The Yankees are now practicing in full swing. It’s that time of year where all we really have is terrible photos from beat writers and daily press conferences, but I love it all the same. Even though it snows basically every day in New York now, it’s starting to feel like spring is right around the corner. I love it. (I also love that the Yankees and Brett Gardner are back together again. Things are as they should be.)
This is something of a mega-update, as we didn’t do one on Thursday or Friday. Moving forward, we’ll have a similarly-structured news post each day with the latest happenings around Yankee camp. Here is 44 seconds in video form reminding the rest of the league something we already know: Don’t Run on Gary:
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
The Big Story: What to do About Domingo Germán?
Domingo Germán’s return to the Yankees has been the biggest story of camp so far, without question. As usual, Germán himself is the cause here. He first posted a ridiculous Instagram story, saying that “everything is over.” He then deleted that post and put up another saying just “I’m ready.” This is not abnormal behavior for him – remember the post in which he “retired” last year? – but it is exhausting. It would be exhausting even without the extenuating circumstances, too.
And oh are there extenuating circumstances. As we all know, Germán was put on administrative leave in September 2019 and suspended for the 2020 season after a domestic violence incident that September. He has not pitched since. The Yankees have kept him aboard – this is not really all that surprising – and have repeatedly referred to him as a future piece in the rotation for two offseasons now. (Earlier this week, I said he’s probably the favorite for the fifth spot in the rotation.) Even despite all of what is to follow, Aaron Boone and Matt Blake have talked about how good he has looked in his bullpens.
This is the context in which Zack Britton spoke on Thursday, when asked about Germán’s return. It is worth posting those comments in full:
Before we go any further, let me just say that I respect the hell out of Zack Britton for this. I think it’s fairly obviously the right thing to say, but that doesn’t mean it is easy to say. Britton easily could have hidden behind some platitude – “I don’t think about that. All I am focused on is our goal of winning the World Series” – and avoided this. But instead, he took a stand and spoke several uncomfortable truths.
“You don’t get to choose who your teammates are” is a really jarring statement. You don’t hear that much in sports, where there is often a lot of rhetoric about “brotherhoods” and “going to war together.” But he is right: Britton does not get to choose his teammates. The statement also offers a blunt assessment of the clubhouse mood regarding Germán, and it suggests that he is not welcome right now.
Britton has a long history with the Player’s Association. He represents his teammates in off-field business matters and is clearly something of a leader not just in the Yankee clubhouse but for players across the league. For him to say this out loud suggests he is speaking for more than just himself. I am confident others in the Yankee clubhouse feel the same way.
So, let’s put this all in context. Since Germán last took the mound in 2019, he has:
- Abused his girlfriend either at or following CC Sabathia’s charity gala in September 2019. This is obviously repulsive behavior, but let’s not also miss the on-field element here, too, as it is relevant to his teammates: he earned himself a suspension before the postseason.
- Missed the entire 2020 season as a result of his abusive behavior.
- Repeatedly melted down on social media, driving news cycles and forcing his manager, team executives, and teammates to answer for his actions.
- Has not addressed the Yankee clubhouse since returning, though Aaron Boone says that he may do so now following all of this.
- Prompted a well-respected clubhouse leader to essentially disown him on day one of Spring Training.
This all raises a big question: why the hell are the Yankees keeping this guy around? He has not pitched since 2019, has not shown any contrition or remorse for his actions, and appears to be isolated from his teammates, best as we can tell. Most importantly, he has been abusive to his girlfriend. He is proving to be a huge distraction already, and camp is three days old. And, from a pure baseball perspective, the Yankees have plenty of other options for the fifth spot in the rotation. They don’t even “need” him! They should just cut him and be done with it. Enough is enough.
Let’s be clear. If the Yankees cut him, it will not mean his career is over. Spare me that particular indignation, please. Another team is free to sign him, and I am sure that one will. He has shown promise, teams always need pitchers, and domestic violence accusations have never stopped anyone from being protected by the powers that be in baseball. But it is increasingly clear that the Yankees should want nothing to do with him.
