Via the Post -
Looks like the crowd is going wild for Derek Jeter’s final season!
This fan, perhaps wearing sunglasses, sneaked into Steinbrenner Field in Tampa on Saturday to check out Yankees spring-training workouts.
Raccoons are a common sight throughout Tampa and St.Petersburg, but few are known baseball fans.
Eagle-eyed Post photographer Charles Wenzelberg spotted the raccoon and acted fast to snap this incredibly cute image.
“If was a freaky moment and I happened to get it,” Wenzelberg said.
The Post lensman had been in the outfield photographing a rainbow that had appeared over Steinbrenner Field. Then a loud noise startled Wenzelberg — and the raccoon.
“I heard this banging sound – something fell, maybe it was a baseball bat, I don’t know – but it must have startled the raccoon because I see it running out of the Yankees dugout and into the stands,” said Wenzelberg, who swung his camera toward the fleeing critter.
Then again, I would rather go for a run than play a video game…
Another Cashman “nugget” that tarnished quickly.
Great stuff from a great baseball author.
Via John Harper -
Kevin Long considers Robinson Cano practically a son, they grew so close over the years in the Bronx. And that bond, forged during their countless sessions in the batting cage, allows him to speak frankly about the $240 million man who is now a Seattle Mariner.
That is, while Long couldn’t be prouder of what Cano accomplished as a Yankee, it bothers him that neither he nor anyone else could get through to the second baseman about his notorious lack of hustle, knowing it’s likely to tarnish his standing, especially with the fans.
“If somebody told me I was a dog,’’ Long said here Sunday, “I’d have to fix that. When you choose not to, you leave yourself open to taking heat, and that’s your fault. For whatever reason, Robbie chose not to.’’
Long was talking about Cano’s habit of not running hard to first base on routine ground balls, nothing else. And it was particularly frustrating for him because he helped Cano overcome his other bad habits over the years, centering around his nonchalant nature that once led Joe Girardi to bench him for lazy defense.
“He overcame so much while he was here,’’ Long said. “As a young kid there were holes everywhere. There were holes in his swing, in his makeup, in his body composition. This kid grew and grew and grew.
“All the other stuff … he’d take plays off in the field, he’d give away at-bats in RBI situations. He made a lot of personal decisions to get over the hump in those areas. People don’t know how hard he worked, how many times he was the one asking me to do extra work in the cage.’’
I won’t debate Cano’s dogging it at times. But, please, can someone get Kevin Long to shut up? He talks way too much…
It’s an interesting thought – what if Jeter is SO BAD this season that the Yankees release him at some point during the season? Could that EVER happen? Related, would Jeter retire during the year and beat them to the punch? Of course, this all begs the question: How bad would BAD have to be for this to happen?
Would it have to be an OPS of .542 – like he had last year – or less? Is that the magic number? If so, where is the line in the sand? Is it May 1st? July 4th? August 15th?
Does it matter if the team is winning and in first place? Would that allow a struggling Jeter to hang on? Or, if the team is losing and Jeter is terrible, does that make a decision on his roster spot more urgent?
You tell me.
Lou Piniella and Bobby Murcer, if I recall correctly, didn’t make it through their final season in Yankeeland. And, I know some Hall of Famers – Mike Schmidt comes to mind – hung them up during a season. It does happen, sometimes.
Via George King -
Alex Rodriguez is gone for a year and Robinson Cano is in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees don’t have a batter with the muscle to put on a power show during spring training batting practice.
Sure, it was the first day of BP, but the performance by neophyte catcher Pete O’Brien at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday was impossible to ignore, since it reminded some of how easily Darryl Strawberry launched balls out of the park.
“The buzz today was all about Pete O’Brien,’’ hitting instructor Kevin Long said of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Miami native who was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Miami.
O’Brien, 23, hit balls over the batter’s eye in center field and high off the new scoreboard in left-center.
“What puts his swing at a different level is the ease of it,’’ Long said of the right-handed hitting O’Brien, who swatted 22 homers and drove in 96 runs last season for Charleston (Single-A) and Tampa (Single-A) while batting .291 (130-for-447) in 119 games. He drew 43 walks and fanned 134 times. “He is not a guy winding up and jumping out front. He has a good, short compact swing. Obviously, he is very explosive.’’
Asked to compare O’Brien’s swing with former prospect Jesus Montero’s, Long said, “O’Brien’s is a much cleaner swing.’’
Since the Yankees are deep in organizational catching and O’Brien needs work behind the plate, there is a good chance he will be shifted to the outfield at some point, although he is scheduled to start this coming season as a catcher.
I had a chance to meet Pete O’Brien at the South Atlantic League All-Star game last year, albeit briefly. And, he seemed like a really nice guy. I hope he gets a chance to start the season at Trenton this season. I would look forward to seeing him in Double-A. I just hope that Kevin Long doesn’t mess him up any time soon.
