Thursday, February 28, 2013

Yankees Hire Former Prospect Drew Henson As Coach

The Yankees have hired former "can't miss" prospect Drew Henson to be the hitting coach and instructor for the Gulf Coast Yankees in the Gulf Coast League. The Yankees drafted Drew Henson out of High School in 1998 and played baseball for the Yankees and football for the Michigan Wolverines from 1998-2000. He quit football after the 2000 season to pursue baseball full time with the Yanks. Let's just hope that he is a better hitting coach then he was a quarterback or third basemen.

New York Yankees Spring Training Notes 2/28

Mariano Rivera threw a simulated game today which included 18 pitches. Rivera also did some fielding drills and did some running and the knee came through just fine. CC Sabathia also faced lived hitters today and made Ronnier Mustelier look silly on a few pitches. No word on when either of them will be in a Spring Training game but it is expected in the next two weeks.

The Yankees played a couple split squad games against the Toronto Blue Jays at home and against the Houston Astros on the road today and dropped them both.

Ichiro and Brett Gardner both seem locked in after getting hits again today against the Toronto Blue Jays. Chris Stewart was ejected from the game today after a bang bang play at first base where he was safe and called out, which is probably not going to help his cause to be the every day starting catcher. David Phelps final pitching line was 3 IP 2 H 1K 1 BB in the loss.

Melky Mesa made his case once again to replace the injured Curtis Granderson today against the Houston Astros while going 2-3 with 3 RBI's. Francisco Cervelli helped his cause to win the Yankees starting catcher job today when he threw out two would be base stealers. He wen't 0-3 at the plate but the Yankees don't seem to mind, especially in February. Brett Marshall's final pitching line in the loss was 3 IP 1 H 3 K's 0 BB's.

Yankees Have Made A "Significant Offer" To Cano

The Yankees seem to be willing to suspend their unwritten rule about negotiating with a player before they hit free agency because they have reportedly offered soon to be free agent Robinson Cano a "significant offer" to keep in him pinstripes for the rest of his playing career. Brian Cashman would not say when the offer was made or any of the details of the offer but did confirm that an offer was made so now the ball is in Robby and Scott Boras's court. Hopefully, however unlikely, the Yankees can keep the offer below 8 years annually so we do not run into another Alex Rodriguez type of situation.

Meet A Prospect : Shawn Kelley

Shawn Andrew Kelley was born on April 26th, 1984 in Louisville, Kentucky where he went to high school at Ballard High School in Louisville. Shawn spent his college years at Austin Peay State University in Clarkesville, Tennessee and now calls the new Yankees Stadium his home. With a 6'2" 220 lb frame coming out of college the Seattle Mariners drafted him in the 13th round of the 2007 MLB First Year Players Draft.

Shawn would make his professional debut for the Mariners A- affiliate before finishing the season in A ball for the Wisconsin affiliate. His 2007 pitching line would be 2-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 12 games and 15 IP while compiling 18 K's and a 1.467 WHIP. 2008 would see Kelley splitting time between three affiliates all the way from A ball to AA before the end of the season. Kelley would have a combined pitching line of 3-1 with a 1.88 ERA in 59 games in 62.1 IP while compiling 68 K's and a 1.139 WHIP. 2009 would see Kelley  pitch in the Arizona Fall League and for the AAA Tacoma affiliate before his call up to the majors after only three innings pitched in the minors that season. Shawn would see time in the minors in parts of 2010, 2011, and 2012 but was considered a major leaguer for the most part since 2009.

Shawn made his major league debut on  April 10th 2009 in a 5-4 Mariners win over the Oakland Athletics. Shawn pitched a full inning and struck out two batters and allowed one hit in his debut. All told in 2009 Shawn got into 41 games and pitched 46 innings while pitching to a 4.50 ERA with 41 K's, only 9 BB's allowed, and a 1.174 WHIP. Kelley would spent parts of the next three seasons with the big league Mariners club posting a career, to this point, pitching line of 10-9 with a 3.52 ERA with a career 1.250 WHIP. Kelley has a 0.8 career WAR as well as a reliever which is not a terrible number considering the few number of innings he has pitched in the majors.

Shawn was traded to the New York Yankees just a few weeks back for Yankees outfield prospect Abraham Almonte. Shawn will come to Yankees camp trying to win a spot in the Yankees bullpen and is more then likely in a direct competition with Cody Eppley. Both players have a minor league option left and Kelley is under team control until after the 2015 season so the competition should be a fun one to watch this spring.

Yanks drop both split squad games vs. Blue Jays, Astros

Ir seems to me that things aren't turning out the way the Yankees planned during Spring Training. However, we have to remember a couple of things before we get crazy about the standings (which we shouldn't be doing).

