The LoHud Yankees Blog

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

A few Tuesday night notes and links02.22.11

Over the weekend, The Associated Press moved a cool story about a 106-year-old Yankees fan living in Florida. Mark Didtler — our trusted AP man covering the team with the beat writers down here in Tampa — went with Billy Connors to meet her, and he wrote the piece.

New York vice president Billy Connors heard about Graham through a friend. On Friday night, he brought her a number of Yankees’ items, including an autographed photo of a favorite player, shortstop Derek Jeter. She was invited to watch a spring training game from a suite at George M. Steinbrenner Field.

Her high regard for Jeter is shared with that of another Yankees great, Lou Gehrig, whose farewell speech on July 4, 1939 she witnessed in person.

“He was a nice fellow,” Graham said.

Check out the full story here. And here are a few more links at the end of this unusual day in Tampa.

• If you haven’t seen it, make sure you check out the Bob Klapisch story about Jorge Posada’s health, and the impact of a career behind the plate.

• I also really liked Ken Davidoff’s take on Alex Rodriguez, and the opportunity for him to develop into a true leader during this time of Yankees transition.

Ben Shpigel did a nice job profiling Gustavo Molina, a veteran minor league catcher in a clubhouse full of catching prospects.

Here’s a rather interesting story about Zack Greinke. Seems he doesn’t like to talk to anyone, media or teammates. I can only imagine how this interview would have played in New York.

• Former Yankees prospect Zach McAllister is looking for a new opportunity with the Indians, and he’s sharing a clubhouse with Austin Kearns, for whom he was traded last season.

• Another former Yankees pitcher Brett Tomko has landed with the Rangers, looking to get himself back in the big league mix.

Associated Press photo of Robinson Cano because, random notes deserve a random picture

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Noteswith 499 Comments →

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.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 514 Comments →

Looking back at last year’s Top 30 Yankees prospects11.05.10

Let’s go heavy on prospects today, shall we? This is Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankees prospects heading into this season, listed with each player’s rank at the beginning of the season and the level where he finished the season.

ph_524968No. 1 Jesus Montero
Triple-A catcher
After a rocky start to the season, Montero turned things around in the second half and could fight for a big league job in spring training. He remains one of the elite prospects in baseball, with the only significant questions being where he’ll play in the field.

No. 2 Austin Romine
Double-A catcher
Romine dropped to sixth in this year’s rankings, but I’m not sure his ceiling or expectations have fallen. He had a kind of Derek Jeter-type season, starting strong and finishing strong, with three rough months in the middle. He’s in the Arizona Fall League now, and it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t turned 22 yet. Still very highly regarded, but he was passed on Baseball America’s list by young players and injured players whose stock soared after strong seasons.

ph_527055No. 3 Arodys Vizcaino
Traded to the Braves
The big prospect in The Boone Logan Trade had a 2.74 ERA between two Class-A levels this season, but he was shutdown with an elbow injury.

No. 4 Slade Heathcott
Low-A center fielder
Got to Charleston at the start of June, and he might have lost a little ground in the prospect standings — he hit .258 with 101 strikeouts — but it’s hard to read too much into a 19-year-old’s first season of pro ball. He still in Baseball America’s Top 10 for the orgnization.

No. 5  Zach McAllister
Traded to Cleveland
This was the cost for two months of Austin Kearns. Had he stuck around, McAllister probably would have fallen out of the Top 10 after a 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was certainly overshadowed by several other upper-level pitchers.

ph_544365No. 6 Manny Banuelos
Double-A left-handed starter
After a healthy second half that took him from High-A to Double-A, Banuelos is living up to expectations. Building up his workload seems to be the next step in his development. He’s in the Arizona Fall League right now and could pitch himself to the cusp of the big leagues next season. At 19 years old, he’s the youngest of the Yankees Killer B pitching prospects.

