Saturday, March 10, 2012

Updates From Yankees Camp, Day 21

The Yankees defeated the Atlanta Braves once again today by the final score of 8-3 today at George Steinbrenner field. Michael Pineda made his second spring start for the Yankees and in his 2.2 IP he allowed one run on four hits and three walks. His velocity was still sitting in the low 90's but it did touch 93 and 94 mph. When asked about it after the game Pineda said that he was not trying to throw hard hence why his velocity is down. He says that he will throw harder and harder every time out there. I wonder if the walks are because he was trying something new, namely with the changeup.

Mark Teixeira and Raul Ibanez both had rbi singles in the first inning off of Jair Jurrjens, who struggled with his control all day with six walks and five hits in 2.1 IP. Alex Rodriguez had an rbi double with two outs in the second inning to extend the Yankees lead that they would never give up.

MLB October Madness

Like millions of others I've been watching Championship Week in college basketball, and reading articles about who will make the NCAA Tournament... as well as seedings. So I was wondering what a bracket involving MLB teams would look like.

I decided to pick the top 8 teams in each league, and seed them according to their regular season records. Then I'd pit them against each other based on how the NCAA Tournament works, meaning 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7, 3 vs. 6, and 4 vs. 5. I decided who won each match-up based on their head-to-head record during the 2011 regular season. Due to some teams being .500 against each other I had to go with a tie-breaker, and decided to simply go by best regular season record.

American League Tournament

I'm sure Yankee fans are really happy about how this turned out. Not only did the Yankees win the tournament, but the Red Sox were knocked out by the Rays in the 1st round. On top of that the Tigers were ousted in the 1st round by the Angels. Another AL East victory, and the biggest upset in the tournament, was the Blue Jays beating the Rangers.

How about the National League?

National League Tournament

The first thing that really surprised me was the Nationals knocking out the team with the best record in MLB right away. But that's what makes tournaments exciting... upsets. Washington went on to upset the Cardinals in the 2nd round as well. Another upset, although not quite as big, was the D-Backs beating the Brewers to advance. Finally the #3 seed, the Diamondbacks, took the NL Championship.

I decided before even doing this not to do a World Series. The fact is not all AL teams play all NL teams during the regular season, so it didn't sit right with me to do that. And it worked out anyway as the Yankees and Diamondbacks never played each other during the 2011 season. But all of this did result in an intriguing match-up, as the Yankees look to avenge their loss to the Diamondbacks in the 2001 World Series.

Dellin Betances Should Be The Yankees 25th Man

Being borrowed from our friends over at Pinstripe Alley who raise a very interesting question that I do not necessarily agree with but can see both sides of the argument. Should the Yankees give the last roster spot to Dellin Betances rather then give it to a second lefty or another positional player? I will say this, I definitely think that the Yankees should give the last spot to a pitcher no matter how many pitchers we will not "need" in the first two months of the season with all the off days. Also I know Joe Girardi has never been obsessed with having a LOOGY or a second left hander for that matter in the bullpen but it begs the question... when was the last time that we had a LOOGY? 2009? How did we do then? Just saying...

Anyway here is the write up, enjoy!

