Ladies and gentleman, good morning first and foremost, we are now just six days away from Opening Day including today which means the spring training competitions will soon be coming to an end. Who will man right field and who will be on the bench to start the season? Who will fill in for the injured DIdi Gregorius and who will fill out the remainder of the Yankees bench? Who wins the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation and who ends up in the bullpen or the minor leagues? Well unfortunately I don’t know but I have an idea and a set of predictions that I will bring to you this morning for better or worse. We all know, if you’ve been reading for a while anyway, how my predictions usually go though so keep that in mind while reading. Thanks.
The biggest elephant in the room I think is the Yankees starting rotation so let’s start there. Now what I think the Yankees should do and what the Yankees will do are likely two different things unfortunately. What I think the Yankees will do is they will have Luis Severino act as the team’s 4th starter while Bryan Mitchell heads down to the bullpen until the Yankees need a 5th starter around the mid-April timeframe. What I think the Yankees should do though is reward Jordan Montgomery for an amazing spring and a great 2016 season and give the job to him. He has been working as a reliever all spring anyway so the transition to the bullpen to start the season would be a relatively easy one and it would also limit his innings a bit which could help in August and September of this season. The thing is though the Yankees don’t tend to burn minor league options until they have to or unless they have to and as long as a combination of Mitchell, Severino, Chas Green and Luis Cessa are healthy they just don’t have to yet, and they won’t. Even if it is for the betterment of the team.
The future is now but the future also involves the New York Yankees at least fighting it out in the AL Wild Card race this fall, at least that’s the plan anyway, so those who say Aaron Judge has the right field job on lockdown may be in for a surprise here in a few days. Honestly I personally think Judge will be in right field to start the season on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays but this competition is going to go down to the wire for no other reason other than Joe Girardi’s seemingly infatuation with having Hicks in his every day lineup. Hicks is a switch-hitter and he does bring more experience and leadership to the role, a role that Judge seemingly struggled with in his first taste of MLB pitching, but the future is now in the Bronx and Judge is the future in right field, not Hicks. Hicks had a full campaign last season to showcase his abilities and skills and he didn’t by any stretch of the imagination. Judge had a few weeks before going down with an oblique injury and should be given a much longer leash than that in my opinion, and he will I think starting on Opening Day, April 2nd.
The final and one of the biggest decisions the Yankees have to make before they break camp this spring is which one of their many options will be manning the recently vacated shortstop position in the Bronx while Didi Gregorius heals from his right shoulder strain. New York has basically already said that Gleyber Torres and Tyler Wade will not win the job, and they shouldn’t based on New York’s 40 man roster crunch and the need for minor league options and such, but who should “win” the job is Robert Refsnyder. What the Yankees can do is have Starlin Castro take the bulk of the responsibility at shortstop with Ronald Torreyes also filling in while either Torreyes or Refsnyder take turns at second base in some sort of revolving door. Obviously some days Torreyes could simply play shortstop while Castro plays second base while the next day Castro plays shortstop and Refsnyder plays second base and so on and so forth. The Yankees have some versatility though with these three and they should use it to their advantage as much as possible.
The idea of having Pete Kozma on the roster only to be designated for assignment in a month has also been floated around but I’m not sure how much I like the idea. It seems like making a move or three (adding him to the 40 man roster only to DFA him in a month and hope he passes through waivers) but it seems like the ultimate Yankees move so I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. Whatever screws over the development of Refsnyder and gets him back in Triple-A I guess. That’s the way it seems anyway but I digress.
So there are my predictions, what are yours? Leave them below in the comments section. Thanks again!