Following a 90-minute rain delay, the Yankees got back into the win column with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Phillies this afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka made his second appearance (first start) of the spring, allowing a solo homer in three otherwise strong innings. He struck out one, walked zero, and recorded seven outs on the ground compared to one in the air. Pretty good day if you ask me.

In their first games of the spring, both Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Alfonso Soriano (flu) went 0-for-3. Soriano struck out all three times. Derek Jeter went 2-for-3 with a ground ball single and a line drive double, which were his first base hit and first ball hit in the air of the spring, respectively. Kelly Johnson had two more hits to continue his nice spring. Ramon Flores crushed a solo homer and had the go-ahead sac fly in the eighth, capping a rally created by Gary Sanchez (single) and Jose Pirela (double). Here’s the box score and here’s the rest from a rainy day in Tampa.

  • Today was the first of the Yankees’ seven spring games with the expanded replay system, but there was some kind of electrical problem, so it wasn’t available. Go figure. The Phillies tried to challenge a play but couldn’t.
  • CC Sabathia threw his simulated game as scheduled, presumably indoors given the weather. He unveiled a new cutter during the session, a pitch he learned from Andy Pettitte. “He showed me the grip for the cutter. I used it [Thursday] and I am going to take it into the game.,” said Sabathia. [George King]
  • Manny Banuelos will throw an inning in Saturday’s game. It will be his first real game action in about 20 months due to elbow problems. Tyler Austin (wrist) hit off a tee as he works his way back from lingering soreness. [Chad Jennings]
  • And, just in case you were worried, Joe Girardi confirmed that Carlos Beltran was scratched from this afternoon’s game because of the weather. He’s not hurt, they just don’t want him and knees on the wet outfield. [Bryan Hoch]

This is your open thread for the night. This afternoon’s Yankees game will not re-air anywhere, but MLB Network is showing Dodgers-Angels on tape delay later tonight, if you’re interested. The Nets are playing as well. Talk about whatever here. Go nuts.

Comments (57)

The Yankees relied on international free agents as the backbone of their farm system for years and years, but the new spending restrictions severely limit the team’s ability to build through Latin America. Two years ago they were capped at $2.9M — a touch less than they gave C Gary Sanchez alone back in 2009 — and last summer it was only $1.88M, the third smallest bonus pool in the game. Tough to stick to that number and add impact players.

According to Ben Badler (subs. req’d), the Yankees used that $1.88M pool to sign 45 (!) players last year. Well, kinda. All of that money and then some went to Dominican OF Leonardo Molina ($1.4M) and Dominican SS Yonauris Rodriguez ($570k). The Yankees exceeded their pool by roughly $93k on those two players alone, almost exactly a 5% overage. That results in a $70k tax, or 75% of the overage. Four other players signed for the $50k exemption (each team gets six) and the other 39 signed for no more than the $7,500 exemption (unlimited). Most of those guys are roster fillers and not serious prospects.

The 16-year-old Molina (no relation to the catching brothers) is now listed at 6-foot-2 and 180 lbs. and was one of the top available players on the international market. “Molina set himself apart with some of the best raw tools and athleticism in Latin America last year,” wrote Badler while noting Molina’s strong arm and defensive skills. “He has plus bat speed and a level stroke with good swing path, but he has an unorthodox load that causes his hands to get started a little early. Molina showed the ability to backspin a ball with gap power when he signed, but with added weight and strength since then, his power has already started to tick up significantly, taking balls over the center-field batter’s eye in batting practice.”

Rodriguez, 16, is considered a no doubt shortstop who has some work to be before becoming a real threat at the plate. “With a wiry 6-foot-1, 155-pound frame, Rodriguez projects to stay at the position with good hands and an above-average arm … (his) defense is ahead of his righthanded bat. He will hit some doubles but doesn’t have much power, so he’ll have to focus on line drives and getting on base,” wrote Badler. Here’s video. Both Rodriguez and Molina have a chance to make their pro debuts with one of the team’s two Rookie Gulf Coast League affiliates later this year.

