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Spring Training Notes: 2/19/12

The Yankees have reported for Spring Training this morning and with the start of the season comes news.

— According to Mark Carig of The Star-Ledger some of the Yankees have been assigned numbers. New numbers are as follows:

#18 – Hiroki Kuroda
#22 – Andruw Jones
#35 – Michael Pineda
#38 – Dewayne Wise
#40 – Bill Hall
#43 – Manny Delcarmen
#45 – Russell Branyan 

Andruw Jones originally wore #18 in 2011. We were told the split was amicable. Pedro Feliciano is still slated to wear #31 but we doubt we will see Feliciano this season, thus eating all the money of his 2 year contract doing nothing. #20 (which was previously worn by Jorge Posada) has not been assigned and in my opinion should not be assigned.

— Joe Girardi was scheduled to have  a press conference this morning but unfortunately the press will have to wait until Girardi actually gets to Florida. Girardi’s 6am flight at Newark Airport was delayed.

— Only one pitcher didn’t show up for Pitchers and Catchers; Mariano Rivera. But don’t worry Yankee fans, Mo isn’t in trouble. He spoke with Cashman and Cashman gave him the thumbs up. “He said ‘Cash I wanted to give you a heads up, I might be a little late.’ Just tell me when you are coming. What am I going to do? It’s Mariano Rivera.”

— Yankees pitcher Joba Chamberlain had made progress and he can soon throw off the mound, but Brian Cashman said that they aren’t going to rush Chamberlain back. Cashman isn’t going to listen if Chamberlain says he can come back in April, May or possibly next week. At the earliest the Yankees can have Chamberlain back in June.

— Even though everyone is anticipating Michael Pineda to be #2 in the rotation, Brian Cashman said that Michael Pineda will not be the No #2 pitcher behind CC Sabathia. The reason? Pineda only knows 2 pitches & his change-up is under developed. With that, it means that most likely either Ivan Nova or Hiroki Kuroda will pitch before Pineda in the rotation.

— Brian Cashman addressed the issue about the vacant DH spot. Yankees fans know that Johnny Damon won’t be in the DH mix which leaves Raul Ibanez, Hideki Matsui, Vladmir Gurerro and possibly Eric Chavez.

Freddy Garcia told the press that he had no regrets signing with the Yankees last season and he claims how much he loves to play in New York. Well Freddy, we like having you here as well.

— via Jon Heyman, the A.J Burnett deal is DONE. A.J passed his physical and the MLB approved the trade which means that Burnett is a Pirate.

Yankees Expected To Add DH

Yankees Expect To Add DH

By Delia E.

According to Buster Olney of ESPN, the Yankees are expected to add a DH within the next week. The Yankees have 3 serious contenders for the DH role; Johnny Damon, Hideki Matsui or Raul Ibanez. Olney also reported that he believes that Raul Ibanez would be the best fit for the Yankees if they choose to sign one of the 3.

Out of the 3, which one would you want to be the Yankees DH in 2012?

Morning Bits: Hendry, Girardi

Good morning everyone. Here are a c0uple links to start the day…

— Bruce Levine of ESPN Chicago writes about how former Cubs GM Jim Hendry is ready for his new position as Top Assistant to Brian Cashman.

— Joe Girardi thinks the Yankees lineup could use some more offense. He lists Raul Ibanez, and ex-Yanks Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon as several possibilities.

Have a great Saturday!

Top 5 Spring Training Storylines

It is creeping up on us very quickly. In a little over two weeks Yankees pitchers and catchers will report to Tampa, Florida. The Giants deep run in the playoffs has probably made the time go by quicker for everybody (not me of course as I am a Packers fan). The offseason storylines have picked up of late and they should lead to an intriguing spring training.  I will breakdown my top five storylines going into camp. Feel free to add more that you guys think are important in the comments.

