Yanks “heavily interested” in Adeiny Hechevarria

Via MLBTR, the Yankees are heavily interested in Cuban shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria, who is now free to sign with any team after being unblocked by the OFAC. Joe told us everything we need to know about the 19-year-old last month, and it’s likely that he’ll receive a larger bonus than the $8.2M the Red Sox gave the all-glove/no-hit Jose Iglesias this offseason. Obviously, the Yankees need to start thinking about a shortstop of the future, but that’s a lot of scratch for a teenager, especially when you consider the track record of Cuban imports.

Open Thread: Forgettable

I’m sure you know what happened during today’s meaningless Spring Training game, so I’ll spare you the details. The most encouraging thing to take from it is the ten or so changeups Phil Hughes threw in his two innings of work, which looked pretty good. He even got a swing and miss on one of ’em. Jesus Montero drew a pair of walks, though it was technically a walk and a strikeout. The called third strike was definitely out of the zone, it jut looked like the umps were ready to get out of there after such a long game. Eh, whatever.

So here’s tonight’s open thread. The Knicks, Nets, and Devils are all playing tonight, and of course there’s always the option of going on this Friday night. No matter what you choose, enjoy talking about it here.

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens

Paterson didn’t really want those World Series tickets anyway

On Tuesday, Gov. David Paterson drew headlines for his role in an ethics scandal involving Yankee World Series tickets. He allegedly asked for and received free tickets to Game 1 of the Fall Classic despite the fact that the Yanks are registered with the state as a lobbying organization. Paterson has denied the charges, and the Attorney General is now investigating.

Today, the story gets better as The Observer highlights Paterson’s testimony about the tickets. The governor claims he asked for the tickets because he had to be “part of the ceremony,” and he didn’t even want to go anyway. Paterson, legally blind, says he couldn’t see from his seats and would have preferred to watch the game at home. I don’t think that defense is going to hold up too well in a court of law.

The walls come crumblin’ down

Tom Kaminski in Chopper 880 took his bird up for a trip over the Bronx earlier this week and returned with a few heartbreaking photos of the destruction of Yankee Stadium. The House that Ruth Built is due to be completely dismantled by mid-summer, and as we can see, the wrecking ball has already taken out large chunks of the upper deck. The two lower levels have long since be removed.

The newest scenes from the deconstruction show us the edge of the left field seats, the skeletal innards of the old stadium and the barren outfield where the bleachers once were. From the looks of it, people waiting for the 4 train on the elevated platform at 161st St. should have a clear view into the old Stadium from the southern end of the station. I’ll bring my camera up there in April to grab some shots. In a few months, a vacant lot waiting for a park will sit where the stadium stood for 85 years.

Report: Foreman/Cotto fight set for June 5

According to a report filed late last night by the AP, Bob Arum and the Yankees have reached an agreement to host a June 5 bout between Yuri Foreman and Miguel Cotto at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees will be amidst a six-game road trip that weekend, and while team officials say the Yankee brass still need to approve the plans, this fight will mark the return of boxing to the stadium in the Bronx. “We have a preliminary agreement with them. Nothing has been signed or finalized,” Yanks’ COO Lonn Trost told the AP. “We do plan, if things go well, to have it on June 5.”

According to the report, the main event — a match between Foreman and Cotto — won’t start until around 11:30 p.m. due to Foreman’s observance of the end of the Jewish Sabbath. The stadium will be configured for approximately 30 to 35,000 fans, and tickets will range from $50 to $400. “This is a crowning achievement in my career, to do the last fight in ’76 and the first fight at the new stadium in 2010,” Arum said. “You can’t imagine how good it makes me feel, how special it makes me feel. This is a great thing for my legacy.”

Spring Training Game Thread: Hughes & Joba battle it out

Photo Credit: Kathy Willens, AP

Two games, two walk-offs so far for the Yankees. Of course, they were on the wrong end of it yesterday, losing to the Roy Halladay and the Phillies. If people in Philadelphia want to consider that revenge for the World Series, then be my guest. Whatever helps you sleep at night.

The battle for the fifth starter’s spot will resume today after Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre, and Al Aceves stated their case on Wednesday. Phil Hughes will start this afternoon and toss two innings before giving way to Joba Chamberlain and his two innings. Next time out, Joba will start and Hughes will relieve. Apparently they’re just going to alternate each time out.

Here’s today’s starting nine, which isn’t far off from what we’ll see on Opening Day…

Jeter, SS
Granderson, CF
Teixeira, 1B
A-Rod, 3B
Posada, DH
Thames, LF
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Cervelli, C

Scheduled Pitchers: Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, Jeremy Bleich, Grant Duff, Dustin Moseley, Hector Noesi, David Robertson, Kevin Whelan

Also scheduled to play: Reegie Corona, Greg Golson, Reid Gorecki, Juan Miranda, Jesus Montero, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo, Jorge Vazquez, Jon Weber

First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET, and you can watch on either YES or MLB Network. Also, make sure you join in on our live chat, which you can find after the jump.

