Monday, February 28, 2011

Game 2. Yankees Club Phillies.

It was a post card day in Clearwater, Florida as the Phillies played host to the Yankees. I know I mentioned just about everyone in the opener but I will not be doing that for the rest of spring. From here on out I will only be talking about what sticks out as glaring to me.

Ivan Nova wants to be in the starting rotation. He took a step forward in proving that he should be. Nova turned in 2 no-hit innings of baseball. His command was excellent all except for one pitch that almost took off the head of a batter. I mention the buzz inside because after that pitch, Nova came back with a 96 MPH fastball. I was impressed with all of his pitches, they seemed to be all working for him.

Sergio Mitre turned in a solid performance as well. He was not as untouchable as Nova but still commanded his pitches well and used multiple pitches as put-aways.

Later on, it was the Brooklyn native taking the mound. Dellin Betances is more than likely going to start the season with AA, but he is definitely making sure the Yankees look to bring him to the big leagues this season. He had not only a no-hit inning but he struck out the side. He walked one batter but made the base runner meaningless by strinking out his last batter. His command is good and he mixes his pitches in well.

Jesus Montero looked great at the plate. He hit the ball hard in multiple at bats including an RBI single passed the diving third baseman. But the big surprise was how great he loomed behind the plate. We had solid performances by Nova, Mitre, Logan and Betances. A lot of the credit has to go to Montero for knowing the hitters and calling a great game. He looks comfortable behind the plate and I don't think he is ready to just let Russell Martin take the job.

Jorge Vasquez is turning some heads in only the second game. That's because in as many appearances he has homered. Yesterday was his second home run of the young spring. Last season he was second on the AAA team in home runs, second only to Montero. This season, Vasquez wants to make sure he gets a call up at some point to see what he can do at the Major League level.

Jorge Posada and Bret Gardner also had great days. Each showed patience at the plate. Gardner walked twice and Posada walked once. Both also had solid hits as they doubled in the 6th inning.

Nick Swisher also had a double in the 6th but the two prior at bats, he looked caught off gaurd and very off balance. In his 6th inning at bat he looked level and balanced but maybe he is just not seeing the ball great just yet. It's something to keep an eye on.

The next game is against the Tigers at 1:00 on Monday afternoon. Lineup is as follows.

Yanks lineup: Jeter SS, Cano 2B, Teixeira 1B, ARod 3B, Jones RF, Martin DH, Cervelli C, Maxwell LF, Mesa CF, Sabathia P
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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Phillies Drop Yankees In Spring Opener.

The day began with a moving tribute to "The Boss."  Their has already been several pre-game tributes to George Steinbrenner, but today was to recognize his importance to the city of Tampa.  I never get tired of that last line of his tribute video.  Steinbrenner is on stage at "Saturday Night Live" and he is talking about which category of host he falls under.  He says, "I'm not an entertainer. So the way I see it, I must fall into that other category.  Beloved American from another walk of life."  He truly was a beloved American.  The tribute was moving and incorporated a reading of the plaque from the new statue of "the boss" outside George M. Steinbrenner Field.  Tino Martinez, Ron Guidry, Goose Gossage, Joe Girardi and Derek Jeter all read from the plaque.  After the tribute it was on to Baseball. 

Although the Yankees dropped this one 5-4 to the Phillies, it was a promising outing for most.  Bartolo Colon took the mound for New York.  He looks big and admits he needs to lose weight but he looks strong and healthy.  His velocity was in the high 80's for the first inning and looked solid.  He allowed a triple in the second inning and after that seemed to be able to gas it up to 92 and 93mph.  His velocity topped out at 94mph, so his arm strength is good for a guy who dealt with a torn rotator cuff.  He got himself into a jam but worked out of it by inducing a much needed double play while giving up 1 run. All in all, it was a positive step towards earning a spot in the rotation. 

