Now that everyone and their mothers — or at least mine — reads baseball blogs, the media, under pressure from the competition, is paying closer attention to the results of Spring Training outings. This is sadly to the detriment of the Spring Training process.
Exhibit A in this era of over-reacting media is Mark Feinsand’s overly dramatic piece about Joba Chamberlain’s outing in today’s Daily News:
Joba Chamberlain called it “just one of those days.”
Of course, Chamberlain had never experienced a day like this since joining the Yankees last August, at least one without midges around.
The hard-throwing 22-year-old allowed two runs on two hits – one of them a towering two-run blast by Twins outfielder Garrett Jones – in two innings, giving up twice as many earned runs as he did in his 19 outings last season.
Harping on less-than-stellar outings by Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy, Feinsand spends a story talking about the struggles these two had yesterday. Missing from the story is any mention of the fact that these are the first two innings these pitchers have thrown against Major League hitters since last season. Missing from the story is a nod toward the purpose of Spring Training: refining mechanics, getting a feel for the strike zone. Missing from the story is a mention of the fact that these outings came on March 4 and not October 4.
Instead, Feinsand compares this outing to one of Joba’s Minor League appearances in which he gave up three home runs. This coverage needs perspective. Yankee fans shouldn’t expect an undefeated Spring Training; that’s not the point. Rather, these pitchers use the time to get out the rest, to get their throwing in, to get in shape. By the time April rolls around, these guys are ready to go.
If, in June, Joba and IPK are still struggling, then we can worry. But two less-than-perfect innings during the first week of Spring Training hardly warrant an alarm. Is this really where we are with sports coverage today?
Little known fact: When the new Yankee Stadium opens, the Doomsday clock on old Yankee Stadium will strike eleven.
That’s right; when the Yankees move across 161st St. to their new digs, plans to dismantle and tear down the House that Ruth Built will kick into overdrive. With just over 13 months to go before that fateful date, the Yankees and the City of New York are already planning the long, commercial good bye.
According to USA Today’s Paul White, an official within the Department of Parks and Recreation has confirmed that the Yanks will auction off some of the stadium and then tear it down. The article provides some details about the post-Stadium plans for the historic site:
Though details are still being worked out, the Yankees expect the stadium will be replaced by a complex of three fields, one for softball, one with Little League dimensions and one for high school and college games. A running track will ring the field, and 12,000 trees will be planted to form the outline of the old stadium around the facility.
As for the rest of the stadium, it doesn’t sound like too many people are losing sleep over this destruction. Even the Hall of Fame, according to White, acknowledges that Yankee Stadium lost its heart and soul when George Steinbrenner renovated it in the 1970s:
Even the Baseball Hall of Fame, which certainly will be in line ahead of the public, doesn’t have any grand expectations.
“Remember, everything was new after the (1973-74) renovation,” said Jeff Idelson, Hall of Fame vice president. “We already have Babe Ruth’s locker and one than was used by (Joe) DiMaggio, then (Mickey) Mantle and Bobby Murcer.”
Idelson said Hall officials haven’t discussed what they might want from the old stadium but expect no problems, especially considering Yankees owner George Steinbrenner is a member of the Hall’s board of directors.
As for the auctions, expect a lot of lower level seats to go. The Tier seats are attached to the step behind them and do not rest flush on the ground. While my dad owns a seat from the old Yankee Stadium, it will be tough for the team to sell seats that don’t sit flat. A few years ago, when the team replaced seats, they sold groups of three for $1500 each. The last seats should sell for significantly more.
Despite the renovations, it will be a sad day in New York when Yankee Stadium is torn down. In 1923, the Yanks erected this ballpark in the Bronx and have brought unparalleled sports success to the field. They marched Hall of Famers through the outfielder and perfect games past the pitchers mound. They’ve had their ups and downs, but it’s all baseball history. And soon the Stadium will be lost to history. I will mourn that day.
The St. Petersburg Times is reporting that David Price, the first overall pick in the 2007 draft, will take the mound for the first game action of his professional career this Saturday when the Rays visit Legends Field. The big lanky southpaw reminds me a bit of Andy Pettitte, but he’s got much better pure stuff (low-90s heat, wipeout slider and sinking changeup). The game is on YES, and should be fun to watch regardless of who’s throwing for the Bombers.
(hat tip to Jason at My Baseball Bias) · (1) ·
How do you solve an enigma like Kei Igawa?
For better or worse, the Yankees and Kei Igawa are seemingly stuck with each other. As we know all too well, the Yanks doled out $46 million to bring him States-side, and he’s been a disappointment ever since.
