Baseball Toaster Bronx Banter
2008-02-27 22:41
by Cliff Corcoran
Note: The Bronx Banter blog has moved to

The Yankees got their first game action of the spring yesterday afternoon with a seven-inning intrasquad game. Pete Abraham posted the lineups, and play-by-play of the first 3 1/2 innings, as did Bryan Hoch of Hoch also posted the final tallies and pitching lines (compare them to Abraham's accounting here).

It's interesting to note that Girardi distributed the regulars between the two teams, whereas Joe Torre used to put them all on one squad (see last year's lineups). Girardi had four of the Yankees' expected regulars in each lineup. Hideki Matsui didn't play, likely because he's still rehabbing his surgically-repaired knee. Matsui also missed the 2006 intrasquad game due to his aching knee (which may be one of most insignificant facts I've ever cited on this blog).

Looking over those pitching lines, Sean Henn and Billy Traber, the top two contenders for the lefty spot in the pen, both had rough outings, with Henn having some obvious control problems. Mike Mussina threw 77 percent of his 30 pitches for strikes, but didn't get the results he wanted. At least he has the excuse of having faced the starters, allowing hits to Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, and Morgan Ensberg. The fourth hit off Moose came when a would-be double-play ball from Jose Tabata took a wild bounce over the shortstop's head. That drove in Mussina's only earned run. He also allowed an unearned run in the first after an error by Brett Gardner in center field (overrunning Cano's single) allowed Jeter to go to third and subsequently score on an out.

Moose wasn't the only pitcher to pitch in bad luck as there were seven errors in the game (in addition to Gardner, the offending fielders were Justin Christian, Chris Woodward, Cody Ransom, Nick Green, Eduardo Nuñez, and Marcos Vechionacci, all but one of them playing for the "Gator" team). At the plate, Ensberg had the big day, picking up the only extra base hit of the contest (a double off Mark Melancon) and scoring three of the "Goose" team's six runs.

In the third inning, righty reliever Scott Patterson was hit in the foot by a comebacker which ricocheted to shortstop for an inning-ending double play. Patterson walked gingerly off the field and has a contusion on his right ankle. In other aches-and-pains news, fellow righty reliever Scott Strickland has been shut down for a few days due to a swelling near his pitching elbow. I don't expect either hurler to factor into the bullpen competition even if healthy.

The Yanks have a light workout today and will play an exhibition against the University of South Florida tomorrow before starting their official spring schedule against the Phillies on Saturday. The Yankees trio of young starters (Chamberlain, Kennedy and Hughes) are all scheduled to pitch tomorrow. The USF team is coached by Tino Martinez's brother-in-law, and Tino was a volunteer assistant coach for them last year. Tino's a special instructor for the Yanks this spring and, per the Daily News' Mark Feinsand, offered the USF staff some advice on how to be good hosts to the Yankees.

The Yankees rotation starting Saturday will be Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and Phil Hughes, with Ian Kennedy and Joba Chamberlain pitching in tandem out of the five-spot. Tyler Kepner believes this is how the rotation will look to start the season, barring injury and pending a decision on the fifth spot, of course.

With the spring schedule about to start, I'm trying to decide what to do about my customary liveblog of the first spring training game. As neither the USF game, nor Saturday's game against the Phillies will be televised (the latter will be on MLB.TV, but I'm not a subscriber). I leave the choice up to you guys. I can either liveblog Sunday's game against the Phillies, which is the first televised game of the season, or, since those of you with YES can simply watch that game yourselves, I could liveblog the next televised game, which would be Wednesday's game against the Twins, thus providing you all with some play-by-play during the work day. Neither will have quite the same thrill as a work-day liveblog of the very first intersquad game action of the spring, which I've been fortunate enough to be able to do two of the last three years, but as I suspect there are others out there who look forward to that first liveblog of the year as much as I do, I thought I'd throw it out there for a vote. Please state your preference in comments. One more thing to consider: Sunday's game will also be on the radio, Wednesday's won't.

2008-02-28 01:37:41
1.   tommyl
Hey Cliff,

I'm in Europe lecturing right now so I wouldn't mind as many liveblogs as you can muster. Somehow I don't think they get YES in either Amsterdam or the north of England.

2008-02-28 05:17:34
2.   Sliced Bread
Nothing like a workday fete for the rabble, Cliff. My vote's for the Joba-Kennedy matinee.
2008-02-28 05:41:43
3.   Rob Middletown CT
Tandem starters... I like it. Though I would've thought JobaPhil was the way to go, not Ianberlain, because of the innings caps. I like that they are playing around with it, even if it's just spring training.
2008-02-28 05:42:01
4.   Rob Middletown CT
Oh, and totally agree: liveblog a workday game.
2008-02-28 06:21:05
5.   Bags
I'm casting my ballot for Wednesday.
2008-02-28 06:23:17
6.   rbj
I'm going to be doing an Aikido seminar this weekend :-), so I'll miss Saturday's & Sunday's games :-( so from my selfish perspective I pick Wednesday.

And even with just an intrasquad game, it is real nice to read about actual on the field baseball, rather than trades & contracts & injuries; plus all the assorted other garbage.

2008-02-28 06:43:19
7.   Shaun P
I vote for Wednesday. Especially because I will be in NYS this weekend, so I get to see Sunday's game (yay!).
2008-02-28 06:49:28
8.   NJYankee41
I'm voting for Wednesday.

I have to say from a baseball standpoint I hope that Henn and Trabor do not pitch well this spring so it doesn't force the Yanks to take one. It's good to have a lefty, but not if you take one just to fill the role. If Henn pitches well and makes the team I think we all know how that will work.

