Results tagged ‘ Javier Vazquez ’
Well gang, here we are on the eve of the baseball season. In a little over 24 hours the Yankees and Red Sox will dim the lights and raise the curtains on the 2010 MLB season. It’s on; the wait is over. It’s the best day of the sports year, if you ask me. It’s your number one vs. their number one.
As Al Bundy once said, “Let there be baseball. Let there be LIFE.”
Time to get yapping about the Yankees!
Yankees vs. the Future Yankees
Manager Joe Girardi said it best: “Either way, we can’t lose today!”
The Yankees started their regular players against a team of baby Bombers in the final spring training game this afternoon. It was quite interesting to see Derek Jeter and the boys play against some of the young guys who are just trying to start their baseball careers. Girardi took it easy on the youngsters and only played the regulars for the first three innings.
The Yanks beat the Future Yanks, 9-6.
To me it was a little strange how they divided up the team. Some of the non-Yankees played on the Yankee team. I guess that was just the way to get everyone in; not all of them could play on the future team and they wanted every player to get some work in.
It wasn’t too torturous for them–the Yankees only scored three runs on them in the bottom of the first! Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Nick Swisher knocked in a combined five runs on the future Yanks, hopefully just a prequel of what they do tomorrow vs. the Red Sox.
Jonathan Albaladejo started for the future Yanks against Javier Vazquez, who made his final start before the regular season. Vazquez turned in a decent performance, as he pitched 4 1/3 innings and gave up two earned runs on seven hits. He walked one and struck out two.
Not bad for Vazquez, but he could do a little better next week when he faces the Rays.
Some of the future stars intrigued me. For one, Melky Mesa. I could not believe I saw another player with the name Melky. I thought there was only one Melky, and he now plays for the Braves! He didn’t have a hit today, but I just like his name.
Along with Mesa, Slade Heathcott grabbed my attention. He is ranked as the third-best Yankee prospect by Baseball America, and he showed some great speed today. In his first at-bat, he beat out a slow roller to third for a single. Alex Rodriguez couldn’t make the play and he was safe!
I also was taken back by Pat Venditte–the “switch pitcher.” He pitched in the top of the eighth inning and he gave up a run. It was just so strange how he kept changing his pitching hand; he would throw to right-handers with his left hand and pitch to left-handers with his right hand. (Although I do think he threw to one right-hander with his right hand)
You have to see him pitch for yourself to really get a feel for what he is about. His arm angle when pitching with his left hand is much different than when he throws righty. He seems to sidearm the ball when he throws left and almost flings it. But as a right-hander he throws much more conventional and overhand.
Not to mention his mitt. Venditte fashioned an “ambidextrous glove” (I guess you could call it?) so that he can pitch with both hands. It’s quite a sight to behold and unbelievably fascinating.
I hope we see Venditte in the future, but I do think he has a lot of work to do before being called up. He’s not quite ready to pitch to real major leaguers yet, but if he keeps at it and can find ways to get hitters out with his unique pitching style, he’ll make the show.
Overall, it was a fun game to watch today and a cool way to end spring training.
The Opening Day Roster
Most of the decisions made regarding the opening day, 25-man roster the Yankees will use didn’t shock me. Of course all of the regulars will be there; Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez….yeah, you get the idea.
I’m glad to see David Robertson will be in the bullpen along with Boone Logan. But if you ask me, Royce Ring deserves to be there, too. For the type of spring he had and his past Major League service, he should at least be given a chance.
Chan Ho Park, Sergio Mitre, Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves, and Joba Chamberlain will also be in the ‘pen. But mark my words, if one of these guys is not cutting it, Ring is the right guy to plug into the spot. I watched him this past month, and I have to say, he did some fine work in Tampa.
Marcus Thames did not have the best spring, only averaging somewhere around .135 at the plate. But he hit three homers this spring and showcased more power than Randy Winn. Both players made the team. We’ll see how each one does during the season, but one of them could be used as trade bait.
Lastly, Ramiro Pena made the team as the extra infielder. I think this is the best move, I like Pena, and I hope he has a great year in the big leagues. He will be an asset to the club and I have a good feeling about him.
We have the team set, now we just have to find the chemistry.
The Series vs. Boston
I guess the schedule-maker this year had a malicious sense of irony, pitting the Yanks against the hated Red Sox on opening night. The Bombers and BoSox will play tomorrow, have a day off on Monday, and then play the next two games of the series on Tuesday and Wednesday.
As mentioned before, it’s our number one vs. their number one tomorrow, meaning CC Sabathia vs. Josh Beckett. A lot of people are quick to mention Sabathia’s tendency to start slow and not put up his best work until later on in the season.
In fact, many of my friends have told me the Yankees will probably lose tomorrow night.
