Dec
19

We done here?

By

I was thinking this morning: Are the Yanks basically done with the off-season? It seems so. With six starting pitchers, a slew of relievers and potential relievers, a decent number of outfielders, and an entire infield save for a definite first baseman. Check it.

C: Jorge
1B: Shelley/Betemit/eventually Miranda
2B: Robbie
3B: Alex
SS: Jete
LF: Damon
CF: Melk
RF: Abreu
DH: Matsui/Giambi
Util: Betemit
C: Molina

That’s only 12 guys (not counting Miranda, who will start the season in AAA). Since we’re not going with 13 pitchers, there’s still room for one more guy on the roster. The Yanks have done plenty fine with one utility infielder for the past few years, so I’d hope they add an outfielder — unless Betemit is getting the bulk of the time at first. In which case having someone like Alberto Gonzalez on the roster would be useful.

Pitching:

SP: Wang
SP: Pettitte
SP: Hughes
SP: Joba
SP: IPK
SP: Moose

That’s six, so six relievers:

RP: Mo
RP: LaTroy
RP: Farnsworth

And then you have the next three slots for the following players: Jon Albaladejo, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Britton, Brian Bruney, Edwar Ramirez, Jose Veras, Chase Wright, Sean Henn, Kei Igawa, Jeff Karstens, Darrell Rasner, Scott Patterson, and then the converted starter-types: Alan Horne, Jeff Marquez, Steven “Don’t Call Me” White. Further, we should have access to J.B. Cox and Marc Melancon by late May/early June, as they’ll be ready for Opening Day, and will likely open in Tampa.

So what’s left of the off-season for the Yanks is basically compiling a decent minor-league invite list, though Mark Newman thinks that “[MiL free agents] don’t want to sign with us for obvious reasons.” That being less of a chance for playing time. A minor-league free agent has a far better shot of making, say, Houston’s roster than the Yanks.

Here’s the only question I’m left with: Do you carry all six starters from the beginning, or do you let one of them — presumably IPK — work out in the minors a bit so you can experiment with four relievers at a time, rather than three?

Categories : Analysis
  • Jersey

    Digging the NOFX reference. Well-played, sir!

    • steve (different one)

      not to be confused with Jeff “Wears Birkenstocks” Karstens or Johnny “Appleseed” Damon.

  • steve (different one)

    wouldn’t IPK be the least likely of the 3 to start the season in the minors? it’s a little backwards based on their assumed ceilings, but IPK is the only one of the 3 who can probably throw 200 innings this year without being capped.

    it seems counter-intuitive, but it probably makes the most sense to start Joba in AAA to hold down his innings for a month or 2.

    but that is just one way the yankees could go, i don’t know what they WILL do. they could put one of the starters in the bullpen. who knows?

  • http://www.pinstripealley.com jscape2000

    With Melky able to play any outfield spot, Damon for LF and CF, Abreu for RF, Matsui for LF, and Shelley for RF I think the outfield is set. Betemit could play the outfield in an emergency.

    My money is on Alberto, but carrying 13 pitchers for the first month doesn’t seem unreasonable either. The Yanks open at home, have an off day, then immediately play 19 games in a row. Another day off and they play 13 in a row.

    The last few years the Yanks started the season slowly, but if the starter’s arm strength isn’t all there for the first trip through Tampa, Boston, Cleveland, and Detroit (17 of the 29 April games) we’re going to want a spare arm.

    Ohlendorf, Britton, Jonny A., Horne, and Edwar (though I could see Henn getting the nod).

    Won’t Sanchez be ready by then?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph P.

      According to Mark Newman, Humberto will not be ready for Opening Day. I wouldn’t expect to see him crack the big league roster a day before the trade deadline.

      Re: the outfield. Trust me, I’ve thought of this. There are a number of things you can do, I suppose, but when one of your OFers is the projected DH, I think it’s smart to carry five. Plus — and I’m not sure if this is just because he was rusty out there from lack of playing time — Shelley looked pretty lost in the outfield last year. He does have a cannon, though.

      • http://www.pinstripealley.com jscape2000

        I saw the Jennings piece right after I posted here.

        Re: outfield
        I guess I’m not coming up with many scenarios where you’re going to need that sixth option.
        You’re never going to pinch run for Damon, Abreu, or Melky. I’d only pinch hit for Melky with Duncan against a lefty.

        The real problem is that the Yanks don’t have anyone on the 40-man who could play center or left once every two weeks.
        Joe is coming from the NL- I expect him to have Torre’s willingness to give up the DH in the interest of putting the best defense on the field in a pinch.

    • blah

      I also think the Yankees will lean towards keeping Gonzalez up, assuming he does well enough during spring training. Betemit isn’t really that solid of an infielder, and I thought I read that Girardi wanted to give Jeter and Arod more rest during the regular season.

