The NY Spring Training Double Standard

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Lost in all the talk about Ivan Nova‘s command, Andy Pettitte‘s return, and Michael Pineda‘s velocity is the rather pedestrian spring being had by another Yankee starting pitcher.  This pitcher has made only 4 official starts this spring and in those 4 starts has thrown 14.0 total innings.  In those 14 innings, he has allowed 7 earned runs on 19 combined hits and walks while striking only 10.  As a back-of-the-rotation candidate, these numbers could be acceptable.  For a guy being paid top dollar who is expected to anchor the starting rotation of the New York Yankees they are hardly encouraging and yet there hasn’t been a peep from anybody in the media about him or his performance this spring.

As you probably guessed, the pitcher in question here is CC Sabathia.  CC has reached almost Mo-like levels of media non-coverage this spring, as the only time his name has been mentioned is on the days he’s scheduled to pitch. … Click here to read the rest

The Importance Of Spring Training

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

No one needs to be reminded of how unimportant Spring Training stats are (but if you did, there’s another reminder).  But what about the overall format of Spring Training itself?  It’s structured such that players are eased into full-scale baseball activities, but how much do they really need that structure?  Every player is different and needs to do different things to get themselves into full game shape.  Some guys need lots of time in the cage and on the field to get right and some like Mo seem to be able to roll out of bed and be at the top of their game.  There are some Yankee regulars that have missed significant amounts of time with injuries this spring, and thus find themselves well behind the typical Spring Training schedule.  None are expected to miss Opening Day, but when you consider the sport being played it’s worth asking how effective they can be without a full spring routine under their belt.… Click here to read the rest

Spring Training Stock Market: Stock Down

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

We covered the guys off to good starts on Tuesday.  Today it’s the other side of the coin.  Here are the guys who aren’t exactly lighting the world on fire in camp over the first 2+ weeks.

Raul Ibanez– Ibanez was the Yankees’ lefty DH option of choice this offseason, and so far they are giving him a serious test drive to see what they can get out of him.  Ibanez has been in the lineup at DH, LF, and RF, and currently leads the team with 24 plate appearances.  Unfortunately, he only has 2 hits in those 24 PA (1-17 vs. RHP), with no walks and 5 strikeouts to boot (4 of them vs. RHP).  He’s also looked shaky in the outfield, making one error already and reminding us to not take Gardner and Swisher’s defensive value in the corners for granted.  As a 39-year-old player, it’s reasonable to expect Ibanez to need a little more time to get into a groove, and he certainly shouldn’t be written off based on 20ish PA. … Click here to read the rest

Don’t Worry, A .650 is Just Fine

Alex Rodriguez has started this spring on fire but less can be said of his offensive counterparts.

A 1-0 loss to the Red Sox? A pitchers duel between a pair of talented young starting pitchers, one on each side of the legendary rivalry? Under normal circumstances last night’s game in Tampa would have been a dagger to the heart of Yankees fans. But of the course the game was played in Tampa and had no bearing on American League Eastern division standings. The Yankees, 5-7 and near the bottom of the Grapefruit League, started Doug Bernier at shortstop. The Red Sox, a much better 7-2, played Alex Hassan in left. The game didn’t matter – or rather, the story of the night was Ivan Nova’s performance rather than his team’s loss. It’s as it should be and as it always will be. Baseball fans just don’t care who wins and loses in March.

Yet as little as we care about the wins and losses, as many times as we hear that nothing that happens between now and Opening Day really matters in the grand scheme of things, it’s tough to ignore abject failure.… Click here to read the rest

Spring Training Stock Market: Stock Up

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

We’re over two weeks into Spring Training now, and over a week into the game schedule.  Pitchers still aren’t stretched out long enough to throw a full outing, and position players are still only playing half a game at most, but there’s been just enough baseball activity to start noticing some trends in players’ performance.  While the majority of the media focus so far has been on the trends of the rotation candidates, and with good reason since that part of the team still has the most unanswered questions right now, there have been other players putting up headline-worthy performances.  Of course this comes with the obligatory small sample size warning, but quite frankly, I’m bored to tears reading and hearing about the $189 million budget and I want to talk about some damn baseball.  Even in small sample sizes, the following guys are looking good early on this spring.… Click here to read the rest

Spring Training Storylines I’ll Be Following

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

The wait is almost over, friends.  We’re just a handful of days away from finally being able to talk about real, actual, on-the-field baseball again.  Pitchers and catchers are expected to officially report this coming Sunday, but if you’re a daily follower of the Yankee blogopshere you already know that players have been trickling into the facility at Tampa since last week.  The team appears to be stoked that baseball is starting up again and ready to get back to work, and that makes me even more stoked for Spring Training to get started.  Spring Training is almost never boring for the Yankees, and this year should be no exception.  There will be plenty to follow and talk about over the next month or so, and here are the major storylines I know I’ll be following particularly closely.

Mark Teixeira‘s New Left-Handed Approach

It’s the only position player topic that has gotten as much attention this offseason as A-Rod’s health, and it’s really going to be the only thing I care about in regards to Teix in Spring Training. … Click here to read the rest

Breaking Down Manny Banuelos’ Latest Outing

Yesterday’s Spring Training game against the Boston Red Sox allowed me to get my first glimpse of Manny Banuelos in game action, and it was hard not to come away impressed.  Overall, Banuelos threw 2 scoreless innings, striking out 3 and allowing a double and a walk.  He faced a lineup that was mostly major leaguers, and did not look overmatched.   He threw 28 pitches, including 20 fastballs, 5 changeups, and 3 curveballs.  The fastball ranged in velocity from 92-96 mph, with the change consistently in the low 80’s, and the curve in the high 70’s.  He was able to throw all 3 pitches for strikes, and didn’t miss his location very often. Banuelos did a great job at keeping the ball down, both with his fastball and the offspeed pitches, which likely contributed to his effectiveness.  I’m no mechanics expert, but his delivery looked smooth and easy as reported.

One observation is that Banuelos was pretty consistent about the location of his pitches. … Click here to read the rest

The 25th Man: Eric Chavez?

Joel Sherman checked in this morning with a blurb about the Yankees’ final roster spot:

You have the 12-man staff. You have a set nine-man lineup (again assuming no injuries) comprised of Russell Martin, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada. That gets you to 21 of the 25 players. Andruw Jones will be the main backup outfielder. That is 22. There will be a backup catcher, which almost certainly comes down to Francisco Cervelli vs. Jesus Montero. That is 23. One utility player must be able to play shortstop, which means Ramiro Pena vs. Eduardo Nunez. That is 24.

So that would give the Yankees one spot to essentially pick a skill they want. Eric Chavez could offer lefty power. Brandon Laird could offer righty power. Greg Golson or Justin Maxwell could offer an athletic, righty-hitting outfielder. The loser of the Pena vs.

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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.… Click here to read the rest