This morning, Stanford Williams’ gave us a Pinch Hitter post about all of the things he’s learned from the Yankees. As a follow-up, here are some of the things I still haven’t learned about the Yankees heading into next season.
Pitchers and catchers report in exactly two weeks, and these questions still stand.
Who’s going to get the DH at-bats?
Alex Rodriguez will get some of them. Derek Jeter will get a handful. Andruw Jones could handle the job against lefties. But here were sit, this close to spring training, and we still don’t know who the Yankees regular designated hitter will be. The free agent market offers several veteran options, and we know Brian Cashman is exploring the trade market, but right now it’s a complete mystery. Could Chris Dickerson get some at-bats against right-handers? Could Jorge Vazquez get a chance to bring his all-or-nothing bat to the big leagues? Surely the Yankees will find someone, but who?
How do seven fit into five?
CC Sabathia is the Opening Day starter. We know that much. We know Hiroki Kuroda didn’t sign a $10-million deal to pitch out of the bullpen, we know the Yankees didn’t trade away Jesus Montero to get a Triple-A pitcher, and we know Ivan Nova was dominant last year’s second half. But we don’t know exactly how this Yankees rotation is going to shake out. In fact, the fifth starter favorite changes with each person you ask. Phil Hughes has the potential, A.J. Burnett has the contract and Freddy Garcia has the proof of a strong 2011 season.
What’s the plan for Alex Rodriguez?
He says he’s healthy, and the Yankees say he’s healthy, but after a series of injuries in recent years, exactly how much time with Rodriguez spend at third base? And if the Yankees need someone to give him a break now and then — once a week, let’s say — who’s going to fill that time? We know Eric Chavez is still out there, but Eduardo Nunez also had a solid debut (though obviously marked with some inconsistencies).
How far away is Joba Chamberlain?
Every indication is that Chamberlain’s recovery from Tommy John surgery is going as well as possible, but what does that mean? It surely doesn’t mean he’ll be ready for Opening Day, but is May a possibility? June? July? How conservative will the Yankees be, and what will Chamberlain’s stuff look like when he’s back in a game situation?
Should we expect surprises?
Maybe the question should be, what counts as a surprise? Should we be surprised if Robinson Cano is batting third in that first Grapefruit League game? Is it a lock that Derek Jeter will be the leadoff hitter? Is there any chance Rafael Soriano will step back into the eighth inning ahead of Dave Robertson? Joe Girardi is a man who sticks to his guns, but what are those guns — I mean, binders — telling him this year?
Associated Press photo