Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Thursday's Split Squad Games
2006-03-09 21:09
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

In the first of two split-squad contests, the Yankees' A-squad got two-hit by ex-Yank Kenny Rogers and a trio of relievers, including fellow ex-Ranger Colby Lewis, while Randy Johnson and Mariano Rivera combined to yield six runs in a 6-1 loss to the Tigers.


Miguel Cairo SS
Robinson Cano 2B
Gary Sheffield RF
Hideki Matsui DH
Jorge Posada C
Andy Phillips 1B
Mitch Jones LF
Felix Escalona 3B
Kevin Thompson CF

Subs: Damian Rolls 1B, Kevin Howard 2B, Eduardo Nunez SS, Omir Santos C, Rudy Guillen RF, Russ Johnson DH

Pitchers: Randy Johnson, Mariano Rivera, Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Villone, T.J. Beam

Big Hits: Felix Escalona (1 for 3) doubled in the third and scored on an out by Miguel Cairo. A Kevin Thompson single was the only other Yankee hit (Thompson was also 1 for 3).

Who Pitched Well: Farnsworth and Villone pitched scoreless innings but gave up a walk and two singles respectively. T.J. Beam made his spring debut by striking out two in two scoreless innings, but gave up three hits in the process. Meanwhile, ex-Yankee Marcus Thames ruined Rivera's one inning of work, in which the Yankee closer struck out the side, with a solo homer, and Randy Johnson gave up five runs (but only two earned due to an ugly Kevin Thompson fielding error in the third) on a walk and seven hits, including a two-run Chris Shelton homer in the first, while striking out three in four innings. The good news: Unit lasted four innings and got his fastball into the mid-90s.

Oopsies: Kevin Thompson's error came on a flyball (it has been alternately described as wind-blown and a ball Thompson lost in the sun) with two out and two on in the third. Both baserunners and the batter, Kody Kirkland, scored on the play.

Game 2

In the B-squad game, a line-up that included just two members of the 40-man roster and had David Parrish at DH (he went 0 for 5) exploded for 17 hits against Brett Myers and the Phillies, winning 8-3.


Kevin Reese LF
Danny Garcia 2B
Melky Cabrera CF
Eric Duncan 1B
Wil Nieves C
David Parrish DH
Marcos Vechionacci 3B
Ramiro Pena SS
Bronson Sardinha RF

Subs: Selley Duncan 1B, Gabe Lopez 2B, C.J. Henry SS, Jason Brown C, Austin Jackson CF, Jose Tabata LF

Pitchers: Matt DeSalvo, Jeffrey Karstens, Mike Myers, Mark Corey, Jose Veras

Big Hits: The biggest was a first-inning grand slam by Eric Duncan (2 for 4) that gave the Yankees enough runs to win before a single Phillie hitter had come to the plate. Shelley Duncan (no relation, 2 for 2) capped the Yankee scoring with a solo shot in the ninth. In between Kevin Reese (1 for 3), Ramiro Pena (2 for 3), Marco Vechionacci (curiously listed as 0 for 2), and Gabe Lopez (1 for 2) delivered doubles. Danny Garcia went 3 for 3 with an RBI, a run scored and a stolen base, Austin Jackson did the same minus the RBI.

Who Pitched Well: Matt DeSalvo started and allowed just two baserunners (a walk and a hit) while striking out two in three innings. Mike Myers, who also pitched on Wednesday, went 2 1/3 innings allowing just two hits and no runs, Jose Veras struck out two in a hitless ninth, Mark Corey pitched around a hit for a scoreless eighth.

Oopsies: Danny Garcia, in his spring debut, made an error to compensate for his excellent day at the plate and on the bases.

Ouchies: Jason Giambi (calf) took batting practice but was not allowed to run the bases, he's hoping to return to action over the weekend. Bubba Crosby (finger) threw for the first time since the injury. Russ Johnson (back) returned to action as a DH in the A-game. Tanyon Sturtze threw a bullpen session and is schedule to pitch in Sunday's game.

