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Battles
2008-03-11 07:54
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to bronxbanterblog.com.

Last night the Yankees played the tenth game of their exhibition schedule, which means they've gone through their starting rotation twice and are a third of the way through their pre-season slate. With that, I thought now would be a good time to take a look at how the battles for the final spots on the roster are shaping up.

There are 53 players left in camp, not counting the trio of rehabbing pitchers (Andrew Brackman, Humberto Sanchez, and Glass Pavano). Twenty-one of those players are all but guaranteed to head north with the club, as per my initial camper's post of a month ago:

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

Bench:

R – Shelley Duncan (1B/OF)
S – Wilson Betemit (IF)
R – Jose Molina (C)

Rotation:

R – Chien-Ming Wang
L – Andy Pettitte
R – Mike Mussina
R – Phil Hughes
R – Ian Kennedy

Bullpen:

R – Mariano Rivera
R – Joba Chamberlain
R – Kyle Farnsworth
R – LaTroy Hawkins

Joba Chamberlain and Ian Kennedy have been sharing the fifth starter's spot thus far, Kennedy getting the start the first time through the rotation with Chamberlain appearing later in the game, and Chamberlain getting the start last night with Kennedy appearing later in the game. Their turn will come around again on Saturday, when the Yankees have their only split-squad games of the month, thus allowing each pitcher to start one of the two games. After that, the decision to bounce one of them to the bullpen will have to be made. There's no reason for Chamberlain not to be the pitcher moved into relief. All of the other pitchers in the rotation have pitched well in at least one of their two starts thus far (the most recent stinker was from Chien-Ming Wang, who will start against the Blue Jays this afternoon). Kennedy has been better than Chamberlain in both of their games thus far, and, perhaps most importantly, Chamberlain will have a much lower innings limit this season, which all but requires him to spend some time in either the bullpen or the minors.

When I wrote my camper's post, Shelley Duncan's spot on the 25-man roster seemed tenuous. Since then he's torn the cover off the ball. He's slugging 1.063 and leading the Yankees in total bases this spring with 17 while his closest competitors have 11. He could probably go hitless for the rest of camp and still make the team.

As for the fourth and final spot on the bench, my initial characterization of the matter suggested it would come down to what sort of player Girardi wanted to fill that final spot, with the top contenders being corner infielder and solid righty bat Morgan Ensberg, outfielder and righty power bat Jason Lane, or any of a number of weak-hitting utility infielders, with speed/defense center fielder Brett Gardner as a longshot.

I figured Lane's candidacy rested in part on his ability to play all three outfield positions, even if he's not particularly strong at any of them. Lane is second on the team in at-bats and has hit a respectable .278/.350/.611, but he hasn't played any center field, which makes me think he's not being seriously considered for the final bench spot. Indeed, longshot Gardner has hit almost as well (.286/.333/.500). Of course, Lane's power is real, while Gardner's is likely illusory, but if Giarardi wants the last man on his bench to be an outfielder I'd expect to both see Lane at least prove he can stand in center field for a few innings, and to see him have to fight off Gardner.

The clear winner of the utility infielder battle thus far has been Chris Woodward, who has had as many at-bats as Lane and has hit .500/.500/.556. Note, of course, that those numbers include no walks and just one extra base hit (a double). Note also that while Lane's spring stats are a fair indication of his abilities (minor league career: .296/.367/.520), Woodward's are purely a small-sample fluke from a hitter who's been hit-lucky (minor league career: .264/.340/.378).

Bernie Castro, who can only play second base, and Juan Miranda, who was just optioned to minor league camp as I was writing this, are non-factors. As for the rest, here's a distribution of where the utility infield contenders have played thus far:

Chris Woodward: 2B-3, SS-3, 3B-1, LF-1
Nick Green: 2B-2, 3B-4
Cody Ransom: 3B-5, SS-1, 1B-1
Alberto Gonzalez: SS-6, 2B-1

Former Yankee Nick Green is 1 for 9 and hasn't played any shorstop, so I think he's out of the running. Alberto Gonzalez is clearly being treated as a shortstop only in preparation for his playing that position in triple-A. One could say the same about Ransom at third base. Ransom also hasn't hit (2 for 13) and hasn't played second base.

