Open Thread: March 27th Camp Notes

The Yankees had an off-day today, their second and final off-day of the Grapefruit League season. The regular season is a little more than five days away now. Can’t wait. Here are the day’s notes:

Here is the open thread. MLB Network will show the Indians and Cubs live later tonight, plus the Knicks and Islanders are playing. Talk about those games or anything else here, just not religion or politics.

Sorting out the 35 players the Yankees still have in big league camp

Bird and Judge. (Presswire)
Bird and Judge. (Presswire)

Opening Day is now only six days away, and at this point the Yankees still have nearly a full 40-man roster worth of players in big league camp. They have 35 players in camp and the World Baseball Classic is part of the reason. Some players, like Donovan Solano, have been in camp without actually being in camp these last few weeks. The Yankees and every other team needed the extra bodies while players were away at the WBC.

All throughout this week the Yankees will cut down their roster as they prepare for Opening Day on Sunday. It’s late in camp, so not only will the big league players start playing a full nine innings and back-to-back days, the minor leagues need to do that too. There’s only so much playing time to go around, and at this point of the spring, it’s time for clubs to emphasize their MLB roster players.

Earlier today the Yankees reassigned Solano, Wilkin Castillo, and Ruben Tejada to minor league camp, meaning there are now 35 players remaining in the big league Spring Training. Let’s take stock of those 35 players and figure out where they fit into the Opening Day roster equation. Some will definitely make it, some definitely won’t, and a whole bunch of guys are on the bubble. Let’s get to it.

Definitely Making The Team (19)

Might as well start here since this is our easiest and largest roster group. These are the players we know will be on the Opening Day roster in some capacity.

Any doubt about Bird making the Opening Day roster was erased when he was named the starting first baseman last week. It was plenty fair to wonder whether he’d need some time to Triple-A to regain his strength and/or timing after missing the entire 2016 season with shoulder surgery, but he’s crushing the ball this spring. No doubts about him now. Everyone else is pretty straightforward, right? Right.

Very Likely To Make The Team (3)

This group includes three players who are not a lock to make the Opening Day roster, but are in prime position to make the club out of Spring Training. The three players: Aaron Judge, Bryan Mitchell, and Luis Severino. Judge has had a strong camp to date. I’m not sure what else the Yankees could want to see from him, though I still don’t think the right field job is 100% his right now. Hicks has played well this spring. (Like he does every spring. Career .303/.365/.521 hitter in Spring Training!)

Mitchell and Severino are both competing for a rotation spot, though I think they’re on the roster either way, starter or reliever. Mitchell won a bullpen spot in camp last year and he hasn’t really done anything to not deserve a roster spot since. I still think Severino is the odds on favorite to get one of the open rotation spots. I’m also not convinced he’ll go to Triple-A should he not get a starting spot. The chances of Severino making the Opening Day roster in some capacity sure seem pretty darn high to me. He’s not a lock, but the odds are in his favor.

Injured (2)

Baseball can be cruel. The Yankees lost both Didi Gregorius and Tyler Austin to injury this spring, and while neither suffered a severe long-term injury, they are going to miss the first several weeks of the regular season. Austin fouled a pitch off his foot and broke a bone. He could return to game action in mid-April. Gregorius strained his shoulder making a throw and could be out until May. Yuck. Both Austin and Didi are disabled list bound to begin the regular season.

In The Mix For A Roster Spot (7)

Wade. (Presswire)
Wade. (Presswire)

Most players in this group will be shuttle pitchers. Chad Green is competing with Severino and Mitchell (and Warren, I guess) for the two open rotation spots, and I feel the Yankees are much more willing to send him to Triple-A rather than stash him in the bullpen. Jordan Montgomery has impressed in camp, so much so that Joe Girardi is talking about him as a possible Opening Day roster option. Can’t say I expected to have him in this group at the outset of Spring Training.

Aside from Green and Montgomery, the other three pitchers in this group are all relievers: Ben Heller, Jonathan Holder, and Chasen Shreve. We will inevitably see those guys in the Bronx at some point this season, though I’d say it’s less than 50/50 they’re on the Opening Day roster. Heller probably has the best chance to win a job out of camp. He’s had a fine spring and is, in my opinion, the best bullpen prospect in the organization.

Rob Refsnyder, who has been mentioned as a trade candidate at times this spring, didn’t have much of a chance to make the Opening Day roster at coming into the spring. Then Austin and Gregorius got hurt which, if nothing else, opened the door for Refsnyder a little bit. His inability to play shortstop hurts him, obviously. The Yankees would have to be comfortable using Castro at shortstop.