No. 7 Gary Sanchez
Short-season catcher
He’s been compared to Montero, except with more defensive tools. That’s why he moved all the way to No. 2 on this year’s Baseball America list. There is a ton of talent, but also a long way to go.

ph_571974No. 8 J.R. Murphy
Low-A catcher
In so many ways, Murphy is “the other” catching prospect in the Yankees system. He’s only 19 years old — one year older than Sanchez — and he already held his own in Charleston. The power started to show in the second half.

No. 9 Jeremy Bleich
Injured Double-A left-handed starter
Stock took a hit because of shoulder surgery. He made only eight starts for Trenton. Hard to learn much about him from this season.

ph_457581No. 10 Andrew Brackman
Double-A right-handed starter
This season might have been the best-case scenario for Brackman, the towering right-hander who had Tommy John surgery before throwing a single professional pitch. Brackman has always been a high-end talent, but he lived up to those expectations with a healthy and much-improved second season.

No. 11 Bryan Mitchell
Short-season right-handed starter
Opened in extended spring training, then pitched in the Gulf Coast League and got up to Staten Island in September.  Still young, and Rookie Ball opponents hit .190 against him. Obvious potential. Obviously young.

No. 12 Mike Dunn
Traded to Atlanta
Another part of The Boone Logan Trade, he pitched his way to Atlanta but the Yankees might have gotten the better of the two young lefties in that trade.

ph_543377No. 13 Corban Joseph
Double-A second baseman
Terrific numbers in Tampa sparked a second-half call-up to Trenton, where Joseph struggled with his first taste of upper-level pitching. Could play second or third base. Nothing especially flashy, but he lived up to expectation and might have exceeded it with his promotion.

No. 14 Eduardo Nunez
Major League shortstop
Nunez had to prove that 2009 was not a fluke, and he did just that with a terrific Triple-A season that ended with a call-up to New York and a late spot on the postseason roster.  He hit .289 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but also showed an improved glove. That combination pushed him into the Yankees Top 10.

No. 15 Mark Melancon
Traded to Houston
Sent to the Astros in the Lance Berkman deal, Melancon simply never made that final step with the Yankees. He pitched pretty well in 20 appearances for the Astros.

ph_467100No. 16 Ivan Nova
Major League right-handed starter
The Yankees always liked Nova’s potential, but he developed slowly until a strong 2009 season that landed him a spot on the 40-man. Now he’s a candidate for a spot in the back of the big league rotation. He’s the most advanced of the Yankees many upper-level pitching prospects.

No. 17 D.J. Mitchell
Triple-A right-handed starter
Moved into the Yankees Top 20 prospects, then got an invitation to big league camp, then pitched his way from Double-A to Triple-A. He generated better than a 2-to-1 ground out to fly out ratio in Double-A, then had a 3.57 ERA in three Triple-A starts. Overshadowed by some teammates, but he had a very nice season.

No. 18 Melky Mesa
High-A center fielder
He obviously did something right because now he’s on the 40-man roster. The MVP of the Florida State League has legitimate power and speed, but he also strikes out a ton and this year’s .260 average was actually his career-high. A complete wild card in this system.

ph_527037No. 19 Kelvin DeLeon
Short-season right fielder
Stock might have slipped through a .236 average with six home runs and 80 strikeouts. Just turned 20, so there’s plenty of room to grow, but also a long way to go.

No. 20 Jose Ramirez
Low-A right-handed starter
A good arm lurking in the lower-levels of the Yankees minor league system, he had a  3.60 ERA with 105 strikeouts in Charleston this season. For now, he exists in the shadows of the pitchers ahead of him, but he’s certainly not an unknown. He’s a legitimate prospect in his own right.

ph_572170No. 21 Graham Stoneburner
High-A right-handed starter
Leading into this season, Stoneburner was a favorite among writers and bloggers who closely follow the Yankees minor league system. He proved those believers right with a 2.41 ERA between Charleston and Tampa. He could be one of the fastest-rising stars in the organization, and there is considerable speculation that he could eventually end up in the bullpen, making ascent even faster.

No. 22 David Adams
Injured Double-A second baseman
Off to a .309 start in Trenton, Adams’ season was cut short by an ankle injury that cost him the bulk of the year and might have cost the Yankees a shot at Cliff Lee. I tend to lump Adams and Joseph together as Double-A guys able to play second or third. He seemed to be showing a lot this season, but it’s hard to make much of 39 games.