It’s good to be the king.
Every time I hear how great Gerrit Cole is…and how awesome he’s going to be this season…I keep thinking the same thing: The Yankees, especially Brian Cashman, would have found a way to screw him up.
The four coaches in this weekend’s Urban Invitational college baseball event in Baton Rouge and New Orleans agree that Major League Baseball’s New Orleans Urban Youth Academy – and similar programs – can be a boon for their programs in the years to come. The proliferation of travel baseball teams, not so much.
LSU, UNO, Southern and Grambling will take part in the seventh Urban Invitational, hosted by Major League Baseball, this weekend in New Orleans and Baton Rouge.
LSU and UNO will meet Friday at Alex Box Stadium at 6:30 p.m. and again Saturday at 2 p.m. at Zephyr Field. Grambling and Southern will meet Friday at the Jaguars’ Lee Hines Field at 6 p.m. and Saturday at Wesley Barrow Stadium at 1 p.m.
On Sunday, UNO and Southern will battle at 1 p.m. with LSU meeting Grambling at 4 p.m. Both games will be played at Alex Box.
On Saturday morning, coaches and players of the teams will conduct a free youth clinic at Barrow, which headquarters the Youth Academy, beginning at 9 a.m.
UNO coach Ron Maestri said the Youth Academy is a gem for New Orleans and has already helped teach inner-city youth about not only baseball but also other life skills through educational and vocational programs.
“The inner-city youth in many of our cities have suffered because the recreational programs are very limited,” Maestri said. “What they’ve done (at the Youth Academy) is nothing short of sensational. I’ve been over there on several occasions for clinics. They have kids coming from everywhere. I really believe it could be the single best thing that has ever happened to this city.
“We’ve talked about the lack of African-American players in college and professional ranks. We have a $5.5 million facility (at Barrow). They’re doing a great job not only in baseball but with the education component.”
The MLB Network will carry two of these games on Sunday. And, I can’t wait to check them out. Baseball…what better way to deal with all this cold weather and snow?
It will be the end of an era, for sure.
Preston Palmeiro should start at first base this year, as a freshman, at NC State. This is after, reportedly, he turned down offers from Mississippi State, UNC, Texas, Florida State, and LSU.
You may remember his father, Rafael Palmeiro.
I wonder if he’s ever spoken to Pete Rose Jr. or any of the Clemens boys?
But, everyone else in the A.L. East, and the Mets, do have them…
Actually, this could be a very ugly season for Tex in the Bronx…ugly meaning uncomfortable.
It’s going to be open season on him if he struggles. And, A-Rod won’t be around for those who like whipping boys. Someone has to do it – and, you may be on the Mark, Teixeira.
Interesting thoughts from Joel Sherman in the Post -
On this day — momentous day in the pinstripe parlance — the Yankees welcomed Masahiro Tanaka. In this version of the Stadium. In a large space called the Legends Club. With hundreds of media members there to chronicle it all, click hundreds of pictures, give it that feeling of red carpet and inauguration rolled into one.
Ten years ago this week, it was across the street. At the previous Stadium. In what was called the Stadium Club. Again there were a few hundred media. And, yes, all the same grand themes, those wondrous visions of greatness and championships.
That coronation was for Alex Rodriguez, and you shouldn’t let time and the revelations of time cloud your memory. The Yanks essentially held a group high-five. They not only had snared the best player in the game at 28, but had pulled him away from the clutches of the Red Sox. The theme was that they had Ruth-ed Boston yet again, assuring another eight decades of misery in New England, more parades in New York.
George Steinbrenner hailed this “a big, big one,” calling it another Reggie moment, praising Rodriguez as “an outstanding young fellow.” The general manager then and now, Brian Cashman, used the word “ecstatic” to describe his feelings about consummating this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Joe Torre — yep Joe Torre — lauded not only A-Rod’s ability, but “class.”
And then, on this, another mid-February day a decade later, A-Rod’s was the name not to be spoken. At the first Yankees function since Rodriguez withdrew his lawsuits against MLB and commissioner Bud Selig, and against the players’ union, team officials seemed as anxious to comment on that legal maneuver as they would, say, their history of sexually transmitted diseases.
Hal Steinbrenner, who sat on the dais for both of these auspicious events, said, “I’m not getting into that because we are not here today to talk about that.”
Cashman delivered a no comment. Manager Joe Girardi said something, but nothing at the same time.
And if there is a lesson to be gleaned from any of this, it is that as much as the Yanks believe they know about Tanaka, they truly go into the marriage not knowing nearly enough, almost certainly way less than they knew about A-Rod.
