First Impression Of Zoilo

Zoilo Curtain Call

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

It was a nationally televised game on ESPN Wednesday night, which gave me my first look at the newest rookie call up in 2013, Zoilo Almonte.  Almonte’s made quite the splash in his first few Major League games, contributing with his bat and glove and relegating Vernon Wells to the situational bench role he deserves.  I did this exercise last month with David Adams and Austin Romine, and my optimistic predictions for both of them haven’t exactly come true since.  But with the Yankees still struggling for offense, still trying to piece together a competent and competitive lineup every day, and still looking for some cheap young talent to fill the roster next season, it makes sense to evaluate Zoilo as a solution to all 3 of those needs.  While it wasn’t a banner night for him on Wednesday (0-3, 2 K, 1 BB), there was still some good stuff that I saw in his game.

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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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Expectations For Zoilo In A Mixed Bag Season Of Rookies

Zoilo Almonte

The Year of The Rookie continued yesterday when the Yankees recalled Adam Warren to replace Teix on the active roster and reportedly prepared to call up Zoilo Almonte as the latest attempted shake up/boost/slight upgrade/marginal improvement/whatever to the scuffling lineup.  While a corresponding roster move to make room for Zoilo hasn’t been announced yet – smart money would be on Chris Bootcheck – chances are high that we’ll see him in the lineup either today or tonight as the Yanks play a doubleheader without the benefit of the 26th man.

Warren has been a big part of the great job done by the rookie pitchers this season.  He, Preston Claiborne, and Vidal Nuno have combined to allow just 19 ER in 76.2 IP (2.23 ERA) after all getting their chance to make an impact because of injuries to the pitching staff.  As they’ve performed well they’ve seen their roles on the team change.  Warren is now the official long man out of the bullpen, Claiborne has worked his way into the mix for the 7th Inning Guy role ahead of D-Rob, and Nuno had probably bypassed Ivan Nova as the 6th starter before he hit the Triple-A DL.  For 3 guys who weren’t expected to provide much, if anything, to the Major League squad this year, it’s been a job very well done by all.

The same can’t be said for the position player rookies who’ve gotten their chance this year.  David Adams has almost disappeared from thought as a part of the offense after a hot first week replacing Kevin Youkilis.  He’s getting more PT again with Youkilis out but his season batting line sits at just .213/.234/.333 (.248 wOBA).  Were it not for his positive defensive rating he’d likely be another negative WAR player.

Austin Romine has been a negative WAR player since being called up to replace Frankie Cervelli.  -0.5 WAR to be exact, according to FanGraphs.  He’s hit even worse than Adams, with a frightening .132/.148/.170 triple slash to his credit.  Like Adams, he’s had a healthy K rate (26.8%) and like Adams, he’s yet to draw a walk in his Major League career.  133 combined plate appearances from these 2 and not a single base on balls.  That’s pretty bad.

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Boesch should not be a “major” option for Yanks

When I happen to be in my car during a Yankee game, listening on the radio, I’m surprised by just how often the Yankees face a “really good hitter.” That isn’t a distinction that I give out, but the radio voices of the team, John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman, sprinkle that phrase on batters quite liberally over the courses of the games and the season. One player they happen to lavish this praise upon is the now former Detroit Tiger, Brennan Boesch. John and Suzyn sure do love this guy and they even discussed it briefly last night during the game against the Phillies. Both commentators, of course, wanted the Yankees to give Boesch a shot. To their credit, they usually see Boesch rake against the Yankees. He owns a career line against the Bombers of .363/.369/.538/.907 with 3 home runs in 84 plate appearances. However, that is most definitely not an accurate picture of Boesch.

After hitting just .240/.286/.372/.659 (77 OPS+), Boesch’s career line is .259/.315/.414/.729. Now that’s certainly not terrible, but it’s not something that will solve the Yankees’ forecasted hitting woes. The only slightly interesting thing about Boesch, a lefty hitter, is that he has a reverse platoon split for his career, OPSing .717 against righties and .767 against lefties. That’s really about it. While we’re on his splits, it’s worth noting that Boesch has tended to start hot–he owns an .818 OPS in the first half for his career–and finishes cold: he has a .580 (!) OPS in the second half of the season. To me, this says that while Boesch gets off on the right foot, the pitchers are quickly able to knock him off of that foot and Boesch is unable to make adjustments. Given all of this, like Mike said yesterday, Boesch would be more of a project than a player of value. Signing Boesch to anything other than a minor league deal would be making a move for the sake of making a move, and we all know that doesn’t exactly work as a strategy. For whatever reason, though, he has some name cache among Yankee fans, probably because he’s happened to hit them well. Given Boesch’s profile–or lack thereof–I’d rather the Yankees just go to Zoilo Almonte if Melky Mesa–who’s seemingly won the open outfield job–can’t perform up to snuff. At least Almonte can switch hit and has flashed lots of power against righties in his minor league time.
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Warren, Joseph, And Almonte Optioned Down To Triple-A

According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees have optioned Adam Warren, Corban Joseph, and Zoilo Almonte to Triple-A.

There was some belief that Almonte had a chance to win the outfield spot, but the switch hitter has hit just .190/.227/.333 in 22 plate appearances. Almonte has never played above Double-A, so he’ll have a chance to compete out of Scranton now. The third outfield spot is looking more and more like Melky Mesa‘s spot to lose.

Corban Joseph was also an option at third base, but his defense this Spring was proven awful. Joseph also put up an unimpressive .200/.286/.200 in his 28 plate appearances, but showed off a much stronger bat in last year’s season in Scranton.

Finally, Warren will now enter his third year in Triple-A. He wasn’t spectacular in his 3 starts (5.00 ERA but a 1.000 WHIP), but he’d have a chance at a starting job on most other teams. At 25 years old, Warren still has some value, and could be a trade chip with the Yankees’ starting depth.

Also, I’m not sure about his status, as on Monday it was reported that Brett Marshall was optioned to Scranton. Yesterday, Marshall appeared in the game against Tampa Bay, and according to the Yankees’ website, he’s been called up again. I’m not sure if that was a mistake or what’s going on, but I assume that Marshall is still with the team.
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Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson

With Curtis Granderson down and out for ten weeks or so, the Yankees have a hole in left field. No injury can have an upside though there can be silver linings. “Luckily,” a lot of Granderson’s rehab time will be taken up by Spring Training and he’ll be back in early May. But on that not-so-lucky side, since it’s Spring Training, the market for outfielders is pretty thin and obviously, the timing isn’t great. There are, however, some internal options. Though it should be obvious, let’s just cross of Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams. Ramon Flores, who’s on the 40-man Continue reading Briefly discussing the internal options to replace Curtis Granderson

Nightly Links: Hughes, Pettitte, Cuts

Aside from all the Andy Pettitte news today, the Yankees actually played a baseball game, a 4-3 win over the Nationals. Starting pitcher CC Sabathia went 3.0 innings and gave up 6 hits, 3 runs, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. Rafael Soriano relieved the big lefty with an innings worth of zeroes, but then Phil Hughes came in, and well… damn was he good. According to the YES gun he was sitting around 92, but at times reaching 94 and I seem to remember a 95 in there. He was hitting spots with his fastball too, as long as they Continue reading Nightly Links: Hughes, Pettitte, Cuts

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