The LoHud Yankees Blog

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


Dodgers protect Jamie Hoffmann from Rule 5 draft11.07.10

ph_469845After losing him to the Yankees in last year’s Rule 5 draft, the Dodgers have added outfielder Jamie Hoffmann to their 40-man roster this offseason.

Hoffmann was technically selected by the Nationals in last year’s Rule 5, but it was the Yankees pulling the strings and deciding who would be picked. Hoffmann was immediately traded to the Yankees as the player to be named later in the Brian Bruney trade.

With a little bit of power, a little bit of speed and a glove that plays in all three outfield spots, Hoffmann came into camp needing to beat Marcus Thames for a spot on the Yankees roster. Neither had a good spring and the Yankees went with Thames’ experience, which obviously turned out to be a good choice.

Hoffmann, though, had a nice year in Triple-A, and now he’ll get a chance to stick with the Dodgers and fight for a job with them this spring. Hoffmann’s a good guy — soft-spoken, goes about his business — so best of luck to him.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 78 Comments →

Looking back at last year’s Top 30 Yankees prospects11.05.10

Let’s go heavy on prospects today, shall we? This is Baseball America’s Top 30 Yankees prospects heading into this season, listed with each player’s rank at the beginning of the season and the level where he finished the season.

ph_524968No. 1 Jesus Montero
Triple-A catcher
After a rocky start to the season, Montero turned things around in the second half and could fight for a big league job in spring training. He remains one of the elite prospects in baseball, with the only significant questions being where he’ll play in the field.

No. 2 Austin Romine
Double-A catcher
Romine dropped to sixth in this year’s rankings, but I’m not sure his ceiling or expectations have fallen. He had a kind of Derek Jeter-type season, starting strong and finishing strong, with three rough months in the middle. He’s in the Arizona Fall League now, and it’s easy to forget that he hasn’t turned 22 yet. Still very highly regarded, but he was passed on Baseball America’s list by young players and injured players whose stock soared after strong seasons.

ph_527055No. 3 Arodys Vizcaino
Traded to the Braves
The big prospect in The Boone Logan Trade had a 2.74 ERA between two Class-A levels this season, but he was shutdown with an elbow injury.

No. 4 Slade Heathcott
Low-A center fielder
Got to Charleston at the start of June, and he might have lost a little ground in the prospect standings — he hit .258 with 101 strikeouts — but it’s hard to read too much into a 19-year-old’s first season of pro ball. He still in Baseball America’s Top 10 for the orgnization.

No. 5  Zach McAllister
Traded to Cleveland
This was the cost for two months of Austin Kearns. Had he stuck around, McAllister probably would have fallen out of the Top 10 after a 5.09 ERA in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He was certainly overshadowed by several other upper-level pitchers.

ph_544365No. 6 Manny Banuelos
Double-A left-handed starter
After a healthy second half that took him from High-A to Double-A, Banuelos is living up to expectations. Building up his workload seems to be the next step in his development. He’s in the Arizona Fall League right now and could pitch himself to the cusp of the big leagues next season. At 19 years old, he’s the youngest of the Yankees Killer B pitching prospects.

No. 7 Gary Sanchez
Short-season catcher
He’s been compared to Montero, except with more defensive tools. That’s why he moved all the way to No. 2 on this year’s Baseball America list. There is a ton of talent, but also a long way to go.

ph_571974No. 8 J.R. Murphy
Low-A catcher
In so many ways, Murphy is “the other” catching prospect in the Yankees system. He’s only 19 years old — one year older than Sanchez — and he already held his own in Charleston. The power started to show in the second half.

No. 9 Jeremy Bleich
Injured Double-A left-handed starter
Stock took a hit because of shoulder surgery. He made only eight starts for Trenton. Hard to learn much about him from this season.

ph_457581No. 10 Andrew Brackman
Double-A right-handed starter
This season might have been the best-case scenario for Brackman, the towering right-hander who had Tommy John surgery before throwing a single professional pitch. Brackman has always been a high-end talent, but he lived up to those expectations with a healthy and much-improved second season.

