Adam Warren v. Dave LaPoint (and Starter v. Reliever Velocity)

Warren vs BAL II

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Ever have a job you were performing decently, but that still left you wondering every day if a demotion is coming? Adam Warren does. While he’s not killing it, or pitching deep into games, his average of just under 5.5 IP/start isn’t awful, and not many teams have both 4th and 5th starters beating Warren’s 4.50 ERA / 4.15 FIP. But Chris Capuano‘s return was sure to cost the rotation spot of one guy a decade younger – either Warren or, it turned out, TJ patient Chase Whitley.

Old Man Capuano versus The Kids reminds me of my favorite obscure baseball quote: rookie Sterling Hitchcock‘s too-bold yet dead-on blasting of the Yankees’ impatience with trusting young starters over crappy vets. Hitchcock is a Yankee immortal to me, but for this quote, not his forgettable pitching:

You hear a lot about our young guys, but then there’s no slot for us … It’s, “Go back to [AAA] and have a great year, and thanks for coming.” It’s frustrating because you look at other teams … and you see you pitched against them in the minors.

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On Using These Off-Days To Plan For The Near Future And Improve The Roster

The Yankees had their first scheduled off-day since April 30th yesterday, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.  At the end of a stretch that saw them play 30 games in 31 days, they were playing baseball like a tired team that needed a rest.  The bats had gone cold, the bullpen had been worked hard, and there wasn’t much energy to their losses during their 1-5 week last week.  Despite that long stretch and rough finish, they still wake up today in first place in the division, with a respectably positive run differential (+15), and with another scheduled off-day on the horizon before they head home for the weekend.

The Yankees are still in a good spot, and they’re going to hopefully get some more pitching help back in the weeks to come.  I’m confident that 2 days off this week will help bring some life back to those old legs and cold bats.  But to make the most out of this now friendly off-day schedule, I think the Yankees need to do more than rest.  …

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Injury Updates: Nova And Capuano Scheduled To Pitch Today

The comeback trail continues for the Yankees’ pair of rehabbing starters, as reported by Bryan Hoch yesterday.  Ivan Nova will take another step up in workload with his ExST start, and Capuano could very well be making his last MiL rehab start with SWB this evening.  There isn’t much further to go in terms of workload once you reach 6 innings/90 pitches, so as long as he comes through the start healthy there’s reason to think that Capuano could rejoin the rotation within the next week.

If that happens, the obvious candidate to get bumped is Adam Warren.  He’s turned back into the hittable, short-inning, low strikeout pitcher he was in his first few starts after that 1-run start against Tampa at the end of April, and with David Carpenter still sputtering and Chris Martin on the DL, there’s room for another reliable middle relief arm.  …

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New Lefty Specialist Reliever CC Sabathia?

I’ll start with the Cliff Notes version of my argument. (1) CC Sabathia is no longer a big-league starter. (2) The Yankees have three southpaw relievers, but no true lefty specialist. (3) CC’s decline has been entirely against righties, so he still has use as a lefty specialist reliver. (4) This isn’t as weird as it sounds: other declining lefty starters have had second lives in their 30s as relievers.

I’ll skip the Nth discussion of how CC has been horrible for about 300 innings spanning 2013-2015, except to add that CC has zero value to the club even if he could run a 4.5ish ERA (which he can’t), because the team has too many alternatives ranging from replacement-level at worst (still better than CC) to mid-rotation-level. After Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi: (a) Chase Whitley and Adam Warren look like equally serviceable back-end starters; (b) another similar back-end starter is on the way in Chris Capuano, (c) Bryan Mitchell, who’s looked strong in AAA, is a wild card who could be awful but could be very good; and (d) Ivan Nova should return next month, and if healthy (which he seems to be) is a solid 3rd starter or better.…

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: Is Adam Warren Pitching For His Job Already?

