USA TODAY Sports
Examining where players without guaranteed spots on the Yankees' Opening Day roster stand in their quest to make the team after three weeks of Spring Training. Hat tip to our SBN sister site, Talking Chop, for the inspiration.
With cuts happening more and more frequently, the vast majority of players left in camp now are ones the team actually wants to see more of to determine whether or not they are an actual fit for the Opening Day roster. Two new faces were brought into camp this week to compete against the existing players for the spots that don't have a definitive player to fill them at this time. The Yankees are looking for a couple outfielders and a couple infielders to complete their roster to begin the season, giving more players that may have not really had a chance in previous years an opportunity to impress and make it onto the squad.
Read More: Yankees' Spring Training Coverage
Most of the players' chances stayed pretty much as they have for most of camp this week, with the exception of two that seem to have helped or hurt themselves slightly with their performance. The newly acquired Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco are operating with an extremely small sample size because of their recent arrival, but their status for making the team doesn't seem particularly hard to guess. Last week's meter color is included in the chart for comparison. The legend for the colors, which is the same as last week, is as follows:
: Based on performance or situation, this player has a slim to no chance of making the team.
: Player theoretically could make the team with an overwhelming performance or unexpected development.
: Player has a decent chance of making the team if they can beat out their immediate competition.
: Player is in a very favorable situation for making the team. Likely seen as the favorite for an open job.
For infielders, Juan Rivera seems to have the job as Mark Teixeira's replacement for the first two months all but locked up. He's hit well and he can also play the outfield when necessary. Unless a surprise trade happens between now and when the team heads north, I can't see anyone but Rivera starting at first base on Opening Day. The Yankees seem intrigued by Ronnier Mustelier and his bat, and he can play a non-disastrous third base or right field if he makes the team. Unfortunately, running hard into a metal railing and badly bruising his legs has kept him out of the past couple games. If the injury doesn't linger beyond his expected return date of tomorrow, he still has a decent chance of making the team as a bench player with an outside shot of earning a starting job. Missing too much more time might put him too far behind the competition and back in Triple-A, regardless of how he hits for the rest of Spring Training.
Dan Johnson seemed like a pretty good bet to make the team out of camp a week ago, but he has continued to struggle at the plate without having the defense to make up for it. Everyone saw that none of that mattered a year ago with Raul Ibanez, so it's definitely too early to count Johnson out yet, but he's definitely performed worse than the people he is competing against. Hopefully that actually matters. Thomas Neal seems like he might be able to fill a Chris Dickerson-like role if he sticks with the team, but he appears to be the lowest man on that totem pole right now.
If history is to be believed, Brennan Boesch and Ben Francisco will get every opportunity to make the team out of camp. The good money would be on Boesch getting the starting job in right field and Francisco possibly being kept as a fourth outfielder. Fortunately for the Yankees, Boesch does have two options; meaning the team can send him down to Triple-A to begin the season if they'd rather keep someone else. Before Matt Diaz was cut from camp, it may have been easy to guess that he might be that person, but Boesch's chances of starting the season in the Bronx improved a bit with the news that the Yankees let Diaz go. Melky Mesa has hit very well in Spring Training and does have a place on the 40-man roster, which may be why he's getting a long look from the team; but it still seems more likely that the Yankees will go with experience and send Mesa to Scranton for the beginning of the year. If they go with a rookie instead, it is reasonable to assume Mesa would be their guy.
Jason checks in on the remaining pitchers' chances of making the team at 1 p.m. today.
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- Know Your 40: Brennan Boesch
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- Gary Sanchez Tops Baseball Prospectus' Top 10 Yankee Prospects List