The Yankees came out of Spring training with pretty much the roster you would have predicted if you’d have sat down with pencil and scrap paper and roughed it out before they began.
And there’s something worrying about that……
It was obvious that something wasn’t right with Michael Pineda. From the first time he threw and all the way through the Spring, he wasn’t matching last year’s readings on the radar gun…. and no-one was that surprised when he ended the Spring on the DL with shoulder problems. Something similar to what we saw in Phil Hughes in 2011 is happening again and this may not end well.
Raul Ibanez finished the Spring with a .150 batting average and that could have been a whole lot worse if Ibanez hadn’t turned something of a corner in the last few games. Ibanez came into the picture when the Yankees traded phenom Jesus Montero for the aforementioned Pineda. Montero was ear-marked for the DH job and to add a little depth to the catching but his departure meant looking for a senior citizen who could hold down the role for a year. Enter stage right, Raul Ibanez. I’m not convinced.
Two outfielders who acquitted themselves better than might have been expected or anticipated were DeWayne Wise and Justin Maxwell. Wise hit .202 for Toronto and Florida in 2011 and was invited to tryout for the Yankees during the Spring. He delivered with .359 BA and 2 home runs. Ibanez had 3 in the home runs column but had nothing else to match Wise but minds were already made up.
Ibanez is 40, Wise is 34, if the Yankees wanted a younger option then Justin Maxwell (28) might have been their man. Batting .310 in the Spring, he also delivered more than expected but I guess no-one was watching.
One surprise that the Spring did turn up was the addition, at the last moment, of Chris Stewart as backup catcher. So last minute that he didn’t need to lift a bat in the pinstripes to gain the job over Francisco Cervelli. Stewart had spent the Spring with Giants and was traded as the new season dawned for George Kontos (who acquitted himself quite well following a late-season call up last year, but that’s another story). Until then Austin Romine and Gustavo Molina had been the main challengers to Cervelli for his roster spot. Molina batted .389 but his defensive tools were judged to be less than needed whilst Romine headed for the disabled list. Once Cervelli’s bat cooled in the second half of the Grapefruit League games and the Giants declared an interest in Kontos, it opened the door for the last minute panic addition. It’s not a good way of planning a roster.
Amongst the pitchers, Kevin Whelan did well in the Spring but won’t be on the roster. Adam Warren delivered 4 innings without giving up a run against Boston but won’t be on the roster. Ivan Nova struggled horribly but will. Now I think Nova should be included on the strength of last season but the Yankees left little room for surprises this year and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some hurried rearrangements in the first weeks of the season when I think the Yankees’ rotation will struggle and we need more depth in the bullpen.
And finally, who’s that we see on the horizon? Andy Pettitte. I think Pettitte may still have some pitching left in him but he declared his hand too late in Spring training and we still signed him despite all the appearances that the roster was setting itself. I wonder what that means……