In addition to their two big money signings, the Yankees also landed 19-year-old Dominican LHP Orby Taveras, who signed for one of the $50k exemptions. He already stands 6-foot-4 and 225 lbs. and “throws 88-91 mph, scrapes 92 and complements it with feel for a changeup that’s ahead of his three-quarters breaking ball,” according to Balder, who says Taveras also has a good plan on the mound despite his lack of experience. Dominican OF Frank Frias ($7,500) and Dominican RHP Jhon Morban ($3,000) both stood out for their performances in the Dominican Summer League after signing.

The Yankees are said to be planning a huge international spending spree this year, one that may reportedly cost upwards of $30M between signing bonuses and the taxes excised for exceeding their spending pool. That would help cover for the three top draft picks the team surrendered as free agent compensation this winter. The Yankees will face spending restrictions in future years if they go on such a spree, but the general belief is that an international draft is on the horizon. If so, this summer may be New York’s last chance to target and sign any available international player.

Comments (12)
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

This afternoon’s Grapefruit League game against the Phillies is no ordinary Spring Training game. Not even close. There is be a lot going on for the Yankees this afternoon, with Masahiro Tanaka‘s first start (second appearance) being the headliner. He is starting on a normal five-day schedule, his first time doing so, and because he’s starting, he’ll see mostly big leaguers. That’s kind of a big deal.

That’s not it, though. Mark Teixeira will also be playing in his first spring game after missing nearly all of last year due to a tendon sheath problem in his right wrist. He had surgery in early-July and has been slowly working his way back. With no obvious first base alternative in camp, Teixeira’s health and production is very important to the Yankees this season. Alfonso Soriano, who has been battling the flu, will also play his first spring game today.

But wait, there’s more. For the first time this spring, the Yankees will get a chance to try out the new expanded replay system. Each team will play a handful of “test” games with the new system — not every park has the proper equipment, so they can’t do it every game — and Joe Girardi said he plans to use the system as much as possible to get familiar with it. They’re going to have people checking replays and relaying information like they will during the season.

No, the bad news: it’s pouring in Florida. Pretty much the entire state, but especially the Tampa area. The Yankees are on the road to play the Phillies, but their complex in Clearwater is like, 15 minutes away. The weather will be a problem and there’s a good chance this afternoon’s game will not be played. I suppose they could wait it out, but it is Spring Training. They tend to pull the plug on these games quickly. The Yankees have bused over the stadium though, so here’s the starting lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Kelly Johnson
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. CF Mason Williams

And on the mound is Tanaka for the second time this spring. His first outing was rather impressive and I think we all want to see some more.

Available Pitchers: RHP Bruce Billings, RHP Chris Leroux, RHP Mark Montgomery, RHP Danny Burawa, and LHP Fred Lewis are all scheduled to pitch. RHP Preston Claiborne, LHP Cesar Cabral, RHP Brian Gordon, and RHP Chase Whitley also made the trip and are available if needed.

Available Position Players: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Corban Joseph, 2B Yangervis Solarte, SS Brendan Ryan, 3B Scott Sizemore, LF Ramon Flores, CF Antoan Richardson, and RF Adonis Garcia will come off the bench. C Francisco Arcia, 1B/C Jose Gil, C Gary Sanchez, C Peter O’Brien, and UTIL Jose Pirela are also available.

There is no YES broadcast of this afternoon’s game. The network usually doesn’t travel. The game can be seen live on both MLB Network and MLB.tv though, so if they do play, make sure you tune in. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 1pm ET. Enjoy.

Update (1:05pm): I haven’t seen an official announcement yet, but the game is very obviously in a delay right now. A cancellation is sure to follow at some point.

Update (1:27pm): First pitch is currently scheduled for 2:30pm ET. How about that?

