Hard to believe that Opening Day is a mere two weeks away. It’s crunch time for Joe Girardi as he has to try and figure out what to make of the spare parts for his active roster. It became a little more clear today as the Yankees cut 12 players to slim down their roster.
Five of the players were pitchers attempting to round out the bullpen. Bruce Billings, Robert Coello, Brian Gordon, Mark Montgomery, and Chase Whitley are no longer in camp. Coello should come as no surprise. Actually, I am surprised Coello hung around as long as he did posting an 0-2 record with a 33.00 ERA over three innings. Both Whitley and Montgomery will most likely end up at Triple-A. Earlier this spring I wrote how Whitley could find himself in the mix for the mystery of a bullpen Girardi is trying to piece together, however, it appears that the Yankees want to work with him as a starting pitcher. That most likely ends his chances of a mid-season call-up as he will be stretched out into the new role. Montgomery looked pretty good this spring and has been coveted by the big league club for some time now as a long-term bullpen solution. He is still only 24 and the bullpen is very crowded, so perhaps the Yankees just want some extra work from him until a call-up is needed.
Seven position players left Tampa today as well. Francisco Arcia, Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Corban Joseph, Peter O’Brien, Jose Pirela, and Mason Williams all saw their chances of making the bigs disappear Tuesday. Catchers Arcia and O’Brien didn’t stand much of a chance with the depth the Yankees have in the farm system. O’Brien couldn’t even muster a single hit in 15 at-bats this spring. Joseph probably had the best shot to make the club with so much uncertainty surrounding infield depth, however batting .190 over 13 games sealed his fate. Pirela turned some heads with a very nice spring and will probably head to Triple-A for organizational depth. Outfielders Flores and Williams never really stood much of a chance either with the crowded veteran presence already in the Yankees outfield. Flores had a solid spring and has already been officially assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Williams, one of the top prospects in the Yankee farm system, looked lost batting .174 over his 15 game tenure. He, too, is most likely headed for Triple-A. Austin has yet to appear in a game this spring as he rehabs from a wrist injury.
That still leaves quite a few question marks. That last infield position is now officially down to Russ Canzler, Scott Sizemore, Yangervis Solarte, Zelous Wheeler and Eduardo Nunez. The bullpen still has at least four spots to fill. Cesar Cabral and Preston Claiborne have an advantage after spending time in the bigs last season, while Dellin Betances has been lights out and seems to have his spot locked down. Girardi will be faced with deciding between some veterans like Jim Miller, Fred Lewis, and Matt Daley or a youngster like Vidal Nuno for the final spot.
The skipper certainly has his hands full but he has plenty of time to make these important decisions. It will be exciting to see who steps up to claim their spot on a Yankee roster primed to bring home another trophy.