The main thrust of Goldman’s post is this:
It’s simply this: what kind of message does the Yankees organization deliver to Hector Noesi, D.J. Mitchell (3.04 ERA at Scranton), Adam Warren (3.33), and David Phelps (2.95), when you pass them over for some other organization’s journeyman? The only possible message is that they will never be good enough, that the Yankees are so deeply suspicious of their own prospects that they would rather take someone else’s trash over their own treasure.
Let’s unpack this move a little more soberly, shall we? First of all, we have to keep in mind the terms of Gordon’s opt-out clause, which was that he could opt out of his deal with the Phillies if someone else put him on their 25-man roster. So to even bring Gordon into the organization he had to be placed on the active roster, a condition that obviously isn’t an issue with anyone currently in Triple-A. So we have to put the question of the active roster spot aside and assess whether acquiring Gordon is a worthwhile move.
To that end, I think it’s best to look at the corresponding roster moves that were made to get Gordon onto the roster. The clear space on the 25-man roster, Lance Pendelton was sent back to Triple-A, and to make room on the 40-man, the Yankees released Amauri Sanit. Considering Gordon’s fantastic peripherals in Triple-A this season, it’s entirely reasonable to expect that he’ll be a better major league pitcher than either of those two players, which means acquiring him improves the major league team at the margins. It’s a small improvement given the roles those guys were filling, but an improvement is an improvement. And if the big picture idea is for Gordon to be a long-relief/low leverage option in the bullpen this season, Phelps, Noesi, and Mitchell aren’t terribly relevant to the decision here.
Now as for today’s start, I could maybe see Goldman’s argument if not for some fairly obvious caveats. First, though Noesi has had some big league success this year, he’s pitched out of the bullpen and as such may not be stretched out enough to pitch deep into the game, a completely legitimate concern (and Noesi may well wind up getting plenty of action anyway if he’s used as a caddy for Gordon), and if Gordon isn’t good, they could always call someone else up to make the next start if they need to. Secondly, this is a temporary assignment. Right now I think the Yankees are hoping Colon isn’t out much more than the 15 days he has to spend on the disabled list, but even if (Mo forbid) he’s out for an extended period of time, you would expect Phil Hughes to take the spot when he’s ready to return from injury. Is it really such a travesty to use your big league long-reliever to make a few spot starts rather than calling up a Triple-A pitcher and starting his service clock? I’m all for giving these young guys a chance, but let’s not get carried away with the outrage here. If we outlined this situation in general terms rather than attaching names to the players, I don’t think anyone would find it that curious.
Now, the signings of Cory Wade and Jeff Marquez? I’m not sure exactly what’s going on there, other than perhaps the Yankees trying a variety of players hoping to find someone who surprises them at the back of the bullpen. And again, these guys are being asked to fill relatively marginal roles that it would be improper to insert quality prospects into. Those youngsters are much better served by starting in Triple-A then filling out the last spots in middle-relief in the majors.
Of course, pitchers aren’t the only guys in the minors who are getting slighted by the big league club these days, there’s also Jesus Montero. Many of us have been wondering if Montero isn’t a better player than Francisco Cervelli at this point, and general manager Brian Cashman answered just that question today:
Cashman was brutally honest as usual when it came to the backup catcher situation. Russell Martin is back in the lineup after missing seven of the last eight games. Francisco Cervelli, who has struggled offensively and defensively, had subbed for him. Cashman wants top catching prospect Jesus Montero to play. That’s why he isn’t being brought up to back up Martin and get occasional DH at-bats.
“Is Montero better than Cervelli? Yes he is,” Cashman said.
I can live with that. Especially with Russell Martin doing a good job behind the plate (even if he’s struggling offensively) and Jorge Posada starting to hit (at least against right-handed pitchers) I can accept that the front-office just doesn’t feel there are enough available at bats on the big league team to make bringing Montero up worthwhile. I still think they made a mistake in not putting Martin on the disabled list because of his back issue, but in fairness Martin basically admits that he flat out lied about how his back was feeling over the weekend, so it’s not necessarily their fault.
In the big picture thing, I think the Yankees are just seeing what they can get their hands on for little cost right now, and they’re mostly looking at guys who have to be in the big leagues. The kids in the minors are going to be available to them for the near future, so there’s no rush to get them on the major league roster if you’ve got a chance to try out a cheaper option first, especially if you’re looking for help in a fairly minor role. And if these guys don’t work? Well, they can always be jettisoned anytime and replaced with someone in the minors.
Just remember, the last time many of us were wondering why some of these youngsters weren’t getting more of a chance to compete with some no-good veteran players, it was when Fat Bartolo Colon was in competition for a starting rotation spot this past spring.