Monday, February 20, 2012

Spring Training Day 2

A Day Owned By Pineda

Today was the first day that Russell Martin caught Michael Pineda down in Yankees spring training camp and he was pleasantly surprised at what he saw. Larry Rothschild has been working with Pineda and specifically on his changeup and the results seem to be "so far so good". The movement on the pitch seems to be ridiculous, in a good way, and everyone at Yankees camp is excited about it. Even Joe Girardi was "blown away" by a couple of his sliders that he threw in his bullpen session. 

Mariano Rivera has arrived at Yankees camp and has made his decision about next season whether he is going to play or not... but he is not telling. Every sign though points to this is going to be the last season for the Sandman. When you hear quotes directly from Rivera like this  

 “Even if I save 90 games. Even if they want to pay as much money as they want to, any team, (it won’t change the decision).” 

you do not expect Rivera to come back next season.It seems like the Yankees have a contingency plan or two in place with Joba, David Robertson, and maybe Rafael Soriano, but still no one is replacing Mariano Rivera. 

Raul Ibanez, fresh off of his incentive laden 1 year pact with the Yankees, expects to be in camp tomorrow. I cannot say that I am either ecstatic or upset with the signing. He was the best of the available players that fit into the specific role that we needed so we're gonna play the cards we are dealt and go with it. Here's to hoping that he could be the next in line of veterans having a resurgent season in pinstripes a la Colon and Garcia in 2011 in recent memory.

Everything has been described as "routine" so far in drills so I guess that is a good sign. Girardi also stated that everyone looks like they came to camp ready and in shape in his press conference so again, another good sign. We're less then 45 days to opening day. 

Raul Ibanez a Yankee

I can't say I'm ecstatic about it, but I am happy to report that the Yankees have agreed to sign Raul Ibanez.

The deal has a guarantee of $1.1 million, with plate appearance incentives that could get Raul another $2.9 million.

I believe the combination of Ibanez and Andruw Jones will be a big upgrade over Jorge Posada as the team's DH. The rest of the lineup is unchanged, so there's good reason to believe the Yankee offense is better than it was in 2011. Couple that with what looks to be a really formidable pitching rotation, and I'm now really looking forward to this season.

Raul Ibanez or Eric Chavez?

"What should I do?"

There is some debate among Yankee fans regarding what's more important... signing a DH or a 3B/IF. Joel Sherman said on Twitter that the Yankees only have enough in the budget, even after the AJ deal, to sign one or the other. And Bryan Hoch, on Twitter as well, said that Cashman is not sure about a return of Eric Chavez. So what do you think is best?

I took a look at the current 40-man roster to see what choices the team has within the organization, as I don't believe a 40-man roster move would be made for either position (excluding a FA signing).

I found that Chris Dickerson is the only option the team has for a DH against right-handed pitchers, who also plays the OF. Chris hit .260/.296/.360 in 55 plate appearances with the Yankees last season, and .231/.341/.325 in 247 PA with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season. More importantly, in 490 career PA in MLB his career triple-slash vs. RHP is .270/.355/.415. So it seems like he'd be a fine option, should Cashman decide against pursuing Ibanez.

Here is where I can understand why Cashman isn't so sure about Chavez. Because, unlike the "DH vs. RHP" thing, the Yankees have a few different options.

Eduardo Nunez saw 391 PA in MLB, in which he hit .276/.314/.382, and Girardi seems to like Nunez. Ramiro Pena has seen some time in MLB as well, where he's hit .233/.266/.288 in 334 MLB plate appearances, so he's certainly less idea for that bench spot than Eduardo. And finally there's Brandon Laird, who hit .260/.288/.422 in AAA last season, and saw a few MLB at bats in 2011 as well. The fact that Laird played a bit in the OF last season helps his case too.

In all I would be perfectly okay if the Yankees went with what they currently have, placing Dickerson in the "DH vs. RHP" role, and having Nunez on the bench in the IF/3B slot. But due to the fact that the team has 3 viable options, already on the 40-man roster, for the IF/3B slot I can totally understand Cashman's stance on Ibanez before Chavez.