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Just Like Starting Over
2005-03-09 14:43
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

When I was but a wee lad, knee-high to a sow’s ear (er . . . whatever), my elders would often lean over me in a terrifying manner and say such horrible things as "enjoy it while you can, it won’t last forever" and "these are the best days of your life, you know." I took them for fools at the time. Still do. Certainly there are advantages to the responsibility-free lifestyle of childhood, but with that lack of responsibility comes a significant lack of personal freedom. School, for example, is downright fascist.

Still, one thing I do miss about the nine months of ritualistic abuse that comprised the school year is the optimism and clean slate with which I would approach each new grade in September. Armed with a brand new pencil case and the latest model Trapper Keeper, I was always sure that this would be the year I’d complete every homework assignment (on time, no less), and get "a hundred" on every test. It never happened that way, of course, but that feeling of hope, ambition, and freedom from the previous year’s failures and shortcomings was invigorating, something I’ve never been able to recreate in a work environment.

The closest I come to that feeling as an "adult" is not the change over of the calendar, with it’s empty resolutions and tradition of starting the new year on the worst footing possible thanks to the debauchery that ends the previous one (of which I generally don’t partake), but the beginning of the baseball season as players report to spring training in late February and early March. Suffering from the same delusions that plagued me in past Septembers, each player arrives at camp with a brand new pencil case and the latest model Trapper Keeper, sure that this is the year they’ll learn to lay off the slider low and away, hit the cut-off man, avoid the injury bug, and finally work up to their potential and play well with others.

This year, that feeling for me is especially strong because of the confluence of spring training, my move here to Bronx Banter, and the launching of our new host, Baseball Toaster. So, with the crisp spring air in our lungs and visions of a 162-0 Yankee team dancing in our heads, let’s all get out a clean sheet of loose leaf paper and, in our best, clearest handwriting, take a look at this year’s crop of Yankee campers.

Snapping back to reality, the cold hard truth is that the Yankees’ 25-man roster was more or less set, before the team had played a single spring training game. Barring the unforeseen, the Yankees opening day roster will look like this:

1B – Tino Martinez
2B – Tony Womack
SS – Derek Jeter
3B – Alex Rodriguez
C - Jorge Posada
RF – Gary Sheffield
CF – Bernie Williams
LF – Hideki Matsui
DH – Jason Giambi

Bench:

S – Ruben Sierra ("OF")
R – Rey Sanchez (IF)
R – John Flaherty (C)
L – Bubba Crosby (OF)

Rotation:

L – Randy Johnson
R – Mike Mussina
R – Kevin Brown
R – Carl Pavano
R – Jaret Wright

Bullpen:

R – Mariano Rivera
R – Tom Gordon
R – Felix Hernandez
R – Paul Quantrill
L – Mike Stanton
R – Steve Karsay
R – Tanyon Sturtze

There’s a little wiggle room at the end of the bench, with non-roster invitees Doug Glanville and Damian Rolls set to challenge Bubba Crosby for the final spot, and an outside chance that the bottom of the bullpen heap could shake out differently if Sturtze and/or Karsay get lit up in spring training. Thus far, Sturtze has pitched better than anyone else in camp (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K), but Karsay is letting the other pitchers in camp wiggle (3 runs on 5 hits in 2 IP). Plus, there’s always the threat of injury (particularly with Karsay, Jason Giambi, Bernie Williams, Gary Sheffield and the bottom three fifths of the rotation). On Tuesday it was announced that Ruben Sierra is questionable for opening day due to a "strained rib cage" (my girlfriend, who is a veterinarian, always rolls her eyes at this term, baseball’s label for a either a strained intracostal, between the ribs, muscle or a high oblique strain which feels like the lower ribs).* But if all goes according to the organization’s plan, what you see above is what you’ll get on April 3. Of course, that doesn’t mean that’s the best team that can be assembled from the players in camp. Nor does it mean that there’s no point in learning at least a little something about the other 35 professional baseball players wandering around Legends Field in Tampa with interlocking NYs on their caps.

