The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

Wednesday notes: Young pitchers living up to the hype02.23.11

All winter we heard about the Yankees young pitching talent, a series of arms that could help out sooner rather than later. A week and a half into spring training, manager Joe Girardi is sold on both the quantity and the quality.

“I’ve seen a lot of good things this spring, from a lot of the young kids as well,” he said. “I thought Phelps threw pretty well today. Warren. Brackman. All of these kids have thrown the ball extremely well at this point in camp. I’m happy. Very happy… We’ve talked about that we have pitching coming, and I really believe that.”

Today, Girardi was asked specifically quite a bit about Manny Banuelos, largely because Banuelos faced live hitters on the main field, with Girardi watching most of the BP session. Girardi said what he saw “matches up” with what he’d already heard about Banuelos. Right now, Girardi knows what he wants to see out of young pitchers, and Banuelos has shown it.

“Strikes, and good strikes,” Girardi said. “Not just strikes, but good strikes. If they throw a ball where they don’t want to, can they adjust quickly? Say he throws a curveball and leaves it way up, can they adjust and get it where (they want it)? What I’ve seen, he’s pretty good at it.”

That said, the plan remains the same. The Yankees are happy with their pitching depth, but they brought in some rotation options that might buy the kids a little more time to develop.

“You have to be open minded, you have to evaluate,” Girardi said. “But it’s not necessarily what you plan on going in.”

• More evidence that the Yankees take Bartolo Colon seriously as a rotation option: “He’s looked pretty good,” Girardi said. “It’s the Bartolo that I remember: A guy that keeps the ball down, uses his fastball a lot and is able to hit his spots.”

• New lefty Pedro Feliciano is used to pitching 85 to 90 times each year. Last year, no Yankees reliever made more than 73 appearances. Boone Logan, Damaso Marte and Royce Ring combined for fewer appearances than Feliciano made last season. “I talked to him about the way we do things here,” Girardi said. “That I’m not a big proponent of throwing guys three days in a row, so don’t be surprised if I do some things different. He’s important to our bullpen. We have to keep him healthy all year long.”

• Eduardo Nunez and Austin Romine were sent home sick today. “It’s the head cold and the throat,” Girardi said. “We gave them medicine and sent them home. We felt that was the best thing to do.”

• With Andruw Jones, Eric Chavez and Ronnie Belliard, the Yankees have given themselves some options for veteran experience on the bench. And not just experience, but guys who were very good everyday players before settling into supporting roles. “I think it’s great, because you know they know how to play the game,” Girardi said. “You know that situations when they get in that day to play, there’s not going to be an extreme emotional high. They’re going to prepare the way they’ve always prepared. They know the league, they know the ballparks and they know what it takes to be successful.”

• On the other hand, the Yankees have taken notice of Brandon Laird: “He’s obviously proven that he knows how to drive in a run, he knows how to put good at-bats together when guys are on base,” Girardi said. “He’s a guy that you might think about (on the roster).”

• Speaking of which… Charging choppers at third base this morning, Laird might a nice play on a short hop at the edge of the grass. Minor league defensive coordinator Torre Tyson, who was doing the hitting for the defensive drill, said, “You couldn’t get there two years ago.” Laird agreed, said he had no shot at making that play two years ago. He looks pretty good at third these days. Not implying he’s a defensive wizard, but I haven’t seen anything to make me think Laird can’t play the position.

• Didn’t see anything particularly out of the ordinary about defensive positioning during drills today. Ronnie Belliard continued to take some reps at first base, and I did see Brad Suttle go to first base for a while.

• Dave Robertson was the only pitcher I saw throw his batting practice without a protective screen in front of him. Some pitchers just hate having the thing in front of them and feel like it actually causes them to mess with their mechanics (they feel like their arm or the ball is going to hit the screen). Robertson pitched without it, and as soon as he was done, the screen was put back in place for Ivan Nova.

• Didn’t seem serious, but Colin Curtis fouled a ball off his calf and crashed to the dirt. He was hobbling around for a while, and got some ice for it, but he should be fine.

Here’s a must-read Times piece about the relationship between Yogi Berra and Ron Guidry. Four years ago, during my first spring training covering the Yankees organization, Berra was the very first person I saw when I first walked into the Yankees clubhouse.

