Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
Reds 8, Yankees 7
2007-03-22 22:48
by Cliff Corcoran

The Yanks jack three homers, but can't hold a four-run seventh-inning lead.


S - Melky Cabrera (CF)
R - Derek Jeter (SS)
L - Bobby Abreu (RF)
R - Alex Rodriguez (3B)
L - Jason Giambi (1B)
S - Jorge Posada (C)
L - Robinson Cano (2B)
L - Kevin Reese (LF)
R - Carl Pavano (P)

Pitchers: Carl Pavano, Mike Myers, Kyle Farnsworth, Ron Villone, Jason Jones, Brian Bruney, T.J. Beam

Subs: Josh Phelps (1B), Miguel Cairo (2B), Chris Basak (SS), Angel Chavez (3B), Todd Pratt (C), Kevin Thompson (RF), Bronson Sardinha (RF), Shawn Garrett (LF), Ben Davis (PH), Andy Phillips (PH)

Opposition: Two-thirds of the Reds starters.

Big Hits: A three-run homer by Bobby Abreu (1 for 3) and solo shots by Alex Rodriguez (1 for 4) and Josh Phelps (1 for 2), and doubles by Robinson Cano (2 for 4) and Kevin Reese (1 for 4). Derek Jeter was 2 for 2 with two walks.

Who Pitched Well?: Kyle Farnsworth struck out two of the three men he faced in a perfect sixth inning. Non-invitee Jason Jones retired the only two men he faced to stop the bleeding caused by Ron Villone.

Who Didn't?: Villone allowed three runs on two walks and two hits including an Enrique Cruz triple while only managing to record one out. Brian Bruney struck out the side in the eighth, but also allowed a game-tying run on two hits, one of them an RBI double by Dewayne Wise. Brought into a tie game in the bottom of the ninth, T.J. Beam gave up doubles to the first two batters he faced, the second a game-winner by Edwin Encarnacion. By comparison, Carl Pavano's start (three runs on eight hits and two walks in just 4 1/3 innings) almost looks good . . . almost. Meat did escape a no-outs, bases-loaded jam in the first via a shallow fly out and a double play.

Oopsies: Jason Giambi misjudged a couple of balls hit in the second base hole, retreating to cover the bag rather than attempting to make a play on them.

Ouchies: Bobby Abreu played the field for the first time this spring. Andy Pettitte will indeed miss his scheduled start today, but says his back is feeling better.

Battles: Josh Phelps hit a solo homer in two trips. It was his second longball of the spring, tying him with Jorge Posada for second among the Yankee campers. Before the game, Joe Torre said he'd limit Andy Phillips to first base and DH and might even use him in a minor league game to allow him to concentrate on his hitting and said that Todd Pratt is in a similar place in terms of needing to catch up to the rest of the hitters at the plate due to his early heel injury. Pratt walked in his only plate appearance yesterday, the first walk drawn by a backup catcher candidate this spring. Wil Nieves caught Chien-Ming Wang in yesterday's minor league game. Villone, Bruney and Beam combined to blow the game over the final three innings, with Villone and Beam having the worst outings. Villone's spring ERA is now 9.00.

Notes: What Derek Jeter estimated to be about 100 bees interrupted the game in the fifth inning by swarming in the infield and chasing the Yankees off the field. Chien-Ming Wang, Chris Britton and Scott Proctor pitched in a minor league game in Tampa against the Phillies triple-A squad. Wang allowed three runs on five hits and struck out four in six innings. Britton struck out three in two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit. Proctor allowed just two hits in two scoreless innings. Neither Britton, nor Proctor walked a batter.

2007-03-23 07:09:38
1.   tommyl
I know its only spring training, but does Villone still have the bullpen spot nailed down? He's been just awful, and its certainly not from overuse at this point.
2007-03-23 07:15:33
2.   Shaun P
1 I think Villone only has a minor league deal, so not necessarily. We'll see how far his belly full of guts gets him.

Spring Training is the ultimate definition of 'small sample size', but I'd rather the Yanks went with the younger and cheaper option in Henn. Or trade Myers and let Villone take his spot - at least Villone can face righties, and even spot start if it came to that.

2007-03-23 07:28:21
3.   wsporter
2 MFD, Don't you think that not only is it "the ultimate definition of 'small sample size'" but that it's a sample of something far different and ultimately less useful than regular season ball. You have guys who don't belong on the same field with major leaguers playing, you have guys playing out of position, you have pitchers working on mechanics and toying with pitches that they might throw during the regular year or pitchers who only throw select portions of their repertoire or who don't cut loose with their stuff. I just don't think one can look at spring training results and stats the way you do regular season; feel means so much more now. Unfortunately, that may provide the logic for Villone heading north and Henn heading elsewhere.
2007-03-23 07:40:31
4.   tommyl
3 Villone is not Mike Mussina, his career has been spotty (career ERA of 4.78, ERA+ of 95) and down the stretch last year he was awful. The fact that he has continued to be awful this spring training when he is on a minor league deal and fighting for a job doesn't sit well with me. The question is, was the beginning of last season the real Villone or a fluke? From the end of last season through till now, it seems to be a fluke and I'd rather they get rid of him.
2007-03-23 07:44:26
5.   wsporter
4 I don't think we disagree.
2007-03-23 07:56:27
6.   ny2ca2dc
4,5 Word. Villone, and Andy Phillips for that matter, have shown nothing aside from some scattered months of goodness. I'd rather have one more of bruney/britton/rasner/karstens than villone. Proc & Farns & Viz (oh, and some Mo guy too) do fine agains lefties, and Torre has already said Villone won't be used as a long reliever, so.... dump! I was hoping he would be picked up elsewhere and we would get the draft pick. Anyone know if he gets cut and then makes another ML team, do we get the sandwitch pick? Or have we forfitted it by signing him to the MiL contract?
2007-03-23 08:00:59
7.   Shaun P
3 MFD, I agree 100%.

