The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Tuesday notes: Jeter leading off against lefties, TBD vs. righties03.29.11

Joe Girardi has settled on one lineup decision: Derek Jeter will bat leadoff against left-handed starters. “You can bank on that,” Girardi said.

Who bats leadoff against right-handers remains up in the air.

Jack Curry reported today that the Yankees will open the season with Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot. I’m sure Curry’s right, but Girardi said he hasn’t settled on a lineup against right-handed pitchers.

“It’s something we’ll talk about on the plane,” Girardi said.

The Yankees face Justin Verlander on Thursday, and won’t face a lefty through the entire opening series against Detroit. The fact Girardi stuck with Gardner in the leadoff spot through the final two weeks or so of spring training seems to be a pretty good sign that he’s leaning that way for the regular season, but he’s said he won’t set anything in stone until Thursday.

“We’ll find out in a couple of day,” Gardner said. “I’m not worried about it.”

Gardner hit .260 this spring. His nine walks were tied with Jorge Posada for the team lead. Jeter hit .304 and struck out only three times. In the final weeks, he seemed to be driving the ball more often, and Girardi said that’s what stood out to him about his shortstop.

“Some of the balls that he’s pulled with authority,” Girardi said. “I’ve noticed that he seems to get to that better now, and I think it’s something that pitchers are going to have to think about. Everything he used to try to shoot the other way, and he would pull some breaking balls. I’ve seen him pull some heaters with authority. People are going to have to decide whether the risk is worth it now.”

• Pedro Feliciano might be out longer than two weeks. Girardi said Feliciano has been shut down for 10 days and is likely to be out at least three weeks. “He’s going to have to play catch and long toss and flat ground then get off a mound and then throw to hitters,” Girardi said. “I think you’re looking at at least three weeks.”

• Feliciano, Damaso Marte and Colin Curtis are all traveling with the Yankees to New York. They’ll all be checked out in the City, but they won’t necessarily stay with the team for their rehab work.

• Girardi made it clear that if Curtis Granderson isn’t able to open the season, Chris Dickerson is the next in line to take that roster spot. If Granderson does open the season, though, the Dickerson will open in the minors.

• Every healthy Yankees reliever pitched today. Mariano Rivera, Boone Logan, Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson pitched in a simulated game at the minor league complex. Rafael Soriano and Bartolo Colon combined for a hitless inning and a third in the big league game. Even 12th reliever candidates Luis Ayala and Steve Garrison pitched today.

• In his final spring start, Freddy Garcia went 4.2 innings, allowing one run on four hits and two walks. He struck out three. The one run came on a home run by Brennan Boesch.

• Meaningless spring information: Colon started the spring opener, and he threw the final pitch in today’s finale.

• Garrison faced four hitters today. He retired the two right-handers — including a strikeout of Jhonny Peralta — but both lefties singled. Ayala faced three hitters. Magglio Ordonez doubled, Miguel Cabrera grounded out and Victor Martinez flied out.

• Phil Hughes allowed one run through five innings at the minor league complex today. Granderson and Dickerson faced Hector Noesi and some other minor leaguers in their sim game. Thank you to Donnie Collins for the information.

• Austin Romine hit his second spring home run. The two homers came in back-to-back games. The Yankees only other extra-base hit was a double by Andruw Jones, but the Romine homer push the Yankees to a 2-1 win.

• Girardi was asked today if he might be more willing to pinch hit for his catcher this season because he has Jorge Posada as an emergency option. “It’s probably something I would be somewhat reluctant to do,” Girardi said.

• Francisco Cervelli is no longer wearing his protective boot. “I don’t think it’s out of the question to have him May 1,” Girardi said.

• Speaking of Cervelli: “He asked me if I wanted (the boot),” Girardi said. “I said no, I don’t.” Only Cervelli would ask if someone else would like to keep his protective boot.

Associated Press photos of Jeter, Garcia and Rodriguez

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Tuesday morning notes: Optimistic Marte arrives in camp03.22.11

Quick, who’s the one member of the Yankees 40-man roster you least expected to read about this morning?

I can tell you Damaso Marte is the guy I least expected to write about this morning, but when the clubhouse opened, there he was.

“I think I can pitch this season because I feel very good,” he said.