No. 23 Caleb Cotham
Cotham should have been in Charleston, but a pair of surgeries left him unable to pitch in an actual game this season. He has only eight professional innings to his name.

ph_456051No. 24. Hector Noesi
Triple-A right-handed starter
Noesi had pitched only nine games above Low A when the Yankees put him on the 40-man roster this season. That said a lot about their expectations, and Noesi lived up them with a season that catapulted him into Baseball America’s Top 10. From High-A to Double-A to Triple-A, he could be next year’s Ivan Nova.

No. 25 David Phelps
Triple-A right-handed starter
There’s a common theme among most of these back-end starting pitchers: Except the injured Cotham, they were all outstanding. This was Phelps’ second full season, and he finished it with a 3.07 ERA in 12 Triple-A outings.

ph_476589No. 26 Adam Warren
Double-A right-handed starter
Kind of like a one-year-younger version of Phelps, Warren had a 3.15 ERA in 10 Double-A starts after opening the year with a 2.22 in Tampa. The upper-level pitching depth in this system is incredible, as evidenced by the fact neither Phelps nor Warren deserved a spot among the Yankees Top 10 prospects.

No. 27 Kevin Russo
Major League utility
Russo’s value is in his ability to do a lot of things well. He served that role perfectly  as a call-up who shifted to left-field when the Yankees were searching for outfield help. Nothing flashy, but when he was getting regular at-bats, he was contributing. He could easily play that same role next season.

ph_476454No. 28 Dellin Betances
Double-A right-handed starter
This is the biggest leap of the bunch, and his jump into the Top 10 had as much to do with his health as his performance. Betances has always been a premier talent, but this year he got healthy and stayed healthy through a dominant second half. Expectations are sky
high again. He just has to stay off the disabled list this time.

No. 29 Jairo Heredia
High-A right-handed starter
Kind of like Nova in 2008 and Noesi in 2009, the Yankees have to decide whether to protect Heredia from the Rule 5 or take their chances that an unproven but talented young pitcher will sneak through. Heredia just turned 21, but he pitched just six times above Low A this season. Opponents there hit .359 against him.

No. 30 Jamie Hoffmann
Rule 5 pick sent back to Dodgers
The Yankees were clearly never planning to bring back Brian Bruney this offseason, so they traded him away for the right to draft Hoffmann. He hung around spring training for a while, but was ultimately sent back to the Dodgers. He hit .310 with eight home runs, 17 steals and 36 doubles in Triple-A.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 545 Comments →

Pitching depth on display in McAllister trade08.21.10

ph_502083The news was a little bit buried in the middle of last night’s game: The Yankees announced that Zach McAllister had been traded to the Indians as the player to be named later in the Austin Kearns deal.

My first reaction was absolute surprise. That’s a big name to be a PTBNL. McAllister is still just 22 years old and already has a full season of Triple-A under his belt. He had outstanding numbers in Double-A last year, and Baseball America ranked him the Yankees No. 5 prospect this winter. It’s not often a guy like that is traded away as a player to be named.

Twelve hours later, it’s less stunning.

Outside of spring training, I only saw McAllister pitch first-hand once. He came up for the Triple-A playoffs last year and more than held his own. He was never a guy who seemed to wow anyone with his stuff, but the results spoke for themselves. It wasn’t a fluke that he wound up so high on Baseball America’s list. He’s a better pitcher than this year’s 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre suggests.

That said, Ivan Nova clearly moved ahead of McAllister in the Yankees rotation the pecking order. David Phelps, Hector Noesi and Andrew Brackman — probably Adam Warren and maybe Lance Pendleton too — seemed to have passed him among the Yankees upper-level pitching prospects. Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances and Graham Stoneburner had clearly done the same in the lower levels.