Associated Press photos: Girardi surrounded by players; Berra with Derek Jeter; Alex Rodriguez laughing during drills

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Spring decision: Fourth spot on the bench02.12.11

The Yankees know Andruw Jones will be their fourth outfielder. They know their utility infielder will be one of two candidates. They know their backup catcher will be either Francisco Cervelli or one of the young guys. The spot that seems wide open is the fourth man on the bench, a spot that could go to either an infielder or an outfielder, a power bat or a pinch runner, a defensive replacement or a potential pinch hitter.

The possibilities
The Yankees could go almost any direction with this spot. If they want additional outfield depth, Greg Golson and Justin Maxwell are both speedy, right-handed hitters who could be defensive replacements or pinch runners, and Colin Curtis could be a left-handed balance to Jones. In the infield, the Yankees could choose to carry both Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena, or they could carry one of those two as a backup shortstop, with either Eric Chavez or Ron Belliard — or Brandon Laird or Kevin Russo or Jorge Vazquez — available to fill in at the corners.

The easy choice
That’s what the Yankees are hoping for: An easy choice. If anyone steps up in spring training and puts himself clearly above the other candidates, the Yankees choice will be simple. It seems that in an ideal world, Chavez will prove he’s healthy and can still hit for power. He would be a left-handed hitter on a predominantly right-handed bench, and if he can step in as the guy to give Alex Rodriguez an occasional day off at third base, that might be the best use of the fourth bench spot. Any other choice — either a fifth outfielder or a light-hitting second utility man — would have no clear role other than late-inning defense and base-running.

The alternatives
If Chavez is finished, the Yankees could focus on late-inning defense and base-running. Carrying both Pena and Nunez would let the team use either one as a pinch runner without losing defensive flexibility. The same would be true for either Golson or Maxwell, each of whom has enough speed to steal a bag and could slide into right field for the last inning or two.

Normally, the fact Curtis is a left-handed hitter would be a negative in an already left-leaning outfield, but of the favorites for a bench job, Jones, Cervelli and Nunez are all right-handed, and switch-hitter Pena isn’t much of an offensive threat from either side of the plate. If Chavez doesn’t emerge as a legitimate option from the left side, Curtis could bring some left-right balance to the bench.

The Yankees could also prioritize flexibility, opening a spot for either Russo or Brandon Laird as a player capable of filling in at the infield and outfield corners.

A separate but related issue
Eleven players had at least 150 at-bats for the Yankees last season (a group that included Pena and the since-departed Marcus Thames). Of the group that had fewer than 150 ABs, no one had more home runs or RBI than Juan Miranda. Defensive versatility is crucial on the bench, but the Yankees might be on the lookout for a hitter who can bounce back and forth from Scranton and occasionally give the Yankees productive big league at-bats, regardless of defensive ability.

Associated Press photos of Curtis and Chavez

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Chavez and Prior arrive in Tampa (and me too)02.11.11

Just arrived in Tampa, having discovering this morning that it’s now possible to buy bottles of Honest Tea in the Delta terminal of LaGuardia. That’s going to make my summer just a little bit better.

The bulk of the beat writers began arriving yesterday, and a few more will get to town this weekend. Meanwhile, more and more of the people you really care about — the actual Yankees themselves — have been arriving at the team’s minor league complex.

A few Twitter highlights from today…

Eric Chavez was among the new arrivals. He said he’s been healthy all winter, and he has a “new heartbeat” with the Yankees. By the way, I blatantly stole this Chavez picture from Bryan Hoch. Let’s all say thank you by following him on Twitter.

• Worth mentioning that Chavez did some work at third base. Given his history as a Gold Glover, I doubt the Yankees are especially worried about his defense, but I guess you never know when a guy has missed as much time as Chavez missed the past three years. I’m sure he’s just taking grounders as a matter of course.

• Also new to the scene, and apparently healthy: Minor league signee Mark Prior.

Prospects Dellin Betances and Adam Warren were among the pitchers throwing bullpen sessions this morning.

• Lefty Neal Cotts, signed to a minor league deal this winter, also threw a bullpen.

• Other position players at the complex today: Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli, Colin Curtis and Jesus Montero. I’m sure there were others, but those were mentioned by name on Twitter.

