At long last, spring training has arrived. My last mailbag was published nearly two months ago (Giancarlo Stanton and Aaron Boone were in the news), so there is some catching up to do here. Spring workouts have already begun and the Yankees’ first official exhibition game is scheduled for Friday in Tampa, so let’s get to some questions from Twitter.
Doesn’t it make sense for Gleybor to start year at Triple A for those 16 days or whatever to get that extra yr of eligibility? A la Kris Bryant?
Answer: It makes a ton of sense. If the Yankees elect to keep Gleyber Torres at the Triple-A level for the first few weeks of the season, two benefits come with it. First, in that time frame, Torres would play every day and receive more minor league experience. Even if he excels in the field and at the plate in spring training, he still missed half of 2017 due to left elbow surgery, so there’s no harm in letting him find a groove or shake off some rust with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre until mid-April or early May. Second, from a business standpoint (perhaps a logical one, too), keeping Torres in the minors for a few weeks would give the Yankees an additional year of control over him. This would be very similar to the Cubs’ decision with Kris Bryant a few years ago. If keeping Torres in the minors for a few weeks means he can be a Yankee for seven years instead of six, why wouldn’t the club do that? I understand that some fans and pundits believe that Torres should be on the Opening Day roster, but since the Yankees’ lineup has so much firepower, I think they could get away with minimal production at the position until Torres’ time comes. When Didi Gregorius missed nearly all of April last season, the Yankees survived with Ronald Torreyes as a platoon man. I think they can get away with it again. The smartest decision is to have Torres start the regular season in Triple-A, regardless of how he performs this spring.
Who hits the first home run of the 2017
Season last year it was Baby toe who joins him in the club or does toe defend his crown
Answer: Hmm… Well, I don’t think it’ll be Torreyes again. I’m awful at predicting this stuff, but I’ll try to give an educated guess. Since the Yankees open the regular season at Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays, I would assume Marcus Stroman is on the bump. Look, if I choose Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, or Giancarlo Stanton, my odds would be pretty decent. But that’s too easy, and I’m not doing that. On March 29, Brett Gardner will hit the Yankees’ first home run. Of all the hitters Stroman has faced since 2014, he’s faced Gardner the most (37 plate appearances). I’ll work that stat in as support for my answer. Although he’s hitting .265 against Stroman, he does have two home runs. Maybe Gardner will make it three. The odds on Judge are probably the best, though. He has three homers in just 13 plate appearances against Stroman. But I’m sticking with Gardner, because why not?
What’s your optimal Opening Day lineup including SP?
Answer: This could be debated for hours. Should Aaron Boone stack Judge, Sanchez, and Stanton as 2-3-4, or spread them out? Personally, I think it would be best to have those three guys next to each other. No pitcher (heck, no pitching staff) wants to face that trio consecutively. A lot of damage could be done, and pitch counts could run high early on. Here’s how I would arrange the lineup against Stroman on Opening Day:
- Brett Gardner (LF)
- Aaron Judge (RF)
- Gary Sanchez (C)
- Giancarlo Stanton (DH)
- Greg Bird (1B)
- Didi Gregorius (SS)
- Aaron Hicks (CF)
- Miguel Andujar (3B)
- Ronald Torreyes/Tyler Wade (2B)
For the reasons explained earlier, I don’t believe Torres will be with the club until late April or early May. But there still could be two rookies in the lineup. If Miguel Andujar plays well in Tampa, I’d give him the third base gig. His minor league numbers were impressive last year. Maybe he’ll be the guy. Maybe the Yankees won’t even need Manny Machado (I know, I know, just saying). As far as second base, it’s between Torreyes and Wade. Torreyes is a reliable platoon man and can fill the void. Wade is a rookie with plenty to prove, but some analysts and scouts believe he’s capable of winning the job. Could you go lefty-righty-lefty early on and place Bird in the three-spot? Sure. But the image of Judge-Sanchez-Stanton hitting in the first inning is trouble for any team.
I also think Luis Severino should get the ball on Opening Day. He was the Yankees’ bona fide ace last season, and the team should continue to place him in these big-game situations (it’s not the playoffs, but you know what I mean). Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia have had their fair share of Opening Day starts. Severino deserves one now. He wants to be the ace, he can be the ace, and the Yankees need him to be the ace. That all starts by letting him oppose Stroman.
Do you think we should make a move for a starting pitcher or infielder? Or stay put and let the rookies play and let monty build on a good rookie season? #BPMailbag
Answer: I suppose it wouldn’t hurt the Yankees to search for one additional starter at a reasonably low price, but I don’t think they need to make any more moves. I would stand pat, and enter the spring and regular season with this roster. Let Miguel Andujar play — maybe even Tyler Wade — and wait on Torres for a little bit. The Yankees are bringing back the same pitching staff from last year, and if they can stay healthy, they’ll be fine. It’ll be interesting to see how Jordan Montgomery picks up where he left off. It may feel like the Yankees have some holes, but the roster is pretty strong. Who knows, maybe they’ll look to add a pitcher at the trade deadline, but for now, leave it be. If they want to remain under the $197 million luxury tax threshold, they can’t spend too much money. Dance with the one that brought you.
If they do acquire a sixth starter, would it make more sense to make CC the long man instead of Gumby, since he can’t pitch a ton of innings anyway?
Answer: It depends on how the Yankees want to handle Jordan Montgomery’s innings. Gut reaction, I would make Montgomery the long man instead of Sabathia. Yankees are paying CC to be a starter for one more year. If he struggles early on in the season, maybe that changes. But if they do add another starter, I’d probably move Montgomery to the bullpen in some capacity. Good question.
If Clint Frazier has a huge Spring training and no one in center field steps forward to take the job, could he possibly steal the spot?
Answer: I think Clint Frazier is trapped right now. He’s never short on confidence, but with Judge, Stanton, Gardner, Hicks (and don’t forget Jacoby Ellsbury) as big league fixtures, there’s just no place to put Frazier. Even if a few of those names have dissapointing springs and Frazier flourishes, I still don’t see a place for him in the Bronx just yet. Unless there’s some major injury to Gardner or Hicks, I see Frazier in Triple-A. The Yankees need to hold on to him. Having him as a bench player doesn’t make much sense. He could use the playing time in Triple-A. He’s young. He’ll get his opportunity eventually. Just can’t picture it now.
Who’s our best candidate, out of the rookie crop, who has a real shot, to be a starter
Answer: I’m going to assume you’re asking which rookie has the best chance to be a starter on Opening Day. In that case, I’d say Andujar. Maybe his defense still needs some improvement, but he’s got a rocket for an arm, and it looks like he can hit above his weight. Between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A last season, he slashed .315/.352/.498 with 16 homers, 36 doubles, and 82 RBI. Those numbers stand out to me. Right now, it doesn’t seem like the Yankees are pursuing a corner infielder, so figure Andujar’s leash is long. Of course, I’ll throw Torres into the mix as well. I just don’t think he’ll be in pinstripes right away. Both guys have a legitimate chance to be regular starters for the Yankees. No doubt in my mind.
Whose slated for 3rd this season#BPMailbag
Answer: Maybe Robin Ventura? Cody Ransom? Just kidding. Andujar, Andujar, or Andujar.
Are we gonna use Tyler Austin for 1st base sub? Who exactly are we on a use if bird needs a day off? @tomhanslin
Answer: I don’t think the Yankees have room for Austin (unless Bird suffers another injury). When Bird needs a day off, perhaps Austin Romine plays first, or maybe Gary Sanchez. Yankees will need to get a little creative here. I’m sure they’re really hoping this question doesn’t come up a lot this season. They need Bird in the lineup every day.