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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Three weeks left, where do the Yankees stand?

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Mar 15, 2010 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Four weeks ago, camp opened with the Yankees needing to answer a series of questions before Opening Day in Boston. With three weeks left on the spring training schedule, the Yankees are getting closer to some of those answers.

1. Who is the No. 5 starter? Of the five candidates, Alfredo Aceves has been the best and Joba Chamberlain has been the worst, but it’s hard to know how much any of that matters. General thinking seems to be that Phil Hughes is the favorite for the job, and he’s probably pitched well enough to hold onto that label.

2. Where does the rotation’s odd man out open the season? When spring training opened, this seemed to be question strictly about Hughes and Chamberlain. Was it possible one of them could open in Triple-A rather than the bullpen? Now that long reliever Chan-Ho Park is in the mix, though, the Yankees might need to find some alternative destinations for some of their other spot-starter/long-relief type pitchers. We’re still a pretty long way from those decisions, though.

3. Is Brett Gardner an everyday outfielder? Gardner is hitting just .158 this spring, but thats better than Marcus Thames, Randy Winn or Jamie Hoffmann. The numbers that might matter most for Gardner at the plate are 2 and 4: Two strikeouts and four walks. He and Nick Johnson are tied for the team lead in walks.

4. Who is the starting center fielder? Still very much up in the air, but it is interesting that Gardner has started in left field three times while Curtis Granderson has started there only once while playing center field six times.

5. Who bats second? This seems to be an answered question: Nick Johnson.

6. Is it worth keeping a Rule 5 pick on the roster? Jamie Hoffmann isn’t exactly off to a blazing start this spring, but neither is Marcus Thames, his primary competition for an outfield job off the bench. David Winfree, Colin Curtis and Greg Golson are each playing pretty well, but the Yankees can send those three to Triple-A. If they don’t keep one of Hoffmann and Thames, the Yankees will lose both of them.

7. Does the team need a second lefty? Need one? Probably not. Want one? Maybe. Every lefty has been reassigned except Damaso Marte, Boone Logan and Royce Ring. Both Logan and Ring have looked awfully good this spring. They’re making a good case for themselves.

8. If not a second lefty, who rounds out the bullpen? Some of the dark horse bullpen candidates (Ivan Nova, Kevin Whelan, Grant Duff) have already been reassigned, another (Edwar Ramirez) has been traded and another (Jonathan Albaladejo) has been awful. The Park signing made it significantly harder for someone to sneak into the bullpen, but Mark Melancon has been outstanding this spring. Jason Hirsh might also have put his name on that list of pitchers to keep an eye on.

9. Who is the utility infielder? Ramiro Pena still seems like the favorite — that glove is really, really impressive — but Kevin Russo has really played well. He has more walks than strikeouts, he’s made some nice plays at second base and he seems good for a hit a game, even with limited at-bats.

10. Have any bullpen roles shifted? Just as a hypothetical… What if Chamberlain struggles like this all spring? Would you put Hughes in the rotation and Dave Robertson in the eighth inning? Basically, we won’t know whether bullpen roles have shifted until the team breaks camp. It’s way too early to say one way or another.





43 Responses to “Three weeks left, where do the Yankees stand?”

  1. Rick March 15th, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Re-post ….

    Spring training has reached the halfway point. All players have been looked at and the 1st group of cuts has been made.
    Short of injury concerns, the starting rotation will take shape within the next 10 days. From what’s been seen up to this point, Phil Hughes has made better strides than Joba Chamberlain. Joba figures there’s little left for him to do. Phil sees it otherwise as evidenced by his hard work at refining a changeup. Joba to the bullpen.
    The 2 moves that made the biggest pitching impact since December was the additions of Javy Vasquez and Chan Ho Park.
    It will be a difficult decision for Girardi with Ramiro Pena and Kevin Russo. He can’t go wrong with either.
    Still some competition between Thames, Curtis, Hoffmann, and possibly Winfree for the 25th player.