Since I mentioned them already, let’s start with Crosby, Glanville, Rolls and the other outfielders. [Disclaimer: some of the following material previously appeared in one form or another on Clifford’s Big Red Blog]

Doug Glanville The 34-year-old Hackensack, New Jersey native and UPenn grad does one thing very well. He makes outs. In the field, he offers the Yankees the best centerfield defense they've had since Bernie and Gerald Williams were teammates for the first time. At the plate? More outs. Ever since his stellar 1999 campaign (.325/.376/.457 - .285 EQA, 204 H, 101 R, 34 for 36 on the bases) Glanville has posted a cumulative line of .259/.290/.356 (.220 GPA), costing his teams a whopping total of 97 runs against average. 2004 was his worst year yet, featuring such horrifying numbers as a .244 OBP, .265 SLG, .189 EQA and a 32 OPS+ in 175 plate appearances. He’s still a threat on the bases (182 steals at an 82 percent success rate for his career and 8 for 8 in limited time in '04), but since he rarely ever gets on base, that’s not of much use (see: Womack, Tony). His speed does help in the field, however, and that is his only value to this (or any) team, because he's not funny.

Damian Rolls In parts of five seasons with the Devil Rays, Rolls played every position except for shortstop and pitcher. His primary position seems to be third base, where he's played the majority of his games and earned 68 starts while posting a 108 Rate in 2003. A speedy 27-year-old, he seems well suited to the outfield as well, where he can chase down flies with his legs more successfully than he can judge when to use his sticks on the basepaths (career 67 percent stolen base percentage). This combination of speed and versatile defense would seem to make Rolls a useful guy to have a round. He also had a reputation within the Devil Rays' organization as a tough-nosed gamer and a fine fellow. Too bad, then, that his career line is .248/.291/.337 (.220 EQA) in 883 plate appearances. After a dreadful .162/.231/.205 (.145) in 2004, even the D-Rays got the hint. Rolls started 2004 as Tampa's starting third baseman but lost the job, and his roster spot, almost instantly. He was sent down on May 5 and after bouncing between Tampa and Durham all season was released in mid-November.

Rolls and Glanville limp to a split decision in my book. Their hitting stats over the past five season are almost identical. Glanville provides better centerfield defense. Rolls offers the Yankees a legitimate defensive back-up at third base, something they don’t have in Rey Sanchez, who has played just 18 games at third in his 14-year career, the last coming in 1997, before his first term as a Yankee. Of course, by deleting the unnecessary seventh man in the bullpen, the Yankees could fix that problem without being forced to carry Rolls’ bat, but we’ll get to that a bit later.

What this comes down to is that neither player is a significant improvement on Bubba Crosby, who, if nothing else, has a better PECOTA projection than the other two:

Crosby: .261/.323/.424 (.251 GPA)
Rolls: .248/.309/.382 (.235)
Glanville: .243/.285/.335 (.212)

I don’t really believe that Rolls is that much better than Glanville, but he does have the advantage of being seven years younger than the former Phillie, which along with his defensive versatility would break the tie for me. Crosby, meanwhile, is just one year older than Rolls and remains the Yankees’ best in-camp bet to back up the decrepit Bernie Williams in center.

As for the other three outfielders in camp (all NRIs):

Mike Vento You may remember Vento from last year's spring training. The 26-year-old minor leaguer cracked triple-A in 2003 and spent the entire 2004 season as the Columbus Clippers' right fielder hitting .275/.333/.441 (.260 GPA), which isn’t enough to earn him a promotion.

Colin Porter This 29-year-old lefty played all three outfield positions in cups of coffee for the Cardinals in 2004 (35 average at-bats) and Astros in 2003 (32 awful at-bats), compiling a .254/.265/.313 (.198) line. With triple-A Memphis last year he hit .261/.316/.424 (.248) in 330 at-bats. He can steal the occasional base, but he'll have to do it in Columbus, if he's even that lucky.

Noah Hall This 27-year-old career minor-leaguer joins his fourth organization in as many years. His primary skill is getting on base, which makes him a bit of an outlier as far as Yankee reserves go. With triple-A Syracuse last year he hit .233/.354/.318 (.239) in 176 at-bats, which suggests his only skill is getting on base. Once there, he's stolen 129 bases in his minor league career, but at a sub-standard 68 percent success rate. Noah Hall giveth and Noah Hall taketh away.

Moving on to the infield, as I mentioned before the Yankee roster as constructed above lacks a legitimate back-up third baseman. In addition to Sanchez’s 18 career games at the hot corner, Tony Womack can add . . . none. That leaves Gary Sheffield, who stood at third for two innings last year, backhanded one grounder and airmailed it into the stands behind first, his first action at the hot corner since 1993. Of course, Sanchez is a strong enough fielder that he likely could learn the position in spring training, at least well enough to back up Iron-Rod, who missed just one game in his three years in Texas and a mere seven last year. But the Yankees could improve their roster significantly by making room for either Andy Phillips or Russ Johnson, both of whom are experienced at both third and second base (Rodriguez can back-up short) and can out-hit Sanchez without much effort.

