Giving The Kids The Keys

Zoilo Almonte

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Call me crazy, but I saw something significant in the small flurry of personnel moves the Yankees made last Friday.  No, it wasn’t the end of the saddest SS platoon in history, although it did get a little dusty in here when I read that Reid Brignac was gone (not really).  It was the commitment being made to the young guys on the active roster that stood out to me.  In making that move to dump Brignac, call Alberto Gonzalez back up from Triple-A, and make Jayson Nix the everyday shortstop, the Yankees were also in effect giving the everyday starting third base job back to David Adams.  Add to that the insertion of Zoilo Almonte into the everyday lineup for Vernon Wells and it looks like the Yankees are finally ready to follow the demands of tons of fans out there and let the kids play.

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Should We Believe In David Adams’ Bat?

At the beginning of every season, we bloggers tend to have some fun with bold predictions. Not to toot my own horn, but I did pretty well in 2012. I had Zack Greinke being traded and headlining the free agent market for starters in the fall over Cole Hamels, then I had Jesus Montero, Michael Pineda, and Hector Noesi struggling with Jose Campos being the most impressive piece of last year’s trade, and then I had the Nationals’ starting rotation beating out the Phillies’. This season I predicted that the Yankees would have a Rookie of the Year contender.

adamsWhen I made this prediction, I was purposely vague, as I honestly had no idea who it would be. The Yankees have an above average farm system, but most of the top prospects are at least a year away from the major leagues. I made this prediction based on injury concerns, and knowing that players in Triple-A would get a chance at some point. It could have been Vidal Nuno, Adam Warren, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal, Zoilo Almonte or a number of other potential replacements that we watched in Spring Training. There has been some truth to it, as it’s only May and we’ve already seen a ton of rookies get a chance to play with the Yankees, yet none of them have succeeded enough to start considering them for RoY contention.

SMALL SAMPLE SIZE WARNING: David Adams has only had a handful of at bats, but he’s certainly received the most hype. Through 27 plate appearances , the infielder has already hit 2 doubles and 2 home runs while playing a very impressive third base. 7 games isn’t enough to judge any player, but his early showing has been extremely positive, and fans have already started talking about what the team should do when Kevin Youkilis returns.

Personally, I don’t buy the glove. I’ve seen him make some terrific plays, but with just 60 minor league games played at the hot corner, and a less than positive reputation by scouts, it’s hard to believe that Adams could continue to play a flawless third base. Regardless, Adams knows that he’ll live and die by his bat, and the only way he’ll stay with the major league team is to keep hitting the ball. The question remains, is his bat for real?

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First Impressions Of Adams And Romine

Adams vs BAL

While the unexpected success of veterans like Wells and Hafner dominated the early headlines, lately it’s the kids getting the bulk of the spotlight as the Yankees continue to get helpful contributions from rookies.  5 in all have made their Major League debut already this season, something that the Yanks haven’t done since guys like Mo and Jeter debuted back in ’95.  For a team that’s had its MiL system defined by a lack of upper-level impact talent, it’s notable not only for the number of players but also for the fact that the team continues to win ballgames and have those rookies be major contributors to those victories.  Vidal Nuno throwing shutout starts, Preston Claiborne getting late-inning outs in big spots, David Adams raking from the middle of the order, it’s all great.

Whether you’re a prospect hugger or not, something like watching a bunch of  homegrown rookies come up and play well is always exciting from a fan’s perspective.  Those guys are easy to root for and I always find myself paying more attention to their at-bats and plays in the field to see how they look as Major Leaguers.  For a number of reasons, I hadn’t watched a live Yankee game in a couple weeks up until last night’s ESPN broadcast.  I got my first ever look at Adams and Austin Romine last night, two guys who I ID’d last year as rookies I expected to contribute this season, and as a fan and a pseudo-prospect hugger here’s my take on them.

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David Adams Release Reaction

Adams AZFL

The Irrational Fan’s Take:

‘”What are the Yankees doing??  Why would they get rid of Adams?  He’s only 25 years old and he’s coming off the best year of his career.  He hit .306/.385/.450 and he can play second base and third base.  The Yankees are going to need infield depth this season and possibly next depending on what happens with A-Rod and Cano and they just gave away one of their top young players at those positions to clear a roster spot for Vernon Wells!  That guy Brad V. from IIATMS/TYA ranked Adams 14th in his Top 30 Prospects this year, so he’s gotta be good.

Not to mention the fact that Adams and Corban Joseph could have made a nice lefty/righty platoon DH on the bench if Hafner got hurt this season and then transitioned to second in 2014 if Cano doesn’t get re-signed.  I don’t get it.  How can they start playing Adams at third base last season and then just dump him for a player they didn’t even need?  This is why the Yankees never develop any good young position players.  They never give them a real shot.  They’ve got a bunch of kids in the Minors who can play and now they’re getting rid of them to get older.  Horrible move.  Cash should be fired right now.”