  2. Chambliss March 15th, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Things are looking up when the biggest issues are:

    1. battle for 5th starter
    2. Granderson in left or center?
    3. another lefty in the pen?

    What a difference a year makes. I suppose that A-Rod could become a distraction again, but last year the Yankees got hit with the double whammy of steroid allegations and the hip injury.

  3. m March 15th, 2010 at 2:29 pm

    Hughes in center. Gardner is your #5 starter.

  4. sab March 15th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    If its really true that the yankees will be bringing “the best 12 arms” north with them – then why even have a spring training competition? And what exactly does “the 12 best arms” mean? The 12 pitchers that had the best spring training? Or the 12 pitchers that girardi and cashman had on their already predetermined list of pitchers they wanted in New York to start the season.

    Why do I ask this? because last year the yankees took Jose Veras, Jon Albaladejo and Edwar Ramirez up north with them to start the season and alfredo aceves and brett tomko (who had an amazing spring training) got sent to AAA. You mean to tell me veras, albi and ramirez were part of the 12 best arms?!?!

    So i’m not really sure what is meant when they say they are bringing the best 12 arms with them….i think it has more to do with who is their favorites then who has pitched the best…

  5. Keep it March 15th, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    Gardner needs to work on his change-up before he’s a lock for that 5th starter role.

  6. Bronx Jeers March 15th, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Lets’ not forget #5 hitter.

    Does Cano enjoy the same status as Hughes with “most favored option”?

  7. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day March 15th, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    SJ, you asked why, if the Yankees were so confident in Joba as a starter, they didn’t just pencil him in to the #5 spot. Well, they also like Phil. It always seems like Phil’s development is supposed to be put on the backburner because of what happens with Joba; that’s a terrible way to develop a pitcher, especially one with the potential Phil has. I think everyone is making good points and I don’t think anyone is wrong. I just feel strongly, as Randy does, that Phil in the pen is a waste and that he needs to be starting. As I said earlier, the Yankees can win without him in the set-up role. If that’s where he goes, then you can expect him to have to start all over again as a starter next year – no change, no curve. It’s just not a good situation –he’d be going backwards.

  8. Erin March 15th, 2010 at 2:41 pm

    March 15th, 2010 at 2:29 pm
    Hughes in center. Gardner is your #5 starter.

    LOL I think you may be onto something ;)

  9. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day March 15th, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    Chad, good summary – thanks! I really like Russo – he’s a better hitter than Pena. I am not bothered by Thames’ poor spring as he’s a professional hitter. Hoffman has proven nothing and who knows about Winfree? Since he can be sent down to AAA, I wouldn’t think that he’d be the first option.

  10. m March 15th, 2010 at 2:48 pm


    I think Gardner’s a lock for a Gold Glove at that position. :P

  11. Matt March 15th, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Telltale signs will be showing up as for what the plans are for Gardner getting playing time in CF. Jamie Hoffmann will need to pick it up or it’s back to the Dodger organization for him.
    The bullpen roles will sort themselves out by about 3/28.

  12. I like Inge March 15th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Spring Training has been pretty dull. I can’t get into the 5th starter competition and go through all the scenarios. One of the young guys is starting, the other one is going to dominate in the pen. Ace is the long man. Granderson in Center, Gardner in Left… and start kicking ass in April.

  13. Ken March 15th, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Thames is a professional hitter? Who knew.

  14. I like Inge March 15th, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Thames is more like a fringe major leaguer trying to stay in the Show.

  15. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day March 15th, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Really, Ken? He’s not been in the major leagues and hit with success? I never said he was Mickey Mantle… Apparently by the way, YOU didn’t know – and it’s not the only thing you don’t know.

  16. Ken March 15th, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Lots of professional hitters get non tendered and then sign minor league deals.

  17. Jason March 15th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    It is Joba’s mechanics that are out of wack, not his mental fortitude. He sucks because he does not have fastball command. How would keeping him in the bullpen help him out? All it does is mask the problem, not solve it.