Meanwhile, with four of their starters absent due to the WBC, a lot of new names popped up in yesterday's split squad action. As a supplement to my pre-spring training breakdown of the Yankee campers, here are quick descriptions of the players who participated in yesterday's games were not on that initial list.

Kevin Howard was the primary player obtained from the Reds for Tony Womack on December 8. At the time, he was ranked by both Baseball Prospectus and Baseball America as the top player available in that day's Rule 5 draft. A 24-year-old, lefty-hitting second baseman who spent all of 2005 in double-A, Howard doesn't have a whole lot of power, but gets his hits and knows how to draw a walk (his .296/.346/.428 line in Chattanooga last year is fairly representative of his abilities at the plate). Howard played 3B in college and returned there in October in the Arizona Fall League where he crushed to the tune of .409/.475/.557, winning the AFL batting crown. A left-handed hitter, Howard's never had a great defensive reputation, but his offensive skills and ability to play multiple positions (it's thought he could also be used in the outfield) could make him a useful utility player as soon as the latter half of this year, which means he's probably already more valuable than Womack. Best of all, the Yankees got him without having to keep him on the 25-man roster all year. In fact, he's not even on the 40-man roster right now.

Damian Rolls A no-hit utility man who played every position but pitcher and shortstop in parts of five seasons with the Devil Rays, Rolls was given the opportunity to claim the Yankees' fifth outfielder job last spring, but lost out to Bubba Crosby. Instead, Rolls spent the year as a utility man in Columbus, picking up just 88 at-bats. That he couldn't even start with the Clippers is proof that Rolls shouldn't be anywhere near a major league club, even if he does play a solid third base.

Eduardo Nunez is an eighteen-year-old Dominican shortstop with just a half year in the New York-Penn League under his belt. He hit well in that half season, but that was largely due to a .313 average. Not to be confused with the 20-year-old Puerto Rican infielder of the same name in the Nationals system, this Eduardo Nunez was named the sixth best prospect in the Yankees system by Baseball America.

Gabe Lopez Ever wonder who wound up playing second in Columbus after it became clear Robinson Cano was going to stick in the bigs? The answer is Gabe Lopez. Lopez has no power whatsoever, but he'll take his walks. That's about all he can do at the plate anyway. Now 26, he's likely gotten as far as he ever will given his dearth of offensive skills.

Selley Duncan No relation to top prospect Eric, Shelley's more comparable to another OF/1B, Mitch Jones. Duncan cracked double-A for the first time last year at age 26, spending a full season there and showing considerable power (34 homers), fair patience (.083 isolated discipline), and a penchant for going down swinging (140 Ks in 142 games).

Rudy Guillen The 22-year-old Guillen cracked double-A last year despite not having hit since Rookie ball. Once a top prospect in the organization, it looks like Guillen might have been stalled by the big jump from A-ball to double-A. Even worse, an ankle sprain in 2004 robbed him of some of his range, forcing him to move from center to a corner outfield spot. He is further evidence of the lack of organizational depth in the outfield.

Bronson Sardinha The Yankees second first-round pick in the 2001 draft (after John-Ford Griffin), Sardhina spent his first full season at double-A last year, but failed to impress. Much like Eric Duncan, he then found his stroke in the hitting-friendly Arizona Fall League, hitting .344/.371/.510. The Hawaiian outfielder will be 23 in early April.

C.J. Henry The Yankees' first pick in last year's draft and the 17th pick overall, Henry is a toolsy high school shortstop. In 48 games in the Gulf Coast Rookie League, Henry stole 17 bases, drew 17 walks and got hit by six pitches.

Austin Jackson The Yankees got Jackson as the 259th overall pick (8th round) because he had signed a letter of intent to play basketball at Georgia Tech. The Yankees, however, were able to lure him away with a big payday. The 19-year-old Jackson is a speedy center fielder from the "classic lead-off man" mold. In 40 games with the Gulf Coast Yankees, he hit .304 with a .374 OBP, stealing eleven bases while being caught just twice.

