Results tagged ‘ Joba Chamberlain ’
To borrow a line from Spike Lee: Joe Girardi, you did the right thing.
Before the New York Yankees’ 4-1 victory over the Baltimore Orioles last night, the Yankee skipper announced that Javier Vazquez would skip his next turn in the rotation. Vazquez’s next start would have come Friday night in Boston against the Red Sox but because of his inability to pitch effectively, he has been bumped.
With an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees will start Phil Hughes on normal rest Friday in Vazquez’s place. They will then use CC Sabathia on Saturday afternoon and pitch A.J. Burnett on Sunday night.
Heading to Detroit after the series in Boston, Vazquez will make his next start on Monday night against the Tigers.
Vazquez has only made one start this season that has been worth anything. On April 20 he notched his only win of 2010, a game in which he scattered six hits and three runs over 5 1/3 innings of work against the Oakland Athletics. In that start he walked three batters and struck out six.
Other than that game, Vazquez has basically been a ghost.
In his other four starts this season, Vazquez is 0-3 and the Yankees did not win any of those four games. Right now opponents are hitting .337 against the Yankees’ number four starter and his ERA is currently at an inflated 9.78.
The Yankees have only lost eight games this year. Half of those losses came on days Vazquez pitched.
Girardi had no choice but to skip Vazquez. His numbers this season are so poor and every team he has faced has decimated him, even the weakest ball clubs. The Chicago White Sox, who have the lowest team batting average in the majors with .227, feasted off Vazquez this past Saturday and touched him up for five earned runs over just three innings.
It’s obvious that something is not right with this picture.
Although Boston is not playing well at the moment (as they are currently sitting in fourth place in the American League Eastern Division standings) it was wise for Girardi to pass on him pitching at Fenway Park. If Vazquez were to go out and get Boston massacred, his confidence level would drop even further than it is now.
It’s not like he hasn’t lost big time to the Red Sox before (insert 2004 ALCS reference).
Last night on Daily News Live (a program in which all the New York Daily News writers sit and discuss sports) the reporters brought up the idea of trading Vazquez back to the National League for another pitcher. One writer suggested dealing him to the New York Mets for Jenrry Mejia, a 20 year-old righty from the Dominican Republic.
Mejia is a reliever for the Mets, so I’m not sure if this move would solve the Yankees’ problem. His numbers are not bad; he is 0-1 but has an ERA of 0.90. Plus, he has only given up one earned run in the 10 innings he has pitched this year.
I suppose if they actually went ahead with this idea, they could move Joba Chamberlain back to the rotation and plug Mejia into his bullpen spot. But Chamberlain is too unpredictable, even in the bullpen. Plus, the Yankees will most likely not give up on Vazquez so soon.
However, the off-season move that sent Melky Cabrera to the Atlanta Braves and brought Vazquez to New York is so far looking like a terrible one. At this point, Brian Cashman might not admit he made a mistake in making the trade. His faith in Vazquez might not be gone just yet, and he probably still feels the scuffling pitcher can turn it around.
In the past, Cashman has been known to believe in a lot of the deals he makes.
But if the season reaches (let’s say) July and Vazquez is not performing, he might be gone before he had the chance to unpack his bags. Just as Girardi had no choice but to skip over Vazquez’s turn in the rotation, Cashman might have no choice but to trade him away because of his ineffectiveness.
Adios Vazquez. Hello some other pitcher who can get the job done.
When I woke up this morning before school, I opened my dresser drawer. It’s a routine I and most people go through every day. I shuffled through several Yankee tee shirts and came across the one I decided to wear today:
The one that read “Hughes 65″ on the back.
“He’s pitching tonight,” I thought to myself. “I guess I can wear Hughes.”
Little did I know what was in store for Phil Hughes tonight. En route to the Yankees’ 3-1 win over Oakland, the 23 year-old righty flirted with a no-hitter, setting down the A’s one by one until the bottom of the eighth inning.
A sharp come-backer off the bat of Eric Chavez (which caromed off Hughes himself) spoiled a beautiful no-hit bid. Believe me when I tell you, Hughes was dealing like he was playing blackjack in Vegas.
Making only his second start of the year, Hughes pitched 7 1/3 innings, and was charged with one run on that one fateful hit. He walked two batters over the course of his outing and struck out a career-high 10.
Talk about doing work!
Hughes became the second Yankee pitcher this season to come within an eyelash of a no-no. CC Sabathia almost got the job done back on April 10, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning with two outs against Tampa Bay before losing it.
As for Hughes, his fastball was very live tonight; it was exploding through the strike zone. His breaking ball was un-hittable, dancing all over the place and fooling every Athletic he faced. The youngster certainly brought his best fastball with him tonight, along with his Uncle Charlie…
Well, Hughes’s Uncle Charlie was present in a figurative way. In a literal way, his parents were in attendance tonight. I noticed he was throwing the no-no in the fifth, and when they showed mom and dad in the crowd, I was really pulling for him. It would have been very special for Hughes to have gotten the no-hitter with his parents there.
The Yankee offense supplied Hughes with just enough runs to pick up his second win of 2010. In the top of the fourth, the Yankees scored two of their three runs, breaking the scoreless tie. Alex Rodriguez tripled and subsequently scored on a triple by Robinson Cano.
Jorge Posada then drove in Cano with an RBI groundout to first, giving the Yankees a 2-1 edge. The Yanks’ final run came in the top of the eighth, an RBI single off the bat of Brett Gardner to score Curtis Granderson.
The A’s plated one run in the eighth on the strength of an RBI single by Jake Fox to score Chavez. Joba Chamberlain had taken over for Hughes at that point, but since the base runner was Hughes’s responsibility, meaning he was charged with the run.
Tonight reminded me a lot of May 1, 2007. Hughes made a start in Texas against the Rangers and was on fire, as he was tonight. He took a no-no into the seventh inning, but was forced to leave with a hamstring injury.