    If he loses the 5th starter role to Hughes, he should be sent to Scranton to work on his mechanics (were they changed after the Texas start?). The BP is stacked as configured. If Robertson/Marte/Park/Aceves dont work out, then consider moving Joba to the BP. Preferably a month into the season. Remember the season is a marathon. there will be plenty of time to gauge the team before making short sighted personnel decisions.

  18. Keep it March 15th, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    Thames is just someone you bring in to pinch hit against Left Handed pitching. He can slug if he actually makes contact, but that doesn’t happen too often. Doesn’t get on base too often either. He’s more accustomed to coming off the bench than any other choice.

  19. 27 March 15th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    The last question is: do the Yankees miss Johnny Damon? Let me know what you think.

  20. vb03 March 15th, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    27 March 15th, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    The last question is: do the Yankees miss Johnny Damon? Let me know what you think.



  21. m March 15th, 2010 at 3:15 pm


  22. Betsy -Romine wasn't built in a day March 15th, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Keep it, that’s what the Yankees would use Thames for – to PH against lefties to occasionally start. I never said he was a great hitter, but he doesn’t have to be. Hoffman hasn’t proven he can hit major league hitting at all.

  23. m March 15th, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I know this is silly, but I could see the Yankees keeping Hoffman initially because they don’t want to send him back. Although they’d net $25,000. Who couldn’t use $25K?

  24. Keep it March 15th, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    I was speaking in generalities, not to anyone specific. Those are simply the facts about Thames. Whether anyone wants him on the team or not does not matter to me.

  25. upstate kate March 15th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    I miss Johnny, Melky and Phil Coke…not b/c I think the Yankees need them to win…just b/c I liked them.

    OTOH, I am very happy w/ the addition of Granderson and Javy.

  26. Jerkface March 15th, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    Although they’d net $25,000. Who couldn’t use $25K?

    They’d be down 25k, the initial investment was 50

  27. kd March 15th, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    does anyone have any updates on arod’s hip? tex’s progress? anyone looking sharp/out of shape in camp?

  28. Jerkface March 15th, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    does anyone have any updates on arod’s hip? tex’s progress? anyone looking sharp/out of shape in camp?

    Albaladejo came into camp in the greatest shape of his career

  29. Justin March 15th, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Andddddd good afternoon everybody!!!

  30. m March 15th, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    1. Phil Hughes is the 5th starter.
    2. Where does the runner up go? Joba to the pen. Hughes to Scranton.
    3. Gardner is an everyday fielder. Is he an everyday OF? Given the options right now, yes.
    4. If Gardner can hit (big if), put him in CF.
    5. Nick Johnson seems to be the guy. Has made great strides with Kevin Long.
    6. I would keep Hoffman. His defense hasn’t lived up to his billing, but he’s younger and would seem to have more versatility (defense, pinch-running, base-stealin, etc.)
    7. I say no to a 2nd lefty if it’s at the expense of a good righty. Do we lose either/or of the 2 lefties if they don’t make the team?
    8. Barring a trade or release we have to accomodate Gaudin & mitre. I’m at mo/d-rob/joba/ace/park/mitre/gaudin.
    9. Pena is your UT IF. But if we cut Hoffman loose at any point in the season, I think Russo would be my 1st callup if we’re looking for another UT guy. It seems to be the role they’ve groomed him for, and he’s arrived earlier than I anticipated.
    10. Same thing with the D-rob v. melancon discussion yesterday. I think it’s Robertson’s job until it’s wrested from him. Joba needs to get that WHIP under control before he’s given anything. D-rob and Aceves have proven themselves, make the challengers step up if they want something.

  31. m March 15th, 2010 at 3:43 pm


    lol. Thanks. At least they could get half their money back.

    Is there anything in our system the Dodgers would want (too bad Edwar’s gone, Torre could use a whipping boy) to keep Hoffman in our system?

  32. I like Inge March 15th, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Wasn’t it only a few months ago in the World Series that Chamberlain was the main righty out of the pen? Why would he be the 7th inning guy?

