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One thing I love about beat writers is that we get access to information that probably can’t be found anywhere else.

That’s the case today when we see a post from Chad Jennings today when he said that Joe Girardi had given plenty of hints to indicate the Opening Day lineup for the Yankees. Here’s what Jennings has put together:

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF/LF
Nick Swisher RF
Brett Gardner LF/CF

I have to say that I love this lineup. May I daresay that it’s much better than last year? Yep, we lost Damon and Matsui, but I strongly feel Granderson and Johnson both are nice compliments to the lineup.

We’ll find out soon just how good the lineup is.

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As the Yankee Universe revolves around spring training, there’s another article by yet another Yankees beat writer on Jesus Montero.

This time it’s Ben Shpigel of the Times with his piece on how much Montero has matured and while his bat is ready for the majors, his body isn’t.

Cashman recalled an instance from last Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, when Montero, after falling behind to Jesse Crain, 0-2, sensed that an outside breaking ball was coming. It did, and Montero poked it down the right-field line for a double.

“It’s amazing that at 20 years old he’s a .320 lifetime hitter,” Long said. (Montero’s career average is actually .325.) “But he’s got to get his body in shape and turn from being a soft kid to a hard-nosed man.

Montero himself even admits that he wants to move up in the organization as a catcher (even though he started as a middle infielder). The Yankees are committed to making that happen and with two former catchers on the bench (Joe Girardi and Tony Pena), and Jorge Posada as a mentor, Montero has everything in place for him to do that.

The catching instructor Tony Pena and Manager Joe Girardi have worked with Montero on refining his throwing mechanics, specifically on shortening his release.

According to the Yankees, Montero usually needs 1.9 to 2.0 seconds to catch and throw the ball to second base, whereas an elite catcher, like Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, can do it in about 1.7. Long after his teammates had finished their morning workout Saturday, Montero remained in the Yankees’ bullpen to work on his throwing technique with Girardi.

Pena said: “He has a strong arm — a very strong arm — but he can’t rely on that. If he has the proper mechanics, everything else will take over, and then we’ll have what we like.”

Posada’s contract expires after the 2011 season, and it’s a good bet we’ll see Montero behind the plate in 2012. If not before as the primary backup next year. One thing’s for sure, the Yankees have their Matt Wieters in development-mode.

Today the Daily News of NYC announced that shortstop and Yankee Captain Derek Jeter is their New Yorker of the Year.  Calling him a “prince in pinstripes,” the News writes that although Jeter did not do something spectacular like saving 100+ lives by landing a plane in the Hudson River, or become the first Hispanic appointed to the Supreme Court, he is Beloved in the city of New York and does amazing work for his charity.

Derek Jeter (center) celebrates the Yankees 2009 World Series Championship this past November with the rest of the Yankees team, including Jorge Posada (left), Mariano Rivera (right) and Andy Pettitte (behind)

In the article, the Daily News lauds his work with his charity, the Turn 2 Foundation, which helps disadvantaged children in Michigan and New York and his honor and integrity as an athlete during times when many of his fellow athletes are carrying guns into nightclubs (Plaxico Buress) or taking steroids or making big contract demands in the media.

The paper goes on to say:

_______________

This is a man who has the qualities adults admire and children can look up to. Somehow he combines enormous talent with hard work, riches with responsibility, fantastic success with confident modesty and intense competitiveness with true sportsmanship.

______________________

Although I have a lot of respect for the man,  I am not sure if Jeter should be the New Yorker of the Year.  In its simplest form, the story of Derek Jeter in 2009, is the story of a man who humbly and respectfully did his job well and used his influence and deep pockets to benefit charities.  Jeter is truly an exceptional man, one we will all remember for the rest of our lives and decades after he has left the limelight of Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.

Instead, I feel the New Yorker of the Year award should be given to someone more deserving, such as Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic Justice to the Supreme Court of the United States; a woman who rose up from the projects in the Bronx, overcame the death of her father at age 9 and has persisted with diabetes her entire life.

But when it comes down to it, the Daily News wants to sell papers – and which paper would sell more?  Obviously, the one lauding Jeter, instead of Sotomayor or another.

That being said, all the congratulations to Mr Jeter.

Rob Neyer at ESPN.com published a list of the top 100 players in MLB during the first decade of the 21st century. It’s hard not to guess who’s #1, but it’s Albert Pujols. Close behind Pujols is Alex Rodriguez at #2. The Yankees have had 15 current or former Yankees who donned the Pinstripes. Here’s the list

#2 A-Rod

#4 Derek Jeter

#15 Jorge Posada

#16 Bobby Abreu (former Yankee)

#18 Randy Johnson (former Yankee)

#19 Jason Giambi (former Yankee)

#24 Mariano Rivera

#25 CC Sabathia

#32 Johnny Damon

#35 Mike Mussina

#41 Ivan Rodriguez (former Yankee)

#42 Roger Clemens (former Yankee)

#43 Mark Teixeira

#50 Andy Pettitte

To see the entire list of the top 100 players, click here.

Rob Neyer put together a list of the 100 best baseball players of the decade, and quite a few Yankees are on this list.

  • Alex Rodriguez ranked as the second best player in the decade, behind only Albert Pujols.
  • Derek Jeter  came in at number four. Barry Bonds was between the two.
  • Jorge Posada comes in at number 15. He was the top ranked catcher on the list.
  • The Great Mariano Rivera checks in at number 24, the highest ranked reliever.
  • CC Sabathia was right behind him at number 25, and Johnny Damon not far off at number 32.
  • Mark Teixeira was named the 43rd best player of the decade despite not making his debut until 2003.
  • Reliable southpaw Andy Pettitte comes in right at the halfway mark, number 50.
  • Former Yanks: Abreu (16), Randy Johnson (18), Jason Giambi (19), Javy Vazquez (29), Gary Sheffield (34), Mike Mussina (35), Pudge Rodriguez (41), Roger Clemens (42).

That’s seven players on the Yanks 40-man roster that rank among the 50 best players of the last ten years. Including former players, 17 members of the decade’s 50 best players have worn pinstripes in that time.

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