As Joe explained last week, the Yankees have several important players coming back from injury this season. They also have several players who, due to their age and/or recent history, are at risk of getting hurt in 2014. Injuries are part of the game and many times they’re completely unpredictable or unavoidable, but there are certainly players who are more likely to get hurt than others. The Yankees haven’t exactly been good at keeping their guys healthy these last few years either. Here are New York’s biggest injury risks for the coming season and their respective backup plans.
Injury Risk: Derek Jeter
Backup Plan: Brendan Ryan
Aside from the dislocated shoulder back in 2003, last season was the only time Derek Jeter spent an extended period of time on the DL in his career. A twice-fractured left ankle and various leg muscle problems limited him to only 17 games, and even though he’s been healthy this spring and working out for weeks, his age (39) and the series of leg problems will make him an injury risk pretty much all year. The Cap’n is very much day-to-day at this point of his career.
The Yankees acquired Ryan last September when Jeter went to the DL for the fourth and final time, then they re-signed him to a two-year contract (with a player option!) over the winter to serve as shortstop insurance. If Jeter does go down with injury this summer, regardless of whether it’s two days or two weeks or two months, Ryan will step right in and play shortstop everyday. He can’t hit a lick but his defense is among the best in the game.
Injury Risk: Brian Roberts
Backup Plan: Ryan, Dean Anna, Eduardo Nunez, etc.
There is no greater injury risk on the roster than Roberts. He has appeared in only 192 of 648 possible regular season games since 2011 due to a variety of injuries, including back spasms (2010), concussions (2010-11), hip labrum surgery (2012), and hamstring surgery (2013). Second base is a dangerous position because of the blind double play pivot and it feels like it’s only a matter of time before Roberts hits the DL, kinda like it did with Travis Hafner last summer.
Infield depth is something the Yankees spent most of the offseason accumulating, though none of it really stands out. They don’t have a 2005 Robinson Cano waiting in the wings, for example. Ryan, Anna, Nunez, Yangervis Solarte, and Corban Joseph are the various backup plans at second base, though only Ryan and Nunez have any kind of substantial MLB time. The player who gets the job when Roberts goes down with injury may simply be the guy who’s playing the best at that time.
Injury Risk: Frankie Cervelli
Backup Plan: Austin Romine, John Ryan Murphy
Cervelli seems to have a knack for the fluke injury. His wrist was broken by a home plate collision in Spring Training 2008 and he’s also had foul balls break his foot (2011, again in Spring Training) and hand (2013) in recent years. The broken hand last year turned into a stress reaction in his elbow. More seriously, Cervelli has had four concussions in his pro career, including three from December 2009 through September 2011. Romine and Murphy will both be stashed in Triple-A as insurance, and I suspect Romine would get the call as a short-term replacement while Murphy would be the guy if Cervelli misses most of the season again.
Injury Risk: Michael Pineda
Backup Plan: Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, Adam Warren
When a player misses two full years due to a major surgery, it’s really hard to count on him staying healthy going forward. Pineda is an unknown and unreliable until he proves otherwise, which might never happen. His surgery was serious stuff and that’s why he hasn’t been handed a rotation spot as of yet. Pineda has to earn it by showing he can be effective post-surgery in camp. Phelps, Warren, and Nuno are all competing for the same fifth starter spot and will be ready to jump into the rotation at a moment’s notice if Pineda makes the team and goes down for any reason.
Injury Risk: Jacoby Ellsbury & Brett Gardner
Backup Plan: Ichiro Suzuki, Zoilo Almonte
Over the last three seasons, Ellsbury and Gardner have combined to play in 686 of 972 possible regular season games, or 71%. Go back four seasons and it’s only 66%. Both guys have had injury problems over the years but the major ones can mostly be classified as flukes. Here are Ellsbury’s notable injuries …
- Fractured Ribs, 2010: Crashed into a teammate chasing a pop-up then suffered a setback after returning too soon.
- Shoulder Subluxation, 2012: Fielder fell on top of him following a break up slide at second base.
- Foot Fracture, 2013: Fouled a ball off his foot.
… and here are Gardner’s:
- Fractured Thumb, 2009: Slid into second base on a stolen base attempt.
