Spring Training Game Thread: Grapefruit League Finale

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

At long last, the Yankees wrap up their official Spring Training schedule today. Tomorrow they’ll play a friendly game against their top prospects before heading to Boston to kick off the 2010 regular season against those small market Red Sox.

Andy Pettitte takes the mound today with just four official innings to his name because he’s had to deal with an inordinate number of rainouts. Most of his work has come in simulated or minor league games. Don’t worry, it’s bright and sunny in Tampa today, so the game with definitely be played. There aren’t any position battles to decide or roster spots left to be won, so this game is all about getting some work in and not getting hurt. Here’s the starting nine…

Jeter, SS
Johnson, DH
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Granderson, CF
Gardner, LF
Mike Rivera, C

Scheduled Pitchers: Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera. Damaso Marte was supposed to go, but his shoulder is acting up. Boone Logan, Grant Duff, Amaury Sanit, and Josh Schmidt are also available.

Also scheduled to play: Francisco Arcia, Juan Miranda, Luis Nunez, Ramiro Pena, P.J. Pilittere, Austin Romine, Justin Snyder, Marcus Thames, Jon Weber, and Randy Winn.

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and can be seen on both YES and ESPN. After the jump is today’s chat, so join in.

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Two openings in the fourth fifth RAB fantasy Baseball League

There are two spots open in one of our fantasy leagues, so this is probably your last chance to get in if you’ve missed it. Here’s the catch: the draft is this afternoon at 4:15pm ET, so it’s very short notice. If you want in, go to Yahoo and sign up using this info…

League ID: 423467 442039
Password: loubrown riveraveblues

Happy drafting. (Update: My bad, posted the wrong league info)

The 2010 RAB Pledge Drive

It’s that time again, time to announce our plan to use RAB’s popularity for the betterment of mankind. Last year we managed to raise $1,500 for Joe Torre’s Safe At Home Foundation, and the year before we were able to raise $1,050 for The Jorge Posada Foundation. This year’s charity of choice was founded by one of the newest Yankees, Curtis Granderson.

The Grand Kids Foundation was established in 2008 as an educational-based organization that helps purchase books and school supplies for needy families, and also provides equipment and facilities to baseball programs that help keep inner city kids off the street. You can learn much more about the foundation at it’s official website.

Last year we based the pledge drive on the number of runs scored by the team, and the year before it was the number of strikeouts by the trio of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy. This year, I’m going to go with the number of times that the charity’s founder reaches base in 2010. The idea is simple, you guys pledge a certain amount of money for every time Curtis Granderson reaches base on a hit, a walk, or a hit by pitch, and at the end of the season we’ll collect it all and send it on in to Grand Kids.

Even in what was considered a down season, Granderson still managed to reach base 231 times last year. So, if you pledged just $0.05 for each time he reached base last year, your donation would have been just $11.55. A $0.10 pledge would’ve had you on the hook for just $23.10. Every little bit helps, and you can see how easy it is to help out without breaking the bank.

We collected the donations at the end of the year via PayPal, personal check or money order the last two times we did this, and we’ll do the same thing this year. If you wish to pledge – and we hope you do – just send an email to me at mike (at) riveraveblues (dot) com, letting me know how much you wish to pledge. Please put something like “Pledge Drive” in the subject line to make the admin work easier.

Thank you in advance, and let’s go Yankees!

Marte has a “cranky” left shoulder

Via Marc Carig, lefty setup man Damaso Marte what he called a “cranky” shoulder, though he thinks he’ll miss two or three days at the most. The problem, or course, is that Marte had a shoulder issue last year that he classified as minor, yet he ended up missing four months. If he has to hit the disabled list for any length of time, you can all but guarantee that Boone Logan will make the roster.

Scouts and talent evaluators discuss Jeter’s position

Photo credit: Frank Franklin II/AP

During the off-season we often worry not only about the current team, but also future teams. Hey, there’s plenty of space in our brains for baseball and only so many interesting items in the off-season. Derek Jeter‘s expiring contract fits this mold. He becomes eligible for free agency after this season, though there doesn’t appear to be any worry over his future as a Yankee. In fact, the biggest questions have not been of whether Jeter will sign, but of what position he will play during the later years of his new contract.

For now Jeter will stay at shortstop. A few years ago many considered Jeter a mediocre defender at best, someone who made flashy plays and solidly fielded balls he could reach, but who let too many fieldable balls slip into the outfield. Brian Cashman brought this to his attention after the 2007 season and ever since Jeter has made defensive work the focus of his off-seasons. He showed improvement in 2008 and 2009, and we can now call him at least average defensively. But how long will that last?

In a recent blog post Buster Olney lists responses from scouts, talent evaluators, and J.P. Ricciardi regarding Jeter’s future position. As expected, many answered left field. That has been the most frequently mentioned destination for Jeter as he approaches age 40. Any evaluator or scout who mentioned this noted that center field would not be a good destination for the same reason that Jeter likely won’t stay at shortstop into his 40s. His range likely wouldn’t be adequate for the position, though that’s somewhat less of an issue in left field. One talent evaluator called Jeter “a natural fit in right field” because of his “athleticism, instincts and strong throwing arm.”

If left field is indeed Jeter’s ultimate destination then the Yankees have to keep that in mind this off-season. All spring long we’ve heard that they’re hot on Carl Crawford, but would also consider signing Jayson Werth should Crawford find work elsewhere. It would be tough to move Jeter there if either is under contract long term. This is perhaps where right field comes into play. Nick Swisher is also under contract through 2011, though he has a more reasonable $10.25 million option for 2012. That might be the time the Yankees start thinking about moving Jeter, so they could sign Crawford or Werth this off-season and still have a spot for Jeter in the outfield.

Interestingly, a couple also suggested a move to second base. the Yankees have Robinson Cano under contract through 2011, with a pair of expensive options, $14 and $15 million, for 2012 and 2013. One talent evaluator suggests that the Yankees could trade Cano, but I just don’t see it with his current contract. I’m also not sure that moving from short to second would make much of a difference. As one scout noted, he might not transition well. Then again, he might not transition to the outfield well. I’m just skeptical that the answer to compensating for diminishing skills at short is a move to second. It has worked for others, though, so perhaps there’s merit in the idea.

Ricciardi suggests that Jeter stays at shortstop, saying that he “could see him playing shortstop another five years — ’til the end of his next contract.” If Jeter continues his focus on defense then maybe he can stick there for a few years. But through the end of his next contract, five years into the future? Ricciardi compares him to Omar Vizquel, which just isn’t fair. Vizquel has always been an elite defender at shortstop, one of the best among his peers. Jeter, though improved, doesn’t compare. It’s like comparing regular apples and apples that have moved very well laterally their entire lives.

At the end of the article Buster offered his own opinion, so I’ll do the same. I don’t think Jeter will move off short until 2012 at the earliest, and at that point I think he’s destined for an OF/DH role. Perhaps at that time the Yankees will give him a look at short, but if Robinson Cano continues hitting I don’t see why they’d get rid of him. There might be an opening in the outfield, though, either in left or in right, so that might be a natural fit at the time. I doubt the Yankees will give it too much thought upon re-signing him, though. The object is to keep Jeter. If he can play short for half of his next contract, I think the Yankees would be happy with that.

Yankees win the sAL East

If we’ve learned anything over the past six months, it’s that spreadsheets love the Yankees. Back in October, on the eve of the ALCS against the Angels, we found out that the Yankees won the sALCS. Clay Davenport of Baseball Prospectus ran simulations of the ALCS and then World Series and the Yankees came out on top more frequently than their opponents. This time SG at Replacement Level has done it, and you can expect a familiar result.

He explains his methodology, which involves running five projection systems through 1,000 Diamond Mind simulations. He puts them all together and outputs projected standings. You can see the NL results at the methodology link, and you can see the AL here. The Yankees won the AL East 40.7 percent of the time, with the Red Sox winning 30.3 percent. We ran the numbers for many of these projection systems in our 2010 season preview series, and little, other than Javy’s aggressive projection, stood out. Everything’s relative, though.

SG did a fantastic job here, writing up capsules for each team and creating some neat pie charts. I’ll share my favorite with you. Head over to see the rest.

