New York Yankees fans, today is the day.
Pitchers and catchers are officially reporting to camp for spring training.
All of the new hope and possibilities for the 2013 season unofficially begin tomorrow.
But for the Bronx Bombers, there are still some things that need to be done before their preseason games begin.
Although there were not any big moves made by the front office during this past winter, not all of their decisions have been made about the 2013 opening day roster.
Nonetheless, baseball is back, and here are a few things New York needs to do before official preseason games commence.
Let me start off by saying that Curtis Granderson is by no means a liability in center field.
Granderson has been a solid fielder for the New York Yankees since 2010, and he finished 2012 with a 1.000 fielding percentage.
But ESPN’s Mark Simon made a strong case to move Granderson to left field, putting Brett Gardner in center field.
Although not all people believe in basing baseball decision on sabermetrics, numbers don’t lie.
Gardner has 50 defensive runs saved in left field since 2010, according to Simon.
Adding to the argument to make the move and put Gardner in center is Granderson’s age.
Granderson turns 32 in March and he certainly is not getting any faster.
Gardner is younger, faster and has proven that he is a capable defender.
Before games are played, Gardner needs to get reps in center field as does Granderson in left field.
Just when you think things can’t get worse with Alex Rodriguez, they do.
Rodriguez struggled through an injury-ridden 2012 season and was benched in the playoffs in favor Eric Chavez. All of this happened while the third baseman was being paid $29 million.
With a second hip surgery in mid-January, it sounded like Rodriguez would be back in pinstripes sometime after the All-Star break.
Then came a report out of Miami saying that Rodriguez once again was using PEDs as recently as in 2009. With their limited public statements about these most recent steroid accusations, it is beginning to look like the New York Yankees front office is fed up with Rodriguez.
New York’s move to sign Kevin Youkilis was a small sign of how much GM Brian Cashman and the Yankees are counting on Rodriguez.
Now, it’s time to simply move on past this second steroid scandal.
This spring the Yankees will need to have their focus on preparing for the 2013 season, not on Rodriguez and his alleged use PEDs.
For the first time in a long time, New York doesn’t have a clear-cut starter behind the plate.
Since Jorge Posada earned a starting role, followed by Russell Martin the New York Yankees haven’t had to worry about who their everyday catcher was going to be.
The competition for the starting job will most likely be one of top stories for the Yankees this spring.
But manager Joe Girardi should not let this process carry out too long. The relationship between a catcher and pitching staff is a vital part of success, and that relationship cannot be built if New York rotates three catchers throughout the spring.
Another reason why Girardi needs to pick his catcher early is to build confidence, especially if it’s a younger player. Gaining confidence through more playing time and practice added to knowledge of being the starter goes a long way in the mind of a player.
Of the three front-runners for the job—Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and Chris Stewart—none seem to have a clear edge.
Regardless of who is chosen to be the every day backstop, the decision needs to be made before the Yankees start getting into serious spring training games.
If indecision is the storyline of the spring in the competition for catcher, the effects can ripple into the season.