Although not the official mid-point evaluation of Spring Training (I’m off by two games), the Yankees have played 18 of their 31 games scheduled for this spring before the regular season gets underway in two weeks.

I’m one of the fans who could care less about spring training, largely because the games do not benefit me, except for the chance to see younger players earn roster spots. That’s the only benefit I get from this. That, and seeing the players sweat under Girardi’s calisthenics.

After defeating the Red Sox today, the Yankees are 9-7 on the year. Again, records don’t mean much (except when noting that of the eight playoff teams last year, seven had a winning record during spring training), and the true benefit is evaluating talent.

Here are a list of hitters who have stood out this spring.

For starters, Shelley Duncan. No — I’m not picking him because of his hard slide into Iwamura (of Tampa Bay). Duncan has been a monster at the plate. He has hit .333 after a hot start. Also sizzling is A-Rod (.500), Cano (.429), Cabrera (.414.), and Giambi with a .333. Of all the names I mentioned Duncan and Giambi have a lot to prove this year. Both are battling for 1B and for playing time. Giambi has the edge because he makes opposing defenses align to the right side of the field every time he comes to bat. Duncan leads by example and his playing has been fueled by passion.

As for pitchers, again the same formula applies as hitters where spring training is a chance for pitchers to earn roster spots. Aside from our five projected starters (Wang, Pettitte, Mussina, Hughes, and Kennedy), we have three locks for the bullpen: Rivera, Chamberlain, and Hawkins.

Bruney stood out today with his fastball clocking at mid-high 90s. Billy Traber looks good at this point, and he’s a sorely-needed southpaw. Scott Patterson has been impressive also, pitching an inning or two and often earning a couple of strikeouts and not allowing runs or hits. Oft-maligned Farnsworth has been decent, but not great. Igawa continues to be a major disappointment, especially when given some flexibility in preparing himself during the first week of spring training. Note to the Steinbrenner family: No more fat toads. Only Yu Darvish.  I had been hoping for a good spring from Ohlendorf, Rasner, and Karstens. So far, only Rasner has done a decent job. Will Rasner earn a bullpen spot? Probably not, but he will be within shouting distance in Scranton-Wilkes Barre.

I definitely think our pitching is in better shape than the Red Sox. Look at what happened to Colon today.

The Yankees have 12 games remaining. Tomorrow against Virginia Tech, then three more games against Pittsburgh, two against Toronto, one against the whiny Rays, two against Philadelphia, one against Cleveland and to wrap up spring training, two against Florida.

Yankees should finish spring training above .500.

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