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Handicapping the Yankees’ Hotly Contested Spring Training Position Battles

Spring training is almost here, and that means two things.

The first is that, thankfully, baseball is almost back.

The second is that there will be plenty of positional battles throughout major league camps as players try to cement their roles on big league rosters. Like every other team, that will be true with the New York Yankees as they prepare for Opening Day in Tampa, Florida.

The Yankees have a few questions surrounding their team, namely when it comes to backing up the backstop, plugging the middle part of the infield and filling out the rotation. With spring training less than a month away, let’s find out who is going to be fightingand winningthe battles this spring.

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Projecting the Yankees’ 2015 Opening Day Roster

Spring training is almost here, which means Opening Day and the 2015 season are getting closer and closer with each passing day.

A lot has changed with the New York Yankees since the last time fans saw the team. This year’s bunch is younger and better defensively, but it also comes with plenty of question marks. As he pays attention to various positional battles throughout spring training, manager Joe Girardi will have a few tough choices to make when it comes time to decide the final Opening Day roster.

Here is an early prediction of what the Yankees’ 2015 squad will look like when the team opens its season on April 6.

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Biggest Winners and Losers from the Yankees’ Offseason

Major League Baseball’s offseason is undeniably the most exciting in sports.

Once the winter meetings get going in early December, players begin signing contracts and switching uniforms at a rapid pace. Teams are making trades, bringing in free agents and bidding against one another in the name of improving their own ballclub.

That holds true for the New York Yankees, as it does for any organization. After missing the playoffs for the second straight year with one of MLB‘s oldest rosters in 2014, the Yanks decided they wanted get younger. With this in mind, the Yankees have made several moves that have drastically changed the look of their roster.

As the dynamic of this team begins to change, some Yankees will find themselves benefiting more than others.

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3 Missing Pieces the Yankees Could Still Land This Winter

The New York Yankees have had an eventful offseason despite not making any major splashes, yet there is still some work to do.

They have already found Derek Jeter’s successor in Didi Gregorius, traded for young starter Nathan Eovaldi, re-signed third baseman Chase Headley, brought in reliever Andrew Miller and made a handful of other smaller moves, so it has not exactly been quiet on the Yankees’ front.

Still, the Bronx Bombers 2015 roster as it is presently constructed has some question marks. The rotation’s health should be a major concern. Rob Refsnyder, who appears to be the favorite to win the second-base job heading into spring training, may or may not be ready for the job. Even the coaching staff has missing components, and it’s already January.

With spring training and the 2015 season fast approaching, here some pieces Yankees general manager Brian Cashman may look to add before the offseason comes to an end.

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Yankees in 2015

The new year is almost upon us, which means so are New Year’s resolutions.

It is a tradition for people to come up with changes they want to make in their lives, whether it be eating healthier, going to the gym more or quitting a bad habit like smoking. We all have areas in which we would love to improve.

So do the New York Yankees.

After not making the playoffs for two straight seasons, the Bronx Bombers need to make some resolutions of their own in 2015. If they do, perhaps this coming year will be better than the last.

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The Yankees’ Biggest Regret at the MLB Offseason’s 2-Month Mark

With some time having gone by and the New Year almost upon us, it has been a strange offseason thus far for the New York Yankees.

They have not been quiet, signing free-agent reliever Andrew Miller and re-signing third baseman Chase Headley. They also traded for shortstop Didi Gregorius and starter Nathan Eovaldi in an attempt to get younger. They let both David Robertson and Brandon McCarthy walk, choosing to not even offer them contracts.

In surprising Yankees fashion, the team has yet to make a big splash, passing on all of the market’s big names up to this point. That includes coveted starter Max Scherzer, who remains a free agent. In the end, the Yankees’ biggest regret may be passing on him when they could have added an ace to their staff.

The Yankees have been linked to Scherzer throughout the offseason, but nothing has yet to materialize. From the sound of things, nothing probably will. Without mentioning Scherzer by name, team president Randy Levine explained that The Bronx Bombers were unwilling to make any expensive additions.

“The chances of us bringing in a guy for six (years) and $25 million or over in my opinion is virtually none,” Levine said at a presser to announce a broadcast deal between the YES Network and the New York Football Club. “At the end of the day you have to be realistic in any organization.”

Scherzer is looking for a guaranteed $200 million after turning down a $144 million extension from the Detroit Tigers last spring training. The righty has gone 39-8 the last two seasons, putting up a 3.02 ERA and 492 strikeouts over 434.2 innings in that span.

The guy is a gamer and would give the Yankees rotation a much needed boost. He would also be the third pitcher in that rotation making at least $20 million in 2015, assuming he sticks close to his current asking price. Masahiro Tanaka and CC Sabathia are slated to make $22 million and $23 million, respectively.

Even with “Mad “Max’s” astronomical asking price, the Yankees could end up remorseful if they do in fact pass on Scherzer

The Yankees rotation will have plenty of question marks in 2015, with Tanaka, Sabathia, Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova all injury risks. Eovaldi, whom the Yankees had to give up Martin Prado and David Phelps for, is electric but erratic as well. He struggled mightily in 2014. Then there is Chris Capuano, who the Yankees also re-signed, but he should be nothing more than a spot starter if and when others are healthy.

