Thoughts one week before Opening Day

Open Thread: 3/24 Camp Notes
Heyman: Yankees have talked to Drew recently, payroll is "tapped out"

Exactly one week from today, the Yankees will open the 2014 regular season against the Astros in Houston. Between that series and the second series against the Blue Jays in Toronto, the scheduling gods did the Yankees a favor. They’ll have the opportunity to beat up on the Astros and the back of Toronto’s rotation before coming home for some games against division rivals. A fast start to the season sure would be nice. Here are some thoughts as Spring Training winds down.

1. Jacoby Ellsbury (calf) is scheduled to play in a minor league game today and if that goes well, he could return to regular Grapefruit League action as soon as tomorrow. Hopefully everything goes well, but if he does have to start the season on the DL, what happens to the lineup? Brett Gardner plays center and bats leadoff while Alfonso Soriano moves to left field. That part is obvious. What about DH though? I think the Yankees would just rotate Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez into the lineup for the time being, but with Ellsbury out, the best lineup probably has both Brian McCann and Frankie Cervelli in it. They could carry a third catcher like Austin Romine and get Cervelli’s bat in the lineup everyday. I can’t believe I just said that, but hey, he’s tearing the cover off the ball this spring. I doubt this will happen because carrying a third catcher makes the roster even more inflexible, but if Ellsbury is sidelined, the best solution may be getting both McCann and Cervelli into the lineup at the same time.

2. Joe Girardi is expected to announced the fifth starter today and I would be surprised if it isn’t Michael Pineda. Both he and David Phelps have pitched well in camp, but this decision should be about more than that. Even after the shoulder surgery, I think Pineda’s potential to have a real impact has been obvious this spring, especially as his fastball velocity has crept up. His slider is just vicious and he has better control too. I don’t intend for this to come off as a knock, but Phelps has developed a largely undeserved reputation for being a strike-thrower in his short big league career. His walk rate (3.53 BB/9 and 9.2 BB%) these last two years has been worse than the AL average (3.04 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%), so his stellar minor league walk rates have not carried over to MLB just yet. Pineda has better pure stuff and better control at this point, and I also think there’s a sense of “okay, it’s time to get something out of this trade” at play. If the Yankees feel they haven’t seen enough out of Pineda to stick him in the rotation right now, I’m not sure what more they want to see.

3. My current “gut feel” bullpen projection is the same as the last one: David Robertson, Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton, Phelps, Adam Warren, Dellin Betances, and Matt Daley. I think the only other serious candidates for that last spot right now are Vidal Nuno, Chris Leroux, and Fred Lewis. I think they’d open a 40-man roster spot for Daley — they obviously like him after rehabbing him from a shoulder injury he suffered with another team for nearly two years, re-signing him twice along the way — but not Leroux or Lewis just yet. They probably want to see both carry their spring success over into the regular season first. Nuno seems more likely to open the year as the sixth starter in Triple-A than as the second lefty/third swingman in the bullpen. Daley fits best for the time being. As for you gets the 40-man roster axe … Ramon Flores? I have no idea unless there’s an Ichiro Suzuki trade. No obvious candidate.

Anna. (Presswire)
Anna. (Presswire)

4. My current “gut feel” bench projection: Cervelli, Nunez, Ichiro, and Dean Anna. The first three are obvious, but I think Anna gets the nod over Yangervis Solarte simply because he’s already on the 40-man. There’s no sense in cutting a player to carry a utility guy who is going to wind up in the Triple-A when Brendan Ryan returns, which could be within the first week or two of the season. Backs are tricky and Ryan could miss much longer, but right now all signs point to it being a short-term thing. Whoever gets that last bench spot will be a temporary solution, not a long-term fixture on the roster. No need to juggle the 40-man for that. Anna was acquired for this exact role, to be the up-and-down 25th man. Let Solarte show his hot spring is something more than just a hot spring in Triple-A before carrying him on the big league roster.

