Sunday, February 14, 2010

Spring Training Questions

With spring training about to begin on Wednesday, I thought it'd be a good idea to address the biggest questions facing the Yankees.

Question #1: Who will be the fifth starter? 
Right now the competition is boiling down to Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes.
Advantage: Chamberlain.
My biggest hope is that Hughes will somehow beat out Joba. Hughes is a more mature in every aspect when it comes to competing. Joba has not developed a thick enough skin to pitch in New York and he still hasn't learned how to pitch out of trouble without throwing what seems like a million pitches in an inning. Thus only being able to carry the team for five or six innings before forcing Girardi to call on a reliever.
Hughes proved to be valuable last season coming out of the bullpen late in the game. But with his fastball and nasty splitter (which has been compared to Roger Clemens in the past), Phil is more valuable to the team starting every fifth day and not coming out for an inning or for five outs.  Then again, Mariano Rivera is the one player the Yankees can no afford to lose and he only pitches an inning every other day so I could be wrong.

Question #2: The third outfielder goes to ________?
Even though Johnny Damon has not officially signed with another team yet, I've accepted the fact that he sadly will no longer be apart of the 2010 Yankees.  The leading candidates to join Nick Swisher and Curtis Granderson in the outfield are Brett Gardner, Randy Winn, and Marcus Thames.
I'm going to go with Gardner winning the spot.  He is clearly the best defender out of the bunch and I think that's what earns him the starting role.  Now if it's left field or center field will be up to Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman.  The only ailment that Gardner will face will be his bat.  He's already been down at the minor league complex in Tampa working on his bunting and other skills with the bat.
I'm pulling for Gardner.  He's a generally good person and deserves this job after the hardships he went through last year from his reduced playing time, to breaking his hand.  But in the end defense will help you when ball games.  If he can't hit, he's got eight others guys in front of him that can help.

Question #3: How will the Derek Jeter contract situation be played out?
We all know that Derek Jeter is playing in the final year of his 10-year $189 million contract.  Everyone knows that Jeter will re-sign with the Yankees (at least I hope and pray he does) but the question is will ownership and Cashman see eye to eye with Jeter and his agent?  I hope so. Fans have already been through one nasty divorce with Joe Torre.  I personally can not take another one.
Jeter's value goes far beyond what he does on the field.  He's an excellent leader and has never been in trouble or cause drama, which is an accomplishment itself after playing for 15 years in New York.  It will be interesting to see if Jeter's contract will be worth more then Alex Rodriguez's.
I wish the front office would just get the contract done early and reward him for what has been done.
Remember this, Jeter has been shortstop in New York for the last 15 years.  Where have the other "trinity of shortstops" gone?  Nomar Garciaparra is now trying to find a team, lingering from position to position and too often injured.  The other member?  Rodriguez, is of course Jeter's teammate and plays third base.

End Note: It was officially announced today by the Yankees that head trainer Gene Monahan will miss all of spring training and the possibly the beginning of the regular season due to a severe illness.  This will be the first time in 27 years that Monahan will not be attending camp.  Let's hope for a speedy recovery to him and we're looking forward to seeing you back on the field Gene!

- Courtney 

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