Keep in mind, whenever the Yankees play Boston in Fenway, they are not just facing the Red Sox. They are facing Red Sox Nation. It’s hard for any team to play there because the fans are just unbelievably rowdy. It’s hard to win there.
We’ll see what happens on Opening Night. Anything can happen. We might see Sabathia pick up right where he left off last season–dominating everyone he faces. He didn’t have the best spring, but those numbers do not mean much. We won’t find out until tomorrow.
Tuesday night, A.J. Burnett will make the start against Jon Lester. We’ll have to wait and see which Burnett will show up–Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde, hopefully Jekyll.
When Lester is on, he is one of the most brilliant left-handed pitchers in the American League. Burnett has to bring his best stuff and the offense has to bring their best mindset to win Tuesday.
Ending the series on Wednesday, Andy Pettitte will start against the Red Sox’ big off-season acquisition, John Lackey. Pettitte has done so well against the Boston over the years and last year was 2-1 with a 3.75 ERA in four starts against Boston.
Lackey, although many people think he has the Yanks’ number, has not done well against the Yankees historically. Just last year in the ALCS, Lackey was 0-1 with a 3.65 ERA in two starts. Lifetime vs. New York, he is 5-7 with a 4.66 ERA and at Fenway Park he is 2-5 with a 5.75 ERA.
Not very pretty, Mr. Lackey.
But I’m looking past all that. On paper, the Yanks have an advantage. But on paper is not going to win the game. It all depends on who plays better on that day. That’s all there is to it.
Look at it this way: even if the Yankees do not get off to the best start this year, it’s not the end of the world. They started slow last year, even going 0-8 in the first eight games vs. Boston. It worked out for them in the end.
Enjoy Opening night everyone! And have a Happy Easter.
The Yankees had lost four straight games going into today’s spring training match-up, but were finally able to break out of it. The Bronx Bombers beat their 2009 World Series opponents, the Philadelphia Phillies, 7-5 in an exhibition game.
Here’s what I made of today’s win:
- Javier Vazquez
The first pitch Javier Vazquez tossed this spring was a meatball. Jimmy Rollins launched Vazquez’s offering over the right field wall for a leadoff home run. It makes sense to me, because the last pitch I remember him throwing in a Yankee uniform was a grand slam in the ALCS. So the first pitch Vazquez threw back in pinstripes had to be a homer.
I guess it was only fitting.
But after the long ball, Vazquez settled down very nicely. He pitched two innings and only gave up one run on two hits. He did not walk a batter and he struck out four of the eight Phillies he faced.
Mixing pitches and pounding the zone, Vazquez looked very good. I think the best-looking pitch he threw today was a changeup that he fooled Chase Utley on for a strikeout. He was able to change speeds effectively as well, bringing the fastball up to the mid 90s before dropping down to the low 80s.
If he can match what he did today during the regular season, Vazquez can win a good amount of games.
Overall, I liked what I saw from him today. Aside from the homer, he was outstanding. And I feel it was important that he bounced back from the leadoff home run as nicely as he did. Vazquez showcased his nerves today and that he can get into some early trouble but rebound in a solid way.
· Robinson Cano
The young second baseman was brilliant as usual this afternoon.
Robinson Cano boasted some of his defense today, making a brilliant diving catch in the first inning. That play stood out to me because he really showed great lateral range, but the story today was really about Cano’s bat.
In his first at-bat, Cano smacked a double inside the third baseline. He drew a walk in his second at-bat, and finally crushed a go-ahead, two-run single before calling it a day.
Right now Cano is showing that he knows how to play ball in the MLB. Even if he is without his buddy Melky Cabrera.
I love what I am seeing from Cano so far. I’m sure he will keep up the excellent work.
· Nick Swisher
Let’s just say Nick Swisher’s day was a lot better than the last time I wrote of him.
The right fielder knocked in three runs on the day, all with two outs in the inning. In the fourth, Swisher cracked a two-run double and then followed it up with an RBI ground rule double in the fifth.
Swisher’s hitting was great today. I just hope he can be a little more consistent defensively this season. He isn’t exactly the most athletic player on the field, but he certainly has a lot of athleticism. He’s proven that in the past.
On a Swisher side note, he looks to have shaved his head. Will the “swish-hawk” make a return this year? Or have we seen the last of it?
We’ll see. He will need to grow the hair out again, though. I don’t like the shaved head look for him. Not saying it doesn’t work for some other players, but Swisher…
Come on, Dude!!!
· Nick Johnson
Playing in his first game since going down with a stiff back, Nick Johnson laced up his spikes and played today. The Yankees’ designated hitter had three at-bats and did not record a hit.
Johnson popped out twice and walked.