No. 11 Bryan Mitchell
Short-season right-handed starter
Opened in extended spring training, then pitched in the Gulf Coast League and got up to Staten Island in September.  Still young, and Rookie Ball opponents hit .190 against him. Obvious potential. Obviously young.

No. 12 Mike Dunn
Traded to Atlanta
Another part of The Boone Logan Trade, he pitched his way to Atlanta but the Yankees might have gotten the better of the two young lefties in that trade.

ph_543377No. 13 Corban Joseph
Double-A second baseman
Terrific numbers in Tampa sparked a second-half call-up to Trenton, where Joseph struggled with his first taste of upper-level pitching. Could play second or third base. Nothing especially flashy, but he lived up to expectation and might have exceeded it with his promotion.

No. 14 Eduardo Nunez
Major League shortstop
Nunez had to prove that 2009 was not a fluke, and he did just that with a terrific Triple-A season that ended with a call-up to New York and a late spot on the postseason roster.  He hit .289 in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but also showed an improved glove. That combination pushed him into the Yankees Top 10.

No. 15 Mark Melancon
Traded to Houston
Sent to the Astros in the Lance Berkman deal, Melancon simply never made that final step with the Yankees. He pitched pretty well in 20 appearances for the Astros.

ph_467100No. 16 Ivan Nova
Major League right-handed starter
The Yankees always liked Nova’s potential, but he developed slowly until a strong 2009 season that landed him a spot on the 40-man. Now he’s a candidate for a spot in the back of the big league rotation. He’s the most advanced of the Yankees many upper-level pitching prospects.

No. 17 D.J. Mitchell
Triple-A right-handed starter
Moved into the Yankees Top 20 prospects, then got an invitation to big league camp, then pitched his way from Double-A to Triple-A. He generated better than a 2-to-1 ground out to fly out ratio in Double-A, then had a 3.57 ERA in three Triple-A starts. Overshadowed by some teammates, but he had a very nice season.

No. 18 Melky Mesa
High-A center fielder
He obviously did something right because now he’s on the 40-man roster. The MVP of the Florida State League has legitimate power and speed, but he also strikes out a ton and this year’s .260 average was actually his career-high. A complete wild card in this system.

ph_527037No. 19 Kelvin DeLeon
Short-season right fielder
Stock might have slipped through a .236 average with six home runs and 80 strikeouts. Just turned 20, so there’s plenty of room to grow, but also a long way to go.

No. 20 Jose Ramirez
Low-A right-handed starter
A good arm lurking in the lower-levels of the Yankees minor league system, he had a  3.60 ERA with 105 strikeouts in Charleston this season. For now, he exists in the shadows of the pitchers ahead of him, but he’s certainly not an unknown. He’s a legitimate prospect in his own right.

ph_572170No. 21 Graham Stoneburner
High-A right-handed starter
Leading into this season, Stoneburner was a favorite among writers and bloggers who closely follow the Yankees minor league system. He proved those believers right with a 2.41 ERA between Charleston and Tampa. He could be one of the fastest-rising stars in the organization, and there is considerable speculation that he could eventually end up in the bullpen, making ascent even faster.

No. 22 David Adams
Injured Double-A second baseman
Off to a .309 start in Trenton, Adams’ season was cut short by an ankle injury that cost him the bulk of the year and might have cost the Yankees a shot at Cliff Lee. I tend to lump Adams and Joseph together as Double-A guys able to play second or third. He seemed to be showing a lot this season, but it’s hard to make much of 39 games.

No. 23 Caleb Cotham
Injured
Cotham should have been in Charleston, but a pair of surgeries left him unable to pitch in an actual game this season. He has only eight professional innings to his name.

ph_456051No. 24. Hector Noesi
Triple-A right-handed starter
Noesi had pitched only nine games above Low A when the Yankees put him on the 40-man roster this season. That said a lot about their expectations, and Noesi lived up them with a season that catapulted him into Baseball America’s Top 10. From High-A to Double-A to Triple-A, he could be next year’s Ivan Nova.