Joba Chamberlain took the mound in the third and did nothing short of dazzle.  He looks broader but I am starting to buy that he is stronger.  Joba is sporting a new delivery.  The new pitching coach, Larry Rothschild, approched Joba and told him he need to bring his hands down at the start of the delivery.  Joba informed him that he had already made that tweak after studying tape.  Joba liked the idea that him and his new pitching coach are on the same page.  Joba is starting his delivery at the waste rather than at his chest.  The tweak allows him to be quicker to the plate and makes him more deceptive. His velocity was in the mid 90's but it's still early. Joba worked quick by getting himself a 1-2-3 inning.  Looking forward to see what he can do. 

Dave Robertson started his work looking solid but seemed to have control issues at the end of his inning.
He was able to work through the control problems and get out of the inning without a run scoring. 

Phelps and Noesi showed promise but both ended up having shaky innings and Wordekemper didn't look too good at all.  Phelps is someone to get excited about but it seems that all three of these guys are destined for another season in the minors. It is just the first game, however. 

As far as hitting went, there is much to talk about there.  Jeter went 0 for 2 but his batting stance looks good.  Jeter's issue was that his footing was off, he was stepping toward the plate too much causing him to hit the ball down.  He seems to have stopped doing that and is able to hit the ball hard.  I expect to see results as long as he sticks with his new footing.

Nick Swisher looks to be in great shape again this season. His hands seem quick but he went 0 for 2 as well.  He had a career year last year and is looking to improve on those numbers this season.

Mark Teixeira was the only starter besides Cervelli to get more than 2 at bats.  Tex was hit in the foot for the first at bat, chopped the ball to short on an off balance swing in his second at bat.  In the third at bat, Tex showed real power.  He almost hit the ball out to center field but settled for a triple.  It seems they may work Teixeira extra hard this spring to hopefully get him into a groove so that he does not struggle in April.

Alex Rodriguez looks like he is in mid-season form.  His swing looks outstanding and he had a solid double to the right center field gap.  Somehow, A-Rod is in even better shape than he has been before and is looking for a sort of bounce back season this year.

Robinson Cano has become one of he hardest workers on the team.  No hits today but his swing is picture perfect and his patience seems to be continuing from last season. 

Jorge Posada didn't look great in his first time as a full time DH.  He popped up to short on the first pitch of his at bat.  We have plenty of time to see what he can do over the next 5 weeks.  I'm not worried.

Curtis Granderson showed a lot of patience in his only at bat but ultimately swung at a pitch out of the zone to strike out. 

Francisco Cervelli had a great game.  He looked solid behind the plate and even tried a snap throw to first.  It was unsuccessful but it looked great.  He also had a double down the left field line.  Cervelli has been working with Cano at Cano's home in the Domincan since early December.  He is kind of the lost catcher this year in camp and feels he can prove a lot by making his hitting more consistent. 

Bret Gardner only had 1 at bat and walked.  He looks to be in great shape as usual. His goal this spring is to make bunting more a part of his game. 

As far as the rookies and backups go, I am not going to touch on everyone.  There were a few notable mentions for the day.  

Andruw Jones showed that he can have great discipline at the plate.  He walked twice but after the second walk, he was thrown out stealing.  Seems as though the speed isn't what it used to be. 

Greg Golson did nothing special today but just from observing him, it seems that his bat is improving and he has great speed.  Lets not forget that canon of an arm, as well. 

Eduardo Nunez is showing power and solid strokes.  He had a nice liner to center field and even showed off his speed by stealing second base.  Nunez wants the spot on the team as the utility infielder.

Austin Romine looks very confident behind the plate.  Nobody questions his ability to call a game.  It's pretty much common knowledge around Yankee camp that Romine is a better defensive catcher than Montero but that his bat isn't quite there yet.  Romine is showing improvement at the plate and even had a solid single today.  If his bat can catch up it is very possible that Montero gets traded in a blockbuster deal this season and Romine is next in line to catch for the Yanks.

