We did it. Baseball season is almost here, folks. The Yankees have three spring training games left until they officially begin the regular season. With so few games left, one would think that the roster should be set, yet the Yankees still have some final decisions to make. Though some choices seem more obvious than others, the Yankees sure are taking advantage of all the time they have.
The Yankees broke camp with six candidates to fill the fourth and fifth spots in the team’s rotation. With just three games left, the Yankees haven’t made much progress with their decision. Just yesterday, Joe Girardi appeared on WFAN and said that they’re down to four candidates for the job: Jordan Montgomery, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino, and Chad Green. Adam Warren will start the season in the bullpen, and Luis Cessa has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Injuries happen though, so in the long run, it probably doesn’t matter who wins the jobs as almost all of them are probably going to get at least a start or two at some point during the season. For now though, I’d put my money on Severino and Mitchell getting rotation spots, with Montgomery and Green waiting in the wings in Scranton.
For some unknown reasons, the Yankees seem to be insisting that there’s a competition going on for the right field job. Aaron Judge, the promising young prospect whose power potential can’t be overstated, is competing with Aaron Hicks, that guy who can throw a ball from the outfield fast, for the starting right field job. Sure Hicks has been solid all spring, but that’s part of his M.O. Hicks’ career spring training slash line is .303/.365/.521. He hits every spring, but then the regular season starts.
Everyone knows who Hicks is at this point. He’s a fine fourth outfielder who shouldn’t be relied upon everyday. Hopefully this competition is, as Tyler Norton suggested, “just to put healthy pressure on Judge.” Giving Hicks the job or even platooning them does nothing to benefit this team. If Hicks wins the job, what happens to Judge? He sits on the bench as a fourth outfielder or platoon bat? He goes back to Triple-A where he’s already proved he can hit? It’d be one thing if Judge was struggling this spring, but he’s hit well. He has nothing more to prove, and should be announced as the right fielder any day now (one would hope).
This is the one competition the Yankees weren’t expecting to have, and definitely wished they weren’t having. After Didi Gregorius got hurt in the World Baseball Classic, the Yankees suddenly had to search for an Opening Day shortstop. While the Yankees have been mentioned in trade rumors for shortstop, it seems like they will go with in-house options until Gregorius can return. Ronald Torreyes, Pete Kozma, Tyler Wade, and Ruben Tejada were all candidates to be the starting shortstop, but Tejada has since been reassigned.
Torreyes was great in his backup utility role last year, and will likely “start the season at short.” That leaves Kozma and Wade battling for the last spot on the roster. With Kozma, the Yankees would be getting a sure-handed veteran with plus defense and no bat. Wade though, is an actual prospect and could be the most talented of the bunch. Wade isn’t on the 40-man roster, but neither was Yangervis Solarte in 2014, so it’s not unfathomable. (Kozma is also not on the 40-man.)
That Wade is still with the team shows he has a legitimate shot at this. Of course the team could always slide Starlin Castro to his original position and potentially carry Rob Refsnyder, who is still with the team, but that seems unlikely. Torreyes is a lock to make the roster, and hopefully he’s accompanied by Wade.*
*Update: Wade has since been demoted, so it’s looking like the 25th man will be Kozma or Refsnyder. Womp womp.
For as long as he’s been the Yankees’ manager, Joe Girardi has been plagued by criticism of how boring and predictable he is as a manager. His lineups are pretty much predictable, and his bullpen usage is formulaic. The Yankee skipper is finally starting to get a bit creative though. For Tuesday night’s game, Girardi unveiled a new lineup that he said could “very well” be the team’s Opening Day lineup.
#Yankees lineup vs. #Tigers— Bryan Hoch (@BryanHoch) March 28, 2017
Ellsbury CF (?!)
Outside of Hicks in right, I could very well see this happening. Since spring training started, both Brian Cashman and Girardi have talked about possibly splitting up Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury at the top of the lineup, though it hadn’t been seen this spring until last night. It’s possible Girardi just wanted to play his hand close to his chest, or it’s possible he still didn’t know what he was going to do. But Girardi definitely seemed excited about this lineup. While this batting order would be fine (save for Ellsbury batting as high as fifth), hopefully Judge is the name we see in the lineup card on April 2nd.
Judge just hit one off the batter's eye. Girardi says the competition is close. IDK if it should be. OK, kidding, it really shouldn't be— Brendan Kuty (@BrendanKutyNJ) March 29, 2017
Yeah, let’s just end this charade.
What do you think? How will the Opening Day roster shape out?