Bobby Murcer (God rest his soul) was calling the action in the game. He said, “If Phil Hughes had stayed in the game, he would have undoubtedly pitched a no-hitter.”
I was watching the game too, and I agree. I think he would have done it.
So at the end of the night:
–No no-hitter for Hughes, but he once again came close.
–Hughes is now 2-0 this year.
–Hughes set a career-high in Ks (with 10)
–The Yankees won 3-1.
–The Yankees have now won their first five series of the year.
–The Yankees have won six consecutive games.
–Mariano Rivera recorded his sixth save of the year.
–The Yankees are 11-3 on the year, still in first place in the AL East.
A productive night!!!
First of all, I’d like to say this has been a crazy week. I have had such a “Yankee hangover” (I guess you could call it). Opening Day took everything out of me; I had absolutely nothing left at the end of the day, I was exhausted.
But at least it wasn’t for nothing. It was one of the best days I can remember.
After the Yankees dropped a 5-3 decision yesterday, they bounced back and beat the Angels 6-2 on Thursday. With the win, the Yanks took the Opening Series from the Angels, two games to one.
Today was not just any ordinary day in baseball. Today, every player on all 30 teams wore the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson, the legendary Brooklyn Dodger who broke the MLB color barrier on this date in 1947.
The tradition of Jackie Robinson day has been a part of Major League Baseball since 2007, yet has lasted since 1997 when the number 42 was universally retired throughout MLB. Every player who was still wearing the number was able to keep wearing it, as they were grandfathered in. In other words, if you had 42, you could keep wearing it, but it was no longer available to any other player.
Only 11 players were wearing 42 at the time it was retired.
Mariano Rivera is the only player out of those 11 who is still playing the game. Hence, he will be the last player to ever wear the number 42. People often ask why Rivera is the only one allowed to wear 42.
Well, there’s your answer.
Before the game tonight, Robinson’s widow Rachel was on hand to throw out the first pitch. I find it so wonderful that she tossed the first pitch from Yankee Stadium. She could have just as easily been in Los Angeles and thrown out the first pitch from Dodgers Stadium.
As for the actual game…
It turned out to be the “Robinson Cano Hitting Show,” if you will. The young second baseman–named after Jackie–put on a home run clinic, belting two long balls out of Yankee Stadium.
Down 1-0 in the bottom of the second, Cano clubbed a screaming line drive to right field. The ball landed in the short porch for a solo homer, and Cano knotted the game at 1-1.
Later in the bottom of the fifth with one man on, Cano was at it again. He smashed yet another home run to right-center field, putting the Yankees up 6-1 at the end of five innings.
Cano now has a team-leading four home runs on the year and nine RBIs.
Derek Jeter also smacked a home run, a solo shot in the bottom of the third. It was Jeter’s second home run of the season, as his first long ball came on Tuesday afternoon in the home opener.
Jeter also knocked Curtis Granderson with an RBI double in the fourth.
Speaking of Granderson, he had quite a day at the plate. The Yanks’ center fielder pounded out two triples in as many at-bats. His first triple in the bottom of the fourth drove in Marcus Thames, which gave the Yankees a 4-1 edge.
I thought it was a good sign that Granderson hit off a good left-handed pitcher on Scott Kazmir. Everybody always complains how Granderson struggles against lefties, so the fact that he got around on a lefty of Kazmir’s caliber is hopefully a sign of improvement for the future.
I also have to hand it to Granderson for making a brilliant outfield assist. He nailed Hideki Matsui at home plate to end the top of the fourth, showing off his stellar defense on the field.
Granderson may have gunned Matsui out at home, but he showed the Yankees what they are missing in the top of the second.
The 2009 World Series MVP smacked a solo homer off his former teammate Phil Hughes, his third home run of the season; a shot that landed in the Yankee bullpen. It was Matsui’s first hit of the series, as he went a combined 0-for-9 in the last two games prior to that at-bat.
If you ask me, Matsui was sending a message. Basically telling the Yankees, “This is what you are missing. And you should have paid me.”
It kind of reminded me of June 2003, when Tino Martinez homered twice off Andy Pettitte as a member of the St. Louis Cardinals. The Yankee crowed roared for Martinez and was happy to see their former hero go deep. In Martinez’s words, Pettitte was “a bit flustered after the home run.”
The same thing happened with Matsui tonight.
Thousands of people on hand cheered for Matsui after he went yard, and that same look Pettitte had in 2003 was on Hughes’s face tonight. Hughes looked a bit flustered after Matsui took him deep.
I was honestly happy for him. I miss him as a member of the Yankees. He was so valuable to the team and proved it last year. In fact, on Tuesday at the game during his first at-bat in Yankee Stadium as an Angel, I overheard an interesting comment from one of the Yankee fans.
“I really want Matsui to hit a home run right here,” he said. “I want him to go deep, just to show the Yankees how they should have gone after him and gotten him back.”
It may not have come Tuesday, but tonight, Matsui sent the message.
Howard Kendrick grounded out to first in the top of the sixth, allowing Torii Hunter to score, giving Los Angeles their second run.
On the mound, Hughes pitched effectively. The 24 year-old hurler tossed five-plus innings of work. He scattered two earned runs on three hits, walked five, and struck out six. For his efforts, he earned his first win of 2010.
Overall, I saw a lot of good out of Hughes tonight. For a pitcher who barely spent any time in the starting rotation last season, he did very well. The walks were a little bit of an issue, but his breaking ball was absolutely disgusting. His fastball was dancing all over the place and he showed great movement on each of his pitches.
Hughes is going to win a lot of games he pitches the way he did tonight.
Joba Chamberlain tossed a scoreless 1 1/3 innings in relief tonight, walking one and fanning one along the way. Like Hughes, Chamberlain looked very good and I expect his fine pitching to continue. His fastball wasn’t as live as it was against the Red Sox, but as long as he is getting guys out, everything is fine with me.
Rivera notched his fourth save of the year and once again ended the game. He’s on pace for (I would say) about 45 saves this year. I have a feeling he will reach it. He always does.
