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Yankees Should Feel Good About Luke Voit-Greg Bird Battle



Ten days left in Tampa. Here are some considerations.

BASE FIRST

Luke Voit and Greg Bird did exactly what the Yankees hoped to do when the camp started: making the decision difficult.

If we have to believe that Voit had a "raised leg" based on his final last season, then he did nothing to lose his job. And Bird did something that he hasn't been able to play for a long time – playing without pain.

Whatever the decision made by the Yankees is far from the final, and Scranton should have a very capable first base to start the season, although general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that both Voit and Bird could make the roster of Opening Day if Aaron Hicks is not ready yet.

Depth is not a bad thing. And at this point it is important to find out who these players will be. Voit is someone between Lou Gehrig and Shane Spencer. Bird is someone between Don Mattingly and Nick Johnson.

Fans are down on Bird, and it's not unjustified. But that's a reason the Yankees held him back ̵

1; they believe he can still be a great player if his injuries are really behind him. And remember that the same people who told us that Didi Gregorius and Aaron Hicks – and Voit – would be good players are the same people who believe that Bird still has something in the tank.

FLORIAL SHOWING FLASHES

Estevan Florial showed many instruments this spring. It is quite impressive that he is still making bats towards the end of spring. He's not ready for the big league and hasn't played over A-ball yet. But not even Melky Cabrera at this point in 2005, the year in which the injuries forced him to raise the ranking of the minor league and to enter the most important championships for his debut. Florial is still a year or two from making a more significant impact in the majors, but a lot has already come out of this spring. And his tools are obvious.

FINDING A SEVERINO FILL-IN

Cashman said that Severino will be out until at least May 1st while recovering from his back number. While there have been no quips, it is, of course, still concern. But unless you know for sure that it's out for most of the season, then an internal option is the only thing that makes sense. Anything else – like the Dallas Keuchel signature – would seem like a trip to the emergency room to get a patch.

I feel a little uncomfortable that there isn't a guy at Triple-A with a good deal of big league experience to be completed if necessary. But in recent years, the Yankees have determined that they feel better by employing weapons with better things and upward rotation depth, rather than filling those places with guys who have a recognizable name and a major record in the league.

GO EASY ON GARDY

I noticed a lot of Brett Gardner that I hate in my Twitter feed. A couple of things to remember about last season, when he followed a family pattern of attrition in August and September.

Gardner's playing time in the second half increased due to necessity, not to design. Aaron Judge was out with a broken wrist and Giancarlo Stanton was treating a hamstring injury. Jacoby Ellsbury was, well, you know. And Shane Robinson played enough.

MORE: Keidel: Stanton feels at home in the Yankees outfield

The judge's recovery got mixed up, so the Yanks didn't add Andrew McCutchen until the August 31 deadline. A healthier outfield would have given manager Aaron Boone more opportunities to rest Gardner, who fought some knee problems in the stretch.

Although it is difficult to foresee a great offensive rebound, it is not unreasonable to think that Gardner – even at 35 – can produce an average 0.735 OPS closer to his career, in contrast to the low season last year .690 OPS.

Gardner's defense is still elitist and will earn him a lot of time playing. Aaron Hicks and Didi Gregorius are the only other Yankees considered true defenders by scouts.

Something else to note with Gardner is how hard and crazy she is. I got this early this month – not attracted by a former AL All-Star pitcher:

"Strike one, strike two and then take (ball one), foul ball, catch ( ball two), foul the ball … before you know it, it has an AB of seven or eight shots, "said the pitcher.

Sometimes it seems like fans are simply disappointed that Gardner didn't become Rickey Henderson, Bernie Williams or Johnny Damon. But don't confuse what he brings to the table.

I understand, though. No one thought that Bryce Harper would be a Yankee in 2019 more than me. Ask my SNY friends for video proof.

HIGH PRAISE

Two things to note if you saw the television broadcast last Tuesday. John Flaherty was quick to point out how much Gary Sanchez looked better behind the scenes, and Willie Randolph noticed how much he liked Kyle Holder's cap.

If Flaherty talks about a catcher and Randolph is talking about an infielder– well, let's say they caught my eye

NEARLY GO TIME

Forget about the free NFL and March Madness agency. Baseball is almost here for real. The Opening Day is now less than two weeks away. Happy days are here again.


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