1. The Yankees Major League starting pitchers haven't even been in a game so far.

2. The Yankees hitters have only went about 5-6 innings before getting taken out.

3. It's Spring Training. Almost everyone's rusty.

However, it would be nice to see the Yankees win a game or two. Let's break down the good (and bad) that came out of each game. That seems like an easier way to recap the split-squad games.

Blue Jays vs. Yankees

Gardner & Ichiro are locked in: If the season started today, Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki wouldn't mind. At all. Both of them as of right now are easily the best hitters on the team, with both of their batting averages over .500. Gardner went 1-for-3 today, now successfully hitting in four-straight games. Ichiro also had a 1-for-3 day, extending his hitting streak. It's nice to know that out of the gate the two speedsters are ready for the 2013 season. Now if everyone else behind them can catch up, that would be great.

Clay Rapada is unstoppable (and undefeated): Clay Rapada had the quickest 1-2-3 inning, that if you went to the kitchen to get a glass of water and come back, the inning would be over due to his sheer brilliance on the mound. There's also an interesting fact that YES gave about Rapada: He's been in 148 games and his overall record is 8-0 in the Majors. That means that Clay Rapada has never lost a game in his Major League career. Never. Ever. Just judging by today's game, I would already have a nice roster spot for Mr. Rapada. He looked in mid-season form.

Chris Stewart ejected: Chris Stewart only had one at-bat. And that one-at bat would be the last at-bat that he would have on the day. He hit into a bang-bang play at first base. YES instant replay showed Stewart's foot touched the bag before the ball went into the first baseman's glove. However, Marty Foster called him out. Stewart said something and then was ejected from the game, making him the first ejection of the Spring. Just so you know, Spring Training ejections don't happen very often, so that must mean Marty Foster in in mid-season form.

David Phelps pitches strong: David Phelps had another strong outing, going 3 innings, giving up 2 hits, 1 walk and 1 strikeout. Phelps' future with the Yankees could be either one of two things at this point: he could either be in the rotation, taking the 5th spot from Ivan Nova, or he could be in the bullpen, helping out in later innings. I don't see him going back to the minor leagues, at all.

Yankees vs. Astros:

Melky Mesa has great game: The young CF looks to be in the front running of who could take Curtis Granderson's job for the next 4-6 weeks after the big day he had at the plate. The young CF went 2-for-3 with 3 RBI's on the day. I wonder what John Sterling's HR call would be for the young OF if he ever had a chance to play on the big league club--and if he homered.

Nunez helmet won't stay on: Another day, another chance to see Eduardo Nunez's helmet fall off his head. Just as I had hoped that Nunez would be able to keep the helmet on while running down the first baseline, it came off when he hit a lead-off single in the first inning. Maybe someone should add a chin strap or get him a helmet like Francisco Cervelli's. That way it can't come off.

Cervelli's strong day behind the plate: Speaking of the young catcher, Cervelli had a great day behind the plate, throwing out two runners who were attempting to steal. Offensively, he went 0-for-3. Maybe it didn't help that Chris Stewart was ejected because judging by what happened today, it looks like Cervelli took the lead in the catching competition.

Marshall has a good start: Another Brett on the Yankees ball-club had a great day as well, and his name is Brett Marshall. Through three innings, he struck out three and only allowed one hit. Now that is some impressive numbers from the young starter, who is one of the few players actually impressing this Spring Training.


-- The Phillies will take the drive from Clearwater to Tampa in order to play the Yankees at GMS Field tomorrow. Robinson Cano is expected to be in the lineup tomorrow and Saturday before leaving on Sunday for the World Baseball Classic. The game will be at 1:05 p.m. on the YES Network.

Toronto Blue Jays vs. New York Yankees 2/28

The Yankees second game of their split squad double header will see them taking on the newly reloaded Toronto Blue Jays. The Yankees will look to end a four game losing streak in Spring Training today against either this Toronto team or the Houston Astros team. The game will be televised on YES and on MLB Network, although MLB Network will be delayed, at 1:05 pm ET.

New York Yankees @ Houston Astros 2/28

The Yankees will look to stop a four game losing skid today as they play two split squad games today. The first game will have the Yankees taking on the newest member of the American League the Houston Astros. The game will be televised on MLB Network but it will be delayed. The game will start at 1:05 pm ET.

Spring Training 2/28/13 Lineup(s)

Lineup vs. Blue Jays:

Brett Gardner CF
Ichiro Suzuki RF
Mark Teixeira 1B
Travis Hafner DH
Juan Rivera LF
Chris Stewart C
Dan Johnson 3B
Jose Pirela 2B
Gil Velasquez SS

David Phelps RHP

Lineup vs. Astros:

Eduardo Nunez SS
Jayson Nix 2B
Zolio Almonte RF
Matt Diaz LF
Melky Mesa CF
Francisco Cervelli C
Corban Joseph 3B
Luke Murton 1B
J.R Murphy DH

Brett Marshall RHP

Morning Bits: PED's, Players Union, Cano

mug3Good morning all.  One day closer to Friday.   Let's get going with the links....