Yesterday, Igawa made his spring debut against non-college hitters. We know how disastrous his last outing was; he gave up four runs on one hit, a grand slam off the bat of a college kid with two at-bats total over the last two years. He walked hitters, hit one and threw a wild pitch. While it was just February, the outing simply added another bad chapter to long tale of Kei Igawa.
So facing the Blue Jays on Tuesday, Igawa had a chance to raise his own stock, and he responded with two perfect innings, and as RAB favorite – I say that sarcastically – George King notes, the fight for a roster spot continues.
While King’s article is chock full ‘o the typical Spring Training hype and hyperbole, Tyler Kepner of The Times wrote a piece more critical of Kei Igawa and the Yanks’ scouting of the Japanese import. Relying on the words of Hideki Matsui and Brian Cashman, Kepner creates a portrait of competing opinions.
“In Japan, he had pretty good velocity and he was the type of pitcher that usually threw fastballs and changeups to strike out hitters,” Hideki Matsui said through an interpreter. “In Japan, you don’t see that many pitchers throw changeups, as opposed to here, where a lot of pitchers throw changeups. And in Japan, his fastball was pretty fast. But when you compare it to pitchers here, it’s not as fast.”
Igawa also tried to throw too many pitches high in the strike zone, where umpires in Japan are more likely to call strikes. But General Manager Brian Cashman said Igawa’s problem was more about command.
“If I felt that our evaluations were improper, then I would think that he’s failed, and I’m not ready to concede that yet,” Cashman said. “It took José Contreras some time to adjust, and although he possesses a different ability, he led the White Sox to a world championship.
“All I can tell you is Igawa was the strikeout leader in Japan — and not just for one year — and those guys are contact hitters over there. Swing-and-miss is still a big part of his game. You can’t deny that; just look at his statistics.”
So what then is the real story? Based on Matsui’s words, Igawa thrived in Japan because his style of pitching was better suited for the NPL. Brian Cashman, on the other hand, would have you believe that the Yanks were getting a top-flight pitcher.
After a year of watching Igawa bounce back and forth from Scranton to New York and get bounced around by Big League pitching, I am tempted to side with Hideki Matsui. Igawa’s stuff was always up. He lived on a change-up in Japan, and in the U.S., that’s just not good enough.
Maybe one year isn’t enough of a sample to determine whether or not Igawa is a big bust, but as I read more about Kei Igawa the pitcher and the way the Yankees approached this signing, I can’t help but think that the Yanks’ international scouts dropped the ball on this one. It happens sometimes, and for the good of the team, the Yanks should be prepared to cut their losses. Now and then, Igawa has a good outing, but the bad ones are always just around the corner.
The game is live on YES and/or ESPN at 1 this afternoon. I’ll update this post if I notice anything of particular note. But for now, here are the lineups:
Tossing for the Yanks:
Update by Ben: Good news as we await the start of this game: The results of Bobby Murcer’s biopsy have come back negative. The tests revealed scar tissue and not another cancerous tumor.
While El Duque hasn’t pitched in the Bronx since 2004, I’ll always have fond memories of his tenure on the Yanks. Today, via BTTF, comes the news that due to his injuries, El Duque may have to retire his signature leg kick. It is indeed the end of an era, and I have to wonder now if we should have a ceremony eulogizing the El Duque Dance as well. · (4) ·
Most of us know Pete Abraham as a blogger. He’s got the most popular Yanks blog on the planet, and it’s getting better with age. Lately, though, I’ve been drawn to his work in his newspaper, The Journal News. The articles are a bit more thought out, and have depth you’re not going to find on the blog. Yes, sometimes they can get a bit fluffy, but having been blogging for nearly three years, I understand that subject matter can be hard to come by. Today, Pete delves into our favorite subject: The Big Three.
While last year we thought having Roger Clemens around would give the kids a proper role model, it appears that it was Andy Pettitte might have been the best mentor all along. He’s on the field at 8:15 a.m., and has Joba, Phil, and IPK in tow.
Pete gave us a glimpse of the working, opening with an anecdote about Phil and Joba trying to run a mile in five and a half minutes. The guys then work out for another hour, sprinting and doing abdominal work. Legs and core…it’s what makes baseball players stronger.
They’re all at the level now where they’re pushing each other, which bodes well for all of them. It’s one thing to be under Andy Pettitte’s tutelage. It’s another to rise up to his level and push him just as hard as he’s pushing you.
This all gets me even more psyched about the Big Three. It’s one thing to fall for the hype. It’s a complete other thing when you see that they’re working their hardest to live up to it.
(By the way, anyone catch Phil’s latest contest? They’re trying to guess the nickname Kennedy has around the clubhouse. The astounding majority of respondents have said “IPK.” Just remember where that one originated.)