The Yankees needed to protect McAllister from the Rule 5 draft this winter, and given such pitching depth, it might have been tough to find a spot for him on the 40-man. Don’t be surprised if he develops into a legit major league starter, but there’s enough pitching in the Yankees system that they could afford to lose him.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 45 Comments →

Notes from Sunday03.14.10

Robinson Cano is well aware that he barely hit .200 with runners in scoring position last season. He’s also well aware that he’ll be expected to do better than that as the Yankees No. 5 hitter.

“It’s more than an honor to hit behind A-Rod and in front of Posada,” Cano said. “That means I’m going to have to step it up early in the season.”

Joe Girardi has said some of Cano’s ugly RISP numbers last season were the result of bad luck, a lot of hard-hit balls finding gloves. Cano said he’s working to be more patient in those situations, making sure he doesn’t chase bad pitches.

“I know what I had last year, what I went through,” Cano said. “Him putting me fifth, that means that he trusts me.”

That’s very true. Girardi likes that Cano hits for average and doesn’t strikeout very often. It’s always been expected that Cano would eventually move up in the lineup, and Girardi thinks this is the time. “I consider Robbie a veteran player,” he said, while touting Cano’s sometimes questioned work ethic.

“I think he plays the game easy,” Girardi said. “When Robbie goes after the ball, you can be going at the same speed as a guy who looks like he’s putting in 100 percent effort, Robbie is still going just as hard, but Robbie has an easiness to him. Robbie Alomar had an easiness to him when he played second base. Some guys just appear that way. The other guys look like they’re working a lot harder, but they’re not necessarily working a lot harder. I see what Robbie does day in and day out, whether it’s on the field, off the field, in the weight room. I see it every day.”

• Girardi on CC Sabathia’s outing: “Good. Very good. Much better than his last time when he wasn’t comfortable with his mechanics. He was very sound to me.”

• Girardi on what’s causing Jonathan Albaladejo’s struggles: “He just doesn’t have his sink right now. It’s something that we’re going to have to iron out. He’s going to continue to pitch for us and we’re going to continue to evaluate.”

• My own comment: Don’t forget that Albaladejo made the opening day roster the past two years. Not saying he’ll make it this year, but I wouldn’t expect him to be among the next cuts. The Yankees like him, and he was pitching very well at the end of last season.

• Expect to see the regulars playing longer into games after tomorrow’s off day. Bank on three at-bats per game, Girardi said.

• After yesterday’s start in Lakeland, Chad Gaudin told Girardi that he felt fatigued. “At some point you usually hear it, everyone here in spring training says they’ve got a dead arm,” Girardi said. “You have to fight through it.” In print, those words read as if Girardi was calling out Gaudin to “fight through it.” In reality, it sounded more like Girardi expected this sort of thing and wasn’t surprised or bothered by it. At one point he said the Yankees would help Gaudin deal with the dead arm issues.

• Girardi told the pitchers on Friday that the results start to matter now. “We told them, now you’ve got to pick it up a little bit,” Girardi said, “because now their getting to that point where you’re next couple of outings are going to be evaluated much more seriously than your first two.”

• Girardi confirmed that he still plans to have his top three starters from last year — Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte — start those first three regular-season games against Boston.

• In case you missed it: C Jose Gil, RHP Grant Duff and RHP Zach McAllister have been reassigned to minor league camp.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 440 Comments →

Notes from Thursday03.04.10

Nick Johnson said he could have played today. He “for sure” would have played if this were a regular-season game, but he felt something in his lower back and the Yankees decided to play it safe.

“You’re cautious in spring training because it’s a time when you can give guys a couple of days,” Joe Girardi said. “And as a DH you can make up at-bats pretty easy.”

Girardi said he didn’t treat Johnson any differently because of his injury history, and Johnson said his injury history didn’t cause him to overreact to today’s relatively mild situation. To be on the safe side, Girardi said Johnson will likely sit out tomorrow as well.

“It won’t be too long,” Johnson said. “I’m not really worried about that.”

• Joba Chamberlain should be good to go tomorrow. Girardi had no update on him this morning, but said this afternoon that he expects Chamberlain to be healthy enough to pitch. “He’ll be OK tomorrow unless something comes back,” Girardi said.