Although the Yankees haven’t been counting on Marte’s return, Marte he’s ready to do some strength exercises with those elastic tubes, and he actually thinks he might start throwing fairly soon.

Marte’s encouraged. Whether he can actually get back remains to be seen.

If you’re interested, Marte took the locker vacated by Dellin Betances. I’d say there’s a solid chance someone from that locker will pitch in New York this season, but I’m not sure which one is most likely.

• Speaking of unexpected guys in the clubhouse, George Kontos came up from the minor league complex to be available out of the bullpen. The Rule 5 pick said he was happy with the way he threw in Padres camp, but at some point it became clear they didn’t have a spot for him. He said he no longer feels any sort of discomfort in his Tommy John elbow, and some of the velocity is starting to come back on his fastball. He’s also added a two-seamer that’s been effective this spring.

• Eric Chavez was able to take batting practice today and said he’ll probably go through a full set of drills tomorrow. His calf got tight during Sunday’s game, but it felt better yesterday and Chavez seems completely unconcerned about the whole thing. And this is a guy who has reason to worry about injuries.

• Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia are throwing sides today.

• Surely at some point the Yankees will actually give Justin Snyder an at-bat in one of these big league games. He keeps coming over to the big league complex to be a backup, but he doesn’t have much to show for it.

• This was probably the quietest clubhouse of the spring. The guys who are making today’s trip got in and out quickly, and the guys who aren’t making the trip probably weren’t early risers after last night’s late game in Port Charlotte. Joe Girardi’s not meeting with the media until we get to Sarasota.

• Out of the bullpen: Joba Chameberlain, Mark Prior, Luis Ayala, Romulo Sanchez, Ryan Pope, Steve Garrison, George Kontos and Wilkins Arias.

• Off the bench: C Gustavo Molina, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Ramiro Pena, SS Doug Bernier, 3B Kevin Russo, LF Justin Maxwell, CF Melky Mesa, RF Jordan Parraz

Associated Press photo

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Should they stay or should they go?02.10.11

These were Nick Swisher’s words last spring.

“I remember my first three days of camp (in 2009), I just sat my locker,” he said. “I didn’t really say much. I was just like, all right, I’m just going to soak it up here. Then, next thing you know, something clicked and just kind of locked in. And we’ve had that ever since.”

Swisher is occasionally portrayed as some sort of character built on personality rather than substance. It’s not necessarily fair, and last season, the Yankees saw just how much substance Swisher can bring to a clubhouse and a lineup. Adam made the case this morning that Swisher is on his way to being one of the Yankee greats. I’m not ready to give Swisher that status based on one breakout season, but I believe he’s taken the next step from an energetic everyday guy to being one of the better right fielders in baseball, a guy who’s legitimately difficult to replace.

Next winter, the Yankees will have to decide just how replaceable Swisher is. He’s one of a handful of players the Yankees can keep or let go in 2012. There are also a couple of players who can decide for themselves whether they want to stay or go.

Robinson Cano
$14 million club option for 2012
Cano’s contract includes another club option for 2013. Next year’s jump to $14 million would be a $4 million raise, but for one of the best players in the American League, that should be a no-brainer. Barring some sort of massive injury, it’s hard to imagine Cano could have a season bad enough that the Yankees would decide against bringing him back.

Damaso Marte
$4 million club option for 2012
Considering the Yankees will be paying Pedro Feliciano $4 million next year, the number attached to Marte’s contract wouldn’t be unreasonable if not for … well … everything that happened during the three guaranteed years of Marte’s deal. Aside from his ’09 playoff performance, Marte has been both disappointing and injured. Declining next year’s option seems to be a formality.

Russell Martin
Arbitration eligible
Technically, Martin is no different from Phil Hughes or Brett Gardner or any other current Yankee who will be eligible for arbitration next year. I’m including him in this list, though, because the fact he has one arbitration year left was a perk of signing him this winter. It keeps the Yankees in the driver’s seat beyond this season, which makes his free agent deal essentially a one-year contract with an option for a second year.

Nick Swisher
$10.25 million club option for 2012
Swisher’s option was more in question after 2009 than it is today. Not only has Swisher improved in the past 12 months, the outfield free agent market has also changed in the wake of the Jayson Werth and Carl Crawford contracts. Assuming the option is picked up, Swisher will still be making $9 million less than Crawford.