That's all for today folks check back tomorrow for an analysis on Yanks at Philles. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

George Would Never!

Maybe George Steinbrenner was known for calling out star players at some point. It's true that the boss did in fact voice concern about Jeter partying into the night, but that was quite some time ago. In fact, after the two mended their relationship, they goofed on the situation by making it into a credit card commercial. So should we be expecting a Benjamin Moore Paint commercial starring Hank Steinbrenner and Derek Jeter? Something tells me the answer is no.

Jeter claims he was not bothered by Hank's remarkes that "some players were a little too focused on building mansions and doing other things" last season. Jeter grinned his way through an 11 minute interview in which he said all the right things as usual. Jeter pointed out that Steinbrenner at no point said his name so therefore only assumptions can be made. He said "I'm not moving, so we won't have to talk about this again."

Jeter addressed Steinbrenner's mention of a "lack of hunger" as well. Jeter said "Did I see it? No. We got beat by a team that was better than us in that series, that's why we lost." Joe Girardi backed up his player by pointing out that when a team isn't playing well, they usually don't look good. He said' "we didn't play well against Texas." He also acknowledged that whenever a team isn't playing to there full potential, people have the tendency to question hunger.

I do not believe Jeter was hurt by any of the co-owner's remarks. I think he was truthful when he said it didn't bother him. Even after Jeter gave his interview, Steinbrenner did some serious back pedaling by saying that the mansion comment was just a poor euphemism and that without Jeter, this team doesn't win it's last five rings. He said his intension was not to single out Jeter. However, this is a page right out of his dad's book. The only difference is that George Steinbrenner would never question the focus and comittment of Derek Jeter. How can anyone?

Hank still has a bit to learn before he can master his fathers fire. He has to learn when statements are needed and when they are completely uncalled for and unfounded.

Sidenote: Bud Selig called Hal Steinbrenner and Randy Levine to remind them that owners should not be publicly discussing revenue sharing. In Hank's slew of comments, he also decided to point out that something needs to be done about revenue sharing and that the Commissioner agrees. Even though Steinbrenner's comments did not bother Jeter, they clearly struck a nerve with Selig.
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Thursday, February 17, 2011


A statue of George Steinbrenner stands guard outside the spring training home of the Yankees. Tampa was the adopted home of the stern Yankee owner and his presence was known well at Legend's Field. The stadium was renamed George M Steinbrenner Field toward the end of his 80 year life. However, for the first time, the stadium that bares his name will be without him.

The Yankees are begining their first spring training without their fearless leader. At the moment, his office remains empty but his position has been filled. His sons, Hal and Hank are now in control of the team their father transformed back into a first class organization. Hal has taken the lead as managing general partner and Hank will be assisting as co-chairperson.

As the Yankees begin their 2011 campaign with many doubts, you have to wonder, are the Yankees in the same capable hands as they previously were? Would George have let the Yankees miss out on a major opportunity while letting the Red Sox succeed at several major opportunities? Maybe players are not as interested in this new management or maybe it was simply the Yankees turn to not get their way.

These are all perfectly normal thoughts to be pondering but the facts are there. The Yankees are being controlled by a man who is just as business smart and way more patient than his father (Hal), and a man who has that same fire and demand for excellence (Hank). George may be gone, but his ideas and his beliefs are still very much present.

Let us not forget about the off-season of 2009. These are the same men that pulled off the biggest off-season in Yankee history by signing CC Sabathia, AJ Burnett and Mark Teixiera. The Yankees are in very capable hands and will continue to strive for excellence. That is, after all, what being a Yankee is all about.
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Monday, February 14, 2011

Mid Season Answer

It's no secret that the Yankees starting rotation leaves a lot to be desired for a team with a payroll of $200 million. It is also no secret that the team plans to see what they can get out of low risk acquisitions and rookies. The plan is essentially a stall until something worth jumping at comes along. However, next year's free agent pitching market also leaves a lot to be desired.

