Looking for the Ice King…

The Knight’s Watch…

As we progress into the early stages of the 2016 season, there’s been a consistent theme already.  Rare is the starter who gives the team any distance, forcing Manager Joe Girardi to go to the pen earlier than desired.  Fortunately, the pen has been as strong as the starters have been weak so it’s balanced out.  However, anyone knows that over an extended period, it is a formula for disaster as the bullpen will become overtaxed.

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I really thought that we’d see the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Shuttle running by now but so far Girardi has stuck with his original 25.  It is only a matter of time until the rotation begins.

I felt bad for the Yankees and their schedule in early April.  After opening at home, they are in Detroit and then head to Toronto.  These are not exactly parts of the country that one would vacation in this time of year for the weather.  This is when it would have been great to play the Tampa Bay Rays or the Los Angeles Angels on the road.  If Aroldis Chapman is missing playing with the major league team, he just needs to look at the weather forecast to see that it is only 33 degrees right now with an expected high of 41 and mixed with snow and rain.  I don’t know, I think I’d rather be working out in Tampa.

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Credit:  Highlight Hollywood

After the first run through the starting rotation, not one of them stood out as a quality performance.  The Yankees are lucky they have won more than they have lost at this point (3-2).   Their losses have been against two frontline starters (Houston’s Dallas Keuchel and Detroit’s Jordan Zimmerman).  So at least they are taking advantage of the opposing teams’ lesser starters.  Of the Yankees’ starting five, I was most disappointed in Michael Pineda.  He got the win thanks to run support (16), but gave up 6 runs.  The Yanks need the pitcher to take charge and deliver quality start after quality start to be successful.

Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran and particularly Starlin Castro have played very well.  Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter and he stayed true to form in spring training.  But early on, he’s already hit a couple of crucial home runs.  Beltran, the old man, just keeps hitting.  It’s a given that this is his final year in pinstripes as he is just keeping right field warm for Aaron Judge at this point, but he has shown he was a good three year investment.  Castro has fit in very well with the Yankees, and has bonded with double play partner, Didi Gregorius.  He has shown the best bat at second base since Robinson Cano departed.  He may never be Cano, but he has turned second base from a weakness to a strength.

Starlin Castro

Credit:  Thomas A Ferrara, Newsday

The naysayers are down on Jacoby Ellsbury and I’ve already heard the statements that he is the worst free agent signing in team’s history.  But I am hopeful that as the weather warms, so does Jacoby and that he is able to stay healthy this year.  When healthy, he is still the team’s best player.  I think he has the chance to show fans that he can still be the player he was in Boston.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury celebrates after scoring in the fifth inning of Game 2 of baseball’s American League division series against the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, in Boston. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

 

Swishalicious, again?…

I don’t know.  When I saw that Nick Swisher is working out in Tampa at the Yankees facilities and will be signing a minor league deal that includes an opt-out, I had mixed feelings.  He was a productive player, who energized the locker room during his prior time in the Bronx.  However, age has caught up with him in recent years, and it led to his release from the Atlanta Braves earlier this year.

I suppose that since his only role would be to back up Mark Teixeira at first, it is at least worth taking a look to see if anything is there.  I probably prefer to see Chris Parmalee called up at this point if the Yankees want a true first baseman rather than relying on middle infielder/outfielder Dustin Ackley.  I thought James Loney might be a better fit, but he signed a minor league deal with the San Diego Padres.

Swisher should be motivated as he’s running out of options to continue his major league career.

Time will tell if he is able to make it back to the Yankees’ major league roster.  If he does, I’ll gladly cheer for him as it will have proved he does still have something left in the tank.  If he doesn’t make it, I remain grateful for the time he spent with the Yankees earlier in his career.

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Credit:  Getty Images

* * *

Here’s hoping that warmer weather and better starting pitching is right around the corner…

—Scott

 

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