As spring training wears on, fans everywhere glance around to see which little-known players or top prospects will break camp with their favorite team. Often times, one will hear talk about who has options left, who is or is not on the team’s 40-man roster and so on. With the New York Yankees off yesterday, it seemed like a good idea to do a first version of predicting the team’s Opening Day roster.
One of the easiest things to figure out this spring is likely the Yankees pitching rotation. With a quartet of veterans out front, only the team’s fifth spot is up for grabs in a battle between Ivan Nova and David Phelps. Joe Girardi has said multiple times during the spring season that the job is Nova’s to lose, and after a strong debut, it appears he may be over his second half pitching woes that plagued him during the 2012 campaign. Though Phelps has gotten a chance to strike early this spring, his experience out of the bullpen will likely leave him as a candidate to serve as the team’s long reliever and see action as a spot starter.
LHP C.C. Sabathia
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
LHP Andy Pettitte
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Ivan Nova
Boone Logan is injured, so this is by no means set in stone, but it appears that he will still be ready for Opening Day on April 1. If he is not ready, it is likely the Yankees will go with just Rapada as a left-hander out of the bullpen, and instead take one of Cody Eppley, Jim Miller, or Shawn Kelley for the final spot in the bullpen. The only other spot that could be up for grabs is that of David Phelps, who will likely head to the bullpen if Ivan Nova is in the starting rotation. If Phelps somehow beats out Nova, Adam Warren and Chase Whitley could be in contention for a long relief role, as Nova has never pitched out of the bullpen before.
RHP Mariano Rivera
RHP David Robertson
LHP Boone Logan
RHP Joba Chamberlain
RHP David Aardsma
LHP Clay Rapada
RHP David Phelps
Pegged as a spring training battle before the season, the decision as to which two players will make the Yankees as a catcher is almost completed. With Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart out of options, and Austin Romine still able to be sent to Triple-A, there is now no doubt that the veterans will make the team, while the rookie, Romine, will head to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fine-tune his skills. Now, the only battle left is to determine who starts on Opening Day. Cervelli has had a strong showing so far this spring, consistently throwing out runners attempting to steal. Chris Stewart has shown more pop with the bat, but with defense counting first in Joe Girardi’s eyes, Cervelli is firmly ahead in that competition.
Starter: Francisco Cervelli
Reserve: Chris Stewart
The starting infield is set in stone, with the Yankees adding Kevin Youkilis to a solid core of Jeter, Cano, and Teixeira. I have listed Travis Hafner, the designated hitter against right-handed pitching, with the infielders, though it seems unlikely that he will see any time in the field this year. Off the bench, the Yankees will likely have a left-handed and right-handed hitting infielder. It seems likely that Eduardo Nunez will platoon with Hafner as the designated hitter and serve as Derek Jeter’s backup at shortstop. That leaves one spot for either rookie Corban Joseph or veteran Dan Johnson. Both have struggled so far this spring, but Johnson, regularly a first baseman, has looked completely inept playing third base, possibly giving Joseph the upper hand for what may be the final spot on the opening day roster.
Starters: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Kevin Youkilis
Reserves: Travis Hafner, Eduardo Nunez, Corban Joseph
Curtis Granderson’s injury has blown the Yankees’ outfield situation wide open. Once considered long shots to make the final roster, Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa and Ronnier Mustelier are now squarely in the thick of the discussion to open the season as a starting outfielder. The outfield alignment will likely depend on which of these three players wins a starting job. It remains likely that one of Matt Diaz and Juan Rivera will open the year as the team’s fourth outfielder, with Rivera appearing as the early favorite in the clubhouse.
Starters: Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Melky Mesa
Reserves: Juan Rivera
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