Today is a weather day where I can believe Opening Day is right around the corner. In eleven days, the Yankees open their season on what will probably be a 25-degree and snowy day in the Bronx. But let’s put aside our discussion of the weather and look at the decisions left for the Yankees to make roster-wise
1- Who is the fifth starter? When camp opened it seemed that Chris Capuano would win by default. His injury opened up a competition and it looks like Adam Warren has won it. I expect he will be given the job in the next few days.
2- What does the rest of the bullpen look like? We knew Betances, Miller, Carpenter and Wilson were locks coming into camp, but the last three spots were up in the air. Based on spring numbers, Esmil Rogers and Chase Whitley, both stretched out as starters, would seem to have an edge. Beyond that, the seventh spot seems up in the air. Chris Martin has been up and down. Chasen Shreve has too. Too close to call.
3- Who is the backup catcher? Austin Romine hasn’t hit, either has John Ryan Murphy. Romine has to either make the team, or be exposed to waivers, so I think he might make it.
4- What about the bench? With A-Rod looking like the probable DH the bench has four spots left. One goes to Murphy or Romine. Garret Jones and Chris Young were locks from the start. The only intrigue was the potential for Jose Pirela to sneak onto the roster, and that seems to have ended with his concussion. Brendan Ryan should make the team in his place.
That’s it, barring injury we know 24-out-of-25 Yankees who will break camp in 11 days.
While I freely admit to not caring about the All-Star Game for years, and hating the home field advantage component of it, the news that MLB is getting rid of paper All-Star ballots makes me nostalgic.
I get it, we don’t need them. We can vote online and save trees. (Though no one ever seems to account for the electricity we use to get online in that statement.) It’s less messy, etc.. But there was something remarkably simple and satisfying about walking into a ballpark in May or June and in-between innings punching some holes next to your favorite players’ names. Even better, if you were at the game with a buddy, you could have an informal debate right there about why player x was a much better choice than player y.
I will adjust, but there are limits to how much technology I am willing to accept in baseball.
The Yankees had been expected to try Alex Rodriguez at first base this spring, but apparently have backed off that idea. I don’t get it.Yes, the only way Alex Rodriguez makes this team is if he hits. And yes, the Yankees don’t want to use him at first, but isn’t positional flexibility a good thing?
The Yankees keep trying to find a guy who can play every position on the field. Don’t get me wrong, that person would be a bonus, but that person isn’t easy to find. But with a four-man bench, and if you carry 13 pitchers that’s what you have, you need guys who can cover more than one spot.
For the Yankees, that is even more important as Mark Teixeira last played 150 games in 2011. And while his wrist injury caused him to miss most of 2013, he is also prone to smaller, non-DL type injuries that leave him out of the lineup for five to seven days. Now the Yankees brought in Garrett Jones for those eventualities, but wouldn’t it be nice to have more backup?
Again, Alex’s place on this team is as a hitter, anything his glove does is a bonus. But if (when?) Teixeira gets hurt, the Yankees will want options. Spring training is the perfect time to give Alex a bunch of games at first and see what happens. Maybe he can handle it, maybe he can’t. What’s the harm in finding out?
Newest Red Sox, Pablo Sandoval, has been in a war of words with the San Francisco Giants and frankly I’d like him to shut his gob.
For some reason he felt the need to make his criticisms personal by basically telling all his former teammates and his coaches, save for Bruce Bochy and Hunter Pence, that he missed none of them. Nice Pablo, nice. You really seem like a good guy.
When someone calls out 23 other players, and however many coaches, well that worries me. The Red Sox signed him up for how many years?
Sandoval’s former teammate, Aubrey Huff, he of the suspiciously timed boffo seasons (seriously, take a look), fired back at him, kinda like I am now. Naturally, Sandoval didn’t appreciate the feedback and went off on another juvenile rant. It’s spring training Pablo, take it easy man. It’s a long season and don’t forget you are really rich and play baseball for a living. You should be happy.
All of this makes me really worried about the 2015 team dynamics. I thought Hanley Ramirez was going to be the problem child given his reputation, but it turns out Pablo might be instead. I’d like to think veteran players like David Ortiz or Dustin Pedroia could talk to Pablo and have him cool his act, but given the rhetoric of the past few days, I’m not sure what to expect. If Pablo really is this immature and this big a clubhouse problem then the Red Sox might have a major problem on their hands.
Oh, and here’s a prediction, Christian Vasquez will be the best catcher at stopping stolen bases this year, percentage-wise.
Here’s a rumor that has me scratching my head, the Yankees have apparently come closest to meeting the Phillies’ asking price for Cole Hamels. Nothing against Cole Hamels, but I don’t get it. Yes, he is a wonderful pitcher, but he is 31, and costs about $100-million for the next four seasons. If the Yankees were a clear playoff contender, I would get it, but at this point it seems like a foolish move.
I’m not saying the season is lost, but there are a lot of things that need to go well for the Yankees to make the playoffs. In no particular order- Tanaka’s elbow must hold up, Ellsbury and McCann have to live up to their paychecks, Beltran and Teixeira need to contribute more than they did in 2014, Nova needs to make it back, Pineda needs to continue to develop, and Gregorius must prove to be a regular shortstop. I think a lot of those things could happen, but I am not willing to mortgage a significant part of the future for Hamels until I know for sure. And if most of them don’t happen, the Yankees are going to be in trouble.
Maybe this is simply a case of the Yankees checking in with Philadelphia and making sure that they don’t trade Hamels to Boston for a low price. That would make more sense. But for now, Hamels in pinstripes shouldn’t happen.
Brian Cashman said on the radio today that Derek Jeter should be the last caption of the Yankees. Jeter was a wonderful Yankee, but the idea of ending the captaincy with him perversely taints the legacy of two other wonderful Yankees- Lou Gehrig and Thurman Munson.
If ever there was a time to end the idea of a Yankee captaincy, it was with the death of either of those two players. In fact, Munson, was the first captain of the Yankees named after Gehrig’s death in 1941. When Munson subsequently died in 1979, the Yankees waited a few years before naming Greg Nettles captain. Willie Randolph and Ron Guidry followed and then Don Mattingly. When Mattingly retired at the end of 1995, the Yankees waited until 2000 to tab Jeter.
The fact that the captaincy went on and thrived after both Gehrig and Munson’s shows that there should be another captain. Not today, maybe not in five years, but at some point. Some day another player will come along who is worthy of the title and the Yankees should bestow it on him.