With a double play off the bat of Ramiro PeÃ±a, the Yankees saw their Spring Training come to end a few minutes ago. They finished 14-13-3, and the guys who are on the team look good. Rivera had a perfect spring; Luis Vizcaino had a quietly impressive spring; and Bobby Abreu showed us that Spring Training is completely overrated for some players. So now the Yanks head north. Bring on the Devil Rays.
Beginning late tonight/early Saturday morning, River Ave. Blues will be down for a little while as the site undergoes some upgrades in advance of the Opening Day. Hopefully, nothing will go wrong, and we’ll be up and running quickly. But don’t panic if the site’s not here. We’ll be back quickly.
All done. And you didn’t notice a thing. Except for maybe the bunting.
Okay, so there weren’t a lot of truly pressing roster decisions to make. However, there were some issues still out there yesterday that could have in some way adversely affected the roster. Yes, Mike, backup catcher and backup first basemen aren’t of grave concern. However, it’s not a great idea to go wasting a roster spot.
Anyway, here’s what’s going down, as reported by Pete Abraham:
Henn in, Villone out. Phelps in, Phillips out (though that was reported yesterday). Nieves in, Pratt out. Karstens to the DL.
Rotation: Pavano, Pettitte, Mussina, Igawa.
That makes me especially happy, because I’m going to the second game of the season (and I’ve seen Moose pitch roughly 8 times over the last two years). All in all, though, given the choices the Yankees had, these all seem like the right moves.
River Ave. Blues Yankees Gossip Magazine, we cover all the important stories. So here you go. Gia Allemand just dumped Carl Pavano three days before his Opening Day start. Thanks a lot, Gia. When the Yanks lose on Monday, you’re the scapegoat in the minds of millions and millions of fans.
Reading about the Yanks and hearing Michael Kay and Al Leiter talk tonight, I got the sense that Ron Villone, a favoite of Joe Torre, might just end up making the team despite his best efforts. I’m left wondering at what point does the benefit of the team outweigh player loyalty? This spring, Villone, in 9 appearances, has made it through just 5 innings. He’s allowed ten runs for an ERA of 14.40, and opponents are 13 for 25 (.520 BAA) against him. “Because he’s had bad outings doesn’t mean that necessarily you’re going to go that way … against him,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. That just doesn’t sound promising for the bullpen.
The Star Ledger is reporting, through an anonymous source, that Andy Phillips was placed on outright waivers yesterday. As many of us have been saying over the past week or so (or even longer), this was a no-brainer move. Yeah, you have to feel bad for Andy and the conditions surrounding him. But he’s simply not good enough to cut it.
Phelps, on the other hand, even at 28 years old has plenty of upside. He may pan out during the season, and he may not. Regardless of the eventual outcome, though, this was the correct move.
I’m not sure what other teams would have a need for Phillips, and I don’t (from my pedestrian view) see much of a reason that he won’t clear waivers and head with Phil Hughes and Tyler Clippard to Scranton.
Hat tip to Steve for the link.
So yeah, about that whole line of Yankee succession thing? It’s not looking too good right now.
Once upon a time, Yankee fans could rest easy knowing that the legacy of George Steinbrenner and the ownership of the Yankees would lie in the hands of Steve Swindal, George’s son-in-law. Swindal had all the right qualities. He was devoted to guys who knew about baseball. Now, I’m not talking about George’s “Baseball Guys.” I’m talking about Brian Cashman and Gene Michael; I’m talking about Joe Torre and a front office that has put a playoff-bound team on the field every year since 1995 (or 1994 if you want).
Swindal was everything that George was and more. He exhibited the same win-at-all-monetary-costs attitude that Yankee fans have come to crave, but he also exhibited a whole lot of Baseball Smarts. He knew the value of constructing a Major League team through sound investment and an organization that could develop a steady stream of home-grown players to complement the free agent signings.
But now, everything is up in the air as Swindal and Jennifer Steinbrenner are no more. Really, we should have seen this coming. Swindal landed himself a DUI a few weeks ago during the early days of Spring Training. If that’s not a harbingers of bad things to come, I don’t know what is. By now, the DUI is water under the bridge. Bigger problems loom for the Bronx Bombers.
The general consensus among the Yankee writers, as explained by Tyler Kepner in today’s edition of The New York Times, is that Swindal is out as the Boss’ successor. George, speaking nowadays through his publicist Howard Rubenstein, was cryptic:â€œIâ€™m the boss. I continue to be the boss, I have no intention of retiring, and my family runs the Yankees with me.â€
Kepner had more:
When Swindal leaves the family, he will effectively leave the Yankees. According to an individual with direct knowledge of the matter, Steinbrenner no longer plans to promote him, and he would seem to have no future with the team. But the situation is complicated because Swindal has a small financial interest in the team â€” among other things, he is listed as the chairman of Yankee Global Enterprises, the umbrella company for the club and the YES network â€” and the specifics of that interest will have to be untangled. Rubenstein would not say if Swindal still worked for the Yankees.
So that leaves the Yanks in the hands of the Boss and Randy Levine. George’s biological sons Hank and Hal have, according to all reports, shown little interest in running the team, and his other son-in-law Felix Lopez has worked for the team. But little is known about Lopez’s role and fate.
It’s an uncertain time for the Yanks, and with The Boss showing his age, some behind-the-scenes worries can creep up quickly. First, when George passes, if there is no successor to the throne, the family could try to sell some or all of their stake in the team. While it may be hard to find someone who wants spend $1 billion on a baseball team and its associated properties, I’m sure someone is out there with money to burn.
But could this new owner be trusted to do what George has done? Or will, as Steve Lombardi is right to ponder, the Yankees become the MLB version of the New York Giants, a poorly-managed team with a solid financial backing?
I hope someone investing in the Yankees and running the team would be aware of the history and pressure put on the team by its fans to win. But only time will tell if this divorce is a turning point for the Yankees in the 21st Century or just something we can write about before Opening Day.