No. 25 David Phelps
Triple-A right-handed starter
There’s a common theme among most of these back-end starting pitchers: Except the injured Cotham, they were all outstanding. This was Phelps’ second full season, and he finished it with a 3.07 ERA in 12 Triple-A outings.

ph_476589No. 26 Adam Warren
Double-A right-handed starter
Kind of like a one-year-younger version of Phelps, Warren had a 3.15 ERA in 10 Double-A starts after opening the year with a 2.22 in Tampa. The upper-level pitching depth in this system is incredible, as evidenced by the fact neither Phelps nor Warren deserved a spot among the Yankees Top 10 prospects.

No. 27 Kevin Russo
Major League utility
Russo’s value is in his ability to do a lot of things well. He served that role perfectly  as a call-up who shifted to left-field when the Yankees were searching for outfield help. Nothing flashy, but when he was getting regular at-bats, he was contributing. He could easily play that same role next season.

ph_476454No. 28 Dellin Betances
Double-A right-handed starter
This is the biggest leap of the bunch, and his jump into the Top 10 had as much to do with his health as his performance. Betances has always been a premier talent, but this year he got healthy and stayed healthy through a dominant second half. Expectations are sky
high again. He just has to stay off the disabled list this time.

No. 29 Jairo Heredia
High-A right-handed starter
Kind of like Nova in 2008 and Noesi in 2009, the Yankees have to decide whether to protect Heredia from the Rule 5 or take their chances that an unproven but talented young pitcher will sneak through. Heredia just turned 21, but he pitched just six times above Low A this season. Opponents there hit .359 against him.

No. 30 Jamie Hoffmann
Rule 5 pick sent back to Dodgers
The Yankees were clearly never planning to bring back Brian Bruney this offseason, so they traded him away for the right to draft Hoffmann. He hung around spring training for a while, but was ultimately sent back to the Dodgers. He hit .310 with eight home runs, 17 steals and 36 doubles in Triple-A.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 61 Comments →

Four more sent down03.22.10

This afternoon, the Yankees reassigned Eduardo Nunez, Reegie Corona, Jorge Vazquez and Brandon Laird to minor league camp.

That left Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo and Juan Miranda as the only non-starting infielders left in big league camp, and left Pena and Russo as the only utility options.

“Pena has the most experience there and we want to see Ruse more, he’s played extremely well,” Girardi said. “You get to a point when you’ve got young players like Nunez, you want them to play every day, and to get one at-bat per game is not fair to them. They need to go get ready for their season. That’s why we did it today.”

This afternoon the Yankees also returned Rule 5 pick Jamie Hoffmann.

“It’s a kid that we believe has tools,” Girardi said. “He went about his business the right way. His effort was tremendous. The numbers didn’t translate. Will he be a good player? I believe he can be, but right now we had to make a tough decision and the Dodgers wanted him back.”

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 88 Comments →

Notes from Saturday03.20.10

All spring, much of the discussion in Yankees camp has centered on the fifth-starter competition. It’s easily the biggest story in camp, which is pretty amazing considering these are the Yankees and we’re talking about the last spot in the rotation.

Yankees Astros Spring Baseball

“I think people are interested, that’s why,” Joe Girardi said. “Because once that’s set then you iron out your bullpen from there. There’s a lot kind of up in the air because you don’t know who’s in your bullpen because of the fifth-starter spot. I’m not really surprised (by the attention).”

Some of the focus on the back of the rotation might be because the other big competition in camp is for literally the last spot on the roster, and neither leading candidate is playing especially well. Marcus Thames went 0-for-3 today. He struck out twice and saw his average dip to .107. Jamie Hoffmann came off the bench and went 0-for-1, lowing his average to .130.

“We still have time with that,” Girardi said. “That (decision) we’re not in such a big hurry to make.”

Here’s Girardi’s postgame media session. He talks a lot about the fifth-starter situation, but gets into a few other things toward the end.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

• The picture up top isn’t of either fifth-outfielder candidate, but it is a cool AP shot of Robinson Cano, who hit his first home run of the spring.

• A.J. Burnett will start on Sunday, with Phil Hughes pitching in relief. Joba Chamberlain will start on Monday, with Andy Pettitte pitching in a minor league game.

