Thoughts before the Panama exhibition games

GIFs: Jose Campos' Spring Debut
Spring Training Game Thread: Split Squad
Where's Wallace (going to sign)? (Bob Levey/Getty)
Where’s Wallace (going to sign)? (Bob Levey/Getty)

Starting this afternoon, the Yankees will play seven games in the next four days. They play a set of split squad games this afternoon, then this weekend half the team (including most of the regulars) will travel to Panama for a pair of exhibition games. The other half will remain in Tampa and play regularly scheduled Grapefruit League games. I still have no idea if the Panama games will be on television. They have to be, right? I think so. Here are some scattered thoughts on random Thursday.

1. Derek Jeter continues to run well following all the ankle and leg injuries, which is very encouraging. He seems to be on the Mariano Rivera plan right now, meaning he is only playing at home and not traveling, but that will have to change at some point. I guess it will this weekend in Panama. Jeter has played only one set of back-to-back games so far but I have to think he’ll play three straight or four games in five days before the start of the season. Something like that. The Cap’n hasn’t hit all that much in camp (4-for-20) but I’m not too worried about that. Opening Day is still more than two weeks away. Running and moving well is still the most important thing right now and so far everything is going a-okay.

2. Brett Wallace is pretty bad — that’s a prerequisite for being released by the Astros, as Wallace did yesterday — but it wouldn’t be a bad idea for the Yankees to scoop him on a minor league contract as Mark Teixeira insurance. Russ Canzler is the only other natural first baseman in big league camp right now and he would get the call should Teixeira go down with injury. The 27-year-old Wallace hit .221/.284/.431 (97 wRC+) with 13 homers and an unsightly 104/18 K/BB in 285 plate appearances last season (93 wRC+ in 1,077 career plate appearances), but he’s a left-handed batter with some pop and there’s the short porch in right field, yadda yadda yadda. Canzler is worth keeping around because he can play the outfield as well, though I consider Wallace a better backup plan at first base. If they can grab him until someone better comes along, I think that’s the way to go.

3. Left-hander Fred Lewis has had himself a nice Spring Training so far. The 27-year-old was the team’s 47th round pick in the 2010 draft and he’s allowed two hits and one walk in 4.1 scoreless innings in Grapefruit League action, striking out four. He also chucked eleven scoreless innings in Arizona Fall League last year. Lewis is something of a soft tosser and he didn’t handle lefties well last year (.308/.375/.415) or over the last three years (.297/.389/.378), so this is likely a small sample mirage more than anything. It’s also worth noting he went unselected in the Rule 5 Draft in December, so other teams don’t think he can help at the MLB level this year. Still, Lewis has handled himself well in front of the decision makers in camp, and all a guy like this is trying to do is put himself on the map. Preston Claiborne had a strong spring last year and it led to him getting called up during the regular season. Lewis is currently pitching his way into a similar situation.

Daley. (Presswire)
Daley. (Presswire)

4. This is nothing more than a guess, but if the season started right now, I think Michael Pineda would be the fifth starter with Dellin Betances and Matt Daley joining David Phelps and Adam Warren in the bullpen. Again, that’s just a guess. Betances seems to have a bullpen spot locked up right now, and I’m saying Daley over guys like Claiborne and Cesar Cabral for a few reasons. One, the Yankees obviously like him. They didn’t spend the last two years rehabbing him from a shoulder injury he suffered pitching for another team out of the kindness of their hearts. Two, he’s pitched well in camp (3.2 scoreless inning with six strikeouts) and he went from relatively meaningless eighth and ninth inning appearances to being the first guy out of the bullpen and facing projected big leaguers. Three, I think the Yankees realize there might only be so many bullets in the 31-year-old’s arm after shoulder surgery, and they don’t want to waste them in Triple-A. Daley seems like another Cory Wade in that he’s a soft-tosser who might only have 50 good innings in him before the wheels come off. He was with the team last September and as of right now, I think he’ll be there on Opening Day.