5. In case you missed it last night, Chad Jennings reported that right-hander and 2012 first rounder Ty Hensley will not start the season on time due to a hernia. VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman said he is expected to resume throwing in 3-4 weeks but, given Newman’s track record with the stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s longer. Between the time off and going through what amounts to Spring Training, there’s a chance Hensley will not get into a regular season minor league game until June. He barely pitched after signing in 2012 (12 innings) and then missed all of 2013 due to hip(s) surgery, so add in this new hernia issue and Hensley is going to end up going close to two full years between regularly pitching in competitive games as part of a rotation. That’s an awful lot of lost development time. Hensley once said he wanted to be in the big leagues by his 21st birthday, but instead he might not even have 100 career innings under his belt when he turns the big 2-1 in late-July. Yuck. At least they aren’t arm injuries, I guess.

Open Thread: 3/24 Camp Notes
Heyman: Yankees have talked to Drew recently, payroll is "tapped out"
  • Rob S.

    If Jacoby Ellsbury ends up on the DL after several days off following a negative MRI then there’s a serious problem somewhere. I’m not saying he’ll be 100% ready to play today but he should be healthy by opening day at the least.

    • Dave Guarnieri

      If you are going to put a whammy on a player based on a Spring
      Training injury please let it be Ryan, pinched nerves ARE tricky.


  • DERP

    Since he is injured, is there a chance that Turley could go unclaimed if DFAed? I don’t know how serious his injury is, but they could 60 day DL him as well?

    It still blows my mind that they protected Campos this winter.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Same here.

      You’d think they’d be able to sneak Turley through, but tall lefty starters are going to make someone bite no matter.

      I’d rather see a minor trade free up that spot for now, or just go with someone on the 40-man and let Daley come up with the dominoes fall a bit more.

      • I’m One

        +1. As deserving as Daley or Lewis or whoever else you’d like to include here that isn’t on the 40-man may be, I think it’s probably better for the Yanks to wait for a spot to open up via trade, 60-day DL or whatever than it is for them to take a chance on sneaking someone potentially useful through waivers. There are still good enough options currently on the 40-man.

      • RetroRob

        The rebuilding White Sox will grab him! He’ll be appearing in the 2015 All-Star Game. Just kidding, of course, or perhaps just voicing my fears.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Jacoby Ellsbury: Lineup lynchpin

    I certainly wouldn’t carry three catchers just to get Frankie Cervelli’s bat into the lineup just yet, if ever. It feels like a slight non-issue to me. Ichiro Suzuki and Eduardo Nunez are your fallback options. Last year, they were your first options. What would I do with the open spot if Ellsbury went down? I’m……not saying. I’m going to actually get some work done today. :)

    Agreed on Hensley. The issue is what the hell he looks like when he actually gets on a mound after all that time off. This is why you don’t pencil them into your rotation in five years on draft day. In the end, they’re almost all lottery tickets. Still rooting for him.

    Pretty much agree on everything else here, including bench and bullpen. I do hope they don’t wind up losing Flores just to get Daley on the roster. Still young enough to take some steps forward and not worth sacrificing just to make the last guy in the bullpen fit.

  • Eddardo Nuney

    1. Jacoby will be just fine. Fretting day and night won’t do any good. And I agree, any lineup with Cervelli and McCann in it is a good one. Cervelli is vastly underrated, probably the best backup C in the game.

    2. I think it’ll be Pineda but Phelps is just as valuable to this ballclub. After Ivan Nova, Phelps represents the best young starting pitcher that the Yankees have developed from their farm system since Andy Pettitte two decades ago.

    3. The bullpen is going to be strong once again this year. You’ve got a great 7-8-9 combo in Phelps, Kelley, Drob. Might be one of the best in the game.

    4. Nuney and Cervelli will be very important players this season. Jete ain’t gonna be able to play that much and the backup C plays at least once every 5 games. Ichiro should be cut tomorrow with Zolio taking his place.

    5. Just another farm system failure for Cashman. Nova, Phelps, Drob represent his only successes thus far.


    • stuckey

      Gardner doesn’t count? Or are you just talking pitching?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        He’s talking trolling.

    • lightSABR

      Wait – explain to me how Ty Hensley’s hernia is Cashman’s fault. I’m waiting.

