Tuesday, March 25, 2014

AB4AR 2014 Season Preview: The Outfield

(Courtesy of the AP)

The Yankee outfield never came close to reaching its full potential last season due mainly to the injuries suffered by Curtis Granderson.  That being the case, even a healthy Granderson wouldn't have been enough to make the outfield truly a strength.  The projected starting outfield had become very rigid in its individual skill sets.  C-Grand hit for power and got on base but didn't hit for average and had no defensive value.  Gardner got on base and was a plus-plus defender but hit for very little power.  Ichiro was a plus defender with good speed but didn't get on base or hit for enough average or power to make the most out of it.

2 of those 3 starters from last year will no longer be a part of the starting picture in 2014.  As part of the offseason makeover, the Yankees added more well-rounded players to center and right field and shifted the newly-extended Gardner back to left field, where he's had the most success in the past.  There are still some things that need to be ironed out with respect to this new outfield alignment, but collectively they should be much better and much more balanced in their overall offensive and defensive makeup than they were last season.

Late Spring Training Winners And Losers

(Courtesy of the AP)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

Somebody cue the music because we've reached the final countdown.  We're now only a week away from Opening Day.  This time next week we won't be talking about who's going to make the bullpen or win the 5th starter competition or what the batting order should look like because all of that stuff will be decided.  That means the guys in camp still competing for roster spots or clearer roster definitions don't have much time left to prove their worth.  A little less than 3 weeks ago, I singled out some of the early winners and losers in Spring Training.  In the time since, the winner/loser landscape has almost completely changed, as it's wont to do when the sample sizes become a bit larger and roster cuts start being made.  With a handful of ST games remaining, here is the updated list for who's sitting pretty and who's not.

Would You Trade Ichiro?

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

There hasn't been much trade talk involving the Yankees in the last week after a flurry of it earlier in the month.  The latest back injury for Brendan Ryan should have stirred up more talk involving the D'backs, White Sox, and the deep crop of young Yankee catchers, but instead it was Ichiro Suzuki who made trade rumor headlines yesterday when Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees were again trying to move Ichiro and were willing to eat some salary to get a "good" prospect in return.

This isn't the first time we've heard Ichiro's name in trade talks.  The Yankees have been trying to dump him for a while now that they've revamped their starting outfield (which will be previewed later today).  The problem with moving Ichiro is that he's basically valueless as a trade commodity.  He's super old, his skill set and production have declined dramatically, and he's owed way more money than any team would willingly take on for the level of production they'd get.  Good on the Yankees for attempting to ease that cost concern, but that's most likely not going to be enough to entice teams to give up even a mid-level prospect unless the Yanks are eating more than most of that $6.5 mil.

If the Yanks are willing to do that, the next thing they need to do is decide what their definition of a "good" prospect is and see if there's really any interest out there.  They were able to get something decent for Chris Stewart, so it's not outside the realm of possibility that they could do it again.  But if they're willing to pay Ichiro millions to not play for them, maybe they should be willing to pay him a few more to stay on as their 5th outfielder.  It ain't like the 4 ahead of him on the depth chart are pillars of health.

Spring Training News And Notes: 3/24/14

No game and no scheduled workouts for the Yankees yesterday, but that didn't mean some guys weren't getting their work in.

- Ivan Nova started a MiL game and dominated the way you expect a pitcher of his caliber would against low level competition.  8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K, 91 pitches.  He's ready.

- And it looks like he's going to get the 3rd starter over Masahiro Tanaka.  Joe has tagged CC, Hirok, and Nova to start on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to line them up for next week.  Tanaka goes 4th.

- Jacoby Ellsbury returns today, albeit in a DH role in a MiL game.  If he comes through without issue, he could play in a Grapefruit League game tomorrow.

- Tyler Austin, who's been hitting and taking defensive reps for a while now, could also get back into a few late spring games this week.  That could mean less missed regular season time than first anticipated.