- Wrist Debridement, 2010: Hit by a pitch, needed offseason surgery after playing hurt in second half.
- Inflamed Elbow, 2012: Made a sliding catch and suffered three setbacks (!) before having season-ending surgery.
- Oblique Strain, 2013: Swung a bat. Nothing more.
There has been other day-to-day stuff over the years but those are the big injuries. Gardner’s oblique strain last September is the only one that isn’t a fluke to me, though I think it’s also important to understand both guys have a playing style that puts them at greater risk of injury. When you steal a ton of bases, you risk hurting your fingers and having an infielder fall on top of you. When you run around the outfield making sliding and diving catches, you can jam something pretty easily.
Is it fair to consider Ellsbury and Gardner injury risks for 2014? Maybe not, but they have been hurt a bunch in recent years and I felt they were worth discussing. If Ellsbury were to get hurt, Gardner would slide right into center field. If Gardner got hurt, Alfonso Soriano would probably take over as the everyday left fielder, as he would if Gardner moved to center. Ichiro would see more playing time — I think Soriano and Carlos Beltran would still get regular turns at DH even if Ellsbury or Gardner gets hurt — and Zoilo is the early favorite to be the first guy called up from Triple-A. If both Gardner and Ellsbury got hurt at the same time … well that’s a mess I don’t want to think about. A trade for a center fielder would seem likely.
Injury Risk: Mark Teixeira
Backup Plan: ???
A tendon sheath problem in Teixeira’s right wrist that eventually required surgery limited him to only 15 games last year and still has him on the mend in camp. He’s been brought back slowly — he faced live pitching in batting practice for the first time just today — and is slated to get into a game later this week, but wrists are very tricky. Even if the doctors say they’re healed, they tend to sap power for another few weeks and months. David Ortiz (2008-09) and Jose Bautista (2012-13) have had similar tendon sheath problems and they didn’t regain their previous form until well after returning to the lineup.
Given the nature of the injury, it might be more accurate to say Teixeira is a risk for reduced production than he is a risk for injury. He hasn’t exactly been Mr. Durable the last few years though, most notably missing more than a month with a calf strain in late 2012 and blowing out his hamstring during the 2010 postseason (forgot about that, huh?). That doesn’t include the infamous cough/vocal cord damage that hampered him two years ago. The Yankees don’t have an obvious backup first baseman — Kelly Johnson and his 18 career innings at the position is currently the backup at first — so a trade would be in order if Teixeira goes down. It’s either digging up another Lyle Overbay or playing Russ Canzler everyday.
* * *
I think it goes without saying that pitchers are inherently risky. CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Masahiro Tanaka have been very durable throughout their career (Kuroda less so, but he’s been healthy with the Yankees) but it would surprise no one if they got hurt this year. Same with all the relievers. Pitchers get hurt. It’s what they do.
Carlos Beltran’s knees were a big problem from 2009-10, but he has played at least 140 games in each of the last three seasons. Brian McCann had shoulder problems in 2012 that required offseason surgery, which kept him out for the first month of 2013, but he has been healthy and productive since. Scott Sizemore has played a total of two games the last two seasons because of back-to-back torn left ACLs, but he is far from a lock to make the roster, nevermind play regularly. Same goes for Nunez, who missed a bunch of time with a ribcage problem last year. Just about every player has been hurt somewhere along the line.
The Yankees are well-equipped to deal with an injured outfielder, catcher, or back-of-the-rotation starter. The infield is were it gets dicey and unfortunately that is where we find the most at risk players (Jeter, Roberts, Teixeira). The backup plans on the infield are interesting of nothing else, but they’re all wildcards. I don’t think we can reasonably estimate what any of them would do if pressed into regular duty. The Yankees have a lot of important players at risk of injury this year and their ability to stay on the field will play a huge role in whether they return to the postseason.
The first week of Grapefruit League games is not yet complete but it still feels like the day-to-day grind of baseball has returned. It’s wonderful. Meaningless Spring Training games are not for everyone, I get that, but I’ve always felt these games are fun in their own way. We get to see a bunch of prospects we otherwise never get to see and the results don’t mean anything. You can just sit back and enjoy some baseball. It’s wonderful.