  • David

    Kennedy isn’t likely to start in the minors because he can throw 200 innings this year. I think you start Mussina as a long man, but he’ll still get plenty of starts to keep the innings down for Hughes and Joba.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      That will go over well with Mussina.

      • eric from morrisania

        I don’t give a crap if it doesn’t go over well with Mussina. What makes more sense: Giving starts to a 39 year old pitcher who everybody knows is washed up, or giving starts to the three young studs who everybody predicts greatness for? I’d rather have IPK, Joba, and Hughes start the year in the rotation, because when they struggle (and they will), Mussina can be a valuable replacement, and he clearly does better on longer rest anyway. Versus Mussina struggling and teammates dealing with the constant “will he or won’t he” questions regarding whether he’s done or not. The diplomatic way to handle it is to say that we’re in a youth movement and we’re committed to the young guys being in the rotation… this way, Moose is the savvy vet helping the kids and the white night who steps in, a la Aaron Small, to post a heroic win in a crucial spot start in relief of a kid who got rattled and needed to skip a start here or there.

        Bottom line: Line up our six starters in a row. The top five get the rotation spots. Moose is probably #6 in that line, so he’s the odd man out. Hell, we can go with a 6 man rotation for damn near the first 6 weeks anyway, it’s probably for the best for all involved; no need to pull a hammy in April and derail anyone’s season.

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    One word: Johan.

    As long as that one’s still out there, the Yanks can’t really be done with the off-season.

    • http://yanksfansoxfan.typepad.com/ysfs/ Nick-YF

      Exactly, Ben. I think there’s a decent chance that the Yanks are far from done. If they were to go for Johan and actually landed him, I think a number of moves will have been made or have to be made. A Johan deal might follow or cause a number of moves that would change the look of our entire outfield. Say Matsui’s traded to clear salary, and Melky is included in thepackage for Santana, then you have holes in the outfield. Cashman has always liked Cameron. My guess is that the Yanks would go after him hard. Still, they would also need another body out there. Perhaps, Brad Wilkerson would do.

  • Tripp

    Why can’t Kennedy start as the long man. If Joba is schedule to pitch allow him to go 5 or 6 innings and then pitch Kennedy 3 or 4. Obviously, it won’t work out that perfect everytime. I guess that’s just wishful thinking.

  • Glen L

    Albaladejo, Veras, Ohlendorf, and depending on how he looks in spring training i’d rather start with 7 relievers and give ramirez another shot .. his change is just so nasty

  • http://yankeesetc.blogspot.com/ Travis G.

    the Yanks didn’t trade for RJ until mid February, so you never know, but assuming (and hoping) they’re done now, the only question is the pen.

    they basically have 5 OFers, 3 1b, a UIF and a BUC. that’s 6 backups right there (with some players overlapping of course).

    with a versatile bench, so many games early on and 2 starters being on ip caps, they could definitely have 7 guys in the pen. Mo, Farns, Latroy are set. the rest just depends on ST, but i predict it will be: Edwar, Alby, Ohlie and Igawa. it’s a pen that could either be great or horrible, but one could say that about any pen in baseball.

    by mid/late-season though it’ll be quite different, with Sanchez, Horne, Melancon and Cox possibly being there. that has the potential and likelihood to be a truly great pen.

    And with the possibility of Latroy sucking, he could be released, opening up another spot (Patterson, White, Robertson, Veras?).

  • sabernar

    Veras will make it. He’s pitched too good this offseason. Of course, if he sucks in Spring Training, he’ll be sent back to AAA, but it almost seems that he’s turned a corner and he just needs some time in the majors to prove himself.

  • mike

    i keep thinking of a Rasner/Karstens/Igawa at the endof the rotation for the first few times around, and leaving Hughes and Joba somewhere warm for the cold months – this will keep their innings down/under strict control, and not subject these yourng arms to the weather of Cleveland in April. Come Mid May, or depending on how bad (or good) a few of these guys are especially since they are fighting for jobs (especially since pitchers are far ahead of hitters in the Spring – remember Karstens looking like Cy Young in Spring Training a few years ago), we can feed the young guys in the rotation, and maximize their innings during the warm months to get them thru the end of the season

  • http://nyyu.blogspot.com Mike

    Dump Mussina.

  • eric from morrisania

    I assume at this point that Johan won’t move before the season opens. We’re not including Kennedy in the Hughes/Melky deal, and the Sox are blowing smoke.

    What I still want, though, is one more outfielder, and one who’s an above average defender. And, we can use all that surplus bullpen depth to get it. Hawkins and Farnsworth are basically interchangeable, so I’d love for us to deal Farnsworth to someone for an ML-ready defender.

