The Good and Bad of Spring Training

Joe Girardi (l.) & Brett Gardner (r.) during Yankees Spring Training

During the last couple of weeks, the Yankees have done what the other 29 teams in the league have done; prepare for the regular season in Spring Training. We’ve gotten a sense as to what the pitchers have, what the hitters are bringing to the table and the moves that the Yankees are making as the course of Spring Training goes on. So far in Spring Training, the Yankees have made improvements, but at the same time we are questioning some of the moves that were made.

The Good

1. Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees

When Jack Curry of YES Network first reported the Andy Pettitte signing, I thought it had to be an early April Fools joke. As he continued on, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, that it was actually real. Another core part of the Yankees had returned. While Pettitte may not be ready until May, this was a good signing by the Yankees during Spring Training, as now they have more depth to the rotation in case someone gets injured or if Michael Pineda gets sent to Triple-A (since he still has options). The question is, will we be able to see Pettitte in the Bronx for his first game of the 2012 season or will he decide that pitching wasn’t what he really wanted and re-retire?

2. Alex Rodriguez‘s offense has returned

Yankees fans were pretty iffy, wondering if Alex Rodriguez was going to be able to come back after he posted not so stellar numbers in the 2011 season due to injury. In Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat, he silenced my doubts. So far in the Spring, Alex Rodriguez has hit 2 HR, 6 RBI’s and is hitting over .300. Not that Spring Training means anything, but so far, Alex Rodriguez is looking good! It would be nice to see Alex keep up the pace when the Yankees play the Rays in 2 1/2 weeks.

3. Phil Hughes keeps having good outings

Phil Hughes is certainly doing all he can to claim a spot in the rotation, and so far he’s doing a really great job. Hughes has 1 loss in Spring Training but other than that, his ERA, his HR number & his BB are pretty sparkling: 1.08 ERA, 0 HR allowed & 1 BB. If Hughes continues pitching the way he’s pitching then there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in the rotation. Again, I know that Spring Training means absolutely nothing (although it means something to Phil Hughes). In 2010, Hughes was 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA. Who walked away with 18 wins in 2010?

4. Bill Hall has impressed

When the Yankees signed Bill Hall to a minor league contract with the invitation to Spring Training, I was pretty excited to watch him fight for a bench spot on the 25 man roster. If I were Girardi, he would get one of the spots on the roster. So far, Hall has played amazing defense, almost looking like Robinson Cano when he plays 2nd base. His bat is coming along as well, having 3 RBI’s under his belt as well as a HR. Hall also has a desire to play baseball and he looks like he’s having fun out there while doing it. That’s the type of player that the Yankees could use on the bench.

5. Gardner aims to be consistent

During Spring Training, Brett Gardner had one thing in mind that he would like to do this season; he would like to be more consistent. The good news with that is Gardner has done multiple things to work on his game. He has seen Kevin Long where the both of them had worked on his swing, he was spotted trying to bunt baseballs into a white bucket by the second baseline after practice & he likes to lead the Yankees in running drills. Can you blame him? The man loves to run. When this translates into a game, Gardner’s defense is still consistent. He has flashed the leather over the last couple of games and has shown arm strength. He also seems to start to get his hitting together and getting on base more often. Yep, Gardner is looking in great shape coming into Spring Training this year, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 100% healthy coming into the Spring unlike in 2011 when he was coming off of wrist surgery.

The Bad

1. The injury list

No manager wants to go into the clubhouse early in the morning to ask his players how they are feeling and the answer he gets is something that he wouldn’t expect. That’s the kind of spring Joe Girardi has had so far. Girardi has had to deal with injuries from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eduardo Nunez, David Robertson…the list goes on and on. Luckily all of the players that I listed, don’t have serious injuries. But still as a manager it’s frustrating to go through the spring trying to get your guys healthy and because they are a bit rusty, something hurts. Hopefully the Yankees won’t have a lot of injuries to deal with this season.