CC Sabathia
Allowed to opt out
This one’s out of the Yankees hands, but assuming this year goes as well as the previous two years, the Yankees will certainly want Sabathia back. Even at the $23-million price tag, Sabathia has been worth the money through his first two seasons in New York. The good news for the Yankees, Sabathia has said he has no plans of opting out.

Rafael Soriano
Allowed to opt out
The Yankees are locked in for $11 million in 2012 and $14 million in 2013, but Soriano is allowed to opt out this winter or next winter. It’s considerable leverage for a guy who could go shopping for a job as a closer. There are a lot of closers heading for free agency next winter, but that also means a lot of closer openings next winter.

Associated Press photo of Cano

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Decisions to be named later01.26.11

When today’s guest post suggestion first popped into my email inbox, I remember immediately trying to come up with Brian Cashman’s most embarrassing prospect loss. Mike Lowell, maybe? That’s a bad one, but it also came more than a decade ago. Most recently, Ben’s right on the money: Cashman has traded away young players who became solid big leaguers, but no stars.

Giving away C.J. Henry for Bobby Abreu was a steal. So was landing Nick Swisher for a package built around Jeff Marquez. When the Yankees traded for Alex Rodriguez, the PTBNL was Joaquin Arias, who actually had quite a bit of prospect clout at the time. As Ed pointed out, Dioner Navarro and Brandon Claussen never developed into stars. I’ll add that neither did John-Ford Griffin, who was traded barely a year after being a first-round draft pick.

It’s hard to argue that Cashman has generally known which prospects to keep and which to trade, but to be fair, some of Cashman’s recent prospect dealing is still to be determined. Four trades that standout to me as to-be-judged-later:

July 26, 2008
Fighting to make the playoffs, Cashman made a deal with the Pirates to add outfielder Xavier Nady and left-handed reliever Damaso Marte.
The cost: Jose Tabata, Ross Ohlendrof, Jeff Karstens and Dan McCutchen

There’s no chance this trade will ever be a positive for the Yankees. They missed the playoffs in 2008, Nady was hurt in 2009 and Marte has been a disappointment (aside from the ’09 playoffs). This was a bad trade for the Yankees, the only question is how bad. It hinges on Ohlendorf to some extent — he’s proven to be a solid starter, might never step to the next level — but it mostly hinges on Tabata. Always highly touted, Tabata’s stock had taken a hit when the Yankees traded him, and he bounced back with the Pirates. Tabata hit .299/.346/.400 last season. For a Yankees team light on upper-level outfielders, he’d be a nice option in 2011.

December 8, 2009
Uncertain about Austin Jackson’s ultimate upside, the Yankees worked a three-way trade to add Curtis Granderson as a short-term and long-term solution in center field.
The cost: Austin Jackson, Ian Kennedy and Phil Coke

Whether the trade was worth it will depend on whether Granderson keeps making the strides. Whether Cashman gave up the wrong prospects will almost certainly depend on Kennedy and Jackson. There’s no question the Yankees sold low on Kennedy, who was one year removed from a brutal showing in New York, and only a few months removed from surgery. Kennedy pitched well next season, and could help in their current situation. Did the Yankees give up too soon? Jackson was a Rookie of the Year candidate, but high strikeout total and relatively low power numbers were significant reasons the Yankees were willing to lose him. There’s was never any doubt Jackson would be a solid big leaguer, the question was — and is — whether he can take the next step to become a star.

December 22, 2009
Looking to add stability to the back of the rotation, the Yankees traded for Javier Vazquez, who was coming off a career year and had always — except his one previous year in New York — been a steady source of 200-plus innings.
The cost: Melky Cabrera, Mike Dunn and Arodys Vizcaino

Short-term, the trade didn’t work especially well for either team. Dunn and Boone Logan pretty much negated one anther, while both Cabrera and Vazquez were significant disappointments. The long-term impact of this trade will depend on Vizcaino, who was considered the Yankees top lower-level pitching prospect, ranked as high as No. 3 overall in the Yankees organization by Baseball America. There’s raw talent, but Vizcaino is young enough that there’s significant risk between now and his potential big league debut. His first year with the Braves was cut short by injury, though not before he had a dominant 14-start stretch in Low A.

