The Yankees will start playing spring training games tomorrow and thus starts the search for the 25 players that will make up the roster. Right now we can guess, and we will guess, but cannot say for sure what the team will look like.
One thing we know, thanks to Joel Sherman of the NY Post, is that the Yankees will carry 12 pitchers with them when they break camp. That is different from past years as the Yankees usually take just 11 pitchers with them up north as a typical April schedule has many off days to help pitchers get rest. This season they don’t have the extra days off in April and will need a full 12 pitchers to start with.
So who will those players be? Let’s take a look.
Behind those three there will be a competition for the final two spots. Included in that competition is Freddy Garcia, Bartolo Colon, Sergio Mitre, Ivan Nova, Andrew Brackman, Hector Noesi, and David Phelps. Garcia has the biggest advantage and after him it is likely going to come down to Colon, Nova, or Mitre. The other three would really have to impress to get the job out of spring training.
Then the bullpen will consist of seven pitchers. Six of those are practically locks and they include Mariano Rivera, Rafael Soriano, Pedro Feliciano, David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain, and Boone Logan.
The final bullpen spot is likely going to be a long reliever. This means that anybody who loses out on the final rotation spot would have a leg up on a bullpen spot. This would most likely be Mitre, but it would be a great way to break-in one of the kids.
There is another group of pitchers that will compete for the final bullpen spot. They include Steve Garrison, Ryan Pope, Romulo Sanchez, Robert Fish, Brian Schlitter, Daniel Turpen, Luis Ayala, Brian Anderson, Buddy Carlyle, D.J. Mitchell, Warner Madrigal and Mark Prior. Most of these pitchers don’t have much of a chance to make the roster, but pitchers get hurt and injuries could dramatically change the landscape a month from now so all of these pitchers will be considered.
With 12 starters out of the way there is Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, Russell Martin, Jorge Posada, Nick Swisher, Brett Gardner, and Curtis Granderson. That leaves four more spots open for the bench.
As it stands there is only one real lock for the bench which is Andruw Jones. So there are three spots left. The backup catcher is a battle between Francisco Cervelli and Jesus Montero, Austin Romine also has an outside chance of winning this job.
With the final two spots the Yankees will definitely need a backup infielder. The contenders here are Eric Chavez, Ronnie Belliard, Eduardo Nunez, Ramiro Pena, and Brandon Laird. If Chavez is healthy there seems to be a pretty good chance that he makes the squad, but he can’t play shortstop so that means that two of these players would have to make the team and lessens the chance that Laird can make the squad.
If Chavez doesn’t win a job for whatever reason, probably because he’s not healthy enough, then the Yankees could decide to take an extra outfielder instead. Laird again is an option, as is Pena. Aside from them there is Greg Golson, Colin Curtis, and Justin Maxwell would all be considered.
It’s hard to say who will make up the rotation and bullpen at this point because injuries to pitchers are hard to predict, but bound to happen. But I’ll take a shot at guessing the bench. Jones is a given and it seems safe to think Cervelli could easily win the backup job. My guess on the final two spots is Chavez for his defense and bat potential and Nunez because they’ll need a shortstop and he has higher upside than Pena.
Belliard is the wild card here to me because he hits lefties well and can play quite a few positions.
What do you think? Knowing that the Yankees will take 12 pitchers, and four bench players, who do you think the final roster spots will go to?