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Ladies and Gentlemen, Your 2007 New York Yankees (almost)
2007-03-30 07:37
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Hot off the ticker from Peter Abraham, Josh Phelps, Wil Nieves, and Sean Henn have won the right-handed first base, backup catcher, and second lefty reliever spots respectively, and Jeff Karstens will open the season on the DL. Thus:

1B – Doug Mientkiewicz (L)
2B – Robinson Cano (L)
SS – Derek Jeter (R)
3B – Alex Rodriguez (R)
C – Jorge Posada (S)
RF – Bobby Abreu (L)
CF – Johnny Damon (L)
LF – Hideki Matsui (L)
DH – Jason Giambi (L)

Bench:

R – Josh Phelps (1B)
S – Melky Cabrera (OF)
R – Miguel Cairo (IF)
R – Wil Nieves (C)

Rotation:

R – Carl Pavano
L – Andy Pettitte
R – Mike Mussina
L – Kei Igawa
R - Darrell Rasner

Bullpen:

R – Mariano Rivera
R – Kyle Farnsworth
R – Scott Proctor
R – Luis Vizcaino
L – Mike Myers
L – Sean Henn
R - Brian Bruney*

DL: R – Chien-Ming Wang, R - Jeff Karstens

The asterisks on Rasner and Bruney are because those two spots haven't been officially announced. With Colter Bean as the only other candidate, however, those assumptions seem safe. The catch is that Karstens' DL stint was dated retroactively, allowing him to be activated on April 7 if he's ready, just in time for the fifth starter's spot to come due on April 8. That means the Opening Day roster could very well include two more relievers and no Darrell Rasner, [UPDATE: Rasner has made the team and is in line to start on April 8.] though the Yankees could always take Rasner north as a long man.

As for the losers of the spring battles, Andy Phillips has been placed on waivers and could potentially clear and end up back in Scranton. Ron Villone has an option to opt-out if he doesn't make the team, but the Yankees are trying to convince him to accept a triple-A assigment. He's weighing his options. Todd Pratt, who was going to retire if he didn't make the team, has left camp.

Also announced today, Josh Phelps will be the Opening Day first baseman against lefty Scott Kasmir, and Andy Pettitte, not Mike Mussina, will start the second game of the season on Wednesday per the order above.

Comments (76)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2007-03-30 08:08:08
1.   Jim Dean
Hopefully Phelps doesn't K four times against Kazmir.
2007-03-30 08:09:12
2.   D4P
It's hard to fathom that the Yankees can't do better than Doug Mientkiewicz at 1B.
2007-03-30 08:15:37
3.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Nice. I almost mentioned that . . .

2 Josh Phelps is better. I'm very much hoping he does to Minky what Cairo did to Enrique Wilson in 2004.

2007-03-30 08:22:39
4.   Sliced Bread
Thanks for all that, Cliff. Pete Abe rocks.

Good for Phelps. He earned it.

2 should replace the words "No Pepper Games Allowed" behind home plate.

2007-03-30 08:27:42
5.   Zack
All in all, I have to say that I am impressed/pleased with these roster choices, as minor as they might be. Torre, whether forced or not, didn't choose two guys who have a whole belly full of intestinal fortitude.

Thats not to say I don't see Villone back up in a week after Henn is thrown right into the fire by Torre, gives up a few runs, and promptly loses his trust for ever, but we can hope...

2007-03-30 08:33:19
6.   rbj
Yup, good to see some kids given chances as opposed to not so good veterans.
2007-03-30 08:36:39
7.   Peter
I'm pleasantly surprised by this. Melky + Phelps = not a bad bench

My only disappointment is that I have tickets for Thursday's game and was really really hoping Pettitte would start that one. And for a few days, I was certain he would.

2007-03-30 08:52:51
8.   Chyll Will
This is pleasant news, though I hope and kinda figure Andy Phillips makes it through waivers. As for Villone, being a lefty I think he stands a better chance hooking up with another club immediately, provided that he doesn't mind the idea of the making the playoffs not being the prime directive.