I alluded to this in last night’s game recap, so you should probably read that first if you want to read this post in the proper context.  Adam Warren made his 4th start of the young season last night and it was the first start that you’d call good.  Before last night, Warren had struggled to translate last year’s relief success back to a starting role.  He wasn’t pitching deep into games, he wasn’t getting a lot of whiffs or strikeouts, and his stuff seemed much more hittable than it did last year.  There was talk before the season about whether Warren was better suited to work as a reliever, where he could highlight his best pitches and air out his fastball, and his early SSS results back up those points.  So with April almost over and Warren the clear “worst” pitcher in the rotation, is it already time to ask if he’s pitching for his spot?

Consider what’s happening tonight.  …

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Chris Young Needs to Play

Young vs BAL

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The season is young and the sample sizes are small and many reactions to the action thus far on the field are emotional and knee-jerk. So keep those thoughts in mind when certain beat writers bury Jacoby Ellsbury while certain writers (waving hand) of your favorite Yankee site (this one, of course) do the same to Carlos Beltran. My emotional and knee-jerk reaction is that Chris Young needs to be playing every day.

Despite playing only 41 of his 1,055 Major League games as a right-fielder, I think we can all agree that Young is going to be the better defender between him and Beltran. Carlos Beltran, in my mind, has had a Hall of Fame career. He is going to in the top ten of the greatest center fielders to ever play the game. JAWS currently has him eighth. But he isn’t that guy anymore and while his instincts may still be good in right, his body just isn’t.…

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What’s the Half-Life of a Decaying Beltran? Or: Who’s Next for Right?

This is one of those pessimistic posts I’d be happy to laugh at myself for writing, ideally after Carlos Beltran heats up. Last season, he clearly played through pain, and not for a payday — he was just starting the three-year, $45 million deal that’s very likely his last major contract — but to help the team’s faint playoff hopes. And from interviews, he seems like a good guy who cares about his quality of play. But that quality of play sure has gotten poor.

Granted, 2015 Beltran has only 30 bad plate appearances of a .143/.167/.214 line that leaves him an OPS (.381) barely higher than Alex Rodriguez‘s OBP – but Beltran has been aging ungracefully for longer than April 2015. The 2015 bad start follows a bad 2015 spring, which follows a sub-replacement 2014 (-0.2 WAR), which follows a generally injury-prone 30s. So it’s not early-season gun-jumping to be pessimistic about a guy with that record of decline and brittleness who’s just days away from turning 38.…

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Does Andrew Bailey Have Time To Steal The Last Bullpen Spot?

(Editor’s note- I wrote this post before the game today and didn’t check to see if Bailey pitched in it.)

With less than a week until the end of Spring Training and the beginning of another 162-game marathon, we’re getting down to the wire on the few remaining roster competitions.  The hottest one in Yankee camp is the battle for the last 2 bullpen spots, and that battle is down to 4 guys: Chase Whitley, Chasen Shreve, Chris Martin, and Andrew Bailey.

Whitley appears to have a spot all but locked up, and he should nail down the David Phelps Memorial long man/emergency 6th starter job with a good outing today.  Shreve has been up and down results-wise but has gotten a lot of work against right-handed hitters and has pitched 2 straight scoreless appearances, and Martin is… tall, I guess?

The wild card of the group is Bailey.  Despite his late start to game action this spring, he’s been pretty impressive.  …

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Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan, Chris Young, And Learning A Lesson From Last Year

A few weeks ago, it seemed like there was a real chance for some change in the planned Opening Day roster construction for the Yankees.  Brendan Ryan was injured, Stephen Drew wasn’t playing all that well (obligatory SSS disclaimer), and both Jose Pirela and Rob Refsnyder were doing enough in the early going to make legitimate cases for consideration.

A few weeks later, that chance has evaporated completely.  Ryan has returned to game action, Drew has swung the bat a little better and basically been guaranteed the starting second base job by Joe, and Pirela will be out for an extended period of time after colliding with the outfield wall in yesterday’s game and being diagnosed with a concussion.  Barring any more unforeseen injuries, the Opening Day bench now looks as if it will be the rather bland group of Ryan, Chris Young, Garrett Jones, and John Ryan Murphy, with Drew at second.

There’s nothing wrong with any of that, and that’s coming from the guy who’s been openly campaigning for Ryan’s immediate dismissal from the team and for Drew to be penciled into his backup infielder spot to open up a job for Pirela or Refsnyder for a while.  …

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