This afternoon’s game will be Derek Jeter‘s third at shortstop this spring. He made it through the first two just fine following his lost leg injury plagued season, but obviously there is a long way to go before he’s ready to play nine-inning games on an everyday basis. That’s what these next four weeks will be all about. Ivan Nova has a rotation spot already locked up, he’ll just be preparing for the season and getting work in today. He says he feels like he’s competing for a job, but we all know that’s not the case.
The Nationals made the long trip across the state from Viera for today’s game, so their roster is a skeleton crew. None of their best players made the trip. Denard Span, Danny Espinosa, Scott Hairston, and Jose Lobaton are the only guys in the starting lineup who remotely qualify as MLB regulars. Left-hander Ross Detwiler will be on the mound for Washington. Here is the Yankees’ starting lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- C Brian McCann
- 2B Brian Roberts
- DH Frankie Cervelli
- 3B Kelly Johnson
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- LF Zoilo Almonte
- 1B Corban Joseph
And on the mound is Nova. Since this is his second Spring Training outing, he’s probably scheduled for something like three innings or 50 pitches, whichever comes first. Don’t hold me to that though.
Available Pitchers: RHP David Robertson, RHP Shawn Kelley, RHP Danny Burawa, RHP Yoshinori Tateyama, RHP Robert Coello, and RHP Jim Miller are all scheduled to pitch. This will be Robertson’s spring debut and Kelley’s second outing. Matt Thornton can’t be too far behind. RHP Chase Whitley, RHP Mark Montgomery, and RHP Brian Gordon are also available if needed.
Available Position Players: C John Ryan Murphy, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Zelous Wheeler, SS Addison Maruszak, 3B Jose Pirela, LF Ramon Flores, CF Mason Williams, and RF Adonis Garcia will all come off the bench to replace the starters. C Francisco Arcia, C Peter O’Brien, C Gary Sanchez, IF Dean Anna, IF Yangervis Solarte, and OF Antoan Richardson are also on the bench.
They play these games in Florida (and Arizona) for a reason, and that’s because the weather is just perfect for baseball. It’s in the mid-70s with a few scattered clouds in Tampa. Can’t wait until that weather hits New York. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and can be seen live on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. Enjoy.
Baseball Prospectus published their top 25 and under talent rankings earlier today, and the list is free for everyone. You don’t need a subscription. The Cardinals and their bevy of youngsters sit atop the list while the Nationals and Braves round out the top three. No surprises there; those clubs have some seriously great players and prospects on the right side of 25.
The Yankees rank 28th, better than only the Phillies and Brewers. New York actually ranked 30th in the initial post, which accidentally omitted Masahiro Tanaka. The team moved up two spots when he was added to the revised version. Tanaka is the only player age 25 or younger who is a lock to be on the active big league roster this season, with Michael Pineda the only other strong possibility. The Yankees are an old team, this isn’t a secret, and the rankings reflect that. · (36) ·
Spring Training Record: 3-2 (26 RS, 20 RA)
Spring Training Games This Week: vs. Nationals (Mon. on YES, MLBN), vs. Orioles (Tues. on YES, MLBN), @ Rays (Weds.), @ Phillies (Thurs. on MLBN), vs. Tigers (Fri.), @ Astros (Sat. on MLBN), vs. Rays (Sun. on YES)
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees continue to look for infield and bullpen help, and they will reportedly monitor Rickie Weeks and Joel Hanrahan. Ryan Madson’s demands have been deemed excessive. Johan Santana barely cracked 80 mph during a workout for the team.
- Injury Updates: Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Alfonso Soriano (flu) are both expected to get into a game this week. Tyler Austin (wrist) received an injection and hopes to start working out this week. The MRIs on Jose Ramirez (back, oblique) came back clean but he will still be shut down for a few days.
- The Yankees ranked 23rd in Baseball Prospectus’ organizational rankings. New York signed 17-year-old Colombian righty Juan Escorcia.
- Mariano Rivera said there’s “no chance” he’ll pitch in the Panama games later this month.
- The new ban on home plate collisions has been officially announced.
Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
The totally meaningless Grapefruit League winning streak is up to three games. The Yankees walloped the Blue Jays by the score of 8-2 on Sunday afternoon thanks to homers by Carlos Beltran (solo), Eduardo Nunez (two-run) and John Ryan Murphy (three-run). Nunez and Beltran went back-to-back. Dean Anna also drove in a run with a single.
The box score for today’s game is right here. Vidal Nuno allowed a solo homer to Jose Bautista in two otherwise uneventful innings, striking out three. Bryan Mitchell struck out three in his two scoreless frames and Shane Greene allowed a run in his two innings of work. Bullpen candidate Matt Daley struck out a pair in a perfect ninth inning. Yangervis Solarte went 2-for-2 and is up .857/.875/1.714 so far this spring. Here’s the rest of the news from Tampa.
- There was a small fire in the clubhouse after the game (the Yankees were on the road in Dunedin). The clubhouse filled with smoke but the players were never told to evacuate. It wound up being no big deal. [Dan Barbarisi]
- The upcoming rotation: Ivan Nova (Monday), David Phelps (Tuesday), Adam Warren (Wednesday), Masahiro Tanaka (Thursday), and Hiroki Kuroda (Friday). CC Sabathia will throw a simulated game on Thursday. [Meredith Marakovits]
- Michael Pineda threw a simulated game this morning and everything went well. He will make his spring debut in relief of Kuroda on Friday. Mark Teixeira, meanwhile, will play in his first spring game either Thursday or Friday. [Marakovits, Bryan Hoch]
- Alfonso Soriano (flu) is feeling better but still days from playing in a game. Scott Sizemore (knee) went through sliding drills and hopes to play in a game next week. Nik Turley (arm tightness) will play catch tomorrow. Bullpen sleeper David Herndon (Tommy John surgery) threw a simulated game. [Chad Jennings]
This is your nightly open thread. MLB Network is showing this afternoon’s game on a tape delay at 8pm ET, if you’re interested. The (hockey) Rangers are playing as well. Talk about those games or anything else right here. Enjoy.
The Yankees are in Dunedin to play the Blue Jays at 1pm ET this afternoon, though the game will not be broadcast locally on YES or nationally on MLB Network. It is available on MLB.tv only. (MLBN will re-air it on a tape delay at 8pm ET.) Here is the starting lineup and available players. Fifth starter candidate Vidal Nuno is on the bump. Talk about the game here if you’re watching. · (101) ·
We have more ways to evaluate baseball than ever before, yet it still feels like we’ve only seen the tip of the analytical iceberg. There are still so many aspects of the game we’re unable to fully understand or accurately measure.
On Saturday, at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston, Major League Baseball Advanced Media introduced its new “player tracking” system that, basically, will measure everything that happens on the field. I’m not joking when I say everything. The ball, the fielders, the whole nine. Here’s more from Mark Newman (of MLB.com, not the Yankees’ front office):
The goal is to revolutionize the way people evaluate baseball, by presenting for the first time the tools that connect all actions that happen on a field to determine how they work together. This new datastream will enable the industry to understand the whole play on the field — batting, pitching, fielding and baserunning — and enable new metrics for evaluation by clubs, scouts, players and fans.
For instance, on a brilliant, game-saving diving catch by an outfielder, this new system will let us understand what created that outcome. Was it the quickness of his first step, his acceleration? Was it his initial positioning? What if the pitcher had thrown a different pitch? Everything will be connected for the first time, providing a tool for answers to questions like this and more.
You can see the system at work in the video above, though there is much more to it than that. Only three ballparks (Miller Park, CitiField, Target Field) will have the system up and running for this season, but the goal is to having it operational in all 30 parks by 2015. I’m surprised all of this information will be publicly available, to be honest. I thought it would be kept proprietary.
Needless to say, this new system will change the way the game is evaluated. The stuff we have now is good, but it doesn’t compare to detailed information on defensive routes, first step quickness, batted ball quality, and a million other things. There has not been a reliable way to accurately measure that sorta stuff until now. It’ll be a while until we have this data for the entire league and learning how to properly use it will take even longer, but man, this new system is a gold mine.