I can't wait for Sunday's game!

2008-02-28 07:30:16
9.   Bagel Boy
I like the sound of a mid-week distraction. Thanks!
2008-02-28 07:40:44
10.   vockins
Wednesday, please.
2008-02-28 08:37:19
11.   Rob Middletown CT
The pitchers I think they should take:

SP: Wang, Pettitte, Moose, Hughes, Kennedy

RP/Swing: Chamberlain*, Rasner

RP: Mo, Farns, Hawkins, Britton + one of Albaladejo, Edwar, Ohlendorf or Bruney. I'd lean toward Alba. He's shown that he can throw strikes at the ML level, and not get hammered. The other guys all have potential, but have clear weaknesses to work on... which is sorta the point of AAA.

2008-02-28 08:38:30
12.   Rob Middletown CT
Ack. Never explained the asterisk. * = I'm pro-starter on Joba, but some sort of inbetween role has to happen this year with his innings capped around 140. So long as he doesn't get classified as a reliever before they really check out his potential as a starter.
2008-02-28 08:50:01
13.   wsporter
Wednesday would be great for me as well. Thanks for asking Cliff.

12 Rob I think that's right. I hope that's exactly what they're doing and thinking with him. I'd hate to see them build themselves into a bull pen corner with Joba they can't get out of because they feel they have no one else who can play his role out of the pen. If he can do it physically over time his diverse repertoire and extreme stuff play to maximum utility as a starter.

2008-02-28 09:18:04
14.   YankeeInMichigan
It's good to see Ensberg swinging the bat well. I have finally warmed up to Cliff's suggestion of Duncan and Ensberg both making the roster, even though they appear to be redundant parts as lefty-mashing first basemen. Duncan doubles as a 5th outfielder (who absolutely has to be a righty -- what on earth is Jon Lane doing there?), and Ensberg doubles as a backup 3rd baseman, providing the flexibility to replace 2 starting infielders (2B, 3B, SS) if necessary (to replace Cano and Jeter, Betemit could play 2nd, A-Rod could move to SS and Ensberg could play 3rd). More importantly, they could put up a competive righty-laden lineup against the likes of Kazmir, Bedard and Santana (whom they still may face twice), with Duncan in the outfield and Ensberg at 1st or DH.
2008-02-28 09:31:28
15.   YankeeInMichigan
11 12 Like it. Hughes will probably be limited to 5 innings, and IPK and Moose won't be going beyond 6, so the "swing men" should get plenty of work. If Igawa winds up in the rotation at some point, he'll be another 5 inning guy (strikeouts and walks lead to high pitch counts). They may want to rotate Hughes and IPK through swing man spot to keep their innings down.
2008-02-28 09:59:32
16.   Cliff Corcoran
The liveblog vote appears to be unanimous. Wednesday it is!
2008-02-28 10:01:10
17.   Shaun P
Anyone else see this?

A very nice piece by Emma in Salon on the Santana deal (with a link to Bronx Banter in the article too).

2008-02-28 10:03:51
18.   weeping for brunnhilde
1 Hey tommy, lucky you! What's the weather like up there? Cold and wet? Still must be beautiful, though. Enjoy!
2008-02-28 10:04:52
19.   weeping for brunnhilde
17 Cool, thanks for passing that on, Shaun!
2008-02-28 10:07:08
20.   weeping for brunnhilde
17 (Slate, btw, not Salon. But who's counting :)
2008-02-28 10:15:59
21.   weeping for brunnhilde
(You're kidding me--"Tampa Bay Rays?")
2008-02-28 11:31:43
22.   rbj
21 I think they'll have a devil of a time getting anyone to use that moniker.
2008-02-28 12:20:34
23.   dianagramr
From a BP.COM chat today ....

jphan44 (NY): how much of an impact is Ensberg going to have this year?

Christina Kahrl: I like the possibilities, and he certainly picked the right place--a team without a real first baseman, what with Giambi's spavined crab act at the cold corner, plus Giambi bats lefty, so Ensberg could plausibly be both a platoon partner and a defensive replacement.


Can we now refer to the Giambino as "SpavinedCrab" ??? Not quite as catchy as "SpongeBob", I'll grant you, but ...

2008-02-28 12:49:39
24.   Rob Middletown CT
I read Emma's article on Slate this morning. Good stuff, as usual. Thumbs up.

Even better, from the Karl chat:

Ricky (New York): With reports that Hughes is physically stronger at camp and is healthy, not to mention his stuff seem to be all the way back, what type of year will he have? Are you still fan of Hughes?

Christina Kahrl: Who isn't? I think he's prepped to deliver on exactly the sort of greatness we've anticipated all along.

2008-02-28 12:52:52
25.   rbj
The Spavined Crab, great nickname, almost as good as Death to Flying Things, and much better than adding -ie or -y to names, which seems to be the vogue, or -Rod. One -rod is fine, but 26? Lack of imagination.
2008-02-28 13:21:33
26.   rilkefan
25 Hey!
2008-02-29 01:43:58
27.   tommyl
18 The weather has been pretty good (in Amsterdam) so far. One day of rain, but it was pretty warm, the rest have actually been sunny. I head to England in a few days, and am fully expecting rain, rain and more rain this time of year. S'ok, as long as I can find a bar to watch Arsenal v. Milan and Barca v. Celtic Champions League I'll be happy.
2008-02-29 06:24:52
28.   weeping for brunnhilde
27 Bon voyage!

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