Tuesday, March 11, 2014

2014 Storylines: Platoon City

(Kelly Johnson, king of the platoon possibilities.  Courtesy of Corey Sipkin/NY Daily News)

As baseball continues to evolve and become more specialized, platoons have become a common part of most team's lineups.  Rather than plug 1 player with a skill or 2 and a weakness or 2, or a substantial hitting split, into a full-time role, teams have learned that it's more valuable to split those roles up among 2 players to cover for their combined weaknesses and lessen the negative effect of that hitting split.  The Red Sox and the Rays are 2 teams that have utilized the platoon strategy to great success recently, and it's no coincidence that they've been 2 of the best teams in the American League.

The Yankees' strategy when it comes to platoons has been more reactionary over the past few seasons.  Rather than proactively attempt to build a lineup that includes 1 or 2 platoons, their attempts at utilizing them usually come as a response to injuries to their everyday starters.  That's a dangerous strategy to employ when the core of your lineup is as old as the Yankees' has been, and their failure to adequately prepare for the injury situations that have arisen in part led to the carousel of suck we saw at third base and shortstop in 2013.

The strategy has taken a small step forward with this season's roster construction, although it hasn't fully made the leap to completely proactive.  The Yankees enter the 2014 season with an array of platoon situations, some born out of injury-related necessity and some out of proactive strategy.  The effectiveness of these various platoons will be a season-long factor in determining how good this team can be.

Beltran's Foot- Something Or Nothing?

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

The off day yesterday gave everybody a chance to step back and reset the ST landscape after a busy first 2 weeks.  Part of that resetting is updating all the injury/health issues in camp and Chad Jennings was generous enough to compile every update on every player into one post.  Most of this stuff is common knowledge to anybody who's followed camp with any kind of consistency, but there was one name and one ailment on the list I wasn't aware of.  That name is Carlos Beltran, who's apparently been dealing with a sore left foot.  Jennings was quick to call it "a complete non-issue," but his description of the situation doesn't exactly read as reassuring:

"After playing last Sunday’s game, Beltran had an ice pack on his left foot. He said his toes bother him occasionally, especially if the dirt in the batter’s box is too firm. Said it’s not a problem, and he’s been able to play since then."

MLB.com Releases Its Top 20 Yankee Prospects List

Prospect season is all but over now the start of the regular season is approaching and teams are starting to make their first spring roster cuts.  MLB.com gave us one last list to look over yesterday when they released their top 20 Yankee prospects list for 2014.

The list is predictable headlined by Gary Sanchez, who MLB.com rated as a 60 (out of 80) prospect overall.  The rest of the top 5 is, in order: Mason Williams, Slade Heathcott, J.R. Murphy, and Eric Jagielo.  The only "surprise" is Luis Severino at 10, which isn't much of one given what he's done since coming stateside, and the second half of the top 20 featured fellow young'ns Gosuke Katoh, Luis Torrens, Abiatal Avelino, and Miguel Andujar.

If you've got the time, definitely check this list out in greater detail.  It's got stats, write-ups, and individual tool grades for each player and it's all free.

P.S.- Check out the AB4AR Top 30 too.

Spring Training News And Notes: 3/10/14

Light on the news and notes this morning after yesterday's full scheduled off day.  The Yanks will return to Grapefruit League action this afternoon against the Nationals.

- The hot stove won't turn off in Yankeeland.  The latest rumor, courtesy of Chad Jennings, is that there's some interest in Francisco Cervelli.  We know teams are scouting Yankee catchers right now, makes sense that he'd be included.

- Brendan Ryan will be reevaluated by team medical personnel today to determine if he'll be able to get back to action on Wednesday.

- Nik Turley, who's been out for the last few weeks, will be held out for at least another 2 as he's still feeling some tightness in his left arm.  Definitely won't be ready for the start of the season.