• Nice work by Boone Logan today. He retired all four batters he faced, and three of them were lefties.

• Speaking of relievers pitching well, Mark Melancon looked sharp today. He struck out two in his one inning of work, and made Jayson Werth look pretty bad on a curveball.

• Zack Segovia, Zach McAllister and Ivan Nova each pitched a hitless inning… Jose Gil and David Winfree each had ninth-inning RBIs… Colin Curtis had another hit… Greg Golson pinch ran, stole a base and scored a run.

• Jesus Montero singled in his first spring at-bat. I was in the clubhouse at the time, but I assume it circled the globe before dropping into right field.

• I know it’s spring training and it’s too early to be especially impressed or disappointed by a pitcher, but Roy Halladay looked awfully good this afternoon. He threw 24 pitches, 21 for strikes. “He hasn’t changed much, that’s for sure,” Girardi said. “That’s who he is, he’s a strike-throwing machine who knows how to locate with movement.”

• Turns out, Melancon grew up near Halladay and watched him pitch in high school. When Melancon was younger, Halladay actually called to give him some advice about the draft.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 104 Comments →

Spring Training Game 2: Yankees at Phillies03.04.10

Gardner, CF
Johnson, DH
Posada, C
Cano, 2B
Swisher, RF
Winn, LF
Miranda, 1B
Pena, SS
Laird, 3B

LHP CC Sabathia (19-8, 3.37 in 2009)

Rollins, SS
Polanco, 3B
Francisco, CF
Werth, RF
Mayberry, LF
Ransom, 1B
Castro, 2B
Bocock, DH
Ruiz, C

RHP Roy Halladay (17-10, 2.79 in 2009)

TIME/TV: 1:05 p.m.

WEATHER: Pretty much the same as yesterday, but probably a little more sunny and not quite as windy. Temperatures are supposed to be in the upper 50s.

UMPIRES: HP Dan Iassogna, 1B Eric Cooper, 2B Phil Cuzzi, 3B Chad Fairchild

ON THE LINE: No Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez or Mark Teixeira on this trip, so it could be an opportunity for some younger infielders to make an impression.

HIM AGAIN: Roy Halladay is finally out of the Yankees division, but they’ll face him again here in the second game of the spring. Better to face him now than in a crucial game in the middle of September.

TWO FOR THE BIG MAN: CC Sabathia is scheduled for 35 pitches or two innings. This will be his first start of the spring. Obviously.

OLD FRIENDS: The Phillies new third baseman is Placido Polanco, who was a long-time teammate of new Yankees outfielders Curtis Granderson and Marcus Thames in Detroit.

LOST FRIENDS: Of course, Granderson and Thames aren’t on this trip.

UPDATE, 9:51 a.m.: A few morning notes before I get on the road to Clearwater.

• Zach McAllister and Austin Romine have been named the Kevin Lawn Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year for 2009. Romine found out about it when a reporter told him congratulations.

• Kevin Russo said he feels “better,” but the Yankees are giving him another day off.

• Royce Ring is away from the team because his wife has gone into labor.

• Joe Girardi kind of laughed off the idea of today’s Sabathia-Halladay matchup. “It’s getting a lot of coverage like it’s a regular-season game,” he said.

• Today’s late-inning replacements: C Austin Romine, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Eduardo Nunez, SS Reegie Corona, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Colin Curtis, CF Reid Gorecki, RF David Winfree, DH Jesus Montero. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I knew Vazquez could play third until I saw him taking ground balls there the other day.


UPDATE, 12:34 p.m.: Just got back from batting practice, and I’ll admit to destroying some strawberry shortcake in the lunch room. It’s pretty windy here, might actually be as windy as yesterday, but the wind is blowing almost perfectly across the field — from left field to first base — instead of carrying out over the fence. Balls hit to left are going to die in the air.

UPDATE, 12:38 p.m.: As always, there are a lot of Yankees fans in the house. The picture is of Jorge Posada signing from the dugout.