Update (1:58pm): Carlos Beltran has been scratched from the game. Ramon Flores will take his place in right field. I assume the Yankees don’t want him playing on the wet outfield.

Update (2:30pm): Game on! They have started played, which seemed impossible not too long ago.

Comments (90)
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Remember back when the Yankees struggled to find a reliable setup man once Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson skipped town? They spent a ton of money on guys like Steve Karsay and Kyle Farnsworth over the years — in fairness, both of them had their moments — but it wasn’t until David Robertson emerged three years ago that they had a consistently dominant eighth inning guy ahead of Mariano Rivera.

Mo retired after last season and Robertson will take over ninth inning duties, meaning the setup role is again something of a question. Joe Girardi has indicated he won’t necessarily have a designated eighth inning guy in 2014, instead relying on platoon matchups to get the ball to his new closer. While these things are always subject to change, two veterans who throw with different arms figure to share setup duties at the start of the season.

RHP Shawn Kelley
Kelley was a nice little find for the Yankees a year ago. They acquired him in a minor trade with the Mariners just as Spring Training started and he gave the team 53.1 innings of 4.39 ERA (3.63 FIP) ball. An ugly April and an ugly September were sandwiched around three excellent months as Kelley pitched to a 2.50 ERA (2.42 FIP) in 39.2 innings from May 1st through August 31st. During that time, he struck out 51 of 162 batters faced (31.5%).

The Yankees unlocked the 29-year-old’s strikeout potential with a tried and true formula: get ahead in the count and bury hitters with a wipeout slider. Out of the 125 relievers to throw at least 50 innings last season, Kelley ranked fifth in slider percentage (49.4%) and 16th in first pitch strike percentage (65.6%). Simple, right? Get ahead in the count and go to the slider. That helped him hold right-handed hitters to a .225/.290/.417 (.308 wOBA) batting line with a 32.8% strikeout rate.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Kelley is not without his warts, however. Left-handed hitters knocked him around a bit (.329 wOBA) and, perhaps more importantly, he is very fly ball and homer prone. His 33.1% ground ball rate last summer was the 17th lowest among those 125 relievers with at least 50 innings, and when you give up fly balls, you’re going to give up homers. That’s just the way it is. Kelley allowed eight dingers in his 53.1 innings (1.35 HR/9 and 13.1% HR/FB), and the scary thing is that only two came in Yankee Stadium. His homer rate might go up in 2014.

That propensity to give up the long ball is what scares me most about Kelley pitching high leverage innings. I won’t go as far as saying it will be like watching 2011-13 Phil Hughes, when every pitch feels like he was walking on egg shells, but it won’t be too far off. Kelley earned the opportunity to be the setup man with last year’s performance and because he both pounds the zone and misses a ton of bats, two things that tend to make pitchers very successful. That potential for the ill-timed homer is always going to be in the back of my mind though.

LHP Matt Thornton
Boone Logan gave the Yankees three and a half very nice years — he got way more crap than he deserved and I’m guilty of handing some of it out — and those years earned him a fat three-year contract with the Rockies this offseason. New York signed Thornton to a two-year contract worth $7M to take over as Girardi’s primary left-hander out of the bullpen. He went from the White Sox to the Red Sox last year but was left off Boston’s postseason roster because of a lingering oblique problem.

Thornton, 37, was once one of the very best relievers in baseball, regardless of handedness. He posted a 2.84 ERA (2.50 FIP) with a 29.1% strikeout rate from 2008-11, and he didn’t have much of a platoon split either — lefties had a .247 wOBA while righties had a .267 wOBA. Thornton’s overall effectiveness has slipped in recent years, not coincidentally as his trademark fastball started to lose some juice:

ERA FIP K% HR/FB% FB velocity RHB wOBA LHB wOBA
2010 2.67 2.14 33.9% 6.0% 96.1 .254 .224
2011 3.32 2.62 24.1% 6.5% 95.8 .291 .274
2012 3.46 3.19 19.9% 8.3% 95.0 .302 .291
2013 3.74 4.04 16.0% 9.8% 94.3 .370 .280

Thornton’s game has clearly slipped over the years but he remains a viable matchup left-hander, which is what the Yankees signed him to be. At least that’s what I hope. Asking Thornton to consistently get righties out at this point of his career is not a good idea, not with his fastball shortening up and not even with Yankee Stadium’s left-center field death valley behind him. He’s a straight matchup lefty right now. As long as Girardi uses him properly, he should be fine.

