The musical stresses of Spring Training

Mark Teixeira wants to rock, and he wants Yankee fans to know that every single time he strides to the plate in Yankee Stadium this year. The Twisted Sister, in fact, has been filtering through the TV broadcasts during Spring Training as well. So I take comfort in knowing that in 2011, Mark Teixeira wants to rock just as much as he did in 2010 and 2009.

Teixeira isn’t so stuck in his ways. As he explained last year to ESPN, he has mixed it up with his tunes over the years. He used to play Jimi Hendrix’s version of “All Along the Watchtower” and added Pearl Jam’s “Alive” to his Bronx rotation in 2010. Even still, he always just wants to rock.

The Yanks’ first baseman though is a stalwart among changing tastes. As Mark Feinsand and the dear departed Fack Youk explored last May, the Yankee lineup featured an ever-changing mix of current hits and classic tracks. The Baseball Gods cursed Nick Johnson for his using Miley Cyrus during baseball games while Derek Jeter and A-Rod come to bat to their latest favorite. “This Is Why I’m Hot” gave way to “The Way I Live” for A-Rod one year. Or perhaps it was the other way around.

Inside the stadium, we used to be welcomed to the jungle by Axl Rose and Co. before every game. These days, Nelly reminds us that the Yanks have the heart of a champion, and the dulcet tones of Bobby Darin still remind us that it’s Sunday in New York. Those tracks are run by board operator Mike Bonner, but the players generally pick their own songs. It’s a process.

On Monday evening, Curtis Granderson — with some help from 12 Angry Mascots — let us into the process and showed us exactly what song we’ll be listening to this season as number 14 comes to bat. The, uh, fun is well worth the three minutes and three seconds.

Yankees have some interest in Oliver Perez, dark sense of humor

Via Jon Heyman, the Yankees have some interest in Oliver Perez and have internally discussed bringing him aboard as a cheap sign. It can’t get any cheaper; whatever team signs Perez would only have to pay him the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. Little brother in Flushing is on the hook for basically all of his $12M salary this year.

I always say there’s no harm in a minor league contract/league minimum big league contract, but I understand if it’s tough to see any upside here. Perez, even though he’s still just 29, is done, like done done. He’s been throwing 85 mph nothingballs in camp the last few weeks, and the last time his FIP even approached the league average was 2007. There’s very little to like here; at least Bartolo Colon is showing something this spring. Heyman says that Brian Cashman isn’t terribly enthused by Ollie, and let’s hope his superiors feel the same way.

ST Game Thread: Banuelos on the bump (I think)

(Getty Images/Al Bello)

Surprise! The Yankees’ game is on the televisions tonight. MLB Network sent out a release this morning that tonight’s game against the Rays in Port Charlotte will being airing live on their fine network. The game was originally going to be broadcast on a tape delay at some Mo-awful hour of the night. Here’s the starting nine…

Brett Gardner, CF
Derek Jeter, DH
Jorge Posada, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robbie Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Ramiro Pena, SS
Eduardo Nunez, LF
Justin Maxwell, RF

Available Pitchers: Bartolo Colon, Manny Banuelos, Romulo Sanchez, Steve Garrison, Eric Wordekemper, Ryan Pope, Cory Arbiso, and Pat Venditte. Pat Venditte!

Available Position Players: Austin Romine (C), Brandon Laird (1B), Kevin Russo (2B), Doug Bernier (SS), Jorge Vazquez (3B), Jordan Parraz (LF), and Melky Mesa (CF).

Again, the game can be seen on MLB Network at its scheduled start time of 7:05pm ET. Enjoy.

