Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Now batting for the New York Yankees, the shortstop, #81, Gleyber Torres…

Credit:  Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

With Didi Gregorius headed to participate in the WBC Classic and share shortstop with his buddy, Andrelton Simmons of the Los Angeles Angels on Team Netherlands, Gleyber Torres should have a firm grasp on shortstop for the next couple of weeks while Didi is away.  Granted, Torres is not major-league ready but these short previews feature very exciting coming attractions.  

Torres is easily becoming a fan favorite despite never having played a major league game at Yankee Stadium.  While the speculation is that Torres will need to move to second base when he is ready for the Show, listening to his comments during interviews show how much he respects the shortstop position and those who preceded him (most notably Derek Jeter).  If Didi continues his upward climb to elite status, it will be hard to move Didi off short or ship him elsewhere to make room.  Those are problems for another day, but for now, we’ll be able to enjoy Torres at short.

I am sure that we’ll also see former top prospect Jorge Mateo at short too, but he’s not the one generating excitement.  Pete Kozma and Tyler Wade, the defensive whiz, should also see some time there.  Nevertheless, the man of the hour is clearly Gleyber Torres.  

I dislike reading the posts that say its a given the Yankees will sign Bryce Harper and Manny Machado in a couple of years when they hit free agency.  Neither is a sure thing, and Cable TV contracts have leveled the playing field, not to mention the limitations caused by the salary cap and luxury tax thresholds.  If we eventually get one or both of the superstars, great, but it’s not something that we can count on.  There will be players brought in via trades that we’re not even thinking about right now.  I’ll worry about the 2019 Yankees in 2019 (or maybe off-season 2018).  Right now, I am having fun watching the future of the Yankees as the team embarks on the 2017 season.  Granted, the moves and performances today will help define what tomorrow will bring, but at this moment in time, it’s fun watching the Baby Bombers perform in their infancy.  

I always thought it was cool that Derek Jeter was a Yankees fan as a kid.  When the Yankees drafted pitcher James Kaprielian and outfielder Blake Rutherford, both Californians, I didn’t realize that both had been Yankees fans growing up.  I remember when Rutherford was picked by the Yankees last year out of high school.  My first question, not really knowing much about Rutherford, was about his sign-ability.  I remember being disappointed a few years ago when the Yankees drafted pitcher Gerrit Cole and then were unable to sign him.  There’s always a fear that will happen again.  What I didn’ t know was how much Rutherford loved the Yankees.  I am not sure if he would have gone to college had he been drafted by another team, but we’ll never know.  He signed and is now one of the organization’s top prospects.  If/when he makes it to the Bronx, I am sure his little league pics showing a small boy wearing Yankees hat and jersey will be on display in the New York papers.

It would be even better if Kaprielian and Rutherford win world championships (plural, please) for their lifelong favorite team.

After four spring games, the Yankees are 3-1.  I know, spring records mean absolutely nothing.  Still, it’s exciting that the starters have performed well so far, and the Yankees could have easily been undefeated at this point.  It’s even better that none of the starters have included rotation mainstays Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and CC Sabathia.  The intensity of games will start to pick up in a few weeks, and we’ll see longer starts by the regulars.  Even though the February (and March) wins mean nada, winning is fun any way you slice it.  So far, it’s been an exciting start for training camp.  We’ll lose a few players like Didi, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances to the WBC, but camp moves on.  Go players with numbers > 70!

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)