After four long weeks of meaningless games the regular season is finally on the horizon. Opening Day is just five days away, and the Yankees have cut their spring rosters down to almost the final product. Players still in camp are so close to making the big league team, but they'll have to survive another round of cuts to get there.
For the last Making the Team Meter of 2016, the key we've used all along remains the same. Statuses have changed based on happenings in the last week. The way players were color coded is as follows:
The list is much shorter this week than it has been in prior weeks. Having only six hitters remaining in camp without a guaranteed spot on the roster will do that.
Gary Sanchez and Rob Refsnyder are the biggest cuts from the past week. The Yankees seemed to want both players to make the roster out of camp going into spring training, but neither was able to play at the level necessary to do so. For Sanchez, the problem was that his offense never got going in camp. He only managed one hit before being sent down to minor league camp.
Refsnyder learning third base over the course of spring training was always a tall order for a guy whose defense has kept him from being handed the second base job. Unfortunately for Refsnyder and his facial bones, attempting to learn the position resulted in him fielding two liners with his face instead of his glove. Not being able to read a hop coming at you on the hot corner is a real issue, and Refsnyder will be sent to Triple-A to see if he can work those issues out.
The biggest beneficiary of the misfortune of Sanchez is Austin Romine. There's still a chance that the Yankees give their Opening Day backup catcher spot to Carlos Corporan, but that doesn't look likely at all. Romine has been working with all the starters and has even hit a little bit. It would be a huge upset at this point if the job wasn't his.
Who will eventually replace Refsnyder as the presumed Chase Headley backup is still unclear. It's basically down to Pete Kozma or Ronald Torreyes. Kozma has the veteran presence that the Yankees have always loved, but Torreyes has the spring training performance to back up his claim to the spot. It is sort of like when the Yankees needed to choose between Eduardo Nunez and Yangervis Solarte two years ago. The team might value Torreyes' results over Kozma's experience, or they might decide that they'd rather go with the more proven commodity.
Outfielder Cesar Puello has gotten a very long look so far in spring training. The Yankees obviously like what they've seen, and he's put up some pretty nice numbers when he's played. There doesn't seem to be a spot on the roster for another outfielder with Hicks and Ackley being capable of backing up, but he'll definitely be someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Who do you think the Yankees select as their backup third baseman before Opening Day?
Ronald Torreyes has won the job as the Yankees' backup infielder.— Mark Feinsand (@FeinsandNYDN) March 30, 2016
Well, that last question was short-lived. It will be Torreyes.