It was a very good night for the Yankees. They improved their record to 6-3 and will open up a three-game series against the Texas Rangers this weekend.
CC Sabathia (1-0, 3.46 ERA) will face C.J. Wilson (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Friday night.
The Sunday night heartbreaker seems like a lifetime ago. The New York Yankees got their first loss of the 2010 season out of the way Sunday night but bounced back and picked up their first win Tuesday night over the Boston Red Sox by a score of 6-4.
It feels great knowing the Bombers won’t be 0-8 vs. Boston this year.
There were so many things going on tonight, so I will just dive right into the analysis.
· A.J. Burnett
It wasn’t clear which version of A.J. Burnett showed up tonight. In the first inning, the lanky righty gave up a run which wasn’t really his fault. Jacoby Ellsbury reached base on a sloppy defensive play in the outfield and eventually scored.
Really the only hitter who feasted off Burnett tonight was Victor Martinez. The Boston catcher was 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs against the Yankee starter.
The final line for Burnett: five innings, four runs (only three earned) on seven hits, one walk, and five Ks. If you ask me, his line was mediocre. Not good, but could have been much worse. For his first start he didn’t pitch poorly.
The best pitch he threw all night had to be a disgusting breaking ball he got Kevin Youkilis looking on. Burnett introduced the Boston first baseman to his uncle Charlie!
Also, he and Jorge Posada looked to be on the same page. We need that!
His next start will most likely come Sunday in Tampa against the Rays.
· The Bullpen
What a difference two days make! The Yankee relievers came ready to play tonight. Alfredo Aceves, David Robertson, Damaso Marte, Joba Chamberlain, and Mariano Rivera: four innings, two hits, no runs, no walks, three strikeouts.
A huge, HUGE improvement over Sunday night!
Aceves looked unbelievably good. He can just come into a game and shut the hitters down. He tossed two scoreless innings and for his efforts he picked up the win.
And how about Chamberlain? He turned back the clock! His outing was 2007-esque.
The big reliever entered the game in the eighth inning with one out and sat down Adrian Beltre and J.D. Drew on strikes. But the real story was his velocity. He was lighting up the speed gun at 96-98 mph.
First Pumps for everybody!
And in the ninth–who else but Rivera. He slammed the door for the first time this year and the 527th time in his career. I think he will get a ton of saves this year.
· Nick Johnson and Robinson Cano
Both of these guys had pretty big nights.
Nick Johnson was 0-for-2 but walked with the bases loaded in the eighth to give the Yankees a 5-4 lead. He also took one for the team and was hit by a pitch. He is a patient hitter and has shown that he can reach base, but I tend to worry about his health. Hopefully he doesn’t get plunked anymore this year.
And then there’s Robinson Cano.
The young second baseman was 2-for-3 with a homer, two runs scored, and two RBIs. He put on a hitting show tonight and he’s just going to keep getting better. If he continues to play this way for the rest of the year, he may hit 30 home runs and drive in 120 runs.
I have so much faith in Cano. Every time I watch him, it’s like he gets better and better. His solo home run in the ninth gave the Yanks a 6-4 cushion to put Boston away.
- Other Notes
–Alex Rodriguez drove in a run with an RBI double and Mark Teixeira grounded into a force out which scored Curtis Granderson.
–Nick Swisher knocked in the Yanks’ first run with an RBI double in the top of the second. Nick at Nite!
–I didn’t really get great vibes from Marcus Thames tonight. In the first inning, he missed a ball in left field which could have been easily caught by Brett Gardner…or Johnny Damon…
Thames only started because he supposedly “wears out” left-handed pitching and Jon Lester (a lefty) was on the mound for the Red Sox. Well, Thames only had 0 hits tonight. Way to wear ‘em out.
–Derek Jeter made two awesome plays on defense tonight. I’d like to know who the moron was who said his range has gone down. He is ageless.
–The Yankees committed three errors tonight. Boston committed one, but it was a big one–it kept the eighth inning alive for Johnson to draw the bases-loaded walk.
–Hideki Okajima was the Boston pitcher who walked in Johnson with the bases chucked. They call him “Okey Dok” in Boston. Okey Dok, thank you for your lack of control.
–Tomorrow night the rubber game against Boston will be played. Andy Pettitte will make the start against John Lackey.
–The Yankees are off Thursday then open up a three-day weekend series in Tampa Bay.
What an upsetting night. That’s really all I can say. On Opening Night, the most exciting day on the calendar, baseball’s “New Year” if you will, the New York Yankees dropped a 9-7 decision to the hated Boston Red Sox.
With the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning, Curtis Granderson grounded out to third to end the game. But long before Granderson made the last out, the Yankees coughed up two leads.
Up 5-1, the Yankees allowed the Red Sox to tie the game in the sixth. The Yankees took back the lead in the seventh, going up 7-5 only to let Boston come back and score four runs to win the inaugural baseball game in the 2010 season.
What a crazy and tragic way to open the year. Horrible.
· Granderson looked to fit right in, hitting a home run in his first at-bat as a Yankee. The last player to accomplish that feat was Cody Ransom in 2008.
· Jorge Posada, who was recently suffering from a stiff neck, was 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs, and a walk. The Yankee catcher looks to be in top form, which is exactly what they need.
Posada now has four opening Day homers and is tied for second place with Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra on the Yankees’ Opening Day home runs list. Babe Ruth is first with five. If Posada goes deep next year on Opening Day, he will certainly be in elite company with the Babe.
· CC Sabathia up until the sixth inning. He was rolling, but just seemed to run out of petrol. He finished the night with 5 1/3 innings of work under his belt, and he scattered five earned runs on six hits. He walked two and struck out four. He threw 104 pitches, 58 for strikes.
· Derek Jeter was 2-for-5 with an RBI. Not bad, captain.
· The double steal: EXCELLENT move. It could not have gone better for the Yankees. Credit Brett Gardner with a steal of home! I hope Joe Girardi pushes other teams this way in the future.