I just don’t have a great feeling about him. Johnson was second in the National League in terms of on-base percentage (with .462). The only other hitter in the N.L. with a higher OPB was Albert Pujols. So obviously Johnson knows how to get on base.
But he only hit eight home runs all of last year even though he did average close to .300 (he hit .291). The home run count has the possibility of climbing, what with Johnson being a left-handed hitter and the short porch at Yankee Stadium.
But we’ll have to wait and see if his power translates from the N.L. back over to A.L. I’m sure it might, if he stays healthy long enough.
I will admit the fact that he had a stiff back so early got underneath my skin. It was not a great first impression. The injury sidelined him for a couple of games, so I’m not really buying into Johnson just yet.
He has to prove to me he can stay healthy. Until then, sorry Nick.
· Other Notes
–Ramiro Pena showed some speed and defense today. First he had a bunt single that should have been a routine play, but he beat it out for a hit. Then he made a nice defensive stop at short that he helped turn into a double play.
Nice work, Pena!
–Marcus Thames started in left field. He was 0-for-3 with three strikeouts. Ouch!
–Francisco Cervelli did not play. He was hit in the head with a fastball on Saturday vs. Toronto and sustained a concussion for it. He did however see a neurologist and Cervelli is cleared to resume activity tomorrow.
If anything extreme were to happen to Cervelli and he would not be able to begin the season, Mike Rivera would be the logical choice to be Jorge Posada’s backup. At press time, Cervelli is slated to be the number two catcher.
–Chan Ho Park was scratched from his bullpen session today with a sore gluteus. I have no comment for this one.
–While one half of the team stayed home and beat Philly, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and the rest of the squad traveled to the Pirates’ camp this afternoon. The captain and A-Rod helped lead the team to a 6-0, one-hit shutout win over the Bucs.
Alfredo Aceves pitched four shutout innings against Pittsburgh. He did not allow a hit and he fanned three, giving the Yankees a little reassurance that he is in good shape.
–The Pirates will travel to Tampa tomorrow afternoon and the Yankees will host them in another exhibition.
What’s up Yankee fans?
The date is February 15, 2010.
As for news around the sports world, the NFL Super Bowl is over. The great Peyton Manning fell to Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in what was (in my opinion) the best Super Bowl game since the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
The winter Olympics are in full swing in Vancouver and at press time the U.S.A. has claimed six medals.
The NBA is at their All-Star point and Nate Robinson of the New York Knicks became the only player in history to win the Slam Dunk Contest three times.
And last but never-the-least, MLB pitchers and catchers report to camp this week. We now know that baseball is almost back. Almost back, but we’re not quite there yet.
The Yankees obviously made a number of moves in the off season, bidding farewell to players like Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Melky Cabrera, and Chien-Ming Wang.
But they welcomed in new (and old) players like Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn, Javier Vazquez, and Nick Johnson.
Some of these moves haven’t been very popular among Yankee fans, but it remains to be seen how these players will perform. The best time to find out how well each player might do in the season is obviously in spring training.
With that being said, here are my five players to keep an eye on in March:
5) Javier Vazquez
At first, I was completely against the Javier Vazquez deal and part of me still is. I never liked him during his first stint with the Yankees in 2004. The only lasting image I have of him was that meatball he served up that Johnny Damon clobbered for a grand slam in the 2004 ALCS–a bomb that solidified the Yankees’ Game Seven collapse.
But I suppose I’ll give him a second chance as the number four starter in 2010.
Everyone keeps talking about how Vazquez had a very low ERA these past few seasons, so who knows. He may surprise us. After all, I thought Hideki Matsui was going to have a horrible season in 2009. He went on to win the World Series MVP.
I have decided to give Vazquez until July 15–if he has decent numbers then, I’ll approve of the trade. But if he is basically hanging on by a thread with an inflated ERA and a record of .500, then I’ll stand by my initial thought: what are the Yankees thinking?!
I realize the Vazquez trade was a panic move to counter the Red Sox signing John Lackey. But the Yanks could have figured out another way to get a pitcher without having to give up a promising outfielder (Cabrera) for a one-year rental (Vazquez).
We’ll see how he does. But without question, he’ll be under the microscope in Tampa.
4) Jesus Montero
I have heard a lot of great things about this kid. I get the feeling he’ll one day be a star, but he’s just too young right now. Nonetheless, non-roster invitee Jesus Montero will be a player to watch this spring.
At 20 years old, Montero has been named the Yanks’ best prospect and the fifth best player by Baseball America. In his 2008 minor league season with the Charleston River Dogs, Montero batted .326 with 17 homers and 87 RBIs. He only stole two bases, but hey…he’s a catcher, we cannot expect a ton of steals from him.
The highest level he’s played at is AA Trenton Thunder, but mark my words; he’ll probably make it to the AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees in 2010.