The Rational Fan’s Take:

“Adams could have developed into a nice bench player for the Yankees within the next year, but realistically what did they give up by losing him?  He turns 26 in less than two months, so he’s already old for a prospect, he’s never had a single at-bat above Double-A, and that career best year he put up in 2012 was in his second trip back to Double-A.  Yeah he can play two infield positions, but I’ve never read any scouting reports that say he can play either of them that well and I really don’t think the Yankees are going to let Cano walk and hand the position over to a still somewhat unproven guy like Adams and a limited ceiling guy like CoJo.

Not to mention the fact that Adams has had some serious injury problems in his career.  That ankle injury from a few years ago really hurt his development and probably sapped some of his physical skills, and he’s been battling a back injury all spring.  We don’t even know how he’s going to hold up physically over a full 162-game season.  Plus, I read some tweets from Josh Norris that made it sound like this was the right move for the Yankees to make if they wanted to keep Adams.  They’re not the type to just dump productive young players like that.  They felt they had to address a need now, a need that Adams couldn’t fulfill, and their 40-man roster situation put them in a tight spot.  We may not like the move to add Wells, but we’ve got to give Cash the benefit of the doubt when it comes to managing the roster and see what happens in the next day or so.”

I’ll give you two guesses on which take was mine when I first heard the news and which one was mine after I read the Norris updates.

P.S.- I wasn’t implying that my prospect rankings were irrational.  Personally I think they’re pretty damn good.  Tamar’s are probably still better, though.

(Photo courtesy of Jordan Megenhardt/MLB.com) Continue reading David Adams Release Reaction

The Young Guys Most Likely To Contribute In 2013

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) There’s still the possibility of a blockbuster trade, something I think almost all of us are secretly hoping for after the excitement-less Winter Meetings.  But with the Yankees holding firm on their free agent signing plans for this offseason, and with that plan assuredly continuing into the next offseason when the payroll goal will loom largest, the likelihood of the Yankees having to use their top-level Minor Leaguers as more than just emergency filler or roster expansion fodder is very high. We all know the Yankees don’t have much high-impact, Continue reading The Young Guys Most Likely To Contribute In 2013

Filling the Empty Corner

Before the announcement that Alex Rodriguez would–again–need hip surgery to repair a torn labrum, the Yankees’ roster situation was dire enough. Perhaps “dire” is overselling it a bit, but going into yesterday, the Yankees were without a legitimate catcher, right fielder, and designated hitter. Now, they find themselves without a wholly viable third baseman. With A-Rod’s absence looming, the Yankees will have to patch up the hot corner for an extended period of time. Internally, they’ve got options, even if they’re not great. First on the list would be Eduardo Nunez by default. Though the team is committed to him Continue reading Filling the Empty Corner

Some Glimmers Of Light In The Injury-Filled Prospect Darkness

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod) This has not been a good season for the Yankee farm system.  EJ Fagan made that perfectly clear yesterday in his evaluation of the Manny Banuelos shutdown story, which was much more level-headed than mine.  By my count, the Yankees have seen 4 of their top 5, 5 of their top 8, and 7 of their top 12 prospects miss time with injuries this season, and have had another handful of their top 20 have fantastically bad years (see: Betances, Dellin or Bichette, Jr., Dante).  I guess the one good Continue reading Some Glimmers Of Light In The Injury-Filled Prospect Darkness

Poll: Prospect Most Likely To Breakout This Spring

At the moment, any vacancy on the 25 man roster appears to be open for a reliever. Regardless, a strong enough spring could force management to consider one of the organizational prospects. Zoilo Almonte has impressed the most so far, going 5 for 6 with a double and a triple. Top prospects, Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos were scoreless in their debuts. Last year’s Scranton starters David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell were also scoreless, with teammate Adam Warren giving up one run through his first two innings. There’s also David Adams going one for four so far, a strong bat Continue reading Poll: Prospect Most Likely To Breakout This Spring

2012 Darkhorses in the Yankee System

A darkhorse in the minor leagues is a player who is talented, but flying under the radar. Most have yet to truly break out. I think that quite a few of these prospects are lurking deep down in the Yankee system. Here are the five which I think are most worth watching in 2012, in no particular order: Angelo Gumbs – Mason Williams and Dante Bichette Jr. sucked a lot of the air out of the short-season leagues this season. That’s not a bad thing, since they are fantastic prospects, but it causes us to overlook a guy like Angelo Continue reading 2012 Darkhorses in the Yankee System