The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


A few impressions of spring training

Posted by: Peter Abraham - Posted in Misc on Apr 02, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Some leftover impressions after nearly eight weeks in Tampa …

• There were empty seats at Steinbrenner Field on Wednesday and a noticeable amount of empty seats at other parks over the course of the spring. I think we’re headed for a regular season where some teams will have to get used to crowds under 15,000.

• My first spring with the Yankees was 2006. I remember George Steinbrenner marching into Joe Torre’s office while we were interviewing him, sitting on the couch and asking some questions himself. Now Steinbrenner arrives at the ballpark in a wheelchair and his friends whisper about whether it’s a good day or a bad day.

• Hal Steinbrenner did not make himself available to the media once all spring, which is too bad because he usually has some intelligent things to say. You don’t get the feeling that he loves running the team but he’s doing the best job he can for the sake of his family. That’s honorable.

• If Brett Gardner stays in the lineup, he’ll steal at least 40 bases and make plays in center field Yankee fans haven’t seen in decades. If he can keep his OBP around the league average, he’ll be a benefit. That’s a big if, however. But my money is on him.

• Prediction: Phil Hughes pitches at least 80 innings in the majors this season and proves to be an important piece. One of the starters is sure to break down at some point.

• When did Ramiro Pena suddenly become a hot prospect? Baseball America didn’t have him in their Top 30 and they weren’t incorrect. He can pick it but will he hit?

• Joe Girardi made a good, honest effort to build relationships with his players, coaches and the beat writers this spring. In his own words, he had to reach out to everybody in the clubhouse, no matter what their job was. But what counts — and he knows this — is what happens now.

• Those who are worried about the bullpen should be. Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez have not yet reached the trustworthy stage. Phil Coke looks terrific but is untested as well. The same is true of Jonathan Albaladejo. Brian Bruney also had a rocky spring. But there are a lot of quality arms in the minors and Girardi and Dave Eiland have shown they can handle a bullpen very efficiently.

• I couldn’t be more impressed at how seriously CC Sabathia takes being a good teammate or how fully he has invested himself in being a Yankee and being in New York. Sure, he came for the money. Everybody does. But he is committed to making the relationship work.

• Rob Thomson is a very, very good third base coach.

• How Girardi manages the playing time of Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui, Xavier Nady and Nick Swisher will be his biggest challenge this season.

• The ever-pessimistic Brian Cashman says mid-May. But I keep hearing Alex Rodriguez will be back a lot earlier than that.

• Sure, Derek Jeter has declined. Now name all the AL shortstops you would rather have. Go ahead. It’s a short list.

• Robinson Cano is actually a superior second baseman when he pays attention to what he is doing.

• If I were a Yankee, I’d do whatever I could to stay on Jorge Posada’s good side. Jeter may be the captain but the catcher is the enforcer. He’s Sonny to Derek’s Michael.

• Mark Teixeira looks like he wants to be the MVP. He mashed all spring.

• If Mariano Rivera is the captain of the bullpen, Jose Veras is sort of his second in command. He has a way of bringing people together.

• Austin Jackson is going to have a huge year at Scranton.

• The Yankees make a big deal about their spring training guest instructors. Most of them don’t much beyond standing around. But you know who actually tries to help? Reggie Jackson. He’s totally full of himself, don’t get me wrong. But he makes an effort to help guys out.

• It was a lot of fun to meet so many folks who read the blog.

• Brett Tomko got screwed. I think they’ll regret not having a long man.

• Some amateur psychology on Joba Chamberlain: There was too much, too soon for him and his DUI was hard evidence of that. He got caught up in being Joba Chamberlain instead of remembering where he came from. Chamberlain seems more humble now and more willing to listen. Having CC Sabathia in his ear instead of Roger Clemens will be helpful, too.

• You know who could emerge in the bullpen? Steven Jackson.

• You know who won’t? Humberto Sanchez. He can’t stay healthy.

• At some point soon, it’ll be about the team and not the new Stadium. But we’re still a ways away from that.

• Finally, thanks to Jason Zillo and his staff for their work this spring. They do things the right way, every day and it’s appreciated by those of us who cover the team. Trust me when I tell you, it’s not that way with every other team.

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