The Yankees used 13 starting pitchers in 2014, with only Hiroki Kuroda making more than 20 starts. He had 32 and and likely will not be back next year. With McCarthy and Shane Greene gone (he was traded for Gregorius), the Yankees are quite low on reliable, durable pitchers.

Scherzer is both of those things—and dominant too.

It is hard to imagine money being a limiting factor for the Yankees, but right now that seems to be the case. It does not look like this is a negotiation tactic or a ploy either—New York seems serious about not spending big.

In the end, they could regret it.


All stats were obtained via

Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.

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Reassessing the Yankees’ Offseason Plan and Breaking Down What’s Next

It has been two years since the New York Yankees made the postseason, so naturally there were going to be some changes and transactions this winter.

So far we have seen the Yankees take a slow and careful approach.

They have yet to land a big-name free agent, and with Jon Lester, Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez already signing elsewhere, there are few left. They were also absent from trade talks at the winter meetings when players like Matt Kemp, Jimmy Rollins, Howie Kendrick, Mat Latos, Yoenis Cespedes and Jeff Samardzija were dealt.

The Yankees have lost some key players as well. Gone are Brandon McCarthy and David Robertson. McCarthy, who had a downright stellar stint in his half-season with New York in 2014, signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for four years and $48 million. Robertson, a homegrown closer, decided to take a deal in The Windy City, signing a four-year, $46 million pact with the Chicago White Sox.

However, the Yanks have not been entirely silent this winter. They re-signed Chris Young early on, giving them a fourth outfielder to replace Ichiro Suzuki. They also traded catcher Francisco Cervelli to the Pittsburgh Pirates for lefty reliever Justin Wilson.

Speaking of relievers, the Yankees signed the best one on the market in Andrew Miller, who agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal. With Robertson having departed and Miller now around to shut down the eight inning, the Yankees will promote Dellin Betances to the closer’s role, a job he seems more than capable of handling after his breakout rookie season in 2014.

The Yankees also found Derek Jeter’s successor in Sir Didi Gregorius (he was officially knighted). New York acquired the defensive stud in a three-team deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Detroit Tigers that saw the Yanks send Shane Greene to Detroit.

Perhaps their biggest move came on Monday, when they re-signed Chase Headley to a four-year, $52 million deal.

With Headley back, everywhere-man Martin Prado can stick to second base, where he proved to be most comfortable. That means prospect Rob Refsnyder will have trouble winning a starting spot on this year’s roster.

It also means that Alex Rodriguez, who is coming off a yearlong suspension and two hip surgeries at age 39, could be relegated to nothing more than bench duties. He will not play third base with Headley around, and with aging players and injury risks like Carlos Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Jacoby Ellsbury on hand, the Yanks cannot afford to have one permanent designated hitter.

That, of course, is assuming that Rodriguez is even on the Yankees’ roster come Opening Day.

So it has not been the biggest offseason, especially by the Yankees’ standards, but the Bronx Bombers have certainly gotten better.

With a strong bullpen and a lineup that should be improved both offensively and defensively, what is next for the Yankees?

Well, the rotation could really use another front-line starter, or just a starter in general for that matter.

While Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda were dominant last year, CC Sabathia could presumably return to the pitcher he once was and Ivan Nova has shown flashes of brilliance, all four are injury risks. That is only four starters, too: With Greene and McCarthy gone, the Yankees still need a fifth, and the only on-roster options are David Phelps, Adam Warren and Manny Banuelos.

While the Yankees could do worse, they could most certainly do better.

The big fish still in the pond is Max Scherzer. With him and Tanaka as a one-two punch and Pineda pitching as well as he did in 2014, the Yankees could go far. All it would take is one guy…and seven years…and, give or take, $180 million.

Scherzer will not be cheap, but with him the Yankees would have arguably the best pitching staff in an American League East Division currently dominated by hitting.

Does it have to be Scherzer? Of course not, but another top-of-the-rotation pitcher could do wonders for this team. At the very least, they need to consider someone to fill that fifth spot.

The rotation is the Yankees’ biggest weakness. Sure, they could use another bat if they could move some pieces around, but going forward their focus should be on obtaining one more talented arm.


All stats were obtained via

Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.

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Assessing Likelihood the Yankees Sign Top 3 Remaining Free-Agent Targets

It is Thanksgiving, which means the holiday season is in full swing.

With Pablo Sandoval and Hanley Ramirez both going to Boston and a few other free agents already signed, it is clear that baseball’s offseason is well underway as well. Rumors are swirling and whispers are making their way across the league about which teams are after certain players.

However, one team has been unusually quiet: the New York Yankees.

It has been two seasons since the Yanks made the playoffs, and their roster is in serious need of some help, so you know that New York is bound to have an eventful winter. The question is, who are they going to get and when?

Keeping in mind that there is still plenty of time left in the baseball offseason, take a look at how likely it is the Yankees land a few guys they could really use.



