A-Rod disabled; Musings on Pena

Honoring — and desiring — Sweet Lou
Pedroia calls A-Rod a 'dork'

Ramiro PenaAlex Rodriguez officially hit the disabled list today, four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip. He was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to March 27th, so he’s eligible to be activated on April 11th. That’s only five weeks out from surgery though, ahead of even the most optimistic of projections, however an assignment to the 60-day DL would have shelved him until May 26th, far beyond the worst case scenario of nine weeks of rehab. No matter how Cody Ransom performs in his stead, A-Rod‘s return to the lineup will be a welcome one.

As Ben mentioned earlier, A-Rod’s spot on the roster will be kept warm not by Angel Berroa, but by young Ramiro Pena. This is a pretty noteworthy development to me, because it shows how committed the Yankees’ front office is to getting  players that are younger, more athletic, and better defensively on the roster. Berroa is an experienced veteran with over 2,700 big league plate appearances to his credit and had an excellent camp (.371-.381-.597), so it certainly would have been understandable if the Yanks gave him the final bench spot. In fact, Joe and I advocated it in last week’s radio show.

Instead the Yanks went with Pena, a career .266-.330-.357 hitters the minors. He’ll jump right to the bigs without ever appearing in Triple-A because the Yanks value his top-of-the-line defense at multiple infield positions and speed off the bench. In years past they would have opted for the more seasoned player with some hardware and more of a name, it’s just how the rolled. But the Yanks are a team in transition, and they don’t need Pena to contribute offensively off the bench (they have Nick Swisher for that), they need him to shore up other weaknesses. It’s part of a continued progression towards becoming a more multi-dimensional team that is as good at preventing runs as it is scoring runs.

Pena is just one of the first steps, right along with Brett Gardner being named the starting middle outfielder and the signing of Mark Teixeira. The next step is replacing aging and declining veterans in the final year of their contracts with young blood – like Austin Jackson – in the offseason. Ramiro Pena may or may not be able to hack it as a big leaguer, but just the simple fact that he’s going to be on the Opening Day roster speaks volumes about where this team is heading.

Photo Credit: Robert F. Bukaty, AP

Honoring — and desiring — Sweet Lou
Pedroia calls A-Rod a 'dork'
  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    I’ll just be waiting breathlessly for the first time Joe Girardi takes Derek Jeter out of the game for defensive purposes in a close game.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      I’m willing to bet that happens zero times in the next two years.

      • Drew

        me too.

  • Stryker

    just the simple fact that he’s going to be on the Opening Day roster speaks volumes about where this team is heading.

    couldn’t have said it better.

  • http://nyfaninboston.blogspot.com/ Manimal

    The past two games have me seriously concerned about Jeter’s future at Shortstop, maybe the yankees need to draft a couple SS out of college to keep this whole youth movement going.

    • whozat

      No, the Yankees need to continue to draft the best available players at every opportunity, and acquire their next shortstop some other way. Drafting in the bottom half of the first round will almost never yield a quality, college-refined position player. Any college SS the Yanks could draft will either be destined to be a UT player, converted to a pitcher, or be so unlikely to ever be a productive MLB SS that you’d be more likely to win the lottery.

      They’ll have to either sign someone whose small market team can’t afford to keep him, or use someone like Wang or Hughes in a package to get him.

      • RustyJohn

        Today’s sign of the apocalypse- I have agreed with everything whozat has said this evening….lol.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

        Drafting in the bottom half of the first round will almost never yield a quality, college-refined position player.

        I’m sorry, but that’s not true at all.

        • whozat

          Ok. You know more than I do. But I’m pretty sure this guy is envisioning drafting some college SS that can step in as the MLB starter at the end of Jeter’s contract, or shortly thereafter.

          When was the last time a team drafting when the Yanks do got a shot at a kid like that?

          • Stu H

            From John Sickels at http://www.minorleagueball.com/2009/2/26/772444/the-recent-history-of-shor

            Only five shortstops who received significant playing time in the majors last year (Jeter being one of them) were drafted in the top half of the first round.

            The most logical place for the Yankees to find a shortstop would be among international free agents, as 11 shortstops came from that route, and the Yankees can use their financial might to find those guys.

