Report: Joba’s going to show up early to camp

Via Mike Puma, fifth starter candidate Joba Chamberlain will show up to Tampa to begin workouts next week, about two weeks before pitchers and catchers are required to show up. Joe Girardi indicated that Joba, as well as Phil Hughes, Al Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre will compete for the fifth starter’s spot in Spring Training (though I suspect Mitre was lumped in as a courtesy), so it’s good to see Joba put the extra work in.

“I’m going to go in and understand a lot of guys are fighting for that spot,” said the righty. “Nothing is guaranteed.” That’s certainly nice to hear, at times Joba seemed a little too comfortable with his spot on the team last year.

Report: Dodgers close to deal with Reed Johnson

Via MLBTR, the Dodgers are closing in on a deal with free agent outfielder Reed Johnson. Johnson was considered a candidate for the Yanks’ left field job until they signed Randy Winn, and it’ll be interesting to see what his contract looks like.  If you’re curious, Johnson has been worth 1.7 WAR over the last two seasons with the Cubs. Winn was worth that in his down 2009 season alone.

Live from the Bloomberg Sports launch

In early December, we received word of Bloomberg News’ foray into the sports world. The early news featured discussions of how Bloomberg would use its successful financial analytical tools to bring fantasy sports products to the baseball world. Today, Bloomberg is debuting its product, and Joe and I are now at Bloomberg HQ watching their presentations. You can follow along with us via the RAB Twitter feed, and all of the presentations’ participants are Tweeting via the #BBGsports hashtag.

We’ll have a full write-up of the offerings over the next few days. I’m waiting on some screenshots in order to introduce the product’s features. From the early demo, it looks very good, and Bloomberg Sports seems serious about responding to reader feedback as they work to make the product more useful and user-friendly. As you can see from the above photo, the swag is pretty sweet too.

Olney & Cafardo on Damon

Good morning Fac… wait … wrong site. My bad.

Had enough of this Johnny Damon nonsense yet? Well, Buster Olney and Nick Cafardo give us some more insight into his demands and how negotiations with the Yanks went down (both links via MLBTR). Olney says that once the Curtis Granderson trade was completed, Scott Boras told the Yankees “If you’re going to offer a contract that represents a decrease in salary, don’t bother to make an offer,” and it wasn’t until the Nick Johnson news broke that Team Damon was willing to negotiate. As cliche as it sounds: you snooze, you lose.

Olney adds that the $6M offer the Yanks made last week “might be about the same or even better than what other teams offered.” Boras indicated that “We’ve heard some very creative proposals on Johnny,’’ which is good, because his market is as dry as the Sahara right now.

Open Thread: A walk around the blog

As part of their guide to baseball around the Internet, Yahoo! Sports’ Big League Stew is putting forth what it calls a BLS Blogbook. Yesterday, they presented a few Yankee blogs from around the block. RAB, of course, is included along with a slew of other stellar Yankee fans. Check it out right here.

Otherwise, feel free to use this as your open thread. The Knicks are visiting the Wizards tonight and need to win that game. The Rangers are visiting Phoenix, that hotbed of hockey, and the Islanders have already lost to the Flyers. Be good to each other.

Preliminary 2010 payroll figures

With all of this talk about the Yanks’ budget, the latest from Maury Brown should pique fans’ interests. The Biz of Baseball writer is projecting 2010 salaries based on available information. He covered the Yankees yesterday and determined that the team has committed $198 million to 18 players. The Yanks will renew their pre-arb players soon enough and will see the budget climb to over $200 million. If the team wants to be able to fill holes during the season and adhere to their budget, that should be it for the team’s Hot Stove spending.

Remembering Matt Nokes

For Yankee fans of a certain age, the name Matt Nokes brings back memories of false hopes and an era in which the Yanks had no plan. Acquired from the Tigers in early June 1990, Nokes was that rare left-handed hitting catcher, but unfortunately, for the Yanks he couldn’t do much hitting or catching. After the 1994 season, the Yankees were happy to let him go.

This week, as his Card Corner feature on Bronx Banter, Bruce Markusen reflected on the Matt Nokes era. The Yanks, as Markusen relates, brought in Matt Nokes with the allure of his 1987 32-home run All Star rookie campaign firmly in their minds. They needed some left-handed pop and also hoped to add to their catching depth in a potential run at Ron Darling. The Yanks were 18-30 when Nokes arrived that year and never got much better.

Luckily for the Yanks, they gave up only Lance McCullers and Clay Parker because Nokes amounted to little. “When it came to the defensive skills required of a catcher,” Markusen wrote, “Nokes came up short just about everywhere. He moved stiffly behind the plate, making him a liability on pitches in the dirt. He didn’t throw well, hampered by bad mechanics and lackluster arm strength. And just to complete the trifecta, he had little understanding of how to call a game.”

When he finally departed from the Bronx, Nokes had hit .249/.304/ .437 with 71 jacks. He bounced around the Majors for a few years and then played in the independent leagues for a bunch of seasons. He now serves as the Class A Potomac Nationals’ hitting coach.

Even at the time of Nokes’ acquisition, some — such as The Times’ Murray Chass — questioned the wisdom of the move. “The Yankees do not have a philosophy, or a plan, for that matter. In acquiring Claudell Washington, Matt Nokes and Mike Witt in the past six weeks,” he wrote in 1990, “they have operated on a patchwork philosophy, sort of like a public works crew repairing city streets after a weather-whipped winter.”

Yet, the younger fans always enjoyed Nokes. He had a ridiculously wide batting stance and seemed to love playing the game. When he hit the ball, it would travel far. These days the Yanks are a far cry away from the era of Matt Nokes. They’ve enjoyed stability and success from the catching position for the better parts of 15 seasons now. As Markusen says, Nokes, that rare left-handed hitter, just wasn’t what the Yanks of the early 1990s needed whether they knew it or not.