Here’s the thing: There’s always something about the incoming player that people chose to ignore. With Jason Giambi, it was the clear signs that he was juicing – but the Yankees looked the other way. With A-Rod, if you really thought about it and looked hard, without blinders, there were signs there that he was a rectum. But, the Yankees looked the other way.
Think about it – every major free agent that the Yankees have signed for huge bucks, who later became an issue, had something that was a clue that the Yankees overlooked or ignored when they celebrated his signing.
Is there something about Tanaka? Maybe…
For sure, there’s the whole Japanese pitcher conversion to America thing. And, it’s a big one.
And, I suppose there’s a chance that personality, make-up, attitude could be things to be concerned about as well.
As a Yankees fan, you just hope this turns out like a Matsui or Mussina thing and the signing pays off. But, when you really think about it, how many of these have turned out this way in the Brian Cashman world of looking the other way?
Cashman sure has a lot to say about his pitchers lately. Not sure if the season ticket sales office is loving it? Via the Post:
If CC Sabathia needs extra motivation heading into spring training for the Yankees, he might want to consider how the organization now views him.
Speaking to The Post on Friday, general manager Brian Cashman said there are only a “handful” of pitchers in baseball who can be considered aces. Cashman was then asked if Sabathia still falls into that “ace” category.
“CC is the leader of our staff, but obviously after last year I don’t know if you can consider him in that [Clayton] Kershaw category,” Cashman said. “But he is the leader of our staff.”
Sabathia, who went 14-13 with a 4.78 ERA last year, spent the offseason building muscle — and has been visibly leaner in recent public appearances. But the lefty may have to prove he’s still the best pitcher in his rotation, never mind regaining a place among the game’s elite.
Via the Morning Call -
New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman told ESPN radio Friday that newly-acquired Japanese star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has potential to a No. 3 starter.
Tanaka, 25, recently signed a seven-year, $155 million deal with the team, which is the fifth-largest contract ever for a major-league pitcher and the biggest for an international player. He can opt out after four years.
But Cashman downplayed Tanaka’s potential impact.
“We view him to be a really, solid consistent No. 3 starter,” Cashman said. “If we to get more than that, all the better. He’s got a great deal of ability.
“There is definitely some unknown because of the transition. We scouted him extensively. Certainly, we look forward to adding him into the mix with the rest of our rotation. That’s what we look at him as: A solid, potential No. 3 starter in the big leagues.”
Tanaka will be formally introduced by the Yankees in a press conference at 1 p.m. Tuesday at Yankee Stadium.
Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in Japan last year. The Yankees outbid several other teams to land Tanaka after scouting him for several years. Despite that, Cashman said he is not expected to be a staff ace.
“That’s asking too much,” Cashman said. “Clearly, he is going to have to transition from Japan to the States. Obviously, by the fierce negotiating competition for him, the scouting reports from all clubs involved speak for themselves.”
Cashman said Tanaka has several adjustments to make, including pitching every five days instead of seven, the differences with the baseball and the strike zone, and the batters he will face.
“Those are things he is going to have to work through and adjust,” Cashman said. “We look forward that he is a Yankee and we will be in position, with our experience in the past, to maximize his potential as he goes through that.”
So, the guy won’t even be the second best starter in your rotation but you gave him the fifth-largest contract ever for a major-league pitcher? Smart….
Yanks are going to go hard after him, no?
Here’s a fun fact for you:
In 2013, while pitching in Japan, Masahiro Tanaka made just one start on four days rest. Yes, one.
In addition to that game, he made four starts on five days rest and his other 22 starts came on at least six days rest.
Is there any proof that this guy can pitch every five days in a major league rotation?
At this point, assuming that Robertson is the new closer, who will it be?
Matt Thornton? Shawn Kelley? David Phelps? Cesar Cabral? Preston Claiborne?
Am I missing someone?
How do you feel about this?
Remember, around the end of 2010, when there were so many Yankees fans out there who thought it was a must/given that the Yankees would sign Carl Crawford?
Good thing that didn’t happen, eh?
Let’s just hope that Jacoby Ellsbury doesn’t follow the path Crawford went after he signed his big deal.
Related, did you know that Ellsbury has played 4 seasons in the majors where he was able to play 130+ games? And, he had an OPS+ better than 100 in only two of those four seasons.
The Yankees really threw a lot of money at this guy, didn’t they?
Doing the Yankees SportsSpyder thing this AM, I saw these two blog headlines:
- The Yankees And Fernando Rodney: A Match Made In Necessity
- New York Yankees Must Trade For Emilio Bonifacio
Is this what it’s come down to in Yankeeland? Really?
Fernando Rodney and Emilio Bonifacio?
I guess Armando Benítez and Luis Castillo are not available…
Enjoy the game.
Via Barry Bloom –
With the start of Spring Training just a couple of weeks away, the Yankees are not finished with the open market, although the big spending for this year may be over, said one of the team’s top executives.
