We have less than two weeks until Masahiro Tanaka takes the mound at Tropicana Field in St Petersburg, FL to face the Tampa Bay Rays on Opening Day.
In my opinion, Aaron Judge is still the victor for right field. The stats between Judge and Hicks have tightened, but even on a level playing field, the nod should still go to the 6’7” #99. Both players have hit 2 home runs with 3 RBI’s. Judge is batting .273, while Hicks is at .256. Judge has struck out 11 times in 44 at-bats, while Hicks has gone down swinging 7 times in 39 at-bats. When Judge figures it out at this level, there’s no doubt he’ll be the Jury and Executioner too.
Greg Bird has clearly nailed down first base (as if there was ever any doubt). I keep forgetting that Chris Carter is even on this team. His spring batting average of .118 and 17 strikeouts are not pretty. Is it possible that a man who hit 41 home runs last year could be DFA’d when Tyler Austin recovers from his foot injury? Carter may be capable of hitting monster home runs, but I think I’d prefer the dependability of better at-bats, something that Austin would provide (particularly for a bench role).
For a few weeks, I had been convinced that Luis Severino had done enough to nail down the #4 slot in the starting rotation. Now, I am not so sure. Chad Green has pitched much better than either Severino or my favorite for #5, Bryan Mitchell. You can probably also make an argument that Jordan Montgomery is starting to make a run for the rotation as his performances have gotten better while Severino trends in the other direction.
There are still other roster fights but these are the primary ones that bear watching over the coming weeks. With the upcoming roster cuts, the transactions wire should be very active over the course of the next 10 days. There will probably be a few talented guys become available. I am just hoping that the Yankees get back some of their Rule 5 losses, such as catcher Luis Torrens, currently with the San Diego Padres (batting .125 in 24 at-bats this spring but still mentioned as a possibility for the Padres if they go with two backup catchers). I am also hopeful of getting Tyler Webb back from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he’s a lefty with 3.86 ERA, 2 saves, and 7 strikeouts in seven innings pitched.
The Yankees received bad news for Didi Gregorius as he has been diagnosed with a shoulder strain. According to GM Brian Cashman, Didi could be out for up to six weeks.
I guess Plan B is now fully in force or at least in active development. I am surprised at the number of people who feel that Gleyber Torres should start at short during Didi’s absence. Maybe you are one of them. I just feel that it is important to be patient with a 20-year-old who has never played above A ball. For the creation of the best possible player, I hope Gleyber is given the time to move through AA and AAA, working on all facets of his game, before hitting the big league circuit. As it is, there’s no doubt he’ll have some major league service time by age 21 or 22. Baseball is a game of adjustments and the additional minor league service is invaluable to his maturation as a professional baseball player.
Torres was sent down to minor league camp for re-assignment after last night’s game so hopefully that settles the debate.
Tyler Wade for President…
I feel the best in-house solution is shortstop Tyler Wade. Ronald Torreyes is a decent backup, but he’d be exposed as a full-timer. Given the Yankees are faced with up to a month without Didi, there needs to be a better answer than the 5’7” Torreyes. I think Wade could be that guy. It would also be an excellent stage for him to endear himself to manager Joe Girardi through performance. Wade could be the all-purpose guy that we thought and hoped that Rob Refsnyder would be. This might be the break he needs to make the major league roster, for now and after Didi returns.
Another option is to move Starlin Castro to short, but I am convinced it would be detrimental to his continued development as a second baseman. But if the Yankees go that route, it could open the door for Refsnyder at second.
The Yankees could decide to go outside the organization for help, but given the depth at the position, it would have to be very short-time.
Non-roster invitees Pete Kozma and Ruben Tejada are also available but neither will provide much offense. Given a choice between the two, I’d probably go with Kozma for his glove.
It’s going to be a long six weeks. Hopefully, the rest of the team rises to pick up the slack.
Chris Sale continued his dominance over the Yankees yesterday, pitching 6 innings and allowing 2 runs with 10 strikeouts. The Red Sox won the game 4-2. Matt Holliday’s 2-run homer off Sale in the sixth accounted for the Yankees’ only runs. Bryan Mitchell went 4 1/3 innings, giving up 2 runs and striking out 7, but allowed 7 hits. Aroldis Chapman contributed his usual single inning of no runs, with 2 SO’s. The subsequent pitchers (Tommy Layne, Luis Cessa and Jon Niese) allowed a total of 6 hits and 2 runs as the Sox departed the victory.
With the loss, the Yankees fell to 18-7.
Have a great Wednesday!