Lunchtime links: Last game in Tampa, improving baseball, picking fantasy pitchers & more

Good afternoon! It’s March 28, 2012 and we are only three days away from the official start of the season. Hooray!

Today, the Yankees are taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates in Tampa and according to Bryan Hoch, two former teammates, Russell Martin and A.J. Burnett were heading over to the Yankees’ weight room to say hi to their old friends.

Hiroki Kuroda is making his final spring start and will be matched up against Jeff Locke.

Today’s lineup:
Ichiro 8
Wells 7
Cano 4
Youkilis 5
Rivera 3
Francisco 0
Boesch 9
Nix 6
Cervelli 2

The game is not on TV, unfortunately (at least not according to my FiOS guide).

It’s the last game in Tampa because tomorrow, the Yankees will be in Washington D.C. to take on the Nationals in an exhibition game at Nationals Park and on Saturday will be playing the West Point Black Knights.

Some links for you to take a gander at:

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AL East Division Preview: Questions

Over the last half decade or so, the American League East has been, without question, the strongest division in baseball. Home to the perpetually competitive Yankees and (until recently) Red Sox, it has also seen the Rays and Orioles share the spotlight. Last year, it was the only team to have three teams win 90+ games (though the ALW came close). However, the sure thing that is the ultra-powerful AL East is a bit less sure this year. Each team has one big question nagging it. Let’s jump in.

The Baltimore Orioles came out of no where last year to win 93 games and make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Though they eventually bowed out to the Yankees in the ALDS, 2012 was undeniably the most successful year the Orioles have had since the late 90’s. The team has a young core and a solid manager, so they should be set up to keep the success going, right? Well, maybe.… Click here to read the rest

Minor League Preview: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders


It is going to be a big year for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate. After the Empire State Yankees spent 2012 completely on the road, they return to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this year with a newly renovated PNC Field and a brand new team name – the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. Despite spending all of last year on the road, the (then) Yankees put together a surprisingly strong season. They went 84-60 and won the North Division of the International League. Unfortunately, they lost to the eventual IL Champions, the Pawtucket Red Sox, in the playoffs.

Once again, the RailRiders are entering the season with what should be a very strong pitching staff. Even with Manuel Banuelos out for the year after Tommy John surgery, the RailRiders’ starting rotation should be a joy to watch. Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno, Brett Marshall and Matt Tracy are all likely to take turns in the RailRiders’ rotation. The Yankees said they are planning on returning Dellin Betances to the rotation and this year should be telling after his thoroughly frustrating 2012.… Click here to read the rest

Rivera & Overbay- Two Dull, Worn Out Sides Of The Same Replacement 1B Coin

Despite having a potentially better in-house option in front of them and despite facing an increasingly tricky 40-man roster situation, the Yankees continue to throw stuff at the wall and see what sticks in an attempt to find Mark Teixeira‘s temporary replacement at first base.  The latest contestant is Lyle Overbay, 36-year-old lefty swinger who was released earlier this week and gobbled up just as quickly by the Bombers.  Juan Rivera had been getting the bulk of the work at first in the last couple weeks, but the signing of Overbay this late in camp suggests the Yankees weren’t as comfortable with that option as they appeared to be.  Overbay is a natural first baseman, unlike Rivera, and that surely influenced the now defensive-minded Yankees’ decision to bring him in.  Whether or not he’s actually a better option than Rivera?  Well, that’s debatable.

Offensively, the Yankees basically have the same player in both Rivera and Overbay.  Neither hits for much power anymore, at least not based on what Rivera has shown in camp.  … Click here to read the rest

Game Thread: Yankees at Orioles

It’s another night game, so we’re doing another game thread. Feel free to comment as much as you’d like and be sure to be nice to one another.

Stacey doesn’t want to have to put anyone into time out. (Kidding.)

Here’s tonight’s Yankees lineup that will be facing Jair Jurrjens:
Brett Gardner CF
Eduardo Nunez SS
Lyle Overbay 1B
Brennan Boesch RF
Ben Francisco LF
Jayson Nix 2B
Thomas Neal DH
Ronnier Mustelier 3B
Bobby Wilson C

RHP David Phelps

Robinson Cano was a scratch. According to Sweeny Murti, he’s fighting a stomach bug.

Tonight’s game is being broadcast from Ed Smith Stadium, the Orioles’ spring home and it will be shown on MLB Network in New York. Check your cable provider for the channel number.… Click here to read the rest

Wells Talks About His New Swing

Vernon Wells made his Yankee debut yesterday, and had a chance to speak with the media about his move to New York and expectations. It’s obviously been a tough couple of years for the outfielder, but we learned that he’s looking for a new start with the team he secretly rooted for over his Major League career. Looking at his last two seasons with Angels doesn’t inspire the type of enthusiasm he’s portraying, but there are reasons to believe that he’ll be productive in 2013. The biggest thread of hope is a change of approach at the plate. Chad Jennings has the quote.

“Coming into spring training and throughout the offseason, my goal was just to get back to the basics and just put the barrel on the ball as many times as I can,” Wells said. “Shorten my swing and use the other field. I forgot what right field was like for a couple of years. You get caught up in hitting home runs and seeing how far you can hit them, and your swing changes.

Click here to read the rest

Quick hit: Hughes to the DL

Well, this wasn’t unexpected and in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal, but according to Joel Sherman:

And there you have it. Phil Hughes is actually okay and seems to progressing nicely but the Yanks are still putting him on the DL. … Click here to read the rest

Better Know a Division: The 2013 NL Central

Like I mentioned in my earlier preview, the task of doing this sort of thing is daunting. Especially for me because, and this not meant to offend any of my NL Central team loving friends, I don’t really pay that much attention to this division. I know major storylines and I know who won and who didn’t, but beyond that, I had to look up a lot of stuff in order to do this preview. But I like challenges and this definitely was a challenge.

For National League fans, and for the teams they root for, there is at least one noticeable difference in the National League Central Division, it’s the first time since 1997 that there are only five teams and with the Houston Astros moving to the American League West, a lot of the NL Central teams will be missing their “punching bag.” Well, one of them, we’ll get to them later.

Last year, was an interesting year for the National League’s Central teams.… Click here to read the rest

Lunchtime links: Martin, Overbay and Wells, oh my!

Good afternoon, it’s Wednesday March 27 and we’re only five days away from Opening Day at the Stadium.

Usually, Yankee fans would be ecstatic about the start of a new season, about the pagentry of Opening Day, the excitement of seeing the team lined up along the first base line as their names are introduced, only this year, most of those names will be new and most fans will be thinking of what could have been before the first pitch even leaves CC Sabathia‘s left hand. Did that depress you to read as much as it depressed me to write?

Speaking of names that make you go, “Him??” the Yankees signed Lyle Overbay to a minor league deal yesterday after he was dropped by the Boston Red Sox. As Forrest Gump used to say, “Stupid is as stupid does,” or in this case it’s “desperate is as desperate does.”

Let’s backtrack a moment to talk about a player whose departure in a way, helped the Yankees get to this desperate state they’re in right now, Russell Martin.… Click here to read the rest