Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Spring Training Status Report
2007-03-21 18:16
by Cliff Corcoran

I thought I'd take advantage of the lone off-day in the Yankees' spring schedule to take a look at some of the overall performances we've seen this spring, with the caveat that spring training stats are largely meaningless, of course.

First, here's how the starting nine have performed:

Johnny DamonCF.250/.386/.333Damon homered in the Yankees' first spring training at-bat, but hasn't had an extra base hit since. He leads the team with eight in walks.
Derek JeterSS.302/.348/.326
Bobby AbreuRF0 for 3Abreu didn't make his spring debut until Tuesday due to a strained oblique muscle that appears to be fully healed.
Alex Rodriguez3B.324/.419/.405Leads the team in strikeouts with ten.
Jason GiambiDH.189/.286/.459Leads the team in homers with three.
Hideki MatsuiLF.357/.386/.524Among Yankees with more than 31 plate appearances, only Robinson Cano has had fewer end in a walk or strikeout.
Jorge PosadaC.320/.414/.600The only Yankee other than Giambi with multiple home runs this spring.
Robinson Cano2B.375/.375/.563Leads the team in hits, runs scored, doubles, RBIs, and total bases. Hasn't drawn a walk, but has struck out just thrice.
Doug Mientkiewicz1B.074/.257/.111Not hitting, but second on the team in walks.

Because of Abreu's injury, Melky Cabrera has lead the team in plate appearances, but struggled mightily, hitting just .200/.216/.220. He has, however, played strong defense at all three infield positions. For the same reason, Kevin Thompson has lead the team in games played, also cycling through all three pastures and hitting a far more robust .296/.367/.556, not that you'd know it with all of the attention heaped upon Bronson Sardinha's .303/.324/.424. The other Kevin, Reese, his hitting just .267/.281/.400.

In the infield, the breakout star has been Chris Basak, who's crushing at a .414/.433/.690 clip and leading the team in slugging. Miguel Cairo is leading the team in stolen bases, a perfect five-for-five, and is tied with Mientkiewicz with six walks, hitting .300/.405/.333 overall.

The man leading the team in batting average and on-base percentage is righty first-base combatant Josh Phelps, who's hitting .435/.481/.609 and has struck out just three times in 26 plate appearances. His rival, Andy Phillips has gone 3 for 12 with no walks or extra base hits since returning from his mother's hospital room, but has struck out just once himself.

As for the catching battle, neither Todd Pratt nor Wil Nieves, both of whom missed time due to a sore heel and elbow respectively, has an extra-base hit or a walk. Pratt is 2 for 14, Neives is 2 for 11. Raul Chavez, meanwhile is hitting .294/.278/.471 on the strength of a homer and four singles. And that's no typo, Chavez has indeed pulled off the odd trick of having a lower on-base percentage than batting average thanks to having a sac fly, but no walks. Ben Davis has only come to the plate eight times, but has more extra base hits than the other three men have produced in a combined 43 trips (.250/.250/.625 thanks to a walk and a triple). Yes, you read that right, not one of these four men has drawn a walk in 51 plate appearances.

Of the position players already reassigned to minor league camp, the most impressive by far was 18-year-old Jose Tabata, who hit .429/.529/.643.

As for the pitchers, here's the starting five:

PlayerERA etc.Notes
Chien-Ming Wang2.57, 14 IP, 1 BB, 7 KWang has uncharacteristically given up two home runs.
Mike Mussina3.46, 13 IP, 2 BB, 4 KMoose has give up a team worst three homers.
Andy Pettitte (L)0.00, 10 IP, 2 BB, 7 KPettitte has allowed just five hits, less than half of the next lowest total by a Yankee starter.
Kei Igawa (L)3.00, 12 IP, 10 BB, 15 KIgawa leads the team in both walks and strikeouts.
Carl Pavano5.63, 8 IP, 5 BB, 3 KPavano missed one start for personal reasons but has thus far had no serious injury concerns.

Of the two sixth-starter options still in camp, neither Jeff Karstens nor Darrell Rasner has walked a man in a combined 20 2/3 innings. Karstens has a 2.70 ERA and 11 Ks in 13 1/3 innings. Rasner has a 2.45 ERA and 4 Ks in 7 1/3 innings. Actually, that's not entirely fair. Rasner pitched in one minor league game. Factoring in that outing, Rasner has a 2.38 ERA and 7 Ks in 11 1/3 innings, but did walk one batter.