That would seem to leave the job to Woodward if not for one other player:

Wilson Betemit: 3B-3, SS-2, 2B-2, 1B-1

Betemit had the team made coming into camp, but has nonetheless acquitted himself well at all four infield positions, while Woodward has a pair of errors on his ledger. Betemit hasn't looked great at the plate this spring (he has two homers, but also seven Ks and is hitting an unbalanced .222/.300/.611), but is guaranteed to out-hit Woodward by a considerable margin over a full season. Betemit is not competing with Woodward, but he should render him unnecessary.

Which brings us back to the man I endorsed for the final bench spot a month ago, Morgan Ensberg, who has hit .400/.471/.667 while splitting time between first and third base. Ensberg was a little rough in the field in his first game at first-base, but has since played four more times there without incident and has generally looked better around the bag than Shelley Duncan. Ensberg has been a doubles machine thus far this spring, with four of his six hits going for two bags. As I said in my campers post, he's no longer the home-run threat that Lane, Duncan, or Betemit are, but with the last two of those three already on the roster and Betemit proving to be a viable utility infielder, that last spot would be well spent on a professional hitter like Ensberg, who can draw a walk, lace a double, and generally give you good at-bats off the bench (his major league BB/K ratio is a solid .79--by comparison Lane is .48 and Betemit is .40).

Moving into the bullpen, there are three spots left to be determined and 14 pitchers left competing for them. Joe Girardi has indicated a preference to bring a lefty, a long-man, and one other north. That breaks the battles down like this:

Long Man:

Contenders: Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Kei Igawa, Heath Phillips

Igawa and Phillips are both lefties, with the latter getting a closer look for the lefty spot, but Phillips has been a starter throughout his career (161 starts in 172 career games).

Going into camp, Rasner would have been my choice, but he's been the worst of the bunch thus far, posting a 15.00 ERA in two outings and walking five against no strikeouts in three innings. He'll pitch again today, but could be cut this evening if he doesn't show a radical improvement.

Igawa made a bad first impression by giving up a grand slam to a college kid in the team's warmup against the University of South Florida, but he hasn't allowed a hit in four innings during the regular exhibition schedule, though he did walk the bases loaded in his first inning of work the other day and has only struck out two in those four frames.

Phillips has struck out four in 3 1/3 innings and allowed just two hits (a single and a double) and no runs. Jeff Karstens is considered the leader for this spot right now as he's allowed just one run in five frames and just five hits and one walk against three Ks, but Phillips and Igawa are worth keeping an eye on in this battle. Of course, Phillips will have the most to prove as the other two are already on the 40-man roster.

Lefty:

Contenders: Sean Henn, Billy Traber, Heath Phillips, Kei Igawa

Igawa is only on this list because he throws with his left hand. I don't believe he's being considered for the lefty specialist role in the pen. He was ineffective against lefties last year (.320/.407/.507 in the majors, .319/.356/.420 in triple-A) and if he gets himself sorted out he's far more compelling as a long relief option or a spot-starter.

As we've seen, Phillips has looked great, but there's some concern as lefties hit him pretty well in triple-A last year as well (.319/.377/.488). Sean Henn, who has the advantage of already occupying a 40-man roster spot, has been underwhelming, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits in two innings of work (though, to his credit, he's walked no one). He's also not pitched in five days, though he should appear in this afternoon's game.

Billy Traber, on the other hand, has been spectacular, allowing just one baserunner (on a single) in 3 1/3 innings while striking out five. Traber has the added advantage of having a great track record against lefties (.210/.303/.310 in the majors). His problem has always been getting righties out (.329/.382/.512 career, .380/.431/.528 last year), but he's getting everyone out this spring, was my choice for the position prior to camp, and remains the leading candidate.

Last Man:

This spot is actually the fifth righty spot (behind Mo, Joba, LaTroy, and Farnsworth), though there's opportunity for the pitcher who claims the spot to move up in that hierarchy. Setting aside the lefties and long-men, there are eight righties competing for this spot, seven of whom are already on the 40-man roster. The one NRI still in play is Dan Giese, who allowed a home run to the first batter he faced this spring, but hasn't allowed a baserunner since in two innings, but has struck out just one. The longest shot from among the remaining seven is probably Scott Patterson, the veteran independent leaguer with the silly strikeout rates. Then again, Patterson has been perfect in three innings over four appearances, striking out two and catching eyes with his legitimately wacky delivery in which he appears to come three-quarters then dramatically drops his left shoulder and heaves the ball straight over the top.