      • I’m One

        Don’t bother. You either won’t get a reply, the reply will shed no more light on his thinking than the original comment, or it will confuse matters further by offering a different point of view altogether.

      • nyyankfan_7

        I don’t want an explanation I just want some of whatever he is smoking.

        A world where Eduardo Nunez is good, Cervelli is the best backup in baseball and Phelps, Kelley and DRob make up one of the best 7,8 & 9th inning combos in baseball sounds like a wonderful place where unicorns tap dance on rainbows and it rains skittles; unless your name is Brian Cashman because everything is your fault. I tried to fart and accidentally shit my pants; that bastard Cashman was behind it, I know it!

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        He shouldn’t have tried lifting him with only his penis so quickly after recovering from hip surgery.

        • nyyankfan_7

          Wait, who was lifting who with their penis?

          Are you watching a Siegfried and Roy show or are we still talking about baseball around here?

      • Andy in Sunny Daytona

        I heard Cashman had Hensley moving heavy boxes without a weight belt on….pretty big news if true

        • Thomas

          At least, Cashman is learning from his mistakes. He brought in Aaron Judge for future box moves.

    • Anonymous

      Did you really say phelps Kelly d rob might be the best in baseball? You are crazy and just lost my respect. That was really bad from you.

      • I’m One

        You obviously don’t read his comments often. That’s far from the worst he’s suggested.

  • zs190

    Flores has looked good in the spring so it would surprise me if they DFA him. I can’t help but think Cabral might be the guy they DFA if he doesn’t make the roster. Fred Lewis emergence makes it easier to DFA Cabral, I think.

    • bpdelia

      IMO there is almost no scenario where a lefty specialist PROSPECT should be kept over a fourth outfielder prospect. Flores is young enough to still develop enough power to be a fringe starter.

      I like Cabral but I can’t justify rostering him. Loogys are replaceable and even the best have such little impact it just doesn’t make sense.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Cabral’s worth more to RAB memedom than he is to the 40-man. That’s not to say I don’t like him. I actually very much do.

      • mitch

        I’d probably dump Claiborne before Flores or Cabral. Flores is at least an interesting prospect, and Cabral would definitely fill a role if Thornton got injured (which is certainly a possibility).

        Claiborne is a nice guy to stash in AAA, but there are other, more interesting RH relief options if necessary.

        • RetroRob

          Agreed. Claiborne would be right near the top of first to be DFA’d.

  • DERP

    Also from the Lohud notes, Bird’s injury is kind of scary since back issues cost him pretty much all of 2012. And also kind of disappointed that Judge will be starting at Charleston and not Tampa.

    • I’m One

      Agree on Judge, but since he didn’t play last year, he may start there and move quickly. At least I hope so.

    • Yankee$

      Charleston is loaded. Avelino, Katoh, Torrens and Judge. May need to get myself down to Charleston for a long weekend.

      • RetroRob

        I saw a tweet recently that quoted a scout on Avelino, saying if he is not on a top prospect list next year at this time, then you should ignore that list.

  • YankeeGrunt

    Hensley is ticketed for short-season anyway. He’ll miss much, maybe all, of EXST and that matters, but he may not miss any game action.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Good point. He needs to be on a mound, though.

      • OB/GYN Kenobi


    • Havok9120

      Hadn’t thought of that, but it’s a good point.

  • The Other Matt

    Question: If they were to put Turley on the 60 Day DL, does that prevent him from pitching in just Major League games or MiLB games as well?

    Seeing as though they probably don’t seem to have a need for him at the Major League level for the immediate future, it would seem as though that he could pitch in the minors and the Yankees consider it a rehab assignment. And then just option him once he becomes eligible to come off the DL.

  • Dalek Jeter

    If Ells is healthy I think Jeter, Girardi, and Cashman have to have a sit down to discuss Jeter moving down to like 7th in the lineup against RHP. I still believe he can crush LHP, because he’s Derek Jeter…but his splits against RHP since 2010 are .272/.330/.344 with 42 GDP with OPS’s of 76, 88, and 101.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    Jeter, Girardi, and Cashman have to have a sit down to discuss Jeter moving down to like 7th in the lineup against RHP.

