What’s The Plan For David Phelps?

Pop quiz- Is Phelps starting or relieving in this picture? Courtesy of Getty Images

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

Or perhaps the more appropriate question to ask would be, IS there a plan for David Phelps? Despite performing admirably as both a starter and reliever for the Yankees this year, Phelps has been unable to nail down a set position and role on the staff, and has been shuttled from bullpen to rotation and from the Majors to the Minors almost non-stop since the season began on April 6th. Making the transition to the show is almost never easy for young players (unless you’re Mike Trout), and as a pitcher with an ever-changing role it has probably been even more difficult for Phelps. Yet Phelps currently sports a very good 2.78/3.95/3.62 slash line on the year, and his 9.73 K/9 is tops on the team for pitchers who have thrown more than 45 innings this season.… Click here to read the rest

It’s Time To Call Up Dellin Betances

Get the kid back in pinstripes. Courtesy of Michael L. Stein/US Presswire

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

On paper, Dellin Betances is everything you would want in a pitching prospect.  He’s a big, hulking kid with top shelf electric stuff.  With that combination, saying his ceiling is a right-handed Randy Johnson is not outside the realm of possibilities, and Betances is the most decorated prospect currently in the Yankee system.  He’s appeared on more organizational top 15, top 10, and top 5 lists than anybody, and has been on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects 3 times, including each of the last 2 editions.  He’s also having arguably the worst year in his 6-year Minor League career this year, and at age 24 he’s rapidly approaching make-or-break territory.  That being the case, I think now is the time to pull the trigger and bring Betances up to the show and stick him in the bullpen.

And it’s not because I don’t think he can eventually become a good, possibly great starting pitcher in the future. … Click here to read the rest

The Benefit Of 20/20 Foresight (And Failing To Use It)

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

I’m always the first to pipe up about Joe’s on-field decisions when it comes to managing his bullpen, be they good calls or bad calls (usually bad).  But for the Yankees to extend that questionable bullpen decision-making to the pre-game, well that’s something I’m not familiar with and something I was very surprised to see play out yesterday.  If you were not aware, the Yankees entered last night’s game quite understaffed in their relief corps after the previous 2 games.  Let’s review:

  • David Phelps– Unavailable after pitching 2.1 innings in relief of Freddy Garcia on Tuesday night
  • Cory Wade– Ditto
  • D-Rob- Unavailable after pitching 1 inning in consecutive nights on Monday and Tuesday
  • Mo- Ditto*

* (Mo shouldn’t have been available, but when your team gets the lead in extra innings on the road, you can’t leave that lead in the hands of Clay Rapada)

That left the Yankees with just 2 guaranteed available arms out of the ‘pen last night in Boone Logan and Clay Rapada, both guys who are best utilized as short-relief lefty specialists. … Click here to read the rest

Accelerating The Learning Curve With $189 Million

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

With Hal and Cash making the magic number of $189 million official last week, we now know without a doubt that the Yankees are going to make a concerted effort to get the payroll at or below that number by 2014.  It’s an aggressive goal, but a worthy goal in the big picture, and it will certainly come with some casualties as it’s already very clear that not everybody on the current roster can be retained while keeping the payroll below the $189 mil threshold.  That being the case, the Yankees are going to have to lean on their young players more in 2014 to help make this goal a reality, and not just as fodder to fill out the 40-man roster or as a placeholder while somebody else is on the DL.  The Yankees’ goal every year, regardless of budget, is to win, and to do that while cutting payroll they are going to need some serious production from this current crop of high-level young players. … Click here to read the rest

Wang Called Back

Chien-Ming Wang was expected to start for SWB tonight, as the Yankees were hoping to see his improved sinker manifest itself in a game after he had displayed it in a bullpen session before team officials. However, with Joba Chamberlain bruising his knee and the bullpen going 8.2 innings last night, those plans have changed. From Mark Feinsand:

Chien-Ming Wang will be back with the Yankees for Friday night’s game against the Phillies.
After Joba Chamberlain’s first-inning knee injury drained the bullpen on Thursday night, the Yankees ordered Wang – who was on his way to Pawtucket to pitch Friday night for Triple-A Scranton – to turn around and head back to New York, according to a source.
The Yankees will have Wang in the bullpen Friday night as a long reliever, the source said, though the plans beyond that haven’t been determined.
Wang could be on standby in case Chamberlain’s bruised right knee prevents him from making his next scheduled start on Tuesday in Texas.