1)  The 5th starter competition

This spot would seem to be the only one up for competition this spring, other then the usual few bullpen spots, unless an injury crops up.  It will probably come down to how Freddy Garcia. A.J. Burnett, and Phil Hughes pitch in the spring. The Yankees have a lot more invested in Hughes and Burnett, which is why I do not give Garcia much of a shot, despite his solid year last year.  I do think Garcia would be a successful long man and can fill in the rotation at a moments notice, like Bartolo Colon did last year. I do not see Burnett or Hughes being traded. Nobody want’s Burnett’s contract, even if the Yankees would pick-up a large portion of it. As with Hughes, I don’t think the Yankees should trade him until they get his value back up. Why trade somebody when their value is way down, like it is now? So I do see it coming down to how Hughes and Burnett perform in their spring starts. Hughes needs to come into camp in much better shape than last year. There was no excuse for him coming in the shape that he did and it probably was not a coincidence that he got hurt. We all know Burnett’s issues, but maybe having to pitch for his job will light a fire under him.

2) Who will DH?

I am not in favor of rotating the DH spot. Obviously you have to give Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter DH AB’s, but when they are in the field the Yankees should sign or trade for somebody to DH. Andruw Jones will get most of the DH AB’s against lefties, but the Yankees need to find somebody to face righties. Also, if Brett Gardner hits lefties like he did last year it would not be a bad idea for Jones to play left and have a DH. Gardner only hit .233, with 0 homers, 6 RBI, a .272 slugging percentage, and a .616 OPS against lefties last year. Those are not acceptable numbers. Obviously Gardner is not a power guy, but if you are only going to have a .272 slugging percentage against lefties your average must be higher than .233.

I thought Carlos Pena was an ideal option to DH vs. righties, but he is no longer available. Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez, Vladimir Guerrero, and Hideki Matsui are all options. I do not see Jorge Vazquez as a legit option because of his high Triple-A strikeout numbers. If they do not sign anybody I would let Jones or even Nunez DH against righties before the 29 year old journeyman.

3) Mark Teixeira Bunting

This is a new story that has crept up and I find it very interesting. Wally Matthews wrote about it on ESPN New York.com. Texeira has said he will work on bunting in spring training and may try to get bunt hits against the shift. I will believe that when I see it. I am not opposed to him dropping a few bunts down against the shift in certain spots, but the Yankees do not pay Teixeira to lay down bunts.  The Yankees pay him to hit home runs, knock runners in, play gold glove defense, and perform in the playoffs. He did 3 out of 4 of those things last year. The Yankee Analysts wrote a great article on Teixeira that everybody should take time to read. I was surprised to learn that Teixeira batted .337 and slugged .837 when pulling the ball against righties. When going the other way against righties Teixeira batted .086 and slugged .103. Those numbers suggest that if Texeira can’t fix his swing going the other way against righties that he should just continue to pull everything. He did do well going the other way hitting right handed so hopefully it can translate to the left side.

4) The Health of Alex Rodriguez

Everybody will be watching Alex Rodriguez this spring to see what his health is. Of course, just because he is healthy in the spring does not mean he will stay healthy the whole year. Last spring A-Rod was hitting the cover off the ball and a lot of people thought he could compete for the MVP again. Unfortunately, that was not the case and he had an injury plagued season. I am optimistic about the results of the knee therapy that A-Rod had in Germany, that Kobe Bryant suggested to him. It is called platelet-rich plasma therapy and is becoming more popular among athletes. Anybody that has watched Kobe in the NBA this year knows he got a lot of explosion back and looks a lot more spry after this surgery. The Yankees need A-Rod back healthy and producing.

5) Which Young Guy Will Shine?

Every spring training a young player will make a splash. That splash usually does not put them on the major league roster, but they do catch the eyes of the Yankees brass and the fans.  Last year Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos had great springs and gave Yankee fans a glimpse of the future. It will be interesting to see them again, but it also will be interesting who else steps up.