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1 Sleeper Free-Agent Target for the Yankees at Every Position of Need

After not making the playoffs for the second year in a row, it is clear the New York Yankees will have to make some moves this winter if they intend to compete in 2015.

It’s the Yankees, so you know that is exactly what their intentions are.

This is a talented free-agent class, headlined by players such as Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, James Shields, Pablo Sandoval, Nelson Cruz and Hanley Ramirez. All of these guys are sure to cash in this offseason when the time comes for them to sign a new contract.

The race to sign these players and others will be a competition among countless teams. With needs at shortstop, third base and in the rotation, the Yankees may just have to get creative when it comes time to decide who it is they are going to bring in.

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Giancarlo Stanton Taking Big Bucks, Bigger Risk with Marlins, Loria

Giancarlo Stanton is about to ink a deal of epic proportions.

The Miami Marlins are close to signing the 25-year-old outfielder to the richest contract in baseball history: an unprecedented 13 years and a ghastly $325 million. The news was first reported by Jon Heyman of CBS Sports.

According to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish, the opt-out clause will come when Stanton is 30.

The deal is crazy on all kinds of levels. Stanton is coming off an MVP-caliber season in which he hit 37 home runs and 105 RBI while sporting a .288 average, .950 OPS and 6.5 WAR. Not eligible for free agency until after the 2016 season, it was long assumed that Stanton’s days in Miami would come to an end sooner or later.

After all, the Marlins have a history of dealing away their best players, and Stanton had made it clear in the past that he was unhappy with the way the organization had handled things. Just a few months ago, it seemed certain that Stanton would skip town the first chance he got.

Guess things change and differences are set aside when there are $325 million on the table.

It is hard not to question Stanton in the fallout of this news. That is not because he took the money. He has every right in the world to secure those riches, especially after suffering a nearly career-threatening injury at the end of last season when a Mike Fiers fastball hit him square in the face, leaving him with multiple fractures and lacerations.

It is safe to say Stanton’s life flashed before his eyes there. At the very least, he was reminded that nothing in this game or in life is guaranteed. It would not be surprising if that incident played a role in him taking this deal.

Combine that freak accident with all the zeroes being thrown his way and the notion that Miami was somewhat competitive in 2014, and you have all the answers as to why Stanton would make a deal with the devil—Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria.

What Loria has done throughout his history in baseball is the businessman’s equivalent to the scorched earth policy that the Soviets so famously used against the Germans in World War II. In other words, he has left a trail of nothingness, despair and destruction behind in his wake, all for his own personal success.

Previously an owner of the Montreal Expos, he is a huge reason why Canada only has one major league team now.

His reign as the ultimate decision-maker in Florida has been disappointing as well. He did bring the franchise its second World Series win in 2003. But from there, Loria tore the team apart. In an effort to slash payroll, Loria traded Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, Brad Penny, Luis Castillo, Juan Pierre, Alex Gonzalez, Derrek Lee and Juan Encarnacion—all key members of that championship team—over the next two years.

Ivan Rodriguez and A.J. Burnett left via free agency during that span as well. In 2007, the Marlins traded Dontrelle Willis and Miguel Cabrera—now arguably the best hitter in the game—to the Detroit Tigers.

Fans distanced themselves from the franchise. Loria blamed a lot of the team’s problems on its stadium, so he struck a plan to use taxpayer money—the same taxpaying fans he had screwed over by scrapping a winning team—to build a new stadium in Miami.

It was a brand-new start in 2012 with Loria supposedly being a whole new man running things. The Florida Marlins became the Miami Marlins, and they changed their colors and uniforms and moved into the luxurious and expensive Marlins Park in Miami. Keeping his promise of fielding a competitive team, Loria spent $191 million to bring in Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle and Heath Bell. The Marlins traded for Carlos Zambrano and brought World Series champ Ozzie Guillen in to manage.

Marlins baseball was looking good again.

That would last half a year. Loria had the team trade Anibal Sanchez, Omar Infante and Hanley Ramirez halfway through the 2012 campaign. That offseason, the Marlins shipped Reyes, Buehrle and a handful of others to the Toronto Blue Jays.

Fans had lost all faith and trust in Loria.

Which is exactly why it is so perplexing that Stanton would sign away the prime of his career to a man that lies so much that his pants are surely on fire by now.

With so much money involved, Stanton’s only way out will be that opt-out clause. If he doesn’t utilize it, then he is stuck in Miami until the end of those 13 years. The question is, will Loria also be willing to pay for and maintain a contender around him?

Based on history, the answer is an absolute no.

For Stanton, there were plenty of reasons to take this deal—dollars being a big one.

However, there are a lot of risks here as well. Loria has never been about winning. Instead, he is all about dollar signs. As long as he is making money, Loria has never cared what the product on the field looked like.

That is probably not the sales pitch he made to Stanton. Instead, there were probably a lot of promises about turning the team around, winning and bringing a new level of excitement to Marlins baseball with the young slugger at the center of it all. Just like he told fans in 2012.

Those were empty promises and lies. For Stanton’s sake, let’s hope that is not the case again.


All stats were obtained via

Gary Phillips can be contacted at or on Twitter @GPhillips2727.

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