might not have enough confidence, no matter how much progress he’s making. Without full confidence in a pitch we can’t expect a pitcher to use it, no matter how much it could potentially improve his arsenal. With Burnett, I’ll expect another season of fastball-curveball, and take any further changeup usage as a bonus.

Photo credit: Kathy Willens/AP