The Yankees have historically been scheduled to play in the inaugural game of new ballparks – I would guess they have “opened” three times as many parks as any other team. When it is an NL park they play an exhibition just before the season. Thus they played their final spring training game yesterday at new Sun Trust Park in Atlanta.
Starting for Atlanta was 43-year-old Bartolo Colon. Fun fact, Colon’s MLB career started BEFORE the debut of Turner Field, the park that Sun Trust is replacing (!!). Colon was replaced by the younger RA Dickey who is only 42. Gary Sanchez got the first (unofficial) hit in the new park, and Greg Bird got the first (unofficial) home run. Note: this is Bird’s EIGHTH of the spring – hey, fella, save some of those for the regular season.
The Yankee lineup for tomorrow’s opener in Tampa Bay: Gardiner LF, Sanchez C, Bird 1B, Holliday DH, Ellsbury CF, Headley 3B, Castro 2B, Judge RF, Torreyes SS with Tanaka on the mound. Go Yankees!
Bird, Judge and Sanchez all tore up spring training (almost as if they thought they had something to prove). Hicks did, as well. Let’s hope that the magic doesn’t wear off!
I have now seen many, many predictions for the coming season, and virtually ALL of them have the Red Sox, Indians, Astros, Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers winning their divisions. Consensus wild card picks seem to be Blue Jays and Rangers, Giants and Cardinals. This is same-old, same-old from last year, of course. The Yankees are rarely picked higher than 4th (never 1st or 2nd) and usually 5th. I have watched a lot of spring half-games (when the major leaguers are in) and I honestly feel that the predictions underestimate this Yankee lineup. They are (rightly) focused on the rotation, which IS shaky.
Interestingly, the 5th starter position seems to be between Jordan Montgomery and Chad Green. How do I know this? Well, Green was sent to Double-A (he was Triple-A last year) and they announced that both Montgomery and Green will start on the 6th and 11th of April. Since the Yankees’ first need for a 5th starter will be on April 16, does this suggest anything to you?
Meanwhile, I think the Rangers will push the Astros in the AL West, and the Mariners might, too. I think the Giants will push the Dodgers (they always seem to win 3/4 of their head-to-head matchups to stay in the race). And I think the Mets will push the Nationals. Since I also think the Yankees will be in the AL East mix, I am predicting 4 division races, rather than the one the media seems to think will happen. I would say it is about 4-1 against that the six designated division champs all win. But I’m not a betting man, in case you want some of that action.
Switching New York Teams, here is a side-by-side of the Mets and Nats:
C D’Arnaud Weiters Even
1B Duda Lind Big Advantage Mets
2B Walker Murphy Advantage Nats
3B Wright Rendon Sadly, Big Advantage Nats
SS Reyes Difo Advantage Mets
LF Cespides Werth Advantage Mets
CF Legares Turner/Eaton Big Advantage Nats
RF Granderson Harper Huge Advantage Nats
So the Nats appear better, but not that much. And if David Wright could somehow be DAVID WRIGHT it would almost disappear.
And I know that the Nats are supposed to have this great pitching staff, but the Mets can pitch with ANYONE, and I have some hope for Matt Harvey returning to be Matt Harvey.
Overall, I agree that the Nats are better on paper than the Mets, but the Mets are YOUNG, have much more upside, and are hungry. I think it will be a horserace.