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The Current Roster And Upcoming Changes

With all of the changes to the Yankees roster over the last few days, I thought it would be constructive to lay out the roster as it currently stands and highlight some possible upcoming changes.

Lineup

C: Jorge Posada
1B: Mark Teixeira
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Derek Jeter
3B: Angel Berroa
LF: Johnny Damon
CF: Brett Gardner
RF: Nick Swisher
DH: Hideki Matsui

Bench

UIF: Ramiro Pena
CF: Melky Cabrera
C: Jose Molina

Rotation

The Christmas Toy divx

Joba Chamberlain
CC Sabathia
AJ Burnett
Andy Pettitte

Bullpen

Mark Melancon
Dave Robertson
Damaso Marte
Jose Veras
Phil Coke
Jon Albaladejo
Edwar Ramirez
Mariano Rivera
Steven Jackson

The Yankees are carrying a whopping 13 pitchers, including 9 relievers, due to Chien-Ming Wang hitting the DL. There are a number of changes to expect in the next two weeks. Phil Hughes will start on Tuesday, and Brian Bruney should be back within two weeks, as should Alex Rodriguez. Furthermore, the Yankees desperately need another bat off the bench, as Tyler Kepner notes:

They had Jorge Posada at third and Hideki Mastui at second against the Red Sox’ Ramon Ramirez, with Angel Berroa and Brett Gardner due up.

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How The Roster Crunch Will Affect The Pena/Berroa Decision

A few days ago, I discussed the battle for the utility infielder spot that is being waged between Ramiro Pena and Angel Berroa. At the time, this is what I said:

It seems pretty close. While Berroa has obviously had a great spring with the bat, he has only taken one walk compared to 4 by Pena. Berroa has shown significantly more power, while Pena has been better on the basepaths. Defensively, although Pena has more errors than Berroa, he is widely considered a great defensive shortstop, while Berroa is deemed one of the worst. Joe Girardi is not going to have an easy answer here, as both players have earned a look. Personally, I would start the season with Berroa, being that this is doubtful to be a full season role. Once A-Rod comes back, Cody Ransom is likely to move to the bench, sending the winner of this job to the minors. The Yankees might be better off trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Berroa for a few weeks while allowing Pena to develop normally in Scranton.

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Final Roster Spots: Center Field (Updated: Gardner Wins Spot)

Throughout the day, I looked at the battles for the final spots on the Yankees roster: the last reliever, the battle for CF, and the utility infielder fight. I started with the 7th reliever, continued by looking at the utility infielder role, and will now wrap up the series by discussing the battle for center field.

Unlike the last two roster spots that I discussed, it seems that this fight is not for a spot on the team:

The competition between centerfielders Brett Gardner and Melky Cabrera is likely to end with both players making the Yankees.

“That’s probably my expectation right now,” manager Joe Girardi said Friday.

Girardi was not ready to reveal which player he wants as the starting centerfielder, though he did say he has one in mind. He and other Yankees decision-makers, most notably general manager Brian Cashman, plan to sit down and discuss that and other roster decisions in the next couple of days….

“The thing is we have two capable centerfielders,” Girardi said.

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Final Roster Spots: Utility Infielder

Throughout the day, I will be looking at the battles for the final spots on the Yankees roster: the last reliever, the battle for CF, and the utility infielder fight. I started with the 7th reliever, and will now continue by looking at the utility infielder role.

When the preseason started, most Yankees fans assumed that the UI role would come down to a battle between Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa. Although many hoped that they would go out and sign a veteran with a solid bat to fill that role, Brian Cashman’s reputation of skimping on the end of the bench made that unlikely. Alex Rodriguez’s injury and Derek Jeter’s involvement in the WBC changed the landscape a bit, as Ransom was given the starting #B job and Ramiro Pena looked good at short in Jeter’s stead. Before we dig into the spring stats, let us take a look at some praise for Pena:

“When I first saw him three years ago, you could knock the bat out of his hands,” said one veteran scout whose primary assignment is in the minor leagues.

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