Tuesday, March 10, 2015


As of this writing, the New York Yankees have just alittle more than five 2015 Spring Training games under their belt.  Yes, it’s early, but still there is a clear theme that is beginning to emerge:  the “Baby Bombers” are ready to become grown-up Bombers.

Before even a practice pitch was thrown, General Manager Brian Cashman had given all of us his take on who would be our starting players on Opening Day.  As I’ve written in the past, I found it curious how a GM would be the person announcing the players that would take the field when the team breaks camp and heads north.  I had always been under the belief that the Manager would be determining the starting lineup and positions, but before I divert my attentions down that path again, let’s just look at the group Mr. Cashman has decided will trot out to their spots on Opening Day.   

His lineup has Brian McCann at catcher, Mark Teixeira at first base, Stephen Drew trying to play second, Chase Headley at third, Didi Gregorius at shortstop, and an outfield of Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran.  His DH spot will either have the polarizing Alex Rodriguez or newcomer Garrett Jones.

Early on in spring, “Cashman’s Heroes” (with Rodriguez in lineup) have gone 8 for 54 (.148) with no RBI, one double and have struck out 11 times.  With Garrett Jones in lineup, they are slightly better (he’s looked VERY good) and are 10 for 56 (.179) with one RBI, two doubles and 11 strikeouts.  
It could be a very long season if that keeps up.
On the flip side of the coin are a group of youngsters all trying to prove Cashman wrong in his assumptions.  Some are coming off stellar Triple A or Fall baseball seasons, while others are bouncing back from injury or disappointing 2014 campaigns.  A pretty decent lineup of these Baby Bombers has already shown it not only could compete with the aforementioned “starters”, but it would handily beat them.  

My group of “wanna-bes” includes JR Murphy at catcher, Greg Bird manning first base, Rob Refsnyder at second, Jose Pirela at shortstop, Eric Jagielo at third base, an outfield of Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams and Tyler Austin, and at DH, Aaron Judge. 

So far, this group of young Yankees is 19 for 59 (.322) with six doubles, a triple, three home runs, 12 runs scored and 11 RBI.  This isn’t even including what center fielder Jake Cave (who last played at AA Trenton) has done - 4 for 7 with a home run, 3 runs scored and 3 RBI.  
I guess a lot can be said for youth with incentive, eh Brian?
Cashman’s list of starters is very close – aside from the obvious (Jeter gone, A-Rod back) - to those that gave us a lifeless 85 wins in 2014.  It is punctuated with players clearly on the decline in their careers (Beltran, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Drew) and outside of Gregorius, has no one less than 30 years of age.  In short, it lacks the kind of energy we once saw when 20-somethings Melky Cabrera, Robinson Cano, Francisco Cervelli, and Brett Gardner breathed life into our last world championship (2009).  Remember Melky and Robinson celebrating home runs and wins in the dugout with high fives and belly-bumps? 

Who is Didi Gregorius going to belly-bump on Brian Cashman’s aging team?  We need that energy and youthful passion for the game again.
It would seem that we have that opportunity if our GM and Manager would just see the forest through the trees.
Besides, let’s look at it from a “business” point of view.  How many fannies are going to be put into the stadium seats with the lineup of veterans?  Outside of immediate family, who is going to attend a game specifically to watch Stephen Drew or even Carlos Beltran?   ARod will draw some only because he’s a curiosity – a sideshow freak or train-wreck depending on your perspective.   The bottom line is that this team isn’t going to be exciting to watch.  There’s a reason so many former stars are getting spots in Monument Park this season.

It might just be me, but I contend that a lineup littered with our future would be something worth seeing – and would draw bigger crowds.  I’m not so crazy as to think that the Baby Bomber list I created above should ALL be starting on Opening Day.

I believe McCann, Gregorius, Teixeira, Headley, Gardner, Ellsbury and Jones really should be in that first lineup,  but there is no reason Refsnyder and one of the outfielders I mentioned shouldn’t also be there (Judge comes to mind).  And why can’t Greg Bird, Jose Pirela, Mason Williams, and Slade Heathcott all be on that roster in the Bronx, even if it is as backups?  God knows that Teixeira and Beltran will break down at some point in 2015.  It has become their history.  McCann will need rest as well, and it is likely that Murphy will make the squad.    All I’m asking is that some life be breathed into the corpse that this team has become over the last two seasons.   We have the players to do it.
Let’s stop assuming that the veterans will all be starters.  Give everyone in camp the same opportunity to start the first regular season game.  Perhaps that kind of incentive will light a fire under the 30-somethings.  Based on what we’ve seen early on, “incentive” is just what they need because clearly the kids (with incentive) have already come to play.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1


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