            Here’s a full list of details:

            Derek Jeter – 1st round, 6th overall
            Troy Tulowitzki – 1st round, 7th overall
            Felipe Lopez – 1st round, 8th overall
            Khalil Greene, 1st round, 13th overall
            Stephen Drew – 1st round, 15th overall

            Bobby Crosby – 1st round, 25th overall
            JJ Hardy – 2nd round
            Jimmy Rollins – 2nd round
            Yunel Escobar – 2nd round
            Ryan Theriot – 3rd round
            Jeff Keppinger, 4th round
            Michael Young – 5th round
            Brendan Harris – 5th round
            Mike Aviles – 7th round
            Jack Wilson, 9th round
            Jerry Hairston – 11th round
            Jason Bartlett – 13th round
            Nick Punto – 21st round

            International Free Agents: Ramirez, Reyes, Guzman, Peralta, Cabrera, Aybar, Scutaro, Tejada, Renteria, Izturis, Uribe

            High School: Rollins, Hardy, Jeter, Lopez

            Junior College: Punto, Wilson

            College: Drew, Young, Aviles, Theriot, Bartlett, Hairston, Harris, Crosby, Keppinger, Tulowitzki, Greene

            Latin America including Cuba: Ramirez, Reyes, Guzman, Peralta, Cabrera, Aybar, Scutaro, Tejada, Escobar, Renteria, Izturis, Uribe,

            • whozat

              Ok…My initial thesis was that the Yankees should not start drafting college shortstops to try to find a replacement for Jeter. Seems like your data supports me…

    • http://www.youtube.com/kevyyankees Kevin G.
    • Drew

      guy, two games should never affect your thinking. Keep it together!!!

  • Diony

    I agree, we needed that young homegrown utility infielder since Gonzalez got traded.

    Maybe Russo can earn the spot next year.

    • whozat

      …really?

    • steve (different one)

      Gonzalez wasn’t “homegrown”, and while i enjoy rooting for homegrown players as much as anyone here, if there is one position i could care less where they came from it’s utility infielder.

  • Muel

    pena in for games wang starts. let jeter dh. ego intact. done.

    • anonymous

      Take the leash off Hank and have him lay a smackdown on Jeter. Enough is enough.

    • ClayBuchholzLovesLaptops

      Or: On days CC pitches, play Pena for Ransom and let CC hit for Pena.

  • Rich

    This is a pretty noteworthy development to me, because it shows how committed the Yankees’ front office is to getting players that are younger, more athletic, and better defensively on the roster.

    Exactly, that’s why I said on another thread that I like the thought process behind the move.

  • Januz

    People seem to forget that they still have Carmine Angellini and Garrison Lassiter who they drafted the last two years. If they decide not to sign Jeter at the end of the 2010 season, they can play someone like Pena while waiting for one of those two guys, and make up the offence in another spot (Think Carl Crawford would look good in Pinstripes?).

    • whozat

      Carl Crawford and Damon have OPS+ed around 115 over the last several years, though Crawford had an off year in 08 and Damon had one in 07. So…replacing Johnny with Carl won’t actually upgrade the offense. Not saying that Crawford won’t be better than Damon going forward, but if you’re looking to upgrade the offense out of LF, Crawford isn’t doing that.

      • Tom Zig

        But Crawford is better defensively and is younger no?

        • whozat

          Again, I was not talking about signing Damon for the future vs signing Crawford for the future. I was talking about signing Crawford as a means of getting better in LF. And the numbers do not support the conclusion that Crawford will put up better numbers in LF over the next several years than Damon did last year and, hopefully, will this year.

          And the two were pretty comparable defensively in LF last year as well. We’ll see how they compare this year.

      • Rich

        Damon actually has a significantly higher career wOBA:

        Damon:.349

        Crawford: .339

        It will be interesting to see how Matt Holliday’s 2009 wOBA will compare with his career .402.

    • anonymous

      Dont resign Jeter???

      Start Pena???

    • Drew

      What do you mean by “not to sign jeter?” This is some foreign language?

    • Chip

      I’d say Angellini and Lassiter have a combined 1/10 shot of ever being even a useful utility player in the big leagues. I mean those guys are so far away and don’t have that obvious talent of a Longoria or A-Rod coming out of the draft.

      The Yankees won’t go into the 2010 season with somebody like Pena as their starting shortstop. The media in New York would KILL them and the fans would go ballistic. The only way to get Jeter off of shortstop without a huge public backlash is either have a guy like Angellini in AAA and putting up great numbers or sign somebody like JJ Hardy or trade for a young, proven shortstop.