An unexpected Opening Day roster candidate is Tyler Wade, who has played well this spring and could get a look at shortstop while Gregorius is sidelined. The question is whether the Yankees want to tie up a long-term 40-man roster spot — the veteran non-roster infielders in camp can be dropped off the 40-man roster as soon as Gregorius returns, but Wade will be on the 40-man for good — so Wade can fill-in for a month. I have him in this group for a reason though. I think it’s possible the Yankees go with him at short while Didi is out.

Oh Geez, They Might Actually Make The Team (3)

It happens every year, doesn’t it? Some random player you forgot the Yankees acquired shows up to camp, performs well, and before you know it, he’s on the Opening Day roster. Kirby Yates did it last year. Chris Martin the year before. Cody Eppley a few years before that. You never see it coming with these guys. Here are this year’s candidates, listed alphabetically:

  • Ernesto Frieri: The Yankees signed him to a minor league deal two weeks ago, which suggests they were impressed by the way he threw with Colombia during the WBC.
  • J.R. Graham: Graham recently had a three-run disaster outing, but eight of his ten Grapefruit League appearances have been scoreless. Ten strikeouts and two walks in 9.1 innings too.
  • Pete Kozma: Kozma’s chances of making the Opening Day roster improved with the news of the Gregorius injury as well as the Solano and Tejada demotions. He’s a candidate to help fill in either at shortstop or as the utility infielder.

With Gregorius hurt and two open bullpen spots, I’d put the chances of at least one of these five players making the Opening Day roster at: annoyingly high. My money is on Frieri making it. He’s looked pretty darn during the World Baseball Classic and with the Yankees, plus his experience as a Proven Closer™ will work in his favor.

Esmil Rog ... I mean Ernesto Frieri. (Presswire)
Esmil Rog … I mean Ernesto Frieri. (Presswire)

Long Shot To Make The Team (1)

The Yankees reassigned their very best prospects to minor league camp last week, which took some of the excitement out of the remaining Grapefruit League games. It was that time of the spring though. The kids have to go get ready for their seasons. The at-bats aren’t there any more in the big league camp. The regulars are going to play and play a lot this week.

The final player still in big league camp is catcher Kyle Higashioka. He is No. 3 on the catcher depth chart, which means he is heading to Triple-A Scranton until someone gets hurts or rosters expand in September, whichever comes first. Higashioka’s only chance to make the big league roster out of Spring Training involved and injury to Sanchez or Romine, and, thankfully, the Yankees have stayed healthy behind the plate.

Open Thread: March 26th Camp Notes

This afternoon’s win — they’ve almost become a formality for the Yankees this spring, haven’t they? — featured two more home runs, raising their Spring Training total to 47 homers in 31 games. They hit 20 in 32 games last year. I do love dingers. Aaron Hicks and Ruben Tejada did the honors today. Hicks and Aaron Judge both had two hits on the afternoon. Greg Bird had one.

Bryan Mitchell started and allowed three runs on six hits and two walks in three innings, though someone in attendance told me Tejada misplayed not one, but two grounders in the two-run second inning. Aroldis Chapman got two outs without incident while Ben Heller allowed two hits and a walk in 1.1 scoreless innings. Today’s game wasn’t televised, so there are no video highlights. Here is the box score and here are the day’s notes:

  • The Yankees have released Jon Niese, the team announced. He’s going to look around for a big league opportunity but could return to the Yankees on another minor league deal. The plan would be for Niese to go to Extended Spring Training to continue building arm strength. Releasing and re-signing Niese would allow the Yankees to avoid paying him the $100,000 retention bonus. Players with six years of service time on a minor league deal get the bonus if they’re not on the MLB roster by a certain date. I count 38 players still in big league camp. [Joel Sherman]
  • Shane Hennigan has the minor league lineups for the day. Blake Rutherford, who is apparently nicknamed “The Barrel” around camp, added 13 pounds over the winter. “He’s still growing, and I think he put on some weight during the offseason, good weight. There’s line-drive, gap power now, but his ability to make consistent contact out front, I think you’re going to see those balls start to loft,” said Low-A Charleston manager Patrick Osborn. More strength is good. Not so sure about that nickname though. [Josh Norris]
  • Bryan Hoch has the day’s pitching assignments and hitting groups. Chad Green started a minor league game while Michell started today’s Grapefruit League game. I think Mitchell has a leg up on a big league rotation spot, though there are only so many innings to go around this late in camp. Green and Mitchell both had to pitch today, so one went to minor league camp.
  • Jordan Montgomery will start Wednesday and Luis Severino will start Thursday. That means neither guy will be on normal rest for Opening Day next Sunday, so they wouldn’t be available out of the bullpen. Could mean they’re both in the Opening Day rotation, could mean nothing. Intrigue! [Mike Mazzeo]
  • The Yankees have an off-day tomorrow and there’s not going to be much going on at the complex. Tomorrow is everyone’s last chance to chill out for a bit before the regular season begins. The Yankees return to action Tuesday night against the Tigers. I assume Masahiro Tanaka is starting since it would line him up for Opening Day. That game won’t be televised.

