The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Lighten up, it’s only March 19

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Mar 19, 2007 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

I read the comments on my last post and got so depressed that I jumped out the window of my hotel room. Fortunately I’m on the second floor and survived the fall.

I had no idea that I covered the worst team in baseball.

A few points:

Get used to the idea of the Yankees not having a wonderful player at every position. Steve Swindal and Brian Cashman run this team, not George Steinbrenner and his pancake house buddies in Tampa. Gone are the days of throwing money wildly at free agents or trading away four prospects to get an aging All-Star.

The Yankees will have a ridiculous payroll. But it won’t be $50 million more than the next team. In some cases they will – gasp! – make due with an OK player. The Mets could use another starter but they’re giving their kids a chance. Boston could use a better 2B than Dustin Pedroia but he has been handed the job. Toronto let Ted Lilly walk and signed Victor Zambrano. Every team makes concessions. Todd Helton isn’t walking through the door.

Doug Mientkiewicz is not a great first baseman. But he gets on base and he will make many more plays that Jason Giambi did and that will benefit a team that does have any strikeout artists in the rotation. Wang and Mussina pitch to contact and Pettitte increasingly so. Pavano’s best pitch is his sinker and so on. They need a good defensive player at 1B and Mientkiewicz is one.

Yes, he is. Defensive metrics are useless for first basemen, in my opinion. The range of the second baseman is a huge factor in determining how a first baseman plays. The AL (far fewer bunts) is much different than the NL (far more bunts). How well the pitching staff fields is a factor. The first baseman’s primary job is to catch the ball thrown to him and Mientkiewicz is very, very good at that. He will save the Yankees an error a week.

Derek Jeter: “You can’t think, ‘I have to make a perfect throw’ or you never will. You have to just react and throw the ball. Doug is going to pick up a lot of hops and he gets off the bag well. That’s going to help everybody. I saw him in Minnesota and with the other teams he was on, he’s very good.”

As for his offense, anybody who is evaluating 25 at-bats over 18 spring training games needs to get a hobby. Spring training games are meaningless. Eric Duncan was Babe Ruth in spring training last season (.414/.452/.793) and he was demoted to Trenton in June. Jason Giambi didn’t homer once in spring training last season. He hit 37 when it counted.

If folks are going to wring their hands over such small samples, it’s going to be a long season. Mientkiewicz will get on base and he’s hitting ninth in a lineup that is otherwise insane.

Craig Wilson? He sulked his way through two months in New York last season and barely moved other than to play chess with Sal Fasano in the clubhouse. They didn’t want him and he didn’t want to be back.

Josh Phelps? He was signed by the Orioles to be a backup. He is also a former catcher with a hitch in his swing and an unsure glove at first. I’d be careful anointing him.

Most of all, enjoy your team. Chien-Ming Wang is one of the best starters in the league. Andy Pettitte looks like he did pre-surgery. Robinson Cano is a guy scouts drool over. Mariano Rivera is 37 going on 27. You can go on and on.

As coach Normal Dale told the haters at Hickory High, support what your team is, not what it is not.




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