I'm glad for Henn, I suppose the team always liked him and was just waiting for him to show this level of consistency with the big boys. Villone's outings helped.

What happens with Basak? Is he gone or will he start in Scranton? This has been a unique spring in seeing so many young guys making a case for themselves, it makes me feel better about the near future. Well, let's get to it!

2007-03-30 08:59:06
9.   Bama Yankee
4 "should replace the words 'No Pepper Games Allowed' behind home plate."

How about this:
http://i10.tinypic.com/34etagp.jpg

2007-03-30 09:01:59
10.   Cliff Corcoran
8 I assume Basak will be the starting third baseman in Scranton. I anticipate the Scranton line-up to be:

1B - Shelly Duncan or Andy Phillips
2B - Andy Cannizaro
SS - Alberto Gonzalez
3B - Chris Basak
C - Ben Davis/Raul Chavez
RF - Bronson Sardinha
CF - Kevin Thompson
LF - Kevin Reese

2007-03-30 09:06:35
11.   JL25and3
I suspects Villone will hook up with another team, but I really do hope he accepts the minor-league assignment. He might be able to work his way back to being a functional lefty, and the Yankees might well need one of them before too long. I'm not brimming with confidence in either Myers or Henn, and there aren't any other candidates if one of them washes out.
2007-03-30 09:09:55
12.   JL25and3
4 Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think it's actually said "No Pepper Games" for years. Or have I just stopped noticing it?
2007-03-30 09:11:19
13.   Sliced Bread
9 Heh. Sweet.

10 Not too shabby. Best thing to hit Scranton since "The Office."

In fact, I hereby dub Scranton WB Yankees "The Office."

i.e. "Whatever happened to Cannizaro?"

"He's at 'The Office.' Still kickin' around the system."

2007-03-30 09:23:28
14.   Cliff Corcoran
12 No, you're right, the sign is long gone.

13 I prefer to refer it as Dunder-Mifflin, as in "Jeff Karstens was activated for Sunday's start and Darrell Rasner was optioned to Dunder-Mifflin to make room."

2007-03-30 09:27:46
15.   Chyll Will
9 No one can mess with you, Bama >;)

13 In fact, I hereby dub Scranton WB Yankees "The Office."

Done and done! (and I mean done...)

That and what you're looking for pitching and it's kinda sick, don't you think?

2007-03-30 09:28:17
16.   weeping for brunnhilde
Dave Winfield's on WNYC, the Leonard Lopate show, for those interested. 93.9/820.
2007-03-30 09:31:12
17.   standuptriple
13 I'm more partial to the Dunder-Mifflin 14 ref. Gotta move that paper.
2007-03-30 09:31:21
18.   Chyll Will
What's the story with the No Pepper Games anyway? Did someone get killed or critically injured during one that they had to ban them? I was always curious about that, I always thought it was pure sarcasm...
2007-03-30 09:35:19
19.   weeping for brunnhilde
18 ha ha haha

I know, I've always wondered too.

When did those signs pop up?

I can't remember if they sprung up sometime during the eighties or if they were always there.

Somehow I feel like in the early eighties there were no such signs and that they appeared later on.

In any event, perhaps those signs explain the fact that no one knows how to not strike out anymore.

2007-03-30 09:35:24
20.   Chyll Will
16 Crap. I only have wire cable (no box).
2007-03-30 09:37:50
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
Remember when Winfield killed that bird?

Well, he just told the story and evidently he was arrested for it! In Toronto.

I didn't remember that. They hauled him downtown after the game.

How 'bout that, huh?

2007-03-30 09:38:33
22.   weeping for brunnhilde
16 No, it's radio and it's on the net.

wnyc.org.