    Maybe SF for a deal centered around Rajai Davis? Davis is 27, a superb athlete and plus defender, and hit .282 in 51 games of spot work for the Giants. He’s expendable now that they signed Aaron Rowand. We’ve already kicked some tires with them in the now-dead Matsui deal. Fred Lewis is also there, and he’s basically a lefty clone or Davis, so they’re not losing much… Ryan Spilborghs in Colorado? Marlon Byrd or Freddy Guzman in Texas?

    Lastly, we need to cross our fingers that Sean Henn, Chase Wright, Kei Igawa, or Ben Kozlowski can be a reliable lefty in the pen…

  • Kevin23

    So what is the over-under on the number of mid-season call-ups who end up making the post-season roster?

    I’m guessing at least 3-4.

  • Steve A

    I’m torn on what to do with Hughes. Do you keep him in the bigs to work with Dave Eiland or let him develop a little bit more in the minors?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

      Why would you exile Phil Hughes to the Minors? After September and October, do you really think he needs more work in the Minors? There’s no point in having him face crappy hitters at AAA anymore.

  • ikl

    Henn is out of options so he will probably make the team out of ST unless he is really awful in March. Bruney as well. If the Yankees thought that these two wouldn’t make the team, they probably would have removed them from the 40 man roster already. This makes the picture in the pen a lot more clear I think. The real question is how long these guys last in the big leagues. With all the other options, they had better get off to a good start in April.

  • Rob_in_CT

    Rotation ideas that do not involve any of the big three going back to the minors:

    OPTION 1:

    Wang-Pettitte-Kennedy on normal rest.
    JobaPhil as tandem starters in the #4 spot. One guy starts and goes 4-5 innings/90-100 pitches (whichever he hits first), the other finishes, and they switch roles the next time ’round.
    Moose as 5th starter.

    OPTION 2:

    First Half:
    Wang-Pettitte-IPK-Moose-JobaPhil. JobaPhil, as fifth starter, has innings limited by both tandem starter setup (no more than 5/start) and # of starts.

    Second Half:
    Wang-Pettitte-IPK-Phil-Joba.

    This might be more like “first 2/3, last 1/3″ in order to stick with caps of ~150 innings for Phil and Joba.

    OPTION 3:

    Wang-Pettitte-IPK-Phil-Joba, with 2 long relievers carried: Moose and Rasner (If you think Rasner sucks, feel free to pick somebody else). Those guys shadow Phil and Joba, who are capped at 5 innings/start.

  • http://skyking162.com Sky

    Is the Melky/Damon CF/LF combo really that exciting? Melky can’t hit and Damon’s a poor hitter for a left fielder. Damon’s range is much better than Melky’s and I doubt Melky’s arm comes close to making up the difference. I’d much rather have Damon in center and Hideki in left. Melky’s advantage over Matsui in the field is nowhere near Matsui’s advantage at the plate, and I’m a big fan of defense. Do the Yankees have the funds to take on a real 1B/DH option like Adam Dunn in exchange for Melky?

    Mussina’s certainly not an ace any more, but he’s better than his 2007 ERA and he provides innings so that the young guys don’t have to go over 180 each. If Girardi was willing to think outside the box, IPK, Joba, and Hughes would all take turns coming out of the bullpen over the first three or four months, then Girardi would pick a fulltime rotation for the stretch run.

    • Kevin23

      I’ll take the 24 year old Melky’s .280 average, great arm, and decent speed on the bases over most guys around the league. Saying he can’t hit is just unfair. Matsui is a one trick pony…hitting. And he only hits a whopping 20 points higher at his peak. He needs to DH. Melky can be worked with on patience at the plate, taking better routes to balls, etc. Damon is aging and falling apart physically.

      And the last thing we need is another first baseman who’ll need to be a DH within a few years. With Posada, Damon, and all the young guys able to play there, I really can’t justify paying for an Adam Dunn (who strikes more than anyone in baseball).

      But I do like the idea of rotating the starters for a few months to see what sticks. Each season, after all, is like a snowflake.

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Girardi was a pitcher’s catcher, meaning he could bring out good stuff in a lot of pitchers. I predict he works with Moose and Farnsworth to try to get their stuff shining once again. My gut tells me Girardi is not going to give up on either of them too easily. But if we could convert Moose to a reliever that would be great or rotate Moose and Joba in and out of starting/relieving. Even Hughes did a phenomenol job coming out of the bullpen during the playoffs.

    That being said I have no idea how Girardi is going to work the rotation, but it should be interesting.

  • http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/book-2.php?id=978-0-7864-3211-0 Ray Istorico

    the Yanks will indeed be done if Matsui is traded and they don’t improve the bench to a marked degree (or clone Wilson Betemit). does anyone see Damon or Abreu playing in 150+ games without injury? Girardi will be longing for the days of Tim Raines and Chad Curtis if any of the supposed starting outfielders are lost for part of the year.

    Regards,
    R

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