    That would only happen in EddardWorld.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I know, it won’t actually happen, but EddardWorld? Man, that’s cold.

      • nyyankfan_7

        Cold? Yes, but when you say something that is so totally Eddard you must be called on it.

        • Dalek Jeter

          Hey man, I still argue my logic is sound. Jeets is coming off of a twice broken ankle, has a propensity for hitting ground balls, and has been just average against RHP exactly once since 2010. The reason I mentioned the meeting is that Jeter is literally the face of the team, a fan favorite, and one of the greatest to ever play the game. You don’t just bump him from the top of the line up to the bottom third, it’s something that needs to be discussed.

          • nyyankfan_7

            Sir, I’m gonna need you to put down Eddard’s bong pipe and step away from the keyboard.

            • Dalek Jeter

              Do you have a counter argument that Jeter deserves to hit second outside of “he’s done so throughout his career and he’s Derek Jeter?”

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                The argument is not that Jeter deserves to hit second.

                It’s that Girardi is never, ever, going to move him down, so the conversation is moot.

                • Dalek Jeter

                  Just because a conversation is moot doesn’t mean it’s not worth having, especially here. I mean we’re talking about the Yankees pursuing Drew AGAIN.

                  • nyyankfan_7

                    Umm, Mr. Eddard Jr., no one is arguing with you.

                    Just like the voices in your head we all agree with you. It’s ok. Calm down. Put down the spork. No one here wants you to hurt yourself. The pads on your walls are for your own benefit, we promise.

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      Jeez, make a simple suggestion, defend your point with sound arguments, and all of a sudden you’re Eddard and you belong in a psych ward. Gotta love this website sometimes.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      I don’t know if I should feel deep, deep sadness, or laugh my ass off and point at “Mr. Eddard, Jr.”

                      SO MANY FEELINGZ.

                    • Dalek Jeter

                      Thanks, Jorge. That means a lot buddy.

                    • nyyankfan_7

                      I’m really just yanking your chain and getting a good laugh.

                      Should Jeter bat 2nd? Most likely, no. But should he be given the 1st opportunity? I think so. Everyone said the same thing 2 years ago and him batting 2nd wasn’t an issue. And yes I know he isn’t the same player he was in 2012, or at least we assume he won’t be; but he’s earned the right to bat there until he shows he can’t handle it. He’s a career .312 hitter with a .381 OBP over 19 years; we can’t automatically assume he is going to turn into the Ichiro pumpkin this year.

                      So calm down, no psyche ward for you yet……Mr. Eddard Jr.

  • Dalek Jeter

    Gah, I wish we could just get official word on the 5th starter.

  • RetroRob

    Sorry to read about Hensley. Hopefully he is back on the mound by mid-summer.

  • Marci Hensley

    Hello everyone! Ty wanted to kill me the last time I posted on here, but you guys for the most part have been supportive of my son and you love your Yankees so I didn’t think it would be too bad if I posted an accurate update. To say that Ty had a difficult go the last 12 mth would be a major understatement. He has handled it amazingly well. He is extremely frustrated that he has not been able to prove his worth on the field of play. He can deal with a poor performance because he owns it, but learning to deal with the frustration of dealing with setbacks that aren’t in your control is a major challenge. The good that came from this is that a fighter has emerged and I have watched him mature beyond his years. Maybe just maybe all of this is to allow him the maturity and motivation he needs to survive at the next level. Or perhaps the preventative measures that have been done will extend his career longer then he would have had. All of that remains to be seen. Right now he is focused on this last piece if the puzzle that needed to be fixed for him to get back. This was the actual injury that caused us to discover the aysmptomatic FAI . We thought it might heal on its ow and he had been through enough for us to go that route. It seemed to but when he started getting to top velo it became an issue . Very minor surgery. He ran a mile the next day. Ty is anxious to have you all rip him on his crappy games trust me! That just means he is on his way! He is also anxious to prove himself. I don’t read any blogs accept for two or three because they give good information and this is one of them. Thanks again for those of you wishing my son well and for those of you that of the prayer mindset he could use those too! Have a blessed day!