• Brett Gardner had a bunt single and a triple, both off Brett Myers, to raise his average to .281. Girardi wasn’t especially bothered by the fact Gardner was picked off first base. “I would rather see him find out what he can get now, and be more aggressive now,” Girardi said. “Then we can tone it back as opposed to being passive.”

• Another base hit for Kevin Russo, another base hit for Jon Weber and another base hit for Greg Golson, all of whom have looked really good this spring and are hitting better than .300. Reid Gorecki is hitting just .143, but he can really run. He tripled today and was flying around the bases.

• Boone Logan pitched a scoreless inning, but he did allow a hit to the only lefty he faced.

• Apparently the Yankees have been asked to speed up their games. Sounds good to me, but I’m kind of with Girardi on this one. Sometimes baseball takes a long time. I wish that weren’t the case, but that’s the way it is.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Podcastwith 89 Comments →

Rivera making his debut tonight03.16.10

Mariano Rivera will make his first spring training appearance tonight. On the list in the Yankees clubhouse, Rivera’s named was second — ahead of Phil Hughes — so it might be Rivera who pitches immediately after starter A.J. Burnett.

I didn’t go back and double check, but I’m pretty sure Dave Eiland had previously indicated that Damaso Marte would also debut today. Instead, Marte is pitching tomorrow against the Phillies.

I never saw Eiland in the clubhouse to ask him about it, but the situation could be as simple as splitting Rivera and Marte to make sure both are able to pitch. If Burnett and Hughes were to both pitch four innings today — which is at least possible — there would be only one inning left.

• Scheduled to pitch: A.J. Burnett, Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes, Romulo Sanchez, Zack Segovia.

• Scheduled to play off the bench: C Jesus Montero, 1B Jorge Vazquez, 2B Reegie Corona, SS Eduardo Nunez, 3B Brandon Laird, LF Colin Curtis, CF Greg Golson, RF Jamie Hoffmann, DH Austin Romine.

• Pitchers for tomorrow: Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, Damaso Marte, Royce Ring, Amaury Sanit.

• Position players not making the trip tomorrow: Jorge Posada, Austin Romine, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Greg Golson, Nick Swisher, Curtis Granderson.

• In the middle of the Yankees clubhouse, there’s an aisle of lockers — four on each side — that was packed last week. Today, it was only Jamie Hoffmann. He used to be surrounded by Hector Noesi, Ivan Nova, D.J. Mitchell, Kyle Higashioka, Andrew Brackman, Christian Garcia and Wilkin De La Rosa. Now it’s his locker among a bunch of empty hangers.

UPDATE, 2:58 p.m.: Houston’s lineup.

Jason Bourgeois CF
Jeff Keppinger 2B
Hunter Pence, RF
Geoff Blum 1B
Pedro Feliz 3B
Jason Michaels LF
Jason Castro C
Edwin Maysonet SS
Brian Bogusevic DH

RHP Brian Moehler

UPDATE, 3:00 p.m.: MLB Network just sent a press release announcing John Smoltz as the newest addition to its on-air roster.

UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.: Forgot to mention that minor league catcher Kyle Anson has decided to retire. He was a converted third baseman who always showed a great eye at the plate, but never hit for much power or average. He got to Double-A.

Although it’s been widely speculated that former second-round pick J.B. Cox has also retired, Mark Newman said the Yankees are “still waiting” for Cox to make a final decision about his playing future. Cox was a dominant closer at the University of Texas and put up terrific minor league numbers before injuries got in the way.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 55 Comments →

Early spring training leaders03.15.10

Numbers don’t often mean a whole lot this time of the year, but as of today, these are a few of the Yankees spring training leaders.

At-bats
Jamie Hoffmann
Makes sense. The Yankees have to make a decision on their Rule 5 pick, so they’re giving him plenty of chances. He’s played all three outfield positions and has 20 at-bats, one more than a list of five guys with 19 ABs. He’s hitting just .150, but he’s also struck out only once, suggesting he’s not totally overmatched by these pitchers.

