New York Yankees: 5 Players Who Won’t Make Team’s Opening Day Roster
Joe Girardi Looks to Shape New York Yankees Opening Day Roster
For much of the opening part of Spring Training the story line surrounding the New York Yankees has been the pending retirement of Derek Jeter, with new signings Masahiro Tanaka, Brian McCann and Jacoby Ellsbury taking up the secondary headlines. Of course each of these guys are going to play a huge part in the spirit of fans at Yankee Stadium throughout the 2014 seasons, but it should be made clear that Joe Girardi isn't especially worried with any of the four currently.
The reason that Girardi is not focused on these guys at this point in Spring Training is because he is still in the early stages of forming his roster for Opening Day. Even for a team that is going to spend $200 million, the Yankees have a number of secondary roles that could be filled up by either young minor league players or journeymen who have earned themselves an invite to camp this spring. Anywhere between five and seven roster spots are up for the grabbing, with up to 15 different players vying for these valuable spots.
And while the guys who are being chosen now will either fill the role of second lefty out of the bullpen, long relief pitcher, extra outfielder, backup catcher or extra arms out of the bullpen, they all bring value to the table. In fact, in a 162 game MLB season that is basically a war of attrition, these types of players are often required to step up and receive valuable playing time because of injuries, fatigue or both.
Keeping the value of the last men on the roster in mind, I have set out to identify the five players who will not be making the trip out west to face the Houston Astros on April 1. These five players are all competing for one of the aforementioned roster spots that are open, are genuine candidates to make the roster, and will in all likelihood end up being the first option to be called up in the case of a injury.
5. Austin Romine
Austin Romine will be going up against Francisco Cervelli -- and to a lesser extent John Ryan Murphy -- in an effort to become the backup catcher to Brian McCann. Unfortunately Romine will not win this spot, which will in large part come down the fact that the 25-year-old is a well below-average hitter, as his slash line of .207/.255/.296 in 2013 indicated. When you combine this brutal line at the plate with the fact that Romine is not nearly as good of a hitter as Cervelli, it is clear the youngster will receive more seasoning at AAA in 2014.
4. Manny Banuelos
After missing much of the last two seasons because of Tommy John surgery, Manny Banuelos has wowed everyone at Spring Training in 2014. The 23-year-old has reportedly had his electric stuff come back, which is especially encouraging since he used to touch 97 mph regularly and had a change-up that was compared to Johan Santana in his prime. Currently he is being put in the race for the second lefty spot in the bullpen, which is simply foolish. The youngster has the potential to become a All-Star starting pitcher, and Girardi will be smart enough to let him gain valuable innings in AAA.
3. Zoilo Almonte
Zoilo Almonte received his first action at the MLB level in 2013, as he played in 34 games and composed a slash line of .236/.274/.302. Despite this rather underwhelming output, Almonte proved valuable because he can play all three outfield positions, hits to the gaps and has good speed on the base paths. With the Yankees currently having five veteran outfielders signed to big league contracts it will be hard for him to break camp, but look for the 24-year-old player to be up in the Bronx some point in the 2014.
2. Vidal Nuno
Vidal Nuno will be competing on two fronts, as he has a chance to be the fifth starter in the Yankees' rotation or a long relief man out of the bullpen. It appears that Nuno will find it difficult to enter the rotation, as Michael Pineda is apparently close to his All-Star form and Girardi looks to be enamored by this. On the front of the long relief, it is hard to see Nuno jumping over entrusted Girardi long men Adam Warren and David Phelps. This effectively means that the 26-year-old will be starting at AAA in 2014 -- although if he repeats the 1.44 ERA of 2013 it will be hard to keep the lefty out of the Bronx for long.
1. Dellin Betances
Dellin Betances finally found his stride on the mound in 2013, courtesy of a trip to the bullpen. Now the 6-foot-8, 260 pound right-handed pitcher looks on a one way path to becoming a force in the majors, as his 97 mph fastball and sharp breaking curve ball should be unstoppable at the big league level. Still, at this point the 25-year-old is still raw, and would be served well by adding upon the 32 AAA relief appearances he compiled in 2013. This will be allowed to happen at the start of the year because of the Yankees' deep bullpen, although it wouldn't be a surprise to see Betances in the back end of games.