The Yankees have announced that the fifth annual HOPE Week will take place from July 8-12th this summer. “Each day over the five-day stretch, the Yankees will reach out to an individual, family or organization worthy of recognition and support, surprising honorees with a day celebrating their accomplishments,” said the release. “Outreach will often take place away from Yankee Stadium, allowing the Yankees to personally connect with individuals in settings that highlight their greatest successes.”
The various minor league affiliates held their own versions of HOPE Week last season, which is something that will continue this season. Good on the Yankees, HOPE Week is always fantastic and well done. · (2) ·
The Yankees beat the Red Sox this afternoon thanks to a four-run second inning that featured one double (Ben Francisco), one walk (Brett Gardner), two sacrifice flies (Jayson Nix and Eduardo Nunez), and a whole bunch of singles (Juan Rivera, Chris Stewart, Thomas Neal, and Melky Mesa). Vidal Nuno threw five shutout innings, allowing just two hits and one walk against one strikeout. David Robertson and Mark Montgomery each allowed a hit and struck a batter out in their scoreless innings while Joba Chamberlain tossed a perfect frame. It was his second consecutive day on the mound. Here’s the box score and here’s the rest from Tampa…
- During the YES broadcast of this afternoon’s game, CC Sabathia said he threw 92 pitches in a minor league game. It was his second-to-last outing before Opening Day, and he and his surgically repaired elbow came through the day just fine. Sabathia allowed one run with eight strikeouts in six innings. [Bryan Hoch]
- Clay Rapada is going to try to throw a flat-ground bullpen session — regular pitching mechanics, but not on an actual mound — later this week as he comes back from shoulder bursitis. He still hasn’t been cleared to do anything more than play catch, however. [Chad Jennings]
- Josh Spence left this afternoon’s game after getting hit in the barehand by a comeback ground ball. It wasn’t hard hit and it deflected off his glove first, but I guess the Yankees didn’t want to take any chances. For what it’s worth, YES showed Spence in the dugout laughing with teammates afterwards, so I guess it wasn’t anything serious. No official update, however.
- Ronnie Mustelier was scratched from today’s game because he’s still banged up after running into the railing the other day. Forgotten right-hander David Herndon is throwing bullpens and could pitch in a game in late-April. He’s coming off Tommy John surgery and figures to be in the bullpen mix once healthy. [Chad Jennings]
- Both Montgomery and Matt Tracy were sent to minor league camp following today’s game, the team announced. The Yankees are down to 46 players in big league camp, but my unofficial count.
- There was a scout from the Yomiuri Giants in camp today. Japanese clubs usually monitor the final weeks of camp and try to poach guys on the roster bubble, which I guess could mean someone like Jim Miller or Thomas Neal. Who knows. [Josh Norris]
- The Twins will be in Tampa for a night game tomorrow. David Phelps will start and you’ll be able to watch that one on YES.
Here is your open thread for the evening. Both the Knicks and Nets are playing, so talk about either of those games or anything else here. Go nuts.
Brian Cashman told reporters in Tampa that Derek Jeter received a cortisone shot for the mild inflammation in his left ankle today. He remains day-to-day, but Cashman acknowledged the Cap’n may have to start the season on the DL. Jeter needs to play a full nine-inning game at shortstop and play back-to-back days before being declared for regular season action. There are only 12 days left in Spring Training, so time is running out. · (47) ·
Our season preview series continues this week with the starting rotation, though the format will change just slightly. Since there’s no clear starter/backup/depth lineage when it comes to starting pitchers, we’ll instead look at each type of pitcher — ace, number two, back-end, etc. — at different levels.
In the lexicon of numbered rotation slots, number three starters probably generate the least amount of conversation. We argue whether numbers twos are really aces (and vice versa), whether number fives are really numbers fours, but number threes are just kinda there. Since they’re right smack in the middle of the five-man rotation, you’d think a league-average starter qualifies as a number three. That’s not really the case though, the distribution of talent is not balanced. There are way more back-end guys than aces, so a number three should really be an above-average starter.
I can’t believe I’m writing a season preview post about Andy Pettitte in 2013. His comeback from a one-year retirement was a smashing success in 2012, at least when he was actually on the mound — a hard-hit ground ball fractured his leg in late-June and it kept him on the shelf until mid-September. Pettitte was stellar in the 12 starts he did make though, pitching to a 2.87 ERA (3.48 FIP) in 75.1 innings with career-highs in strikeout (22.8%) and ground ball (56.3%) rates. Andy pitched like an ace when healthy.
