Welcome to the final installment in our quest to gauge a player's chances of making the Opening Day roster for the New York Yankees after coming into camp without a guaranteed spot on the team. In less than a week, the discussion will be who made the team, rather than who is trying to make it. The questions will be answered and the team will be enjoying a random off day that they will probably wish they had later sometime around September after playing only one game.
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For the players who have managed to stay in camp this long, their chances aren't varying much from week to week at this point. With the way things have been going recently, it seems like a new open spot becomes available each week because of another regular heading to the Disabled List. That has improved the chances for some, while others haven't been able to capitalize upon the misfortunes of their teammates by playing well enough to take advantage of an opportunity.
The legend for the chart, as always, is below. Last week's color code for each player is included for the sake of comparison.
It seemed, momentarily, like the Opening Day outfield situation was starting to come together after the acquisition of Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco, but the Yankees had other plans. Vernon Wells is expected to be in camp as early as tonight; and with the money the Yankees are paying him, it is difficult to see anyone but him starting the season along side Ichiro Suzuki and Brett Gardner in the outfield. Boesch and/or Francisco could still make the team as a fourth outfielder; but Boesch does have minor league options remaining, making it possible for the team to send him down to Triple-A to begin the year if they feel like it.
If you had to pick one of Ronnier Mustelier, Melky Mesa, or Thomas Neal to make the team, the best bet would be Mustelier, who has had one of the best springs of anyone in camp. Mustelier has the ability to play third base or the outfield non-disastrously, which could give him the edge he needs over someone like Mesa or Neal. His lack of a 40-man roster spot does present a bit of a problem, as the spaces needed already exceed the spaces available. This is what happens when you have three injured people who cannot be placed on the 60-day DL, but that's a story for another post. Juan Rivera seems to have the first base job locked up, and Dan Johnson has put up no fight offensively or defensively to try and prove that he's deserving of a spot instead or in addition to his competition.
Now that Derek Jeter looks to be starting the season on the DL, Gil Velazquez's chances of making the team improved slightly, but preference will almost certainly be given to Jayson Nix instead. Nix has been extremely unimpressive in camp to this point, but Velazquez has been in Triple-A since 2002, giving you a good idea of what major league clubs have thought of his baseball abilities. He's having a decent spring, though, and I suppose stranger things have happened. Like the Yankees trading for Vernon Wells for no reason, for example.
I'd say something about Bobby Wilson and his chances of making the team, but is there really any point? Didn't think so.
Jason will have a similar post up about the pitchers left in Spring Training up at 3 p.m.
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