There isn't much suspense in Yankees' camp this season. Unlike last year, when several jobs were up for grabs, the Opening Day roster is pretty much set in stone. Even the backup roles are already taken, so barring an injury or trade, Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman shouldn't have many decisions to make.
As presently constituted, the Yankees have 13 positions players and 11 pitchers who are all but guaranteed a spot on the team. In other words, only one opening remains. Earlier in camp, there was speculation that the last spot would be given to a position player, but injuries to Russell Branyanand Austine Romine have made that unlikely. Veteran utility man Bill Halland 22-year old minor league Zolio Almonte have also been mentioned as possible candidates, but both players seem somewhat redundant (although, if the Yankees do need outfield depth at some point, Almonte has probably moved closer to the front line). So, the final slot on the roster seems ticketed to a pitcher, but which one?
Yankees' 2012 Projected RosterProjectedroster_medium 
One popular theory has the Yankees' leaning toward carrying a second lefty to complement Boone Logan, with the prime candidates being Rule V selection Cesar Cabral and journeyman Clay Rapada. However, Girardi has never been preoccupied with having a second lefty, and neither candidate has much of track record to merit serious consideration. So, unless they are able to really open eyes in camp, the last spot on the roster will probably go to another right hander. So far this spring, David PhelpsD.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren have all been impressive, and conventional wisdom suggests one of that trio will be chosen to fill the final void. However, if the Yankees want to do more than just fill out the backend of the bullpen, the best choice would be Dellin Betances.
The consensus is Betances and fellow blue chip prospect Manny Banuelos have no chance to make the major league roster because the Yankees want to give both prized prospects more development time in the minors. For the 21-year old Banuelos, that approach makes perfect sense, but Betances, who will turn 24 later this month, isn't getting any younger. Sooner than later, the 6' 8" right hander will need to take the next step, so what better time than now?
The retching sound you hear is from Yankees fans who, having lived through the Joba Chamberlain saga, can't bear thought of having another promising young starter converted into a reliever. However, even if Betances were to spend the entire year in middle relief, the Yankees wouldn't have to abandon thoughts of him as a starter. A gradual easement into the starting rotation has worked for pitchers like Johan Santana, who appeared in over 75 games as a reliever before becoming a permanent starter, so, unless the Yankees think his development is still behind the curve, a similar approach could work for Betances.
If he made the team out of camp, the most likely role for the right hander would be in long relief, similar to the wayHector Noesi was used last season. If utilized in that manner, Betances could make a meaningful contribution, but his potential to improve the team isn't the main reason he should be promoted. Instead (and if for no other reason), the Yankees' motivation should be to maximize Betances' exposure to Mariano Rivera, an opportunity that isn't guaranteed beyond this season. At first blush, turning a roster spot into an apprenticeship seems like a wasteful luxury, but there is a serendipitous precedent. In 1976, the Yankees had a young left hander named Ron Guidry who spent a good part of the season in the bullpen sitting at the knee of Sparky Lyle. Although seldom used, Guidry used his time with Lyle to learn a new pitch, which eventually developed into the devastating slider that became his hallmark.
There's no guarantee that Mariano Rivera will have the same impact on Betances, but if the Yankees really do envision him being an important part of their future, it couldn't hurt to try. Even if he doesn't come away with a new pitch, the lessons learned from Rivera could prove invaluable in what ever future role Betances fulfills. After all, baseball is about passing the baton, so why not use the last spot on the roster to facilitate the hand off?
If Betances doesn't take to the bullpen, the Yankees could send him back to the minors and have another pitcher serve as a stop gap until Joba Chamberlain returns from the DL. However, if he performs well in the role, it could open up the opportunity to trade Freddy Garcia for what ever pressing need the team might have at the time. More importantly, the Yankees will have been given a glimpse into the future, which seems a beneficial tradeoff for sacrificing a rarely used position player or relief specialist. If Betances really is as talented as so many prospect watchers seem to think, the Yankees' decision regarding the 25th man really shouldn't be any more difficult than the other 24.

Spring Training Day 21

The Yankees and the Braves will play again in Grapefruit league play at 1:05 pm ET. Today's starting pitchers are Michael Pineda (NYY) vs. Jair Jurrjens (ATL). The Yankees lineup is in, courtesy of Lohud Yankees Blog. Not exactly our "A" lineup but I think it is interesting to see Ibanez getting a lot of practice out there in right field. I've kind of become a Bill Hall fan boy since following him on twitter and seeing his enthusiasm about being a (potential) Yankee so I will enjoy watching him out there today. Anyway, here is the lineup.

Todays lineup traveling to Disney
Brett Gardner CF
Andruw Jones DH
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Mark Teixeira 1B
Raul Ibanez RF
Francisco Cervelli C
Bill Hall 2B
Justin Maxwell LF
Doug Bernier SS
RHP Michael Pineda

More to come after the game.