2. Was the Pineda for Noesi/Montero deal a mistake?

During the offseason, Brian Cashman made a big splash by trading away #1 prospect Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda. Now as we are watching in Spring Training we are wondering if the trade was such a big splash after all. Along with Russell Martin, Michael Pineda has been working on his change up which isn’t the problem; it’s his fastball. Pineda’s fastball’s velocity last year was 95-98 MPH. This year when he came into camp he would hit 94 MPH on the radar gun occasionally but would periodically hit 91-92 MPH. That’s a dip in velocity, the same issue that Phil Hughes had last year. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi aren’t concerned about it, but should we really be concerned?

3. Raul Ibanez‘s horrid Spring

The Yankees signed Raul Ibanez in the offseason to be their DH after Jorge Posada retired this past offseason. So far, we aren’t seeing what we paid for. Raul Ibanez is hitting .071 this Spring with only 2 hits and 7 K’s. Couldn’t the Yankees have just paid Jorge Posada to come back 1 more year and he would’ve  hit better in the Spring? I’m not going to give up on Ibanez just yet, but he isn’t getting off on the right foot with Yankees fans.

4. Ivan Nova‘s poor outings

Coming into Spring Training, Ivan Nova looked as if he was to be the favorite to get a spot in the rotation. At first when Nova wasn’t pitching all that great, we assumed that it was just some rust. But as time went by, we realized that it wasn’t exactly rust, and that Ivan Nova was having trouble on the mound. Nova so far this Spring is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He’s pitched in 8.2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 9 hits. Girardi said that he was going to start observing the pitchers in the rotation around this time, so this should be where Ivan Nova picks his game up. If he keeps having outings like this in Spring Training & the regular season then he’ll get a one way bus ticket to Scranton.

About Delia E.

Delia Enriquez is the managing editor of Yankees Fans Unite. She enjoys analyzing the New York Yankees whether it be their pitching, roster or their manager. You can follow her on twitter @dfiregirl4 for more tweets, analysis and opinion on the Yankees.

Posted on March 19, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis, Spring Training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 29 Comments.

  1. Bill Hall has impressed very good skills. I think he has a shot to make the team.

  2. BP from what you seen so far what is up with Ibanez?

    • Bat looks slow and the swing looks long.I don’t think he is what we need.

      • Ballpark…
        At 172 #s if I swung a bat like he does, about half way through the swing, the bat would be swinging me.
        I remember having a problem last year(?), and asked you about it, I think you said I was too slow/long with the swing etc.,
        Is the elongating of ones swing a problem with age or just a bad habit picked up?
        I like Hall more then some of the others.

        • I think it’s going to take alot for the Yanks to keep Hall over either Ibanez or Chavez. The Yanks like veteran back ups like Jones, Chavez, and Ibanez. The Yanks could have signed any DH they wanted, and chose Ibanez. I think they liked his HRs last year.

          • Doug,
            Out of the 3 Jones still has something left in the tank and seems to have something to prove.He spent the offseason working out with AROD and looks to be in better shape.I think he is going to have a big year.Plus he had Knee problems last year that have been corrected.
            I agree with you Ibanez will get a shot to play ,but if he doesn’t produce he could be 1 of the first to be replaced.
            I do think Hall has a slim chance to beat out Chavez and Chavez is so injury prone it could happpen.

      • Has anyone seen Russell Branyan play at all? I haven’t seen or heard about him all ST. Maybe he’d make more sense than Ibanez?

        • Branyan has back issues at the moment and according to the beat writers, he’s a long shot to make the roster.

          • Branyan has no shot of making this team at this point. Pineda is a good pitcher and is under the microscope too much. He has been respectable this spring, give the kid a chance to fit in.

          • Thanks Delia. Branyan may have missed a golden opportunity with Ibanez looking so bad. The fact that Ibanez has 2 hits in 31 ABs for a .061 Batting average isn’t what concerns me. What makes me worried is how slow his bat looks and the fact that it doesn’t look like he’s seeing the ball well. He doesn’t even get good healthy swings at Fastballs when ahead in the count….that’s odd.