Phil Hughes left camp with a 7.71 ERA having walked 6 men in 4 2/3 innings and struck out just two. Tyler Clippard and Chase Wright both left camp with 1.35 ERAs. Steven Jackson split camp with a 9.82 ERA.

Finally, the bullpen:

PlayerERA etc.Notes
Mariano Rivera0.00, 7 IP, 0 BB, 7 KMo's allowed just three hits.
Scott Proctor0.00, 6 IP, 0 BB, 5 KProctor allowed a run in a minor leage appearance, pushing his overall ERA to 1.17.
Kyle Farnsworth3.60, 5 IP, 2 BB, 3 KFarnsworth hasn't given up a home run this spring.
Luis Vizcaino2.25, 8 IP, 2 BB, 10 KVizcaino has allowed just one homer.
Mike Myers (L)1.80, 5 IP, 1 BB, 3 KIn eight appearances.

And the contenders for the final two spots:

PlayerERA, etc.Notes
Ron Villone (L)3.86, 4 2/3 IP, 1 BB, 5 KBut eight hits and over six games.
Sean Henn (L)0.00, 4 2/3 IP, 2 BB, 3 KHenn hasn't allowed a hit this spring.
Chris Britton13.50, 4 IP, 2 BB, 1 KThings get uglier when you factor in his minor league apperance, which pushes his overall ERA to 16.88 ERA.
Brian Bruney0.00, 3 IP, 2 BB, 5 KBruney's allowed just one hit.
T.J. Beam0.00, 4 IP, 2 BB, 3 KBeam has allowed just two hits.
Jose Veras0.00, 3 1/3 IP, 1 BB, 2 KVeras has not pitched in a week due to elbow pain.
Colter Bean0.00, 6 2/3 IP, 0 BB, 8 KBean has allowed just two hits . . . like it matters.

Bean and Henn look like the leaders there, but don't count out the team's prejudice against Bean or toward Villone. Of the two I'd say Henn has the better chance of making the team because he's out of options. I wonder if north Jersey native Villone, who's in camp on a minor league deal, would be willing to start the year in nearby Scranton. On the flip side, Andy Phillips and Wil Nieves, the other two Yankee campers who are out of options, are likely to slip through waivers at the rate their going, which means Josh Phelps just might make the team after all.

All of that said, there's still a week and a half left to go in camp (ten games to be exact). Anything could happen . . .

2007-03-21 21:09:32
1.   rabid stan
I don't think Melky has walked this spring. Now I know plate discipline doesn't just disappear, but maybe Melky should spend less time with Cano.
2007-03-21 21:12:00
2.   Cliff Corcoran
1 Melky has one walk and six Ks.
2007-03-21 21:46:24
3.   rilkefan
0 "Leads the team in strikeouts with ten", "or strikeout", "but has struck out just thrice", "has struck out just three times", "but has struck out just once himself"

Seems like a bit of an overemphasis on Ks - or is this a more important indicator in ST than usual?

2007-03-21 21:51:41
4.   yankz
"Farnsworth hasn't given up a home run this spring."

Is this like in elementary school, where you have to say something nice about someone? ;) JK. Thanks for the great summary. The pitching looks deep and great.

2007-03-21 21:54:28
5.   Cliff Corcoran
3 Strikeouts are historically a big problem for Phelps and Phillips, so it seemed worth mentioning that they haven't Ked much this spring. For Rodriguez, he leads the team. I also indicated the team leaders in runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBIs, total bases, steals, average, OBP, and slugging. For Cano, a distinctive characteristic of his offensive game is his high rate of contact, see the Matsui comment, in both cases it's not about striking, but about their rate of contact.
2007-03-22 03:33:10
6.   joejoejoe
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre may have a better bullpen in '07 then they had in the Bronx in '05.

(leaving Mariano out of the equation)

2007-03-22 03:40:08
7.   choirboyzgirl
Strikeouts- Even though he's leading the team in this area, things don't appear to be as bad as they seem for A-Rod, 8 of his 10 strikeouts came in his first 7 games as he was getting use to the adjustments in his swing. Since then he has only had 2 (However, I believe both were called strikeouts.)