- The wild pitch by Damaso Marte. This angered me immensely. He cannot do much more of that this year.
- Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia: combined 5-for-8 with a homer (by Pedroia) and five RBIs. Yuck. I really hope they both cool off before Tuesday.
- Chan Ho Park–everything he did tonight, he should never do again. Maybe the Yankees should have put Royce Ring on the roster…?
- The Yankees left nine men on base. Totally the opposite of cool.
- Joba Chamberlain: 1 1/3 innings, one earned run, two hits, one walk, no Ks. His slider was moving nicely (I’ll give him that) but the line…not pretty.
- Neil Diamond singing that awful “Sweet Caroline” song in the middle of the eighth inning. Lame!
Overall, it was not such a great night. Exciting, yes, but it would have been better if the Yankees came out on top.
The Yanks will be back at it Tuesday. A.J. Burnett vs. Jon Lester. We need Dr. Jekyll to show up, because the Yankees could use a win after tonight’s sour loss. Just remember that the Red Sox have not “put us back into our place,” as they might think.
There are 161 games left. And we are STILL the reigning World Champions!
With one week and one day left of spring training baseball, the Yankees are starting to get into regular season form. Saturday afternoon the Bronx Bombers beat the Detroit Tigers in Lakeland by a score of 2-1.
Here’s what I made of it…
Coming into this game A.J. Burnett was 0-1 this spring, not exactly setting the Yankees on fire. I recently wrote a blog about Burnett, calling out his inconsistency and how everyone compared him to Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde last season.
Today, he was “Dr. Jekyll-Burnett.”
The Yanks’ number two man tossed 91 pitches over 6 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He only gave up three hits, struck out two, and issued three walks. Not a bad day at the office for Burnett and it was a good sign, considering the Tigers played most of their regulars.
Manager Joe Girardi liked what he saw from Burnett today too; the skipper said he was “mixing his pitches, using the fastball more effectively, and was demonstrating better control than his last few starts.”
Could not have said it better myself. Burnett was also in a good rhythm with Jorge Posada, who was catching him this afternoon. Many people have made issues about the Burnett-Posada battery in the past, but if they work together as nicely as they did today there won’t be many problems.
Overall, Burnett looked great. A smooth and effortless delivery, a good fastball, a great breaking pitch, and everything was working for him. Let’s just hope he pitches like this for the better part of the upcoming season.
Burnett will have one more start this spring before April 6–his first regular season start in Boston vs. the Red Sox.
What was interesting about this game was the scoring. The Yankees scored two runs, both of which were brought on by former Tigers. The Tigers plated one run, which was scored by a former Yankee.
In the top of the first, Curtis Granderson knocked in Posada with a two-out RBI single. Of course Granderson played for the Tigers last season, as did Marcus Thames.
With the game tied at 1-1 in the top of the fourth, Thames took Tigers’ starter Nate Robertson deep to left for a long solo home run, a blast that gave the Yankees the lead they would not relinquish.
I think Thames needed that home run, considering the abysmal spring he is having. Heading into that at-bat, he was only averaging .114 at the plate. Yikes!
As for the Tigers, former Yank Johnny Damon scored in the bottom of the third on an RBI single off the bat of Magglio Ordonez. After Damon hit a two-out double Ordonez drove him in from second with a base hit to right field. I have to give credit to Randy Winn, who nearly made a spectacular outfield assist.
Damon just beat the throw to home plate, which was right on the money. A solid effort and a great throw by Winn, but the former Yankee was called safe at home.
It was just a strange day in terms of the scoring. Not many runs and a former player on each team lent a hand in each run. Crazy!
As announced on Thursday, Joba Chamberlain will begin the season in the bullpen. Phil Hughes won the fifth starting pitcher’s spot, much to the dismay of many people including Chamberlain.
A good friend of mine called me almost immediately after the Yankees made the decision. I answered my phone and he literally went off about how angry he was how Hughes was named the fifth starter over Chamberlain. His argument was that the Yanks wasted time with the “Joba Rules” and how they treated him last year.
Think about it: they put Chamberlain on six days rest and then had him go out and throw 4 1/3 innings in some instances. They put him through all of that just to make him a reliever again? My friend said,
“He may not have been Roy Halladay right off the bat, but Rome was not built in a day.”
Excellent point. Chamberlain is only 24 years old. If he was 34 years old and not performing at a high level as a starter, then I would say leave him in the bullpen.
I think many people forget what he did in July 25, 2008 against the Red Sox at Fenway. Chamberlain started the game and tossed seven shutout innings against the BoSox, beating the ace of the Red Sox staff, Josh Beckett. Not only did he pick up the win in that game, he only allowed three hits and fanned nine batters.
The capability and talent is there. He just needs a chance to put it to use.
Chamberlain said Hughes did a better job during spring training and earned the spot, but he also said he was disappointed. He has a right to feel that way. Everyone was expecting him to be the fifth guy and I can tell he wanted to be. But I think one thing has to be made clear:
Even though Hughes is starting the year in the rotation, it doesn’t mean Chamberlain won’t be there. If Hughes struggles (the way he has in the past as a starter) Chamberlain could very well be plugged into that spot and get some starts. Nothing is set in stone; it just means Hughes is starting the year in the rotation!
Maybe everything will work out fine. Perhaps Hughes will find his niche in the rotation while Chamberlain finds his in the ‘pen. Just as he has proven to be a dominant starter, Chamberlain can be just as deadly as a reliever.
After all, he did pitch a scoreless ninth inning today and pick up a save.
–The Tigers’ spring training field is named “Joker Marchant Stadium.” Detroit officially wins the award for silliest Stadium name. Ever.
–David Robertson took over for Burnett and got out of the sixth inning. The more I watch him, the more I like him. He is great!
–Chad Gaudin was released by the Yankees. He made seven starts for the Bronx Bombers last year and the Yanks were 7-0 in those games. I hope he finds a new team, he can really help a ball club the way he helped the Yankees.
–Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and Robinson Cano did not make the trip over to Lakeland today.
