Wednesday, March 28, 2018

With Great Disappointment Comes Great Opportunity

Two weeks is a long time. I mean, so much can happen. For instance, somebody such as myself can spend a week in central Florida and go to Universal Studios, swim with manatees, visit a sister he rarely sees, go to a handful of beaches/parks, search for alligators (but sadly fail... it's still too cold), and walk around George M. Steinbrenner Field.


And two weeks ago I thought I had the Yankees Opening Day roster figured out. Perhaps you could take out somebody from the bullpen and add a bat to the bench, but the lineup was a sure thing. Here's what I had...

Starting Lineup
C-Gary Sanchez
1B-Greg Bird
2B-Neil Walker
SS-Didi Gregorius
3B-Brandon Drury
LF-Brett Gardner
CF-Aaron Hicks
RF-Aaron Judge
DH-Giancarlo Stanton

Bench
Austin Romine (C/1B)
Ronald Torreyes (2B/SS/3B)
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF) *If Ellsbury is not ready then I believe Tyler Austin will be on the bench instead.

Starting Rotation
1. Masahiro Tanaka
2. Luis Severino
3. Sonny Gray
4. CC Sabathia
5. Jordan Montgomery

Bullpen
Aroldis Chapman
David Robertson
Dellin Betances
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
Chasen Shreve
Adam Warren
Jonathan Holder

While guys like Austin Romine had good springs (he hit .394/.447/.545), the one man many fans wanted to see get a shot was Tyler Wade. Wade didn't hit for much power (his slugging percentage was .391), but his batting average (.283) and especially his on-base percentage (.404) really caught people's eye. But there was nowhere to play.

Sure, Tyler could have platooned at second base with Neil Walker, but personally I really didn't like that idea. I don't like when high-ceiling prospects like Wade are stuck in part-time roles. I'd rather see them play regularly in AAA, and hone their craft at the same time, than spend a significant amount of time on the bench.

On that note, I believe catchers are a different animal. Catchers are responsible for so much on the field, from working with pitchers to communicating with fielders, that sitting on the bench and watching/learning is necessary to their development. Pitchers are kind of the same, as they can learn and develop while working as relievers before starting again.

But players at other positions need to play regularly. I suppose they can learn from watching on the bench, like they do when watching video, but the vast majority of their learning comes from playing.

So that's why Tyler Wade was not a part of my Opening Day roster. I wanted him playing nearly every day.

Well, here we are two weeks later, and things have certainly changed.

As I sit here typing today I'm excited. Not because we won't see Greg Bird for a couple of months (or more), but because Tyler Wade now has a shot.

It seems likely that Wade and Neil Walker will share duties at second base. It's not the "every day" role I'd like for him, but I believe Tyler will play enough to make his time with the Yankees worth it. And now it's time for him to expand on what he did this spring, and move further away from the guy we saw that hit .155/.222/.224 in his first taste of the show.

From here on out this is how I see things going...

1. Fans will start screaming for Aaron Boone to play Tyler Wade most days at second base over Neil Walker. Not so much because Wade is hitting better than Walker, but because fans will believe that with regular playing time Tyler would bat better. I'm not so sure.

2. Gleyber Torres is going to own AAA. He hit .309/.406/.457 in 23 games at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last season, and while he may start off a bit slow after his injury and time off it won't be long until he's putting up similar numbers again. And that will lead to many Yankees fans clamoring for him to be promoted to the Yankees.

3. Brandon Drury will be slightly below average. He'll get some hate from fans that expect him to help the team the way Didi Gregorius does now, except they will forget that Didi was a below average batter in his first two seasons on New York. But the fact will remain that he won't keep anyone down.

4. Miguel Andujar will build off of his 2017 season with the RailRiders. This is significant not only for him, but it will also keep Torres at second base, and the whole "Gleyber the 3B" thing we once saw will remain a thing of the past.

5. Andujar will be the first promoted from AAA, and will take over for the "good but not good enough" Brandon Drury at third base. By the way, Drury may not play as often, but he will get a decent amount of playing time while giving other infielders a day off here and there.

6. While the demand for Torres to be promoted will start in a month, it'll be nearly June before Gleyber will be pushing too hard to ignore. This will lead to Tyler Wade being pushed aside... losing his playing time to Gleyber at second base, and eventually demoted as there is no room on the big league roster for him.

7. I don't see Greg Bird returning any time soon. We won't see him in six weeks, we won't see him in eight weeks, heck... we won't see him in 10 weeks. The Yankees will take their time with Bird because not only do they want to make sure he's healthy when he returns, but they'll want to keep giving Neil Walker playing time at first base.

8. By June 1st the regular infield will include Miguel Andujar at 3B, Didi Gregorius at SS, Gleyber Torres at 2B, and Neil Walker at 1B. Meanwhile, Tyler Wade will be sent to AAA to make room on the bench for Drury (along with Torreyes, Ellsbury and Romine).

9. The Yankees will push Greg Bird's return back until late July (he will be eased back into action so Neil Walker still gets significant playing time) when they will make a trade for a starting pitcher. Tyler Austin could be involved in a trade as he's already spent 133 games in AAA, but the Yankees lack of good 1B depth will keep him around. Here's my big prediction here... based on the roster construction I think the Yankees will flip Brandon Drury. So it'll be Brandon Drury, Tyler Wade, Chance Adams (who will be ready more than ready to step into a starting role in MLB), and another piece or two for a starting pitcher.

10. After the trade deadline the Yankees roster will look like this...

Starting Lineup
C-Gary Sanchez
1B-Greg Bird
2B-Gleyber Torres
SS-Didi Gregorius
3B-Miguel Andujar
LF-Brett Gardner
CF-Aaron Hicks
RF-Aaron Judge
DH-Giancarlo Stanton

Bench
Austin Romine (C/1B)
Neil Walker (2B/1B)
Ronald Torreyes (2B/3B/SS)
Jacoby Ellsbury (OF)

Starting Rotation
1. Luis Severino
2. New Guy (sorry, don't have a prediction for who... yet)
3. Masahiro Tanaka
4. Sonny Gray
5. CC Sabathia

Bullpen
Aroldis Chapman
David Robertson
Dellin Betances
Chad Green
Tommy Kahnle
Chasen Shreve
Adam Warren
Jordan Montgomery (I think he'll take a step back after last season, and will lose his starting role so he can find himself again out of the bullpen... a la Luis Severino)

I didn't think too hard about the bullpen, so it's quite possible that guys like Domingo Acevedo, Domingo German, and others work there way in there.

Funny, this all started with me wanting to simply point out that Tyler Wade was going to get an opportunity that he otherwise would not have had if Greg Bird weren't injured. And this is what it turned into. What can I say? It's easy for me to go off on tangents when it comes to the Yankees. Hopefully that's a good thing.

Thanks again for reading, and let's go Yanks!

By the way, I took a total of 29 pictures at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Let me know if you want me to post them all here for you.

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