2007-03-30 09:41:41
23.   standuptriple
I never understood why teams were against pepper. I'm guessing because guys got a little aggressive with the swings and sent a few in the stands? Was there some infamous pepper-related injury that I'm not aware of? I know we played it all through high school ball and I can't even remember one person getting remotely banged up.
2007-03-30 09:43:01
24.   Rich
10 Isn't Eric Duncan starting at 1B in SWB?
2007-03-30 09:43:44
25.   YankeeInMichigan
The Rasner vs. Karstens choice is an interesting one. Rasner can get anyone out on his good days (75%) and can't get anyone out on his bad days (25%). Karstens can is consistently effective against anyone except power hitters. So the choice of pitcher requires risk analysis based on opponent and park.

The game in question (April 8) is against Baltimore at home. Since Boog Powell and Frank Robinson are no longer playing for the Orioles, I would go with Karstens if healthy.

2007-03-30 09:46:47
26.   yankz
I believe the reason is because pepper messes up the field. Not positive though.
2007-03-30 09:46:48
27.   Bama Yankee
Looks like the ban on "pepper" has to do with a combination of safety and protecting the grass.

http://www.sptimes.com/2003/07/26/Rays/Once_a_revered_ritual.shtml

2007-03-30 09:49:27
28.   Chyll Will
19 Ahh! Here's an explanation from "No Pepper Games - A Fantasy Blog"

"What does "No Pepper Games" mean? It refers to the sign commonly seen on the backstop of a baseball field. It is a warm-up exercise in which players standing a short distance from a batter field the ball and toss it to the batter, who hits each toss back to the fielders. It is outlawed to prevent injuries and excess field-wear."

http://nopeppergames.blogspot.com/

So we were right to some respect. There are a lot of references to it, plus something really interesting I just found; I don't know if Alex and Cliff (or anyone else here for that matter) are aware of this...

Is this pre-Historic Bronx Banter or a nonchalant rip-off?

http://www.all-baseball.com/bronxbanter/archives/002962.html

2007-03-30 09:56:07
29.   Zavo
24 Eric Duncan has been starting for Scranton at 1B in the spring so I think you are right. I think Phillips will DH, and play 1B when Duncan moves to 3B (which I think I read the Yanks want him to do occasionally). I could also see Phillips getting in some innings at 2B or 3B.
2007-03-30 10:01:08
30.   Chyll Will
21 I had read that in his book, "A Player's Life." He didn't know they were serious until the police came into the clubhouse and he was taken downtown. According to him, he was only trying to scare the bird off the field, but with his arm that bird didn't stand a chance. He got a whole lot of grief over that from animal rights activists and the city of Toronto, if I recall. Winfield was my favorite player when I played ball during the eighties, imitating his stance, his swing, his gait, his fielding, just about everything (even though I was cross-handed).

If it's on the radio, maybe they'll archive this show.

2007-03-30 10:01:11
31.   Cliff Corcoran
28 Way to out yourself as a newbie, Chyll. :) Before Baseball Toaster was created, Bronx Banter (as well as Dodger Thoughts and other blogs that featured the writing of some of the other Toasters) populated All-Baseball. Dig:

http://www.all-baseball.com/bronxbanter

Baseball Toaster is actually the Banter's third home.

24 No, Eric Duncan will start the year in Trenton.

2007-03-30 10:03:59
32.   Chyll Will
29 Then what happens with Basak? Second utility infielder and call-up?
2007-03-30 10:06:37
33.   Sliced Bread
Little-known Stadium fact: There is still a "No Pepper" warning posted in Suzyn Waldman's dressing room.
Best not to ask how I know this.

Alright, I'll tell you.

No, I can't, I can't. It's too...

let's just leave it at that. I've already said too much.

2007-03-30 10:07:51
34.   JL25and3
Phillips should try to get them to let him play as many positions as he can, build up his versatility. Work seriously on his fielding at 2b and 3b, play some corner outfield, even strap on the tools and - at least - warm up pitchers in the bullpen.
2007-03-30 10:14:33
35.   C2Coke
33 Yes...please stop already.