July 30, 2010
Needing to upgrade the bench and add some outfield depth, the Yankees made a move for fourth outfielder Austin Kearns, who was hitting .272/.354/.419 at the time in Cleveland.
The cost: Zach McAllister

Kearns was a huge asset for a brief time with the Yankees — at a time when injury meant he was a key part of the lineup — but he ultimately finished with awful numbers in New York. To get him, the Yankees gave up a starting pitcher who was having the first truly bad season of his career. McAllister had been a highly touted pitcher, one of the high points even in the Yankees deep system, but he had a 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at the time of the trade. Clearly McAllister isn’t missed right now — too many other pitchers have taken significant steps forward — but if McAllister bounces back, he could certainly be a player the Yankees regret losing.

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Fewer missing pieces than you might expect12.24.10

On the day Cliff Lee signed with Philadelphia, Brian Cashman said this:

“We have a championship caliber team. There are areas that could be improved upon. There are players in this marketplace currently that could assist there, but will we solve all the problems that we have right now? I don’t want to mislead people and say, ‘Yeah, we’ll take care of that right now this winter.’ It doesn’t have to happen in the winter time. We have up through the summer to get everything we need necessarily fixed.”

Those words didn’t carry much weight because the Yankees seemed to have too many holes to ignore. But then again, consider the 2010 Opening Day roster. Aside from Andy Pettitte, the changes from then to now haven’t been especially significant, and most should be considered addition by subtraction. The roster concerns seem to have more to do with performance than personnel.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballLineup
Derek Jeter SS
Still with the team. This time he’s coming off the worst season of his career, not a near MVP season.

Nick Johnson DH
Gone. He had 12 hits last year.

Mark Teixeira 1B
Still with the team. A model of consistency the previous six years, last season he slugged below .500 for the first time since he was a rookie.

Alex Rodriguez 3B
Still with the team. Had 125 RBI in a down year.

Robinson Cano 2B
Still with the team. Emerged as one of the game’s elite players.

Jorge Posada C
Still with the team. Nagging injuries took their toll last season. This time he’ll be the primary designated hitter.

Curtis Granderson CF
Still with the team. Made significant improvements down the stretch last season.

Nick Swisher RF
Still with the team. Finally had an all-star season and moved up from the No. 8 hole.

Brett Gardner LF
Still with the team. A complete unknown at this time last year.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballBench
Francisco Cervelli C
Still with the team. Likely to return to the exact same role as last season.

Ramiro Pena INF
Still with the team. Could return to the utility role. Could be replaced by Eduardo Nunez or an outside candidate.

Marcus Thames OF
Gone. Wasn’t with the Yankees at this time last year. Didn’t sign until just before spring training.

Randy Winn OF
Gone. Also wasn’t with the team at this time last year. Brian Cashman tried to buy low, but Winn made 16 starts before being designated for assignment.

ALCS Rangers Yankees BaseballRotation
CC Sabathia LHP
Still with the team.
Still at the top of the rotation. Still a Cy Young candidate.

A.J. Burnett RHP
Still with the team. Frankly, it’s hard to imagine he could be any worse than he was last season.

Andy Pettitte LHP
Unknown. While he’s considering retirement, he’s also considered the rotation’s most significant missing piece. Injury limited him to 21 starts last season.

Javier Vazquez RHP
Gone. Last winter’s big rotation addition managed 26 largely forgettable starts.

Phil Hughes RHP
Still with the team. And this time he doesn’t have to fight for a spot in spring training.

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball

Bullpen
Mariano Rivera RHP
Still with the team. Same as always. Age would be a factor if he were anyone but Mo.

Joba Chamberlain RHP
Still with the team. Not fighting for a rotation spot this time.

Dave Robertson RHP
Still with the team. Had a 2.27 ERA and held opponents to a .207 batting average in the second half last season.

Damaso Marte LHP
Injured. Likely to miss all season. Essentially replaced by Pedro Feleciano.

Chan Ho Park RHP
Gone. Wasn’t with the team at this time last year. Allowed one more hit than Rivera, despite pitching fewer than half of the games.

Alfredo Aceves RHP
Gone. Non-tendered after missing almost all year with a back injury. Pitched in 10 games last season.

