Spring Training Game 27: Twins at Yankees

I felt I needed to warm up a bit for the regular season, so here is my first game post of 2010. The Yankees will be taking on the Twins at George M. Steinbrenner Field today. Here is the the lineup via Chad Jennings:

SS Derek Sanderson Jeter

DH Marcus Markley Thames

C Jorge Rafael Posada Villeta

3B Alexander Emmanuel Rodriguez

RF Nicholas Thompson Swisher

CF Curtis Granderson

LF Brett M. Gardner

2B Ramiro Peña Gauna

1B Juan Miguel Miranda

SP Phillip J. Hughes

First start as a member of the rotation

This will be Hughes’ first start since being named the 5th starter. Hopefully he still will throw his newly developed changeup a lot.

Teixeira recovering

The other day Mark Teixeira got hit on the elbow by a pitch, he immediately left the game, but tests showed he just had a elbow contusion, a fancy term for a bruise. Chad Jennings reports that Teixeira is scheduled to take batting practice today, which seems like a sign that he is feeling okay.

Aceves ailing

Alfredo Aceves has been hampered by back issues lately. If you recall he missed time last season will back issues as well. For now he is considered day-to-day, but a trip to the DL has not been ruled out. If Aceves is placed on the DL, Boone Logan would be the likely pitcher to replace Aceves in the bullpen.

Switch pitcher steals the show

Yesterday the Yankees called up pitcher Pat Venditte, who is known for his ability to pitch with both arms. Venditte got to face the Braves yesterday, and apparently he “stole the show“.

Opening Day is just 4 days away!

Hughes penciled in as fifth starter

Ladies and gentlemen, the Yankees fifth starter.

Earlier today, Joe Girardi announced that Phil Hughes will begin the 2010 season as the Yankees number five starter. The Yankees are saying he won the job out of Spring Training, and sealed the deal with the development of a good changeup. However, I think the Yankees knew who they wanted as their fifth starter months ago, and just used Spring Training as a way to get all the “candidates” to really push themselves.

So will there be Hughes Rules? Yes, there probably will be. But fortunately they shouldn’t be as bad as the Joba Rules were last year. Hughes threw a combined 111 innings last year between the minors, the majors, and the postseason. In 2008 and 2007, however, Hughes was below 111 innings. His career high in innings pitched came in 2006 when he threw 146 innings. We don’t know whether the Yankees base their innings limit on career highs or the previous year for a pitcher, but let’s just assume it is a mix between the two. I’m going to the say the Yankees would be comfortable letting Hughes go about 170 innings in 2010. We wouldn’t have to worry about any of this with Joba.

So where the this leave out good pal Joba Chamberlain. Well, the smart route in my opinion would be to send him to Scranton to get some innings and also some valuable time to just experiment and let it fly. However, when I look at the writing on the wall, it looks like Joba is going to the bullpen. As you already know, I do not like the thought of Joba (or Phil for that matter) in the bullpen. What was the point of stretching Joba out over past few years and finally getting him off an innings limit if you just wanted to put him in the bullpen. You can not tell me Joba pitched himself out of starting just based on the second half of 2009. Oh well, I hope we get some answers soon.

Anyway, I’m happy for Hughes and have nothing against him being in the rotation. I just don’t like Joba being in the bullpen (if that is what happens). It doesn’t seem wise for 2011 and the future, and you could even argue that it is not smart for 2009 because Joba may be a better starter at this point than Phil. This decision really makes me question the Yankees front office, but in the end they know better and us fans just have to follow in what they do.

5th Starter Decision Coming Soon

According to Tyler Kepner of The New York Times, the Yankees choice for the 5th starter’s spot will be made public next week around Thursday or Friday.

Girardi has said he would like to decide on a fifth starter by next Thursday or Friday, and he had warned Chamberlain and the others that they needed to show results. Phil Hughes did that Tuesday, blanking the Houston Astros for the final four innings and using his weakest pitch — the changeup — with confidence.

Chamberlain followed with a similar effort, getting at least two outs on changeups. He struck out five and pitched aggressively, throwing 32 pitches for strikes.

Let’s hope that Girardi does indeed announce his choice for the 5th starter’s spot soon, because hopefully it will put an end to all these fans and writers saying crazy things. Who am I kidding, the public decison on the 5th starter’s spot will probably just lead to more irrational statements from people. Oh well.

While the Yankees have stated that the competition for the 5th starter’s spot is a “competition”, I have my doubts. In my opinion, they already have their minds made up , and are just using this “competition” as a way to get everyone to work harder. I think the Yankees already have Joba pegged as the 5th starter, but I could certainly be 100% wrong. We will find out soon.

P.S. Check out the new “Off-Topic” page here at 161st Street. It’s pretty self-explanatory. I just felt having one couldn’t hurt.

Rust shines through in first outings for Hughes and Joba

Yesterday, both Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain took the mound for the Yankees for the first time in 2010. Now, beware the actual stats and results from these outings mean almost nothing considering this was their first game of spring training. However, I know a lot of people like to see things like this discussed, so I decided I’d analyze it a bit.

Phil Hughes – IP: 2, H: 1, ER: 1, BB: 1

Hughes started the game for the Yankees and gave up a home run to Sean Rodriguez in the first inning. But, like I said you can not look at stats and results in a game like this so forget about that home run. More importantly, Hughes threw about 5-10 changeups in this outing. One of them that sticks out in my mind was the one that got Ben Zorbrist to swing and miss in the first inning. Why are changeups important? Well, if Hughes is given the 5th spot in the rotation this year, an effective change up would make a world’s difference for him. He threw his changeup 0.6 % of the time  last season, but he has been working on it intensely this spring. If he can establish a decent to good changeup he can keep hitters off his fastball, thus making the fastball even better.

Via Marc Carig (on the changeup)… “It’s just something that needs repetitions in games, and it’s a perfect time for that right now,” said Hughes, who believes reestablishing his changeup will be a key to succeeding as a starter.

Via Bryan Hoch (on the outing)… “It was all right,” Hughes said. “It was nice to finally get out there in real game situations. My fastball command was all over the place, but I felt like I threw some good changeups. They were swinging early and often, which was good. I got a read on some things.”

Joba Chamberlain – IP: 1.1, H: 3, ER: 5, BB: 3

Joba came into the game after Hughes’ two innings, and as you know didn’t have a very good outing. He was probably a little rusty (just like Hughes) and also he was coming off the flu. According to Carig, Joba had been in bed the past two days expect on Wednesday when he dragged himself out of bed to throw a bullpen session for an hour. Over this time Chamberlain lost 8 pounds so I think it is pretty obvious that he didn’t just have a little cold. Still, Joba was adamant about not missing yesterdays outing:

“You’d probably have to chop my legs off to be honest with you, I felt strong enough and I felt like I did enough in between.”

Here’s what Joe Girardi had to say:

“I’m not going to make too much of it. You wonder how much he had his legs under him after being fairly sick for a couple of days. We felt he was healthy enough to pitch, and you want him to pitch, because you want him to develop that arm strength. You really don’t know exactly how he physically felt.”

In the end yesterday’s game meant very little and until we start approaching the end of March we aren’t going to see who looks like the front runner for the 5th starter’s spot.