      • Chip

        Also there are guys like Corban Joseph and Addison Maruszak that could at least be part of the solution but they’re also very very far away.

    • Jake

      It’s not that we have forgotten about Lassiter or Angellini, it’s just that they have done NOTHING to suggest that they could ever be productive MLB players.

  • VOIII

    Was Jeter that bad this weekend? I admit I didn’t watch the whole game on either day, and realize that Jeter is lacking the range he once had, but did he cost any runs? Just asking because he did have a good offensive series and has had a great spring since returning from the WBC… I am not a huge Jeter guy and have always thought he got more credit than he deserved, but are we really ready to put him out to pasture?

    • http://ryanhandt.blogspot.com/ handtius

      cost them 2 runs, on wangers pitch day.

  • MikeD

    So was Berroa cut?

    • Chip

      Assigned to AAA

  • Artist formerly known as ‘The’ Steve

    Girardi’s selection of Ramiro Pena is interesting, and signals a shift in the Yankee thinking and the game as a whole. For so many years under Torre, the Yanks would favor veterans in the bullpen and on the bench, saying that the kids “need to play everyday”. Now the Yanks have a bullpen of mostly young, homegrown arms and went with Albaladejo for the final pitching spot over veteran Brett Tomko. Then Girardi selects the young Pena over the older Angel Berroa for the last roster spot.

    This tells you Girardi believes the game has shifted. He has said so many times recently, including friday morning at the WFAN breakfast. The days of having older players who maintain their production into their late 30’s is becoming a thing of the past. Tom Verducci has a piece up on SI detailing the shift in the ages of highly productive players recently, and the trend line in average age is clearly down. It’s easy to speculate as to why. When a steroid testing regime was put in place in Baseball, older players no longer had the steroid fountain of youth available to them anymore. Their replacements (like HGH) are far less effective, and the results on the field have evidenced that. The success last season of the Rays also opened a lot of eyes, things like that just didn’t happen in the AL East for the past 20 years.

    All of this could also have a long term affect on payrolls. Older player tend to be very highly compensated, whereas younger players require 6 years of service time to gain their free agent rights. As older players fade and rosters are increasingly filled with the young, the effect on payrolls will be a long term flattening or possibly even a downward trend. This also tells you why the Union was so dead set against steroid testing. In their view, their main job is to raise player salaries, and steroid testing reduces a player’s peak earning years. Reduces them to their natural limits of course, but the MLBPA doesn’t give a damn about that. They want players to be able to grab every dollar they can out of the sport and don’t care how they do it.

    With steroids and amphetamines out of the game, youthful energy is at a premium.

  • http://dylankidd@earthlink.net dkidd

    no more amphetamines is a big deal for older players. 162 games is a grind

  • LiveFromNewYork

    Last year was the first time Jeter got boo’d at Yankee Stadium (granted it wasn’t overwhelming but you heard it). I’d hate to see his relationship with the fans deteriorate but the fans care more about winning than about Jeter (which is saying something because they LOVE Jeter). So perhaps he will get it if he gets boo’d a few times for sloppy defense. I don’t think Jeter can live without the love.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Didn’t he get booed during that 0-for-32 stretch a few years ago, when he was hitting like, .180 through May?

      • Jake

        Not only did he get boo’d, he was boo’d relentlessly.

  • Bonos

    Yep, it all started with loading up with Giambi with Nick on board. Fire the scouts “Because they make too much money”. Sheffield over Vladdy and Johnson over Beltran. Then Hank, the blustering son bidding against himself, hung an albatross called A Rod on the Yankees, but finally. About frickin time.

    • steve (different one)

      yes, Ramiro Pena is the savior.

  • http://www.myspace.com/sloanbruno69 Bruno

    I don’t like the move. Uses a 40man spot, and stunts any development that Pena might be able to make at AAA. Berrora could’ve just been DFA’d when A-Rod comes back.

    • Rob in CT

      I don’t think you can expect further development from Pena. Not anything significant. There is absolutely zero reason to believe he will ever hit a lick. The concensus seems to be he doesn’t need any more work on his defense. His role, then, is to be a slick defender. They know he’s an offensive black hole, and acknowledge that he always will be.