Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan, Chris Young, And Learning A Lesson From Last Year

A few weeks ago, it seemed like there was a real chance for some change in the planned Opening Day roster construction for the Yankees.  Brendan Ryan was injured, Stephen Drew wasn’t playing all that well (obligatory SSS disclaimer), and both Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder were doing enough in the early going to make legitimate cases for consideration.

A few weeks later, that chance has evaporated completely.  Ryan has returned to game action, Drew has swung the bat a little better and basically been guaranteed the starting second base job by Joe, and Pirela will be out for an extended period of time after colliding with the outfield wall in yesterday’s game and being diagnosed with a concussion.  Barring any more unforeseen injuries, the Opening Day bench now looks as if it will be the rather bland group of Ryan, Chris Young, Garrett Jones, and John Ryan Murphy, with Drew at second.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and that’s coming from the guy who’s been openly campaigning for Ryan’s immediate dismissal from the team and for Drew to be penciled into his backup infielder spot to open up a job for Pirela or Refsnyder for a while.  …

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Early Spring Training Winners And Losers

Pirela ST 2015

This year’s Solarte in the making? Courtesy of Getty Images

I wanted to write this post Wednesday, wanted to write it again yesterday, didn’t get to it either day, and now I’m going to rush it to try to get it in before roster cuts start.

We’re over a week into the Spring Training game schedule now, and while that still isn’t enough time to make concrete determinations on who will end up where and what the Opening Day roster will be, it is enough time to start making some informed comments on whose stock is rising and falling in those key roster battles.  Real quickly, here are some of the early winners and losers from the first 11 St games.

Winner- Jose Pirela

He’s swinging the bat well (8-15, 3 XBH, 2 BB) and drawing a lot of positive chatter from coaches, players, scouts, and fans alike.  His defensive value as a guy who can play multiple positions has been on display and right now he looks like the best option for one of the 4 bench spots.…

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Imagining The Worst Case Scenario With The Rotation

Whitley vs TOR 2014

If Whitley is back in the rotation, you know it’s all gone wrong. Courtesy of the AP

Yesterday I laid out the rosiest, happiest, best possible best case scenario for the 2015 starting rotation, a starting rotation that we all know is pretty high risk and potentially high reward.  As some commenters were sharp enough to point out, the worst case scenario is the one that has a higher probability of happening and that fact was not lost on me when I wrote up the first post.  I always intended to do the worst case scenario too, even though it’s not something I particularly enjoy writing about.  So if everybody promises to stay calm and help each other through this, we can make our way through this hypothetical worst case scenario together.  Fair enough?  Alright, here we go.

If the best case scenario for Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda involves them staying healthy above all else, then of course the worst case scenario involves them both getting hurt.  …

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Imagining The Best Case Scenario With The Rotation

Tanaka ST 2015 BP

The key to any best case scenario… Courtesy of the AP

The big names in the projected starting rotation aren’t scheduled to make their 2015 spring debuts yet, but we got our first look at one of the members when Nathan Eovaldi made his first ST start yesterday.  He’s one of multiple best case/worst case unknowns in the rotation, and where he and the rest of his rotation mates fall on that case scale could determine whether the Yankees end up having one of the best or worst rotations in baseball this season.

I’ve been pondering how those best case/worst case scenarios might play out for a while now.  It feels like this season more than the last few is one in which the potential for the rotation leans mostly towards the extremes with not much room for a middle ground performance.  Without getting too detailed or statistically-supported in this exercise, I’d like to ramble for a bit on what I’ve been pondering and try to paint a picture of what the best case scenario for the rotation would look like this season.  …

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Monday Morning Rapid-Fire Reactions To What I Missed Over The Last Week

hank-steinbrenner-smoking

There was a Hank sighting and I missed it?? Damn

Good morning, dear IIATMS readers.  How’s everybody feeling this morning?  It feels good to be back after a week off, and it feels even better to have had nothing go majorly wrong in Yankeeland while I was away.  It was a bummer to miss pitchers and catchers report day last Friday, but that disappointment is overwhelmed by the excitement that comes with the start of Spring Training and the return of baseball to our lives.

