Spring Training Musing & Updates: Rotation, Trades, Quintana

  • With real official Yankee baseball here in just 8 days, the organization is beginning to put the finishing touches on their 25-man roster. Tomorrow, Joe Girardi will announce the five-man rotation. Everyone expects Michael Pineda to make the team as the fifth starter, but Girardi says he won't announce his decision until he's told the players. We do know that he's ordered the rotation a little differently than first expected, as CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova are now lined up to pitch the first three games of the season. Masahiro Tanaka will pitch the fourth game of the year, in an effort to separate the two Japanese starters, who own similar pitch repertoires.
  • As we assume Pineda wins the fifth rotation spot, keep in mind that Adam Warren and David Phelps were promised spots on the major league team, and both pitchers have played well enough for Girardi to keep that promise. I assume that they'll both end up as relievers, with Warren getting a shot at more high-leverage situations and Phelps as the long-man. Vidal Nuno will probably end up back in Triple-A as the emergency starter. Of course, any of these guys could end up trade chips as well.
  • With rosters coming together at this time of the year, many teams will take notice of their excess pieces and shallow depth. The Rangers have been a victim of injury, and they actually match up fairly well with the Yankees' excess depth. Recently, the Rangers lost starting pitcher Derek Holland, and Matt Harrison is still struggling to come back from his own back problems. Meanwhile, infielder Jurickson Profar will be out 10-12 weeks with a torn muscle, while Elvis Andrus has dealt with a sore elbow this spring. Today, the Rangers announced that catcher Geovany Soto needs knee surgery, and he'll also be out 10-12 weeks. While the Yankees can't provide high-quality starters at all these positions, they have depth in the rotation, infield, and catcher spots. Meanwhile, the Rangers are unsure if ex-closer Neftali Feliz will even make the team after his return from Tommy John surgery. As the Yankees look for bullpen help, perhaps there's a trade match between these two teams.
  • Apparently the Yankees haven't been the only ones to check up on Didi Gregorius, as Jon Morosi reported this afternoon that the Pirates are also interested. In my opinion, of all the available infielders on the trade market, Gregorius fits the Yankees best due to his left-handed power and defensive range. It would be a very un-Yankee like move to trade for him though, as the team rarely gives up much for such young players that are still developing. I don't see a trade happening for a shortstop until the July trade deadline.
  • Today, the White Sox extended ex-Yankee Jose Quintana to a 5 year $26.5 million deal. Since Quintana was with the organization, the Yankees have changed a lot of their player development personnel, but perhaps not enough. Gil Patterson has been the biggest addition, and hopefully we never see the type of pitching prospect failure we did when the Yankees totally neglected Quintana's talents. The White Sox obviously took advantage of the Yankees here, as they grabbed the 21 year old southpaw from high-A Tampa and almost immediately turned him into one of the most efficient left-handed starters in the American League. This deal is just a reminder that the Yankees have a lot to work on with their player development.
  • Also, Jacoby Ellsbury will play in a minor-league game tomorrow. I'm not too worried about him missing Opening Day, but I'm still not a fan of his injury history. The Yankees guaranteed the center fielder a ton of money on the assumption that his injury history was caused by fluke collisions, and so far it's not looking good. Of course, Ellsbury hasn't played -- or not played -- a game yet, so it's a little early to start speculating on how he'll hold up over the next 7 years, but I think it's fair to watch the situation closely.
  • Finally, Ivan Nova pitched in the minor league complex today, and Chad Jennings has him going 7.0 innings, giving up 4 hits, 0 runs, 1 walk, and 9 strikeouts. I'm pretty excited to see what Nova does this year, as I'm a big fan of the sinker and curveball combination that he used last season. He's also shown some good velocity in his first few games. The Yankees need Nova and Pineda to pitch well if they ever want to rebuild a young core like they had 10 years ago.