Pete Caldera ponders the raging "decisions" yet to be made in Camp Tampa before the Retrieval Empire heads north. And for a team that hasn't won a post-season game in three years, and which looks to chase the Wild Card bubble again this season, there are no competitive openings in the everyday lineup, and remarkably few on the 25-man. We talk about "competition" in the same way that Stephen Hawking talks about sex: The last decision happened long ago, and at this point, we're just trying to remember what it was like.
Does anybody really see a "competition" between CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Bryan Mitchell for that fifth starter slot? I don't. Mitchell is having a great spring, while the two vets have served batting practice, but he is as destined for Scranton as Gawker is for bankruptcy. No matter how bad he is, Sabathia will pitch until July 1, or the DL, whichever comes first. Don't get me wrong: I can't blame the Yankees for giving him a good long rope. I just don't buy the notion of competition here.
For backup catcher, did anybody really think the Yankees would keep the prospect, Gary Sanchez, from Day One, thus pushing up the date for his future arbitration? Hello-o-o? Have we been watching the Yankees under Food Stamps Steinbrenner? They'll save money with Sanchez "playing everyday" in Triple A. The only question is whether Austin Romine will beat out Carlos Corporan for backup catcher, and that's about as exciting as guessing zip codes.
There is a choice at utility infielder, but excuse me if we don't leave the theater early, because it's the same movie as last spring: Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. In this case, the dying girl is Rob Refsnyder, who is "battling" two good-field/no-hit veterans - Pete Kozma and Ronald Torreyes... that is, until the MLB waiver wire explodes next week with a fresh crop of table scraps. Someday, Refsnyder will have a fine career, but probably not with the Yankees. They always find a flaw, a reason, to send him to Scranton for "seasoning." And if, by chance, he does beat out the others, he'll always know that he's one botched ground ball from eternal banishment. The guy must have dated somebody's daughter. Does he use the wrong fork? Does he have bad breath?
Finally, there is the annual fishing derby for the final bullpen slot, a chase among people known only to ardent Yankee fans and lifelong Scrantonians. Somebody will win it - for a week. As soon as the bullpen gets overworked - that is, after Sabathia and Nova pitch - we'll be sending out for reinforcements the way Fox News does for fresh blondes.
For a team this middling, how do we always end up with a lineup so inert?