* * *

Both Kelley and Thornton have been in the league a while now and both have experience pitching in the later innings (Thornton moreso), so it makes sense to have them share setup duties based on platoon matchups at the start of the season. The bullpen is ever-changing though, and chances are the setup crew at the start of the year will be different from the setup crew come September (and hopefully October). I’m not hating on Kelley and Thornton when I say that, it’s just that bullpens are known for turnover.

Categories : Death by Bullpen
Comments (52)
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Sounds the alarms, the Yankees have lost two games in a row. Oh, wait, it’s still Spring Training? Disregard. They lost 5-4 to the Rays this afternoon mostly because Robert Coello allowed four runs (two homers) in his one-third of an inning of work. That dude’s having a brutal spring (48.60 ERA). Adam Warren allowed a run in 2.1 innings while Dellin Betances chucked 1.2 scoreless frames. He’s up to 5.1 scoreless innings in camp, which is pretty much exactly what he needs to do to win a bullpen spot.

Here’s the box score. Eduardo Nunez had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a double. Brett Gardner (1-for-3), Ichiro Suzuki (1-for-3), Kelly Johnson (0-for-2), Austin Romine (0-for-3), and J.R. Murphy (0-for-3) also played. Yangervis Solarte went 1-for-3 and lowered his spring batting average to .667. The Yankees didn’t send many regulars down to Port Charlotte for the game at all. Here is the rest from a slow day in Tampa.

  • Mark Teixeira took some live batting practice but only saw five pitches and was pretty annoyed. Yesterday’s session was cancelled because no one was available pitch. “I thought I was going to get a lot more work the last few days, but I just do what I am told,” he said. [Chad Jennings, Andrew Marchand]
  • Alfonso Soriano has a first base mitt and he’s been working out at the position. He doesn’t expect to play much there, it’s more about increasing his versatility in case of emergency. [Jennings]

This is your nightly open thread. This afternoon’s game will not be replayed anywhere but MLB Network will show the Dodgers and Reds live later tonight. The Knicks and Nets are both playing as well, ditto the (hockey) Rangers and trade deadline pickup Martin St. Louis. Talk about anything and everything right here. Enjoy.

Comments (47)
Yangervis. (Presswire)

Yangervis. (Presswire)

Barring injury or a trade, 12 of the 13 position player spots are already set. Joe Girardi made it clear Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson will be the starting second and third basemen, respectively, leaving Brendan Ryan on the bench with Frankie Cervelli and Ichiro Suzuki. The fourth and final bench spot is up for grabs in Spring Training and the Yankees have indicated it will go to an infielder. More than a few players are competing for the job.

IF Dean Anna
Acquired in a minor November trade with the Padres, Anna had a big year in Triple-A (.331/.410/.482) but was unable to land a 40-man roster spot with San Diego. They flipped him to the Yankees for a Single-A reliever rather than lose him for nothing in the Rule 5 Draft. The 27-year-old lefty hitter has a ton of experience on the middle infield and a little at third, making him prime backup infielder fodder.

Anna lacks a standout tool but he’s okay at everything. His plate discipline is his strongest skill but there is more to life than minor league strikeout and walk rates. Last year was the first year in which he hit higher than .280 and he’s never been much of a power guy or base-stealer. His defense is generally regarded as solid even though last Saturday’s play in the hole makes you think he’s the best defender ever. It’s a classic backup infielder’s profile and a strong spring could push Anna onto the Opening Day roster.

1B/OF Russ Canzler
As of right now, Johnson is the backup first baseman according to Girardi even though he only has 18 career innings at the position. The 27-year-old Canzler is the only other true first baseman in camp, though he has a good amount of left field experience as well. The Yankees had him working out at third base earlier in camp in an attempt to increase his versatility. Canzler is a pure right-handed platoon bat, hitting .307/.390/.531 against lefties in Triple-A over the years compared to .267/.346/.442 against righties. He only has 102 career big league plate appearances to his credit. Canzler is a long shot for the bench despite his ability to play first, so he’s likely ticketed for Triple-A.

IF Corban Joseph
CoJo, 25, made his very brief big league debut last season before needing season-ending shoulder surgery. They Yankees dumped him off the 40-man roster over the winter and he went unclaimed on waivers, giving you an idea of how he’s regarded around the league. Joseph had a big 2012 season split between Double-A and Triple-A (.276/.375/.465 with 15 HR) and while he’s versatile in that he can fake first, second, and third bases, he’s a liability everywhere. If he shows he can hit like he did two years ago, Joseph might have value as a bench player. If not, well there’s really nothing he can offer. He seems to be well behind the rest of the pack in the race for the final bench spot.

IF Eduardo Nunez
Boy did Nunez blow a golden opportunity last summer. Rather than cement his place in the future of the team by playing well at shortstop during Derek Jeter‘s various leg injuries, he got hurt himself and showed little improvement at the plate or in the field. Nunez had a strong September as the (almost) everyday third baseman, but one good month wasn’t enough to salvage his season, nor should it be.

Nunie. (Presswire)

Nunie. (Presswire)

Nunez, 26, came to camp as the incumbent backup infielder but that doesn’t guarantee him anything. The Yankees could have very easily handed him the job and been done with it — they really seem to like Nunez, don’t they? — but instead they brought in several players as legitimate competition. It definitely appears as though he fell out of favor with last summer’s continued lack of progress. I don’t think they would bring in so many infielders if they were comfortable with him.

We all know what Nunez can do at this point, right? He is a high contact hitter who can run but doesn’t have much power — he did say he spent most of the winter trying to bulk up and add strength, for what it’s worth — and his defense is a complete wildcard. He’ll make a stunning play one inning and botch a routine one later in the game. Unfortunately the bad plays outweigh the good ones. Nunez is not being handed a bench job and if he doesn’t make a strong case for one in camp, he has a minor league option left and can go to Triple-A.

2B/3B Scott Sizemore
After missing all but two games over the last two years due to back-to-back torn ACLs, the 29-year-old Sizemore signed a minor league contract and got into his first post-surgery Grapefruit League game last night. He had a nice half-season with the Athletics in 2011 (.249/.345/.433 with 11 HR) but given the sample size and the long layoff, I don’t think we can say that’s the real Sizemore. Healthy or not, he’s a tough guy to predict for the upcoming season.

If you’re a believer in uniform numbers being an indicator of a player’s roster chances, then Sizemore is sitting pretty after being issued Robinson Cano‘s old #24. Everyone else in this post other than Nunez has a number north of 70. Maybe that’s a sign the team considers Sizemore the favorite for the job as long as he’s healthy. Who knows. Either way, he has a lot to prove after missing two full years. I believe Sizemore has a best chance of being a league average player (that’s very valuable!) out of everyone in this post but making the team is not a given.

UTIL Yangervis Solarte
I didn’t expect to include the 26-year-old Solarte in this post initially, but he’s hit the snot out of the ball early in camp (.778/.800/1.444) and is very versatile, spending a bunch of time at the three non-first base infield positions as well as both corner outfield spots in his career. That would be nice to have off the bench. The switch-hitting Solarte has hit .282/.332/.404 in 1,145 Triple-A plate appearances the last two years, which is pretty underwhelming considering how hitter friendly the Pacific Coast League is.