UPDATE, 1:03 p.m.: Not sure why, but Jamie Hoffmann was just introduced as the Yankees No. 2 hitter. No sign of Nick Johnson.

UPDATE, 1:13 p.m.: Johnson has been scratched from the lineup. Hoffmann is in at DH. Still not sure why.

UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.: Stiff lower back for Nick Johnson.

UPDATE, 1:44 p.m.: That should be it for Sabathia: Two scoreless innings, with two walks and two singles.

UPDATE, 1:52 p.m.: Zack Segovia in to pitch. He was supposed to pitch yesterday but didn’t get in the game.

UPDATE, 2:20 p.m.: Just got back from the clubhouse. Johnson felt something in his back during batting practice. He wore his spikes on the turf in the cage — he usually wears turf shoes — and a spike got caught during one of his swings. He said it’s not a big deal and he would have played if this were the regular season.

UPDATE, 2:28 p.m.: With a runner at first, Gardner just dropped a bunt directly in front of the plate. It actually had backspin on it and stopped immediately before rolling back to the catcher just in front of the plate. The Phillies got a force out at second and Gardner was safe at first.

UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmann just did a nice job going the other way with a single to right. Gardner went first to third easily and the Yankees might be in business.

UPDATE, 2:33 p.m.: Spoke too soon. Hoffmann was thrown out trying to steal second, then Jorge Posada struck out, stranding Gardner at third.

UPDATE, 2:53 p.m.: Yankees have changed their entire lineup. All backups in there now: C Austin Romine, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Eduardo Nunez, SS Reegie Corona, 3B Jorge Vazquez, LF Colin Curtis, CF Reid Gorecki, RF David Winfree, DH Jesus Montero.

Romulo Sanchez is now pitching. We’ve already seen scoreless innings from McAllister, Nova, Melancon and Segovia.

UPDATE, 3:02 p.m.: Double to right off Sanchez scores a run and gives the Phillies a 1-0 lead. The Yankees clubhouse is opening again, so I’m heading down there.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 476 Comments →

“Next in line” for the bullpen02.12.10

Interesting list over at USA Today, ranking 100 Names You Need to Know for the upcoming baseball season. It’s not a ranking of prospect talent, but rather a ranking of which young players could have the biggest impact this season. To be included, a player had to have more innings or at-bats in the minor leagues last season than during all of his major league career.

Phil Hughes doesn’t fit that standard, neither does Brett Gardner. The highest Yankee on USA Today’s list is Mark Melancon at No. 52.

Next in line to continue the run of success the Yankees had last season with young pitchers setting up in front of closer Mariano Rivera, Melancon, 24, should fill one of the openings. He’s a hard thrower with a sharp-breaking curve. Groomed as a reliever since turning pro in 2006, he has bounced back well from missing 2007 after Tommy John elbow surgery.”

I’ve written before that it wouldn’t surprise me to see Melancon open the season in Triple-A but finish it in a key spot in the big league bullpen. That’s the path Dave Robertson followed last year, and I could see the same happening with Melancon. There’s a lot of talent there, and those two could really solidify the seventh and eighth innings.

Other Yankees on the list:

• No. 56, Zach McAllister: “Among the first to be considered if there’s a need for a major league starter.”

• No. 58, Jamie Hoffmann: “Has plenty of speed and is a consistent contact hitter.”

• No. 66, Jesus Montero: “Barring an emergency, his initial stay won’t be long because he has had only a half-season at Class AA and needs to continue developing his defensive game.”

For whatever it’s worth, I actually think Montero might be ranked a bit too high, only because I don’t see him having a significant impact this season. Hoffmann is also probably too high now that Marcus Thames is in the mix. If I could add a name to the list, it would probably be Ivan Nova. He looked good enough at the end of last season to suggest he could play a role either as an emergency starter or as a reliever.

Other familiar names on the USA Today list: Austin Jackson at No. 19, Dan McCutchen at No. 84 and Jose Tabata at No. 86.

The whole list is pretty interesting. Thanks to mlbtraderumors for linking to it. That’s where I first saw it.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 242 Comments →

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