Thoughts from the Yankees' first 2011 game action

Sorry, this just looks weird (Photo: AP)

The Yankees kicked their 2011 Grapefruit League schedule off this afternoon against the 2011 World Series Champion (too soon?) Phillies, losing 5-4. Rather than author my regular comprehensive and authoritative game recap, given the whole exhibitioness of it all I wanted to share a few bullet point observations:

- Bartolo Colon threw two innings of one-run ball, and looked OK save for a Ben Francisco triple. He started out the game throwing a troubling 89mph fastball, but dialed it all the way up to 94mph in his second inning of work. I still don’t expect much of anything out of Colon, but I’m glad he didn’t get throttled.

- Derek Jeter grounded out to shortstop and third base in his two at-bats. I will refrain from comment.

- Michael Kay noted that Mark Teixeira was the only starter to remain in the game for a third at-bat, and postulated that the Yankees might try to get him more work in the spring than usual as a way to try to counter Tex’s notoriously slow April starts. I have no idea if this’ll work, but I have no problem with Tex getting extra reps if it means a non-horrendous April. For what it’s worth, Tex hit an RBI triple in the 5th (and also reached on the first on a HBP), so it looks the experiment is already a rousing success! (/smallsamplesize’d).

- Alex Rodriguez awesomely scalded the ball in both of his trips to the plate, just missing a home run to center in the 1st, and ripping a double in the third.

- Joba Chamberlain debuted a slight mechanical adjustment — setting his glove closer to his waist than up by his chest right before his delivery — and looked spectacular in his one inning of work. I know it was one inning and only 10 pitches, but he was dialing it up to 94 and looked confident, comfortable and in control. He also spoke with Kim Jones after his outing and acknowledged his penchant for running full counts on batters last season and that his goal for 2011 is to finish guys off once he gets ahead in the count. Sounds like a smart philosophy to me. I can’t wait to watch Joba stymie hitters every five da–oh wait, he’s still in the bullpen. I will once again refrain from comment.

- Both David Phelps and Hector Noesi looked like giants on TV, although apparently they’re each only about 6’3”. Phelps unfortunately didn’t look great, getting hit fairly hard by a couple of scrubby hitters and giving up two runs in his one inning of work. According to our own Sean Potter, “I thought the scouting reports seemed accurate on Phelps — doesn’t have anything that will really baffle hitters so he needs to hit his spots. He left stuff around the plate and got knocked around a bit.” Noesi was better, pitching a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth — although all three of his outs came in the air — and giving up two hits in his second inning of work but still managing to keep the Phils off the board.

- Was hoping to see Jesus Montero today, but Joe Girardi said he’s starting tomorrow. Francisco Cervelli started at catcher, as Russell Martin is still several days away from game action, and somehow drove in the Yankees’ first run with a double.

- Jorge Vazquez, who I profiled a month ago, hit a monster go-ahead two-run bomb to center in the bottom of the seventh inning.

- Eric Wordekemper was awful in the eighth, loading the bases to hitters that probably won’t even make the Phillies’ 25-man, and then surrendering the lead on a dinky fly to left that Colin Curtis maybe should have caught (although probably not really).

12 thoughts on “Thoughts from the Yankees' first 2011 game action

  1. deadrody

    No comments on the alleged “joba is fat” nonsense ?

    Whoever cooked up that faux-controversy was completely off base. He looks exactly the same as last season to my untrained eye and will likely lose weight through the spring.

    • T.O Chris

      He actually looks in better shape than last year with a somewhat smaller stomache and some fat removed off his face, Joba said he has added 15 pounds of muscle and I kind of believe him after actually seeing him.

      Jeter looked like his mid season form… of last season dribbling ball after ball to third base.

      • oldpep

        That’s what I saw, too. I don’t recall him being in better shape in recent springs.

        • T.O Chris

          It really makes you wonder why they won’t even let him throw his hat in the ring when it comes to starting, he has to be better than Noesi and Phelps without even trying since he’s done it before. Freddy and Colon don’t have better stuff than even starting Joba and if he is in really good shape maybe he can maintain an average velocity around 92 moving forward.

          I just don’t see how it would hurt as stacked as our pen is and how thin the roation is…. don’t want to start a Joba debate just something I was thinking about.

          • David in Cal

            I’m with you, T.O Chris. As far as I can see, the Yanks management has been clear that Joba absolutely won’t be considered as a starter, but their reason isn’t clear. They say he pitches better in relief, but just about every pitcher does. And, Joba is young enough that he might easily improve quite a bit

  2. John Harper just tweeted that Joba has lost 10 pounds since the beginning of camp as well. I agree, it just matters how he’s throwing and he looked very good today.

  3. T.O Chris

    Joel Sherman was answering some tweets and two caught my eye about players looking good, he noted that Cervelli has come into camp in much better shape and is swinging the bat well and he mentioned that the Yankees are cautiously optomistic because of how good Eric Chavez looks not only in the cage but being light on his feet at 3rd.

    Both are obviously premature for anything concrete but it’s nice to hear that guys are making it a competition in camp, if Martin, Montero and Cervelli all make a serious push to stay with the team (Martin starting and Montero and Cervelli competing to backup) it’s only going to push them all to the limits of their abilites, and that is always a good thing for the team.

  4. Don W

    How was Wordkemper awful? Two weak ground ball base hits, (one of which the SS almost made a play on). A duck snort to center and a blooper that was mis-played in left? If he could coax that kind of contact every time out he’ll be a successful major leaguer.

    With as much talk as we here about BABIP, FIP and analysis of the expectation of getting hits on types of contact you’d think people would actually use it to analyze what the pitcher actually did. I’ll never forget a couple years back Joba the starter getting boo’ed off the mound after giving up 6 straight hits. Never mind they were a ridiculous collection of seeing eye singles and bloopers. Each of which 8-9 times out of 10 would be outs. BOOOOOOO!

    • aforty

      I agree. I also saw some poise from Wordkemper as he got two outs after the two weak singles and almost escaping without harm.

      • Perhaps “awful” was a bit harsh for Wordekemper, especially in the first game of spring training, but I still found his performance disappointing. He had a lot of trouble putting Sardinha — who must’ve fouled off at least three two-strike pitches — and sure, he got blooped to death, but he had his chances to put Sardinha away before that.

        We constantly hear about how much farther ahead of the hitters the pitchers are supposed to be this early in the spring; I was expecting a little more out of Wordekemper.

  5. oldpep

    I’m wondering what it would take for him to get out of the BP. I still think he’s a lot more suited to starting.

    • T.O Chris

      From what I understand they just don’t believe he can repeat his mechanics consistently but when you consider he had a higher war (in roughly the same innings) in 2009 than Freddy Garcia did last year, when the competition is as weak as it is why not try it.

      I wonder if the Yankees would have given up on Doc Halladay and moved him to the pen “because he plays up in the pen” we’d have the best ace in baseball pitching 6th inning ball. A bit extreme I know but it’s not an unreasonable comparison.

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