Andy Phillips The Yankees’ 2002 Minor League Player of the Year, Phillips will turn 28 in April. A second baseman by trade, he can also play third and spent most of last season as the Clippers first baseman. After missing most of 2003 with an elbow injury, he hit a robust .318/.388/.569 (.317) in Columbus last year and was 2 for 8 with a homer while playing only third base in a September call-up with the Yankees. The big question with Phillips is whether or not he’s still viable as a second baseman (he played just seven games there last year). If he is, I believe the Yankees should hand him the starting job out of camp and force Tony Womack to slug it out with Crosby et. al for the back-up centerfielder/futility man role. That won’t happen, of course, but it would significantly improve the team and likely cost them next to nothing in the field, as Womack is an atrocious defensive second baseman (he was 12 runs below average at the position for the Cardinals in 2004). If nothing else, the Yankees should limit themselves to eleven pitchers to make room for Phillips on the roster. That would make him Miguel Cairo to Womack’s Enrique Wilson, on hand to steal the starting job given the slightest opportunity. Meanwhile, having Phillips on the bench would give the Yanks both a legitimate back-up third baseman and a right-handed pinch-hitting threat to compliment Ruben Sierra, who, unless he’s facing Ricardo Rincon, is really only useful batting from the left side (2002-2004 batting left: .269/.326/.451 - .259; batting right: .250/.294/.391 - .230).

Russ Johnson A non-roster invitee, Johnson provides an above-average glove at second and third (not so much at short) and knows how to take a walk, posting a .349 OBP (against a .265 average) in 946 major league plate appearances with the Astros and Devil Rays from 1997-2002. He also has doubles power, having hit 10 in 156 ABs in 1999 and 19 in 248 AB's in 2001. Johnson spent last year with the Iowa Cubs in the Pacific Coast League, where he hit a lot of doubles and drew a lot of walks while playing second, third and first. Johnson just turned 32 last week and is not only a more desirable utility infielder option than 37-year-old Rey Sanchez and his .280 OBPs, but would also rank ahead of the 35-year-old Womack on my second base depth cart.

Replacing Womack and Sanchez on the 25-man with Phillips and Johnson would make the Yankee’s 12 years younger and better on both sides of the ball (Sanchez may be the best fielder of the bunch, but he’s also by far the worst hitter). It won’t happen, but it’s something you can fully expect me to harp on during the next month.

As for the rest of the infielders in camp:

Robinson Cano In order to hype him up as a trading chip, Robinson Cano has been tagged Yankee Second Baseman of the Future. Unfortunately, no one outside of the organization bought it and the Yankees were forced to deal more legitimate prospects (Catcher of the Future Dioner Navarro and Ted Lilly of the Future Brad Halsey) in order to land Randy Johnson over the winter. If there is any truth behind Cano’s title, it revolves around the word "future." Judging by his .259/.316/.403 (.243) performance in 216 at-bats with the Clippers last year, he’s not ready, but at just 22 (if that’s the lefty-hitting Dominican’s real age) he’s got time. To keep his prospect status in tact, Cano will likely get a courtesy look at second base in camp, which is a shame as he’ll be taking opportunities away from Phillips and Johnson.

Felix Escalona The Venezuelan Escalona posted some dreadful numbers in 192 at-bats with the Devil Rays in 2002 and 2003, but had a strong season as the Clipper's starting shortstop in 2004, hitting .308/.371/.431 (.275). Why he was never called up to take Enrique Wilson's roster spot is beyond my comprehension, and part of the reason that I’m so confident that Russ Johnson in particular won’t get the look he deserves this spring. It’s quite possible that Escalona was playing over his head last year, but at the same time he’ll just be turning 26 this weekend and could be establishing a new level of production. If the latter is true, he certainly deserves to enter into the 2005 utility infielder picture alongside Johnson as he can play all three infield positions.

Homer Bush Bush tried to come back after a year of retirement at age 31 last year, but in 234 at-bats with the Clippers, failed to get on base at a respectable rate despite a .291 average (.327 OBP). Though primarily a second baseman, he saw a lot of time at third in AAA last year, but seems to have lost almost all of his value as a baserunner and defender to a career full of leg injuries. Still, he managed to eke out nine games with the Yankees (7 AB, 0 H, HBP, SB, 2 R, GIDP, 2 K). Those nine games and his presence in camp again this year as an NRI are likely due entirely to his time spent with the Bombers in 1998.