–Nick Johnson played first base this afternoon. I think it’s good he can play the field, but unfortunately he went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts at the plate. He did draw a walk though.
–As mentioned before, Randy Winn almost made a great outfield assist. Even though he missed it, he still did a great job in right field. He made some nice catches and even doubled up a runner at first after an awesome snag. I’ll give him a lot of credit–he won some battles with the sun and wind today!
–The Tigers have a minor leaguer named Michael Rockett. Deik Scram, Michael Rockett…Jeesh, the Tigers are chuck full of minor leaguers with funny names!
–Chan Ho Park’s nickname is “Chop.” Cool. Even cooler, he worked his way out of a 1st and 3rd, one-out jam in the eighth inning.
–Joel Zumaya of the Tigers struck out the side in the sixth inning. He whiffed Granderson, Winn, and Ramiro Pena. I am officially scared of him again. He has been practically a non-factor these past two seasons, but his fastball hit 99 mph on the speed gun and his curve ball was NASTY. I am not looking forward to facing him this year.
–During the telecast, Michael Kay and Tino Martinez had a discussion about the pies to the face after a walk-off win. Kay said the dynasty teams were “very conservative” and that Paul O’Neill (at first) did not like the pies after the walk-off wins.
Martinez however liked them and said the team did not look like they were having fun the last five-six years. “The pies loosened them up,” Martinez elegantly stated.
I have to side with favorite player during the dynasty (Martinez) and say he was right.
–Tomorrow afternoon the Yankees take on the Tigers yet again, only this time they will play in Tampa at George M. Steinbrenner Field.
In the first game of a split-squad doubleheader, the New York Yankees topped the Detroit Tigers 6-2 on Friday afternoon.
Overall it was a good win. The team looked about as solid as they can be, coming off the 6-4 win over Tampa Bay last night. The Bombers will play the Rays again tonight in game two of their twin bill.
A few players and plays stood out this afternoon. All I can say is the Yankees are looking better and better as Spring Training continues!
The Yankee ace wasn’t having a great spring coming into today’s start. In fact, his numbers were brutal. 0-1 with an 8.31 ERA was the line on Sabathia up until today, indicating a little rust, I suppose. He pitched so much last season and into the playoffs, so he needed that rest in the off-season. But as the old saying goes, “when you rest, you rust.”
Yet Sabathia looked anything but rusty today.
The big man tossed 5 1/3 innings, surrendered four hits, and was charged with two runs this afternoon. He walked only two and struck out eight Tigers, making some of Detroit’s best hitters look as silly as the Joker at a comedy show.
The breaking ball, the fastball, and the changeup were working perfectly for Sabathia today. I will admit I had some doubts in the first inning. He quickly gave up a run and I thought “here we go again.” But he settled in nicely and found a good rhythm with catcher Francisco Cervelli. They looked to be on the same page all afternoon.
After today, I feel a lot better about Sabathia. Not that I ever really felt bad about him, despite the shaky spring. He always finds a way to win and always comes up big when the Yankees need him to.
I said it once and I’ll say it again: I believe in CC Sabathia.
In the bottom of the third inning, Alex Rodriguez stepped into the box against Rick Porcello. The three-time MVP smacked a long, and I mean LONG, solo home run over the left-centerfield fence. As a matter of fact, the ball cleared the scoreboard and landed well beyond George M. Steinbrenner Field.
“That…was a BOMB!” It was all I could say.
Rodriguez went 2-for-3 today and he looks to be in top shape for this season. Last year he did not return to the lineup until May 8 because of the hip injury. The Yankees (and more notably Mark Teixeira) struggled in his absence.
2010 might be a different story, though. There are no injuries and he will be starting the season in regular form. I have a feeling he’ll have a typical “A-Rod season.” Look for about 35-40 home runs, over 100 RBIs, a batting average around .300, and probably 100 runs scored.
That is, unless, he stupefies us all like he did in 2007. That’s always appreciated, as well!
All I can say is “wow” to that homer he hit today. He absolutely crushed the ball and got very good wood on it. I shouldn’t even say “crushed.” Obliterated is probably the operative word. He said after the game he “lost track of it, but knew he hit it a long ways.”
That you did, A-Rod. That you did.
Last night vs. Tampa Bay, the Yankee captain looked to have tweaked his hand a little bit. He was grimacing as he was taking warm-ups, but stayed in the game. He also said nothing was bothering him (as usual) and he started today.
Not only did he start today, but he had a good game.
Jeter went 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a walk. The captain knocked in both runs on a single in the bottom of the second, which put the Yankees ahead, 3-1. His hitting is exactly what we all expect at this point. Jeter’s been through Spring Training so many times, I’m sure he is used to it by now.
Along with his hitting, his defense looks great, too. Whoever said his range has gone down really needs to get their eyes checked. This spring, Jeter has been moving around just as well as he has his whole career.
It’s just good to know he did not hurt his hand last night and he had a good day today.
The Yankees’ closer needed just 10 pitches to retire the Tigers in the seventh inning today. Mariano Rivera’s line for the day: no runs, no hits, no errors, no men left on base…one strikeout.
It never gets old seeing that.
Like the rest of the veterans, Rivera also looks to be in top form. He always is, it’s nothing new for him. I noticed that his velocity was down in the low-mid 80s at first, but he eventually made it up to the 90s toward the end of the inning.
I think velocity is not something that really matters when it comes to Rivera’s pitching. So many hitters have already said, “We all know the cutter is coming–yet no one can ever hit it.” My favorite quote was by Mike Sweeney, who once said,
“People always ask why you can’t hit Mo’s cutter when you know it’s coming. Well, you know what’s going to happen in a horror movie, but it still gets you.”
Best quote about the cutter. Ever.
I think people also need to realize, it’s not an easy pitch to hit. The cutter runs inside on left-handed hitters and tails away from righties. One player once remarked, “At first you think the ball is outside, and then it comes right in toward your hands.” Honestly, it’s probably the nastiest pitch there is.