Jose Tabata Another player entering his first full year of professional ball, Tabata was a Gulf Coast teammate of Henry and Jackson's in the latter half of 2005. Beating Jackson at his own game, the 17-year-old Tabata (he was born in August 1988!) hit .314 with a .382 OBP and 22 stolen bases in 28 attempts. Tabata, Henry, and Jackson were ranked as the third, fourth, and fifth best prospects in the Yankees organization respectively by Baseball America.

Incidentally, with Garcia, Brown, Beam, Corey, and Veras making their spring debuts yesterday, Colter Bean remains the only Yankee camper not to have seen game action. I've not ready any injury reports concerning Bean. I'm now absolutely convinced that Bean shot Joe Torre's dog, or hit on his wife, or spat in his food at sometime in the last three years. I think this requires some looking into.

2006-03-10 05:35:28
1.   Rob Gee
Damian Rolls is in camp! Who knew?

And the absence of Bean had me wondering too?

2006-03-10 05:59:44
2.   Alex Belth
In the News, John Harper suggests that RJ should instill the fear of God into hitters by brushing 'em back more often (which is something that Curt Schilling evidentally plans to do this season).

Here's a cherce quote from RJ:

"Maybe if I'm willing to throw up and in to Jeter and Damon, I should be willing to throw something in to an opposing hitter," he said with a laugh. "But no, if hitters want to feel that comfortable (as the Tigers did yesterday), and then I'm not going to do that, that's their biggest downfall, to think that I won't.

"The greatest thing is the unknown: Is he going to throw one up and in?"

As Ben Stiller said in "Starsky and Hutch," "Do it, do it."

2006-03-10 06:03:36
3.   Sliced Bread
Bury My Stinnett At Wounded Knee?
Daily News reports Stinnett felt "something click" in his left knee earlier this week, hasn't played since, and the knee was "heavily wrapped with ice" yesterday.
Uh, here's a terrible thought: perhaps Flaherty's retirement will be shorter than Rocket's. Click.

re: the Colter Bean 'Conspiracy.' No theory is too reckless at this point, so here's mine:
Joe is a green tea drinker, which could make him hostily indifferent to coffee beans. Colter Bean, coffee bean. That's all I got, but how else can you explain the unseen Bean situation? Click.

2006-03-10 06:14:34
4.   rbj
Maybe Joe Torre isn't a Rowan Atkinson fan, and thus hates everyone named Mr. Bean
2006-03-10 08:37:52
5.   Shaun P
Torre thinks each team should be limited to 1 guy with the first name 'Randall' - and Unit is the guy?

Torre naturally distrusts pitchers born in Alabama?

Torre is a huge Crimson Tide fan and so naturally despises everyone who went to Auburn?

That's all I've got after looking at Bean's page at

None of them is an acceptable reason, as far as I'm concerned.

2006-03-10 08:58:53
6.   TheShroud
I was a huge Bean fan.... his numbers look awesome... but if you look closer into his awesome .222 BAA last year you'll see that lefties hit him to a tune of .314... Which I think proves that he IS a junkball pitcher that just gets by with a funky delivery. The man should never face a lefty again. Could he turn into a serviceable major leaguer? I think so, but unless every pitcher in trenton and columbus drops dead we'll never find out.
2006-03-10 11:17:57
7.   bp1
It's been quiet on the Farnsworth front this Spring, other than some early puff pieces. Any significant news about his pitching? The recap by Cliff is the first I've seen him mentioned.

No news is good news?


2006-03-10 12:17:58
8.   Cliff Corcoran
No news is good news, BP. Farnsworth is going about his business, getting his innings in. In three one-inning appearances he has walked two, hit one, allowed two hits, and struck out two. So he's a little wild, but he's always been a little wild. The good news, in additon to the fact that he has yet to allow a run, is that he still has plenty of time to remember where the strike zone is as he gets in shape for the season, which is exactly why spring training exists in the first place.
2006-03-10 12:31:57
9.   Simone
Good start for the U.S. in the WBC. Four runs in the 1st inning. What a relief.
2006-03-10 14:25:59
10.   Simone
Onto the second round! Hopefully, the bats have woken up.

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