  3. I didn’t like Nova’s comments blaming the catcher for calling the wrong pitches in his outing yesterday. He is starting to feel the pressure of fighting for a starting job. Only in NY could an young pitcher who won 16 games get this scrutiny.

    • Doug….
      Do you happen to remember a pitcher we had named IPK? After a game he pitched and was beat-up in, he made a comment to a question that was asked of him, he said something like; “it’s one start, no big deal I’ll get it going” vaguely that is it. The pundents and dumb experts got all over his case some said things like “he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know”, “he has a big ego for a pitcher with no talent” etc., now I will wait and see if the same thing happens to Nova. They more or less drove IPK out of NY!
      Should Nova have said what he did…I don’t think so. Should he have taken a stand in the dug-out and said this is the way it will be! Your damn right!
      Damn how I hate PC stuff. 🙂

    • I agree Doug…..that was a weak excuse by Nova.

      When I pitched I knew the value of having a great defensive Catcher you could trust to make the right calls and receive pitches the right way. Nova wasn’t comfortable with the catcher but he can’t blame him for calling the wrong pitches. Nova has to have the maturity and confidence to shake off the pitches he doesn’t like.

      I don’t think he’s feeling the pressure though. he handled all the pressure of the season last yr which included almost pitching for his job every outing. He took the ball in Game 1 (2) of the payoffs and threw a great game so I don’t think the pressure of 12 rocky ST innings is hurting him. He just needs to get his location right and he will. We’re talking about 12 ST innings.

      • fishjam, I agree, ST is the worst time to evaluate a player, normally I would agree with you about the pressure, but the addition of Pettite has put undue pressure on Hughes, Garcia and Nova. I don’t think the new guys Kuroda and Pineda are feeling any pressure.

  4. It’s great to have Andy back, but yeah, it’s not a given he will decide to actually pitch in the Bigs or if he’ll produce like he did before. As for A-Rod, he had a great spring last year too, so I’m not basing anything off of what he’s done so far.

  5. Arod can not be counted on as he once was for the following reasons.
    1-AGE he turns 37 in a couple of months.Check the stats to see what happens to all hitters at that age.Severe regression.At the end of the day hitting is eye hand and reactions ,something that fades in our mid 30’s.
    2-hHe has a surgically repaired hip which is maybe the worst part of the body for a hitter to have a problem.
    3-He was a steroid abuser/user.
    I think the days of Arod carrying this team are over,we have to look to Cano ,Granderson,Tex,to be the big bats in the lineup.Arod can still be useful if healthy but to think of him as a dominant bat is not looking at the stats as they pertain to hitters in their late 30’s.

    • Not looking for 50 plus homeruns but if he has more games played and better numbers by any extent to last year that will be a plus.

      • I agree Matt just trying to face the facts his better years are behind him and at best he should be considered more of a support player not a guy that the team needs to win.He hasn’t done much the last 3 years and the Yanks have made the playoffs all 3.It seems that the team plays better without him.The record does show that.

        • agree with everything you said. But he has so many more years left he is going no where and the Yankees are going to have deal with him for awhile.

        • ballpark, I agree to a point, for A-Rod 30/100 is not out of the question, after all he did that 13 years in a row before he got hurt last year. What do you think?

  6. ballpark, Bill James has A-Rod at .277 29/100 this year, some others think he won’t be that good. A decline for A-Rod still puts him in the top 3rd of the thirdbasemen.

    • I’d sign up for those numbers for him.

    • I think Yankees fans are going to be pleasantly surprised by A-Rods numbers/performance this season. It’s this fans opinion he could be looking at a:
      Batting Average: .285
      HR’s: 30 plus
      RBI’s: 100 plus

      Just a thought.

    • james’ projection is pretty close to my own although I think Alex will hit for a better average……maybe around .290, 26-29 HRs, 90-105 RBI.

      But of course that’s assuming he can get through a 6-month grind of a season without another injury – something he hasn’t done in years.

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