The Yankees won their second straight Grapefruit League game on Saturday afternoon, shutting out the Phillies 4-0. Here’s the box score. The story of the day was Masahiro Tanaka‘s spring debut, and he did not disappoint. Two scoreless innings, two bloop singles, three strikeouts, and about a million cameras clicking with each pitch. Here are select GIFs and here is MLB.com’s brief highlight video. Joe Girardi confirmed Tanaka’s next appearance will be a start, date TBA.
Both CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda fired two scoreless innings and Kuroda appeared to be in midseason form, getting the six outs on only 17 total pitches. He had to go down to the bullpen to get the rest of his throwing in. Brett Gardner and Ichiro Suzuki both singled, Derek Jeter and Kelly Johnson both walked, Brian McCann doubled, and Frankie Cervelli singled and walked. Jeter was actually tested in the field (unlike his first game) and he looked fine, even ranging to the other side of second base to field a slow chopper. Here’s the rest of the day’s news.
- Tyler Austin received some kind of injection in his troublesome right wrist (it wasn’t cortisone, he says), and he hopes to resuming throwing and swinging a bat on Monday. Apparently tests showed no structural damage. [Chad Jennings]
- Alfonso Soriano still isn’t 100% following his bout with the flu and he will not make his spring debut tomorrow as scheduled. “We don’t feel he’s quite at full strength, and we don’t want to run him out there,” said Joe Girardi. [George King, Jennings]
Here is your nightly open thread. The Nets are playing and MLB Network will have a Spring Training game on tape delay later tonight. I don’t know who but it won’t be the Yankees. You folks know how these work, so have at it.
As expected, Masahiro Tanaka made his Grapefruit League debut this afternoon, allowing a pair of bloop hits (on 0-2 fastballs) in two scoreless innings. He struck out three, including one on that nasty splitter above. Considering it was his first outing of the year, Tanaka looked pretty good. I’m not kidding when I say you could hear the camera clicks with every pitch.
Bunch more GIFs after the jump. Sorry about the quality, HD was in and out on MLB.tv for me.
I know this is only the fourth Grapefruit League game of the year, but this feels like the most anticipated Yankees game in a long time. Probably since Jesus Montero made his debut in 2011. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch in a game for the Yankees the first time this afternoon, though he isn’t starting. He’ll follow CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda as the team’s top three starters make their spring debuts.
Everything we’ve heard about Tanaka these last two or three weeks has been overwhelmingly positive. He looks great in the bullpen, he looks great in simulated games, he’s handling the attention well, he’s adapting to the culture and getting along with teammates, so on and so on. It’s all been good. Hopefully Tanaka comes out today and dominates in his limited action, but I’m not gonna lie, part of me hopes he gets creamed just to see the silly overreactions to a Spring Training outing. The single most important thing is that Tanaka gets through the day healthy, that’s all. If he does that, today will be a success.
The Phillies made the short trip over from Clearwater and will have Ben Revere, Jimmy Rollins, Domonic Brown, and Marlon Byrd in the lineup. Bobby Abreu is also starting as he attempts a comeback. Cuban right-hander Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, who has received underwhelming reviews so far this spring, is scheduled to pitch at some point. Here is Joe Girardi‘s starting lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- DH Brian McCann
- 2B Brian Roberts
- C Frankie Cervelli
- 3B Kelly Johnson
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 1B Corban Joseph
- CF Mason Williams
And, as I said, Sabathia is the scheduled starter. He’ll be followed by Kuroda and Tanaka. All three guys will be limited to two innings or 35 pitches, so Tanaka figures to throw innings five and six. Girardi confirmed Kuroda and Tanaka will not enter the game in the middle of an inning.
Available Position Players: C J.R. Murphy, 1B Jose Gil, 2B Addison Maruszak, SS Dean Anna, 3B Yangervis Solarte, LF Zoilo Almonte, CF Antoan Richardson, and RF Adonis Garcia will all come off the bench. C Peter O’Brien, C Gary Sanchez, C Francisco Arcia, UTIL Jose Pirela, IF Zelous Wheeler, and OF Ramon Flores are also available.
It’s a great day for baseball in Tampa, with temperatures in the low-70s and not a cloud in the sky. This afternoon’s game will start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen live on YES, MLB Network, and MLB.tv. The game is also being shown live on three different networks in Japan even though it’s 3am on Sunday over there. This is kind of a big deal. Enjoy the game.