“I think for major free agents, we’re done,” club president Randy Levine told MLB.com during Wednesday night’s outdoor NHL game at Yankee Stadium, a 2-1 Rangers win over the Islanders. “But we’re always trying to improve the team. That always happens.”
It has been an offseason of big spending for the Yanks on major free agents: $486 million worth.
The biggest-ticket items were a seven-year, $153 million deal with outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and a seven-year, $155 million contract with Japanese right-hander Masahiro Tanaka. In addition, the Tanaka transaction cost a $20 million posting fee paid to his former club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
The Yankees also signed catcher Brian McCann (five years, $85 million), outfielder Carlos Beltran (three years, $45 million), as well as reliever Matt Thornton and infielders Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts for a total of $12 million in an attempt to remake a team that missed the playoffs for only the second time since the current three-division format was implemented in 1995.
The Yanks also re-signed right-hander Hiroki Kuroda for one year at $16 million.
“I think we’re going to be very competitive,” Levine said. “We’ve got a lot of exciting new pieces. Obviously, Tanaka is going to help our pitching staff. We’re excited. But between Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran and Jacoby Ellsbury, those are three outstanding players, real character people. Hopefully [Mark Teixeira] gets back, and most importantly, hopefully we don’t have the bad luck of injuries we had last year.
“The fact that we were able to overcome that and stay close was really amazing. I just wish for good health this year.”
Oh, Randy…luck is the residue of design, silly boy.
Then again, so was Andrew Brackman, Andy Brown and Brian Buchanan…
Via the Washington Post -
In the offseason, Miami-area native Gio Gonzalez trains at the University of Miami. And it was there one day that Gonzalez somehow went from having no one to catch his offseason bullpen sessions to having a major league veteran, five-time all-star and four-time World Series champion crouching behind the plate for him.
Jorge Posada and Gonzalez work out at the same gym at the school. The two met, and Gonzalez, 28, mentioned that he didn’t have anyone to catch his upcoming bullpens. The two share the same agency, ACES, but Gonzalez later jokingly insisted that he wasn’t trying to drop a hint to the retired Posada, who played 17 years for the Yankees. But Posada, 42, who lives in Miami, instantly volunteered.
“He goes, ‘When are you throwing your next bullpen?’” Gonzalez said at NatsFest on Saturday. “I thought he was ready to say, ‘I’d love to go see it.’ He was like, ‘Nah, I’d love to catch it.’ I stepped back and was like, ‘Nah, is this for real? You messing with me? I would love for this to happen.’ He says, ‘More than happy to.’”
Posada showed up for the first bullpen session without a mask or catcher’s equipment, just a glove. “This guy!” Gonzalez thought to himself. Gonzalez was so worried he would hit his catcher that he stuck mostly to fastballs and made sure he kept the pitches high, just in case he unfurled one low at the unprotected Posada. By their third bullpen session together, Posada told Gonzalez to throw everything, even his curveball. Gonzalez has been ecstatic about the experience.
“He’s a great mentor,” said Gonzalez, who is entering his third season with the Nationals. “I always dreamt about pitching to Jorge Posada. It’s not that often you get a guy that’s that happy to catch a bullpen for you, especially with four titles. He’s an inspiration, an idol.”
Before, during and after the sessions, Gonzalez and Posada talk. Gonzalez admits he is star struck, wide-eyed and open-eared around Posada, gleaning tips on everything from pitching mechanics to mental approaches.
“You just sit there and listen,” Gonzalez said. “How many times you gonna have a four-title guy giving you information? … He keeps it nice and loose. He’s a Latin ballplayer, too, so we communicate in English, Spanish. He’s just one of the guys you idolize so much that you don’t wanna say something to shatter that friendship. I think that’s he just unbelievable. You let him do all the talking.”
It may take another five years or so, but, it would not shock me to see Posada managing in the majors some day.
The more I read on this guy, the more I hear the same thing: Low 90′s fastball, very good command, nasty splitter.
And, the more I think about him, I’m starting to wonder if he’s going to be another
Hideki Hideo Nomo and/or Daisuke Matsuzaka? By this, I mean, he’ll be good for a couple of years and then the league will catch up to him and he’ll be in trouble from that point forward.
If true, clearly, he’s not worth the money and years the Yankees are paying him.
Of course, the difference here is the control. Nomo and Dice-K had all sorts of issues (no pun intended) with walks – both here and in Japan. Tankana, albeit in Japan, had Greg Maddux type control. And, that means that Tankana may be more like Hiroki Kuroda here in the States.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with Hiroki Kuroda. Teams can always use a starter who will give you 200 innings and 13 wins. However, is that worth $22 million a year? Again, I don’t think so…
Go ahead – show yourself and explain why you think they will win more than 85 games this season.