As for Mientkiewicz even though he's only hitting .077 he has connected with the ball alot and like the post says only has 2 K's and has plenty of walks....its only a matter of time before some of those connections find the right spots for hits and his BA makes it up to the .200's :)

2007-03-22 05:07:15
8.   C2Coke
Thanks for this Cliff.

After reading this though, I can't help but think why I had an illusion for a few seconds this offseason that the Yankees have plenty of pitchers (starters and relievers)? That was obviously just an illusion.

2007-03-22 06:04:38
9.   williamnyy23
- I wouldn't worry too much about BB rates in the Spring. I'd imagine most players want to swing the bat even more in Spring Training, especially if they are working on a few adjustments.

- Since 1998, Arod has struck out between 120-140 times almost every season. Considering that he has had many great seasons in that span (ok...all of them have been great), I wouldn't worry about his strikeouts.

- While Doug Mientkiewicz has been a popular whipping boy, I think his rate of contact and solid OBP give him some potential to outperform the current prevailing wisdom. Who knows, maybe something will click and DM can return to being the OBP machine he was in Minnesota?

8 It looks to me as if the Yankees DO have pitching depth. Just last season, the rotation had Chacon and Wright with guys like Small and Erickson constituting the first line of defense. The current crop is much stronger this year.

2007-03-22 06:11:02
10.   Shaun P
Henn in the bigs, and Villone in the minors? It boggles the mind . . . I wonder how long it would last?

I feel bad for Bean, because I just don't see the Yanks giving him the chance he's earned. KC and the Nats are desperate for pitching. The Phillies are desperate for relief help. There's got to be a deal that can be made (Carlos Ruiz? Justin Huber? The Royals sure don't seem to have any room for him.)

2007-03-22 06:45:18
11.   monkeyball
"Among Yankees with more than 31 plate appearances, only Robinson Cano has had fewer end in a walk or strikeout."

Well, I guess if you don't have anything nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all, huh?

2007-03-22 06:46:12
12.   Sliced Bread
Doug Out should enjoy the walks in the park while he can. His opportunities for free passes will quickly dwindle when the games count, and he's hitting between Cano (or is it A-Rod?!} and Damon.
That's why Long and Mattingly have been urging him to be more aggressive at the plate. Doug Out is going to see more than his fair share of strikes. Can he bunt?
2007-03-22 07:00:44
13.   rbj
HOw about keeping Henn & Bruney (gives a lefty & righty) and trade Bean & Beam for a catching prospect or BUC?
2007-03-22 07:35:48
14.   wsporter
13 IMHO If you move Beam for a BUC it better be one hell of a BUC. That one could really blow up in our face. When Beam is throwing easy and relaxed he's one differet kind of specimine. He may never amount to much, he'll be 27 in August, he had that deer in the headlights look last year but he has some great stuff that shouldn't be dismissed without another look. I'd hate to see a Flahrity type retread come back for him; we have enough of those right now.

Joel Sherman really started something with that Ruiz speculation.

2007-03-22 08:14:42
15.   markp
I think one of the key things to take into account when talking trade is the likelihood of Torre ever using whoever we're thinking of trading.
Coulter Bean is obviously never going to be a big (or even medium) part of the BP, so trading him has zero effect. There are others who fit that bill.
If Henn isn't going to displace Villone or Myers despite looking far superior to either (and being younger and having so much more upside), then trading him makes sense, too.
Of course you want to get something in return, but even if it's only a small upgrade over what we have, it would be something vs nothing.
2007-03-22 09:04:32
16.   tommyl
15 Of course that assumes that Mr. Torre will be managing for years to come. Hopefully that doesn't trigger as big a response as my last post Re: Ruiz the other day.
2007-03-22 10:07:06
17.   YankeeInMichigan
The Braves just signed McCann to a 6-year extension. Might that lower Salty's price just a bit?
2007-03-22 10:13:40
18.   YankeeInMichigan
Two caveats regarding spring training pitching stats:
a) The minor league pitchers who come in to pitch the late innings are generally throwing to minor league hitters.
b) Pitchers (especially veterans) or more concerned with throwing quality pitches than with getting batters out. In other words, they don't study scouting reports and attack batters' weaknesses, at least not until their last couple of starts.

That being said, I'd still love to see the Yanks give Henn the opportunity to prove himself on the big stage. If he's really turned the corner (his AFL record suggests otherwise), he's a better option the Villone. And if they DFA him, someone will swallow him up.

