This Yankees were off on Monday and will open their first interleague series of the season tonight, as the Diamondbacks come to town for a three-game set. Counting the currently injured Derek Jeter, only five players from the 2001 World Series remain active in the big leagues: Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Mariano Rivera, Randy Choate, and Alfonso Soriano. That’s it. Doesn’t that series seem like it was just yesterday? Where does the time go…
1. The Blue Jays designated Casper Wells for assignment yesterday, the second time the right-handed hitting outfielder has been cut loose in the last two weeks or so. He’s a useful player — career 132 wRC+ against lefties (in limited time) with solid defensive numbers — who has gotten overrated the last year or two, which tends to happen when part-timers have some success. That said, I think he’s an obvious upgrade over Ben Francisco and someone the Yankees should try to acquire given their general vulnerability against left-handed pitchers. At least four teams claimed Wells off waivers from the Mariners according to Jason Churchill, so the Bombers aren’t going to be able to acquire him that way. They’ll have to go out and make a trade with a division rival to make it happen. Tough to see it getting done.
2. Speaking of that vulnerability against southpaws, the Yankees lucked out quite a bit with their early season schedule. After seeing Jon Lester on Opening Day, they saw nine straight right-handed starters before the Orioles threw Wei-Yin Chen on Sunday. It would have been eleven straight right-handed starters if not for the two rainouts in Cleveland. That won’t happen very often and the Yankees are lucky it did so early in the season. Things will change though, they’re scheduled to see two lefties during the D’backs series (Wade Miley and Patrick Corbin) and a total of five lefties in the next eight games (Mark Buehrle, Matt Moore, and David Price are the others). I won’t call any stretch of games in April a “defining stretch,” but these next eight days will play a big role in how well the Yankees can stay in the hunt before their players start to get healthy.
3. I’m not going to lie, Andy Pettitte’s back trouble has me pretty worried. The combination of his age and the fact that he hasn’t had a full season in four years has me thinking nagging injuries could be the norm this summer. I mean, it took two whole starts before something started barking. Maybe the back will be a one-time thing or maybe he’ll have to have starts pushed back due to aches and pains all year, but I feel like carrying two long-ish men in the bullpen (Adam Warren and David Phelps) is more of a necessity than a luxury right now. Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova certainly contribute to need that as well.