4 Villone has some value, but I'm not sure how much. I'd rather Villone start the year in the minors, and Henn get a real shot in the big leagues. Experience suggests that the odds of this happening are so close to zero, they might as well be zero. A man can dream.

2007-03-23 08:03:27
8.   mehmattski
So what were Bagwell, Biggio, and Berkman doing at a Yankees-Reds spring training game?
2007-03-23 08:05:19
9.   OldYanksFan
A lot of folk downplay the importance of D at 1st base. While Giambi did NOT get 2 errors, and there are not 'stats' effected, this game or games like it, may have had a different outcome with good D at 1st base.

It's digging out balls thrown, coving the hole, reacting quick enough to snag linedrives, fielding and throwing on bunts, stretching and getting poor throws without coming off the bag or tagging the runner if you do, the 3-6-3 DP, cutoff throws, positioning and more.

No... great D at 1st base NOT as important as great D at other positions, but it is still valuable and can change the outcome of a number of games in a year.

I saw many games (on TV) where Mattingly and Hernandez made game changing plays. It's hard to judge what the 'ultimate' outcome would have been without these plays, but they make a difference.

This is not to defend Minky. Overall, I'd never swap him one-for-one for Giambi. But I think statements of '1st base is not an important defensive position' are wrong.

2007-03-23 08:07:36
10.   Shaun P
8 Huh?
2007-03-23 08:11:16
11.   Zavo
This column from Ken Rosenthal mentions that Phelps and Nieves are the frontrunners for their jobs according to Yankee thinking (for what that is worth).

2007-03-23 08:14:06
12.   williamnyy23
In what amounts to the only two decisions the Yankees have to make, I think the correct choice has become exceedingly clear.

1) Phelps over Phillips
2) Henn over Villone

I agree with the gist of 4. Villone has never really been a very good pitcher, so I am not sure if one good half warrants special consideration. Also, if you look at Villone's 1st half numbers, an element of luck begins to creep in. In spite of a BB/9 rate of near 5, Villone managed a 2.27 ERA, largely because his BAA on balls in play was a very low .242. So, perhaps Villone's 2nd half implosion wasn't all over could just be that some hits starting falling in.

2007-03-23 08:14:20
13.   tommyl
7 Agreed, I'd be happy with Villone starting in the minors, I just assumed if they tried to do that he'd ask for his release to sign a ML deal. That thinking might have been wrong though.
2007-03-23 08:18:44
14.   williamnyy23
9 I think where 1B defense deserves to be discounted is when your baseline is an average glove. In the case of guys like Thomas, Giambi and Ortiz, however, there is clearly a significant advantage to not allowing them anywhere near the field.

10 The Yankees/Reds game was momentarily halted by a swarm of bees.

11 I forgot about catcher...that's three decisions. Might as well pick that one out of a hat...I just hope it's not Raul Chavez. His offensive ineptitude is historic.

2007-03-23 08:20:08
15.   tommyl
3 The only thing I disagree with is the idea that Villone is tweaking things at this point. That might be true of Rivera, Pettite etc., but Villone is ostensibly fighting for a job here, so if he's not pitching well that raises more flags to me, whether its to minor or major leaguers.
2007-03-23 08:33:52
16.   wsporter
15 I don't know why you read that to be specifically about Villone doing that; other than he is included generally in the population of pitchers at spring training. He may or not be tweaking things at this point; who knows.

The comment is general and is meant to illustrate the relative lack of value found in ST stats. In so far as it relates to Vilone directly this was meant to cover that: "Unfortunately, that may provide the logic for Villone heading north and Henn heading elsewhere."

2007-03-23 08:38:14
17.   jayd
was reading a trade rumour started by joel sherman: seems we've played the phillies 4 times in spring training, they need pitching we need a catcher, they have a kid named ruiz who would instantly supplant nieves and pratt and could spend a couple years with our high powered seasoning behind posada. He's small (170lbs) panamanian kid.

time to start now thinking about C and this kid is near MLB catcher status.

any opines, anybody ever seen him play?

think the Phils need LRP help? Could I volunteer the hard throwing crafty Ron villone as bait?