That's a great roster. And I am glad Phelps is getting the chance he deserves. As tough as the spring has been for Phillips, he really got his chance last year and never used the opportunity to shine...

Ok...I've just blew my dominoes, my hands are warmed, and the weather is screaming spring. Let's get the season started!

2007-03-30 10:15:58
36.   Chyll Will
31 ("They're on to me...") LOL, Well thanks, Cliff. I only found you guys two years ago, but it's so cozy here I feel like it's been my home for a long time >;) Yep, I am fairly new to blogs so everyone knows, but I've picked up a whole lot just being here. I'll spare Toaster the space of displaying my bio, though...

Very cool, so imagine you like it here best?

2007-03-30 10:17:34
37.   weeping for brunnhilde
30 Yeah, I loved Dave too.

You know my favorite thing about him?

He decided to hit for average one year and proceeded to hit .340, losing the race on the final day of season, of course.

But that feat has stuck with me.

If a player can simply say, "You know what? I don't want to hit .280 with 35 homeruns, I'd rather hit .340 with 20 homeruns" and then actually do it, how amazing is that?

That's why these players today infuriate me.

The ones who seem incapable of changing their approach as the situation calls for it.

I know Dave Winfield was super talented, but I suspect it was less his talent that allowed him to do that than his mastery of fundamentals.

This is why Alex Rodriguez fails to really impress me: all that talent and yet still he's basically a glorified mistake hitter.

Not meaning to bash him or anything, he is what he is, but I think the comparison is instructive: a truly great player should be able to shortern his swing at will, as the situation demands.

Has anyone ever studied that season of Winfield's btw?

I'd love to know the knitty-gritty of how a player raises his average 50 points or whatever simply by willing it so, which it seems Winfield did.

Are there any other cases of such re-inventions?

Why or why not?

2007-03-30 10:17:43
38.   JimCobain
Andy Phillips is starting in the game right now on ESPN... So I guess he passed through waivers? He wouldn't play if he wasn't?
2007-03-30 10:18:40
39.   C2Coke
Anyone aware Donnie Baseball is trying on the Manager's seat today?

Torre stayed with Pettitte and Moose in Tampa.

And...Sheff is ready.

2007-03-30 10:20:06
40.   Chyll Will
33 For Gosh-sakes, will someone please think of the children???
2007-03-30 10:25:30
41.   Bama Yankee
Similar to the "No Pepper" signs, another thing that used to bug me when I was a kid watching games on TV was the dirt circles located near home plate on some fields (they were too close to the plate to be on-deck circles):

http://tinyurl.com/29qo52

2007-03-30 10:28:57
42.   Chyll Will
37 I willed myself into a switch-hitter, though that had a lot to do with me being a cross-handed righty. I hit for more power lefty, but a high average righty.

At first guess, I would think Pete Rose, George Brett, Kirby Puckett and Mike Schmidt, but what do I know? I'm sure Donnie made some accommodations along the way as well...

2007-03-30 10:32:31
43.   Zavo
31 What makes you say that Cliff? Have you read (or had someone tell you) that Duncan would start in Trenton? I assumed since he was playing the in the minor league games with Scranton that he would start there?

That could be a poor assumption on my part however.

2007-03-30 10:35:52
44.   weeping for brunnhilde
42 I've heard people say, for instance, that Ichiro could hit 35 homeruns if he wanted to, but that's not his game.

Wonder if that's true.

And did Winfield spend the offseason preparing to be a totally different kind of hitter?

It's mystifying, really.

I don't know about those others you mention, other than that I can't recall any radical 180-shift in gameplan or anything. When Brett hit .390, for instance, he was just having a great year, right? (What do I know, I was probably 7 when that happened (1980, was it?) and only came to learn about it after the fact, but it seems like he just had a great season, but not a fundamentally different one.)