• Other pitchers at the complex: Andrew Brackman, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes. Again, I’m sure there were plenty of others, but those were mentioned specifically by the reporters who beat me to Florida.

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Dispatches from the minor league complex02.08.11

To picture the Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, imagine a Little League complex with nicer fields and less seating. There are four fields arranged in a circle (using a clock as a reference, there’s a field between 12 and 3, another from 3 to 6, and so on). In the middle is a small building with seating up top so scouts and coordinators can keep an eye on all four fields. Mark Newman practically lives up there when minor league camp opens.

Between two of the fields — essentially at 12 o’clock — there is a bullpen with three or four mounds. Between two more fields — at 9 o’clock — there is a set of batting cages. The Yankees minor league office is in the back, behind two fields, with a clubhouse for the players.

It’s a nice complex, with everything a baseball player could possibly need, but nothing about it feels Major League. And it’s certainly not glamorous. The players who are there right now, are there to work. Nothing more. So far, three New York writers are on the scene: Erik Boland, Brian Costello and the newly arrived Anthony McCarron. There’s not a lot going on out there, but those three have it covered.

First to arrive this morning was Dave Robertson, probably wearing high socks and some sort of camouflage. Just a guess.

New Yankees catcher Russell Martin said he’s still not 100 percent — he’s coming back from a hip injury and minor knee surgery — but he expects to be 100 percent by Opening Day and should do some catching tomorrow.

Martin said he still feels a need to earn the everyday job, and he’s gotten himself into good shape this offseason. He weights about 15 pounds less than last spring.

• Jesus Montero was also at the complex today. He said his goal is to break camp as the Yankees starting catcher. I don’t think it will happen, but you’ve got to love the fact Montero wants to make that kind of impression.

Derek Jeter was back at the complex. He took some batting practice with Rob Thomson.

• Other players working out this morning: Andrew Brackman, Ivan Nova, Colin Curtis and assorted minor leaguers.

REMINDER: Sam and I have a video chat tomorrow at 12:15 p.m. We’ll be right here talking about the Yankees heading into spring training.

Associated Press photo of Martin (obviously not taken this morning)

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Yankees organizational depth: Outfield corners01.14.11

For this sort of exercise, it’s much easier to lump left field and right field into one category. They aren’t exactly the same position — teams prefer a better glove in left, a better arm in right — but in terms of organizational depth, the two positions are pretty interchangeable. In New York, though, they’re occupied by two very different players.

In the big leagues
Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher are different hitters who share a similar approach at the plate. They are two of the most selective hitters in baseball, but that’s where the common ground ends. Gardner’s game is built on speed, Swisher’s is built on power, and each had his own sort of breakout season in 2010. Gardner is 27 years old and established himself as a legitimate everyday outfielder. With over-the-top patience, he led the Yankees in on-base percentage and stolen bases. He’s arguably the best defensive left fielder in baseball with exceptional range and a better-than-expected arm. Swisher just turned 30 and made his first all-star team. He’s in the final year of his contract, but there is a club option for 2012. With no obvious replacement in the upper levels of the minor league system, the Yankees could exercise that option if Swisher has another productive year.

On the verge
Unless one of them finds a spot on the big league roster, a Triple-A outfield of Colin Curtis, Greg Golson and Jordan Parraz will give the Yankees plenty of reserves: All three on the 40-man, all three able to play each outfield spot, and all three ready to play a role in New York as needed. Third baseman Brandon Laird will also get some time in the outfield, and his power bat fits the profile of a corner outfielder. The Double-A outfield is more of a hit-or-miss group. Center fielder Melky Mesa has more than enough arm for right field and is perhaps the biggest wild card in the system’s upper levels. Cody Johnson, acquired from the Braves this winter, is a former first-round pick who’s shown significant power but a complete inability to hit for average. Dan Brewer — who could jump to Triple-A if there’s an opening — hit 10 homers and 34 doubles in Trenton last season, but he’s never been considered a prominent prospect.

