With only the first week of 2014 spring training in the books, it's easy to perceive Masahiro Tanaka's two shutout innings and Yangervis Solarte's hot streak as the only takeaways for the New York Yankees.
But don't be fooled by the small sample size.
In just six games, some very noticeable trends have already emerged among those vying for the final backup roles and bullpen spots. If nothing else, these early storylines should help Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman begin the decision-making process.
The biggest one has been the offensive outburst by a few non-roster invitees; for the most part, their performances won't earn them roster spots out of the spring, but their continued spring success could hasten the process of knocking out the other invitees when the first roster cuts transpire.
And more importantly, those with previous big league time can quickly be put on notice if non-roster players are outperforming them.
In just four weeks from now, 66 players will be trimmed down to the 25 who will travel to Houston for Opening Day.
And while the narrative for much of the winter has focused on the wide open competitions, it has glossed over just how few positions are truly up for grabs to begin with.
The Yankees, for all their questions, virtually have every non-pitching position locked up except for backup catcher and one more backup infielder. If they carry 13 position players, there are two open roster spots if you consider these players the favorites:
- Brian McCann, C
- Mark Teixeira, 1B
- Brian Roberts, 2B
- Kelly Johnson, 3B
- Derek Jeter, SS
- Brendan Ryan, SS
- Brett Gardner, LF
- Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
- Carlos Beltran, RF
- Alfonso Soriano, OF/DH
- Ichiro Suzuki, OF/DH
Out in the bullpen, where there's incessant doubt and narrative of "unanswered questions," there's still a maximum of just two available jobs if they carry 12 pitchers and you consider these pitchers to be the favorites:
- CC Sabathia, SP
- Hiroki Kuroda, SP
- Masahiro Tanaka, SP
- Ivan Nova, SP
- Michael Pineda, SP/RP
- David Phelps, SP/RP
- Adam Warren, RP
- Shawn Kelley, RP
- Preston Claiborne, RP
- Matt Thornton, RP
- David Robertson, RP
The main point is a disheartening one: For breaking camp on the 25-man roster, one week of baseball doesn't have as much potential to help your chances as much as it does to hurt them.
The following five players are by no means projected or predicted to be cut by Monday morning—or even by week's end. But if the first plans to thin out the roster took place at this moment, these are the early favorites who would be brought up in discussion.
Whether due to lackluster play, being outperformed by positional competitors or a combination of both, the following are the five Yankees most in danger of being cut of demoted after one week of spring training.
Spring Training statistics and play-by-play information courtesy of MLB.com and are current post-Game No. 6 (March 2, 2014, 5 p.m. ET). All other statistics from Baseball-Reference and metrics from FanGraphs unless noted otherwise.
Peter F. Richman is a Featured Columnist for the New York Yankees and a lifelong fan. You can join him for more discussion on Twitter: Follow @Peter_F_Richman