2007-03-30 10:42:54
45.   Javi Javi
41 I have been wondering about those dirt circles for years! The part that gets me, if they are indeed totally useless, is that it takes extra effort to keep those circles nice and neat--some poor schmuck in the grounds crew has that job, and he/she has to know it is pointless.
2007-03-30 10:44:06
46.   OldYanksFan
Has anyone looked at the list of 2008 FA's? Any future Yankees there?

From Lohud: "Ron Villone confirmed that the Yankees have asked him to pitch for Class AAA Scranton. He is undecided as to what he wants to do. He is waiting to see if he has any other options."

It's only because nobody else picked him up that he's still on the Yanks. After last year's 2nd half and this Spring, I wonder what he expects.

I know it's hard for a veteran to 'go down' but I'm glad the Yankees are going to make him earn his position. If he still believes he can pitch well, he'll acept the assignment. I don't think he has that many good offers.

The 'Day of the Yankee Veterans' is dying. Not a moment too soon.

2007-03-30 10:44:10
47.   Bama Yankee
37 First one I thought of was Ty Cobb.
From Wikipedia:
"After enduring several years of seeing his fame and notoriety usurped by Ruth, Cobb decided that he was going to show that swinging for the fences was no challenge for a top hitter. On May 5, 1925, Cobb began a two-game hitting spree better than any even Ruth had unleashed. He was sitting in the dugout talking to a reporter and told him that, for the first time in his career, he was going to swing for the fences. That day, Cobb went 6 for 6, with two singles, a double, and three home runs. His 16 total bases set a new AL record. The next day he had three more hits, two of which were home runs. His single his first time up gave him 9 consecutive hits over three games. His five homers in two games tied the record set by Cap Anson of the old Chicago NL team in 1884. Cobb wanted to show that he could hit home runs when he wanted, but simply chose not to do so. At the end of the series, 38-year-old Cobb had gone 12 for 19 with 29 total bases, and then went happily back to bunting and hitting-and-running. Ruth stated, 'I could have had a lifetime .600 average, but I would have had to hit them singles. The people were paying to see me hit home runs.'"
2007-03-30 10:55:15
48.   OldYanksFan
47 Great stuff
2007-03-30 10:56:21
49.   weeping for brunnhilde
47 Amazing! Thanks for that, Bama.

So in the backwards universe of Ty Cobb, swinging for the fences actually raised his average and yielded homers?

Un-f'ing-believable.

Now, I understand that not every player is Ty Cobb or even Dave Winfield, but I don't quite see why the very idea that ballplayers have it within them to play one kind of ball or another is so foreign today.

When's the last time you ever heard a player talk about the game like that, as if they had the fundamentals, a bag of tricks, as it were, to draw from?

All we ever hear about today, it seems, is that this one is in a slump and that one's hitting the ball well, or seeing the ball well.

But we never (or seldom) hear about players actually having a game-plan they're going to try to execute.

Pitchers, yes, but not so much with the hitters.

I may be overstating a bit, but there seems to me a real crisis of fundamentals in the game and it aggravates me.

2007-03-30 10:58:55
50.   Jeteupthemiddle
43 I agree.

Everything I have seen so far this spring indicated that Duncan would be starting in AAA this season.

He did, after all, prove that he could hit AA pitching (.840 OPS while in AA last season)...considering his age, and assuming he is healthy, I can't think of any reason why he wouldn't start the year in Scranton.

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2007-03-30 11:01:36
51.   Chyll Will
44 I've heard the same exact thing about Ichiro, wonder how I let that escape me. He can pop one when he feels it's essential, but figures that making contact or getting on base and using his speed is fundamentally better. Can't argue with that approach for the most part. I'm in the same boat concerning Brett; I relied mostly on my hardcore card-collecting buddies for stats on much of the MLB, but a did have a sense of what the top players were doing as a kid. My favorite pitches were curves and sliders, since all of my pitches had a natural break to them.