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2010 Season Preview: Robo-Tex

Centerfield and catcher have historically been the two positions of strength for the Yankees, but first base hasn’t been too shabby either. Long after Lou Gehrig and his .474 career wOBA (!!!) called it quits, we had Don Mattingly winning an MVP in the 80’s, Tino Martinez winning World Championships in the 90’s, and Jason Giambi posting .400+ on-base percentages like nobody’s business in the 00’s. Until last season, Mattingly, Martinez, and Giambi were the only three regular first baseman the Yanks had since 1983.

Mark Teixeira figures to be the regular first baseman well into the 2010’s after signing an eight year, $180M contract last offseason. His first season in pinstripes could not have gone more according to plan; he led the American League in HR (39), RBI (122), and total bases (344) while posting a .402 wOBA, his third consecutive season north of .400. He also solidified the infield defense, making spectacular stops on balls in the hole and saving teammates countless errors by scooping up errant throws around the bag. And, of course, the Yankees won the World Series.

Now that Year One in the Bronx is complete, what does Year Two hold for Big Tex? Well, hopefully more of the same, that’s for sure.

In typical Mark Teixeira fashion, he’s likely to come out of the gate slow. Last season he hit .182-.354-.338 with just six extra base hits and a puny .317 wOBA through his first 99 plate appearances. For his career, Tex is a .249-.349-.433 hitter (.342 wOBA) in March/April, and there’s no reason to expect 2010 to be different. During his introductory press conference, Tex said it takes him longer to get going because he has two swings to work on in Spring Training (one from each side of the plate), which makes sense. With one year in pinstripes under his belt, hopefully the April swoon won’t be so dramatic this season, something more along the lines of his career performance in March/April than last year’s.

Teixeira will turn 30 exactly one week after Opening Day in Boston, so he’s still comfortably in the prime of his career. Since turning 27-years-old, Teixeira has hit .309-.398-.560 with a .403 wOBA for (amazingly) four different teams, and he’s improved his contact rate every year (78.4% in ’07, 83.0% in ’08, 83.5% in ’09) which in turn has helped reduce his strikeout rate to just 11.5%, a phenomenal mark for a power hitter. On top of all of that, Tex has been supremely durable since breaking his ankle at Georgia Tech in 2001, coming to plate at least 575 times every season of his big league career.

We know he’s a stud defensively, and UZR backs that up. Even though he posted a -3.7 UZR in 2009 (which raised some eyebrows), Tex’s three-year UZR is +2.6, much more in line with his real ability (imagine that, a better answer when looking at a larger sample). Anyway, age-adjusted UZR projections peg Teixeira as a one UZR defender in 2010, which is probably a little light. Regardless, we all known how fantastic he is with the leather, and at his age, there’s no reason to expect a defensive decline.

Despite being one of the best all-around players in the game today, one area where Tex really drags the team down is with his baserunning. It’s not that he’s gets caught trying to steal often – he’s been successful in all four stolen base attempts he’s made in the last three years – he’s just generally awful rounding the bases on balls in play. Last year he cost the Yankees 2.67 runs on the bases according to EqBRR, which essentially negated all of the good things Brett Gardner did with his legs. This isn’t a one-year fluke either. He’s been consistently bad throughout his career whenever he’s not holding a bat or wearing a glove, so this is something that’s sure to continue (if not get worse) in 2010. Thankfully, if Tex is going to be bad at something, he picked the part of the game that has the smallest impact in the grand scheme of things.

For such a tremendous player, Teixeira is pretty boring guy to preview. He’s a robot; a player in his prime that’s great at pretty much everything, and there’s every reason in the world to expect another elite season of production out of him in 2010. Let’s see what the projection systems are saying. Remember to click for a larger view.

After posting a .403 wOBA over the last three seasons, the five freely available projection systems (sorry, PECOTA fans) see Teixeira “dropping off” to a .401 wOBA in 2010. Even though the aggregate triple-slash projection is a slight step down from last year, it’s right in line with Tex’s career performance. I suspect his power numbers will be better than the projections think, simply because he’ll come to plate as a lefty in the New Stadium so many times that he’s bound to pick up a few cheapie homers during the course of the season.

So let’s round it all up. If we’re projecting Tex at .401 wOBA, +1 UZR, and -2.5 EqBRR over 654 plate appearances, he’ll essentially be a five win player in 2010 (4.8 WAR, to be exact). It would be a small drop from last season’s 5.2 WAR, but would still be among the best in the game. As I’ve been saying all along, there’s every reason to expect the Yankees’ first baseman to continue to be extremely productive in the coming season.

Photo Credit: Julie Jacobson, AP