Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Colon Seals The Deal- Joins The Band of 25

Photo Courtesy of AP - Look how happy this guy is!

Barring an unforeseen injury, a Tonya Harding-eque incident, or something of that nature, Bartolo Colon put his stamp on the #5 or #4 spot (depending on Joe Girardi's preference) in the rotation last night with an impressive outing against the Tampa Bay Rays. What this means is that Freddy Garcia will be given his release at week's end and will likely catch on with another team (perhaps the Mets?).

There also hasn't been an announcement concerning the final piece of the rotation puzzle, but Ivan Nova has clearly pitched above and beyond and will get the spot.

While the Rays lineup last night wouldn't intimidate anyone, that didn't keep you from taking notice of Colon's performance. He allowed just two hits over six innings, a solo home run to Kelly Shoppach, didn't walk a batter and struck out five.

Colon needed just 64 pitches to get it done and even showed some remarkable quickness, coming off the mound to cover a 1st base on a tapper to the right side. (Yes, somewhere, someone said, "He moves quick for a big man".) Garcia has already said he wouldn't accept a trip to the minors, and though he said he would willingly work as the long man out of the pen, Girardi (for reasons still unclear to me and just about everyone) prefers Sergio Mitre for that role. (Is Mitre Latin for "blackmail the manager"?)

Manny Banuelos came back to Earth last night and showed the crazies that he's not quite ready for the Majors just yet. Man-Ban gave up a pair of runs in two innings of work and took the loss. He allowed a solo home run to Dan Johnson in the 8th inning for a bit of insurance.

Setting the 25-man

While the rotation should be set, the bullpen that heads north is not there yet. Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Mitre, and David Robertson are all set. But there's a good chance, Joba Chamberlain and Pedro Feliciano will start the season on the DL. Chamberlain was having a decent spring when he strained an oblique and was shut down. He'll be back on the mound today though against the Orioles and has a chance to prove he's healthy. Feliciano, who has been workhorse in his career has suffered from a dead arm and not thrown much. He did have a 15 pitch bullpen session on Saturday and a 25 pitch session on Monday. He's hoping to get into a game this weekend, but it would be ridiculous to rush him. Of the two, Chamberlain is more likely to head north with the club.

Eric Chavez will miss a few days with calf spasms, but appears to have locked up a backup corner infield position. Eduardo Nunez looks to be a lock for the utility infielder role over the much better gloved, but much weaker hitting Ramiro Pena. Nunez also saw some, albeit somewhat shaky, time in the outfield and would be an emergency fifth outfielder.

Andruw Jones is set to back the triumvirate of Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, and Nick Swisher and occasionally DH to give Jorge Posada a rest. With Francisco Cervelli DL'ed, the battle for back up to Russell Martin will go down to the wire between Jesus Montero and Austin Romine (Be sure to read Jack Curry's touching story about the loss of Romine's cousin in Afghanistan recently). The Yankees need to decide which they are better served by- Romine's superior defensive skills or giving Montero a chance to show he should stay in the Majors. Of course, how much chance Montero will get remains to be seen with Martin catching, Posada locked in at DH, and Mark Teixeira at 1st base. The feeling here is that Montero will get a look see and will possibly be replaced when Cervelli gets healthy.

Nine days until opening day. Mmmmmm.

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