If the Yankees get through this season with what they have only to enter an off season where Mark Buehrle and Edwin Jackson are headlining the free agent pitchers available, they may be stuck in the same exact position they are in now barring a major step up from the team's youth. The team may have to resort to something that Brian Cashman is not fond of. Trading star prospect Jesus Montero.

The best case scenario for the Yanks is King Felix. Come mid-season, if the Mariners are in last place, they may become open to the idea of trading the star ace. Hernandez is set to make $10 million from Seattle this season and he jumps up to $18 million next season. If Seattle has yet another losing season it may become possible for the Yanks to work something out.

One thing is for sure, if the Yankees look for help outside the organization, it will have to be in the form of a trade.
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Spring Brings Rebirth.

Spring training has finally arrived and on the first day, as we look around Yankee camp, rebirth is certainly present. Spring is a time to start fresh and among this Yankee team, many are looking to do just that.

C.C. Sabathia has dealt with some knee issues in the past and as a pro-active way of solving this problem he as shown up to camp a lighter, more fit C.C. He puts his official weight loss at 25 pounds and says his plan is to lose another 10 in camp.

Joba Chamberlain has gone in the other direction. Joba had put on 10-15 pounds of muscle. He said he installed a gym in his home this off season and it was the best thing he could have done for himself. He says he feels stronger and he believes this is how his body should feel. He expects it will affect his pitching in a positive way and new pitching coach Dave Rothschild agrees so far. Rothschild says that his arm has a lot of quickness for so early in the spring.

Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson are both coming into camp with tweaked swings and high expectations. Both players believe they will have much better seasons offensively. Jeter may feel he has more to prove simply because his age has greatly been called into question but both players expect to have great years.

For some players, this spring marks the start of a second chance. Others are seeing it as a chance to prove they are ready for the big leauges.

For new Yankees such as Mark Prior, Bartolo Colon, Eric Chavez, Ronnie Belliard, Freddy Garcia and Russell Martin, a second chance is exactly what these guys are looking for. Colon and Garcia are looking to prove they still have what it takes to help a team win as a part of a starting rotation. Prior is looking to do the same in the bullpen. Belliard and Chavez are both looking to make the team as utility players and want to help the team win. Russell Martin is setting his goals high. He is looking at this spring as an opertunity to return to his status as one of the games most elite catchers. Even Andruw Jones is looking to use this oppertunity to prove he can still be an everyday player.

The youth of the team is looking at the Yankees weakened starting rotation as a chance to step up. The Yanks have a wealth of young talent looking to prove that they are ready for the chance to get big league opponents out. Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, Andrew Brackman and Ivan Nova are all guys that have a chance of a lifetime and all of it starts today.

Catching prospects, Jesus Montero and Austin Romaine are looking to prove they have spent enough time in the minors and are ready to catch this Yankee staff.

So as we come into a new year of Yankee baseball, expectations are high, and optimism is everywhere. It is going to be an exciting spring.
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Friday, February 4, 2011