Sergio Mitre RHP
Still with the team.
Actually coming off a pretty solid season, in a much better spot than at this time last year.

Associated Press photos of Jeter, Cervelli, Sabathia and Rivera

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Cashman notes from Tuesday11.16.10

Yankees Wrapup BaseballBrian Cashman joked that he walked into a sword fight without a sword.

Standing in a room filled with media, Cashman didn’t want to talk about the details of today’s meetings, didn’t want to give his opinion on expanded playoffs and wouldn’t get into specifics about potential player moves. He talked quite a bit more about the search for a pitching coach, but wouldn’t say who or even how many will be interviewed.

The only juicy bit of information he provided was nothing but a tease.

“I’ve got a small player move that I’m working on that might get done at some point this week,” he said. “But it’s small.”

In the course of nearly a half hour, though, Cashman did drop a few little notes of information. Nothing huge, just a few nuggets to keep in mind.

ALCS Yankees Rangers Baseball• The starter-or-reliever questions are official finished for Joba Chamberlain. “Joba to the pen,” Cashman said. “We made that decision after spring training. We’re not looking to put it back. We told him in the spring, you’re a reliever now. That’s it.”

• Alfredo Aceves is healthy enough that he’s expected to pitch in Mexico this winter. “His rehab resolved,” Cashman said. “He was throwing bullpens (and) felt fine. We’re probably going to be talking about winter ball here at some point. He was trying to make it. He would have been a potential guy, believe it or not, to our surprise, if we got to the World Series.”

• Aceves never had surgery.

• Cashman is moving forward with the assumption that Damaso Marte will not pitch at all next season. “Whether (a lefty reliever) is available in this particular marketplace is what I don’t know,” Cashman said. “It’s certainly an area that I would like to have two lefties in the bullpen. I just don’t know if I’ll be successful or not.”

• That said, Cashman has no plans to dump Marte from the 40-man roster. He doesn’t think he’ll need that spot to protect anyone from the Rule 5. “You don’t just release a guy,” he said. “With our Rule 5 protection, I don’t feel like I have a roster crunch.”

• Cashman said he only way he could imagine a roster crunch would be if the Yankees made a trade in which they acquired multiple players, but he doesn’t expect that sort of trade to happen.

• Cashman said he has “zero” indication whether Andy Pettitte will be back next year. Pettitte told Cashman the same thing he’s said publicly: That if he had to make a decision right now, it would probably be retirement, but he’s not planning to make a decision right now.

• The Yankees consider Ivan Nova a legitimate rotation candidate for next year.

• Last year was the final year of Juan Miranda’s four-year contract, but he doesn’t have enough service time to become a free agent, so he’s still under the Yankees control. They don’t have to offer him arbitration, he will simply come into spring training as a 40-man player who’s out of options.

• Cashman listed Miranda, Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez and Brandon Laird as players who could play a bench role next season.

Associated Press photos

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Yankees reportedly interested in Feliciano11.16.10

This is coming from Ken Davidoff.

Apparently the Yankees have “expressed interest” in lefty reliever Pedro Feliciano. It makes sense given the fact Brian Cashman has openly admitted that he’s looking for a left-hander to join Boone Logan in the bullpen. Feliciano had some success with the Mets, and his splits against lefties are pretty impressive with a lot of strikeouts.

My guess would be that this depends entirely on the contract. Felciano clearly fits what the Yankees are trying to do, but he’s already 34 years old. Damaso Marte turned 34 in 2009, just after he signed his three-year contract, and that deal hasn’t worked out at all.*

* I feel like every mention of the Marte contract has to include a note that he was outstanding in last year’s postseason. Teams sign players in hopes that those players will help them win a World Series, and Marte did that, despite his regular season injuries and struggles.

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Cashman notes: Patience and priorities10.29.10

Yankees Wrapup BaseballIt took one week for the Yankees to re-sign their manager. Whatever comes next is going to take some time.

Brian Cashman said this afternoon that he has not started negotiations with any of his own free agents. He has not been given a budget, he has not explored trade targets and he has not prioritized potential signings. He has simply called the agents for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera to let them know what to expect in the coming days.