Caonabo Cosme A career minor leaguer, the Dominican Cosme will turn 26 later this month. He cracked AAA for the first time last year, playing 63 games and second and short for the Clippers while posting a pathetic .227 GPA at the plate. He is also a non-roster invitee.

Ferdin Tejeda The now 22-year-old Tejeda appeared in spring training with the Yankees last year, a performance that is best remembered for the mild ankle sprain he suffered. The Dominican shortstop then started the year in AA Trenton but didn't hit a lick and was quickly demoted. In August, he was designated for assignment to make room on the Yankees’ 40-man roster for C.J. Nitkowski, was promptly claimed by the Padres, and finished the year with single-A Lake Elsinore. The Yankees then reclaimed him in November and restored him to their 40-man roster.

And the catchers (all NRIs):

Ryan Hankins 28-year-old Hankins is a career minor leaguer out of UNLV who has spent the last seven years slowly moving up the White Sox system. After first breaking into AAA in 2003, he adjusted nicely in 2004 hitting .296/.366/.468 (.282), which isn't a far cry from his career minor league numbers. Like Russ Johnson, he's an older player with patience and doubles power and should be given a look in camp as the third-string catcher the Yankees would call up should an injury befall John Flaherty or (God forbid) Jorge Posada.

Jon-Mark Sprowl Sprowl's primary ability is his way with a walk, but in Tampa last year he appeared unable to do much else (see: Hall, Noah). At 24, Sprowl is much too old for A-ball, but he's never played at a higher level.

David Parrish Lance's son and the Yankees’ first-round draft pick from 2000 is now 25. For some reason the Yankees continue to promote him despite the fact that he’s never hit at any level. He was actually on the major league roster for three days last May, but saw no action. He should be forced to remain in single-A until he can post an OPS above .700.

Joe DePastino A long-time Boston farmhand, DePastino is 31 and has exactly two major league at-bats to his name, both with the Mets in 2003. He struck out once and failed to reach base in the other. He spent 2004 with the Richmond Braves. He seems to have lost the modest power he once had and never could draw a walk.

Omir Santos Also known as "Pito," Santos is basically Sprowl without the ability to draw a walk. Which is to say he's in camp to catch bullpen sessions.

Irwil Rojas Rojas's stats on Baseball Cube and Baseball America tell me nothing about him. The only useful info I can track down comes from the edition of Steven Goldman's Pinstriped Bible in which Goldman broke down the Yankees’ NRIs:

Rojas, 20, is a Venezuelan signed by the Yankees when he was 17. He's just here for some seasoning and to give the pitchers someone extra to throw to. Rojas is young and needs to cool his jets a bit. When playing for a Yankees team in Santa Domingo, he showed good contact and the willingness to take a walk, though no power. Transferred to the Gulf Coast League in the States, he still had no power, still made good contact, but the walks completely disappeared. Ask about him again in two years.

The pitchers are in an interesting situation. As per the 25-man roster above, the Yankees are already carrying one arm too many, so there won’t be any Scott Proctors or Jason Andersons (both of whom are in Tampa, by the way) making the team out of camp. However, other than Tanyon Sturtze, their bullpen is filled with short relievers and their rotation is filled with injury risks (particularly Kevin “Death to Cinder Block” Brown and Jaret “F is for Physical” Wright), so the most compelling spring innings will be those pitched by the minor league starters.

Chien-Ming Wang Entering spring training, the Taiwanese righty sits atop the Yankees’ minor league depth chart. Last year he followed a solid 18 starts in Trenton with five fantastic ones in Columbus. He has some very strong K/BB numbers and could make a positive contribution at the back of the Yankee rotation if needed. He doesn’t turn 25 until the end of the month.

Ramon Ramirez This 23-year-old Dominican righty is worth keeping an eye on. He's had some great K/BB numbers in the minors, though he has yet to completely put it together. He spent most of 2004 in Trenton, though he's seen action in Columbus in each of the last two seasons after coming over from Japan in 2002. His 2004 season was interrupted by tendonitis in his pitching shoulder, which is also something to keep an eye on.