Zack Britton is correct when he says he cannot choose his teammates. The Yankees, however, can. The players are trying to tell their bosses something and they are not being subtle about it. Those bosses should listen before this situation continues to spiral out of control. That means cutting Domingo Germán and moving on.
Okay, so with the that out of the way, let’s get to the some fun stuff. There is no shortage of that these days, so here is a decent roundup of all of the biggest leftovers from the last three days in camp:
- The Yankees have a new, high-tech pitching center at camp now. It is, quite hilariously, called The Gas Station. I really love when the team doesn’t take itself that seriously, and this is one of those times. Anyway, pitching station formerly known as Sam’s Club is at the MiLB complex, which is pretty cool. Here are some details:
- Zack Britton says that it is equipped with “high-speed cameras all over the place” with a “bunch of new monitors” that provide real-time feedback on delivery and pitch movement. Seems great.
- One of the things that sucked about 2020 was not really seeing the new pitching infrastructure put into place because of the pandemic, and also not seeing new pitching coach Matt Blake get a full season, so this is cool to see. Hope we get more insights like this.
- Anyway, here is the list of pitchers who have thrown so far, per the indispensable Bryan Hoch: Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, and Germán, who threw to Gary Sánchez, Kyle Higashioka, and Robinson Chirinos, respectively. (So much for personal catchers! Am I right!) Also throwing, again per Hoch, was Kyle Barraclough, Luis Cessa, Jhoulys Chacin, Nestor Cortes Jr., Brooks Kriske, Jonathan Loaisiga, Lucas Luetge, Tyler Lyons, Nick Nelson and Addison Russ.
- Here is a photo of what the Gas Station looks like:
- There are a couple of notable injury updates, too. Seems like things are progressing okay, based on the early returns.
- Gio Urshela is taking grounders and throwing from third base, which is good news. Remember, Urshela had surgery on December 4 to remove a bone spur from his elbow. The initial prognosis had him missing a few months and returning right in the middle of camp. Seems like we’re on track, as Boone indicated that while he likely won’t start the first few games, he’ll be seeing game action soon.
- Luis Severino – remember him!? – is throwing from 120 feet, per Aaron Boone. He should be throwing off a mound soon, putting him on track for a return somewhere from June to August. He has only thrown 20.1 innings since Game 3 of the 2018 ALDS, which really, really sucks.
- New addition Corey Kluber says that he has “had no issues with [his shoulder] now or at any point in the rehab process.” As such, he is treating the camp like he would a normal ramp up to the season. That is good! He also says, for what it is worth, that he does not classify his breaking ball as either a slider or a curve, which makes sense.
- While Brett Gardner is back in town, Aaron Boone reiterated today that Clint Frazier is still the starting left fielder. Makes sense. Gardner is a very good fourth outfielder who will get plenty of action. The Yanks love to rest guys AND they love getting injured. So he’ll be fine, playing time wise.
- New addition Jameson Taillon took a photo of himself wearing Yankee pinstripe pants yesterday and texted it to his parents, which is positively adorable. “Even just sitting at my locker, I took a picture of my pants. I thought it was so cool. I didn’t know how it was going to feel until I actually got here”, he said.
- In music to my ears specifically, the Yankees consider Jonathan Loaisiga a reliever for the 2021 season. That is good news.
- Old friend Ben Heller signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks today. Good for him.
- Today is Clarke Schmidt’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Clarke.
- Finally, Buzzfeed News has an update on the Yankee Stadium vaccination site, reporting that many essential workers down the block from 161st and River are having a hard time getting vaccinated there. It is not a surprise, given the shortages and the way everything generally works in America, but we hope to see this get sorted out soon.
That’s that for now. I’m sure there will be more news soon, and we’ll keep you covered on that front. Until then, enjoy the day – it’s finally not snowing, and we have baseball to think about. Seems pretty good.