Valentine’s Day Lovefest for the 2017 Yankees
The Infield, Part 2
I feel both Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, who were the topic of much trade speculation this offseason will bounce back in a big way. Not that Castro disappointed in his first year in the Bronx (21 HR and 70 RBI), but he needs work on that .300 OBP by increasing his walk productivity (24), which will cut down on his strikeouts (124). The 12 errors he made at second base aren’t a huge worry for me, after all, it was his first full season at the position and it was actually the least amount of errors he’s made in a season in his seven-year career.
For all those clamoring for the Yankees to trade Headley, pump the breaks. He’s a switch-hitting threat that often comes to life in the second-half of the season. For a lineup devoid of lefty bats and veteran leadership, the Yanks need Headley to lead by example. With two years remaining on his deal, and no real candidate to replace him until Double-A infielder Miguel Andujar is deemed ready for promotion, look for Headley to turn back the clock to his 2013 San Diego Padres days.
I’d love to see Kyle Higashioka win the backup catching job out of Spring Training, as his potent bat and above average defensive skills would be a real asset when Sanchez needs a breather. At 26, Higgy has finally tapped into his power potential, hitting 24 HR and 81 RBI at the highest levels of minor league ball in ’16. We already know that Austin Romine is a serviceable backup catcher without any remaining Minor League options, but promoting Higashioka is what rebuilds are all about. Romine is the safe play. This team is over safe plays.
At $3.5M for one-year, Chris Carter was a steal. If he produces against left-handed pitchers — especially in late-inning situations, he’ll have earned his keep. Rob Refsnyder could still be that jack of all trades utility player, he just needs to show he’s exceptional at one thing this spring to make the 25-man roster. Ronald Torreyes is the one backup infielder with the most upside because in short spurts he can produce above-average results. The key is to know when he’s about to hit his physical wall and get him out of there.