Last year Rivera had 44 saves in 46 save opportunities with a 1.76 ERA. With the way he’s been pitching for the last 15 years or so, he might duplicate that in 2010. Knowing him, I would not doubt it. He said he will have about five more outings this spring and he is set to pitch again on Sunday.
–Nick Johnson worked an 11 pitch at-bat in the fourth inning, ending in a walk. I expect more of this from him this year. It’s good to have a patient hitter in the lineup.
–Royce Ring pitched yet another scoreless inning. I think a roster spot could be in his future. I like him!
–In the 6-4 win over Tampa last night, Chan Ho Park tossed his first inning this spring. No runs, no hits, no walks, and a strikeout, along with making a nice bare-handed play for an out. Good stuff, let’s see if he can keep it up!
–In addition to Park’s good outing, Colin Curtis hit another three-run home run in last night’s win. I like this kid. I know he won’t make the team coming right out of the gate, but Curtis may make a case for a call-up this year, even if it’s at the end in September. He has a great left-handed swing, tailor-made for Yankee Stadium. I hope we see more of him, he’s got some pop!
–Joe Girardi stated that he hopes to have a decision on the fifth starting pitcher by March 25 or 26. If you ask me…anyone but Joba Chamberlain at this point. I have no clue who I would choose for that spot at the moment.
–Johnny Damon did not make the trip to GMS Field today. We didn’t see our old friend.
–We did however see Austin Jackson (we barely knew ye) and Phil Coke today. I have to ask…WHAT did Phil Coke do to himself? He looks like a hippie straight out of the 1970s! He has long hair and a mustache and looks…not right. Cut your hair and shave, Cokey!
–Coke did however have a good outing, as he struck Alex Rodriguez out swinging and then proceeded to retire Robinson Cano and Marcus Thames in order.
–The Tigers played one of their AA minor leaguers by the name of Deik Scram. He is a centerfielder. Nice name! Kind of reminds me of Stubby Clapp.
Francisco Cervelli played today. As we all know, he has suffered three concussions and needs to wear a somewhat large, protective helmet. The YES Network made a reference to Gazoo, an imaginary cartoon character who always talked to Fred Flintstone.
I have to admit, Cervelli’s helmet does resemble Gazoo’s…
As we all know, spring training isn’t really about final scores. It’s about warm-ups, getting in shape, and finding rhythm. Today the Rays handed the Yankees their rear ends for the better part of the day and won 12-7 over the Bronx Bombers.
Instead of getting into all kinds of detail about who scored and when, I’m just going to tell you all my thoughts on what I saw today.
· Curtis Granderson
Curtis Granderson failed to reach base today and is still without a hit this spring. He flew out twice against two different left-handed pitchers. One of the knocks against him is his inability to consistently hit lefties, so I’m a little concerned for him. But I have a feeling he’ll find his stride.
We’ll give Granderson a little time. I think his bat will come alive soon and he just has to adjust to the new environment. His defense wasn’t bad, but he did however have a fly ball sail over his head. Better to have it happen now than next month.
· Phil Hughes
In the first inning he gave up a solo homer to Sean Rodriguez (who had a career day at the plate, missing the cycle by a single) Other than that hiccup, Hughes wasn’t bad.
Rodriguez’s home run was the only hit Hughes allowed over the two innings he pitched. He walked one batter and did not record a strikeout. Other than that, Hughes’s changeup was good and there was a lot of movement on it.
I know he wasn’t happy with his performance. But that’s the idea of spring training–to work the kinks out and get ready for the season. Hughes wants to be a starter but he’ll have to fight for it.
If you’re counting statistics, Hughes registered the loss today.
· Joba Chamberlain
I saw nothing today from Joba Chamberlain. He only pitched 1 1/3 innings and gave up a total of five earned runs on three hits. He walked three batters and only fanned one.
Chamberlain was extremely flat today; he left everything up in the zone and most of the hitters he faced feasted off him. I would say 85% of the pitches he threw were up and he missed the other 15%.
Not to make excuses for Chamberlain, but he is just getting over the flu. In fact, when the team went out on their “field trip” to the arcade a few days ago, Chamberlain stayed back because of his ailment.
It’s difficult to do anything when you’re sick, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt in that respect. Catcher Francisco Cervelli even noted after the outing that Chamberlain looked “a little bit off” and said it was probably because of his flu.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see if Chamberlain can rebound next time out.
· Nick Swisher
Nick Swisher had kind of a rough day.
He was picked off at first on a snap throw in a very sloppy play. He took a secondary lead (although he was so far off the bag, you could’ve called it a tertiary lead) and stumbled trying to get back before he was picked off by Dioner Navarro.
After getting caught napping, Swisher nearly fell into the bullpen trying to run down a fly ball hit by Justin Ruggiano. To me, he looked like a bowling pin out there today. At least he walked in his one at-bat and he looks like he shed some pounds, which is good.
As for the falling and getting picked off–Swisher! Come on, dude!
· Kei Igawa
Sporting a new number (17) Kei Igawa tossed 1 2/3 innings today. And for the first time, I can safely say he did well! Igawa hasn’t had much to feel good about since signing with the Yankees, but today he proved he might just have it.
The Japanese non-roster invitee was perfect, not allowing a hit in his outing. He recorded two strikeouts on the afternoon, including a whiff of Ben Zobrist with a nasty breaking ball. His pitches looked a lot better than they were two years ago.
Igawa will without a doubt be in the minors this year. But if he continues to progress and pitch as he did today, the majors could be in his future.
I was very impressed with him today.
· David Robertson
Pitching the sixth inning, David Robertson had a perfect day. No runs, no hits, no walks, one strikeout. I feel good about him and I think he is going to be a valuable part of the bullpen this season. Robertson had such a good postseason last year. I think that sometimes goes overlooked.
Not to mention he and his family teamed up with Tino Martinez and his family last night. Collectively, the Robertsons and the Martinezs attended a Taylor Swift concert in Florida. I thought that was a neat little factoid Martinez mentioned while calling the game today.