    He’s the set-up man if he goes to the bullpen.

  33. SJ44 March 15th, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    Since Girardi has said time and time again whoever among Hughes and Chamberlain isn’t starting is the setup guy, I’m not seein’ Scranton in either guys future.

  34. Keep it March 15th, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Francessa said Gardner/Winn will be platooning in left and Thames will be the PH off the bench. Hoffman wasn’t mentioned.

  35. Yankz1 March 15th, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    Chad, is Vazquez defiately starting in AAA? Depending on what utility positions the Yanks keep, Vazquez I think still has a shot at the 25th spot. We know it is between Russo and Pena for the middle inf pos. Nunez, Laird, and Carona are going down. No one wants the LF spot. Will they keep two OF off the bench? If the Yanks keep Russo, he can play OF and a better hitter, but Pena is a great fielder. Jorge doesnt have a great avg in spring, but he has been hitting the ball very hard, and a bit of bad luck. Two diving catches on line drives in the OF, a rocket that the 3b caught in self-defence. He could easly have 3 or 4 more hits. I know yesterday he struck out, but after he hit a bomb just foul, out of the stadium. Then he held up on two very good curves low and away, before he K’d on a hanging curve just high enough. Jorge can be that righty with a lot of power off the bench that the Yanks need. Miranda is lefty and only plays 1b-DH. Already have Johnson lefty, Gardner lefty. Granderson cant hit lefty’s. Jorge is an rbi machine………. I know Winn hasnt shown much, but I think he will get the 4th OF spot. Then Russo/Pena for middle inf spot, and Vazquez could get the corner INF spot, and he could be capable of playing corner OF. He has played it in the AAA Mex league. He is of course not gold glove material, but playable at each position. I think the only thing is if they are thinking of keeping two OF bench players. Then I am guessing Thames’ exp will get it.

  36. Keep it March 15th, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Gagne reassigned to Dodger minor league camp.

  37. Chad Jennings March 15th, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    New post

  38. I like Inge March 15th, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    Gardner/Winn platoon makes sense for Left Field. Granderson should play Center. Let Gardner, who is a role player, go adjust to left. Grandy is a star and he should play his spot which is Center.

  39. Yeah March 15th, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Gardner has never belonged, and does not now belong, on a major-league roster, let alone the Yankees’, let alone as a starter. He is AAAA at best. Cannot drive the ball at all; only manages to get on base once every six and a half at-bats due to speed. Must go. No offer refused!

  40. YankFanDave March 15th, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    “Who is the starting center fielder? Still very much up in the air.” Really? After both Girardi and Cashman have stated, repeatedly, that Granderson is the CFer and statements about him in LF was in line with never saying never. Nice try in making this into the Joba as starter/reliever controversy from last years spring training.

  41. pistol pete March 15th, 2010 at 8:56 pm

    If Joba gets the 5th spot it’ll be a joke. He belongs at Triple AAA trying to get straightened out. Phil gets the 5th spot and Ace is the versatle bullpen guy. Leftfield is a joke, they should have signed Damon. Everyday players are hard to find. Funny how the leftfield compitition brought out the worst in Hoffman Gardner Thames and Winn. I know I know everyone it’s early but the truth is these guys never made it up til now because they aern’t very good.

  42. seeknayog March 16th, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    My prediction on the 5th starter:
    Joba will start to perform better his last few outings.

    The Yanks are worried about over-taxing their 3 playoff starters from last year, especially the old vet Pettite.
    Pettite will have a “stiff back” the first 2-3 weeks of the season letting the Yanks prospect duo of Joba/Hughes each have 2-3 regular starts before a real decision is made.

  43. seeknayog March 16th, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    My prediction for RF:
    Gardner will start there. Winn will be the backup and Thames will make the club initially.

    The Yanks however trade Mitre for Hoffman’s rights and send him to AAA. He comes up in a month or two when the Yanks release Thames. Hoffman starts to play over Gardner and has a good year cementing himself as the almost everyday right fielder.

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