Spring training isn’t a vacation for the Yankees. The organization needs to answer these five questions while the players are assembled in Tampa.
Thousands of Yankees fans will descend on Tampa to get an early glimpse at their favorite team this month. February in Florida can be a great vacation. That’s not how the organization can approach things. There’s serious business to be conducted before the regular season begins.
In this piece, we’ll walk you through the five biggest questions the Yankees must answer in Spring Training. More difficult challenges will pop up during the season, but Aaron Boone and company must get their campaign off on the right foot. Addressing these five issues will be crucial for New York’s World Series aspirations.
Let’s jump right in by discussing a key position battle that may rage all season long.
5. Who will win the left field job?
One of the most interesting position battles heading into the spring will be whether Clint Frazier can steal significant at bats away from Brett Gardner in left field. Relying on Gardner to play over 100 games is dangerous because of his age. Trusting Frazier to shoulder that sort of load is a risk due to his history with concussions.
It’s unlikely either outfielder can really win the complete job during spring training. Even if Gardner starts slowly, Boone will give him appreciable game time due to his long record of success in pinstripes.
Preseason games will be more important to Frazier. He’s had a reasonably successful cup of coffee in the big leagues, but no one can really be sure he can hit like an above average regular. That is the very minimum requirement for him to take the job from Gardner. The veteran’s speed will definitely make him the more valuable defender.
It’s very likely left field will be a platoon for Boone next year, but the split of game time may be heavily influenced by what happens in the spring. The Yankees need Frazier to be the better player to increase their ceiling as a team.