First roster move of the season…

I-80 East, please…

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre shuttle has begun its 2016 season as the Yankees called up lefty reliever Tyler Olson in advance of Friday’s opening series against the Seattle Mariners and former friend Robinson Cano.  Headed the other direction was pitcher Luis Cessa.

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For Cessa, I think this is a good move.  With the season-ending loss of Nick Rumbelow to Tommy John surgery, the Yankees needed another candidate for starting with the Triple A club.  Cessa was being used as a reliever, but his highest and best use at this point is as a starter.  It’s good to see him get the opportunity to get stretched out.  Ivan Nova’s implosion the other night shows there’s opportunity for someone who could grab the long man/spot starter role and run with it.  Nova, so far, is not proving to be that guy despite his successful first appearance in long relief.

I don’t know what the Yankees should do with Nova.  I’ve lost my patience with him, but he just doesn’t have great trade value.  Would a change of scenery help him?  I am not so sure.  He’s too talented for the Yankees to cut, but too inconsistent to trust.

Tyler Olson gets his first chance as a Yankee against the team that he played for last season.  It’s kind of funny that I was disappointed when the Yankees traded former prospect Rob Segedin to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Olson and infielder Ronald Torreyes.  All spring, I kept hearing Segedin’s name in the Dodgers lineup, and all in all, he played well.  Yet, with the regular season upon us, both Olson and Torreyes are in the majors while Segedin was sent down prior to the start of the season.

Forget the walk-up music in Chicago…

Starlin Castro continues to impress me with his bat and his glove.  He doesn’t look like a “newbie” at second base.  I know that shortstop is the glamor position but great second baseman are hard to find, and it is such a critical position.  I think Castro is the right man for the job in the post-Robinson Cano era.

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Credit:  Kim Klement / USA Today Sports

I wish I could say that other guys on the team were impressing me.  So far, it’s been a sluggish start, offensively-speaking.  I am growing concerned that the Yankees have an albatross in Chase Headley, and Alex Rodriguez is a 40 year old man (probably older than many coaches at this point) and finding difficulty finding the ball with his bat.  There has been the occasional glimmer of hope from the other position players, but collectively, the group has underperformed.  I know, good pitching beats good hitting.  But the Yankees do not seem to be taking advantage of the mistake pitches or the #4 or #5 starters on the opposing teams.

I do have to put a disclaimer for Ronald Torreyes.  I really wanted Rob Refsnyder to win the utility role but his miscues at third base late in spring training proved that he is not quite ready for the position.  In stepped Torreyes and despite his small stature, he has proven to be a very capable performer.  Houston’s Jose Altuve has proven that you don’t need to be tall to be successful.  Not that Torreyes will ever be the player that Altuve is today, but for what the Yankees need, he has provided.

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Credit:  The Greedy Pinstripes.com

Hand-eye-knee coordination?…

I liked the enthusiasm that Nick Swisher brought to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in his return debut in the Yankees organization, but I am still skeptical that his knees will allow him to return to the big leagues.  Of course, I hope I am proven wrong, but we’ll find out within the next month or so if he is able to do it.  The downside if he does make it is the adverse impact it would have on Dustin Ackley for playing time.  I still remain optimistic about Ackley, and I like his bat.  That’s probably another reason I am pessimistic about Swisher, but I agree that Swisher knows and understands first base better than Ackley even if the latter did play the position before his professional career started.

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Credit:  Bill Tarutis / For Times Leader

I miss those perfect games by Davids Cone and Wells…

Another concern is the marginal starting pitching the Yankees have experienced through the first two runs through the rotation.  In particular, Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have been the most disappointing.  I am really looking forward to seeing a dominant pitching performance from one of the guys.  Hopefully that will help turn the momentum and raise the group to their potential.  Pineda and Severino are the keys to the rotation so if they can’t turn it around, it’s going to be a long season.

I know that it is still very early in the season and I am certainly not ready to push the panic button.  As slowly as the Yankees have started, they can easily get on a hot streak.  Weather-wise, the Yankees have really had it tough.  They started in New York, went to Detroit and Toronto, and are now back in New York.  Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Dodgers play in a climate that is supposed to reach the high 80’s today.  Big difference.  Granted today is supposed to be sunny and 65 in New York, but that’s not been the case the last couple of weeks.  As the weather warms, hopefully the Yankee bats will follow suit.

The Man in Purple…

On a final note, I was glad to see Jared Allen sign a one-day contract to retire as a Minnesota Viking.  He wasn’t an original Viking as he came to the team via a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs, and he went on to play for the Chicago Bears and the Carolina Panthers after leaving Minneapolis.  Yet, he felt that the Vikings were home.  He played his best years in purple, and he will be remembered as one of the great ones.  I wish him all the best in his post-playing career and retirement.  Thanks for the memories.

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Vikings defensive end Jared Allen jokes with a referee in third quarter of Minnesota’s final game at the Metrodome, against the Lions, in Minneapolis on December 29, 2013. (Pioneer Press: John Autey)

—Scott

 

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