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  • Tim Kabel

About Spring Training: Getting Close

About Spring Training: Getting Close

By Tim Kabel

March 18, 2024

***

Ten days from today, the Yankees will open the regular season in Houston against their arch-nemesis, the Astros. Ready or not, the season is about to open. The season may be ready to open but, the Yankees do not appear to be. However, a lot of things can happen in ten days.


Ten days ago, my refrigerator was full, and my pantry was stocked. Then, my younger son came home for spring break. When I look at my cupboards now, I feel like Charles Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie when he surveyed his fields after they were hit by a swarm of locusts. Of course, I wouldn't have it any other way.


At this point, Aaron Judge is banged up and hasn't played in several days. DJ LeMahieu fouled a ball off his foot the other day and had to have X-rays. They were negative, but it might take him a little while to be 100%. Gerrit Cole will miss approximately one to two months of the season, due to edema and discomfort in his elbow. None of this is good news. But as everyone's mother used to say, “it could be a whole lot worse.”


Theoretically, Judge and LeMahieu will be ready for Opening Day. There was some thought that Cole might miss the whole year and then some and that he might require Tommy John surgery. That is not the case. The Yankees will have to either acquire someone to fill in for Cole until he is back or rely on talent from within. Today, both Will Warren and Clayton Beeter pitched against the Red Sox and let's just say that “Where there was a Will, there wasn't a way”, and Clayton was certainly not a “world Beeter”. However, it was one game. Even experienced pitchers have a clunker now and again in Spring Training. There is still time for both Beeter and Warren to show they are ready to contribute on the Major League level. If not, they might be ready later in the season.


The Yankees always seem to pick up someone at the end of Spring Training who can make a difference to the team. Whether they do that or someone who is in Spring Training now steps up, I'm sure they will be able to get by. 


Another thing to consider is that very frequently in April and May, games are lost to rain and there are some built-in off-days. The Yankees may not need a fifth starter very often. Also, the teams they will be playing may not have a dominant fifth starter either. The Yankees appear to have a strong bullpen so, for the short term they may be able to survive Cole’s absence without too much difficulty. It is better to lose him at the beginning of the year than at the end.


Obviously, it would have been better if the Yankees had signed Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery weeks or months ago, but they didn't. Even if they sign one of those two right now, he won’t be ready to start on Opening Day. He would need a few weeks to prepare for the season and build up his arm. It still might not be a bad idea to sign one of them, as it is a long season and depth in the rotation is never a bad thing.


The Yankees still have a lot of questions as they head toward Opening Day but, sooner or later they will get answers to those questions. As I have stated in the past, the questions aren't the issue; the answers are. The Yankees improved the team a great deal simply by adding Juan Soto. Alex Verdugo and Marcus Stroman were also solid acquisitions. Anthony Rizzo seems to be completely recovered from his concussion from last year and has been hitting very well. Giancarlo Stanton showed some signs of life by hitting a home run the other day. If LeMahieu isn't quite ready or at full strength on Opening Day, someone else will have to step up. They will need to find a fifth starter until Cole returns.


The bright side is what John Sterling repeatedly says to Suzyn Waldman. No, not, “Suzyn, I missed that one, what happened?” But rather, “Baseball has a long season.” Gerrit Cole will be back at some point. Jasson Dominguez will be back at some point. While he has not proven himself over the long haul on the Major League level, I don't think there is anyone who is not excited about the prospect of having him in the middle of the lineup. Austin Wells has looked very good so far. Anthony Volpe seems as if his hitting has improved.


The Yankees may not be 100% ready when Opening Day arrives but, they will be as close as they can be. If they need to do tinkering or make adjustments during the season, they will. That happens every year. This team is designed for the postseason. It's true they have to win games to make it to the postseason but, they should be capable of doing that as they are presently constructed. Ready or not, Opening Day is almost here.

13 Comments


sfs1944
Mar 19

PAUL Snell just signed with the Giants 2 yrs $62 million. Yanks were supposedly talking to Boras right up to the last minute trying to get creative which means they the yanks probably offered him next to nothing and possibly everything deferred till the year 3000 Not to worry Hal stated where not done yet. Stated they were done when they signed Soto and Stroman.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Mar 18

I looked at the schedule, and through April, the Yankees will need a fifth starter on April 6, 16, 22, 27, and then not until May 11 (Game No. 41), all of that assuming that the top 4 are able to go every fifth day as needed. Or put another way, the 8 games Cole would have pitched in that time are now going to be 4 more for Schmidt (now the No. 4 starter) and 4 for Warren/Beeter/Gil.

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Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Mar 18
Replying to

Yes, though it can cut either way. Consider this schedule ("0" means "off-day"): 1 2 3 4 0 1 2 3 4 0. If the first 4 gets rained out and rescheduled for the off-day, then the second 4 has to become a 5 because the No. 4 guy will have had only three days off.

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Alan B.
Alan B.
Mar 18

The only thing is, when to put Cole on the 60 day list? That move alone, makes room on the 40 for Warren if he's the choice. Allowing him to go to 68 pitches yesterday, seem to indicate he currently is the leader for the 5th spot in the clubhouse.


Oh, good luck tonight Paul!

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fuster
Mar 18

yes, it's a long season and

yes, teams usually have to make adjustments as well as additions to get through it


but, we must face the daunting truth that this team is not at full strength and is very likely to lose more that 62 regular season games unless significant additions are made

the cupboard is well-stocked for the most part

but some shelf space is available

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fuster
Mar 19
Replying to

I'm rarely right, but the majority is always wrong



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