Here is an open thread for the rest of the weekend. MLB Network is showing spring games live and on tape delay throughout the rest of the day. The (hockey) Rangers, Devils, and Nets are playing, and there are a pair of March Madness games on too. Anything goes here, except religion or politics.

Open Thread: March 25th Camp Notes

Fighting Spirit! The Yankees won again today. They rallied for two runs in the ninth. Mason Williams tied the game with an error ball off the first baseman’s mitt, and Pete Kozma won it with a walk-off single. Amazing. Greg Bird launched yet another home run, his seventh of Spring Training. None of his homers sneak over the wall. They’ve all been bombs. He also drew two walks. Tyler Wade hooked a double to right field and also had a near homer caught on the warning track.

Adam Warren got the start and wasn’t crisp at all, allowing four runs (including two homers) in 3.1 innings of work. He struck out four and walked two. Not a great afternoon. Five relievers were used and Jonathan Holder was the most impressive. He struck out one and retired all six men he faced. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here’s the latest from Tampa:

Here is the open thread for the rest of the day. This afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES at 7pm ET, if you’re interested. MLB Network will have other games live and on tape delay pretty much all afternoon and evening. All of the local hockey and basketball teams are playing except the Knicks, and there are a pair of March Madness games as well. Use this thread to talk about anything and everything, as long as it’s not politics or religion. Thanks in advance.

Spring Training Game Thread: A Clue About The Rotation?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees have six exhibition games remaining, and if they’re leaning toward certain players for the fourth and fifth rotation spots, they haven’t said as much. They might be leaving some clues though. Luis Cessa has already been sent to minor league camp, so he’s out of the running. Duh. Also, in recent days Chad Green and Luis Severino came out of the bullpen. Bryan Mitchell and today’s starter, Adam Warren, are still starting. Hmmm.

Of course, both Mitchell and Warren came out of the bullpen earlier this spring, but Opening Day is one week from tomorrow. Would they be making full fledged five or six-inning starts this late in camp while the other guys are throwing three innings in relief if they weren’t the leading candidates for the rotation? What about Jordan Montgomery? Intrigue! I haven’t seen the Blue Jays’ lineup anywhere, so we’re in for a surprise. Here are the players the Yankees will use today:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 1B Greg Bird
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Tyler Wade
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Adam Warren

Available Pitchers: LHP Aroldis Chapman, LHP Tommy Layne, LHP Jon Niese, RHP Jonathan Holder, and RHP Matt Marsh are all expected to pitch today. (Shane Hennigan says Chapman is pitching in a minor league game instead.) LHP Chasen Shreve, RHP J.R. Graham, and RHP Ernesto Frieri are the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Wilkin Castillo, 1B Mike Ford, 2B Donovan Solano, SS Ruben Tejada, 3B Ronald Torreyes, LF Rob Refsnyder, CF Mason Williams, and RF Zack Zehner will be the second string off the bench. C Kyle Higashioka, C Radley Haddad, IF Pete Kozma, and OF Aaron Judge are the extra players. Ford, Williams, Zehner, and Haddad are up from minor league camp for the day.

It’s a bit cloudy in Tampa this afternoon, though it’s warm and there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES and the FOX Sports Go app locally, and MLB.tv nationally. Enjoy the game.

Open Thread: March 24th Camp Notes

The Yankees are a team of Grapefruit League destiny. They won again today, this time rallying for two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Minor league camp call-up du jour Trey Amburgey had the walk-off single. The Yankees have won 20 spring games for the first time since winning 24 in 2009. You know what that means, right? Anyway, right field candidates Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge both had singles. Judge also threw a runner out the plate. Hicks ain’t the only outfielder on the roster who can throw.

