Spring 2016 Wrap-up

Okay, with the season just a sleep away now, the Yankees spent their free day settling back into the City. The very chilly, oddly chilly free day. Tomorrow’s opponent (the Astros) actually cancelled their scheduled workout because it was too cold and windy. (Is it a Texas thing?) And now, forecasts vary but the chances for rain during the game tomorrow are rated as “likely” but “not much” or a slight sprinkling of rain.

I should clarify why this has been a weird issue for the City. On Friday, it was 80-something degrees and sunny, a nice sneak peek of summer. And then Saturday, an overcast and rainy morning brought cooler Spring temperatures back before they plunged into 30-something degrees today. Though it was lovely and sunny, the concrete jungle kicked up the wind to chill you right to the core. And while it may be rather rainy (finger crossed for not so much here), it’s going to be a bit warmer.

And if you know anything about Spring weather, it’s basically April as normal. It’s like nature rolls the dice every morning to decide what kind of weather to toss at us just to see how we handle it.

Anyway, the Yankees’ 25-man roster is officially set: pitchers Johnny Barbato, Dellin Betances, Luis Cessa, Nathan Eovaldi, Andrew Miller, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino, Chasen Shreve, Masahiro Tanaka, and Kirby Yates; catchers Brian McCann and Austin Romine; infielders Dustin Ackley, Starlin Castro, Didi Gregorius, Chase Headley, Mark Teixeira, and Ronald Torreyes; outfielders Carlos Beltran, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Aaron Hicks; and of course, Alex Rodriguez, the designated hitter.

The Yankees placed infielder Greg Bird, Bryan Mitchell, and Mason Williams on the 15-day disabled list. Though all three are scheduled to be on such a list for much longer; Bird won’t be back until next Spring at the earliest.

Now, looking back over the Spring, here’s some basic wrap-up statistics for you to sleep on tonight. The Yankees finish Spring Training with a losing record — 14 wins, 16 losses, 2 ties, and 1 cancelled game (and yes, I’m still ticked about that one, even though it doesn’t count). This made them middle of the pack in the Grapefruit League. I always take that as a good sign. Generally, teams that do really well in Spring Training fizzle out and don’t make it into the postseason (though yes, there are some exceptions).

Some notable standouts: Starlin Castro without a doubt was this year’s player MVP for Spring Training. He earned a .367 batting average for 18 hits (including 4 doubles and 2 home runs) in 49 at-bats over just 19 games played. He scored 6 runs himself and batted in 11 other runners. He earned one walk and stole one base. Plus, (again with a couple of oddball games) his defense at 2nd was just stellar. All in all, Castro is the much-needed cog the Yankees have needed in that middle infield for a few years now.

MVP veteran player: Brian McCann — .333 batting average, 13 hits (including 4 doubles) in 39 at-bats, 3 RBIs, 2 runs scored, and 2 walks. Plus, we all know how steady and strong he is behind the plate. I don’t expect that to change any time soon.

On the pitching side of things: I got to go with Chasen Shreve for MVP pitcher this Spring. (And because he’s not really a rookie, I’ll throw in the veteran one too because he really outpitched nearly everyone else on the team.) Shreve’s ERA was a ridiculous .031 in his 10 innings pitched (over 10 games), giving up just 1 hit and 1 walk, and striking out 8 total batters all Spring.

And just behind him on the ERA scale would be Kirby Yates (the main reason he’s now on the 25-man roster). Yates clocked in a .077 ERA in his 8 innings pitched (in 10 games). He earned all 3 of his 3 save opportunities, giving up 2 hits and a walk, and striking out a whopping 11 batters.

Now, in the rookie category (or my favorite guys from the “ones to watch” section this Spring): Cesar Puello takes the offensive lead here — .278 batting average, 24 games, 10 hits (4 doubles and a home run) in 36 at-bats, 6 runs scored, 3 RBIs, and 2 stolen based. Plus, he was rather reliable in the outfield.

But my all-time favorite guy to watch from early on this Spring has to be Jorge Mateo. Offensively, Mateo did pretty good — .235 average, 10 games played, 17 at-bats, 4 hits (1 triple and 1 home run), 3 RBIs, 3 runs scored, 2 walks, just 2 strike outs, and a stolen base. And he was a charge to watch at short stop, rushing the ball and firing it to the base with such gusto. He’s going to be someone to keep an eye on as he matures and develops into one of those invaluable players for the Yankees.

And while he wasn’t as prominent offensively, Jonathan Diaz was something to watch on defense. He would jump half his height for a ball if necessary, charging the ball, not letting much get by him. He needs to work on his timing at bat, and some other edges to develop in the farm system. But he’s another one to keep your eye on for a later date.

Like I said, it’s only one more sleep until Opening Day. Happy dreams, Yankees fans! Pray for no rain!

Go Yankees!

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