NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees still have a potent 1-2 punch at the back end of their bullpen, with Dellin Betances setting up for closer Andrew Miller. The question is, how will they get from their starter to Betances, and presumably, Miller?
With the trades of Adam Warren in the deal for Starlin Castro, and Justin Wilson to the Detroit Tigers for a couple of minor league pitchers, the Yankees' bullpen lost two of its key pieces from 2015. Joe Girardi acknowledged as much on the YES Network's CenterStage last week -- "When I look at Adam Warren, he was extremely valuable to us, but we got a player in return that we believe that's going to be extremely valuable," he said -- but downplayed the loss somewhat at Wednesday's annual holiday food drive at Yankee Stadium.
"Well, [the trades] definitely change it," he said. "Some guys have to step up. We still have our eighth- and ninth-inning guys and some guys are going to have to step up. We'll figure that out."
Girardi mentioned James Pazos, a left-hander who threw five scoreless innings in 11 appearances as a September call-up and made the roster for the one-game playoff loss to the Houston Astros, as a possible candidate to replace the left-handed Wilson.
"I think he's definitely in the mix," Girardi said. "A power arm. You know, he finally threw his good slider at the end, right at the end. A young man that didn't seem to scare. So, I definitely think he's in the mix."
Earlier, GM Brian Cashman threw another lefty, Jacob Lindgren, into the conversation. Lindrgen, the team's first pick in the 2014 draft, made seven appearances last season before being shut down to have a bone spur removed from his pitching elbow.
Girardi addressed several other topics in a brief conversation with Yankees beat writers.
On his starting rotation, described by Cashman as "an area of weakness" at last week's winter meetings: "I think there is concern because of health. When you think about [Masahiro] Tanaka, coming off an injury, you think about [Nathan] Eovaldi coming off an injury, CC [Sabathia] with a knee he's had to deal with. Michael Pineda, that was the most innings he threw after substantial periods of time. So there is some concern. We had a lot of concern last year and the guys did OK for us. You go into spring training with five starters that are locked in as your 1-2-3-4-5, and you're still going to have concern. You better have depth."
On the acquisition of Castro, who will become the Yankees' full-time second baseman after playing most of his first six seasons at shortstop: "Well, I think there will be a little bit of a learning curve just because of some of the shifts. [But] I watched a lot of video of him playing second base. He seems fairly natural over there so I don’t think it will be too big of a problem. It’s a young man that’s really in the prime of his career, 25, 26 years old. I think he can out up some really good numbers here and be really successful here. It’s a guy that we feel is really going to add to our lineup, is going to add to our infield defense and he’s excited to be here."
On new Yankees outfielder Aaron Hicks, acquired from the Minnesota Twins in a trade for John Ryan Murphy: "He has an opportunity to play a lot just because of the importance of keeping guys fresh. He has the ability to play anywhere, he’s extremely athletic, he’s a center fielder by nature, he’s a switch-hitter, so it’s not a guy that you would necessarily think about pinch-hitting for. It’s a young man I believe has a lot of talent and he has a chance to thrive here."