5. As for the final bench spot, I think it would go to Eduardo Nunez if the season started today. This is just another guess. Scott Sizemore was eased into things early in camp following his knee injuries and he hasn’t played much while Nunez has already started multiple games at second, short, and third. Sizemore has started two games total. He can opt-out of his minor league contract on May 1st (and August 1st), and I think the team would send him down to Triple-A for a month to let him get back into the swing of things before re-evaluating him at the first opt-out. Sizemore has missed most of the last two seasons and that’s an awful lot of rust to shake off. Things could change between now and Opening Day and they probably will, but that’s my opinion right now. Nunez seems to keep getting chances and my hunch is he will get one more.

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GIFs: Jose Campos' Spring Debut
Spring Training Game Thread: Split Squad
  • CountryClub

    Jeter is playing SS today. So that’ll be another back to back for him.

  • Leg-End

    Where’s Wallace, String?

  • gageagainstthemachine

    Mike! Did you finally watch “The Wire”?! If not, you randomly made a fantastic reference in that photo caption and I have to give you mad props either way.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Yeah I finally got around to it a few weeks ago. Started season four the other night.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Lemme guess… HBOGo finally getting on to PS3 was the straw that broke the camel’s back?

      • keith

        Season 4 is probably the best of them.

        • gageagainstthemachine

          Agreed. Probably my favorite season on so many levels, one of them that I teach at the most inner city school in my city. Granted it’s no Baltimore…

        • dkidd

          4,3,1,2,5

          in that order

  • Eddardo Nuney

    1. He’ll be just fine. I think people are underestimating him. Even as an old gimp he’s a huge upgrade over last season.

    2. Teixera is the one I worry about. Wish they would have kept Chavy or even Reynolds. Teix may never be the same with that wrist injury.

    4. I’d give the job to Phelps but I think Pineda will get it because he has more upside. The Yankees will have gotten the better of the Montero trade when it’s all said and done.

    5. I couldn’t agree more with you, Mike. Nuney deserves to be on this ballclub. Ichiro, on the other hand, does not.

  • OB/GYN Kenobi

    Nice piece on Solarte in the NYT. I like the attitude and work ethic they describe.

    • I’m One

      It seems that Solarte would be a more solid option than Nunez, as he’s got more positional flexibility and (so far) has shown more pop in ist bat.

      However, we’re speaking about a bench player that will (hopefully) not see many at bats and Nunez is already on the 40-man, so it really doesn’t make too much difference. I get why the Yankees would give the spot to Nunez, but kind of feel bad for Solarte, as his stats have been really good this spring (haven’t been able to watch many games to get an almost first-hand look).

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Yangervis Solarte’s only crime? Not being Scott Sizemore.

      • Yankee$ (Formerly Pseudoyanks)

        Maybe Nunez and Cervelli together in a deal to somewhere for somthing (I’m not saying what Yanks would get back because My Trade Proposals Suck…and I know it.)

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          1. Nunez and Cervelli FOR Solarte. I mean, the trade is right there for Cashman to do.

          2. What would Nunez, Cervelli, AND SOLARTE bring?!?!?!

          • Mr. Roth

            LA would probably send us Kershaw and eat half the contract.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Then we throw in Fred Lewis.

  • The Great Gonzo

    I like the idea of Wallace as a reclamation project of sorts. After all, former top prospect and everything.

    Maybe he was ‘bored in Houston’?

    /Montero’d

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      But since 2010 really, he’s struck out a TON at both AAA and MLB. He really seems like a AAAA guy, maybe a backup at the MLB level. He’s had middling wrc+ even with his consistently(which is really random) high BABIP.

      • ALZ

        Wallace is terrible, I think he is a better backup plan than Canzler though. Doesn’t hurt if Teix goes down, even if you want to make a trade it gives you a bit more time and flexibility.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      MMMMM DONUTS.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    Randomly, I see that both the Yankees’ games today are being broadcast on mlb tv (home on YES, away on the Phils feed.)

    I am getting absolutely no work done this afternoon.

  • wallypip

    I think Sizemore, if he is healthy, should be the eventual backup, but it makes perfect sense to go ahead and make Nunez the 25th man for April. There is no point in making a roster move yet. The Yankees don’t know what they have in Roberts. He might need a platoon partner, or he might need to be completely done. Johnson hits lefties and his swing is perfect for the short porch, so you might as well play those guys every day in April and see what you’ve got. Before May 1st, the Yankees should know if they need a lefty masher and if Sizemore is still that guy.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      It’s what makes logical sense but, all jokes aside, I don’t see how this team can get to an opt-out date without seeing how a healthy Sizemore can contribute.

