As expected, this is proving to be a very active week. As teams prepare for their final cut-downs, many players are temporarily (or in some cases, permanently) losing their Major League dreams. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have spent your entire life in Baseball and at age 29 or 30, you can’t break out of the minor leagues. At some point, you have to make the decision to move on with life. Meanwhile, the kids they grew up who chose non-baseball related paths are deep into their lives and careers.
This is clearly a game of sacrifice...
With so much talk about the possibility that Aaron Hicks unseats Aaron Judge for the right field job, why can’t the Yankees create room in left? I know that GM Brian Cashman has put Brett Gardner on the table before but seemingly the return is never enough to justify the consummation of a deal. I’ve not heard any of the names offered for Gardner, but as a 33-year-old outfielder whose primary attribute is speed (a declining resource with age), he will not be in the picture when the Yankees return to full prominence in the next couple of years. Gardner has been a good Yankee and we know he’s not the worst starting outfielder on the team, but he’ll be 34 in August. Get what you can and move on. Open left field for Aaron Hicks and let Judge develop in right. When Judge “gets it”, he’ll be a monster, strikeouts and all. If Hicks fails, then it is time to see what we have with Mason Williams and later in the season perhaps even Clint Frazier.
I can think of 90 million reasons why Jacoby Ellsbury should not be the starting centerfielder for the New York Yankees but unfortunately, the Yankees have 89,571,428 reasons for why he should…
The composition of the Opening Day bullpen remains very much in doubt. There’s no question the seventh inning on is set with Tyler Clippard, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman. But it’s the other guys that remain questionable. I really like the work that Ben Heller has done, and have been hopeful that he wins a job. He’s faced competition from major league veterans like Jon Niese and Ernesto Frieri but seems to be winning the battle. Another reliever that I really like is Jonathan Holder. Holder is starting to get some love and there’s talk that he could break camp with the team. Holder has pitched 12 innings this Spring, with a 3.00 ERA. He has given up 7 hits and 4 runs, but he has struck out 9 and walked none. To me, Holder is representative of the new era Yankees. He’s a hard worker that is continually trying to get better. He is one of the pieces that will bring a World Championship back to New York.
You have to figure that a bullpen spot will go to either Bryan Mitchell or Chad Green, depending upon who wins the final rotation spots. With no need for a fifth starter until April 16th, they both could find themselves in the pen if Luis Severino takes the fourth spot in the rotation. Chasen Shreve is another that should be considered for the bullpen if Frieri gets re-directed to minor league camp (as I suspect he will).
Earlier this week, Bryan Van Dusen was insistent that Ronald Torreyes will be the replacement shortstop. While I admit that it appears Bryan is right, I just can’t seem to wrap my head around it. I’ve never been that excited about Torreyes, despite the decent job that he did last year. If he was ‘all that and a bag of chips’, he wouldn’t have bounced among five clubs before settling in the Bronx at age 24. I am one of the many that feel Rob Refsnyder deserves stronger consideration than he’s been afforded, but I also recognize, begrudgingly, that Torreyes is the better defender. The Yankees have not played Starlin Castro at short this Spring so I don’t think they’ll slide him over although the transition would not be that difficult for him. So if it must be Torreyes, so be it. But it does not mean that I have to like it. I just hope that Didi Gregorius gets back soon.
And the winner of the fifth spot in the starting rotation is...to be continued. Manager Joe Girardi has indicated the rotation's 5th starter won't be named until later. The starter won't be needed until the April 16th game at home against Matt Holliday's old buddies, the St Louis Cardinals. The winner in my mind? Jordan Montgomery, hands down. In yesterday's Grapefruit League action, Montgomery, in his final Spring appearance, went 5 innings, allowing only one run while scattering six hats. He walked one, and struck out four. He finishes the exhibition season with a 3.20 ERA. He's accomplished everything that he needs to. He belongs. He is ready. I am sure that he'll be sent down to minor league camp for now, but when it's time for the April 16th starter, make room because he deserves a first class ticket to New York. The Yankees won the game, 3-1 over the Detroit Tigers, and improved their Spring record to 23-8-1.
Getting their pink slips (re-assignment to minor league camp) on Wednesday were shortstop Tyler Wade and catcher Kyle Higashioka. The moves solidify Ronald Torreyes as an interim replacement for Didi Gregorius (ugh) and Austin Romine as backup for Gary Sanchez.
Have a great Thursday!