Last week was not an inactive one, and naturally I have my own opinions on the comings and goings of that last week.  Before proceeding with what’s going on in the present and getting back to business as usual around here, I wanted to circle back and give my quick takes on the major stories I missed last week.  I promise this won’t take long.

A-Rod’s Apology Letter

Loved it.  Loved everything about it.  He was obviously in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation when it came to the public apology, and I think he made the right decision to handle it the way he did.  …

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Issues With The Incumbents: Elbows, And Shoulders, And Knees, Oh My!

Beltran Over Wall Tampa

Look out, Carlos!!

I know I said nobody wanted or needed to read about all the injury risks with this year’s team again, but it wouldn’t be right to do a series of posts on the biggest issues with the returning players and not mention it.  As it stands right now, almost every returning key player comes with some kind of significant injury risk and that’s a storyline that is never going to go away this year, even if nobody suffers a major injury.

So let’s review the list quickly, shall we?  The rotation is rife with injury risks, specifically the unholy trinity of Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow, Michael Pineda‘s shoulder, and CC Sabathia‘s knee.  Tanaka has been on a modified throwing program this offseason, not throwing as hard and as much as he used to before the season, and all reports on his conditioning and elbow have been positive.  Sabathia’s offseason program has been even more modified and watered down as he attempts to come back from knee surgery.  …

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Another Look At The Yankee Rotation Depth

Right before the end of 2014 I took a quick look at the projected starting rotation depth for the Yanks, and it wasn’t a pretty picture.  If you were someone who didn’t have faith in Tanaka, Pineda, and Sabathia staying healthy this season, that list couldn’t have made you feel good.  A week away from pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, I wanted to take another look at the projected depth to see if the Yankees improved it the way they needed to.  Here’s how it stands currently:

1) Masahiro Tanaka
2) Michael Pineda
3) CC Sabathia
4) Nathan Eovaldi
5) Chris Capuano

6) Adam Warren
7) Ivan Nova (now scheduled to return in June)
8) Bryan Mitchell
9) Esmil Rogers
T-10) Chase Whitley
T-10) Jose De Paula
12) Scott Baker
13) Kyle Davies

That’s a little better, right?  I admittedly took creative liberties in making it look better by including Warren and Rogers this time when I didn’t last time, but I think that’s justified based on what we know about the Yankees’ plans for them in camp and the additional moves they’ve made to beef up the bullpen.  …

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Quick Hit: Schoenfield Puts Yankees 21st In MLB Team Rankings

For those who’ve been lamenting the increase in Insider-only ESPN links, you should be all over David Schoenfield’s team-by-team ranking exercise of all 30 MLB clubs that he’s doing at ESPN SweetSpot.  He kicked off the annual countdown yesterday with the 30-25 teams and today’s block of 24-19 included the New York Yankees at 21.  If that ranking seems low to you, it did to me too.  My eyebrows went up when I saw it and then I did a double-take when I saw the final record prediction: 78-84.  Wow, 6 games under .500?  Really?  That would be pretty bad.  Schoenfield explains:

“The Yankees have been outscored each of the past two years, although they managed to finish over .500 both seasons. While a lot of people are pointing to a healthier rotation and better seasons from some of the veterans as reasons the Yankees will contend this year, I turn that around and say: Who’s a good bet to improve?

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Issues With The Incumbents: Health At The Top Of The Order

Ellsbury-Gardner 2014

Courtesy of USA TODAY Sports

Because of the high amount of roster turnover this offseason, the bulk of the player analysis has focused on the new guys.  Will Didi be able to hit enough to be an everyday shortstop?  How will Headley do in a full repeat season?  Can Eovaldi improve his performance to match his stuff?  How will all the new bullpen arms get worked in?  Does Stephen Drew really suck as bad as he did last year?

While all of those are valid questions and some are very important to the Yankees’ future, it’s the returning group of holdover players that is more important to the team’s immediate success.  There hasn’t been a lot said about that group of incumbent everyday Yankees this offseason, and over the next week or so I’d like to shine the spotlight back on them and take a look at what they key issues are with them that will determine how 2015 plays out.  …

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