      Nunez has an option. There’s nothing lost but keeping him stashed in AAA other than a couple of souvenirs balls for you folks in the 100 level behind Tex.

      There’d be a 40-man move, sure, but there’s more than a non-zero chance you can get someone like Nik Turley and his sudden arm tightness through waivers.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        I think, jokes aside, at worst assuming he doesn’t die and is upright, Sizemore will get an audition in mid-late april. Nothing to lose.

      • The Other Matt

        I agree with you about the 40 man slot. Turley should be able to get through waivers with no problem at this point. I’d give Solarte a shot if he continues to swing the bat well, since Nunez does have the option left.

        Being that Solarte is a switch-hitter and can fill in at all the non-first base positions in the infield, he makes the most sense to me, since the Yankees seem intent on having Kelly Johnson as the quasi backup first baseman, at least early on in the year. Solarte is also a natural 2b by trade so, if, and when, Brian Robert needs a day off if he has any hope of staying healthy throughout the course of the year, then you could slot in Solarte without having to sacrifice much offense (as you probably would with if they decided to play Ryan at 2B occasionally).

        I wouldn’t worry much about using the option on Nunez, being that if he doesn’t perform adequately this year the Yankees will probably be all but done with him, anyway.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          For the record, if the options were Nunez and Solarte, I have very little trust in what we’ve seen in Solarte thus far. We see this every Spring Training with a career minor leaguer. I’m not buying it….yet. I’d go Nuney and fix myself a cyanide milkshake.

          • I’m One

            I’m fully on board with your disclaimer about Solarte’s ST results. However, we’ve seen quite a bit from Nunez and very little of it good. Would Solarte be worse? Defensively, I don’t think so. Offensively, perhaps. If they’re used as the 24th or 25th man off the bench, does it really matter? We’re probably overthinking this way too much.

            Nunez is already on the 40-man, so he probably gets the nod.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Overthinking? Never. :)

          • OB/GYN Kenobi

            Well he was 0-3 today so obviously he’s a bust!

      • wallypip

        Agree 100%. I wasn’t suggesting that the Yankees should wait on Sizemore for the sake of waiting. I just think he might need some everyday reps in AAA because he hasn’t really played in two years. I don’t think the May 1st deadline means much because if he plays well enough to get a another major league offer, the Yankees will bring him up. I have little love for Nunez, but in the meantime the Yankees could see if his off season work has paid off for him.

  • Mandy Stankiwicz

    Not familiar with Brett Wallace, so I looked up his stats on baseball reference. Could someone answer whats probably a really novice question about defensive stats. How can a Brett have a fielding % of 1.000 (no errors) and still be worth -1 Win defensively in 2013?

    • Mandy Stankiwicz

      I think I wrote too soon, saw he had reps at 3B, too…

    • EricVA

      Can’t make errors if you never move left or right to get a ball.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      The other part is, depending on the stat you were looking at, it takes into account plays they should have made, but didn’t. Things like range play a factor.

      • Mandy Stankiwicz

        Thanks EricVA/Jim

  • leftylarry

    Fred Lewis deserves a shot.

    A “soft tossing” 31 year old Daly with a repaired shoulder is exactly why the Yankees don’t develop much pitching.

    The argument about no one selecting Fred Lewis is flawed too, teams don’t always know, Yankees foolishly let Ivan Nova go in the rule #5 draft and he was foolishly returned.

    Wish these young arms were given a chance to develop on the major league level instead of getting used up in the minors and /or eventually being throw ins in trades for stop gap infielders or something.

    Not like Yankees are winning every year with these has-beens who maybe do a decent job for a month and then are toast and have on trade value

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      There was nothing foolish about leaving Nova unprotected. He was obviously not MLB ready, got hammered in camp, and was returned as expected.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      ….just….my brain…I can’t….

      *dies*

    • http://thewebsitemarketingagency.com Geno

      Fred? Is that you?

      We actually have a pretty good recent history of developing bullpen arms.

    • LK

      “Yankees foolishly let Ivan Nova go in the rule #5 draft and he was foolishly returned.”

