It is time for another edition of Thursday Thoughts. Spring training is underway, and there has been plenty of baseball to watch. Gary Sanchez’s homerun over the scoreboard yesterday is hopefully a nice foreshadowing of the upcoming season. As always, if you have topics that you would like me to discuss in this segment, please feel free to tweet ideas and questions @ThomasStHilaire.
1. Aaron Boone
Aaron Boone has been a refreshing presence this spring. Joe Girardi was great during his time in pinstripes, but on a personality level, Boone represents the exact opposite of Girardi in many ways. During the games, you can see him engaging with the players in a way that Girardi never did. You can even hear him yelling from the dugout and cheering on players. He may not keep that up throughout the season, but it certainly adds a level of energy that did not exist before.
His leadership and communication off the field is also an excellent bonus. Boone was a hero in the postseason and was also benched during big games in his career. As a result, it seems that his experiences allow him to connect with players differently. There were reports about how he built relationships with players in the offseason, and there are players like CC Sabathia who have played with him. This clearly seems like a different situation this year. The Yankees replaced the business-driven Girardi with the communication-driven Boone.
2. The Infield (part 2)
Last week I wrote about how much I love the Brandon Drury trade. I look forward to seeing the improvements he made after working with hitting coaches Craig Wallenbrock, Tim Laker, and Robert Van Scoyoc during the offseason. This is the crew that transformed the swings of J.D. Martinez and Chris Taylor.
This presents an interesting situation for Miguel Andujar. I like Andujar a lot, and I think there is a fair argument for him starting at third base on Opening Day. We know that he can handle AA and AAA pitching so facing MLB caliber players is the next logical step for him. At the same time, sending down Andujar for a month allows the Yankees to evaluate the true talent of Tyler Wade. Wade, like Andujar, mastered AAA pitching, and I wonder if the Yankees are trying to gauge how he performs in a full-time role. It is not an easy decision, but I think it is reasonable to take a month and evaluate the talent of Wade. Andujar will get his chance.
3. Jordan Montgomery
I am really excited about Jordan Montgomery this season. It is easy to forget about him with all of the talent that is on this team. Last year, he was not Judge, Sanchez, or Severino, but he was extremely effective before being sent down to the minors to monitor his innings. He also mentioned to Dan Martin a couple of weeks ago that he is still working on improvements, with a specific focus on implementing his changeup more. Even without his changeup, and heavy reliance on his curveball, he was still the best rookie pitcher in baseball. He finished the season with a 3.88 ERA in 155 1/3 innings. Maybe more people would have noticed if Judge and Sanchez stopped hitting so many home runs.
The Yankees play the Atlanta Braves Friday at 1:05 pm. Tanaka will be taking the mound, and the game will be aired on the YES Network.
Photo credit: Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports