Friday, March 26, 2010

A Tier-fall Friday Afternoon Linkaround

These links are dedicated to the memory of the 2009-10 Syracuse Orange basketball team. Their epitaph will certainly mention the 18 turnovers they committed last night.
To their credit, River Ave. Blues is having a "No Joba, No Hughes" day.

Still need your fix? Dave Allen at FanGraphs thinks putting Joba in AAA is the right move.

Around the 17:00 mark on this podcast, Don LaGreca from the Michael Kay Show on 1050 ESPN Radio begins interviewing Dave Eiland. At about 23:00, Eiland explains that the Yankees most likely won't ask Joba to start this season because of the shoulder injury he suffered in 2008.

However, Brian Cashman claims that Joba is a "starter in the bullpen". Which is sort of like saying that someone is a lawyer working as a legal aide.

During his recap of last night's game, Cliff from Bronx Banter dropped this little gem:
Marcus Thames, meanwhile, is hitting .094 (3-for-32) with just one walk and no extra-base hits after going 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts. Joe Girardi keeps talking about Thames’ track record, and it still seems as though Thames will make the team. That should tell you just how much spring performances really matter.
Marc Carig asks how long the Yankees will wait for Thames to start hitting. Brian Cashman contends that he's "impacted the ball pretty hard", but his 13 to 1 K/BB ratio isn't terribly encouraging. In his defense, he hasn't faced many lefties, something he'll have a chance to do tonight against Jamie Moyer.

Chad Jennings was hoping to shoot Cashman today. With a paintball gun. During a game of paintball. No word on whether Jennings accomplished his mission, but Brian Hoch, Carig and Feinsand all hit the target.

Joel Sherman dares to argue that if A-Rod is found to have used HGH that it will ruin his legacy. Bold, I know, but he also offers up something that you probably didn't know: A-Rod turned down the chance to host Saturday Night Live several times this winter. Probably a good choice. I doubt A-Rod is a very good actor considering he isn't even good at being himself.

NYY Stadium Insider introduced a new author today, and he tells his story of what might be the ultimate Yankee Stadium Insider experience.

Another blow to the notion of "clogging the bases".

Wezen-ball ranks the worst seasons by an Opening Day starter in the last 50 years. Carl Pavano's 2007 isn't on there because Larry's bottom 10 are guys who stuck around long enough to compile a WAR of -2.2 or worse. You know who did make the list, though? Mr. Opening Day, Jack Morris.

Breaking news: Jonathan Papelbon can't grasp a simple concept. To those who think Yankees vs. Red Sox games are too long, he says:
If you don’t want to be there, don’t be there. Go home. Why are you complaining?
They want to be there, dummy, but they probably have to get up for work in the morning and want to see actual baseball instead of an endless parade mound visits, guys stepping out of the box to adjust their jock and asshat revilers who take so long to come into the game they get fucking fined for it. I'm not one to complain about the length of Yanks/Sox games, but can understand why people - especially fans of other teams - are irritated by a 5-4 game that takes 4 hours and 15 mins to complete.

Rob Iracane of Walkoff Walk rounds up two recent and rather pathetic some stories combining prostitution and baseball (attempted prostitution, that's an embarrassing charge to be tagged with). Had he expanded that to actresses potentially playing prostitutes in baseball-related movies, he might have included this. He wouldn't mind her for a rib, but before Megan Fox gets the part our buddy Old Hoss has requested to take a gander at her cat-heads.

And I know it's painful, but via 'Duk's Twitter feed, here is the last tier of the grandstand at the Old Stadium being torn down. Disclaimer: it's not for the elderly, nostalgic or faint of heart.

/sobs quietly on keyboard

The Flexibility Of The 2010 Bench

Good morning Fackers. Late last August, the Yankees rolled into to Fenway park for their final visit to Boston on the season. The Yankees entered the weekend set with a 6.5 game lead in the AL East, so the series was an important one - particularly for the Red Sox. Though the Yankees had lined up Andy Pettitte, A.J. Burnett, and CC Sabathia to start the three games, the rest of the pitching staff was in a state of flux. The plan to limit Joba Chamberlain's innings down the stretch left him, Sergio Mitre, and Chad Gaudin in various states of limited availability.