The Yankees have shown a willingness to give roster spots to big Spring Training performers in recent years (2009 Ramiro Pena and 2012 David Phelps, most notably), so it’s not completely out of the question that Solarte could sneak onto the Opening Day roster if he keeps raking. A versatile switch-hitter would be nice to have. Then again, nothing in his track record suggests he’s some kind of hidden gem or in the middle of an early spring breakout.

* * *

Others like Zelous Wheeler and Jose Pirela have utility man profiles and are technically competing for that bench job in camp, but they are clear long shots to me. Solarte really belongs in that group as well, hot spring start notwithstanding. Because of the questionable starting infield arrangement and various injury risks, whoever gets that final bench spot may wind up playing a larger role than expected. Despite being the 24th or 25th spot on the roster, this bench spot offers quite a bit of opportunity.

Categories : Bench
Comments (44)
(Presswire)

(Presswire)

According to George King, the Mariners had a scout on hand to watch David Phelps‘ second spring start last night. He got hit around pretty hard but held the Orioles to only one run in 2.2 innings, striking out two and walking one. Phelps is currently competing for the fifth starter spot, though Joe Girardi confirmed he will make the team in some capacity.

The Mariners have been hit hard by injuries this spring. Co-ace Hisashi Iwakuma is sidelined with a finger sprain and top prospect Taijuan Walker is dealing with a shoulder problem. Manager Lloyd McClendon confirmed both guys will open the season on the DL, leaving the team with Erasmo Ramirez, James Paxton, Brandon Maurer, and Scott Baker behind Felix Hernandez. Their need for another arm is obvious.

Seattle’s top trade chip is infielder Nick Franklin, who was pushed into trade chip status by the Robinson Cano signing. The 23-year-old switch-hitter hit .225/.303/.382 (90 wRC+) with 12 homers, six steals, and a 27.4% strikeout rate in his 412 plate appearance MLB debut last season. His defense is shaky — he’s already moved off short and is error prone at second — and more than a few people think he’ll have to drop switch-hitting and stick to batting lefty down the road. Baseball America (subs. req’d) said he “profiles as a solid regular who could play in a few All-Star Games” before last season.

Franklin. (Presswire)

Franklin. (Presswire)

The Yankees desperately need a young infielder and Franklin certainly fits the bill even though I’m not his biggest fan. I’d trade four five years of Phelps for six years of Franklin in a heartbeat, but I suspect the Mariners are going to want another piece or two. Both the Mets and Rays have been talking to Seattle about Franklin — Tampa was reportedly on the verge of the deal, but then Jeremy Hellickson got hurt and they were reluctant to sacrifice pitching depth — so there is plenty of competition.

Of the various fifth starter candidates, the 27-year-old Phelps feels like the safest bet to be a productive big leaguer in 2014. In order to deal him, I think the Yankees would have to feel pretty good about Michael Pineda heading into the season and/or be open to signing a low-cost pitcher (Jeff Niemann? Jeff Karstens?) to replace the depth. Given their pitching situation, I’m guessing the Mariners would like to get a deal done sooner rather than later. That could work to New York’s advantage in trade talks.

In other news, King says both the White Sox and Brewers also had scouts on hand for last night’s game. Both clubs are looking for catching depth, something the Yankees can spare. Chicago has some infield depth to offer and we’ve already heard the Yankees will monitor Rickie Weeks this spring. Given the infield situation, the Yankees could swap Phelps+ for Franklin and a catcher for Weeks or one of the ChiSox infielders (or one of the Diamondbacks infielders). It doesn’t necessarily have to be one or the other.

