Baseball Fun on a Dreary Friday

If there is one consolation to the less-than-ideal weather on this dreary Friday, it’s that the Yankees will officially conclude their spring training schedule with a pair of contests against the Miami Marlins at Steinbrenner Field today and Saturday – which means the real games for the Yankees and RailRiders alike are right around the corner. The Bronx Bombers currently reside 3.5 back in the Grapefruit League standings with just two to play, for whatever that’s worth. HERE is a look at how the spring standings shape up as clubs get ready to break camp.

One of the off-the-beaten path stories this spring had little to do with baseball and more with how Yankees farmhand John Ryan Murphy was attempting to shed an unwanted nickname. Paul Sokoloski of the Times-Leader has a great write-up on the young catcher who is recently adjusting from life in big league camp back to the rigors and structure of life in minor league ball HERE.

Sokoloski also caught up with NEPA’s own Russ Canzler for his thoughts on coming home, his spring training showing and his expectations for the 2014 season HERE.

It’s worth noting that one of the more feel-good tales out of camp, especially in the era of big free-agent acquisitions, was the extension and commitment the parent club made to the 30-year-old Brett Gardner. Gardner, who spent time in SWB from 2007-09, received a hefty four-year $52 million extension that will begin at the conclusion of the 2014 season. Brendan Kuty of NJ.com has a nice write-up on the former NEPA resident’s spring and how the commitment New York made to him helped clear his mind. For the complete story, click HERE.

Speaking of the big league club, it appears the Yankees continue to pursue any and all avenues in order to improve their roster, such as scouring the waiver wire, but don’t feel the need to acquire players just to fill out rosters. We learn more from the main man himself, general manager Brian Cashman, in THIS article by ESPNNewYork.com’s Wallace Matthews.

“Last year, we were living off that. This year, we really have some people we can look at right in front of us at least. We’re not desperate right now, like we were last year, and I hope it stays that way.” – Brian Cashman

Matthews states the Yankees continue to remain quiet on who the club has had conversations with regarding potential trades, but confirmed teams have called about acquiring Austin Romine or Murphy, both of whom were optioned to Triple-A once word broke that their fellow SWB alumnus Francisco Cervelli was awarded the back-up catching role to Brian McCann.

“We’re certainly hearing from a lot of people about these guys,” Cashman said. “They’re assets. We’re not in any position where we have to do anything, but if something made sense, we’d consider it. But right now, we’re happy with what we’ve got.” – Brian Cashman

Cashman is right, the club should be confident in their plethora of depth behind home plate as the split between Romine and Murphy could be one of the more intriguing position battles throughout the International League. The problem will be finding enough playing time for a couple of guys in Romine and Murphy who could be playing every day with other clubs. PIP believes IL Hall of Famer Dave Miley is just the man to solve that problem.

An interesting note broke this week out of Camelback Ranch and it has an intriguing tie to SWB. Adrian Nieto (bio), who was selected by the Chicago White Sox in the Rule 5 draft this December, has reportedly made the White Sox’s 25-man roster to back up incumbent, Tyler Flowers. Nieto, prior to his selection by the White Sox, was a fifth-round pick of the Washington Nationals in the 2008 draft out of high school. The interesting note here is that while Nieto will suit up for the Chicago this season, the young backstop has never played a regular-season professional baseball game past Advanced-A ball in Potomac. It’s a tale rarely told. The most recent example of a catcher going from A-ball to the bigs in one season? RailRiders hitting coach Butch Wynegar who made the leap in 1976 and made a splash as an All-Star that rookie season when he was runner-up for A.L. Rookie of the Year to the Tigers’ Mark FidrychMatt Cassidy of ChicagoNow.com has an interesting write-up on some of the struggles Nieto may face as he tries to become a mainstay HERE. To PIP’s knowledge, the Adrian, a native of Cuba, is not related to former SWB catcher Tom Nieto who has served on the Yankees’ Major League staff and currently serves as a rehab coach for the franchise.

