ESNY reached out to New York Yankees fans everywhere to answer any questions or concerns they may have entering spring training.
As spring training officially begins, ESNY reached out to New York Yankees and offered to any questions they may have entering spring training.
You asked, and now you receive.
Readers submitted questions they may have via Twitter, Facebook, or Email and the responses were excellent. We thank everyone for their participation. Now, without further adieu, here are your answers:
Do you legitimately think there’s still a place for Rob Refsnyder on the roster going forward? – Delia Enriquez, via Twitter (@dfiregirl4)
Entering his sixth season in the organization, there is a place for Rob Refsnyder despite the nonstellar season he had a year ago.
We saw 2016 as an opportunity for him to step-up, but his disappointing .250/.328/.309 slash line across 58 games wasn’t encouraging notwithstanding the fact that he saw time at five positions.
Now, as camp opens, Refsnyder will not have the same opportunities he had last year — thanks to the additions of Matt Holliday and Chris Carter. Ronald Torreyes established himself as a competent utility infielder, and if Aaron Judge adjusts to major league pitching, the only way he finds himself onto the roster is if he out-performs Torreyes.
If he fails to do that, there are prospects on the way if the Yankees need more infielders and outfielders to fill a void left by whatever injuries may pop up.
So, there is a place on the roster for him (as the 25th man), but this may be the last chance he gets to prove himself.
If Clint Frazier bats .400 and hits 8+ homers, can he make the [Opening Day] MLB roster? – Eric Michaelson, via Twitter (@emichael888)
You’ve seen the bat speed, the epic personality and his insane workout routine but, for some, this will be the first time fans will see the highly touted Clint Frazier in live action.
With his MLB ETA of 2017, many are tremendously excited to see him in the big leagues but the Yankees want him to dominate the Triple-A level — like they wanted from Aaron Judge last season.
The 22-year old has everything going for him, but his .228/.278/.396 slash line with a 29.7 strikeout percentage in 25 games with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders a year ago suggests that we’re still waiting for it to come together.
He’ll garner a ton of justified attention throughout the weeks leading up to Opening Day, but even with a solid spring, I believe he’ll start out in the Electric City no matter what.
Who will be the opening day first baseman? – Nick Brown, via Facebook
Heading into camp, there’s every reason to believe Greg Bird is the favorite despite missing 2016 in its entirety with a torn right labrum.
While Tyler Austin unquestionably makes a case to win it, I find his flexibility around the diamond and clutch rating (highest clutch rating among Yankee hitters with at least 80 at-bats in 2016) too valuable to lock into one position.
The ability to DH, play first, right field, left field and even some third base will prove to be beneficial for Bird (who’s recovering from that shoulder surgery) and even Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez.
Even with the addition of Chris Carter, the decision to go with Bird, if he’s healthy, just makes sense.
Of all the competitions going into Spring Training what for the Yankees do you think is the most significant? – Craig Huber, via Twitter (@peanuthuber)
I’ll talk about the rotation later (which is the most significant) but the competition that’s a close second for me is the right field battle.
Following the trade of Carlos Beltran to the Texas Rangers, Aaron Hicks slashed .276/.339/.431 with five of his eight home runs over his final 36 games of the year. From August 11 to September 26, Hicks hit .306 so consistent at-bats did him well.
Aaron Judge, on the other hand, hit .121 after destroying a pitch for his first major league home run and, as you may know, sustained a strikeout rate of 50 percent.
Judge’s track record of bouncing back after a down year makes me believe he’ll be able to adapt to major league pitching but if things go south, I’m genuinely intrigued by seeing what Hicks can do with steady playing time over the course of 162 games.
If everyone performs well in spring training, what do you see Tyler Austin’s role being? Or does he get sent down? – Mike McGrath, via Facebook
While some are worried that the Carter signing will take away at-bats from Austin or other “Baby Bombers,” Joe Girardi explained in his first press conference how the slugger’s at-bats will be determined on how the young guys do.
He also said that Greg Bird or Austin could win the first base job.
Against left-handers, he slashed .348/.444/.652 and maintained a 1.097 OPS while, as mentioned before, was clutch off the bench and in the late-innings.
So, holding Girardi’s words to be true, Austin most definitely has the potential to retain his role as backup first baseman and go-to bat off the bench if he performs well. If the staff doesn’t like what they see in camp, however, he could very well end up in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Which two pitchers do you think has the best shot of earning the last two spots in the rotation? – Greg Giaconelli, via Facebook
The Yankees fully plan to make Luis Severino a starting pitcher and a demotion to Triple-A is in store if he struggles in Tampa — which I don’t think will be the case.
Looking at the final four candidates, I believe Luis Cessa has the most impressive repertoire to succeed at the major league level.
He registered 4.01 ERA, only struck out 35 batters in 51.2 innings and gave up 11 home runs, but with a slider that usually induces a terrific number of groundballs, he may be able to clean that up in 2017.
However, keep in mind that you will see others step in at some point. Whether it’s Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, Adam Warren, Dietrich Enns, Jordan Montgomery, James Kaprielian or even Chance Adams, there were 22 starts made in 2016 by hurlers that weren’t in the rotation to begin the year.
Don’t expect that theme to change in 2017, but as far as breaking camp, Severino and Cessa are my early picks.