2007-03-22 10:27:17
19.   YankeeInMichigan
Cliff, are your minor league roster assignments in the sidebar based on inside info or just hunches? I'm surprised to see E. Duncan, Cox and DeSalvo back at Trenton. By the way, lists DeSalvo on the Scranton roster. But it also lists Bean there.
2007-03-22 11:24:27
20.   Zack
19 They've all been sent down IIRC. Bean is still on the team, but cleraly Scranton forsees the inevitable...

Anyone read Stark's blog on DM on ESPN? Just reading his lead in made me throw up, man do they want him to succeed...

2007-03-22 11:26:31
21.   williamnyy23
As if they read the concerns of the Banter choir, Melky has drawn a walk and Arod has homered in today's game.
2007-03-22 11:43:52
22.   thelarmis
Abreu has homered, as well! he also blamed himself and made peace with the fans in Philthy in an article/interview.

17 i thought the same thing about mccan/salty. let's see if salty rebounds this year. i think he'll be in AA. i believe he had a hammy injury last season. i'll be keeping an eye on him, for certain.

well, in not such shocking news, Paplebitch has been officially named the closer for the BoSux this season...

alex did a great interview w/ Scurt at SI.

i head home-home to NY tomorrow to see my fam and take in a Jazz show in da shitty. my nephew is turning 6, is a big yankee fan and a little lefty slugger. i bought him the A-Rod children's book for his b-day. sounds very much like this'll be a-rod's last season with us, since we won't extend him. who knows, maybe he'll just decide to stay, at least one more year...

2007-03-22 12:05:48
23.   YankeeInMichigan
20 I am aware that all the players that I referenced had been reassigned to minor league camp (actually, Cox was never in the major league camp). My question was why Trenton vs. Scranton.

Cliff and agree regarding Duncan and Cox, so I'll have to assume that they were right. I guess that, after going 1 for 10 in his spring at-bats, Duncan is going to have to prove himself once again against AA pitching before coming to Scranton. As for Cox, he's been injured, so he can just stay on the Trenton roster for the time being.

The dispute is regarding DeSalvo. Cliff says Trenton and says Scranton. I'll have to lean toward's Cliff because of's other errors:
a) Bean at Scranton -- I guess they never took him off the roster when he was re-instated on the 40-man roster.
b) Matsui at Trenton -- Left over from last year's Eastern League playoffs.

2007-03-22 12:15:49
24.   thelarmis
i'm sort of getting used to seeing scranton in regards to our AAA club, but it certainly was weird seeing "Triple-A Columbus" and it being tied to the Nationals.
2007-03-22 12:25:35
25.   Cliff Corcoran
23 To be honest, those assignments on the sidebar are based on my own expectations, not anything official. I will adjust them per the actual opening day rosters of the minor league clubs come the end of spring training.

For DeSalvo, my logic was that the Scranton rotation will have Hughes, Ohlendorf, Clippard, Sanchez and possibly both Rasner and Karstens. DeSalvo struggled both at triple-A and double-A last year, so it makes sense to make him prove himself in Trenton again before getting a promotion to a team that doesn't have room for him anyway. I anticipate Trenton's rotation being DeSalvo, Jackson, Wright, White, and Kennard.

Re: Duncan and Cox, see my Campers post under Suggested Reading, I explain that I expected both to start the year in Trenton all along.

2007-03-22 12:45:29
26.   Shaun P
22 Paps is going to close?! Great news! That takes a (potentially) talented young starter out of the Sox rotation, and puts a guy with shoulder troubles back into the bullpen to be subject to the strains of closing.

Wow. After all the bellyaching about how they could better manage his shoulder in the rotation . . . !

2007-03-22 12:48:28
27.   thelarmis
i was thinking the same thing, shaun! i don't see any way paplebon has the same type of magical season. plus, his shoulder woes may prove to be something significant. we'll see. ironically, boston is in extra innings right now...
2007-03-22 13:22:12
28.   YankeeInMichigan
Bruney and Beam imploded to blow today's game. It looks like Colter Bean may be the last standing member of the B-squad.

Meanwhile, Villone seems to be doing his best to hold the door open for Sean Henn.

2007-03-22 13:26:52
29.   wsporter
14 ... Then of course ... oh crap!

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