Yankees: Handicapping the remaining player position battles

Yankees Spring Training (Photo: springtrainingonline.com)

As the Yankees gather for Spring Training, there will be a shred of drama as far as the team moving North. Still, there will be battles for starring roles.

The Yankees 25-man active roster (soon to be 26), with the always present caveat “barring injuries” appear to be all but set for the 2020 season unless Brian Cashman has another ace up his sleeve with the acquisition of a player to be named later.

Still, there will be an element of drama present when the Yankees gather for Spring Training and the Preseason in about six weeks.

While positions on the roster are not likely to change, starting roles on the team are in flux at three positions. Let’s handicap each of those battles.

Gio Urshela versus Miguel Andujar

From the Yankees standpoint, they can’t lose either way on this one. Still, there are unanswered questions about each player.

Yankees Gio Urshela vs. Miguel Andujar (Photo: NY Post)
Yankees Gio Urshela vs. Miguel Andujar (Photo: NY Post)

Miguel Andujar set the league on fire as a rookie in 2018 when he finished 2nd in the Rookie of the Year voting in the American League.

His numbers backed the honor up with 27 home runs, 92 RBI, and a .297 batting average over 149 games in the hot-corner for the Yankees.

On the flip side, though, Andujar was harangued and challenged as a less than stellar third-baseman defensively.

A season-ending injury eliminated the Yankees concern, however, and Brian Cashman struck his magic wand again, finding Gio Urshela in baseball’s scrap heap.

Urshela, as we know, went on to have an Alice In Wonderland season for the Yankees, which by season’s end had most thinking – Andujar who?

In mid-November, Cashman declared third base to be Urshela’s “to lose,” establishing him over Andujar as the front runner to secure a role as a starter in the Yankees lineup.

But as we know, the only barometer that means anything in baseball is – what have you done for me lately?

Thus, those supposed meaningless preseason games and at-bats are thrown out the window for these two players.

No predictions – let the gladiators enter the arena. This battle should be a good one.

Yankees Fifth Rotation Spot – Who’s The Fairest Of Them All

There’s plenty of intrigue on this one. We have the unsettled and somewhat disturbing situation with Domingo German, and the subsequent potential of a lengthy suspension handed down by MLB for the domestic violence incident still “under investigation.”

Yankee: Jordan Montgomery Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post
Yankee: Jordan Montgomery Photo Credit: Charles Wenzelberg/New York Post

Then, we also have the return from Tommy John surgery of Jordan Montgomery, who is expected to be at full strength to begin the season.

Add to the mix J.A. Happ, who pitched well for the Yankees once he worked the kinks out in the first half, but is due to earn $17 million this season.

On top of all that, throw in a bunch of Yankees prospects knocking at the door, and a full-scale melee is likely to occur if one of them gets hot during Spring Training.

A rundown of these pitchers, led by Deivi Garcia, is profiled here.

Presently, the Yankees have three righties (Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino) in their rotation. James Paxton is the sole lefty.

This would seem to give the edge to Montgomery, but again the arm catching fire in Florida is likely to be the one the Yankees go with.

Luke Voit versus Mike Ford

This one is a battle at first base and the one most likely to end in a draw. Luke Voit is a right-handed batter while Mike Ford hits from the left side.

The Yankees have a decidedly overweighted right-hand lineup, which would seem to give the edge to Ford.

Yankees Luke Voit vs. Mike Ford (Photo: ABC News)
Yankees Luke Voit vs. Mike Ford (Photo: ABC News)

But Voit has proven to be a genuine major league hitter, who exhibits patience at the plate (a Yankee’s prerequisite).

An injury thwarted his season that limited him to only 40 games in the second half, and a lowly .228 batting average will little display of power.

Before that, however, Voit was a major presence in the Yankees lineup, hitting .280 with seventeen home runs and 50 RBI.

Mike Ford’s claim to the position is based on a .909 OPS that includes 12 home runs over 143 at-bats.

Either player can make the Yankees decision an easy one with a hot or cold Spring. Still, it would seem that Aaron Boone would feel most comfortable to have Ford and Voit in a platoon situation, with the other available to come off the bench as a pinch-hitter.

Yankees 2020: Summing Up

No matter where you go, the Yankees are seemingly locked and loaded for the 2020 season.

Every name listed above is a potential contributor to the team that eventually be installed as the odds-on favorite to win the World Series this year.

But at the same time, there are careers at stake, and there will be winners and losers beneath the veneer of what we see when we call up the names contained in the Yankees Roster on the internet.

In the age-old tradition of – let the best man win – all we can do is wait to see how Spring Training shakes out – hoping the eventual winners are the players who will help take the Yankees to that elusive 28th World Championship.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.