I had a gasser of a fastball that my teammate discovered during LL practice and told his Dad/The Coach. Sigh, those were the days. I also agree with you about Alex, though I think for him age will eventually force him to strategize at the plate. There are a lot of mistakes for a guy like him to punish, though it would go a long way in explaining his poor showings in the playoffs. Does Jeter adjust like that; it seems routine for him.

I had a habit of watching the best hitter on our team and picking up what little things I could in a successful at-bat. Don't know how much that would help A-Rod, considering he's been quite successful more often than not with his method. Also it's sometimes been a concern with power-hitting lefties at the Stadium; would they fall in love with the short-porch in right and swing away more often than they did/would at other stadiums (Giambi?) ...

2007-03-30 11:13:31
52.   Bama Yankee
51 "hardcore cards"

Man, they got cards for everything these days...

Wonder if Matsui knows about those? ;-)

2007-03-30 11:21:18
53.   Chyll Will
47 Impressive...

49 I'm guessing that personal choice has much to do with it. As Babe said, "People were paying to see me hit home runs" which could also explain Giambi and A-Rod (they weren't brought in for their defense at first and third, if I recall), while we also expect Jeter to hit in the clutch and vacuum the field. In the movie "61", Maris was told by the owner to stop worrying about his average and swing for the fences, "That's what we brought you here for."

And then again, maybe some players don't have the capacity to adjust. Where do Manny and Ortiz fit in this discussion?

2007-03-30 11:23:43
54.   weeping for brunnhilde
51 Right, Giambi. He's the perfect counter example to Winfield.

Is he literally incapable of spraying the ball around, or does he simply choose not to?

And if he can spray it, why not just adjust from ab to ab.

"Ok, here we go, there's a chasm on the left side of the infield, it's the eighth inning, we're down by two, this pitcher's throwing strikes, I've got some pretty good hitters behind me, we need a little rally, so I'll just poke it the other way and let Joe put Melky in to run for me and then we'll take our chances. For the good of the team."

Is that so much to ask?

2007-03-30 11:29:00
55.   weeping for brunnhilde
53 Yeah, fair enough, but for the record? This fan would rather see flawlessly solid baseball than dingers any day, so please, Alex, Jason, don't go all Steve Balboni or Dave Kingman for my sake.

Home runs are means, not ends. The point of baseball is to win the fucking game, not put on a homerun derby.

Manny and Ortiz?

I don't know, good question.

What's Ortiz' basic strength? Strength and batspeed?

Manny?

I don't know. I've never spent much time actually analyzing their games, so I can't quite tell you what kind of hitters they are (or seem to me to be).

2007-03-30 11:32:16
56.   Chyll Will
52 >;) Yeah, I know. I meant They were serious memorabilia collectors. I had some good friends (twins) who were die-hard Red Sox fans and their favorite player was Yaz. This was never an issue since we were all good friends. They were collectors, had lots of stuff besides the acetated Topps and Upper Decks. My neighbors were also big on card collecting. I started collecting in 1980 after my first visit to the Stadium, but I was not as focused as the others. My most prized card was an autographed Willie Upshaw Topps card from 1980 that my father received from him after he built an in-ground pool for him. (Feel like I should be mentioning that on Bruce's post)
2007-03-30 11:40:42
57.   Chyll Will
55 I don't know if it's meant as a slight to Manny (probably not, but that's how I see it), but he's often talked about as a pure natural hitter, whose whole approach at the plate is "See the ball, Hit the ball", similar to an approach I've suggested on occasion for A-Rod. I'm not sure it's as simple as that, but since Manny doesn't like to talk to the media, it's likely to remain a mystery, unless someone more knowledgeable has a notion or reference. As for Ortiz, I'm guessing he's the manifestation of pure mistake-hitting, especially with Manny behind him. He can just look at a pitcher a certain way and cause them to make a mistake. Winfield was good at that, especially when the bat came flying out of his hands. How many times had he done that? I almost think it's about the same number as Don Baylor getting HBP.
2007-03-30 11:42:03
58.   pistolpete
56 Willie Upshaw?!!