And if you ask me, Martinez needs to call more games on the YES Network. He is more fun to listen to than Michael Kay!
· Jesus Montero
As a late inning defensive replacement, Montero was brought in to replace Cervelli behind the plate. He only had two at-bats. He walked and struck out looking.
Montero was one of my five players to watch this spring and I really feel we’ll see better things from him this month. I didn’t realize until today how big he is! For a 20 year-old kid, he is a monster.
It’ll be fun to watch his growth and development, so keep an eye on him.
· Other Notes
–Tomorrow afternoon at GMS Field, A.J. Burnett will start for the Yankees against the Blue Jays. I believe I heard them say Shaun Marcum will make the start for Toronto.
–Nick Johnson did not start today due to a stiff back. He received heat therapy on his back and his activities were limited. His treatment may continue for the rest of the weekend.
The reason his back stiffened up was because of his shoes, believe it or not. According to the YES Network, Johnson wore regular turf shoes instead of spikes while practicing. Somehow that affected him and he hurt himself.
I don’t understand it either, but he has to be more careful.
–The Yankees are now 1-2 in Grapefruit League play.
The other night (before my power went out due to the insane blizzard that has plagued the northeast over the last few days) I happened to stay awake and catch a Stephen King horror movie late at night. “Riding the Bullet” was the name of the movie I watched and I have to admit, it freaked me out.
As I was watching, I kept thinking to myself how big of a Red Sox fan King is. Although the movie was creepy and gave me nightmares, it was the brainchild of a Red Sox fanatic. Then I asked myself, how many celebrities are Yankee fans?
Needless to say, a whole bunch of people came to mind. I have rounded up five of the best and most recognizable celebrity Yankee fans. (Keep in mind they are in no particular order of significance) Here they are:
5) Adam Sandler
He is probably the most proud celebrity Yankee fan there is. Actor/writer/producer Adam Sandler has starred in some of the best comedy movies. My personal favorites are “Big Daddy,” “Billy Madison,” and “Happy Gilmore.” All three of those films are cult classics and I recommend everyone watch them.
Sandler is such a devoted Yankee fan that he even incorporated the team into some of his films. In “Anger Management,” a film where Sandler’s character Dave Buznik is forced to undergo (you guessed it) anger management classes, the whole ending practically revolves around the Yankees.
Trying to propose to his fiancée Linda (Marisa Tomei) at a Yankee game, Buznik runs onto the field at Yankee Stadium. He bolts onto the field and just as he is about to give his monologue, Roger Clemens appears on screen and says, “Is this clown almost done? My arm is starting to ice over.”
Derek Jeter comes on and responds, “Chill Rocket. Goosfraba.” The term Goosfraba (according to the movie) is an expression Eskimos use to calm themselves down.
Don’t ask. Please.
Right as Buznik is about to kiss the girl, in a loud cry he proclaims, “GO YANKEES!”
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
Along with “Anger Management,” Sandler dropped another Yankee bomb in his movie “50 First Dates.” Now, granted the movie had a terrible premise–having to fall in love with the same girl day after day because of her severe memory problem–there was a scene that stands out in my mind as probably the best in the movie.
Sandler’s character Henry Roth decides to make a video tape of everything his love interest Lucy (Drew Barrymore) missed in the last year because she can’t remember anything. The movie came out in early 2004, right on the heels of the Yankees’ dramatic win over the Red Sox in the 2003 ALCS.
Lucy’s video showed a clip of the Red Sox celebrating and a caption appeared that read, “Red Sox win World Series.” Then the glorious Aaron Boone home run clip played and another caption came up that read:
“Just kidding.” What a great way to stick it to the Red Sox fans!
Being the type of diehard fan he is, Sandler is sometimes seen in the crowd at Yankee Stadium. In fact, when Joba Chamberlain made his first career start, Sandler was seen on TV at the game. I guess he figured it would be historic, but unfortunately the Yankees lost to the Blue Jays 9-3 and Chamberlain only tossed 62 pitches over 2 2/3 innings.
Come to think of it, when they showed him on TV, he was leaving the game in the seventh inning.
I hope Sandler includes the Yankees in some of his upcoming work, but first I hope he can finally start making funny movies again. Although I love him, Sandler has been making lackluster and rather dull movies for the last three or four years now. He should make a whole movie dedicated to the Yankees.
Now that’d be a movie worth seeing!
4) Spike Lee
Actor/director Spike Lee has been a longtime faithful follower of the Yankees.
Like Sandler, he has included the Yankees in his work. Lee directed the 1999 movie “The Summer of Sam,” which takes place in 1977 and revolves around the Son of Sam murders. All of the characters live in New York City and are Yankee fans.
The way Lee worked the Yanks into the story was quite clever. The murderer was known as the “Son of Sam” but also developed the nickname the .44 caliber killer, being that he used a .44 caliber handgun on his victims. The characters in the movie suspected Reggie Jackson as the murderer, being that he wore the uniform number 44.
In another scene towards the end, two men in the movie beat the living snot out of another character, simply because he admitted to being a Red Sox fan.
I haven’t seen many more of Lee’s movies, except for “Do the Right Thing,” which, if you ask me, was a great and meaningful movie. It deals with a ton of social issues and racial tension. In fact, I studied the film in my understanding movies class last year because it makes so many cultural references.
Lee not only directed “Do the Right Thing” in 1989, but he also starred in it playing the main character Mookie, a young black man working for Italian-Americans at a pizza shop.
I think Lee meant for there to be significance having Mookie wear a Jackie Robinson jersey for the duration of the film. Although Robinson was not a Yankee, the jersey symbolized where Mookie came from and his background. Robinson had to fight to gain respect and was basically caught in the middle of the racial tension his whole career.
Mookie was the same way–caught in between and needing to find middle ground.
Always a man with a sharp mind, Lee also helped develop a unique Yankee hat with New Era. It is basically the same hat the players wear on the field, only with pennants representing every year the Yankees have won the World Series covering the top and sides.
