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A Look at the New York Yankees Half Way Through Spring

The halfway point of spring training shows the issues the Yankees had coming in may turn out to be high points moving forward. The competition for the two starting pitching spots is very tight, as is the battle for bench spots.

When spring training started, the New York Yankees had a handful of questions. Many had concerns about this seasons roster. Half way through the spring, these issues seem to be turning into good problems to have.

The starting pitching rotation was a main concern after the front office missed out on free agent Cliff Lee and Andy Pettitte decided to hang up the cleats. The result was a team needing to fill two spots with pitchers like Ivan Nova, Bartolo Colon, Sergio Mitre, and Freddy Garcia.

Turns out, the early signs are encouraging. All is well right now the Yankees starters. Sabathia is getting his work in as normal, Hughes has been ok while working on improving some of his own pitches and even A.J. Burnett has looked like a different, more confident pitcher.

Of the four pitchers still battling for the two open rotation spots, only Colon has given up a run. Colon has given up eight hits and three runs in nine innings of work. While you would like to see the hits come down a bit, he has struck out 12 batters.

Garcia, Nova, and Mitre have combined for 13 scoreless innings. Garcia has given up just two hits while striking out three and not issuing a walk so far this spring. The battle will likely continue deeper in to camp but if the season started today I’d have to say Nova and Garcia would be in the rotation.

The competition for the bench is an interesting one. Manager Joe Girardi has some interesting decisions to make. Does he take just one backup outfielder? How many infielders does he want to take with him on the opening day roster?

Eric Chavez is making quite a case for himself, hitting .474 so far. Chavez brings a quality glove and some pop with the bat. While a natural third baseman, he can also fill in at first.

Ramiro Pena and Eduardo Nunez are battling to make the team as well. Both of these players can play shortstop, second, and third if needed. Pena has the better glove, but Nunez by far has the better bat of the two. Nunez in fact, is hitting .375 with a home run in a team high 24 at-bats.

If you were the Yankees manager, what would you do? Do you take two backup infielders, one corner fielder (Chavez) and one middle infielder (Nunez or Pena)?

Keep in mind that Jorge Posada and Nick Swisher can fill in at first base if needed. It’s hard to ignore the production from a veteran Chavez though.

Andruw Jones is basically a lock to make the team as a fourth outfielder. Jones would be used primarily as a backup for the corner outfield positions. Curtis Granderson will be the centerfielder, with regular left fielder Brett Gardner moving over when Grandy needs a rest.

Due to the unfortunate injury to Francisco Cervelli, the door is wide open for phenom prospect Jesus Montero to take the backup catcher position. Montero has shown a lot of improvement defensively, but is off to a slow start with the bat, hitting just .158 so far.

Some other notes from Spring Training:

– Closer Mariano Rivera said Manny Banuelos the best pitching prospect he’s ever seen. Banuelos is one of a handful of young prospects to make a good impression this spring. The others include, Brackman, Adam Warren, and Dellin Betances.

– The Yankees have sent pitcher Kei Igawa home to try to get in touch with his family in Japan. Igawa’s hometown was in the center of the recent tsunami that devastated the country.

– Derek Jeter’s swing adjustments seem to be working. The captain is currently hitting .333 this spring.

Hot Starts

Eduardo Nunez:  .375, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB

Curtis Granderson:  .350, 2 3B, 2 HR, 6 RBI

Eric Chavez:  .474, 2B, 2 RBI

Alex Rodriguez:  .421, 4 2B, HR, 3 RBI

Mark Teixeira:  .368, 4 2B, 3B, 2 RBI

Jorge Vazquez:  .421, 3 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI

Slow Starts

Robinson Cano:  .182

Ramiro Pena:  .190

Jorge Posada:  .250

Jesus Montero:  .158

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