It’s not fair to write a blog post without referencing some of the great work Donnie Collins continues to churn out on a day-to-day basis. Donnie, who is competing for an opportunity to have his own bobblehead night at PNC Field, appears to have some solid competition as WNEP’s, Sharla McBride, launched her campaign video earlier this week (HERE), while RailRiders’ radio partner, Bold Gold Media, produced an outstanding promotional video for Jose the Leprechaun. You can watch their sales pitch below.

Now that you know some of the competition Collins faces, head on over to SWBRailRiders.com to vote for who you think deserves to be immortalized in bobblehead form. Hopefully Collins and friends over at the Times-Tribune have something clever up their sleeves that we can add here sometime soon.

Speaking of PNC Field, the RailRiders announced some pretty nifty upgrades to last year’s Ballpark Digest Ballpark of the Year. The list of enhancements includes a new Oak Grove Deck. Designed by DX Dempsey, the 1,145-square-foot-destination will be used for private picnics on game days, as well as a casual gathering space for fans. The list of improvements includes a new mural specially designed to provide a little color to the team’s premier area, the Mohegan Sun Club. The family-friendly display was commissioned in part with the Lackawanna County Arts and Cultural Center. For a complete list of the wide array of improvements and additions this season, click HERE.

Shenanigans and self-promotion aside, Collins had a great write-up the other day regarding some of the struggles Jim Miller (bio) hopes to avoid in 2014. Miller spent most of the 2013 campaign in the RailRiders pinstripes along with brief time in the bigs at the close of the year. The 31-year-old right-hander appeared in eight big league games this spring, allowing a single run and striking out four in 8.2 innings of work. As he enters 2014, he does so with a bit of a different approach and a wrinkle pitch. For Collins’ complete write-up on the veteran, head HERE.

In the spirit of cross promotion, Porcupines in Pinstripes found out earlier this week that Bold Gold’s new show, The CK Sports Blitz, has a blog! Today’s post includes the always comical photo of president/general manager, Rob Crain, suiting up as one of America’s finest cuisines and, just as  a reminder, Crain joins the CK Sports Blitz every Friday at 4:15 p.m., while play-by-play man John Sadak stops by Mondays at 4:15 p.m. During the season we will archive each of their respective interviews right here. But, for now, feel free to stop by the Sports Blitz by clicking HERE. You can also listen to Rob and John by tuning in HERE.

Major League Baseball finally announced what fans can expect from its replay operations center in New York, a 900 square-foot room at the offices of Major League Baseball Advanced Media. MLB’s release formally states that every play of every game, beginning with Sunday’s action, will be analyzed in the operations room by at least one umpire and one trained technician. It’s a pretty impressive setup for something that was just implemented this off-season, but the key here is it appears that MLB got this right, which is important. Below is a look at the replay room, or click HERE for the full release.

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A general look at MLB’s Replay Operations Center, which was introduced earlier this week.

Forbes magazine recently published its list of most valuable Major League Baseball franchises and, to no surprise, the Yankees topped the list once again at $2.5 billion. The Yankees have now owned the top spot for 17 consecutive years. While the Bombers may not be the top spenders in baseball this year in terms of payroll, Forbes reports the $2.5 billion is a 9% increase from the club’s value from the 2013 season. For a complete list of all 30 clubs click HERE.

Some parting notes today include Bryan Hoch‘s preview of the parent club HERE, and whether or not the new-look Yankees can produce a winning campaign after last season’s injury-plagued run.

One year after one of baseball’s most highly regarded films celebrated its 25th anniversary in Bull Durham, another cult classic is set to make its anniversary tour. Major League, released in 1989, and one of baseball’s most popular movies, celebrates the illustrious careers of speedy outfielder Willie Mays Hays, veteran catcher and team leader Jake Taylor, and Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn. It’s hard to believe it’s been 25 years since the no-name Indians made a charge for an A.L. pennant, but Rant Lifestyle provides a pretty cool look at the cast of Major league then and now HERE.

 

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Major League will celebrate its 25th anniversary this season.

 

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