Ayeeee it’s time to get this thing cranked back up! I just renewed my WordPress plan and my domain for another year, so y’all are stuck with me! We’re almost in the middle of spring training so I want to get some good content out.
The New York Yankees lineup is locked and loaded, so we will look at guys battling for spots on the bench for Opening Day. The season begins in three weeks, players looking to head north when camp breaks are starting to feel urgency to produce.
- Brett Gardner – This one is easy, and not much of a battle. Yankees GM Brian Cashman brought him back to be the fourth outfielder and will get a fair number of at bats. At age 37, Gardner will benefit from a reduced role and be more fresh for the second half of the season. Guys in the clubhouse love him, he’s a leader. Gardy will earn his keep and paycheck.
The Yankees are even testing Brett out in right-field.
- Tyler Wade – I’m fairly sure the guy most Yankees fans would like to fire into the sun is Wade. Always a reliable defender and threat on the bases, Tyler’s hitting just hasn’t taken off. In Triple-A Scranton Wilkes Barre, he hit a composite .287 in just over a thousand at bats over three seasons. Tyler’s success in AAA hasn’t carried over to the majors. Wade has one option year left, so he could sent to Scranton if the Yankees keep Derek Dietrich. However, I think Wade will stick as the backup infielder – in large part because he can play shortstop, and Dietrich cannot.
- Derek Dietrich – The 31 year old lefty batting Dietrich is on his fourth team in four years. He may have an edge over Tyler Wade because he’s got more pop in his bat and can play several positions, including first base. The downside with Derek is he’s pretty much all or nothing with the stick. His lone hit in spring training? A two run bomb. On the upside, his gold chain would impress Mr. T and he resembles John Cena.
- Jay Bruce – Bruce hasn’t wasted any time opening eyes in Tampa. Over six spring games, the 33 year old has five hits in 13 at bats (.385), with a pair of HR’s. In the field, Bruce Almighty can cover the corner OF spots as well as first base. I give Bruce the edge over Dietrich based on overall track record.
- Mike Ford – There’s no sugar-coating things, the 2020 season was abysmal for Ford. He was a nice story two years ago filling in for Voit, but the carriage turned back into a pumpkin. Ford registered ten hits in 74 at bats (.135) and just two home runs. Roster spots are scarce and it’s likely manager Aaron Boone will carry thirteen pitchers, so the team needs a versatile bench. Ford only plays first base, so it limits things. With a pair of option years left, Ford can work to get himself back on track in Triple-A.
- Thairo Estrada – The young infielder from Venezuela has enjoyed a couple cups of coffee with the Yankees. He spent last season on the taxi-squad and made it into 26 games on the expanded roster. With only eight hits in 48 at bats, he seems destined for Scranton unless Yankees decide to send Tyler Wade down. It’s Estrada’s last option year, so the team will want to get him back on track away from the distractions of New York.
- Kyle Higashioka – No battle here, either. Brian Cashman said Gary Sánchez is his starting catcher, I put Higgy here. With Robinson Chirinos now out with a fractured wrist, Higashioka easily assumes the backup catcher role. He earned his money last year, I believe Chirinos is either Triple-A filler or will be cut.
- Mike Tauchman – Tauchman enjoyed a productive first year in Pinstripes, hitting thirteen tanks in a little over a half season. Last year, the power disappeared completely. Perhaps it’s a fluke, but it’s hard to tell which Mike Tauchman is the real thing. He can cover all outfield spots, which is nice. With no option years left, if he struggles to hit, the Yankees will soon have choices to make.
- Miguel Andújar – I am ashamed to admit I unintentionally omitted Miggy from the original draft. But Andújar has an outside chance to make the club, just because he bats from the right side, and everyone else on the list except Higashioka and Estrada bats lefthanded. I think there’s a better chance of him being traded. Andújar was not pleased about being sent to the alternate site last year, and his agent took it to the press. Airing grievances through the media, especially when you’re a Yankee is not a good look. I think he eventually gets a fresh start elsewhere.
Next time, we’ll see how things shape up for the fifth spot in the rotation and last spots in the bullpen. Have a great day!
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