Hits
Robinson Cano
Very good start to the spring for Cano. He’s batting .474 with two walks and not a single strikeout. Second most hits on the team? It’s a bit of unexpected tie between Brandon Laird and Jon Weber at seven apiece.

Home runs
Nick Johnson
Will he carry this power into the regular season? No idea, but he’s hit the ball hard and he’s hit it consistently since he got into camp. Johnson has three home runs — no one else has more than one — and he’s also tied for the team lead with five RBI. The other player with five? Greg Golson, of course. He’s actually looked really good down here. He can really move.

Stolen bases
Eduardo Nunez

You were expecting Brett Gardner? Nope. Gardner hasn’t stolen a single base. Nunez has taken two of them. Golson, Colin Curtis and Ramiro Pena have one stolen base each. So does — you guessed it — Nick Johnson. Who’s clogging the bases now?!

Innings pitched
Alfredo Aceves
This is what happens when you keep throwing strikes. Aceves has been under the same sort of pitch restrictions as everyone else, but he’s the only pitcher to have reached double-digit innings. He’s the only Yankees pitcher with at least four innings and no walks.

Strikeouts
Sergio Mitre
This is what happens when you’re a little farther removed from Tommy John surgery. Mitre has said he feels much stronger this spring than he did last year, and the results have been encouraging: Seven strikeouts and two walks through nine innings. Javy Vazquez is second with six strikeouts.

Walks
Joba Chamberlain
It’s been a rough first few weeks for Chamberlain, and it shows in his six walks through 3.2 innings. Only one other Yankees pitcher — CC Sabathia of all people — has more than three walks this spring. Chamberlain has pretty much lapped the field.

Wins
Amaury Sanit

Of course. Who else would it be?  Sanit has pitched three times and gotten two wins. On the other end of the spectrum: Chad Gaudin has pitched three times and has two losses.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 94 Comments →

Three weeks left, where do the Yankees stand?03.15.10

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.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 43 Comments →

Notes from Wednesday03.03.10

The wind was a beast this afternoon. It almost blew a ball over Jamie Hoffmann’s head in right, and it nearly blew a ball out of Brett Gardner’s reach in left. Both made pretty good plays to make the catch.

“You can be out there for two hours in BP and you don’t get nearly as much work as that one ball I just got,” Gardner said.

That’s a good thing for the Yankees, who are still trying to sort out their outfield alignment and need to see both Gardner and Curtis Granderson tested in left. Gardner seemed to pass the first test, as did all three of the rotation/long relief candidates who pitched today. Chad Gaudin, Sergio Mitre and Alfredo Aceves combined for six scoreless innings with no walks, a strikeout apiece and only an infield single off Gaudin.

Here’s Joe Girardi, talking about his pitchers, his outfielders and the No. 2 spot in his lineup.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

And here’s Granderson talking about his first game in pinstripes and his need to see more left-handed pitchers before making further adjustments.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Ross

• Position players who will not be traveling to Clearwater tomorrow: Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson, Marcus Thames, Jon Weber, Francisco Cervelli, P.J. Pilittere and Mike Rivera.

• Unless he has a setback in the next two days, it looks like Joba Chamberlain is good to go on Friday. He threw a bullpen today “If he feels OK on Friday, we’ll pitch him,” Girardi said. Javier Vazquez also threw his scheduled batting practice session today, becoming the last starter to do so.

• George Steinbrenner was here briefly. He was driven through the concourse beneath the stadium, then driven out.

• CC Sabathia is scheduled for 35 pitches or two innings tomorrow.

• Girardi hoped to get Hoffmann and Thames at least one at-bat against the left Paul Maholm, but he left after one inning. “That plan didn’t go quite as we envisioned,” Girardi said.

• Kevin Russo woke up feeling sick this morning. He wasn’t scheduled to play anyway. “You just hope that it doesn’t go all the way around this clubhouse,” Girardi said.

• Jason Hirsh: Two batters faced, two strikeouts.

• After his home run, Ramiro Pena walked into the clubhouse and was greeted by Gardner, who demanded a hug.