“Monday I’m going to have a meeting in Tampa with the Steinbrenners, with Hal and Hank,” Cashman said. “From there, nothing’s really going to happen until I sit down with my bosses, and get a feel and have some discussions about the lay of the land and how I think it should be approached from our perspective. So, I have made everybody aware of that, so they’re not wondering ‘Hey, am I getting a call soon?’ or ‘Why haven’t I gotten a call.’”

The Tampa meetings will last at least two days, and Cashman said he is going into them with “no anticipation either way” about his budget for this winter.

“They have not sent me any ideas or smoke signals,” Cashman said. “We haven’t had any of those discussions. Those will start Monday and Tuesday.”

Cashman indicated that his next focus will be on filling the pitching coach vacancy — “Now I have to turn my attention to the coaching staff,” he said. — but Cashman doesn’t expect that spot to be filled nearly as quickly as the managerial opening.

“I got Joe done in a week because I had somebody right in front of me that we wanted to hire,” Cashman said. “I don’t have that with the pitching coach so it’s not going to happen very quickly. We’ll certainly talk to Mike Harkey. We’ll certainly talk to Scotty Aldred. Those are two people internally at the very least, but we’ll look at external candidates as well. That’s what we’re going to start working on, or we have started to work on. Until Joe was done, that wasn’t really able to fully start. I also have other coaches to re-sign so it’s not going to happen quick. I wish I could say it would because it’s a hugely important position and it’s vital that we get it right.”

Yankees Marte Surgery Baseball• Cashman listed two priorities for the winter: Starting rotation and left-handed reliever. The rotation was obvious, but I was surprised to hear a lefty mentioned so prominently. “If I can find a left-handed reliever who can join Boone Logan, I think that will make our choices out of the pen better for our manager,” Cashman said. “It’s easy to talk about it. It’s harder to find it. Those are the obvious things that stand out for me: Continue to improve your starting rotation, find a left-handed reliever and then get after it.”

• Cashman mentioned LHP prospect Manny Banuelos by name, but stressed that the Yankees would “like to keep him in the starting rotation.”

• Gut feeling on Pettitte coming back? “My gut doesn’t really matter,” Cashman said. “It really just matters what Andy wants to do, so it’s just not productive to have guts.”

• Kevin Long has made a big name for himself, but Cashman doesn’t expect another team to lure him away from the Yankees. “I think he’d like to stay and we’d like to keep him,” Cashman said. “I think he’s exceptional at what he does, so that creates a great climate for getting something done. But it doesn’t guarantee anything.”

• Will the Yankees carry a primary DH next year or leave that spot for guys like Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez? “I certainly have my personal preference in it of what I think we should be doing,” Cashman said. “But I think in fairness, I don’t want to get ahead of my ownership meetings. I think that is something I need to discuss with them first, what I would recommend.”

• Kerry Wood remains an attractive late-innings reliever, but it’s unclear whether the Yankees have a chance to bring him back at a cost that makes sense. “I think Dave Robertson (and) I think Joba are both qualified and capable, without question,” Cashman said. “I think Kerry Wood performed at such a level that of course he’s a player that has put himself in a position that would interest anyone who needs to improve upon their bullpen. I think it’s all relative to overall financial and what our interest levels after we get a better clearer picture on Jeter and Rivera and Pettitte. The remaining pie, if there is any remaining, I think will affect decisions like that.”

• Not picking up Wood’s option (or Berkman’s) for 2011 was strictly a financial decision. “We haven’t had any pro scouting meetings whatsoever, so we’re not in the comparative mode yet of those players vs. potential available players on the market,” Cashman said. ” They were just obvious option years that in our perspective was way too high for us to consider exercising. They were pretty easy. I don’t think the players even expected those to be picked up. They were pretty easy decisions to make.”

• Cashman said the Chicago Cubs opening did nothing to change his view or expectation about Girardi coming back beyond this season. “It didn’t do anything, to be honest,” Cashman said. “I think I picked the right manager when we started the interview process three years ago to lead this franchise. We’re proud that we have at least one World Championship to show for that in his first three years on the job.”

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Damaso Marte out until all-star break10.24.10

In a shocking upset, a player has arrived on locker clean-out day.

That player was one of the least likely to be here: Left-handed reliever Damaso Marte who just walked in with his left arm in a sling. I have to assume that means he had the surgery that Brian Cashman previously said was possible.

