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'Kudos & Wet Willies,' Spring Training edition

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'Kudos & Wet Willies' is one of my favorite posts. Over at Big Blue View it is how I review every New York Giants' game, praising the best performers and giving a thumbs-down to the worst.

No way I am going to try that for 162 regular-season games and, hopefully, a bunch of playoff games. But, occasionally, I would like to try it here. With Spring Training winding down and most roster decisions made, now seems like a good time.

So, let's wrap up Spring Training, 'Kudos & Wet Willies' style.

Kudos to ...

  • Brett Gardner: How can you not start here, with the little speedster who has won the starting center field job? He brings speed and base-running daring the Yankees have not had in a long time. Let's just hope he can hit enough to keep the job.
  • The surgeons who operated on Mariano Rivera and Jorge Posada: Rivera has been untouchable all spring, surrendering just two soft hits and striking out 10 in six innings. He looks amazing. Posada has thrown the ball well, experienced no discomfort and seems likely to be able to catch 100-110 games, which is exactly what the Yankees need.
  • Ramiro Pena: We don't know for sure yet whether Pena, 23, will make the team. His excellent play has opened many eyes, even if we arent' ready to anoint him the heir apparent to Derek Jeter at shortstop.
  • Phil Hughes: It seems like ages ago that the Yankees optioned The Franchise back to AAA Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Hughes, though, looked terrific in his four spring appearances, pitching to a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings. I think we can feel good that when he is called on this season, which seems inevitable, Hughes will pitch well.
  • Joe Girardi: The Yankee manager knows that a second straight season without reaching the playoffs will likely cost him his job. He has been much different than the Drill Sergeant Joe we got to know last year. Taking the team to play pool, holding light-hearted competitions for pitchers instead of fielding practice, getting along better with the media and, in general, reaching out to players more are all good signs. Now, he just needs to win.
  • Melky Cabrera and Nick Swisher: Both of these guys lost competitions for starting jobs, but neither has complained. Cabrera has actually had an excellent spring, hitting .345, and could see lots of playing time. Swisher has also kept a positive attitude, and by all accounts has helped loosen up the atmosphere in the business-like Yankee clubhouse. He will be a key player.
  • Kei Igawa: Yes, the Yankees wasted nearly $50 million on this AAA pitcher. But, Igawa had a nice spring. He pitched to an 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings over seven appearances.
  • Brett Tomko: Do we really want this retread on our pitching staff? Maybe not, and he might not make it. Give him his props for a great spring, though, as he has pitched to a 1.17 ERA in 15.1 innings.

Wet Willies to ...

  • Alex Rodriguez: There is no way to avoid this one. The hip injury that probably should have been dealt with months ago. The steroid stuff. Magazine photos of him pretending to kiss himself. The 'A-Fraud' stuff in Joe Torre's book (remember Torre's book, by the way?)
  • Brian Bruney: The hard-throwing right-hander will get the first crack at being the Yankees' 8th-inning setup man. He needs to do better than the 6.75 ERA he has posted this spring, including six walks in 9.1 innings.
  • Ian Kennedy: In his few spring appearances he looked pretty much like last year's Kennedy. Which means, he looked terrible. In 10.1 innings he gave up 12 hits, four walks and pitched to a 5.91 ERA. Geesh, Igawa might be ahead of him now on the list of guys who could get called up. That's bad.
  • The World Baseball Classic: I get the fact that it creates excitement in many countries outside the U.S. But, it screws up Spring Training, forces players who teams have invested millions of dollars in to take unnecessary risks, and is generally a big yawn here in this country. I'm sure it's here to stay, but we have to find a better way to do it.

So, who did I forget?