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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Report: Yankees Sign RHP Kyle Davies To A Minor League Deal

James Shields?  Who needs him when you’ve got Kyle Davies around, right?  Via Sweeny Murti, the Yanks have signed Davies to a MiL contract, one that presumably comes with an invitation to Spring Training.

You might remember Davies from his days in Kansas City.  If you don’t, that’s probably because he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011.  He posted an ugly 6.75 ERA and less ugly 4.39 FIP in 13 starts for the Royals then, and he’s been toiling around in the Minors ever since.  In 2014 he pitched to a not terrible 4.11/3.98 split in 124.2 IP for the Cleveland Triple-A affiliate.

Davies was never much as a pitcher when he was in his prime.  He owns a measly 15.7% career K rate and poor 10.6% BB rate.  He also had troubles with the long ball and has a career GB rate under 40%, so even at his best he would be a terrible fit in Yankee Stadium.  …

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Yankees Announce Full List Of Non-Roster ST Invites

Pitchers and catchers are a little more than 2 weeks away from reporting to Spring Training 2015.  Today the Yankees revealed a bunch more names that will be in attendance on that date as they officially announced their full list of non-roster invitations to spring camp.

The list is headlined by top prospects Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Jacob Lindgren, Greg Bird, Rob Refsnyder, and Jake Cave.  I believe it’s the first ST invite for all of them.  A group of top MiL relief prospects also got the nod: Nick Rumbelow, Tyler Webb, Nick Goody, and James Pazos.

The 6 players who signed MiL deals all had those formally announced today, confirming their participation in spring camp.  Those 6, if you don’t remember all of them, include IFers Cole Figueroa, Jonathan Galvez, and Nick Noonan, catchers Juan Graterol and Eddy Rodriguez, and RHP Scott Baker.  I’d say Baker actually has the best chance to make the Opening Day roster from this group.…

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Can Adam Warren Return To Being a Starter?

Courtesy MLBPressBox.com

Adam Warren was one of the biggest surprises for the Yankees in 2014 pitching out of the bullpen. He had a 2.97 ERA and a 3.28 xFIP and stabilized the middle innings before the Yankees got to Dellin Betances and David Robertson later in the game.

The biggest surprise with Warren was his added strikeouts and velocity coming out of the bullpen. Even though that will generally happen with most pitchers who go from starting to relieving, it was especially noticeable with Warren because he also relieved in 2013 and never showed this kind of stuff. According to Brooks Baseball, Warren averaged 95.28 MPH on his fastball after averaging 93.97 MPH in 2013 and his K/9 jumped to 8.69 last year from 7.48 the previous season.

Even after Warren’s great season in the bullpen last year, returning him to the rotation must be considered this year due to the Yankees’ lack of depth in their rotation. Top pitchers Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia are all health risks, and Chris Capuano is a performance risk at the fifth spot.…

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Covering A Short Rotation With A Deep Bullpen, Or Why I Still Want A 1-Inning Closer

Soriano Untuck

An untuck reunion would be pretty sweet, no? Courtesy of Getty Images

We’re less than 4 weeks from pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa for the start of Spring Training 2015.  When they do, the question marks and problems in the rotation will become all too real.  Every picture of Masahiro Tanaka or CC Sabathia throwing long toss is going to be a reminder that each of them may be 1 pitch away from major elbow and knee injuries at all times, and a reminder of how little depth the Yankees have behind them to fill in if/when injuries strike.

The Yanks continue to stand pat on diving into the free agent bargain bin to add an arm.  As much as some of us might want them to do that, the smarter way to upgrade the pitching staff might be to go back to the free agent reliever pool and lock up somebody to work as a traditional 1-inning closer.  The bullpen is already shaping up to be one of the deepest and best in baseball.  …

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