Alex Graman Once one of the organization's top pitching prospects, the left-handed Graman was first added to the Yankees 40-man roster following the 2001 season, which means that his three option years (2002-2004) have elapsed and he will have to clear waivers in order for the Yankees to send him down to the minors. Now 27 years old, Graman seems to have stalled out as a solid AAA pitcher, having been moidilized in his only two major league starts (31 batters faced, 14 hits), both coming in 2004. Failing to give Graman one last chance to right his major league record before reaching this point was one of the laundry list of errors the Yankees made in September in terms of allotting playing time (see also: Bean, Colter; Halsey, Brad; Karsay, Steve; Giambi, Jason; Phillips, Andy; Escalona, Felix). Graman should be given a chance to make waves as a potential LOOGY this spring, but unless the Yankee bullpen is crippled by injury, I would expect him to be claimed by another team in late March.

Jorge DePaula The 26-year-old Dominican righty battled Donovan Osborne for the fifth spot in the rotation out of camp this year (thanks to Jon Lieber's injured groin), but blew out his elbow after just one start and three relief appearances. He underwent Tommy John surgery last April and is expected to start throwing again in spring training. It's very unlikely that he will find his way back to the big club in 2005 as he was a borderline candidate to being with and will need the 2005 season to rebuild his strength.

Sean Henn After spending spring training with the big club, the 23-year-old Henn performed modestly in his first season at double-A in 2004. Expect him to return there in April.

As far as the relievers go, what the Yankees need most is a LOOGY (Lefty One Out GuY) who can reliably shut down (and shut up) Trot Nixon and David Ortiz. We’ve already discussed Graman, who made the only three relief appearances of his career last year (two in Columbus, one with the Yanks). On the major league roster, the Yankees have just one lefty in the pen, Mike Stanton. Stanton has had a reverse split in four of the last five years. As I’ve said before on the BRB, the Yankees got by with Stanton as their primary lefty in the late ‘90s because he was effective against everybody back then. What’s more, in their best year, 1998, they had Graeme Lloyd posting a 0.85 WHIP and 1.67 ERA. Besides which, a LOOGY isn’t always essential. However, for the 2005 Yankees, so evenly matched with the Red Sox who feature extreme-split lefty mashers Nixon and Ortiz, a LOOGY could make the difference in their season. At 34, Mike Stanton’s preferred throwing arm alone won’t be enough to render those two powerless.

A possible solution might be righty Felix Rodriguez, who had reverse splits in 2004 and 2001 and has a slight reverse split on his career. Rodriguez certainly deserves a chance to prove he can’t get out guys like Ortiz and Nixon. My one concern is that his occasionally troubling walk totals (4.24 BB/9 career) could trigger flashbacks of another wild LOOGY named Felix (4.56 BB/9 career), prompting Joe Torre to banish Rodriguez to the Randy Choate Memorial Bullpen Spot, which would be a mistake as Rodriguez could be a very valuable part of this year’s pen.

With that in mind, here are the only two other lefty relievers in camp (both NRIs):

Danny Borrell Borrell was a top Yankee prospect until a shoulder ligament tear in mid-2003 derailed his progress. He made just six starts last year, four excellent ones in rookie ball and a pair of stinkers in A-ball. Now 26 years old, Borrell would seem to need to spend this season getting his career back on track in the minors, but if he's able to regain most of his old form, he could reemerge as a useful lefty reliever in 2006.

Buddy Groom Considering the complete lack of other LOOGY options, Buddy Groom counts as a solid pick-up for the Yanks, particularly as they managed to reel him in as an NRI. Groom has pitched in a minimum of 60 games in each of the last nine seasons, averaging less than an inning per game in the last eight. A classic LOOGY with a strong career split who seems to stick wherever he lands (spending a minimum of four years with three of the four teams he's played for in his career), Groom is reminiscent of Jesse Orosco (who also finished his 30s in an Oriole uniform--his fifth). The problem is, Groom isn't nearly the pitcher that Orosco was, and actually got lit up by lefties in 2004. What’s more, he’ll be 40 in July. Then again, he's had the best control of his career over the past four years (2.03 BB/9) and was absolutely lights-out in 2002 (0.89 WHIP, 1.60 ERA). He may not stick, but he's precisely the kind of NRI gamble the Yankees should be taking considering their continually dire LOOGY situation.

As for the righties, there are six more on the 40-man:

Colter Bean Bean is a 28-year-old minor league relief ace (career: 2.61 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 11.68 K/9, 3.36 BB/9, 3.48 K/BB), who could have helped the overtaxed Yankee pen down the stretch and in the playoffs last year, but wasn't given as much as a September call-up. I don't think it's a stretch to say that having Bean in the bullpen could have put the Yankees in the World Series in 2004. Of course, we'll never know. Meanwhile, if he didn’t get the call last year, a season in which he posted a 2.29 ERA and racked up 109 strikeouts against just 23 walks in 82 2/3 triple-A innings, I see no reason why he would this year. For his sake I hope he’s traded (preferably for a centerfielder, second baseman or an actual LOOGY).

Sam Marsonek The 26-year-old Marsonek, who came over from the Rangers in the Chad Curtis trade, pitched well in his second season as the Clippers closer in 2004. Well enough, in fact, that just before the All-Star break, he was called up to the big club where he pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a blowout. He then slipped on a dock during the break and landed on the 60-day DL with a knee injury. He's since pitched in the Arizona fall league and will hope to build on a solid year in Columbus and get another shot at the soft side of the Yankee pen.

Jason Anderson The 25-year-old Anderson made the Yankees out of camp in 2003 only to be traded to the Mets in the Armando Benitez trade that June. He passed through the Mets and Indians systems with a smattering of poor major league appearances with both teams before returning to the Yankees as a waiver claim last June. Despite failing in his brief major league trials, he’s put up strong K/BB ratios throughout his minor league career, which I guess means he has Colter Bean’s career to look forward to.

Bret Prinz and Scott Proctor I'm still not sure they're different people. Both are fireballing righties who fall prey to the usual pitfalls for fireballing relievers (flat fastballs, wildness). Both pitched well in Columbus last year, but were inconsistent with the big club, both posting ERAs in the fives in 26 appearances. Both came over in dump trades, Prinz for Raul Mondesi, Proctor for Robin Ventura. Proctor is six months older than Prinz, who will turn 28 in June.

Edwardo Sierra A minor league closer who came over from the A's organization in the Chris Hammond trade, the Dominican Sierra will turn 23 in April. He spent last season in Tampa where he pitched very well with one very major exception. He walked 8.32 men per nine innings. Some in the organization believe that he could be Mariano Rivera's successor if he can get his walks down to an acceptable level.

And four NRIs:

Ramiro Mendoza Even in his glory days as the Yankees brujo, Mendoza was fragile, constantly expressing his desire to start only to break down when given the opportunity. With the Red Sox over the past two seasons that fragility overcame his ability, inflating his ERA to 6.75 in 2003 and limiting him to a career low 30 2/3 innings in 2004. Mendoza had rotator cuff surgery on January 11 and will be unable to pitch at any level until May, at which point the Yankees will likely try to get him in shape to serve as insurance after they trade one of their many veteran righty relievers for a real-life second baseman (coughPolancocough) at the trading deadline. In other words, more bad news for Bean et. al, though if Mendoza can recapture his past glory with an El Duque-style cavalry ride, this signing will be good news for the Yankees.

Brad Voyles This 28-year-old righty reliever is carrying a quadruple-A tag, having failed to break through with the pitching-starved Royals over the past four seasons. A high-K/high-BB guy, I can't see how he is not made obsolete by the presence of Prinz and Proctor, both of whom faired better last year than Voyles ever has at the major league level.

Aaron Small A 33-year-old journeyman, Small has been bouncing between AAA and the majors since 1994 with nine organizations, a few of them twice. Other than a solid AAA showing in 2001, he hasn't pitched particularly well at either level since impressing at AAA as a 23 year old a decade ago.

and finally . . .

Marc Valdes Another 33-year-old, Valdes has spent the past three seasons in Japan and never really established himself in the majors prior to that.

That’s it. That’s everybody.

To recap, aside from the obvious (Giambi et. al), the men to watch this March are:

OF: Bubba Crosby, Doug Glanville and Damian Rolls
IF: Tony Womack, Rey Sanchez, Andy Phillips, Russ Johnson and Felix Escalona
C: Ryan Hankins
RHP: Chien-Ming Wang and Ramon Ramirez
LHP: Alex Graman and Buddy Groom

The other 25 minor leaguers and NRIs can safely be ignored.

*thanks to fellow Toastmaster Will Carroll for the truth about rib cage strains

Comments
2005-03-10 10:12:06
1.   Will
Wow! Now that's starting with a bang! Great stuff.
2005-03-11 23:57:15
2.   rilkefan
Great post.

So the NYT says Crosby's hitting 0.444 (4/9? 8/18?) - where does one find the raw "data"?

Also, how does Brown project for this season (according to Pecota or whatever) and is that prediction worth anything given his age and exceptional skills?

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