I have to admit, the hat is very nice. I may eventually have to get one sometime.
At the World Series this year, I noticed Lee was wearing the same Yankee jacket I have. It was the most interesting thing (to me) because I honestly thought I was the only one who had that jacket–up until I saw him wearing it on TV, I had never seen anyone else with it on.
“Spike Lee’s wearing my jacket!” That was all I could say when I saw it.
A great Yankee supporter and a devoted fan, I salute you Mr. Lee. Keep on doing the right thing–rooting for the Bombers!
3) Paul Simon
Being one half of the great singer/songwriter duo “Simon and Garfunkel,” Paul Simon is a legendary Yankee fan. He is known for his powerful voice and unparalleled songwriting skills but when I think of Simon, I think of the Yankees.
I’d first like to mention that I had the pleasure of meeting Simon’s partner Art Garfunkel a few years back at a concert I helped work at. He was very nice and he sang some of the all-time best songs: “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” “Sounds of Silence,” and “Mrs. Robinson.”
After the concert, I talked to Garfunkel and told him what a wonderful job he did on “Mrs. Robinson,” it being my favorite song of theirs. He thanked me and said only one other thing:
“It would have been better if Paul Simon was here.”
Speaking of “Mrs. Robinson,” many people are familiar with the lyrics:
“Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?
A nation turns its lonely eyes to you. Woo woo woo.
What’s that you say, Mrs. Robinson?
Joltin’ Joe has left and gone away. Hey hey hey…Hey hey hey.”
Simon originally wanted to use Mickey Mantle instead of DiMaggio in the lyrics, but it was a matter of syllables. “Mick-ey Man-tle” only has four syllables while “Joe Di-Magg-io” has five, so he needed to use the Yankee Clipper.
Believe it or not, DiMaggio did not like the lyric and somewhat took offense to it, responding by saying “What do you mean where have I gone? I am right here!”
DiMaggio eventually dropped his complaint after taking a meeting with Simon. The songwriter explained to Joltin’ Joe that the lyric was a tribute to him. Back then, the heroes were becoming so pretentious and pop culture distorted how the American public perceive our role models, so Simon kindly told DiMaggio that there was nothing hurtful meant by the lyric.
Now understanding what Simon meant, DiMaggio accepted the lyric as a tribute.
Furthermore, when DiMaggio passed away in 1999, Simon performed “Mrs. Robinson” in centerfield (the position DiMaggio played) at Yankee Stadium. A somber capacity crowd wildly cheered for the lyric.
And here’s to you, Mr. Simon. You really are a Yankee fan for sure!
2) Jack Nicholson
“You want the Yankees? YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE YANKEES!”
Jack Nicholson is one of the most famous actors in American movie history, starring in classics such as “The Shining,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “A Few Good Men,” (see the modified quote above) and my personal favorite, “Batman.”
Yes, he was the Joker before Heath Ledger.
One of the other movies Nicholson starred in was “Anger Management” (opposite Adam Sandler) and his Yankee pride was on full display. He wore his Yankee cap with a regular shirt and blazer, much like he does when he attends the games at Yankee Stadium.
Nicholson likes to do it classy.
In September of 2006 his Yankee faith was put to the test. For his role in “The Departed,” Nicholson was asked to wear a Red Sox hat. He was playing the part of a gangster in Boston and the director wanted him to wear the cap with the evil “B” on the front.
Ever the loyalist, Nicholson refused to wear the Boston hat in the scene and better yet, wore a Yankee hat for it. That is loyalty and faith, in my view. His boss told him to wear a Red Sox hat and he basically said, “No. I am a Yankee through and through.”
For his love for the Yankees, he made the list. Good work Mr. Nicholson. You are a film legend and a devout follower of the Yankees. Good man!
1) Billy Crystal
He is the only person on the list that is not only a devout Yankee fan, has made a movie about the Yankees, but has actually been on the team for one game.
On March 13, 2008, the comedian/actor/director signed a one-game contract to play for the Yankees in a spring training game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Crystal only had one at-bat and he struck out swinging. He did however make contact, fouling off a pitch in the sequence before fanning.
I’d say he did well and it was such a neat thing to see. Crystal took part in the Yankees’ tune-up game as birthday wish; he had always wanted to play for the Yankees and on his 60th birthday he lived his dream (He also wore the uniform number 60 in accordance to his age)
But he was technically a member of the Yanks, even if it was only one at-bat.
If playing for the Yankees was not enough, Crystal directed “61*” in 2001, an HBO movie about the 1961 home run race between Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
For those who have seen the movie, I think the most compelling scene in the film is the part when the Yankees are playing the Orioles at Camden Yards in Baltimore. What some people may not realize is that game was the 154th game the Yanks played in the ’61 season.
If Maris had not reached 60 home runs by that game, the media and Major League Baseball did not consider him the true Home Run King because Babe Ruth hit 60 homers in 154 games. 1961 was the first year MLB played 162 games like they do today.
Maris had 59 home runs by the end of that game, meaning that if he had broken the record in 162 games, it would be “a separate record,” according to MLB commissioner Ford Frick. Obviously Maris broke it after 154 games, so the record technically was not his until Faye Vincent (the MLB commissioner in 1991) did away with the “two separate home run records.”
Unfortunately Maris passed six years before Vincent abolished the separate records and he never knew the home run record was his. But I think in most peoples’ minds, he was the true king and deep down in his heart, I’m sure Maris knew it too.
Crystal did such a wonderful job with “61*” My only hope now is that he makes another movie based off the Yankees. I feel he could certainly pull it off the way he did with “61*” but I think he would need a hot topic. After all, the 1961 Yankee season was one of the most revered campaigns in all of baseball history.
If you ask me, Crystal is one of a kind. A funny guy and a true Yankee man.
On a side note: I may have lost power for awhile because of this awful blizzard, but that did not stop me from playing in the snow like a five year-old and building a snowman.
Hope you all enjoy the picture.
Nice jacket, right Spike Lee?….
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.