Deep in the system
Long-term, the Yankees depth in the outfield corners will probably be built on their current depth at other positions. For now, Slade Heathcott, Eduardo Sosa, Mason Williams and Abe Almonte are best suited for center field, but they could move to the corners as necessary. Catcher J.R. Murphy will see some time in right field this season, as will third baseman Rob Segedin. For now, the lower levels should have guys like Zoilo Almonte, Taylor Grote and Kelvin De Leon getting considerable time in the outfield corners (all three have generated some prospect buzz but haven’t done much either because of injury or lack of production). The name to remember seems to be Ramon Flores. One talent evaluator was raving about him during the Winter Meetings, comparing him favorably to former Yankees prospect Jose Tabata. Flores hit .303/.390/.419 last year and should be ready for a full season in Charleston.

Organizational depth chart
My own rough guess. It’s far too early for the Yankees to settle on who will be where next season.
New York: Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher
Scranton/WB: Colin Curtis and Jordan Parraz
Trenton: Cody Johnson and Dan Brewer
Tampa: Taylor Grote and Zoilo Almonte
Charleston: Eduardo Sosa and Ramon Flores

The big league depth chart is incomplete until the Yankees sign a fourth outfielder. The Yankees have been strongly linked to Andruw Jones, and if he’s signed, Jones will become the primary backup in both left and right field. The Yankees have no shortage of additional players ready to step into a corner outfield role as necessary: Curtis, Golson, Parraz, Laird and Kevin Russo are all in the mix.

Lower in the minor league system, I based my projections on Heathcott opening in Charleston, forcing Sosa to open in left field instead of center. As is always the case, the Yankees have plenty of additional outfielders who could see time in the corners. In rough top-to-bottom order: Austin Krum, Damon Sublett, Jack Rye, Raymond Kruml and Deangelo Mack are among the guys who will get corner outfield time for the full-season teams. The impact of multi-position guys like Segedin and Murphy, though, will probably be more significant.

Associated Press photo of Swisher, headshots of Gardner, Curtis and Zoilo Almonte

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Yankees coaches making the rounds01.14.11

Derek Jeter will get to work early this spring. According to the New York Post, Jeter will begin working with hitting coach Kevin Long later this month. Jeter made positive strides late last season, and Long said he’s hoping to keep that progress going.

“I think we found something with his stride and the direction of his stride and going up and down with his stride instead of gaining distance and going in,” Long said. “We’re going to try to keep it as simple as we can, try to control his movement and try to get him to be more consistent through the contact point.”

According to The Post, Long spent last week working with Nick Swisher and Colin Curtis in Los Angeles. Next week he’ll work with Mark Teixeira in New York, and he plans an offseason trip to Miami to do some early work with Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez. Long has spoken to Russell Martin, but the two haven’t worked together just yet.

New pitching coach Larry Rothschild is also busy. According to Newsday, Rothschild has been working with A.J. Burnett, getting familiar with the Yankees No. 2 or 3 starter and working out some early details before pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

“It was just things he’s been through career-wise, what he’s done delivery-wise, what he’s comfortable with, what he’s uncomfortable with,” Rothschild said. “Just really talking about baseball more than anything else and going through some stuff, trying to make it real simple and get him throwing the ball the way he can and being able to repeat it. I think he’s very much looking forward to the start of the season.”

Associated Press photo

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Yankees organizational depth: Center field01.13.11

A little more than a year ago, the Yankees sacrificed their perceived center fielder of the future to obtain a proven center fielder of the future (and the present). Within months of the trade, the Yankees watched Austin Jackson get off to a terrific start in Detroit while Curtis Granderson struggled in New York. By the end of the season, the tide had shifted, and now the Yankees are left hoping Granderson’s second-half momentum carries into 2011.

In the big leagues
The Yankees gave up a lot to land Granderson. He was seen as a plus defensive player with unusual power for a center fielder, and he was also significantly more proven than Jackson, whose lack of power and strikeout totals were obvious concerns. Granderson finished last season by hitting .261/.356/.564 in his final 48 games, and he carried that into a terrific postseason. The Yankees are one of the few teams with two legitimate big league center fielders — Brett Gardner is also more than capable in center — but there’s no question Granderson will be the everyday man at the position. The only question is whether he’ll continue to improve as he steps further into what should be the prime of his career.

