(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)
Before Spring Training started, I wrote this post on the potentially problematic position the Yankees found themselves in with respect to their outfield depth. The combination of returning Major Leaguers, free agent signings, and prospect promotions had left them with too many able-bodied outfielders and not enough playing time for each. Too much depth at any one position is always a better problem to have than not enough, and the Yankees owed it to themselves to investigate every possible outfield candidate to strengthen their platoon-heavy bench this season. They also owed it to themselves to make sure that their best OF prospects were getting regular playing time at the appropriate level, and this is where the problem could have started.
If you wanted to try to spin the carousel of ST injuries into anything resembling a positive, you could point to the slight thinning of the outfield herd that the injuries created. Curtis Granderson and Adonis Garcia are out of the picture for the time being, as is Juan Rivera after the Teix injury moved him to first base. Add in the trade of Abe Almonte and the release of Matt Diaz and the potential logjams in the Minors are cleared. As it stands right now, the season-opening outfields at the top three levels of the organization would be:
- Majors: Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Brennan Boesch (Ben Francisco on the bench)
- Triple-A: Melky Mesa, Zoilo Almonte, Thomas Neal
- Double-A: Ramon Flores, Slade Heathcott, Tyler Austin
Ronnier Mustelier still remains a wild card due to his outside shot of making the Major League bench and lack of one defined position that he could play in Triple-A. Granderson will return sometime in May, which will start a chain reaction of top-to-bottom moves to make room for him on the active Major League roster, but by then there should be enough of a sample size to determine who should stay and who should go. Boesch would be the most likely to get sent down to Triple-A, unless the Yankees decide to go with four lefty outfielders, and then it could come down to Francisco and Neal for Triple-A playing time versus the waiver wire.
There’s also the possibility of further injuries removing guys from this equation, but quite frankly I’d rather not entertain that thought right now. The injury problems the Yanks are already dealing with are more than enough.