Comments (85)
(Scott Iskowitz/Getty)

(Scott Iskowitz/Getty)

The Grapefruit League season is one week old and we’ve learned … well, pretty much nothing so far. Masahiro Tanaka still has a nasty splitter with the MLB ball. I guess that’s something. Otherwise it’s still too early to draw any meaningful conclusions from the handful of games that have been played. Everyone’s healthy and that’s the most important thing. Here are some scattered thoughts.

1. So far, so good for Derek Jeter. He appears to be moving well both in the field and down the line, looking far more mobile than he did at any point last year. It’s very encouraging. The Cap’n has looked awful at the plate — one strikeout, one walk, eight ground balls (three double plays) in ten plate appearances — though that is to be expected after missing just about all of last season. His timing is not even close to being there yet and he’s got a little under four weeks to find it. As far as his ability to move laterally in the field and run down the line are concerned, everything looks good. That’s most important right now following all the leg injuries.

2. It sure seems like Frankie Cervelli is being groomed as Tanaka’s personal catcher. He’s caught most of his bullpen and live batting practice sessions, plus he was behind the plate when he made his Spring Training debut over the weekend. Brian McCann has to learn an entire new staff this spring, so it makes sense to have Cervelli spend so much time with the new guy since he already knows the rest of the staff. Joe Girardi has proven himself to be a fan of personal catchers — I can’t help but think this stems from who he was as a player — and it looks like Tanaka/Cervelli will be a thing this year. They just have to make sure McCann spends enough time with Tanaka this spring so they aren’t total strangers should Cervelli get hurt or something.

3. One little thing that usually means more than nothing in Spring Training: reliever usage. Over the last few springs, the Yankees have shown that the guys who are being more seriously considered for the roster are scheduled to pitch on specific days and get to start an inning clean, at least early in camp. The guys who are further behind in the bullpen race are usually held back in case someone hits their pitch count in the middle of an inning. Based on how they’ve been used over this last week, that’s good news for Dellin Betances and Preston Claiborne, and bad news for Mark Montgomery, Cesar Cabral, and others. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t definitive proof of anything, but the Yankees may be tipping their hand based on what they’ve done in the past and how they’ve used guys so far.

Chris Owings. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

Chris Owings. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

4. Is it just me, or does a March trade feel inevitable this year? The Yankees have actually made a Spring Training trade that directly impacted their Opening Day roster in each of the last three years (Vernon Wells in 2013, Chris Stewart in 2012, Sergio Mitre for Chris Dickerson in 2011), so a deal in the next few weeks would hardly be unprecedented. The needs on the infield and in the bullpen still exist and both Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy are so obviously being showcased given all their playing time (particularly at DH) so far. Murphy for one of the Diamondbacks’ extra shortstops make so much sense, at least from this end of the deal. Arizona simply might not like New York’s catchers all that much. Either way, I can’t shake this feeling that a trade will go down before Opening Day.

5. You’ve probably seen it by now, but the other day Robinson Cano made some comments to Jon Heyman about the Mariners’ need for another bat and another pitcher. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, everyone knows Seattle needs more help. It sounded very much like a player who is just starting to realize he is no longer on a big payroll team that will go out and spend money to address its needs. I’m not sure how else to take the “if it was up to me, we’d have (Ervin) Santana, (Nelson) Cruz and Ubaldo (Jimenez)” comment. We all know Cano left for the biggest payday, pure and simple, but man this whole thing is so weird. It seems playing for the Not Yankees has been a shock to his system. I really wish he was still wearing pinstripes, but I can’t begrudge the team for refusing to meet those demands.

Categories : Musings
Comments (92)
Mason Williams made this catch tonight.

Mason Williams made this catch tonight.

The totally meaningless Grapefruit League winning streak is over at four; the Orioles beat the Yankees 3-2 on Tuesday night. Here’s the box score. David Phelps was in “bend but don’t break” mode, getting knocked around pretty hard (five hits in 2.2 innings) but only surrendering one run. He escaped two on, no outs jams in both the first and second innings. Matt Thornton made his spring debut, throwing one pitch and retiring a lefty with a ground ball.

