The Yankees are meeting with the MLBPA this morning, which means the clubhouse won’t be open to media for a few hours. A few random thoughts while we wait…
• There’s a chance Johnny Damon could actually help the Yankees in the month of April, and I’m usually all for low-risk contracts with guys like that. But the Yankees need to get younger, and they need to be open to giving some of their own players at least a chance to fill short-term openings like this. They’re great opportunities to find out who can play and who can’t. If none of the guys in camp prove worthy of the temporary left field job, then the Yankees can surely find a waiver claim or minor trade acquisition that’s just as reliable as Damon.
• Jose Ramirez can pitch. Probably won’t be in the big league pitcher this year, but middle of next season isn’t out of the question. He looked good against legitimate big leaguers yesterday.
• A handful of at-bats mean nothing, but it’s interesting that Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki have been the best hitters in camp so far. I honestly have no idea which one will hit leadoff on Opening Day. If I had to guess right now, I’d probably say Gardner, but that’s a complete guess and very, very subject to change.
• The fact Joba Chamberlain became a reliever can’t be blamed on one thing or one person. The Joba Rules were actually working before that 2008 shoulder injury. Even after the injury, the Yankees let Chamberlain spend all of 2009 as a starter, but his 4.75 ERA was a pretty good indication that he wasn’t the same overwhelming pitcher who’d burst onto the scene two years earlier. Injury, performance and organizational decision making all contributed to putting Chamberlain in his current situation. Very little about the past three years suggests he would have been a great starter, but you never know, and so it will always be a question.
• By the way, the idea of some other team giving Chamberlain a chance to be a starter might seem far fetched, but I don’t think it’s totally out of the question if a team is willing to take a chance (and if Chamberlain is willing to take some sort of low guarantee contract). C.J. Wilson hadn’t started a big league game in four years when the Rangers put him in their 2010 rotation. He threw more than 200 innings that year, and a year later he was an All-Star and Cy Young candidate.
• I keep thinking about the fact that, early in camp, Girardi mentioned the idea of a left-handed bench player. The benefit is obvious — someone to hit for the catcher late in the game — but the options are minimal. It’s pretty much Dan Johnson, Corban Joseph and switch-hitter Zoilo Almonte. Wouldn’t have picked any of those three to make the Opening Day roster.
• Jayson Nix has gotten all of his playing time at second and third. Even during infield drills he’s been at second and third. Are the Yankees basically handing Eduardo Nunez that platoon SS/DH job? Sure seems like it’s almost a given that he’ll be on the roster, doesn’t it?
• Guys who have played with Melky Mesa in the minors seem to love him. Always smiling, always happy. He’s got the tools to be an interesting option for this open outfield spot.
• How much are we really going to learn once Mariano Rivera actually gets in a game? Unless he’s a complete mess — and his batting practice sessions suggest he’s not — he’s going to be the Yankees closer no matter what the spring stats suggest. I’m actually more curious to see Ivan Nova and David Aardsma get in a game.
Associated Press photos