2007-03-23 08:41:18
18.   wsporter
17 Jayd check out the BB "Change my pitch up ..." thread from 3/21. Oh, there are a few opinions on that one!
2007-03-23 08:47:32
19.   tommyl
16 Agreed, we're splitting hairs, no worries.

17 Just a few, roughly 50 or so :).

2007-03-23 08:58:05
20.   kylepetterson
Anybody ever heard of this guy?

"Karim Garcia's RBI single in the seventh off Papelbon tied the game at 4."

2007-03-23 08:59:35
21.   tommyl
20 Who is Karim Garcia? Maybe he'll start a brawl for old times sake?
2007-03-23 09:02:34
22.   williamnyy23
17 Here's something else to consider (taken from

In addition to pondering Garcia's health issues, the Phillies also are concerned with the status of catcher Carlos Ruiz, who was scratched from Wednesday's game due to right shoulder soreness. Ruiz, too, is expected to take the next few days off, and along with Garcia will see team Dr. Michael Ciccotti tomorrow when Ciccotti arrives in Clearwater.

2007-03-23 09:16:34
23.   Shaun P
The swarm of bees things went right over my head, obviously. 8 Sorry I ruined your joke, dude. 14 Thanks!

17 I think I've said enough on that one, though using Villone as bait is a great idea. Not only are the Phils looking for bullpen help - Phillies GM Pat Gillick may have been behind signing Villone to the Ms in '04 and '05 - he was rumored to be pulling Bavasi's strings - and Gillick loves getting guys he used to have. Especially crafty veterans.

In the meantime, I'll note 22 and hope its not serious and that a deal is forthcoming.

2007-03-23 09:20:14
24.   mehmattski
23 S'all good.

But what is the Nash Equilibrium of the Yankees trading Henn for Ruiz, compared to the chances that the Yankees do nothing, Posada gets hurt, and Todd Pratt has to start at catcher? Or should that be a Jim Dean Equilibrium?

2007-03-23 09:48:28
25.   RIYank
I don't want anyone to think that I'm conjured by mere mention of Nash, but here I am.

Does everyone know that Papelbon is going to close after all? This upgrades the Sox' pen from Grave Questions to Pretty Damn Good, but of course it markedly decreases the upside of their rotation. I think it's a smart move.

Also, Jonathan Papelbon is not exactly vying with Mike Mussina for top mound intellect. Holy cow. I checked out Alex's Schilling interview and am impressed at how a skilled artist can turn a lump of clay into something interesting, but I think even in a Belth interview Papelbon would have quite a pile of "Uh huh"s and "Ah Reckon"s.

2007-03-23 10:23:20
26.   Eirias
I would like to know Jim Dean's opinion on the possible Ruiz trade, given that he is Iudex to all things BUC.
2007-03-23 10:36:06
27.   Sliced Bread
14 "In the case of guys like Thomas, Giambi and Ortiz, however, there is clearly a significant advantage to not allowing them anywhere near the field."

Let's see how Giambi does at DH. If his production is significantly diminished by not playing the field, (as his career splits indicate) I would not hesitate to put him back at 1B.

Giambi can still pick throws out of the dirt, as evidenced by his three slick digs the other night. As long as he can do that much at 1B, while continuing to slug runs in, I have no problem with him there.

I've said all winter that I predict we will see a lot more of Giambi at 1B in 2007 than Cashman would like.

The question is how poorly does Giambi have to hit at DH, and how poorly does Doug Out have to hit before Giambi is re-installed at first, and Doug takes his rightful place on the bench as Giambi's late-inning replacement? My guess is (unless Phelps or someone else somehow emerges as the everyday 1B) the switch will take place around late April, early May, but we'll see about that.

25 I've said all along that Papelbum would be re-installed as the closer, although I'm sorta surprised the Sox came to their senses before opening day. Closer is the best use of his talent, and putting him there makes them a tougher team to beat in a series.

2007-03-23 10:45:51
28.   tommyl
[25} Ha, maybe you are Nash? I've met him a few times, he's actually a pretty nice guy these days (though I've heard stories about him in his youth). Its too bad all those years were lost.
2007-03-23 11:04:28
29.   JL25and3
25 Yes, Papelbon as closer improves their pen enormously - assuming he stays healthy.

But the flip side is that their starting rotation now includes Julian Tavarez. That's the Julian Tavarez, starting, every fifth day. Words just can't express how wonderful that makes me feel.

2007-03-23 11:12:24
30.   tommyl
29 Put another way, a closer does no good if you're already down by 5.
2007-03-23 11:18:06
31.   Shaun P
29 It makes me want to burst out into song.
2007-03-23 11:29:08
32.   JL25and3
31 Ta-var-ez...We just rocked a stiff named Tavarez...
2007-03-23 11:55:54
33.   hoppystone
Heaven... must be missin' an angel...
2007-03-23 12:23:15
34.   RIYank
33 Oh, nice. Taveres -- but still.

Yeah, the thing is, Papelbon was in no way guaranteed to turn into a really good starter. Now they have a genuine closer. I dunno, on net it seems like an upgrade. If he stays healthy, as JL25and3 notes.

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