Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Training Stock Market: Stock Down

We covered the players off to good starts on Tuesday. Today it's the other side of the coin. Here are the guys who aren't exactly lighting the world on fire in camp over the first 2+ weeks.

Raul Ibanez- Ibanez was the Yankees' lefty DH option of choice this offseason, and so far they are giving him a serious test drive to see what they can get out of him. Ibanez has been in the lineup at DH, LF, and RF, and currently leads the team with 24 plate appearances. Unfortunately, he only has 2 hits in those 24 PA (1-17 vs. RHP), with no walks and 5 strikeouts to boot (4 of them vs. RHP). He's also looked shaky in the outfield, making one error already and reminding us to not take Gardner and Swisher's defensive value in the corners for granted. As a 39-year-old player, it's reasonable to expect Ibanez to need a little more time to get into a groove, and he certainly shouldn't be written off based on 20ish PA. With how far he's fallen over the past two seasons, however, there will be some cause for concern if he doesn't start to pick it up eventually.

Eric Chavez- I was firmly against the Yankees bringing Chavez back this season after seeing how his 2011 played out. His bat has slowed down considerably, he doesn't have much power left, and as injury insurance at the hot corner, the Yankees could do better than a guy who's hurt just as much as A-Rod. The best thing Chavez had going for him coming into this season was his left-handedness, but so far that hasn't translated to much at the plate so far. He's 3-18 over his first seven games, leads all Yankee hitters with 6 K, and looks like he doesn't have much left in the tank. He's reportedly fine physically, but if Chavez can't show more than this over the remainder of ST, he shouldn't be counted on as a viable option to fill in for A-Rod on a regular basis at third if A-Rod gets hurt.

Russell Branyan- The Branyan signing looked like it could have been Cash's 2012 version of the low-risk/high-reward moves he made with Garcia and Colon last year, but Branyan's chances to make the team took a serious hit when the Yankees signed Ibanez and Chavez. With the way both of them have gotten out of the blocks, the opportunity was there for Branyan to make some noise and earn some consideration with a strong showing in camp, but he's been out with a back injury since he arrived. He's yet to even swing a bat this spring because of the injury, likely killing any hopes he had of unseating one of the other two for a bench role. It's not his fault, just some bad luck, but it's hard to get noticed when you aren't on the field.

Mike O'Conner- Mikey O was the longest of longshots coming into Spring Training, and as a lefty specialist candidate he stood a chance, albeit a slim one, to sneak onto the team with a great camp thanks to the injuries of others. After his first handful of appearances this spring, I think it's safe to say that O'Conner's slim chance of making the 25-man is already gone. He's only managed to get two of the left-handed hitters he's faced so far out, giving up 3 hits and a walk to the others, and righties have tuned him up pretty good as well. The life of a LOOGY is a dangerous line to walk and O'Conner has been on the wrong side of it so far. Also working against him are the facts that Clay Rapada is owning and the Yankees seem high on Cesar Cabral (team-high 5 appearances).

Adam Miller- If anybody was a longer shot than O'Conner to make the Yankees, it was Miller. After being a first-round draft pick in '03 and one of the more highly-touted pitching prospects in baseball in '04, injuries have ravaged Miller's career to the point that his pitching hand now resembles something similar to Chris Elliott's caretaker character from "Scary Movie 2." He's still got above-average stuff, but so far in camp it appears as though the injuries have done too much damage to Miller to even allow him to be a viable relief candidate. Small sample sizes be damned, 8 ER on 8 combined H and BB over 1.1 IP in 2 appearances without a strikeout is not a good look. It's unfortunate for Miller, who's had a tough go, but he's looking at being a part of the first round of cuts.

Other guys stumbling out of the blocks: 

Robinson Cano- Just 3-18 in his first seven games with no XBH, although given his track record there's very little cause for concern.

Andruw Jones- He was looking to make a splash after having knee surgery and getting into better shape this offseason. That hasn't translated into much at the plate yet, as he's just 2-17 and also without an XBH.

Jorge Vazquez- I'm picking nits here, since he didn't stand much of a chance to make the team anyway, but the hacktastic Vazquez hasn't shown much power at the plate while going 1-15.

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