On the verge
Greg Golson and Colin Curtis are able to play a role in the big leagues right now. They proved that last season, and although neither got much time in center field at Yankee Stadium, both are able to play the position. Curtis and Golson seem likely to go into spring training competing with Jordan Parraz to be the Yankees fifth outfielder (if the Yankees carry five outfielders). Coming up behind them is one of the great wild cards of the Yankees system. Melky Mesa has tools to spare — arm, speed, power — but he also struck out 297 times the past two seasons, and his .260 average and .338 on-base percentage last season were both career highs, by a lot. If he makes progress, Mesa could be a legitimate everyday player in the big leagues. If not, he could top out at Double-A.

Deep in the system
Abraham Almonte is still on the prospect radar after a injury shortened season in Tampa — my friend Patrick Teale has always been very high on Almonte — but most of the Yankees young center field talent is coming up from the very lowest levels. Slade Heathcott, the Yankees first-round pick in ’09, didn’t put up big numbers in Charleston last year, but he’s still very young with considerable tools and talent. If Heathcott returns to Charleston this season, he could be joined in the outfield by Eduardo Sosa, a natural center fielder who’s bat has yet to match his glove. A half step behind them is last year’s fourth-round pick Mason Williams, another super-athletic kid taken out of high school. There is a lot of raw talent and athleticism here, but that talent has a long way to go. It’s just as you’d expect from this position in the lower levels.

Organizational depth chart
My own rough guess. It’s far too early for the Yankees to settle on who will be where next season.
New York: Curtis Granderson
Scranton/WB: Greg Golson
Trenton: Melky Mesa
Tampa: Abe Almonte
Slade Heathcott

The true center field depth chart in New York is two names deep: Granderson and Gardner. Both are plus defenders, and the Yankees showed last season that if Granderson gets hurt, Gardner will immediately slide over from left field. Golson and Curtis can certainly handle the position, but as long as at least one of Granderson and Gardner is healthy, there will be no reason for anyone else to see significant time in center field.

As for the minor leagues, the system is full of outfielders who are able to handle center field, it’s a matter of prioritizing that playing time. Curtis will get some center field time in Triple-A, and Damon Sublett could get some time in Double-A. It gets a little more tricky in the lower levels depending on assignments. Whether he’s in Tampa or Charleston, Heathcott will almost certainly be the priority in center field, but Sosa, Williams and Gumbs are coming up behind him and also need time at the position. If the Yankees decide Heathcott needs a little more Low A time — that’s how I have it predicted, at least to start the season — Sosa could see significant time in the outfield corners for the first time. If Heathcott does open in Charleston, the best-case scenario would be for him to finish in Tampa.

Associated Press photo of Granderson and Gardner, headshots of Granderson, Mesa and Almonte

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A few winter league numbers01.06.11

Just a few winter league statistics from the Yankees organization. As usual, there aren’t many big names playing down south this offseason, but there are a few names that might at least ring a bell.

Ramiro Pena
Mexican League
.233/.295/.308 in 33 games

Splitting his time pretty evenly between shortstop and third base, the Yankees utility infielder put up a fairly typical offensive slash line (though he did hit one homer). Truth be told, even for Pena this was a pretty slow offensive winter. He’s hit better than this the past two winters.

Eduardo Nunez
Dominican Winter League
.348/.333/.391 in seven games

Nunez bunted a ball off his face and was limited to only seven games. Last time I talked to anyone in the Yankees organization about the incident, the team hadn’t heard much but knew enough to be overly concerned. Like Pena, Nunez was getting time at shortstop and third base.

Colin Curtis
Dominican Winter League
.240/.356/.300 in 14 games

Tiny sample size for Curtis, who got all of his time in the outfield corners this winter (and probably made some pretty solid money doing it). He actually had a hit in six of his last season games, and finished with the same number of walks as strikeouts, but it’s hard to make too much out of 14 games.

Romulo Sanchez
Venezuelan Winter League
1-2, 6.89 ERA in 19 games

The hard-throwing right-hander did have 17 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, and he generated a lot of ground balls, but he also allowed a .292 opponents batting average and gave up three homers.  Not nearly as good as last year’s winter ball numbers (45 strikeouts and a .218 opponents average in 31 innings).

Jordan Parraz
Venezuelan Winter League
.306/.393/.389 in 25 games

This is the outfielder the Yankees claimed off waivers this winter. He played center field and right field this winter, and he got his hits in bunches. He had seven multi-hit games, including three three-hit games.