Less than three months from his 41st birthday, Pettitte returns again for what the Yankees hope will be his first full season in four years. Injuries limited him to 21 starts and 129 innings in 2010, so he hasn’t made 30 starts or thrown even 150 innings since helping the club win the 2009 World Series. We all know Pettitte has the stuff, the command, and the pitching smarts to navigate a full season, but the question is his durability. That doesn’t necessarily mean staying off the DL either, he could simply run out of gas in say, mid-August. It’s going to be something the team will have to constantly monitor.
As amazing as those 12 starts were last year, I don’t think it’s at all reasonable to expect a similar performance in 2013. I’d take it in a heartbeat obviously, but I’m not expecting it. What I am expecting is regular ol’ Andy Pettitte, which means a low-4.00s ERA — maybe less because of the decreased offensive environment — and lots of wiggling out of jams. If he manages to hold up and take the ball every five days, he should be among the best number three starters in baseball. Pettitte entered “you know what you’re going to get” territory a long time ago, which of course is something that doesn’t really exist. It just feels like we know exactly what he’ll do over the course of the season.
Since the Yankees do have six viable big league starters, I do think they should be cognizant of Pettitte’s workload during the course of the summer. That could mean using an off-day to skip his turn or giving him an extra day of rest between starts with some kind of modified six-man rotation. It’s a tough thing to do because you want him to make as many starts as possible but not burn him out before things heat up late in the season. You also don’t want to keep him from finding a rhythm. There’s also the train of thought that all the time off from 2011-2012 did Pettitte’s arm and body some good and he’s as fresh as ever. Who knows. I’ll be keeping an eye on the workload though, that’s for sure.
Knocking on the Door
I’m not the biggest Brett Marshall fan in the world — ranked him 13th on my preseason top 30 prospects list — but the 22-year-old right-hander is slated to open the season with Triple-A Scranton and he has the tools to be a number three-type starter down the road. That includes a true four-pitch mix highlighted by the best sinker in the organization, a heavy low-90s offering that bores into right-handed hitters. A low-80s changeup is Marshall’s second best pitch, and he’ll also throw sliders and curveballs. My biggest concern is that he has struggled to miss bats as a professional, with a career 6.97 K/9 (18.3 K%) in full season ball and 6.82 K/9 (18.1 K%) in Double-A last year. Marshall would have to boost the strikeout rate a bit to reach that number three starter ceiling, which is something he could do as he further refines the two breaking balls. Either way, he hasn’t missed a start since having Tommy John surgery in 2009 and has the workhorse part down pat. Marshall is on the 40-man roster and there’s a pretty good chance we’ll see him in the big leagues at some point this summer, but he does have a few guys ahead of him on the depth chart.
The Top Prospect
Two spots before Marshall on my preseason top 30 was left-hander Nik Turley, who is expected to open the season with Double-A Trenton. The 23-year-old has climbed the ladder deliberately since being a 50th round pick in 2008, though he has since emerged as one of the organization’s better pitching prospects. Turley resides in the upper-80s/low-90s with his fastball even though his frame — listed at 6-foot-6 and 240 lbs. — makes you think he could crank it up into the mid-90s. A big overhand curveball is his most consistent offspeed pitch, but his changeup is solid and flashes more out-pitch potential. Unlike Marshall, Turley has had no trouble missing bats since getting to full season ball (8.88 K/9 and 23.5 K%). The Yankees added the big southpaw to the 40-man roster this past winter, though I do expect him to spend pretty much the entire year with the Thunder. If he makes his MLB debut in 2013, it means something has gone either unexpectedly excellent or horribly wrong.
The Deep Sleeper
I’m a very big fan (almost certainly too big) of 20-year-old left-hander Daniel Camarena. The Yankees bought him away from a commitment to San Diego with a $335k bonus as their 20th round pick in 2011, but a minor arm issue limited him to 17.2 rookie ball innings during his pro debut last summer. They were 17.2 really awesome innings — 15 strikeouts and no walks — but my fandom is based on his ability to throw strikes with three pitches. Camarena sits in the upper-80s/low-90s with his fastball and backs it up with a curveball and changeup, plus it all plays up because he commands everything well and knows how to set hitters up. When the Yankees drafted him, I half-jokingly said they were getting a college pitcher (in terms of polish) in a high school pitcher’s body. He obviously has a long way to go before having a big league impact, but Camarena has everything needed to fill a mid-rotation slot down the road.
