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Scouting the 2015 Yankees

Newsday's Erik Boland scouts and grades the 2015 Yankees.

FIRST BASE

Mark Teixeira, who turns 35 April 11, may
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Mark Teixeira, who turns 35 April 11, may be completely over his wrist problems, but he also missed time last season because of minor injuries such as lat and hamstring strains, characteristic of a player whose body may be starting to betray him. Unlike last season, the Yankees at least have a capable backup in Garrett Jones. Grade: C+

SECOND BASE

If there was one position that opposing team
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

If there was one position that opposing team scouts zeroed in on as a problem during spring training, it was second base, which will be manned, at least at the start, by Stephen Drew, who is good enough with the glove but hit .162 last season. More than a few scouts believed the Yankees’ best option, at least early before exploring the market, would have been the versatile Jose Pirela. Grade: D

SHORTSTOP

Didi Gregorius replaces Derek Jeter, but he’ll be
Photo Credit: Getty Images/ Brian Blanco

Didi Gregorius replaces Derek Jeter, but he’ll be fine as long as he focuses on replacing the mostly ineffective Jeter of 2014 and not the shortstop who, in totality, was one of the best ever at the position. The 25-year-old Gregorius has plenty of range but needs work at the plate, especially against lefties. Grade: B

THIRD BASE

Chase Headley was able to get a four-year,
Photo Credit: AP / Lynne Sladky

Chase Headley was able to get a four-year, $52-million deal out of the Yankees, who needed him desperately. They received a steady player for their money, one who in his two months with the Yankees last season quickly developed into a respected clubhouse voice. Grade: B

LEFTFIELD

Brett Gardner was one of the few steady
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Brett Gardner was one of the few steady performers for the Yankees’ offense last season and has talked about increasing his stolen bases from last season (21). Certainly not a stretch for a player who swiped 47 bags in 2010 and 49 in 2011. His work in left is Gold Glove-caliber. Grade: B+

CENTERFIELD

Like Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury was a consistent offensive
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Like Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury was a consistent offensive contributor last season. He played in 149 games, noteworthy for a player who came to the club with a long history of injuries. His luck in that regard ended in spring training when he missed a couple of weeks with an oblique strain that bears watching as the season starts. Grade: B+

RIGHTFIELD

Carlos Beltran, hampered most of 2014 by a
Photo Credit: Getty Images / Brian Blanco

Carlos Beltran, hampered most of 2014 by a bone spur in his right elbow, said it’s been several springs since he’s felt this good. But he turns 38 on April 24, and counting on someone that age to be an everyday position player could mean trouble. Grade: C-

CATCHER

Brian McCann rarely looked comfortable in his first
Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

Brian McCann rarely looked comfortable in his first year with the Yankees, but the 31-year-old, whose work behind the plate is top-notch — just ask the pitchers — has a resume that suggests that 2014 was more aberration than anything. Grade: B+

DESIGNATED HITTER

Alex Rodriguez is likely to get the nod
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Alex Rodriguez is likely to get the nod against lefthanders as long as he is productive, but with Joe Girardi needing to give veterans Beltran and Teixeira more days off in the field in an attempt to keep them fresh, DH will be spread around a bit.

BENCH

Jones can play rightfield and first base, where
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Jones can play rightfield and first base, where he could be called on quite a bit, depending on Teixeira’s health. Chris Young is OK as a once- or twice-a-week option in right, but the Yankees probably will be in trouble if he has to play much more than that. Backup catchers John Ryan Murphy and Austin Romine are solid defensively and Brendan Ryan, out until next month with a strained right calf, is an outstanding defender. A-Rod fielded what was hit to him in the spring, but the Yankees hope Headley requires few days off. Grade: B-

ROTATION

The rotation is filled with potential questions about
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The rotation is filled with potential questions about injury and durability from top to bottom, but the group was on target to make it through spring training untouched by injury. If healthy, a unit that can win a lot of games. Grade: B+

BULLPEN

The bullpen is loaded with strong power arms,
Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

The bullpen is loaded with strong power arms, starting with the impressive back end led by Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. There’s no established closer, but few have doubts about Betances’ capabilities should he leave camp with the job. The clear strength of this club. Grade: A-

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