Jorge Vazquez
Mexican League
.346/.401/.647 in 36 games

If you don’t already know this name, you should probably store it somewhere in the back of your mind. Vazquez is a big, power-hitting corner infielder who more than held his own in Triple-A last season. He’s primarily a first baseman, but he can play third. He hit 10 homers but also struck out 41 times this winter.

Josh Schmidt
Venezuelan Winter League
5-3, 2.79 ERA in 14 games, 13 starts

There is absolutely nothing flashy about Schmidt, but this is the second winter in a row in which he’s pitched very well in Venezuela. He’s been terrific in Trenton as well, but his stuff simply doesn’t compare to the bigger name pitchers in the Yankees system. He’s eligible free agency after this season, and it will be good for him to move on.

Justin Christian
Mexican League
.356/.452/.561 in 64 games

I believe Christian is a minor league free agent, but he spent last season in the Yankees organization and has his only big league service time with the Yankees. I mention him primarily because he was absolutely dominant this winter, leading the league in hits, doubles, stolen bases, runs and extra-base hits. He fell off the map with some injury problems the past few years, but those winter league numbers are hard to ignore.

A few more…

C Gustavo Molina: .170/.207/.364 in 31 games in Venezuela
Signed as a minor league free agent this winter.

LHP Andy Sisco: 6-5, 4.04 in 15 games in Mexico
Minor league signing worked as a starter this winter.

INF Walter Ibarra: .303/.356/.387 in 56 games in Mexico
Class-A utility man did pretty well for himself.

SS Jose Pirela: .333/.387/.471 in 29 games in Venezuela
Fringy prospect hit just .180 in the Arizona Fall League.

INF Luis Nunez: .361/.425/.389 in 15 games in Venezuela
Continuing a trend, another organizational infielder with good winter stats.

LHP Wilkin Arias: 3-0, 3.21 in 17 games in the Dominican
30-year-old held lefties to a .192 average. Old for a prospect.

RHP Eric Wordekemper: 0-0, 6.05 in 21 games in Mexico
Four-run outing didn’t help. Good Triple-A numbers last year.

Associated Press photo of Pena

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Considering the postseason bench10.04.10

Joe Girardi left little doubt yesterday that he plans to carry Austin Kearns on the playoff roster. Kearns is a career .375 hitter against the members of the Twins pitching staff not named Matt Capps. He’s 0-for-10 against the Twins new closer, but Kearns has been pretty good against the rest of the Twins pitchers. Even if he weren’t, the Yankees don’t exactly a strong offensive alternative. Starting Kearns ahead of Brett Gardner might be a bit much at this point, but as a right-handed bat off the bench, he’s the best non-Thames option the Yankees have.

Beyond Kearns, we can confidently assume these 11 position players will also make the postseason roster: Jorge Posada, Francisco Cervelli, Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Lance Berkman and Marcus Thames.

That leaves room for two — three if the Yankees carry only 10 pitchers — to round out the bench. There seem to be three leading candidates, and a handful of secondary options.

ph_449172Greg Golson
Pros: Plus speed and arm… Can play all three outfield spots… Defensive upgrade as a late-inning substitution in right field; offensive upgrade as a pinch runner… Two starts in the final two weeks of the season, with at least one hit in each.
Cons: Career .260 hitter in Triple-A, career .200 hitter in the big leagues… Limited major league experience; has only two career big league RBI… Not considered as much of a base-stealing threat as Eduardo Nunez… Yankees already have five outfield options.

ph_456488Eduardo Nunez
Pros: Considered the Yankees top base-stealing threat off the bench… Comfortable at shortstop and could play second ot third… Hit .280 in limited big league action after an all-star season in Triple-A… Better offensive utility infielder than Ramiro Pena.
Cons: Roughly a month and a half of major league experience… Counting the big leagues, played six games at second and 26 at third this season. Before that, had just 20 career appearances away from shortstop… Eight at-bats since September 4… Not as good defensively as Ramiro Pena.

ph_455369Ramiro Pena
Pros: Been with the big league club all season… Arguably the Yankees best defensive infielder at three different positions… Despite poor offensive numbers, has shown a knack for big hits in big situations… Enough speed to help on the bases as a pinch runner… Most versatile bench option with some additional experience in the outfield if needed in a pinch.
Con: Two extra-base hits all season, even in the minors he was only a .255 hitter with no power… Eduardo Nunez could play the same utility role with more offensive upside… Yankees are unlikely to rest any of their infielders during the playoffs.

ph_453298Colin Curtis
Pros: Does a little bit of everything: Has some power, has some speed, plays quality defense at all three outfield spots… Hit pretty well during his brief window of consistent playing time.
Cons: Doesn’t do one thing especially well. Doesn’t have Greg Golson’s speed or Juan Miranda’s left-handed power… Yankees already have two lefty outfielders.