• If you can’t tell, that’s former Yankees right-hander Ross Ohlendorf in the picture. He looked good in his one inning. Can’t really say the same for Steven Jackson.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc, Podcastwith 117 Comments →

Today in The Journal News02.27.10

As a Rule 5 pick with a hockey background, Jamie Hoffmann is a new kind of Yankee, but he has a real chance of sticking on the opening day roster. He’s fighting for a spot on the Yankees bench, and Brian Cashman said it’s “his spot to lose.”

Speaking of fighting for a spot, Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes threw live batting practice yesterday, facing hitters for the first time this spring. The notebook also has items on CC Sabathia, Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, Curtis Granderson and Brett Gardner.

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 12 Comments →

To Be Decided02.16.10

“I know a town where real life’s a game, baseball’s all that’s real. At night all the faces light up, as the players take the field.” Widespread Panic

———

On the calendar above my desk, I’ve written two words on the date February 16: Spring Training. My flight to Tampa leaves in a few hours. Pitchers and catchers officially report tomorrow.

Baseball is back, and the Yankees have 47 days to answer these 10 questions before opening day.

1. Who is the No. 5 starter? Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain or a surprise choice from the Alfredo Aceves Group of dark horse candidates? I honestly believe it’s an even race between Hughes and Chamberlain. Best pitcher this spring wins the job.

2. Where does the rotation’s odd man out open the season? In the bullpen or Triple-A? It’s difficult to keep that sort of talent out of the big leagues, but there is a lot to be said for stretching out both Hughes and Chamberlain, giving them enough innings to start this season and in the future. I don’t think Triple-A will happen for either of them, but Brian Cashman has said it’s a possibility.

3. Is Brett Gardner an everyday outfielder? With Randy Winn and Marcus Thames coming to camp, the Yankees have two veterans to fight for Gardner’s job.

4. Who is the starting center fielder? If Gardner is an everyday outfielder, should he start in left or center? It will either be him or Curtis Granderson, and neither is a bad defensive option. Either one would be a defensive upgrade in left.

5. Who bats second? Derek Jeter will return to the lead-off spot, but who replaces Johnny Damon in the No. 2 hole? Nick Johnson has the on-base percentage. Granderson has the speed. Could someone else sneak into this conversation or is it two-man race?

6. Is it worth keeping a Rule 5 pick on the roster? Not so long ago, Jamie Hoffmann was the Yankees best option as a right-handed, reserve outfielder. That might not be the case now that Thames is in the mix. There’s a lot to like about Hoffmann — including more speed and better defense than Thames — but will a team like the Yankees really carry a Rule 5 pick when there’s a more proven option available?

7. Does the team need a second lefty? Count on Damaso Marte making the opening day roster, but will he be the only left-hander in the bullpen? Boone Logan, Royce Ring, Kei Igawa and possibly Wilkin De La Rosa will be pleading their case?

8. If not a second lefty, who rounds out the bullpen? Let’s not forget that Jonathan Albaladejo opened the past two seasons in the big leagues, and frankly, I’m not willing to completely rule him out for a third opening day roster. Albaladejo, Mark Melancon, Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, Edwar Ramirez, Romulo Sanchez and few other dark horses could be competing for a bullpen spot that might or might not be available. Another related question: Could anyone from that group beat out Chad Gaudin, Alfredo Aceves or Dave Robertson?

9. Who is the utility infielder? Unless the Yankees make a move between now and April 4, there are only three candidates for the utility job: Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, Kevin Russo and Reegie Corona. Of that group, only Pena has major league experience.

10. Have any bullpen roles shifted? Mariano Rivera is set in the ninth, but how does the rest of the bullpen stack up. Assuming Hughes or Chamberlain is in the major league pen, is he definitely the eighth-inning guy? What about Robertson? Is Aceves a long man or a one-inning, late-inning reliever? Does Marte pitch to lefties or play a role in the setup competition?

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Miscwith 158 Comments →

Sponsored by:
 

Search

    Advertisement

    Follow

    Mobile

    Read The LoHud Yankees Blog on the go by navigating to the blog on your smartphone or mobile device's browser. No apps or downloads are required.

Advertisement

Place an ad

Call (914) 694-3581