* * *
Pettitte is the number three starter in terms of where he expect him to slot into the rotation, though I think most fans consider him something more than that in terms of expected performance. I’m hedging my bets a bit because he hasn’t thrown a full season in a while, but I wouldn’t put repeating last year’s performance past him. Pettitte has a knack for exceeding expectations and like the rest of his rotation-mates, he will be counted on heavily this summer. Youngsters like Marshall and Turley give the Yankees some nearly big league ready arms who project to fill a mid-rotation slot in the long-term.
Derek Jeter is not playing against the Red Sox this afternoon, but that’s not much of a surprise. He was scratched from yesterday’s lineup with what was deemed mild left ankle inflammation, and given his importance to the team, it’s obvious they were going to proceed with caution. I suppose he could return tomorrow night against the Twins, but if not he may not return to the lineup until Saturday since the Yankees are on the road Thursday and Friday. Either way, they’re wise to play it safe in mid-March. Here’s the starting nine…
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 3B Kevin Youkilis
- 1B Juan Rivera
- RF Ben Francisco
- 2B Jayson Nix
- C Chris Stewart
- DH Thomas Neal
- CF Melky Mesa
Available Position Players: C Bobby Wilson, 1B Dan Johnson, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Gil Velazquez, 3B Jose Pirela, LF Ronnier Mustelier, CF Mason Williams, and RF Addison Maruszak are all coming off the bench. This will be Williams’ first appearance in big league camp this spring.
There’s some rain in the forecast this afternoon, but it’s not supposed to start for another few hours. The game is scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES, ESPN, and MLB.tv (no local blackouts). Enjoy.
Via Josh Norris: Chien-Ming Wang is with the Yankees in Tampa and is working out for the team. He’ll throw a few bullpen sessions, stuff like that. Ken Davidoff confirmed with the right-hander’s agent that no deal has been reached and they are still talking to multiple teams.
Wang, 32, pitched very well for Chinese Taipei in the World Baseball Classic, throwing 12 scoreless innings across two starts. His trademark sinker was clocked in the 88-92 mph range and the Yankees have had interest in him for about a month now. We know the club is looking for a veteran starter to stash in Triple-A, but the fact remains that Wang has not been an effective pitcher since hurting his foot running the bases in Houston in June 2008. That said, if what he showed during the WBC — heavy sinkers and lots of quick outs — was legit, he’d be perfect on a minor league deal. · (41) ·
Although Derek Jeter is day-to-day with left ankle inflammation, the Yankees did actually get some positive injury news yesterday. Left-hander Boone Logan made his Grapefruit League debut against the Phillies, striking out two and allowing a bloop single in a scoreless inning of work. He had been battling elbow inflammation earlier in camp, inflammation that may or may not be related to his career-high workload and league-leading 80 appearances in 2013.
Meanwhile, the Yankees are still without second lefty reliever Clay Rapada. He’s been out for a few weeks with shoulder bursitis, and while he was able to play long-toss yesterday, it’s looking less and less likely he will be ready in time for Opening Day. Opening the year with just one lefty reliever — assuming Logan’s elbow continues to hold up — isn’t the end of the world, but Rapada’s injury does open the door for fellow southpaws Josh Spence and Vidal Nuno these next ten days.
Spence and Nuno are both cut from a very similar cloth. They’re both 25 years old and not on the 40-man roster, plus they’re offspeed-heavy finesse guys. Spence — who pitched to a 3.15 ERA (3.92 FIP) in 40 innings for the Padres from 2011-2012 — is a changeup pitcher while Nuno relies on his slider. They’ve both had strong Spring Trainings but Nuno has been better, striking out a dozen against two walks in 8.1 innings of one-run ball. He’ll also capable of pitching multiple innings while Spence is more of a true specialist. Then again, he has no big league experience.
Carrying a second left-hander in the bullpen won’t be imperative early in the season. The Red Sox are in town for the first series of the year and both David Ortiz (heels) and Stephen Drew (concussion) are likely to start the year on the DL. Assuming Mike Carp fills in for Ortiz, he and Ellsbury will be the only lefty-hitting regulars in Boston’s lineup. The Yankees head to Detroit for three games after that, and Alex Avila is their only lefty bat worthy of a matchup southpaw. Prince Fielder mashes everyone and Andy Dirks has shown no split in his short big league career. The Indians are up next after that and carrying two lefties would be nice starting with that series.