March 21st Camp Notes

Shortstop power! (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Here’s what went down in Tampa today, just over a week from Opening Day…

  • The Yankees held a staff meeting, presumably to discuss the fourth and fifth starter spots, though Ivan Nova is looking more and more like a lock. (Buster Olney)
  • Meanwhile, it’s sounding more and more likely that Brett Gardner will hit leadoff, at least early in the season. Joe and I discussed this very topic on today’s RAB Radio Show. (Jack Curry)
  • Pedro Feliciano threw 25 pitches in the bullpen and said he felt good. He’ll throw batting practice or another bullpen session on Wednesday, then hopefully get into a game on Friday or Saturday. The lefty is battling a sore triceps. (Erik Boland)
  • Joba Chamberlain will pitch in tomorrow’s game, so his strained oblique is doing well. Greg Golson took batting practice today; he’s been sidelined by some kind of rib/oblique injury. (Chad Jennings)
  • Mariano Rivera threw two uneventful innings in a minor league game and said everything felt fine. He’ll make another appearance either Wednesday or Thursday. Boring Mo updates are good Mo updates. (Boland)

The RAB Radio Show: March 21, 2011

We’re all talked out on the fourth and fifth starter battles, so we move onto what is perhaps the one remaining questions of the spring. Who will bat leadoff? The Yankees have placed Gardner in that spot for the past couple of games, and the beat crew seems increasingly convinced that’s how Girardi will fill out his lineup card on March 31. Mike and I muse on the issue.

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Handicapping the back-of-the-rotation battle

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The regular season is now just ten sleeps away, but the Yankees have yet to announce who will serve as the their fourth and fifth starters at least at the outset of the season. I think we all expect the team to go out and get someone via trade at some point during the season, but for now, these guys will have to do. Given what we’ve seen in Spring Training, not necessarily in statistical performance but how they’ve looked on the mound, let’s slap some odds on each guy’s likelihood of breaking camp with the big boys cracking the rotation …

Ivan Nova (Odds: 3-2)
Nova’s case for a rotation spot started last September, when he was serviceable (4.50 ERA, 4.36 FIP) in seven starts and did no worse than earn himself a long look in camp. He’s toying with a new slider and stands out from the pack for no other reason than because he’s not some retread. Nova’s a homegrown guy and those are easy to like, but his limited exposure in the show will work against him. That and the fact that he has two minor league options remaining, since the team could safely stash him in Triple-A and then summon him at a moment’s notice. My guess is that he starts the season in the rotation, but who am I to say?

Freddy Garcia (Odds: 5-1)
The favorite for a job coming into a camp, Garcia is having one of his trademark awful springs at a time when he really can’t afford to. Ben chronicled the problem with Garcia last night, though he has one thing on just about all the other rotation candidates: a recent history of staying on the mound. He threw 157 innings with the White Sox last year, and although they weren’t high quality innings, they were innings nonetheless. Reliability counts, even in tiny little amounts.

Bartolo Colon (Odds: 10-1)
Perhaps the surprise of Spring Training so far as been Colon, who’s come out of the gate throwing 94 four-seamers and sinking his two-seamer against both lefties and righties. He’s also featured some kind of offspeed pitch, probably a splitter but more of a junkball, that has kept hitters off balance. Remember, Colon was pitching in winter ball just a few weeks before camp opened, so he’s (theoretically) ahead of the other guys and his stuff could just be a mirage. Once he steps on the mound in meaningful games against hitters with something more than tee-times on their minds, chances are this story will take a turn for the worst. Regardless, he hasn’t hurt his chances this month.

(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Sergio Mitre (Odds: 100-1)
Beset by an oblique issue, albeit slightly, Mitre hasn’t really gotten into this competition all that much. He’s started just one game in camp with three other long-relief appearances, and part of that is a function of there being only so many starts to go around, but you’d have to think he’d be getting a longer look if he was a legit candidate (Nova, Colon, and Garcia have each thrown at least five more innings in actual games this spring). The Yankees know Sergio and what he’s capable of, so perhaps he isn’t as high priority as the other guys. Either way, he always seemed destined for that same long-reliever role he’s filled over the last year-and-a-half.

* * *

We’ve been playing the fourth and fifth starter guessing game pretty much all winter, so these not completely arbitrary odds are nothing more than a snapshot in time, a record of where the competition stands as of March 21st. Both Colon and Garcia have the ability to become free agents if they don’t make the team out of camp, and it would be surprising to see the Yankees squander assets like that so early in the season.

Given the propensity for injury (especially with two guys like that), it’s better to have more pitchers around anyway, even if they stick them in the bullpen for the time being. Plus the team will also get the first few weeks of the season to evaluate them a little bit further, against real big league hitters. Every little bit helps, even if these guys will (hopefully) be gone by July.