It seems to be the year that ex-Yankees come back. First Javier Vazquez, then Nick Johnson now Marcus Thames is returning to pinstripes. Thames started his MLB Career with the Yankees and hit a homer off future hall of famer Randy Johnson on the very first pitch of his career back in 2002.
Thames 32, signed a minor league contract worth $900,000 and could make another $900,000 in performance bonuses if added to the 40 man roster. Marcus has some pop in his bat hitting 25 Homers in 2008 and 26 homers in 2006. Not a fantastic hitter holding only a .243 lifetime average he did hit .257 against left handed pitching last season.
This if nothing else will make the Left field position a bit more competitive this spring with Randy Winn, Marcus Thames, Brett Gardner and Jamie Hoffman all biding for playing time. With this move there is a 99% chance that we will not see Jonny Damon in pinstripes again. In order for that 1% to happen it would take Damon coming to Cashman and saying “ Brian I made a mistake I should have taken the offer you gave me. Now I realize that there are more important things than money, mainly the pride of being a Yankee. I want to be a winner and I’m willing to come back on a One year deal for 2 million plus incentives.”This might get him back. It’s a mote point though as he’s not going to do that. I predict he signs with the Tigers on a one or two year deal, but certainly not for the money he wants though.
As far as the Yankees Left field position goes I don’t think Thames will make the 40 Man Roster. I think Gardner will be your starting Left Fielder and Winn will be your forth outfielder that will get playing time against lefties especially if Granderson can’t correct his leftie hitting woes. I’m guessing this spells the pre season dealings.
The Yankees also invited 20 non roster players to spring training. These are all players that play in the Yankees farm system but are not on the 40 man roster. All members of the 40 man roster will also be present. Barring unforeseen injury to one of the members of the projected 25 man roster its unlikely that any of these players break camp with the Yankees. However here are a few player that have a shot
Marcus Thames: who we already discussed has the best chance of making the 25 man Roster as it will become one of the more interesting competitions this spring.
Jason Hirsh :27 was part of a mid-season trade last year he went 4-0 at Scranton with an ERA of 1.35. Hirsh has MLB experience with The Astros and the Rockies.
Jesus Montero: Is the Yankees number one prospect and continues to improve his defense behind the plate. At 20 years old he has alot of work to do before he is ready to take a role on the 25 man roster. However should there be one of those unforeseen injuries he has a shot. Let me add the word long in front of shot.
Mike Rivera: Is the more likely Catcher to see time in pinstripes if either Cervelli or Posada go down. Rivera 33 started 31 games for the Brewers last season with to homers and 14 RBI’s in 41 games.
Kevin Whelan: Whelan, acquired as part of the Gary Sheffield deal is my favorite long shot to make the bullpen this spring. He made 44 appearances with Trenton and Scranton and went 4-0 with an ERA of 2.67 and had three saves. In 67 innings Whelan allowed just one home run.
It would be difficult to imagine an of the other non-roster invites makeing the 25 man roster. The more likely scenario is that one of them makes the 40 man roster. However it should be noted that in order to add anyone else to the 40 man roster someone else will need to be removed.Spring training right around the corner folks let the fun begin.