I'm not sure how many of you caught my comment on Alex's Barking and Biting post this past Monday, but for those who didn't, it explains my absence in recent weeks (a.k.a. the entire history of this site). I'm still under the crush, but as the Yanks have hit the half-way point of spring training, I felt I really owed you guys some sort of catch up post. So here's a quick look at the first round of cuts the Yankees made last week.
After 12 full-squad and two split-squad games the Yankees are 6-7 (with one tie and two rainouts).
Having started camp with 60 players, they're down to 49 after making an initial round of cuts last Thursday. Most of the players cut are destined for the lower minors (John-Mark Sprowl, Irwil Rojas, Sean Henn, Edwardo Sierra; Ferdin Tejeda has already been assigned to AA Trenton). Two of them never should have been in camp to begin with (NRIs Mark Valdes and Brad Voyles). And Danny Borrell is coming off a surgery-shortened year in the low minors and will need all of 2005 to regain his form, if he can. That leaves three cuts that caught me by surprise.
I had Ramon Ramirez listed as second on my minor-league starter depth chart, but after 4.1 admittedly poor innings (8 H, 3 R, 2 BB 3 K) the Yanks have apparently decided he needs to work on his stuff in their minor league camp. Actually the story of Ramirez's spring isn't that cut and dry. In his first outing back on March 4, he gave up four hits in two full innings, but didn't walk any or allow any runs while striking out two. His next outing, on three day's rest on the 8th, he got lit up for three runs on four hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings while striking out just one. You'd think the Yanks would want to get a third look at a pitcher who could actually prove to be useful as early as this year and who held the opposition scoreless in one of two appearances (in both he pitched innings 3 and 4, so not exactly sub territory). But then you'd be wrong.
I was less enthusiastic about Jason Anderson, but he, like Ramirez, has had consistantly strong K/BB rates in the minors and, unlike Ramirez, did make the team out of camp two years ago. But again no. Anderson was allowed to pitch in just one inning. He got beat like and egg that insulted yo mama (5 H, 4 R, 2 HR, 0 K or BB), but it was one inning.
Finally, say goodbye to Ryan Hankins. I had Hankins pegged as the Yankees most likely third-string catcher now that Dioner Navarro is a Dodger (3 for 11 with a double). But noooo. Hankins got just one at-bat. Worse yet, in that at bat he cracked an RBI single and later came around to score. Small sample size you say? Bah! This guy's a 1.000 hitter!!! Seriously, though, some one has to be ready if Flaherty or (please no) Posada goes down. The Yankees have given eight at-bats to the hitless Omar Santos and Joe DePastino (surprise: no hits) and enother eight to David Parrish, who clearly has incriminating photos of someone important in the organization. Parrish has actually done well in those eight at-bats (3 for 8, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), but don't be fooled. Parrish has yet to hit his way out of A-ball, despite cracking the big-league roster for two days last year. Incriminating photos. I'm tellin' ya.
Also, it should be noted that Melky Cabrera seems to have wiggled his way into camp despite not being listed as an NRI, or a member of the Yankees 40-man roster. It could have been a cameo (just one hitless at-bat), but for what it's worth: Cabrera's a smallish (5'11", 170) switch-hitting outfielder from the Dominican Republic. He's 20 years old and has not yet broken out of A-ball. He is, however, one of the more exciting players in the organization as he's a threat with the bat and on the bases. He seems to have doubles power and great speed and it will be interesting to see exactly how he develops over the next few seasons. I would expect him to start this year in Trenton (though I'm basing that on zero organizational information).
Okay. Hate to post a run, folks. I wish I had time to go through the big leaguers (Brown, Karsay, Bernie, Tino: Bad; Mo, Quantrill: ouchy; Jeter, Womack, Matsui: en fuego; Pavano, Mussina, Sturtze, Wright: solid) or the position battles (Bubba Crosby's hitting .333 with a .708 slugging percentage, if he doesn't make the team . . . / Chien-Ming Wang is ready for his close-up / Andy Phillips and Russ Johnson should be packing Rey Sanchez's bags for him - though sadly they're likely not).
Not quite done with the book yet. Should be back in full-time action some time next week.