At the plate, both Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Jeter went hitless in two at-bats. Ellsbury did draw a walk though, his fifth of the spring (only one strikeout). Carlos Beltran went 0-for-2 with a walk and a whiff. Frankie Cervelli opened the scoring with a solo tater and Spring Training superhero Yangervis Solarte plated another run with a single. Scott Sizemore went 1-for-2 in his spring debut and made a nifty diving stop at second base. Here’s the rest of the day’s news from Tampa.

  • Brendan Ryan was hit by a line drive in the left hand while running the bases during batting practice. He was looked at and is fine, so much so that he played in tonight’s game. “It’s sore but okay,” he said. [Andrew Marchand, Erik Boland]
  • Mark Teixeira did not take live batting practice as scheduled today because there was literally no one available to pitch. Vidal Nuno, Hiroki Kuroda, and Michael Pineda were among those to throw bullpens sessions. [Chad Jennings]
  • Tyler Austin played catch and took dry swings today for the first time since being shut down when his wrist flared up. He said it felt better than expected following the workout. [Jennings]
  • Ivan Nova and Phelps will start Friday and Saturday Saturday and Sunday, respectively. That means Nuno has been squeezed out of the spring rotation, at least for the time being. [Bryan Hoch]

The Yankees are on the road to play the Rays tomorrow afternoon, but that game will not be televised. Masahiro Tanaka will make his first start and second appearance of the spring on Thursday (CC Sabathia will throw a simulated game that day) while Michael Pineda will make his debut (in relief of Hiroki Kuroda) on Friday. Thursday’s game will be on television, Friday’s will not. For shame.

Categories : Spring Training
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(Presswire)

Only in Spring Training. (Presswire)

For the first time this year, the Yankees are playing a night game. Only six of their 31 Grapefruit League will be played at night and that seems low to me, but whatever. Day baseball is better anyway.

Derek Jeter is playing back-to-back games for the first time this spring, though he will only serve as the DH for the first few innings tonight. Two at-bats is my guess. The back-to-back games is something of a milestone following last year’s leg injury fiasco. David Phelps, who I still think is the front-runner for the fifth starter’s job, is making his second start of the exhibition season.

The Orioles are in Tampa for tonight’s game after making the short trip up from Sarasota. As you might expect, their roster for the road night game is not exactly brimming with projected big leaguers. Jemile Weeks, Delmon Young, and starter Wei-Yin Chen are pretty much the only names casual fans may recognize. Here is Joe Girardi‘s starting lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. DH Derek Jeter
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. 2B Brian Roberts
  5. 3B Eduardo Nunez
  6. C Frankie Cervelli
  7. SS Brendan Ryan
  8. 1B Russ Canzler
  9. LF Yangervis Solarte

And on the mound is the right-hander Phelps, who is likely scheduled for something like three innings or 45 pitches, whichever comes first.

Available Pitchers: LHP Matt Thornton, RHP Brian Gordon, LHP Cesar Cabral, RHP Chris Leroux, RHP Chase Whitley, and RHP Preston Claiborne are all scheduled to pitch. This will be Thornton’s spring debut. RHP Bruce Billings, RHP Graham Stoneburner, LHP Jeremy Bleich, and SwP Pat Venditte are also available if needed.

Available Position Players: C Gary Sanchez, 1B Francisco Arcia, 2B Scott Sizemore, SS Dean Anna, 3B Zelous Wheeler, LF Ramon Flores, CF Mason Williams, RF Antoan Richardson, and DH Brian McCann will all come off the bench. Sizemore will be making his spring debut. C Jose Gil, C Peter O’Brien, C John Ryan Murphy, IF Corban Joseph, UTIL Jose Pirela, OF Adonis Garcia, and UTIL Addison Maruszak are all available as well.

The forecast for Tampa tonight calls for cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper-60s but not rain, thankfully. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and the game can be seen live on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Enjoy.

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