Of course, carrying a second lefty specialist isn’t all that important anyway. Carrying the best pitchers possible is more important than having someone who throws with a specific arm just because, plus the Yankees do have three right-handed relievers who get lefties out in Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, and Joba Chamberlain. Though two of those three are married to specific innings though, it’s not like Joe Girardi will use Robertson to get a tough lefty out in the sixth inning or something. The point stands though, the club has a few guys capable of retiring lefties even if Rapada has to start the year on the shelf.
Now, if Logan’s elbow starts barking again, things will change. I can’t imagine the Yankees would open the season without no lefty relievers at all, meaning Spence or Nuno could be the guy. Both would have to be added to the 40-man and have minor league options remaining, so sending them to Triple-A when Logan and/or Rapada get healthy won’t be difficult. It becomes a question of which guy is the better bet to actually help the team, and I’m not sure we can answer that. Spence has some big league success but is an unconventional lefty specialist because he’s a changeup pitcher. Nuno has no Triple-A experience, nevermind MLB experience, but is more conventional thanks to his slider.
In all likelihood, the Yankees will use either Shawn Kelley or Cody Eppley in Rapada’s place come Opening Day if Logan remains healthy. Both righties are ticketed for Triple-A but have big league experience and would be used in lower-leverage spots anyway. Finding someone capable to fill-in isn’t the problem, it’s just a question of how much the Yankees value a reliever’s handedness. I say take the best pitchers regardless of which hands they throw with, but the Bombers clearly value left-handedness and would like to have two southpaws if possible. There’s at least a small chance Spence or Nuno could sneak onto the roster if they continue to impress in camp.
The Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico to win the 2013 World Baseball Classic tonight, going a perfect 8-0 in the tournament. They’re the first team to go undefeated in the event.
Robinson Cano was named MVP of the WBC after going 15-for-32 (.469) with four doubles and two homers in the eight games. He’ll rejoin the Yankees in the next day or two for the rest of Spring Training. Congrats to him and his fellow countrymen. They completely dominated the tournament. · (39) ·
Tuesday: Buster Olney says MLB is willing to give up “significant concessions” to the union to make a worldwide draft happen. That could mean increasing the minimum salary, requiring less service time for arbitration eligibility, stuff like that. I don’t understand why the owners want this so bad.
Monday: Via Eric Fisher: MLB and the players’ union are hoping to strike a deal for a worldwide draft by June 1st of this year. If that doesn’t happen, the international spending pools implemented by the Collective Bargaining Agreement will kick in for the summer. (h/t MLBTR)
Fisher describes the spending limits as a “poison pill” designed to push the idea of a worldwide draft. The logistics are pretty nightmarish, but hey, MLB has a wonderful track record when it comes to well thought out and not at all half-assed plans to fix issues that aren’t broken. Anything to stop investing money into the future of baseball, I guess. · (40) ·
The Yankees were held to just two hits — Brett Gardner single and Ichiro Suzuki double — in their loss to the Phillies this afternoon. The only other baserunners were Melky Mesa (walk) and Chris Stewart (error by Michael Young). Adam Warren started and allowed two runs on seven hits and a walk in 3.2 innings while Joba Chamberlain struck out the only man he faced. David Aardsma tossed a perfect inning with two strikeouts. Boone Logan also made his Grapefruit League debut, striking out two and allowing a bloop single in an inning work. Here’s the box score and here’s the rest from Tampa…
- Derek Jeter said he’s not concerned about the ankle stiffness that caused him to be scratched from the lineup this afternoon. “I’m not concerned because I was told this was going to happen,” he said. The Cap’n remains day-to-day. [Adam Berry]
- Meanwhile, Joe Girardi confirmed Jeter may serve as the DH on Opening Day, which is not at all surprising. The Yankees are playing the Red Sox and Jon Lester figures to start. They’ve been talking about DHing Jeter against lefties all spring. [Mark Feinsand]
- Logan and his barking elbow were scheduled to throw a simulated game today, but obviously he felt good enough to pitch in the game. “It feels good, period. It really does though, I promise,” said the left-hander. [Andy McCullough]
- Clay Rapada threw long-toss today as he tries to come back from a bout with shoulder bursitis. He doesn’t have any pain but it is becoming increasingly unlikely he will be ready in time for Opening Day. [Dan Barbarisi]
- The Yankees will welcome the Red Sox to Tampa tomorrow afternoon. Vidal Nuno gets the start while CC Sabathia throws in a minor league game. That game will be broadcast on YES, ESPN, and MLB.tv.
This is your open thread for the evening. All three hockey locals are in action plus Robinson Cano‘s Dominican Republic team will play Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic Title (8pm ET on MLB Network). Talk about any of that stuff and more here. Have at it.