Joe Girardi (l.) & Brett Gardner (r.) during Yankees Spring Training
During the last couple of weeks, the Yankees have done what the other 29 teams in the league have done; prepare for the regular season in Spring Training. We’ve gotten a sense as to what the pitchers have, what the hitters are bringing to the table and the moves that the Yankees are making as the course of Spring Training goes on. So far in Spring Training, the Yankees have made improvements, but at the same time we are questioning some of the moves that were made.
1. Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees
When Jack Curry of YES Network first reported the Andy Pettitte signing, I thought it had to be an early April Fools joke. As he continued on, I realized that it wasn’t a joke, that it was actually real. Another core part of the Yankees had returned. While Pettitte may not be ready until May, this was a good signing by the Yankees during Spring Training, as now they have more depth to the rotation in case someone gets injured or if Michael Pineda gets sent to Triple-A (since he still has options). The question is, will we be able to see Pettitte in the Bronx for his first game of the 2012 season or will he decide that pitching wasn’t what he really wanted and re-retire?
2. Alex Rodriguez‘s offense has returned
Yankees fans were pretty iffy, wondering if Alex Rodriguez was going to be able to come back after he posted not so stellar numbers in the 2011 season due to injury. In Alex Rodriguez’s first at-bat, he silenced my doubts. So far in the Spring, Alex Rodriguez has hit 2 HR, 6 RBI’s and is hitting over .300. Not that Spring Training means anything, but so far, Alex Rodriguez is looking good! It would be nice to see Alex keep up the pace when the Yankees play the Rays in 2 1/2 weeks.
3. Phil Hughes keeps having good outings
Phil Hughes is certainly doing all he can to claim a spot in the rotation, and so far he’s doing a really great job. Hughes has 1 loss in Spring Training but other than that, his ERA, his HR number & his BB are pretty sparkling: 1.08 ERA, 0 HR allowed & 1 BB. If Hughes continues pitching the way he’s pitching then there’s no reason that he shouldn’t be in the rotation. Again, I know that Spring Training means absolutely nothing (although it means something to Phil Hughes). In 2010, Hughes was 0-4 with a 4.35 ERA. Who walked away with 18 wins in 2010?
4. Bill Hall has impressed
When the Yankees signed Bill Hall to a minor league contract with the invitation to Spring Training, I was pretty excited to watch him fight for a bench spot on the 25 man roster. If I were Girardi, he would get one of the spots on the roster. So far, Hall has played amazing defense, almost looking like Robinson Cano when he plays 2nd base. His bat is coming along as well, having 3 RBI’s under his belt as well as a HR. Hall also has a desire to play baseball and he looks like he’s having fun out there while doing it. That’s the type of player that the Yankees could use on the bench.
5. Gardner aims to be consistent
During Spring Training, Brett Gardner had one thing in mind that he would like to do this season; he would like to be more consistent. The good news with that is Gardner has done multiple things to work on his game. He has seen Kevin Long where the both of them had worked on his swing, he was spotted trying to bunt baseballs into a white bucket by the second baseline after practice & he likes to lead the Yankees in running drills. Can you blame him? The man loves to run. When this translates into a game, Gardner’s defense is still consistent. He has flashed the leather over the last couple of games and has shown arm strength. He also seems to start to get his hitting together and getting on base more often. Yep, Gardner is looking in great shape coming into Spring Training this year, and it doesn’t hurt that he’s 100% healthy coming into the Spring unlike in 2011 when he was coming off of wrist surgery.
1. The injury list
No manager wants to go into the clubhouse early in the morning to ask his players how they are feeling and the answer he gets is something that he wouldn’t expect. That’s the kind of spring Joe Girardi has had so far. Girardi has had to deal with injuries from Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Russell Martin, Eduardo Nunez, David Robertson…the list goes on and on. Luckily all of the players that I listed, don’t have serious injuries. But still as a manager it’s frustrating to go through the spring trying to get your guys healthy and because they are a bit rusty, something hurts. Hopefully the Yankees won’t have a lot of injuries to deal with this season.
2. Was the Pineda for Noesi/Montero deal a mistake?
During the offseason, Brian Cashman made a big splash by trading away #1 prospect Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi for Michael Pineda. Now as we are watching in Spring Training we are wondering if the trade was such a big splash after all. Along with Russell Martin, Michael Pineda has been working on his change up which isn’t the problem; it’s his fastball. Pineda’s fastball’s velocity last year was 95-98 MPH. This year when he came into camp he would hit 94 MPH on the radar gun occasionally but would periodically hit 91-92 MPH. That’s a dip in velocity, the same issue that Phil Hughes had last year. Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi aren’t concerned about it, but should we really be concerned?
3. Raul Ibanez‘s horrid Spring
The Yankees signed Raul Ibanez in the offseason to be their DH after Jorge Posada retired this past offseason. So far, we aren’t seeing what we paid for. Raul Ibanez is hitting .071 this Spring with only 2 hits and 7 K’s. Couldn’t the Yankees have just paid Jorge Posada to come back 1 more year and he would’ve hit better in the Spring? I’m not going to give up on Ibanez just yet, but he isn’t getting off on the right foot with Yankees fans.
4. Ivan Nova‘s poor outings
Coming into Spring Training, Ivan Nova looked as if he was to be the favorite to get a spot in the rotation. At first when Nova wasn’t pitching all that great, we assumed that it was just some rust. But as time went by, we realized that it wasn’t exactly rust, and that Ivan Nova was having trouble on the mound. Nova so far this Spring is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA. He’s pitched in 8.2 innings and allowed 7 runs on 9 hits. Girardi said that he was going to start observing the pitchers in the rotation around this time, so this should be where Ivan Nova picks his game up. If he keeps having outings like this in Spring Training & the regular season then he’ll get a one way bus ticket to Scranton.