Decision-Time for Joe Girardi…

Getting ready for 2017…

This has been an interesting week for the Yankees.

Tanaka-22314140-mmmain

Credit:  Butch Dill, USA TODAY Sports

Masahiro Tanaka, Chasen Shreve, and Jordan Montgomery combined to threw a no-hitter on St Patrick’s Day as the Yankees defeated the Detroit Tigers, 3-0.  Tanaka has been stellar this spring, and looks to be a potential Cy Young candidate if he keeps it up.  Jordan Montgomery had some early struggles in camp, but he has been coming on strong lately and might have inserted his name into the competition for the last two rotation spots.  It was a great game for the Yankees even if spring games do not really matter.

Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird have continued to show that they will be a big part of the Yankees offense this year.  It’s great to see that Bird has rebounded from last year’s injury.  With former Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira’s knack for ice-cold starts to new seasons, I am anxious to see if Bird can fly early in the new season.

Bird-orioles-yankees-spring-baseball

Credit:  Matt Rourke, AP

James Kaprielian gave a great performance in his only spring appearance before being sent down to minor league camp for re-assignment.  He pitched two scoreless innings in Thursday’s game.  I know that Kaprielian still has much work ahead of him, but I am cautiously optimistic that we’ll see him at the major league level in September.  It would help set him up as a prime candidate to replace CC Sabathia in the rotation next year.

Gleyber Torres is another that has really impressed me.  He has shown leadership and ability beyond his years and despite never having played above High A ball, he has stood shoulder to shoulder with his major league peers.  He is only a year or two away.  The team will be substantially improved once he is ready.

I really feel bad for Robert Refsnyder.  All things considered, I’d choose him over Ronald Torreyes for the utility spot on the team.  But Refsnyder just doesn’t have the necessary defensive skills.  The Yankees have Ref on the trading block so it’s possible that a move could be made within the next couple of weeks.  While I would hate to see him go, I would be very excited for him if a trade opens up a starting role for him.

I feel bad for manager Joe Girardi.  He has some very difficult decisions ahead.  Too many talented guys to narrow the list to just 25 but he has to do it anyway.  Deserving guys will be on the outside looking in.

Here’s my prediction for the Opening Day roster:

Starting Line-up

C: Gary Sanchez

1B: Greg Bird

2B: Starlin Castro

SS: Didi Gregorius

3B: Chase Headley

LF: Brett Gardner

CF: Jacoby Ellsbury

RF: Aaron Judge

DH: Matt Holliday

 

Bench

1B: Chris Carter

OF: Aaron Hicks

UTILITY: Ronald Torreyes

C: Austin Romine

 

Starting Rotation

1-RHP: Masahiro Tanaka

2-RHP: Michael Pineda

3-LHP: CC Sabathia

4-RHP: Luis Severino

5-LHP: Bryan Mitchell

 

Bullpen

LHP: Tommy Layne

RHP: Ben Heller

RHP: Chad Green

RHP: Adam Warren

RHP: Tyler Clippard-Setup

RHP: Dellin Betances-Setup

LHP: Aroldis Chapman-Closer

For my roster, I couldn’t find room for Jon Niese.  He has not pitched badly, but I feel other guys have proven themselves.  To add Niese to the roster would require dropping someone from the 40-man roster.  Given the Yankees just signed Ernesto Frieri to a minor league deal with invite to major league camp, it would make more sense to open the spot on the 40-man for Frieri if/when he proves that he can still be an effective major league reliever.  Niese wasn’t going to start for the Yankees so relief is his only opportunity.  To me, there are too many equal arms or better.

I would love to remove Jacoby Ellsbury from the roster, but I don’t have $90 million to burn so it looks like we’re stuck with him and can only hope for the best.  I am also looking forward to Chase Headley’s future as an ex-Yankee whenever that day may be.  I will be paying very careful attention to the development of prospect Dustin Fowler (center field) and Miguel Andujar (third base).  When those guys are ready, it will be time to find a way to unload Ellsbury and Headley.

It has been very exciting to watch the Yankees perform this spring.  As I type this post, they are 16-5, the best spring mark in the MLB.  The Baby Bombers have excelled, time and again.  There’s a strong sense of excitement and energy that did not exist at this point last year.  I am not predicting a World Series championship or even an AL East title, but the Yankees should be very fun to watch this year.  Better days are truly ahead.

—Scott

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