Thanks For The Memories

His name sounds best when being chanted by fifty thousand plus fans.  Whether it be a warm summer night or a brisk fall night, having his name echo through the walls of the cathedral in the Bronx just seems right. And though it wont likely be the last time the walls of Yankee Stadium hear his name, it will no longer be on every fifth day.  Andy Pettitte has decided to put an end to his storied 16 year career.
Andy's contributions cannot be overstated.  he has built a career on the most sturdy foundation one can possibly use; consistency.  Every pitcher wishes they can be consistently effective but few succeed at it as well as Andy Pettitte.  He has five World Series rings and has been an allstar 3 times. His genuine "team first" attitude was possibly his best quality. If he was injured and unable to help the team win, it would truly upset him. He felt as though he wasn't doing his job.
Andy has had 13 memorable seasons in pinstripes. He was one of four players still on the team from the last Yankee dynasty. Since announcing his retirement, countless players have had much to say.  It has been an outpouring of respect (as well as relief from opponents) for a man with as much talent as he had love for his team.  Derek Jeter called him family and Jorge Posada called him one of his closest friends.  
It is easy to think about great pitching performances by Pettitte, he has had so many.  After all, when you are the the all time leader in Post Season wins, you are clearly doing something right.  Pettitte may or may not be a Hall of Famer but he is without question, one of the Yankee greats. So much so that he is just third on the Yankee all time wins list. 
Pettitte has achieved 20 wins in a season twice in his career winning 21 games both times, and is tied for second on the Post Season strikeouts list.  He has put together a stellar career and that includes the 3 year hiatus he took to play for the Houston Astros.   It is hard to describe just how much of an asset Andy was.
Joe Torre believes Pettittes ability and drive as an athlete were embodied in his 1996 World Series performance.  In an evening where the fearsome John Smoltz would blink only once, allowing just one run, Andy simply didn’t blink.  Pettitte shut down the usually loud Atlanta line up while giving up just 5 hits and 0 runs through 8 1/3 innings of work.  New York beat Atlanta 1-0 that night and would go on to win the next game in the Bronx to clinch their 23rd World Series Championship.  
Pettitte is a competitor, and even 13 years later, there was nobody else the Yankees wanted on the mound in a big game.  In 2009, Pettitte won all three clinching victories for the Yanks in the Post Season, earning the team its 27th World Series Championship and earning his fifth. 
Tino Martinez couldn't say enough about Pettitte when he learned of his retirement. One thing Tino said was "Since I’ve been retired, I’m always asked, ’Who would you have pitch a World Series Game 7?’ And I always say, ‘Andy Pettitte.’ When people ask why, I tell them it was because he was so prepared for every start. When the time comes for a big game, you want a guy who’s going to give you seven strong innings. And that’s what he did time and time again."
Pettitte was known as one of today's best big game pitchers. If there was a game that was must win, he rarely disappointed, and always pitched with intensity.  He has been an anchor for every team he has pitched for and has been a key factor in all 5 championship teams he has been on.  Without him, the Yankees most likely could not achieve their late 90's dynasty in which they won 4 World Series in 5 years. 
Andy sited heart as being the reason he is hanging it up. He said that his body is ready and feels great and he is ready to pitch, but his heart just isn’t in it.  He told his wife 2 weeks ago that he was going to pitch for the 2011 season, but said when he thought about packing his bags, it just didn’t seem right.  Pettitte is not the type of person to do something he isn’t putting his all into.  I personally would rather have 50% of Andy Pettitte than 100% of any other pitcher, but that is simply unacceptable to Andy. 
Yes, there are plenty of things a Yankee fan can say about Andy Pettitte. However today, on the day that he has officially decided to retire, there is only one thing to say to Andy Pettitte.  Thanks for the memories.  

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Valentines Day is approaching. While kids are in school hoping they get the most Valentine requests and women are at their offices hoping for a special delivery, the Yankees will be hoping to see a special someone as well. The Yankees are hoping Andy Pettitte accepts their request to pitch in 2011. With Pettitte on the staff, the Yankees who were eliminated in game 6 of last years ALCS, pose much more of a threat due to recent additions to the bullpen.

The Yanks signed Bartolo Colon last week in a deal that is low risk and high reward. However, this week, the team made another move bringing Freddy Garcia to New York. Garcia also inked a minor league deal but if he makes the club and recieves all incentives, he can make $5.1 million. It seems that the the team is preparing for the worst from Pettitte.

The Garcia deal could mean bad news on the Pettitte front, if the Yankees know something we don't. It is Jon Heyman's opinion that although this could potentially mean bad news, ultimately Pettitte will return to pitch this season.

Whatever happens between now and Febuary 14th, one thing is for sure. The anticipation is driving Yankee die hards crazy. If Pettitte doesn't return, the Yanks must hope they have caught lightning in a bottle with either one of their low risk acquisitions or their youngsters on the rise.
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