Super Bowl Sunday, perfect time for the last Hot Stove Mailbag. The Spring Training Mailbag will debut in a few weeks.
On to the questions …
Steve writes: When you were a kid, who was your favorite baseball player. And why?
Answer: This won’t make me any friends here but I’ll be honest, it was Carlton Fisk. He came to my hometown when I was a kid to open a car dealership and I rode my bike to see him. Pudge patted me on the back and signed an autograph and he became my favorite player that day. I also like Pete Rose but that was before I knew better.
Dave writes: I was wondering you thoughts on Melky’s playing time? How do you think Torre will get him enough at-bats, and is Giambi really going to be a DH only?
Answer: Damon, Matsui and Abreu can use a day off once every seven days or so and Melky will fill in for them. I think he’ll also get some late-inning defensive work and be used as a pinch hitter. Melky will get at least 300 ABs I bet. Giambi gets hurt too easily to play much first. I think he’ll be a full-time DH now.
Keith (Turn Two) writes: I noticed that a lot of the news coming out about MLB teams this time of year relates to some sort of FanFest or Winter Caravan to drum up interest leading into spring training and the new season. I know that the Yankees aren’t exactly the Pirates or Reds and don’t need to hold a fanfest to get people to pay attention, but has the organization ever thought of doing something like this during the winter to show the fans some love? Any possibility they might do something like this in the future?
Answer: The Yankees sell tickets regardless, so they don’t do it. But they should hold some kind of winter event for fans. Have Joe answer questions, bring in some players, let people walk around the field, etc. Can’t hurt. But often times the Yankees seem to think they’e above such things. It’s too bad.
Dan writes: I want to know if Melky will learn or has played first base in his past? My friends and I got into a heated discussion over this as I think itâ€™s a great idea. If Melky could play a decent first this year he could start games there and move to the outfield later in the game for better defense with Mientkiewicz coming in at first. My friends dissed me as crazy.
Answer: Yes, you’re crazy. He has never played there. There’s a reason scouts and minor league coaches put guys at certain positions. Melky has speed and a great arm. You don’t waste that at first base. He’s also 23. He’ll have an OF job eventually. Beyond that, the Yankees are not a team that should be wedging players into positions they haven’t played before.
Jason writes: Right now Yankees had so many options in the farm system consisting of right-handed starters. Do you think these young prospects will lose hope and confidence of reaching the major leagues?
Answer: Most kids in the Yankees system know the MLB team is stocked. They’re playing to impress scouts with every organization. A trade is always right around the corner. Any player who loses confidence is finished and true prospects know they have value.
James writes: I’m concerned that Cano will not duplicate his great stats last season. The protection for Cano is awful with Mientkiewicz.
Answer: The Yankees lineup is too deep to pitch around anybody. You want to risk Jeter coming up? Besides, who says Cano is hitting eighth?
Sharon writes: Does everybody stay in the same hotel in spring training?
Answer: It used to be that way, Sharon. But now the players own homes in Tampa or rent ones and the poor sportswriters sleep in bus stations and youth hostels. Except for Tyler at the Times, he can afford to stay anywhere he wants.
Jeff from Connecticut writes: Love the blog, read it every morning. What do you read?
Answer: Good question, Jeff. If I’m not on vacation, I check out the otheer New York papers to see what they have about the Yankees. I also frequent these baseball sites:
ESPN.com’s baseball page. I like reading Buster Olney’s blog and Jayson Stark’s column.
The Yahoo baseball wire has easy access to AP stories and good columns from Jeff Passan and Tim Brown.
Baseball Prospectus is a must read, especially Will Carroll.
Baseball America gets better and better every year.
SI.com has good stuff from Jon Heyman and Tom Verducci.
I read a lot of blogs, too. Most of them are linked over to the right.