On the mound CC Sabathia moseyed on through 5.1 innings of two-run ball. An inordinate number of ground balls found holes during the two-run second inning. Sabathia struck out one. Dellin Betances retired both batters he faced in his first outing back from the World Baseball Classic, and Luis Severino chucked three scoreless innings. He fanned five. Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the rest of the notes from Tampa:

  • Following today’s game Joe Girardi announced Sabathia will start the second game of the season. Michael Pineda will start the third. Pretty much what I expected. The Rays, meanwhile, announced Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi, and Alex Cobb will start their first three games in that order. The Yankees open the regular season with a three-game set in Tampa. [Bryan Hoch, Marc Topkin]
  • The Yankees announced another round of roster cuts today: Luis Cessa was optioned to Triple-A and Ji-Man Choi, Dustin Fowler, Clint Frazier, Jason Gurka, and Billy McKinney were reassigned to minor league camp. So I guess that takes Cessa out of the rotation (and bullpen) mix. I count 39 players still in big league camp. Oh, and if you missed it earlier, the Diamondbacks returned Rule 5 Draft pick Tyler Jones.
  • The Yankees had a brief on-field ceremony prior to today’s game to present last year’s Scranton RailRiders with their championship rings. Here are some photos. Pretty cool ring. Scranton beat El Paso (Padres) in last year’s Triple-A Championship Game.
  • Shane Hennigan has the day’s minor league lineups. Heart eyes at the top of the Double-A Trenton lineup. Hitting coach Alan Cockrell said he’s working with Jorge Mateo to widen his stance, which has “kept him on the ball better.” [Brendan Kuty]
  • Tyler Austin said he’s going to be in a walking boot another two weeks. Once healthy, he’s essentially going to have to go through Spring Training to get ready, so he might not return until early-May. Sucks. [Hennigan]
  • Tyler Clippard is back in camp following the World Baseball Classic. Also in camp: Hideki Matsui! He’s there as guest instructor. Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett was in camp today too. The Yankees have brought in coaches from other sports to give motivational speeches and whatnot over the years. [Kuty, Mike Mazzeo]
  • The Yankees are home against the Blue Jays tomorrow afternoon. Adam Warren is lined up to start. That game will be on YES and MLB.tv.
  • And finally, the Yankees will reveal their 2017 commercials next week. I’ve been hoping they had some coming. Neat.

This is the open thread for the night. MLB Network will cover the Yankees as part of their 30 clubs in 30 days tour tonight at 10pm ET, so keep an eye out for that. Also, this afternoon’s game will be replayed on YES (10pm ET) and MLB Network (2am ET), if you’re interested. MLB Network has the Orioles and Twins live right now, plus the Islanders and Nets are playing, and there’s March Madness as well. Talk about anything here as long as it’s not politics or religion.

Spring Training Game Thread: Sabathia’s Fourth Start

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Only one week of meaningless baseball remains. The Yankees will play their final exhibition game one week from today, and Opening Day is one week from Sunday. Thank goodness for that. Spring Training is fun in it’s own way, but I’m pretty much over it at this point. Bring on real baseball.

Anyway, CC Sabathia is on the mound this afternoon making his fourth Grapefruit League start. He’s allowed nine runs in 6.2 innings so far, though Sabathia never seems to have a good spring. Only once in the last six years and twice in the last eight years had he had a sub-5.00 ERA in Spring Training. Shrug. Here is the lineup the Phillies sent over, and here are the players the Yankees will use today:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 1B Chris Carter
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

Available Pitchers: RHP Luis Severino, RHP Dellin Betances, and LHP Jon Niese are all expected to pitch today. (LHP Tommy Layne and RHP Ben Heller are both on the lineup card, but Shane Hennigan says they threw in a minor league game this morning.) RHP Gio Gallegos, RHP Matt Marsh, LHP Josh Rogers, RHP Eric Ruth, and LHP Nestor Cortes are all up from minor league camp to serve as the extra arms.

Available Position Players: C Austin Romine, 1B Wilkin Castillo, 2B Tyler Wade, SS Ruben Tejada, 3B Pete Kozma, LF Rob Refsnyder, CF Rashad Crawford, and RF Trey Amburgey will be the second string off the bench. C Radley Haddad, IF Donovan Solano, and IF Abi Avelino are the extra players. Amburgey, Haddad, and Avelino are up from minor league camp.

It’s a little cloudy in Tampa this afternoon, though the weather is plenty good enough for baseball. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET, and you can watch on YES. There’s also MLB.tv and the FOX Sports Go app. Enjoy the game.