Thoughts after two weeks of Spring Training games

Over the last two weeks, the Yankees have been playing exhibition games as they prepare for the 2017 season. We’ve seen the veterans shaking off the rust, we’ve seen the highly touted kids and we’ve seen a rotation competition that has been the focal point of the spring.

With two weeks in the books, here are some of my thoughts / observations:

 

The Starting Rotation Competition

Right now there’s no clear winner in the starting rotation competition that consists of Luis SeverinoAdam WarrenLuis CessaBryan Mitchell and Chad Green. The first time around, all of the starters were strong, but the second time around, all of the starters in the competition have struggled.

There’s obviously not supposed to be a clear winner of the competition the second week of Spring Training, and I know the starters are going to have off days, but hopefully the competition can get back on track as the contending hopefuls prepare to pitch in an exhibition game a third time around.

 

Matt Holliday off to a strong start

When the Yankees signed Matt Holliday over the winter, I actually anticipated seeing what he could do as the Yankees everyday DH. So far in Spring Training, Holliday already appears to be a better option than last year’s DH in the second-half, Brian McCann. This Spring, Holliday is hitting 8-for 17 (.471/.500/1.324) with a homer and three RBI, and has played a mentor role to the kids, notably Aaron Judge.

As long as the Yankees primarily use Holliday in the designated hitters spot, then this one-year deal could be one of the best signings the Yankees had in recent years.

 

The Arrival of Billy McKinney

Prior to position players reporting, Tyler Austin suffered an injury in the batting cage which completely diminished his chances of making the Major League roster in April.

As a replacement, the Yankees selected little Billy McKinney from across the street to take his place. But in Austin’s absence, McKinney is opening eyes. McKinney is currently 6-for-11 (.545/.643/1.916) with two homers and five RBI. I know McKinney has no shot of making the Major League roster, but he’s looking less like a throwaway piece in a trade and more like a legitimate minor league prospect.

Clint Frazier–and his hair–are everything advertised

When talking about Clint Frazier, you would assume most people would discuss his bat speed. However, the thing gaining traction in Major League camp this year was his hair. Offensive wise, Frazier went 6-for-19 (.316/.316/.842) with four RBI this Spring. But the main story was Frazier having to cut his hair after it was deemed too long. It was even reported Frazier had recieved a talking to by George Steinbrenner’s daughter, Jennifer Steinbrenner.

While everyone is focused on Frazier’s hair, I’d rather focus on how he’s doing this Spring. So far the bat speed is good, he has power and other than taking a baseball off the brim of his cap in the outfield, he’s a great fielder. He’s not going to start the season with the Yankees at the Major League level, but it’s not out of the question to see Frazier with the Yankees at some point during the regular season.

Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge battle for RF competition

While the starting rotation competes for the fourth and fifth spots on the roster, Aaron Hicks and Aaron Judge are competing for the right field position. When camp started, everyone believed Judge would walk away with the right field job. However, Hicks isn’t making it an easy decision.

This Spring, Hicks is 5-for-17 (.294/.400/.988) with a homer and two RBI. There’s a big chance there’s room for both Judge and Hicks on the roster, but the main question is who will get a bulk of the playing time? My money’s still on Judge, as I predicted back in February, but the Yankees have shown major interest in Hicks due to his cannon of an arm.

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5 Responses to Thoughts after two weeks of Spring Training games

  1. buckeye balls says:

    surprised you didn't mention Bird-that is the most encouraging story to me. Gardy and Ellsbury need 20-30 games of rest so plenty of other AB's for judge and hicks even if they platoon. The yanks aren't very patient and my guess is one of these guys won't play well part time and the other may be full time but we'll see

  2. Jerry says:

    We know how great Bird is, so we're taking him for granted. Looks like a stud with a tremendous makeup. I'm behind Judge winning the right field job, and don't have a problem with Hicks competing or winning center or right field. That could be a 3 man platoon between center and right field. And as for McKinney opening eyes, not just the Yankees, could provide trade depth for some much needed pitching. Our pitching worries me, this looks like a tough year for us pitching wise…… And Holliday dhing mostly, staying healthy looks like a beast. Already thinking we may want him to hang around for another year or two. …. And the Yankees need to relax on the hair issue, not crazy long, but like Frazier has it now, no problem. Great to be a Yankee….. Fan!!…. And Delia, don't forget about Bird.

  3. tom says:

    If contests end up a tie then I will have to pick Warren and Cessa. Montgomery can be a dark horse if Niese fails to take Refsnyder's spot. Sure, Girardi will want Warren in the bullpen but I like to give Warren a starting job first to see if he can pitch deeper as the season is progressing. If he succeeds, good. If not, Mitchell or Severino moves him back into bullpen for good.

    Hicks won't win the job basing on arm strength. Judge has solid RF arm, too. The problem with Hicks is he doesn't guarantee 20 HR a season like Judge does.

  4. Jim says:

    I agree, the job is Judge's to lose. Judge has the potential to be great and at least explosive, Hicks is at best a solid RF and looks more like a backup to me.

  5. Olie says:

    Not sure The Yanks ever thought of Billy McKinney as a throwaway piece in a trade, The Kid was a 1st round draft pick,24th overall with a sweet Left handed stroke. Probably not in plans for Yanks this year but down the road he will get a shot if not with the Yanks, someone else!
    As far as Judge / Hicks is appears to me the With adjustments Judge has made at plate he wins the starters job, That being said Hicks should still get plenty of playing time as 4th outfielder!

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