SSG Baseball – TARRYTOWN, NY – SSG Yankees GM Tom Moysak took time out of his busy off-season this week to participate in a charity event hosted by a local Non-profit and the Madison Square Garden Company taking place at the MSG Facilities in Tarrytown. The day-long event raised over $60,000 during which many athletes and celebrities participated in fun-filled activities for children in need. He took time after the successful event to discuss the charity itself as well as fielding questions on the upcoming Yankee campaign in 2020. Fans have a lot to look forward to as the busy front office is looking to turn things around following last season in which the team lost 101 games.
Among the major questions heading into next season is the defensive alignment and positional battles that will take place during spring training. There are a few open spots which the President of Baseball Operations alluded to. “We’re putting the finishing touches on our lineup and rotation but there are a few question marks heading into spring” said Moysak, sporting a bright orange, New York Knicks themed t-shirt over his navy button down. The GM said while he’s satisfied with the way things have been going this offseason, there are still decisions that have yet to be made with regards to the Yankees’ roster “Obviously we’ve made a few significant deals which added [Tyler] Skaggs and Josh Bell to our band of merry men, so I think on the trade front we’re mostly settled” He added that a few minor deals may come to fruition but nothing blockbuster worthy. When asked about who will play where, it was clear that there are still many questions that need to be answered “Right now we’re focusing on who we think could compete for a spot on our big league roster…It’s a long process but I think by the time pitchers and catchers report we should have a solid group of 30-40 guys we think could compete. The tough part is cutting it down to 26.”
The corner infield presents some uncertainties. Third base last year was split between Kyle Seager, Garin Cecchini, and young phenom Israel Avila. “I’d like to see Seager get a full season of play at third but Avila is presenting us with a problem, albeit a good one, in that he may force his way to third base” Moysak says while Avila’s defense is still a work in progress, he will get a full season of work in the field to further improve his defensive skillset “A player like that can’t be stuck at DH for his whole career. We’d like to see him work the corner positions. Don’t be surprised if you see him at first this spring” With this in mind, it seems as though Third base will be split primarily by Seager and Avila, with Josh Bell taking over the bulk of games at first. Avila will also be spending some time at 1B. “The great thing about our hitters is, they can all play a multitude of positions at a high level giving us that much more flexibility if injuries occur” Lazaro Alonso will most likely be the back-up first basemen for next year.
He also added that the Bullpen is another aspect of the team that will take a long time to piece together “Rivero was a key acquisition for us and we think he can compete for the closer role. He’s got electric stuff which we think will play very well for our club” Newly acquired RP Charlie Furbush is also expected to compete for a spot in the bullpen, as his role remains unknown “Furbush is a guy we’ve liked for a while and we’re happy that we were able to add him to our pen”. Both Rivero and Furbush let up a combined 19 home runs last year in 175.3 total innings. “our park is home run heaven so it’s imperative we get guys that don’t give up a lot of ’em” The team was 15th in the American league in Home Runs allowed last season at 272. They also sported a 4.86 bullpen ERA, good enough for 11th in the American League. “Overall our pitching needs to improve but I think the acquisitions of [Danny] Hultzen, Skaggs, Furbush and Rivero can turn that ship around”
Next we head to the outfield, which saw the departure of a key bat in Jacoby Ellsbury “Losing Ells was tough but we got back some assets which we think can help us down the road.” In that blockbuster deal the Yankees got back young Bob Lewis, a power hitting OF who will see time in Center Field “As of right now we’re rolling with Lewis in Center.” He also said that Dustin Fowler could see time in CF as well as being the primary Right Fielder for the Bombers starting next season. As of right now, power hitting Manny Sanchez holds the Left Field spot, with Right and Center field still up in the air.
The pitching rotation seems to be the most obvious at this point, but with no clear #1, the Yankees have some work to do in deciding who will get the ball on Opening Day. In previous interviews, Moysak has said that he believes Skaggs will be #1, but guys like Danny Hultzen and Andrew Cashner could make noise in spring which would give the Yankees more options. To round out the rotation, Moysak mentioned names such as Alfredo Flores, Scott Snodgress, and Al Parker. The “Ace” of the staff has yet to be determined, however.
Sources familiar with the situation believe that 2B/IF UTIL Shane Mardirosian, acquired in a deal that sent Tony Wolters to Seattle, will be the starting 2B for the Yankees while Thairo Estrada will split time with Cito Culver at short. “We want to shore up the defense and pitching. The offense will come but we wanted to make sure we had a solid defense to back up our pitchers”. “Culver is a defensive wiz who can play just about anywhere, so we’re looking forward to having that problem seeing where he fits in the grand scheme” To round out the infield, Hugh Brooks will most likely get the starting job at catcher with future HOF and recent signing Yadier Molina backing him up.
As of right now, it seems that there are only two “locks”, in Manny Sanchez and Hugh Brooks, but there are a lot of potential pieces that the Yankees believe could take them from pretenders to contenders in 2020. Either way, spring training will be a fun time for Yankee fans to get to know some new faces who could be donning the pinstripes next season.