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

Courtesy of Getty Images

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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Monday Morning Food For Thought: A Trade Opportunity Across Town

All in all, I’d say it’s been a pretty smooth start to the 2015 season for the Yankees.  All the important players are healthy, A-Rod has been a positive in every way, and the farm system has showed why it’s considered on the upswing.  The Chris Capuano injury is unfortunate, but not a mortal blow.

Things haven’t been going quite so well in Mets camp.  Their ownership continues to embarrass the organization at every turn, they still don’t have a shortstop, they have early injuries barking in their rotation, most notably Zack Wheeler’s elbow problem, and they’ve had even bigger injury problems in their bullpen.  The most recent one there is to lefty reliever Josh Edgin, who will have season-ending elbow surgery this week.  The Mets, who were already real thin at lefty before Edgin’s injury, are now dangerously thin there with 3 weeks to go until Opening Day.

You know who’s not thin in the left-handed relief department?  The Yankees.  …

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Quick Hit: Ryan’s Roster Chances Take Some Early Body Blows

The weather wiped out most of yesterday’s planned spring camp activities.  For Brendan Ryan, that was probably a good thing.  It hasn’t been a promising start to what is a critically important ST for him if he wants to stay in pinstripes.  He was the first official injury casualty of the spring, straining his back earlier in the week while doing biceps curls.  The Yankees have said he’s only expected to be out for 5 days, but backs can be tricky and they’ve been known to try to sell more serious injuries as minor ones.

Ryan has become a redundant piece on the roster with the signing of Stephen Drew and others, and I’ve been advocating for the Yanks to let Ryan go and use Drew in his role of utility infield backup for a while.  In addition to the early back problems, it appears as though that could be something that hurts Ryan’s roster-making chances as well.  Brendan Kuty reported yesterday that Joe is planning to get Drew some work at shortstop this spring, and why not?  …

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Previewing The Spring Training Roster Battles

Miller ST 2015

The new closer? Maybe, maybe not… Courtesy of the AP

The dust is still settling from yesterday’s Yoan Moncada decision, and to be perfectly honest I can’t figure out how I feel about it or how I should respond to it.  The Yankees’ entire process leading up to the decision and their explanation after the fact aren’t adding up to me, they have me in a mental pretzel, so I’m just going to back burner that for a second and move forward with normal Spring Training activity.

Roster battles are always one of the more fun ST storylines.  Something about the spirit of competition and the possibility of an unsung player performing well enough to earn himself a shot at the big time, it’s classic sports storytelling.  The Yankees don’t have a ton of really exciting roster battles on tap this spring, but there are a few that are worth following.  Here’s a quick roundup of the key ones to watch.…

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Wednesday Morning Food For Thought: A Plan For Esmil Rogers?

Rogers vs TOR

Courtesy of Getty Images

You know what move still doesn’t make a lot of sense to me?  The decision to re-sign Esmil Rogers.  It was one of the first signings made by the Yankees this offseason, well before new deals were worked out with the rest of their arbitration-eligible players.  Rogers wasn’t anything special in his time with the Yanks last year (4.68/4.17/4.05 in 25.0 IP), has been even less special in his 421-inning Major League career, and seemed a sure bet to be quickly and unceremoniously cut whenever the rest of the pitching staff was filled out with better players.

That filling out has happened, in the bullpen at least, and yet here Rogers remains.  Not only has he held his position on the 40-man from the end of last season, he may have improved that position with what he’s done this offseason.  Rogers worked as a starter in winter leagues, and Billy Eppler recently confirmed that he will be coming to camp as a starter along with Adam Warren.  …

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