Scott Thompson, SNY.tv | Twitter |
The United States continues to feel the impact of coronavirus, even moreso than a week ago when MLB and the rest of the major sports leagues shut down.
As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 6,519 known coronavirus cases in the U.S., with New York (1,717 confirmed cases) having the most in the country. Some cities, including San Francisco, have ordered residents to shelter in place. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the peak of the coronavirus pandemic in the city could be in early-May.
Earlier this week, in accordance with CDC guidelines recommending for people to practice social distancing, MLB pushed back the start of the regular season even further than the April 9 start date. The second week of May is now the earliest the season will start, and the wait could be much longer.
When a season eventually can be seen on the horizon, there will be a few ways it impacts the Yankees, and it starts with their roster:
Injured players could be healthy again
The injury bug that plagued the Yankees all of last season didn't go away in this year's spring training before it was shut down. Luis Severino had to undergo Tommy John surgery, so he will be lost until next season.
But there are others like Aaron Judge (stress fracture in rib), Giancarlo Stanton (calf strain), and James Paxton (back cyst surgery) that were expected to miss at least Opening Day on March 26. Now, though, the Yankees could see some of these players back whenever the league resumes play.
So, let's say it is the second week of May the league resumes. Stanton should be expected to be back considering he is still hitting at the Yankees' facility as of Wednesday morning, per hitting coach Marcus Thames. Depending on Judge's condition, he may be able to resume baseball activities. And Paxton was shooting for mid-May to ramp his own workload up to begin with.
Either way, all injured players are currently working on returning to full health and waiting like the rest of us for the start of the season. In turn, it will lead to healthier rosters around the league, which definitely will help the Bombers.
Schedule might get harder
Right now, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred hasn't lost faith that a full 162-game season could still take place when play resumes. However, it's kind of hard to see that being the case.
The Yankees, at the moment, had a pretty easy start to their 2020 campaign. Their first two weeks of play were against division opponents with the Orioles (seven games), Blue Jays (three games), and Rays (three games) on the schedule. The Rays are obviously no pushovers, but New York should be able to take care of Baltimore and Toronto.
The Tigers, who lost over 100 games last season, are also on the schedule for seven games in April. The Reds, Rangers, Indians, and A's are the other teams that make up the first month of the schedule.
But, if things change, the Yankees could be starting off with tougher opponents. Say things just picked up right in the middle of May, the Red Sox would be their first series followed by the Rays, Astros, Brewers, Mariners and Twins...
A new trade deadline?
Losing Severino for the season -- one where the Yankees were even more primed to compete for a World Series title with Gerrit Cole on as the team's new ace -- hurts pretty bad. That's why GM Brian Cashman will certainly be expected to look at the starter market when that comes around.
But is July 31 still the deadline to make trades? If the schedule is changing, dates like the All-Star break (if there is one at all) and the trade deadline come into question.
And what if the playoff format changes where more teams are involved? Cashman could have even more competition in landing the big fish on the market that could be the deciding factor in the Yankees actually reaching their goal.
Aaron Boone has some decisions to make
While spring training was going on, the Yankees had a few position battles going. Now, Boone must make his decisions off what he saw.
The fifth starter job, for instance, is one that was ongoing. Deivi Garcia, one of the team's top prospects, was in the spring rotation so he might be the one Boone goes with. But players like Jonathan Loaisiga, Luis Cessa, and Clarke Schmidt were having good camps as well.
And while Kyle Highashioka looked to hold that backup catcher role, Chris Iannetta was having a stellar camp with eight hits -- including three doubles -- over 20 at-bats.
It's the least of the Yankees' problems for now, but when the season has a start date, Boone will need to think long and hard about these decisions.