Wow, that must be worth at least $8. ;-)

2007-03-30 12:02:02
59.   Chyll Will
58 Hey, $8 would've meant a lot to me two days ago >;) Although I do remember saying at the time, "Gee, thanks Dad..."

I also remember when I was younger sort-of "meeting" a major Mets prospect at the Dutchess Mall in Fishkill, NY (when it was still alive), though I didn't know he was a major Mets prospect at the time. All I know is I was walking through the Mall with my family and this guy is standing there and looks at me long and hard, like he knows me or I should know him. In fact, Mom said, "Do you know that guy?" and I swore I didn't. Later as we're leaving, we see him sitting behind a table signing autographs. He was still grilling me on the way out. Mom said, "That's why he was staring at you like that. You were supposed to know him." A banner on the table said, "Meet Mets Rookie Pitching Sensation Anthony Young."

I wonder if he was thinking about that when he lost what, 23 straight that year? I lost count. Well, I'm sorry...

2007-03-30 12:09:40
60.   pistolpete
Funny story - I actually met current Mets manager (when he was a Yankee) at a 'mini-mall' in Rockland County, NY about 22-23 years ago - he told my friend that he 'looked like a catcher'.

I'm guessing this was based mostly on the fact that he had his hat on backwards.

2007-03-30 12:14:52
61.   pistolpete
60 I didn't mean MY story was funny - I thought yours was, and I segued into my own anecdote.
2007-03-30 12:22:22
62.   Bama Yankee
61 Actually, pistol, both stories were pretty funny. That "hat on backwards" comment was a classic.
2007-03-30 12:22:44
63.   Chyll Will
60 At least you met someone who could get away with saying or doing something not necessarily brilliant, though I'm certain Willie was and is a really nice guy. He was always high on my list as a player. In our pick-up games, the second baseman was almost always Willie Randolph, then later Ryne Sandberg.
2007-03-30 12:30:19
64.   Chyll Will
62 Agreed. I was a backstop as well as a pitcher in LL, probably because I liked to wear my hat backwards a lot. Fact is, I played everywhere except middle infield, but I remember catching a lot because I hated it.

The embarrassing part of that story was not ice-grill or the fact that I didn't know him, but the teasing I endured from my family. They said I either had a stalker or a Secret Valentine.

2007-03-30 12:36:23
65.   Shaun P
Without having read any of the comments above (currently 64 in total), let me say, has Torre learned something? Sean Henn, all of 25 years old (he turns 26 on April 23), who will cost the Yanks the minimum salary, beat out 'belly full of guts' 37-year-old vet Ron Villone?! Color me impressed!

If Henn gets buried in the pen, has 2 crappy outings at the end of April after not having pitched all month, and gets sent down, with Villone coming up from Scranton, I reserve the right to withdraw the above comment.

2007-03-30 12:39:57
66.   C2Coke
65 Isn't that the whole idea? Unless Henn performs incredibly. Aren't we gonna see Villone before we can spell out his name? Or is there something I am missing?
2007-03-30 12:42:40
67.   C2Coke
66 Just so it's clear, the guy who will be carrying bags whose last name start with a B doesn't count.

I guess a win is a win regardless of who the players are. The cheers after the Tiger's victory just now were pretty loud.

2007-03-30 12:49:42
68.   Chyll Will
66 Assuming Villone decides to follow common sense and stay. But common sense is not much to bank on among many GMs these days, i.e. $55 million for Gil Meche. Villone's right to weigh his options, but if he concludes that enough money's out there for him to forgo a almost certain role with a contender down the line, Vaya con Dios!
2007-03-30 12:53:06
69.   Shaun P
66 Its possible Villone refuses to go to SWB in the hopes of catching on somewhere else.

Re: swinging for the fences versus raising your batting average - its not like its an 'either-or' proposition. Its possible to do both. Mattingly hit .324 in '85 and .352 in '86 - while also hitting 31 HRs and 36 HRs, respectively.