Brian Bruney, who like Henn is out of options, Edwar Ramirez, and Jose Veras all seemed like top contenders coming into camp, but none has pitched well. Veras's 9.00 ERA is the best of the bunch. Bruney has walked just one, but allowed four hits in 1 1/3 innings. Ramirez has been similarly hittable. Bruney's option situation aside, Veras has indeed been the best of this bad three, allowing two runs on two hits and no walks while striking out one in two frames.

That leaves three men to joust with Patterson and Giese. Jonathan Albaladejo, acquired for Tyler Clippard over the winter, has allowed just one run and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings, though he's also allowed four hits and walked one. Chris Britton has allowed just one unearned run on one hit in three frames, walked none and struck out one. Ross Ohlendorf was perhaps the most impressive of the bunch until his rough outing the other night in the inning in which Francisco Cervelli was injured. All together, he's allowed a solo homer, a second unearned run, walked none and struck out two in 2 2/3 innings, but also allowed five hits, including that home run and a double.

This one's a long way from over, and we should learn more as opposing hitters play deeper into games to increase the quality of the batters these men are facing. Meanwhile, we'll get our first big lesson on Joe Girardi's decision making when he's forced to choose between Chris Woodward and Morgan Ensberg, a choice which should be obvious.

Comments (93)
Show/Hide Comments 1-50
2008-03-11 09:54:15
1.   Sliced Bread
Great writeup, Cliff.

I'm rooting for 'Dorf, and Ensberg.

Not sure if anybody linked to it but the Star Ledger ran a very interesting q&a with Ensberg over the weekend.

http://tinyurl.com/27asfp

2008-03-11 10:15:18
2.   YankeeInMichigan
I think that Lane would have had a shot only if
a) Duncan had flamed out
or b) Cat-man Giambi had demonstrated that he was incapable of playing first.

As it stands now, Lane (if he does not play center field) brings nothing to the table that Duncan does not. With Giambi, Betemit and (possibly) Ensberg available at 1st base, Duncan can easily fill the 5th outfielder role.

2008-03-11 10:24:51
3.   weeping for brunnhilde
Good hitter, that Vernon Wells.
2008-03-11 10:29:38
4.   weeping for brunnhilde
Yay!!

Nice bunt, Melk!

2008-03-11 10:35:04
5.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ooooh, Abreu!

Laced that sucker into the gap!

2008-03-11 10:36:24
6.   weeping for brunnhilde
Man, Alex.

There's that old opposite field power of his.

Awesome.

2008-03-11 10:37:37
7.   Sliced Bread
playing Toronto brings out the best in the third baseman. My, that was an exhibition of power.
2008-03-11 10:38:16
8.   weeping for brunnhilde
What a beautiful inning so far.

Except Giambi just ruined it.

Giambi grounds weakly to second for the first out.

But we had a Melky bunt, a Derek walk, an Abreu line drive just right of center, long right field homer by Alex.

And Giambi's weak groundout.

Cano flies weakly to left, two out.

2008-03-11 10:39:49
9.   weeping for brunnhilde
Duncan hits it hard, but right to the third-baseman.

Nice inning, Team!

2008-03-11 10:46:55
10.   weeping for brunnhilde
Ooh, nicely turned 5-4-3, gentlemen.

Nice and easy.

2008-03-11 10:58:28
11.   Sliced Bread
for those not watching, there's been quite a bit of discussion about Wang's mechanics. He's throwing well today, consistently around 94 on the generous YES gun. As Flaherty observed, he is getting more downward movement on his pitches from the stretch, than windup, but he's generally doing a good job of keeping the ball down.
His arm looks strong.

Cone observed that Wang does a great job of getting ahead of hitters but has not locked down an outpitch yet. He said this before Wang got Thomas to ground out. I think Cone's a great addition, but he might be a little nitpicky in his analysis of pitchers. I mean, not every pitcher has a dozen plus different looks as he did back in the day.

2008-03-11 10:59:16
12.   Just fair
Hm. Bob Wickman for Kyle Farsnworth was offered last summer according to Cashman on M and the MD. Would this have appeased anybody?
2008-03-11 11:02:14
13.   weeping for brunnhilde
11 It's interesting, because earlier they (Cone, I think) that for Wang to get to the next level he needs a Plan B for when the sinker's not working.

But as I recall (one game in particular) Wang pitched brilliantly with his slider in just such situations. I wish I could remember the game, but I remember being really, really impressed that he made the adjustment and pitched effectively.

Another very, very nice line drive off of Abreu's bat, btw.

2008-03-11 11:15:11
14.   weeping for brunnhilde
Cone just quoted Dave Parker in the context of the homeplate collision, "You gotta find something you hate about your opponent for motivation."

Cone said maybe that's a little extreme, but it's oldschool.

You know what? Frankly, I agree wholeheartedly.

I don't think you should try to hurt your opponents or anything, but I don't like seeing all the buddy-buddy stuff. I want my guys to hate Curt Schilling as much as I do.

I want them to feel the same lust for victory over the opposition that I do, which in my mind involves a little less gushing admiration for the opposition's skills.

2008-03-11 11:19:27
15.   weeping for brunnhilde
I can't believe Cone just referred to "nut-crunching time" to mean making your out pitch.

I'm sure they're telling him he might want to find another way to express that thought in future.

2008-03-11 11:23:08
16.   Sliced Bread
15 a little salty, yes, with the nuts he is.
2008-03-11 11:23:28
17.   weeping for brunnhilde
"Ow, Fuck!" screams Duncan, fouling it off his shin.

Didn't that just happen the other day?--the scream.

2008-03-11 11:24:00
18.   weeping for brunnhilde
16 Buh-dump-BUMP, chhh!
2008-03-11 11:38:03
19.   weeping for brunnhilde
NIce hit, Molina.

Nice solid line drive up the middle.

I like MOlina.

2008-03-11 11:39:06
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
Oooh, ripped by Melk!

Hard double pulled to right.

2008-03-11 11:43:52
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
Aggh.

Bad ab by Abreu.

Took two strikes and swung weakly through something soft and away.

2008-03-11 11:48:04
22.   Sliced Bread
crappy at-bat by Nick Green there.
couple stinky hacks there. Girardi seemed to make note of it going to the commercial break, but could have been scouting the pitcher.

uh-oh.. Farnswacker time.

2008-03-11 11:56:40
23.   Rob Middletown CT
Baseball. Our annual 5-month national nightmare is nearly over.
2008-03-11 12:00:32
24.   Shaun P
12 No. Didn't Wickman end up getting hurt, cut by the Braves, picked up and soon cut by the Dbacks?

At least Farnsworth can pitch (however poorly at times).

2008-03-11 12:01:20
25.   Sliced Bread
Kwiet inning for Kyle. a double, a walk, but no damage.
in-game interview with Girardi:
won't reveal Joba's role to start the season.
wants Farnswacker to work consecutive days this season.
will likely use Molina day games after night games, and might assign him to a starter to keep Jorge fresh. won't say how many games Posada might catch.
2008-03-11 12:03:26
26.   weeping for brunnhilde
Damn.

Well struck by Jorgie, but right at the right-fielder.

2008-03-11 12:09:52
27.   OldYanksFan
I'll take 'nitpicky', as at least we learn by listening. It's extremely rare these days to actually learn anything from Fox or ESPN broadcasts, so I like it when the Yankees have guys that can give us insights into the finer points of the game.
2008-03-11 12:21:54
28.   OldYanksFan
I like the idea of Molina having a regular pitcher, as Jorge knows when he is off. However, Jorge is better as a LHB, so it seems a bit more efficient to use Molina against lefties. Molina's OPS over the last 3 years against lefties is .853, very resepctable. Against righties? .523, or Womacks little sister.

We can't play Jorge 130-140 games/year and expect him to last 4 years. Molina should probably play against about every LHP.

2008-03-11 12:23:32
29.   bobtaco
Do you think Michael Kay made up the nickname "Generation Tres" to describe Hughes, Kennedy and Joba? It is BY FAR the worst nickname I have heard for them. He keeps repeating it, like he is willing it to stick. It's driving me crazy. It must be making the RAB guys heads explode.
2008-03-11 12:31:30
30.   weeping for brunnhilde
29 What the hell does that even mean?

What does "tres" mean?

In French it means "very."

Ooh, look at the circus act out in centerfield!

2008-03-11 12:31:31
31.   wsporter
25 Most important part, he wouldn't reveal Crystal's role tomorrow!!!!!
2008-03-11 12:33:08
32.   weeping for brunnhilde
31 Oh yeah, and what's all this about Billy Crystal?

Is this a joke?

He's really going to suit up and play?

I don't get it.

2008-03-11 12:33:58
33.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
michael kay is a complete dullard of the worst kind - one who not only doesn't realize he's a dullard, but one who thinks he's the opposite.

i once heard him refer to the 'triage of value' when describing 3 different ways measure the value of a player (offense, defense, and intangibles). oy.

2008-03-11 12:34:46
34.   Sliced Bread
29 I think one of the NY Post writers dropped that clunker on the world, and Kay seems to like it. What a contrived mess of a nickname.
2008-03-11 12:35:16
35.   bobtaco
30 Maybe it is Trey, like a three-pointer. Whatever it is, it reinforces the frame of Generation K, which was a huge FAILURE. Why would you want to compare your guys to that? The Big Three is much better, even though it has been used previously in Oakland. If I have to listen to Kay all season saying it, I am going to lose my mind.
2008-03-11 12:35:40
36.   weeping for brunnhilde
33 H ah ah ha ha hah aha h!!

Oy, indeed.

2008-03-11 12:40:16
37.   weeping for brunnhilde
Poor Kay.

You know, I actually feel sorry for him.

His "Kay family reunion" gag, et. al.

And there have been a couple of times when O'Neill has put him down, making him look like a hack where I've really felt bad for him.

As much as Kay annoys me and as much of a stuffed suit as he is, there's something pathetic about him, probably exactly what Sonya says: "michael kay is a complete dullard of the worst kind - one who not only doesn't realize he's a dullard, but one who thinks he's the opposite."

I think this nails it.

Sad sack of a guy.

2008-03-11 12:42:02
38.   weeping for brunnhilde
Damn, nice play by their centerfielder, Koates.

Jorgie ripped it to dead center and this guys just turns, eases back, gives a small leap just before the wall and reels it in with a half a snowball.

Nice rope, nice catch.

Good baseball.

2008-03-11 12:44:12
39.   Rob Middletown CT
Who makes a shitload of money. Anyone have a miniature violin handy?

Sorry, I was just sitting here thinking about having to listen to Michael Kay for ~150 games this year. The rest of the crew is good, and he ruins it.

2008-03-11 12:46:18
40.   weeping for brunnhilde
39 Sure, but he's still a human being, whatever his salary.

I'm not saying I want him in the booth, just that he's a pathetic figure.

2008-03-11 12:51:10
41.   Rob Middletown CT
I guess. He's pathetic to ME, and other thinking fans. Yet he retains his nice job with YES and has his radio show (right?) and gets to keep inflicting his blowhardiness on us...

Sorry, there seems to be some code in my mind that runs something like "If Michael Kay, then RANT."

2008-03-11 12:51:50
42.   weeping for brunnhilde
41 Heh heh hehe!!

Rant away, by all means. :)

2008-03-11 13:00:44
43.   Sliced Bread
Not to play contrarian, but I dunno. Kay grates, (as does anybody who has to talk as much as he does) but I find him benign.
He's at his best when he's interviewing, and there's a skill to that.
His malapropisms, and occasional blathering I can deal with. Seems affable enough. I can't get too worked up about him either way.
2008-03-11 13:01:17
44.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
i think the most (only?) redeeming factor is that he's obviously an unabashed yanks fan - something it's tough to fault anyone for.

however, he sometimes seems to go out of his way to act as if he's not an unabashed fan. maybe the yes-sers pressure him about that. in any case, he's not very good at it!

but WOW what a blow hard.

2008-03-11 13:08:54
45.   weeping for brunnhilde
44 He does engage in more than his share of bluster, no question.

God, how'd we get stuck with Kay and Sterling and Waldman?

Ever listen to the Mets' broadcasters?

Perfectly listenable and solid. In fact, I rather think they're outstanding. They're certainly outstanding next to our guys.

Always makes me a bit jealous.

"OH MY GOD, OH MY, SWEET JESUS, ROGER CLEMENS IS NOW A YANKEE, SEE THERE, SEE THERE, ROCKING THE MIC FROM GEORGE STEINBRENNER'S VERY OWN BOOTH, THE GREAT MAN HIMSELF, ADDRESSING THE BRETHREN FROM ON HIGH! ONE THING'S FOR SURE, WE DON'T HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT THAT NUMBER FIVE SLOT ANYMORE!!! ROGER CLEMENS IS NOW A YANKEE!!!!!!!!!!!"

2008-03-11 13:11:58
46.   horace-clarke-era
Hmm:
(rotoworld)

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the Yankees were scouting Joe Blanton on Sunday.
It makes sense that the A's would be open to dealing Blanton after parting with Dan Haren, but Oakland is said to be holding out for some lofty demands. "Until any trade happens, I can't worry about it," Blanton said.

2008-03-11 13:17:37
47.   Jeteupthemiddle
If anyone would like to project Robinson Cano's 2008 to be included in a community projection, please feel free to do so.

jeteupthemiddle.blogspot.com

2008-03-11 13:19:08
48.   standuptriple
Man, I wish I got YES out in CA. I love Coney and would love to hear his insight. The reason I started liking him was his attitude, which is something that I wish more players had these days.

From Pete Abe
"...Jose Molina was thrown out at the plate trying to score from second on Bobby Abreu's single. Memo to Bobby Meacham: Molina is slow and A-Rod was on deck.

Molina slid into the plate, by the way. Those Yankees aren't dirty thugs."

I'm sure that's in jest and I hate to bring out the dead horse again, but another one of those "unspoken rules" is that catchers never try and take each other out. Let it never be uttered that the Molina clan doesn't know how to play the #2.

2008-03-11 13:29:18
49.   Rob Middletown CT
45 - Ah, Sterling and Waldman. The duo who can make anyone (read: Michael Kay) seem great by comparison.

What really drives me nuts is how good the booth is on road trips that Kay doesn't go on. Oh, how I enjoy those!

2008-03-11 13:45:26
50.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
my problem is that i'll always be a rizzutto-messer-white guy. those are the channel 11 guys i grew up listening to. good or bad, everyone else's voices just sound wrong.

please don't get me started on waldman or sterling. 45 49 we must look for better days!!

Show/Hide Comments 51-100
2008-03-11 13:48:51
51.   wsporter
If you have mlb.tv and watch/listen around the majors I think you find a lot of mediocre to bad game announcing from both a play by play and color perspective. There is a lot of homerism and inanity that fills the air from most places. There are a couple of pretty good ones who do the games: the Mets group, most of the Sawx, the Dodgers, Oakland. I could probably think of a couple of others. I guess my point is M Kay doesn't stand out as particularly worse than most.

We got pretty spoiled in NY for a long time with either the colorful group the Yankees put together especially in the late 60's and seventies and the Mets group from that era. Kay just can't hold a candle to any of those guys. He isn't worse than most of what's out there now though and he's better than some.

2008-03-11 13:49:37
52.   weeping for brunnhilde
50 Me too.

Those were were the days.

"Touch 'em all, Dave Winfield!"

2008-03-11 13:49:46
53.   wsporter
51 "my problem is that i'll always be a rizzutto-messer-white guy."

:-)

2008-03-11 13:50:36
54.   wsporter
53 Uhm . . . that was 50 Duh!
2008-03-11 13:51:42
55.   weeping for brunnhilde
51 "You can put in on the boaaaaaaarrrrrrrd, YEAH!"

"He'll grab some bench!"

"Good guys 4, NY, nothing."

Agggh!

2008-03-11 13:52:33
56.   wsporter
52 "Holy Cow . . . Messah you huckelberry . . ."
2008-03-11 13:53:46
57.   wsporter
55 That would be Baltimore?
2008-03-11 14:03:45
58.   Rob Middletown CT
I do think that's a Hawk (White Sox) reference.
2008-03-11 14:07:35
59.   Bagel Boy
I don't see what Ensberg gives this team that's different from Betemit and Duncan. When would he play? Even against a left-handed starter, they're going to sit two of Damon, Matsui, Giambi, and Abreu to hit Duncan and Ensberg?

I'd rather see Gardner on the team to get some spot starts and to run late for Giambi, Jorge, or Matsui.

2008-03-11 14:11:26
60.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
here's some cognitive dissonance for you guys - imagine rizzutto-messer-white discussing the finer points of VORP and OPS+

:D

2008-03-11 14:13:41
61.   Rob Middletown CT
Ensberg gives the team another decent righty bat. He's killed lefties in his career. He can, at least theoretically, fill in at 3B if needed.

Betemit cannot hit LHP. Duncan has more power than Ensberg, but is also fairly likely to have trouble getting on base. He has also played a reasonably RF, so he could be the righty part of a RF platoon with Abreu (who is helpless against LHP).

So, roles:

Betemit: backup SS/3B/1B. Possible starts at those various positions as needed against RHP. Big increase of playing time (at 1B) if/when Giambi can't play.

Ensberg: backup 3B/1B. Righty bat off the bench.

Duncan: backup 1B/RF. Right bat off the bench.

There is some redundancy, yes. I wouldn't expect both to be on a playoff roster, for instance (then I do see the value of a guy like Gardner).

2008-03-11 14:14:26
62.   Schteeve
58 It is, but Hawk's strikeout call is actually, "He Gone!" not "He'll grab some bench."

I live in Chicago. He Gone, is like nails on a chalkboard.

2008-03-11 14:14:35
63.   Sonya Hennys Tutu
i even miss the old channel 11 yankees song. i'm not so great at spelling out tunes, but hopefully you guys remember it...
2008-03-11 14:30:31
64.   standuptriple
I grew up listening to Jon Miller, so I've been lucky. Thank God for XM. It has saved me on many occasions as the difference of quality of radio calls vs. television is pretty large in radio's favor, IMO.
2008-03-11 14:34:15
65.   weeping for brunnhilde
57 Rob is correct--Chicago.

I lived in Iowa for years and had to suffer through White Sox broadcasts to get to the Yanks.

God, they were far worse even than Sterling and Waldman, if you can believe that.

2008-03-11 14:35:04
66.   weeping for brunnhilde
60 H ah aha ah1! Very, very funny.
2008-03-11 14:36:15
67.   weeping for brunnhilde
62 Oh, right, he does say that.

He also says "He'll grab some bench," doesn't he?

Or maybe that was a Cubs guy?

2008-03-11 14:51:17
68.   Bagel Boy
61 Sorry, I think if they want to keep Ensberg then they should send Duncan down. It should be either/or, especially since you want A-Rod playing as many games as possible. If he ever needs a rest, then that's exactly what Betemit is for.

If you wouldn't expect both on a playoff roster, I don't see the difference. The goal is to win every game. Gardner provides a different skill set that can win a few games where Ensberg/Duncan can't.

I can realistically see at least one game a week where Giambi/Matsui/Jorge walk or single or double late in a close game. The problem is you don't bunt those guys over since there's no guarantee they'll score from second. By contrast, not only can Gardner steal that base, he'll score on any ball that reaches the outfield.

2008-03-11 15:06:15
69.   wsporter
60 Scooter would no doubt tell everyone that VORP is the sound you make after eating a dozen Cannoli.
2008-03-11 15:23:57
70.   weeping for brunnhilde
69 :)
2008-03-11 15:57:01
71.   bobtaco
I think on the league-wide scale, Kay is in the tolerable portion, or at least above the dregs line. However, that Generation Trey/Tres nickname is garbage -- and must go.

Most of the time I try to tune him out and listen to Singleton or Flaherty, etc...

2008-03-11 16:53:14
72.   David
A reason why I would keep Ensberg is that we don't know how Giambi and Duncan will do. They may both be great. OTOH, Jason might get injured playing the field and opposing pitchers might find a way to shut Shelly down.

Of course, Ensberg is also a question mark, but at least he gives the Yanks another 1B option.

2008-03-11 17:22:23
73.   Chyll Will
63 Where have you been??? Alex threw a whole 11 Alive party just a few months ago!

69 He'd also say that PECOTA was spelled with an 'h'... >;)

2008-03-11 17:35:50
74.   Chyll Will
73 http://tinyurl.com/2dd2j6

Wowzers, did I say months? A year and almost a week to the day. Most of you guys that are here today were there then, too. And of course, Sliced was the life of the party... time is passing way too quickly (sigh)...

2008-03-11 17:40:57
75.   Bagel Boy
72 So carry three firstbasemen? They did it last year, but that's no reason. Better to option Duncan, and keep Ensberg, if they're worried about losing the latter. Still, Betemit can play 1B too. Between him and Ensberg/Duncan that's coverage for Giambi. If he gets DL'ed then bring up Duncan.
2008-03-11 17:43:47
76.   weeping for brunnhilde
74 We're none of us getting any younger, my friend.
2008-03-11 17:45:14
77.   wsporter
73 Bob Veal 'Piccata'?
2008-03-11 17:51:29
78.   Raf
Speaking of broadcasters, I liked the Kubek-Staats team when they were doing MSG games.

Sterling was a decent play-by-play man (though Joe Angel couldn't work with him), he has gotten REALLY bad in the 90's

2008-03-11 17:54:17
79.   Raf
I met Kay at the Yankee Fan festivals @ Columbus Circle/Javits Center, he seemed like a real nice fella (this was when he was doing his NYDN column/Yankee Postgame wrapup). While I'm not too crazy about his recent work, I'd have to tip my cap for a guy who seems to be living his dream, and enjoys his work.
2008-03-11 18:05:58
80.   Chyll Will
77 Boy, does that bring back a fun trip down memory lane...

http://tinyurl.com/2q8k9m

>;)

2008-03-11 18:13:34
81.   wsporter
80 Jesus even the late Mr. Dean was in on that. Oh My, how the hell did you remember that?

You're starting to scare me Chyll.

2008-03-11 18:26:22
82.   Chyll Will
80 Just one thing to add to that fine list:

"medium rear" >;)

2008-03-11 18:33:32
83.   Chyll Will
81 Eh, I'm into the classics... >;)
2008-03-11 18:38:30
84.   Vishal
battles is a good band. just thought i'd chime in :)
2008-03-11 18:41:12
85.   wsporter
82 You're no longer "starting" to scare me, we are all the way there. :-)

Wump Woast? (Marlene Dietrich version)

2008-03-11 18:51:59
86.   Chyll Will
85 Hell, I see what you mean. You stare at my screen name long enough and it gives you the... um, forget it.
2008-03-11 19:00:19
87.   weeping for brunnhilde
79 I totally agree. He does seem a decent fellow and he certainly seems to appreciate his job.
2008-03-11 19:05:31
88.   Chyll Will
79 I think only Cashman would not appreciate having Kay's job...
2008-03-11 19:06:26
89.   Chyll Will
88 Switch with 87
2008-03-11 19:07:40
90.   wsporter
87 I have to agree with that. He can be brutal at times but you do get the sense he loves his job. He may not be the best but he's far from the worst.
2008-03-11 19:11:53
91.   Yu-Hsing Chen
75 i think the basic logic is pretty simple that in the course of the regular season your priority on pick positional players should be

1. bat
2. position

everything else is basically add on value. obviosly there are positions you abosalutely need (like catcher) that overrides the bat. but in other terms as long as you have all the position covered a good bat still beats whatever else they bring to the table.

if you think carefully on how many times a pinch runner actually gets in a game in the regular season and actually have a positive results. comparing to the difference that the hitting ability of said player (which in Gardner or Bernie Castro's case... i'd say is around .600-700 OPS right now... optimistically) compare to a solid hitter (which in Ensberg and Duncan's case is something like .750-850 OPS ) over the 250ish PA they get a year . the answer becomes quiet obvious.

The simple matter is that your bench player can't possibly be a strict pinch runner (the A's actually tried that in the 70s. the guy was cut a year later and every teammate hated him) if he can't bring extra value to the table himself besides speed then he's hurts the team more because of his lack of hitting then he helps from his running. the Yankees understand that. there was a reason why they cut Miguel Cairo (who was their real pinch runner ) last year after they got Betemit...

In the post season obviously that changes . because your bench guy is unlikely to get spot starts anyway. (not to meantion you definately not carry 12 pitchers).

the simple issue remains that amoung the guys that could run. none of them brings a even passable bat to the table. Bernie Castro has hilarious career .700 OPS in the minors. Christians and Gardner only got a taste of AAA last year and the guy with the higher upside (Gardner) hasn't really hit in AAA. they might give you 2-3 more runs by pinch running. but they'll cough it all back when they make their spot starts and go .250/.300/.300 for 100-300 PA

--------------------------------------------

as for the battles, right now i think Patterson and Traber has the inside track if you look at how they're use (they're not given regular outtings anymore. but frequently come into jam situations) it seems that Joe's already testing their ability to not pull a Mike Myers (give up all the inherited runs then shut down the opponent). the last spot if they really want a long many I'm guessing Karstens or Phillips.

2008-03-11 20:22:14
92.   tommyl
Tyler Kepner has a post about a truly stupid option. Keeping Ensberg and a UIF and dumping Betemit. Do the writers (and Tyler is one of the best) not realize that Betemit can play all four infield positions and outhit any other backup in baseball?
2008-03-11 21:24:31
93.   markp
agreed and agreed. Betemit is a pretty good baseball player and has vaue. The guys people like Tyler say should replace him are not and do not. I seriously doubt they traded for him only to cut him-especially after he did well after we got him last year. (Moreover he's a Yankee style hitter-patient and with power.)

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