Coke For Long Relief?

When Tom mentioned Phil Coke as an option for the long relief spot in Joe Girardi’s bullpen, I disparaged the idea. Jerking a young pitcher from role to role can often stunt their development and hinder their performance in both roles, as Ross Ohlendorf showed us last season. However, the Yankees seem ready to use Coke much as they did Ohlendorf:

I stopped Joe Girardi in the clubhouse today as I wanted to get some clarification on how they plan to use Phil Coke.
The verdict is … reliever.
“He’s a guy we see being able to pitch multiple innings out of the bullpen. That’s how we’re going to try and develop him,” Girardi said. “Right now, he’s not a starter.”
If Coke gets stretched out enough, he would fit into that long reliever role. But being left-handed, he also could be used situationally.
“I feel like I could go four innings if they want or pitch to one batter,” Coke said yesterday.

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Chone Power Rankings: AL East Is Stacked

Chone, widely considered one of the premier statistical projection systems, recently released their initial power rankings, and the results are terrifying for all of the teams in the AL East. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays occupy the top 3 positions, with the Jays and Orioles both being in the top 15 as well (12 and 15, respectively). The competition in the division will be fierce, which gets me to a point that was discussed in the comments last night. The Yankees cannot afford to go into April experimenting with players and positions. Although the argument can be made that championships are not won in April, recent history has shown us that it certainly can be lost in the early parts of the season. With a division this stacked, it is important that the Yankees work out all of their issues during spring training, so that they can get off to a fast start. Otherwise, they may find themselves chasing two excellent teams all summer long.… Click here to read the rest

The battle begins

After Melky Cabera’s terrible 2008, the door is wide open in CF, creating quite an interesting position battle that will play out this spring. Based on Pete Caldera’s latest, it seems as though the two candidates — Melky and Brett Gardner — are already pushing each other as they both attempt to win the starting job.

Cabrera admitted that the competition against Gardner forced him to drop out of the World Baseball Classic, where he was listed on the Dominican Republic’s roster.

“I need to play [here],” Cabrera said. “I need to show the manager I’m here every day, and play hard.”

Smart move by Melky. Initially, I thought CF was basically his to lose in camp, however, after hearing Girardi rave about Brett Gardner’s speed, I’m not too sure if that’s true.

“He creates havoc. I think that’s probably the best way to describe him offensively,” Girardi said of the lefty-hitting Gardner, who stole 13 bases in 14 attempts in 42 games with the Yanks last summer.

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Melancon stating his case

From Bryan Hoch:

Jorge Posada caught Melancon during his batting practice session Sunday at George M. Steinbrenner Field, offering rave reviews. Jeter may have crowed when Cano splintered his lumber, but Jeter also cut and missed at two pitches from Melancon, grinning widely after the second one made him look silly.”His ball cuts, it sinks, it’s got late life to it,” Girardi said. “That usually translates into swings and misses, and not solid contact.”

Posada said that Melancon’s two-seamer was even more impressive than his 12-to-6 curveball, widely regarded as his strikeout pitch. Posada said that Melancon’s two-seamer cut to lefties — the reason Cano’s bat was taken out of service — and that the four-seamer was the one that prompted Jeter to flash his pearly whites.

Viewing the Yankees’ bullpen mix, Posada does not seem to expect Melancon will be on the first-base line April 6 at Baltimore. But it seems safe to wager that he’ll have his share of Opening Days if everything continues on this track, projecting as a late-inning reliever or closer type.

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Kevin Goldstein: Top-11 Yankee Prospects

Kevin Goldstein today released his annual list of top Yankee prospects. The ranking is free, although the (very interesting) comments on individuals is for subscribers only. His ranking:

  • Five-Star Prospects:
  • 1. Jesus Montero
  • 2. Austin Jackson
  • Three-Star Prospects:
  • 3. Dellin Betances
  • 4. Austin Romine
  • 5. Arodys Vizcaino
  • 6. Andrew Brackman
  • 7. Jeremy Bleich
  • 8. Alfredo Aceves
  • 9. Zach McAllister
  • 10. Phil Coke
  • 11. Mark Melancon

We disagree on quite a bit. I feel that Goldstein is underrating Melancon (identifying him as at best a setup man) and McAllister (identifying him as simply a 4th starter), while overrating some of the closer to the major league guys. He is correct that many Yankee prospects contain some level of risk, but I think that he underrates the potential of a lot of the less risky guys like Bleich and McAllister because they don’t have classic major league ace pitching styles. Guys like Arodys have the stuff, but its far too early to tell how strong their other pitching skills are.… Click here to read the rest

Jeter and Edwar hurting

From the AP we hear that Derek Jeter’s got a sore hamstring that will hinder him from running today. He’ll resume running tomorrow and doesn’t expect to miss any significant time.

Also, Edwar Ramirez apparently shut down his bullpen session due to “right shoulder tendinitis.” He’ll be examined by the team’s doctor on Monday. While the Jeter injury sounds like simple aches and pains, the Edwar injury is something that needs to be monitored.… Click here to read the rest