When I read these posts I couldn’t help but think of my favorite FJM ever.

Open Thread: Regular Season Reminders

The regular season kicks off on Sunday night, but I figure most of you will be out partying Friday and Saturday evenings, so I wanted to get this out of the way now. Below you’ll find a list of all the different ways you can access our fine blogging establishment, some of which you may find easier than others.

Before you get into that, make sure you review our commenting guidelines. Emotions run high during the season, especially during games like the one we’ll see at Fenway Park on Sunday, but we have to make sure we maintain some sort of civility in the comments. Please review them, even if it’s just a fresher.

RSS Feeds
Hopefully by now you’re taking advantage of the magic that is really simple syndication, or RSS. If not, that’s cool, but I recommend signing up for something like Google Reader. This site will tell you everything you need to know about using RSS feeds, but in short, you can subscribe to the feed of your favorite sites, and instead of manually visiting each one multiple times a day, the information will be brought right to you as it’s posted, all in one convienent spot.

Our main feed can be found here, but we also have a feed specifically set up for our amateur draft coverage. The main feed will bring you all of RAB’s content, the second is just for draft coverage. As you can imagine, it’s not very active between mid-August and March.

Subscribe via E-mail
If RSS feeds aren’t your cup of tea, you can get RAB sent right to your inbox. Just stick your email address in the appropriate box to the right (the one that says “Subscribe to RAB via email,” duh), and all of our content will be emailed to you as it’s posted.

Has anything changed sports coverage in recent years as much as Twitter? Any breaking news will be posted their first, in 140 characters or less. You can use a (free!) service like Tweet Deck or Echofon to easily follow your friends, favorite sportswriters, celebrities, whoever has a Twitter account.

We have two separate Twitter feeds here. Our main feed is @RiverAveBlues, where the three of us will muse on various topics, post any breaking news, engage in playful banter with readers, stuff like that. It’s worth signing up just to read Ben’s knee-jerk reactions during the games. Our second feed is @RABfeed, which will automatically link to all of our posts as they go up. That’s pretty much all it’s there for, but it’s very useful.

If you want, you can also follow the three of us on our personal accounts: @bkabak, @joepawl, and @mikeaxisa. I can’t promise everything we tweet about will be about the Yankees, or even baseball for that matter, but you won’t regret it.

It’s probably our least utilized social media presence, but there’s still over 850 people that are fans of RAB’s Facebook page. I’m not much of a Facebook person myself, but I recommend hitting our page up to connect with fellow Yankee fans.

I appear weekly on on The Shore Sports Report with Mike Krenek and Joe Giglio to talk about the Yankees, which airs on FOX Sports 1030 AM and WOBM 1160 AM. I post a reminder beforehand letting you know when exactly I’ll be on, but usually it’s Thursday around 4pm ET.

Contacting Us
If for any reason you want to contact us (maybe you have a question, or a link to a cool story, etc), the best way to do so is to use our little “Submit A Tip” box. You can’t miss it, it’s just to the right of the main column. If you want to tip us off to a trade rumor that we’ve missed, or something like that, please make sure you send us a link. Otherwise it’ll only take us longer to get a thread up about it.

If you want to contact us individually, then just drop us a line. Our addresses are in the far right sidebar. I know I haven’t been the best at replying at a timely manner, but my early New Years resolution is to improve on that.

Other Places To Read Us
Believe it or not, the three of us all use our blogging superpowers for good elsewhere as well. I contribute to MLB Trade Rumors and soon enough RotoGraphs, while Joe contributes to FanGraphs and ESPN’s TMI Blog as well. Teaser: He’s got a Yankee-related post going up at TMI tomorrow.

Ben also runs a wildly popular blog about the New York City subway system called Second Ave. Sagas. He’s been on TV and has been recognized by the Village Voice for his MTA awesomeness. Check it out.

So, you got all that? There’s a ton of ways you can have RAB’s content brought right to you, but nothing quite duplicates the experience of coming to the site, reading the posts, then debating the topics with our great group of commenters.

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Here’s your open thread for the night, so go ahead and talk about whatever you want. The Isles are the only local team in action.