By the end of spring training, skipper Joe Girardi had to make some very big decisions for the Yankees. Looking back on them about a month later, were all of his final decisions the right ones?
Closer: "Two-headed monster"
Well, it's pretty clear to see how this decision turned out. Heading into Opening Day, Girardi hinted that the closer job for the Yanks would be split between Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller, based on the matchups in that game. However, throughout the course of the season so far, Miller essentially has been given the closer job. Miller has six saves on the season, which is actually tied for third among the entire league for the category, while also having a WHIP of 0.82. Meanwhile, Betances has mainly been the setup man, appearing in eight games for the Yanks, and posting an impressive 0.00 ERA, and a WHIP of just 1.29. Although Girardi said there would be no full-time closer, there clearly is for the Yankees, and he, along with his setup man, have been very successful so far.
Backup catcher: Murphy over Romine
One of the last decisions Girardi made in the spring was to put John Ryan Murphy on the major league roster over Austin Romine. So far, looking at the numbers, this has looked to be the right choice. In 13 at-bats for the Yankees, Murphy has a triple slash of .231/.353/.385, while also throwing out three out of eight runners while stealing. It appeared to be a risk trying to send Romine down to Triple-A Scranton since he was out of options and needed to clear waivers, but somewhat surprisingly, no one claimed him. Now in Scranton, Romine's triple slash is a mere .162/.279/.243, and he has thrown out three out of 10 runners. In his short time in the starting lineup, I like what I have seen out of Murphy, and this decision was the one that I supported the most.
Infield: Refsnyder and Noonan back to minors
Despite a spring where he hit .364/.462/.568, Robert Refsnyder was sent to the minors to mainly work on his defensive game, and oh boy, does he need the practice. In his time with Scranton this year, Refsnyder has already committed seven errors! People have been bagging on Didi Gregorius for his poor defense so far this season, but the harsh reality is that Refsnyder has double the amount of errors. Even Refsnyder's batting has cooled off in Triple-A, as his triple slash is .217/.254/.267 in 60 at-bats. Girardi, again, made the right move giving Refsnyder time in the minors to grow. Over the season, the Yankees have been involved in trade/signing rumors for second base prospects, so maybe they don't trust Refsnyder as much as they used to.
Before the Yankees brought in Gregorio Petit to fill in for Brendan Ryan while he was injured, rumors came up that involved Nick Noonan possibly making the major league roster. Petit, even though he's not known for his hitting, hasn't looked all that bad, hitting .212/.263/.250, while Noonan hit .196/.250/.239. Even though the numbers aren't a huge upgrade, they are a bit better. Plus, this also gives some time for Noonan to improve, while having a player with major league experience fill in for the time being.
Final two bullpen spots: Shreve and Martin over Whitley and Bailey
Even though the final spot in the bullpen has been a rotating one so far this season, Girardi needed to make a decision before the season: Choosing two of Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, Chase Whitley, and Andrew Bailey for the 'pen. Shreve has looked pretty good this season, having an ERA of 1.29 and a WHIP of 0.57 in four games in pinstripes. Martin, who had his own unique path to the Yankees, hasn't looked too bad either, with a 3.68 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. Meanwhile, in Triple-A, Whitley has looked dominant for the RailRiders. In three starts and 17 innings, Whitley has an ERA of 2.12 and a WHIP of 1.12. Even though his WHIP is higher than that of Martin, Whitley has a much better ERA as a starter, not a relief pitcher, so it should be argued whether Martin or Whitley deserve the bullpen start. Then, there's Andrew Bailey. Bailey, who was competing for a major league spot out of spring training, was sent down to Single-A Tampa, and he has severely struggled there, posting a 5.40 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP in just five innings for the Baby Yankees. So, minus the Martin/Whitley debate, Girardi's bullpen decisions look like the right ones, though Jacob Lindgren also appears ready to come up at any time.
Sending red-hot-Heathcott to the minors
In his 2015 spring training campaign, 2009 first-round pick Slade Heathcott posted a triple slash of .333/.450/.545. Girardi made the decision to send him to Scranton, as there was just no room in the majors for him, and it seems to have paid off. In 65 at-bats for the RailRiders (his first exposure to Triple-A), Heathcott hit .323/.357/.446. Heathcott was hot in the spring, and he's doing well now, and I would love to see him get a chance in the majors, but there is just no room, unless the Yankees carry one less arm in the bullpen. Overall, unless and outfielder gets moved or hurt at some point, Heathcott going to Triple-A seems to have been the right choice.
Looking at the numbers, many of Girardi's spring decisions seem to have been the right ones, but what are your thoughts?