In '94, when O'Neill won the batting title (.359!), he had 20 HRs in 368 ABs - and was slugging .603 when the strike hit. Rate those numbers out for a full season, and O'Neill was on pace to finish with 30+ HRs.

When Giambi won the MVP in 2000, he hit .333, with 43 HRs.

I'd give the obvious example - the Babe hit .356 in 1927 - but Ruth is maybe the best ballplayer who ever lived, so you'd expect he could do something like that. Donnie, Paulie, and Giambi were/are very good, great at times, but none of them is a Hall of Fame-caliber hitter.

2007-03-30 13:42:45
70.   rilkefan
69 Giambi is at 95 on the HOF Monitor - as a hitter he's probably HOF-caliber.
2007-03-30 14:39:22
71.   weeping for brunnhilde
69 Well, that's not exactly what I'm talking about.

In the case of Mattingly, for instance, he raised his average and his homerun total, but I don't think it's that his approach was different, he just peaked and had an even better season than the previous one.

The real question is, could Mattingly have hit .380 had he wanted to, with say, 20 homers.

Same with Giambi. A good power hitter like that can hit for a high average because his groundballs (for instance) are all bullets, so more of them are simply "muscle" hits.

I'm talking about raising your average through attention to bat control. I'm talking about the ability to minimize the holes in your swing and turn good pitcher's pitches into line drives.

2007-03-30 16:23:17
72.   JL25and3
If Ichiro! actually has the ability to hit more homers - say, .300/35 as opposed to .330/9 - then I believe he's doing his team a serious, serious disservice.

Does he also have the ability to walk a few more times?

2007-03-30 17:16:31
73.   tommyl
Guys, A-Rod has a career avg/obp of .305/.386 , its not like he's a one dimensional hitter. He hit .321 in 2005 while also hitting 48 HR. I suppose he could try and go for more average, but when A-Rod is going well his HRs always seem very effortless, its not like he's swinging for the fences all the time. Perhaps last year when Matsui and Sheff went down his swing got a bit longer, but generally I just think he's trying to put the ball in play hard.
2007-03-30 17:53:25
74.   rilkefan
Bean before Bruney, anyone?
2007-03-30 19:25:27
75.   Shaun P
70 Excellent point.

71 As Babe Ruth so ruthlessly proved in 1920, a home run is much more valuable than a single, and I'd say trading even 5 or 6 HRs for 12 singles (or 20 points of batting average over a typical season) is a poor choice for a ballplayer to make. But again, I don't think its mutually exclusive. Shoot, if you really had enough bat control to hit singles instead of homers, the smart thing to do would be to hit another 10-15 line drives, not ground balls, and get 10-15 more doubles, not singles. Trading 5 homers for 15 doubles might be worthwhile. Trading 5 home runs for 15 singles is almost certainly not.

72 Exactly. Even if Ichiro! continued to hit more singles (and doubles) than HRs, if he walked 100 times a year, he'd be incredibly valuable, especially being a lead off hitter. Rickey Henderson is undoubtedly the greatest lead off hitter to ever play in the majors. There were many years were Rickey barely slugged .450, sometimes not even .400. But because he walked so much (2190 BB, the all time record) and his OBP was always so high (career .401; 6 times over .420; 15 times over .400), he was immensely valuable.

Its also worth noting that Rickey's best years where when he did hit for power and got on base at a high clip.

And finally, I'll take a Giambi .260/.400/.550 season over, say, a Mark Grace .315/.380/.400 season any day. Even if Giambi strikes out 175 times while Grace strikes out only 50 times.

2007-03-31 00:19:37
76.   brockdc
59 Wow. Blast from the past. My aunt worked in a store (forgot which one) at the Dutchess Mall in Fishkill, back in the day; I remember going to visit her when I was a little kid and her taking me to get Orange Juliuses.

Small (blog) world.

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