With Jose Molina leaving the Yankees, it’ll most likely be Francisco Cervelli backing up Jorge Posada. So in all likelihood, we won’t see Montero in the show this year. In 2011, he’ll more than likely be on the Major League squad.
But Montero will undoubtedly be on the field this spring. This is his chance to show Yankee Universe what he’s made of and for us to get a feel for what he is about.
3) Brett Gardner
Brett Gardner has given the Yankees something they haven’t had in recent times–speed. And I’m not talking about just a decent pair of wheels. I’m talking the Flash/Sonic the Hedgehog type horse power here.
I mean, if he sprinted on the highway, he’d probably get a speeding ticket.
Gardner has also offered a great deal of defense in the outfield. With the departure of Melky Cabrera, the Yankees are obviously putting a lot of stock in him. Gardner can run and he can play some unbelievable defense. But he needs to get on base and become a better offensive player.
In 2009, Gardner had 67 hits in 248 at-bats, which translates to a .270 average–not too shabby. He drew 26 walks and stole 26 bases, which again, are decent stats.
But centerfield is a position that requires power; you need to have some pop coming from that spot on the field. Gardner only hit three home runs last year, two of which left the park (and yes, it was pretty sweet watching that inside-the-park home run on May 15…it was even sweeter because I saw it in-person!)
This spring, the Yankees will be trying out a number of different outfielders. There’s even talk that if Gardner is good enough, recent acquisition Curtis Granderson might play left field and Gardner will man center.
Well, that scenario remains to be seen, but in any event, Gardner has to take his game up to the next level. We’ll see how he responds next month.
2) Robinson Cano
Boy has this young man come a long way. I can remember the day he was called up to the big leagues in 2005 and how nervous he looked. He would make frequent errors and he looked so uneasy at the plate.
But Robinson Cano worked his game up to a Major League level, finishing in the top three in the 2006 batting title race. He was even compared to the incomparable Rod Carew. And from there, the rest is basically history. In my opinion, he’s unlike any other second baseman in the American League–and that’s a good thing.
He plays defense so well, gliding across the infield and making spectacular plays. I still believe he should have won a Gold Glove Award this past year. His hitting has certainly improved, as well. In 2009 he set a career-high in home runs with 25 and averaged .320 at the dish.
I have to say, of the younger players who are currently on the Yankees, Cano is my favorite. You can mention Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and all the legendary players of the so-called “core four,” but (for me) Cano has been the most exciting Yankee these past couple of seasons.
But some philosophize that Cano only performed so well for so long because of the presence of his best friend Melky Cabrera. The two became bosom buddies in 2007 and since then, both have played very well in each other’s friendship.
But Cabrera is now an Atlanta Brave and Cano is on his own.
I am anxious to see how Cano is going to perform in the absence of his best friend. I still feel he can play the same way he has these last few years. However, the only minor concern I have is how Cano played in 2008 without Cabrera; when his buddy was sent down to the minors because of a nasty slump, Cano struggled a little bit and fell into a funk of his own.
Hopefully nothing like that will happen to him this upcoming year. But if Cano gets off to a slow start and cannot find his rhythm, I might have to side with those philosophers.
1) Joba Chamberlain
It’s no secret that Joba Chamberlain had a rough 2009. It started back when he was arrested for a DUI after the 2008 campaign. Then he was put back on the “Joba Rules,” only being allowed to toss a certain amount of innings according to the Yankees’ discretion.
He had some forgetful starts and some brilliant starts in ’09, posting a record of 9-6 with a 4.75 ERA. If that wasn’t enough, the 24 year-old flamethrower was sent to the bullpen for the playoffs and World Series as the Bronx Bombers chose to go with a three-man rotation. In relief, he posted an ERA of 2.84 and was 1-0 with one save and seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings pitched.
Not too bad, if you ask me. Chamberlain seems to excel when he knows his role.
There’s a lot of speculation on which pitcher will land the fifth spot in the starting rotation. Chamberlain seems to be the logical choice, unless they either opt to pull Phil Hughes from his spot in the bullpen or allow Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin the opportunity.
It all depends on who is performing at the highest level in spring training. If we see Chamberlain in a dominant form next month, it could be him. But if he is going to be that fifth pitcher, the Yankees NEED to take him off the “Joba Rules.”
Chamberlain will have his growing pains, all young players do. But if they do not take the leash off, the only thing he’ll ever be is a caged animal.
I understand that the Yankees are not trying to wreck his arm because it’s happened to too many young pitchers (Francisco Liriano, Edinson Volquez…etc.) But the Yanks should not tell him exactly how many innings they want him to throw. I think that can upset the balance of his psyche.
So who will be that fifth starter? We’ll know when we see what they all bring to Tampa.