He walked in and out, but said he’ll be back to talk in a few minutes.

UPDATE, 11:21 a.m.: Marte had labrum surgery on Friday and won’t throw until after the all-star break. Oddly enough, he took that as good news. Marte was worried that surgery would mean the end of his career.

UPDATE, 11:34 a.m.: Marte seemed to feel legitimately bad that he wasn’t available to pitch in the postseason. He also seemed legitimately relieved to get the problem diagnosed and fixed.

“It’s hard when you feel something inside and sometimes they don’t find out what’s the problem,” he said. “Right now, we know what we have and the labrum is very cut. But now they fix it, and I feel happy because I know I can pitch maybe next year.”

By “cut” I have to assume Marte meant torn. Whatever the exact problem, a bad labrum is a significant problem for a pitcher. It’s revealing that Marte through this might be the end of his career. That’s much more significant than some light shoulder soreness.

“I have to make (the shoulder) better because it’s a lot of pain,” Marte said. “Right now I feel comfortable because the doctor, he gave me a good idea for my arm. He told me, you’re getting better. Next year, I think I can pitch.”

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Cashman notes: Burnett, Marte and the roster10.11.10

Yankees Blue Jays Baseball
This afternoon, Brian Cashman left a little bit of wiggle room on the Yankees using A.J. Burnett as their fourth starter, but he didn’t leave much.

“In this next round, the schedule dictates that we’ll have four starters,” Cashman said.

Does that mean Burnett will be the fourth?

“Yeah, that’s what I believe would be the case,” he said. “We’ll talk about it tomorrow, but yeah.”

A few minutes later in a 25-minute conference call, Cashmen went just a bit further: “We’re going to have our meetings, but if we have to go with a four-man rotation, it will be A.J. Burnett.”

It never seemed especially likely that the Yankees would ask both Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes to pitch on short rest. Pettitte is a barely a month removed from a groin injury, and Hughes has never thrown this many innings this deep into a season. Burnett is erratic, but he’s also the most proven of the Yankees fourth-starter options.

“I think every game we play is a ‘hold your breath’ thing,” Cashman said. “Whether it’s Game 1 of the Division Series with a guy like CC – the first five innings against the Twins in Game 1 with our ace on the mound was a struggle – or Game 2 with Andy Pettitte. How is he going to be health-wise? That was a question mark, not knowing what you’re going to be dealing with. Phil Hughes, his first postseason official start.

“… I’ve seen A.J. Burnett succeed and obviously I’ve seen him struggle. I know what he’s capable of just like I knew what Phil Hughes was capable of. We saw that. It’s just another question yet to be answered.”

Yankees Angels Baseball• Damaso Marte’s rehab has been stopped in Tampa. He’ll travel back to New York to have his sore left shoulder checked by Dr. Ahmad. “That could involve surgery,” Cashman said. “It most likely will. He’s attempted to come back but it just hasn’t worked out. That was the conservative route that’s been done, so now we’ll have to do the more aggressive route, which is the invasive side of it.”

• Cashman said it’s too early to know how this might affect Marte next year. “Within a week, we’ll have some information,” he said.

• The Yankees staff will meet tomorrow to discuss any possible roster changes, but those probably won’t be announced until Wednesday at the earliest. They want to know who they’re facing first. Cashman said roster changes are “certainly possible.”

• Will Pettitte pitch Game 2? “All of those things will be discussed when we get together as a staff.”

• Will Francisco Cervelli catch Burnett, and could that lead to a third catcher being on the roster? “We haven’t had any of the roster meetings so all of that stuff is premature right now.”

• The Yankees will have five days between games. “Sometimes it’s good to go five games (in the division series) and keep firing on all cylinders like that series is going to be,” Cashman said. “There will be certain guys it will benefit, and there will be certain guys I’m sure it will be too long. I’d rather be in this situation than not.”

• As you might expect, Cashman said he doesn’t care who wins tomorrow’s game between the Rays and Rangers, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be hoping for a certain outcome. “I’ll root for an extra-inning game,” he said. “Let it go 21 innings if it has to.”

Associated Press photos of Burnett and Marte. I thought it was important to find a Marte picture. I wasn’t sure anyone would remember what he looks like.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 188 Comments →

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