-- From The Star Ledger first baseman Mark Teixeira wants tougher testing for PED's.

-- Erik Boland of Newsday writes that the union is not concerned if the Yankees cut payroll.

-- Wallace Matthews takes a look at Robbie Cano and how he rarely misses a game.

Meet A Prospect : Travis Hafner

Travis Lee Hafner, or more commonly known as Pronk, was born on June 3rd, 1977 in Jamestown, North Dakota where he attended Sykeston High School in Sykeston North Dakota. Pronk would spend his college career at the Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas. Travis Hafner's High School did not have a baseball program for Pronk to wreak havoc on but Travis did find time to be valedictorian of his high school class which included 12 graduating Seniors. Standing large with a 6'3" and 240 lb frame, they call that country strong by the way, from the left side the plate he was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 31st round of the 1996 MLB First Year Players Draft. The nickname Pronk was given to him by former teammate Bill Selby because he referred to Travis as "The Project" and at other times as "the Donkey" because of the way he looked running the bases and Pronk just kind of stuck. Let's meet the all time career home run hitter for a MLB player born in North Dakota.

Travis would not make his professional debut until the 1997 season with the Gulf Coast Rangers team but was limited to only 55 games. He would spend both the 1998 and 1999 seasons with the Savannah affiliate of the Texas Rangers in A ball where he tore the cover off the ball putting up a combined 44 home runs for the Savannah team in two seasons. Travis would spend a year in each of the Rangers A+, AA, and AAA affiliates the next three seasons of 2000, 2001, and 2002 before being called up to the majors on August 6th of the 2002 season. All told in six seasons in the Texas Rangers minor league system Pronk would hit 112 home runs, drive in 479 RBI's, and averaged a triple slash of .298/.403/.514 with a staggering .917 OPS. Travis would hit his first career Major League home run on August 22nd but that was not all because he made a day of it. Not only did Travis hit the home run but he also had two doubles and a single in five at bats and would have had a cycle had he not been thrown out at third base on one of the doubles.

Travis Hafner would be traded to the Cleveland Indians in the off season before the 2003 season along with Aaron Myette for catcher Einar Diaz and right handed pitcher Ryan Drese. Travis would be an instant hit in Cleveland while playing 91 games in his first season for them splitting time between first base and designated hitter. He would finish the season with a .254/.327/.485 triple slash with 14 home runs and 40 RBI's while hitting for the cycle on August 14th of that year against the Minnesota Twins. That would be the first cycle for the tribe since 1978 when Andre Thornton did it for the Indians. Hafner would spend the next nine seasons with the Cleveland Indians and enjoyed his fair share of ups and downs. In the next three seasons Hanfer would garner MVP votes finishing 24th in 2004, 5th in 2005, and 8th in 2006. In 10 seasons as a Cleveland Indian Travis would put up a triple slash of .278/.382/.509 with an OPS of .890 while hitting 200 home runs and driving in 688 RBI's. Travis had a 22.7 WAR in his time in Cleveland and even spent time on the 2007 Indians team that eventually lost to the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox in that year's ALCS after defeating the Yankees in four games in the ALDS, see Joba Chamberlain and the midges. Hafner also hit a single season record tying six grand slams in one season tying former Yankee and curent Los Angeles Dodgers skipper Don Mattingly's record. He also set the Indians single season record for most home runs and RBI's in a season by a DH hitting 39 homers and driving in 110 RBI's passing Andre Thornton's 1982 totals.

The problem that Travis Hafner has been facing since the 2008 season is being able to stay healthy and stay on the field to be productive. Hafner missed most of the 2008 season, only appearing in 57 games, due to various injuries and multiple disabled list trips. 2009 seemed like much of the same although Hafner was able to get into 94 games that season. 2010 saw more injuries and more trips to the DL as Hafner was only able to appear in 118 games that season due to nagging injuries. Hafner would be held under 100 games again in 2011 only playing in 94 games due to injuries. Hafner would become only the 12th player in Cleveland Indians history to start 10 different Opening Day's for the team in 2012 and would only play in 65 other games that season as injuries once again limited Hafner on the field. The Indians had seen enough and declined his option making him a free agent this off season.

January 31st of 2012 Travis Hafner agreed in principal to a one year deal with the New York Yankees worth $2 million plus an additional $2 million is easily achieved incentives. Pronk will be the Yankees primary designated hitter and that left handed swing is just made for the new Yankees Stadium so if he can stay healthy expect huge results from Hafner in 2013. In November of 2006 Travis married Amy Beekman and the couple now have two sons, Blake Lee and Trip John, and Amy and Travis have been added to the Wives and Girlfriends section of the site so go check that out and Travis playing for the Yankees all season long. Go Pronk!