Yankees players have been both helped and hurt by the postponement of the 2020 season. Here’s a look at the players who have been dealt a significant blow.
The Yankees, like all teams, will emerge from the 2020 season delay with mixed feelings and results. Planning in the midst of the unknown is difficult. Yet, roster decisions will need to be made quickly once a start date for the season is announced.
The push from owners, fans, and most players to begin playing games that matter will be forceful. For all practical purposes, there will not be a Spring Training II.
This means that Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman will be drawing from the small sample of preseason games and workouts that have already taken place.
Here’s a rundown on some of the players whose career may be coming to a close as a result of the season’s postponement – or at the very least – they are hanging on by a thread to keep the dream alive.
Yankees On The Losing End Of The Delay
Those most hurt by the season’s interruption are the players the Yankees signed to minor league contracts with an invitation to Spring Training.
These players include but are not limited to Rosell Herrera, who was being noticed as a possible 26th man capable of playing multiple positions.
Cashman signed Chris Iannetta and Josh Thole as insurance against the loss of Austin Romine, the fragility of Gary Sanchez, and the unknown capability of Kyle Higashioka, who the Yankees are counting on as the backup for Sanchez.
Similarly, as reinforcements to the Yankees pitching staff, Dan Otero, David Hale, Luis Avilan, and Chad Bettis were brought in with the idea – show us something and hey, ya never know. Ditto first-baseman Mike Ford, who showed the team something in 2019.
The trouble now is there are no chances to show the team anything, and more likely than not, all of these players will be thrust back into the scrap heap seeking jobs.
The Yankees might like to have seen more from Avilan, a possible contributor in their bullpen, or Mike Ford, who fell short in twelve Spring Training games (.194 BA, .286 OBP, one home run), but still is someone to think about based on last year’s performance.
Yankees Question Marks
Brett Gardner has to be considered an unknown at this point. Given his age (36), he will turn another year in August.
A one-year signee by the Yankees, his value to the team, is wrapped around those intangibles like leadership and pedigree the team sorely needs since the retirement of CC Sabathia, his cohort, and kin to the last Yankees team to win a World Championship in 2009.
Father time has a way of catching up to us when we are least aware. Is this time lost a benefit or a boon to this iconic New York Yankee?
J.A. Happ is another interesting case study. Happ, 37, spent all winter working at the Yankees complex, trying to bounce back after a horrible 2019 in which he was stung by the home run.
Part of that was keeping his body aligned adequately during his delivery to make better use of his bottom half. (New York Daily News)
In four starts during the abbreviated preseason, Happ pitched to a 1.38 ERA, and all reports indicate he’s permanently “found” what he temporarily lost in the first half of 2019.
Good news for the Yankees – if – he doesn’t lose it again during the lull.
And finally, there are those up and coming Yankees pitchers, who under another set of circumstances were due to be given a closer look than what was possible during this year’s abbreviated preseason.
It probably would have turned out that way anyway – but again – the province of Spring Training has always been there can be a player who against all the odds excels to the point where he can’t be ignored…
Recall, for instance, when Jordan Montgomery caught the eye of then Yankee’s manager Joe Girardi. Taking a liking to his “presence” on the mound, Girardi kept sending Montgomery out there, – and voila – and he won nine games for the team that year.
Did Charles Darwin Ever Play Baseball
On the surface, as fans, we see the simple game of baseball played on sun-lit fields with a backdrop of wonderment that shouts – It could have been me (out there).
But in the real world, our snapshot of what seems to be – for most – is a far cry from those dreams.
Until that is, we drill down a bit deeper to uncover the ballplayers on the way up and the ones heading down that we find the baseball stories that, someday soon, will need more follow-up as to where the players cited above land.
Stay tuned, and I’ll do my best to reveal the impact of our national emergency on this “sub-culture” of professional baseball.