Monday, March 3, 2014

Musing On D-Rob And Nova's Contract Extension Chances

(Would you extend this man?  Courtesy of the AP)

It's been a little over a week since the Yankees came out of left field (figuratively) with their 4-year contract extension for Brett Gardner.  While the extension drew universally positive reviews for its value relative to Gardner and questions relative to the much steeper price paid to Jacoby Ellsbury, the most important thing to come out of the deal was the new precedent it set for pre-free agency contract extensions for homegrown players.  The Yankees have been notoriously bad at locking up their quality young players, a problem created mainly by the lack of impact young players developed over the last 5 years and partially by their adherence to the outdated team policy of not doing extensions.

Cash's declaration that that policy is now dead is welcome news to any Yankee fan hoping to see the team get back to the top of the MLB heap.  Gardner has been incredibly valuable since becoming an everyday player in 2010 and he's now locked up through the remainder of his prime.  There are 2 other players currently in a similar situation to the one Gardner was in, and it only seems right to see how this new organizational openness to extensions will extend to them as they draw closer to free agency.

It's Way Too Early To Worry About CC's Velocity

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

It was quite the weekend for the Bronx Bombers in the Grapefruit League.  The beat the Phillies on Saturday and the Blue Jays on Sunday by a combined score of 12-2, showcasing solid pitching from the top of their ST staff to the bottom and plenty of power from both sides of the plate.  Of course wins and losses in ST games are the least important things to come out of said games, but winning still beats losing and the Yanks looked good as a team over the last 48 hours.

The highlight of the weekend was the triple-headed 2014 pitching debut of the top of the starting rotation.  CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Masahiro Tanaka all threw 2 scoreless innings on Saturday, with Kuroda looking very sharp and efficient in his outing (he only threw 17 pitches) and Tanaka giving everybody a peak at his impressive array of offspeed pitches and plus fastball command on the corners.  The only pitcher who wasn't generating positive buzz after the game, despite almost identical results, was Sabathia.  In his first game action since last year's disastrous season, Sabathia's fastball lived in the mid-80s and topped out at just 88 MPH.  This sent up the emergency alarm in the form of a tweet barrage from the beat writers and set the stage for another spring of hand-wringing over the big guy's velocity.  Before everybody starts freaking out, I'd like to kindly ask that you take a deep breath, spend the next 5 minutes reading the rest of this post, and relax.

Monday Mid-Morning Food For Thought: Fast Start For McCann

(Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)

3 G, 5 AB, .600/.714/1.400, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB

That's Brian McCann's stat line through his first handful of Spring Training games.  Needless to say, he's been everything he was advertised to be and already looks like the next in line to step up and assume the on-field and in-clubhouse leadership role once Derek Jeter retires after the season.

Yes, ST stats are basically meaningless when it comes to veteran players like McCann and I'm certainly not trying to imply that this 7-PA sample size is indicative of what type of production we should expect once April 1st comes around.  But it's incredibly refreshing to see big production coming from the catcher position after what the Yankees went through there last year.  They brought McCann in to be one of the new anchors of the club and he's getting off to a great start in that regard.  He's crushing at the plate, he's looked good behind the plate, he's quickly building a strong rapport with the pitching staff, and he's erasing last season's memories of TCS.

Spring Training News And Notes: 3/2/14

(Courtesy of the AP)

- The Yanks beat the Blue Jays 8-2 yesterday.  Vidal Nuno gave up a solo HR in his 2 innings, Bryan Mitchell struck out 3 in 2 scoreless frames, and Carlos Beltran, Eduardo Nunez, and John Ryan Murphy all homered.

- Joe set the rotation for the rest of this week: Nova today, Phelps tomorrow, Warren Wednesday, Tanaka Thursday, Kuroda Friday.  CC Sabathia will throw a sim game on Thursday.

- Michael Pineda threw a sim gam yesterday morning and got real positive feedback from the hitters who faced him.  He's scheduled to make his 2014 debut on Friday in relief of Hirok.

- Adam Warren and Preston Claiborne threw bullpens yesterday.  Alfonso Soriano is still working his way back from the flu.  He should get into games sometime this week.