Given that, Joe Girardi's love of playing the match ups, and the tendency of Yankee-Red Sox games to turn into four and half hour slug fests, the team decided to add an extra pitcher for the series, activating the long-disabled Damaso Marte and sending down Ramiro Pena. The move left the Yankees with a 13 man pitching staff and a three man bench, consisting of Eric Hinske, Jerry Hairston Jr, and Jose Molina.

With Brett Gardner's broken thumb keeping him on the DL and Pena on his way to Scranton, Hairston was left as the primary back up at 2B, 3B, SS, and CF. When nagging injuries took Johnny Damon out of the line up for the series' first two games, the bench was truncated even further, leading to some misadventures for Eric Hinkse in front of the Green Monster.

Complicating matters, the first two games were absolute laughers. The Yankees dropped a 20-11 hurting on the Sox in game one, then the Sox returned the favor wth a 14-1 beatdown in game two. With such lopsided contests taking place relatively late in the season, it would have been nice for the team to be able to rest pivotal, older players like 35 year old Derek Jeter, 38 year old Jorge Posada, and 34 year old Alex Rodriguez, who was just months removed from hip surgery. Instead, the truncated bench left the Yankees with very few options. Posada caught every inning of the two games. With only Hairston on the bench, Jeter played all of game one while A-Rod got the late innings off, while game two saw Hairston sub for Jeter and Jose Molina make his only career appearance at third base so that A-Rod could get some rest.

Why do I bring all this up some seven months later? Because Francisco Cervelli played two innings at third base in Wednesday's game. Unlike Molina's stint there last year, this was planned. All Yankee catchers take groundballs at some infield position (Jesus Montero taking grounders at first created a minor stir earlier in Spring Training), and with Cervelli being a converted shortstop, there was little harm in throwing him at the hot corner during the late innings of an exhibition game.

By the time the 2010 season is over, Wednesday's little experiment will likely be long forgotten, but I think it was important. With older, valuable players like Jeter, A-Rod, and Posada amongst the regulars, it would be nice if the Yankees had the luxury of resting them in blowouts. Last August's series in Boston showed some of the pitfalls of an inflexible roster. Whereas that situation was the result of injuries and a bloated pitching staff, the 2010 Yankees are shaping up to be less flexible by design.

Gone are Hairston and Hinkse from last year's bench, both of whom were capable of playing both the infield and outfield. In their place are Randy Winn and presumably Marcus Thames, who are exlcusively outfielders, though Thames has minimal experience at first base. As such, Ramiro Pena is the lone utility infielder on the club, meaning that only one of Jeter or A-Rod could be rested at any one time. This shouldn't be a big deal, unless some injury should befall one of them in the late innings on a laugher. Giving Cervelli some experience at third might serve the team well in the future.

As for Cervelli, there is value in it for him as well. His lack of a potent bat, even by catcher standards, has him universally projected as a career back up. With Jesus Montero and Austin Romine not far off, and Gary Sanchez, JR Murphy, and Kyle Higashioka behind them, increasing Cervelli's versatility will increase his chances of long term survival with the Yankees and will increase his value overall. Getting him some experience at another position was something we touched upon last year when Cervelli was demoted.

There is a further option still in camp who could also increase roster flexibility. It is all but assured that Marcus Thames will win the final outfield spot. But David Winfree is still in camp. Just 24, Winfree has spent the entirety of his seven year minor league career in the Twins system, reaching AAA last season. Like Thames, Winfree is right handed bat with some pop, averaging nearly 15 HR per season over the last five years. Though he's spent the last two years exclusively as an outfielder, Winfree has extensive minor league experience at third base and first base. From a flexibility perspective, Winfree could offer the Yankees more than Thames, but Thames bat and track record will likely earn him the job.

But Winfree is still young, and former scout Frankie Piliere feels he has a future ahead of him. We may yet see him on the Bronx during the 2010 season.