      Or, he wasn’t ready to be an MLB pitcher at that point?

      “Not like Yankees are winning every year with these has-beens.”

      The Yankees have posted 21 consecutive winning seasons.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Ignore the fundamental misunderstanding as to how the Rule 5 draft works and/or complete maneuvering of it to meet the idiot narrative.

        It should have been 25 winning seasons in 21 years. After all, that’s what the St. Louis Cardinals have done.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Your mama was foolish in letting you use a PC.

    • The Great Gonzo

      THIS whole comment is hurting my soul.

  • DIrk Diggler

    Fred Lewis is a soft-tosser?

    I thought I was reading mid-90s fastball with a good turbo slider on this very page (from either commenters or a scouting report)?

    Not being sarcastic, just want to clarify!

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Fine with an MiLB flyer on Wallace and, yes, someone besides Russ Canzler stashed away out there is fine.

    I’d go Cabral right now with the final bullpen spot, but I liked what I’ve seen out of Daley in small spurts thus far. The Cory Wade comparison is applicable. You want him on your team as long as he’s looking good and you assume there’s an expiration date on that. Change of pace guy who probably shouldn’t work his way into everyday duty.

    This Fred Lewis stuff just needs to stop. I’m glad he’s putting himself on the map and hope he continues to do so.

  • Darren

    Mo should throw out a ceremonial LAST pitch.

    After game is over, he comes out to mound and throws to Jorge (Posada, not Steinbrenner).

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I’ve got plans this weekend anyway.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I’d rather it be a ceremonial pre-9th inning pitch.

      • W.B. Mason Williams

        I’d rather he come out of retirement, sign a 3 year contract on the mound immediately before the 9th inning, then throw 9 strikes for 3 K’s in a 3 piece suit.

  • Yankee$ (Formerly Pseudoyanks)

    How long would Pineda have to stay in AAA for the Yanks to delay his FA by a year? If it is less than 8 weeks (and Phelps is otherwise pitching very very well over the next few weeks) might have to consider it.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      If he’s effective, I don’t see how you worry about that at this point. They’ve already been successful in doing so once. FA is still years away. Banking on him being so effective AND healthy that losing him is a consideration is still not something anyone should be doing.

      • Yankee$ (Formerly Pseudoyanks)

        I see what you’re saying but let’s not forget, he’s probably not a 200 inning guy this year anyway. If you’re trying to Manage Total Innings for Pineda, Have a Guy Like Phelps who can pitch in the rotation, Want to go slower with Pineda because of the injury AND can lock him up for another year, it HAS to be in consideration. Unless he’s gotta be in the minors until August or something like that to trigger it.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Your front four all have 200 inning potential, although I definitely see the argument for wathinc CC and Kuroda’s innings closely. I don’t think we need to view Pineda as needing to play the role of workhorse in any way here.

          No pressure, Tanaka. Really. Also, Ivan, Scranton was lost in the war. You’re not able to go there for a freshen-up vacation in June any longer.

          If Pineda wins the spot, there’s going to be quite a bit of playing this by ear as the season rolls on.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      About five months. They already pushed it back a year, it’s time to get something out of this trade and not worry about controlling him for another season.

      • Yankee$ (Formerly Pseudoyanks)

        Five months? Fully agree.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Nunez now, Sizemore when the next guy gets injured, one of them stays up when (if) Roberts comes back. Let Solarte prove this isn’t SSS, and then if we don’t need all three of them, one of them goes at the trade deadline if we must–if not keep Sizemore up and Solarte and Nunez stashed, next year becomes Nunez’s last chance.

  • zs190

    Is Fred Lewis really a soft tosser? I thought I read that he’s bumped his velocity up to 93-95 and considering he’s left handed, that would be considered premium velocity

  • The Great Gonzo

    I am just going to throw this out there against my better judgement:

    Nunez should be getting some reps at 1B this spring. Its hard to throw the ball into the stands behind 1st base if you are not throwing it there. Plus, if he is not going to be an everyday anything, he should get the full UTIL treatment.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I look forward to the gif of Nuney just tossing the ball over his shoulder into the stands.

      • OB/GYN Kenobi

        I laughed.