Juan Miranda
First baseman
Pros: Powerful left-handed bat off the bench… Has three home runs in limited major league duty… Most of the Yankees bench options are right-handed.
Cons: Gives almost no defensive flexibility… Limited to a pinch hitter, and the Yankees aren’t likely to pinch hit very often.

ph_150224Chad Moeller
Pros: The Yankees did carry three catchers last postseason.
Cons: A.J. Burnett was also lined up to start Games 2 and 5 in each playoff series last year. That meant the potential for two games each series caught by the Yankees backup. That shouldn’t be the case this year.

Kevin Russo
Pros: Could play every position except pitcher and catcher… Consistent minor league hitter; gave the Yankees a surprising boost in left field earlier this season.
Cons: Limited shortstop experience… One major league at-bat since July 11… Clearly behind Eduardo Nunez and Ramiro Pena in the infield pecking order.

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Pregame notes: One more day at Yankee Stadium09.06.10

Blue Jays Yankees Baseball

No one at the ballpark is used to this. The Yankees are about to play their fifth day game in a row, and every morning has felt just a little bit odd. I’ve seriously had three conversations about what day it is. When the writers walked into the press conference room to meet with Joe Girardi, someone joked about the whole room needing coffee and Girardi suddenly walked out of the room.

He returned with a coffee maker. Seriously. The Yankees manager brought coffee to the writers this morning. We’ve reached that point.

There really wasn’t much to discuss when the actual press conference started. At the time, Girardi was waiting to talk to Nick Swisher and Alex Rodriguez before posting his lineup. At this point, though, it seems both Swisher and Rodriguez came through their pregame workouts without any problems.

So far, they’re both still in the lineup.

Rodriguez said he felt good as he walked out of the clubhouse to the field earlier this morning, and Swisher said the same when he came back into the clubhouse after running. Something could change between now and first pitch, but right now there’s no indication that a lineup change is coming.

• Andy Pettitte threw only a very light bullpen this morning. Roughly 20 pitches, not at 100 percent intensity, with the catcher setup in front of home plate. Pretty standard stuff for a light bullpen day. He felt fine afterward.

• The plan is 65 pitches or four innings for Pettitte on Wednesday. “We’ll see how it goes,” Girardi said. “I kind of anticipate that it would probably be two rehab starts, but if it’s one, it’s one.”

• Why would Pettitte need two rehab appearances when Girardi previously said he would be OK with Pettitte throwing only 75 pitches in his first game back? “If he gets to 65 (in the rehab start), then the area of concern the next time is 65 to 80,” Girardi said. “So if he’s at 75, then you know he should be fine all the way up to 75, and then you start to get a little bit worried if he gets fatigued (beyond 75 pitches).”

• Girardi on Colin Curtis: “With some of the injuries we have, we just thought we could use another outfielder. It just gives us flexibility.”

• Swisher said the knee injury feels like tightness, like his knee doesn’t want to go when he tells it to go. That’s why he was worried and didn’t want to push it, but now that he knows there’s no structural damage, he feels ready to play. “If we can deal with the pain, we can deal with playing,” he said.

• Rotation questions have become pretty standard recently: “Right now we’re on turn,” Girardi said. “Everyone is going to get an extra day here because of the off day on Thursday.”

• Austin Kearns said his injury is really just wear and tear. There wasn’t one incident that caused it, and he seems to think it’s not a big deal. He has it pretty lightly wrapped.

• With Curtis called up, Justin Christian has been promoted to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and Taylor Grote has been promoted to Trenton.

Associated Press picture from yesterday of Derek Jeter with Reggie Jackson

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 399 Comments →

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