Spring has sprung, at least for Major League Baseball teams, as spring training is in full swing (pun intended). Hope springs eternal and MLB teams are already knee deep in PFP’s, run down drills, and bus rides to and from games in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues. And, although it’s still early, they are beginning to settle in on starting rotations, bullpens, and positional players around the diamond.
In each of these categories, the New York Yankees are pretty much set across the board. Here is a quick look at how each shakes out as of 11:26 AM on March 1:
Starting Pitching Rotation – Luis Severino, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and J.A. Happ. Should any of them have to spend time on the “injured list”, folks like Chance Adams, Jonathan Loaisiga, and Domingo Acevedo, etc. may get some starts.
Photo: NY Post
Bullpen – well, the Bombers’ bullpen is the envy of the bigs! When you can summon guys like Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton and Dellin Betances, BEFORE you get to Aroldis Chapman, you’re in great shape! With arms like that, the Yankees can and will shorten games should their starters scuffle.
Now for a trip around the horn, beginning with the outfield. Brett Gardner (entering year #12 with the Yanks) will be in left field. Aaron Hicks (and his new 7-year, $70 million contract) will be in centerfield, and all rise, because the Judge (Aaron), presides over right field once again. Of course Giancarlo Stanton will play some games in the outfield, but mostly serve as the primary DH.
As for the infield – Miguel Andujar, fresh off a stellar rookie season (.297 BA, 27 HR’s, 92 RBI’s) is back at the hot corner. Troy Tulowitzki will try and resurrect his once outstanding career at shortstop (until the injured Didi Gregorious is healthy again), and Gleyber Torres, who may get some starts at short too, will play second base. Also in the mix at 2B is nice off-season pick up DJ LeMahieu. Behind the dish will be the “Sanchise”, Gary Sanchez. Can he reproduce his Ruthian output from years one and two (53 HR’s and 132 RBI’s over his first 175 games), or will he be more like last season’s version (.186 BA, 18 HR’s, 53 RBI’s)? Austin Romine serves as a super backup backstop should Sanchez’s struggles persist.
Photo: Pinstripe Alley
Which leaves us with but one position to fill. Yankees fans far and wide want to know (cue the great Abbott and Costello):
We know who the candidates are (Greg Bird and Luke Voit), but if the season started tomorrow, we still don’t know who gets the nod.
Bird burst on the scene in 2015. He was your prototypical big left-handed power hitter who would toy with the short porch in right field at Yankee Stadium. He did not disappoint, hitting 11 homeruns and knocking in 31 runs over 46 games. His Kevin Maas-esque performance had the club and fans giddy for what was to follow. Unfortunately, he missed the entire 2016 season because of labrum surgery, and most of 2017 due to surgery on his foot. Last season was basically a disaster, as he began the year on the DL, having undergone another surgery (this one on his ankle in March), and when he came back hit just – .199, with 11 HR’s, and 38 ribbies.
Voit, who hits from the right side, took full advantage of his opportunity to play following his trade from the St. Louis Cardinals at the deadline last year. In fact, Voit filled the void like an all-star. Over the 39 games he started in NY, he posted these crazy numbers – .333 BA, 14 HR’s, and 33 RBI’s! Chants of Luuuuuke became commonplace at the big ballpark in the Bronx, as well as on the road down the stretch.
Photo: New York Post
Some other factors to keep in mind as manager Aaron Boone makes his decision are: Bird is the better defender and he has a more “mature approach to working/grinding at bats” (baseball speak). Voit however answers the bell more often than Bird, who has missed a ton of time to injury. For what it’s worth, Bird is two years younger than his competitor (26 to 28). In a “what have you done for me lately“ world, one would have to think that Luke has the edge over Greg at the moment. Both are off to good starts in Tampa, each having hit homeruns over the first few games.
So I ask you New York Yankees fans, on Thursday, March 28, when your club opens the season at home against the Baltimore Orioles, who’s on first?
Feature Photo: Elite Sports NY