Monday, April 2, 2012

ST Thoughts & Afterthoughts: The Third

("Alright, everybody. Remember to study those matchup binders!" Courtesy of The AP)

It's the last week of Spring Training this week, so it seems like the perfect time to go through the last batch of random Spring Training thoughts rattling around in my head before the regular season begins, right?  Right.

- Did anybody catch The Horse sitting front row at Wrestlemania last night?  I was a little disappointed that he didn't get involved in the Hell In A Cell match.  I imagine that Sweet Chin Music would be even more devastating coming from a 4-legged centaur than a 2-legged old man like Shawn Michaels.

- On the topic of the NY media double standard I discussed last week, I'm still not concerned about CC heading into Opening Day, as I'm sure nobody else is, but it has been a little strange watching him struggle with his fastball command all spring.  I thought I remembered that being the first thing he always nailed down.

- Speaking of topics already covered, I mentioned being concerned about why Cash would go so hard after Andy Pettitte in December when he knew he was working on getting Pineda and Kuroda.  With the whole 'Pineda to the DL' thing playing out over the weekend, now I'm starting to think that maybe Cash decided to bring Andy back because he knew Pineda was out of shape when they made the trade, saw him still out of shape when camp began, and wanted to cover all his bases in case the low velocity thing ballooned into a serious issue like it did.

- A commenter touched on my Friday morning post about not wanting to have another big story pop up for the third week in a row by asking if that post counted as me tempting fate.  Seeing how the rest of Friday played out with Pineda, I would say yes I tempted fate there, yes I lost, and yes I will accept blame for jinxing Pineda.

- Outside of Pineda, there hasn't been anything serious in terms of affecting the 25-man roster, but it sure as hell feels like this Spring Training has had way more injuries than usual.  In no particular order, the Yankees have seen Austin Romine, Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, George Kontos, Dave Robertson, Russell Branyan, Manny Delcarmen, Dan Burawa, Freddy Garcia, Curtis Granderson, Corban Joseph, Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Cesar Cabral, and Pineda miss portions of time due to injuries this spring.  Did I miss anybody?

- He looked like a bag of crap for the better part of camp, but Raul Ibanez has started to get it together over the last week or so.  7-17 with 3 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R scored in his last 6 games and his swing looks much more in time than it did early in March.

- Robbie Cano is also heating up towards the end of camp.  9-30 with 8 RBI, 8 R scored in his last 10 games.  This is exactly what you want to see from your #3 hitter; rounding into form right before the regular season starts.

- As the previous 2 gentlemen are finally getting to where we want them to be heading into the season, C-Grand just continues to be a boss at the plate.  Of his 17 hits in camp this year, 10 have been for extra bases.  He's also walked more than he's struck out.  It's impossible to predict how he'll perform over the entire season, but I expect him to come out guns blazing in April and May just like he did last year.

- People are starting to make a case for him now that Pineda and Cabral's injuries free up a roster spot, but I don't see Justin Maxwell making the 25-man out of camp and that's a damn shame.  The guy has done everything he's been asked to do and would be a valuable piece to have on the bench if the Yankees had room.

- Adam Warren is officially in the mix for the long man spot in the bullpen, but I think his fate was sealed with his rough outing on Saturday.  He didn't show very good command and was already behind Phelps and Mitchell due to them being on the 40-man roster.  I'd mark him down for a spot in the Triple-A rotation in pen right now.

- Joe announcing Phil Hughes as the #3 starter in his rotation was a sign of faith in Hughes based on how he's performed this spring and it was the right move to make.  Hughes has been better than Nova and Garcia this spring and has earned the spot.  Hopefully he keeps his positive momentum going into the regular season.

- Nova is going to be on thin ice if he doesn't find his fastball command and soon.  Andy continues to move forward with his ExST activities and I don't see Freddy being anything more than the consistent back-end starter he's been since he became a Yankee.  Pineda will presumably still be rehabbing when Andy is ready and Nova would be the first in line to get axed as it stands right now.

- Such a bummer for Cabral with his elbow injury.  He could have been a steal as a future bullpen piece with his stuff.  Major badass points for pitching a scoreless inning with a broken pitching elbow, though.  I want to cry just thinking about that.

- Love the Jack Cust signing.  He brings the exact same things to the party that Branyan does, except he's actually healthy!

- Mo giving up a ST run has to be a sign that the world really is ending this year, doesn't it?  I was still in college the last time that happened.

- Mason Williams and Dante Bichette, Jr. certainly haven't done anything to slow down the hype surrounding them this year.  Williams got 2 hits in his first 2 ST ABs, and Bichette went 2-2 with 2 first-pitch homers the other day.  The Charleston River Dogs are going to be so nasty.

- I can't wait for this season to start.  Even with the Pineda injury putting a bit of a damper on the rotation hype, there are still a ton of exciting storylines to follow.

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