And then there was one


After last night’s victory over the Washington Nationals — a playoff preview if ever I saw one — the Yankees cut five more players from their ever-dwindling Spring Training roster. As the Yankees now have 26 guys for 25 spots left in camp, we’re quickly seeing how the team is operating this spring. Their next decision, one Joe Girardi says will be announced later today, will determine the Yanks’ pitching staff for the start of the season.

The cuts were, by and large, as expected. Jonathan Albaladejo and his 33.75 March ERA found themselves exiled to the Minors while Mark Melancon and his 10:1 Grapefruit League K:BB ratio were sent down as well. Melancon should be the first guy called up if the pen needs some right-handed relief. Greg Golson, a toolsy outfielder and former first-rounder, impressed during the spring but will start the year at AAA. Juan Miranda, potential trade bait or potential back-up DH, will as well.

With those cuts in hand, the Yanks picked a back-up infielder as well. The final battle came down to a deathmatch between Ramiro Peña and Kevin Russo. While Peña enjoyed the luxuries of incumbency as the back-up middle infielder, Russo offered up a better bat. He hit .333/.393/.458 during the spring, but his glove isn’t on par with Peña’s. And so the Yankees have chosen to go with Ramiro for now. Russo could see some time in the Majors later this year.

But what of the players who are left? That’s where things get interesting. Of those signed to Major League deals, the outfielders will be Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Randy Winn and Nick Swisher. Marcus Thames is expected to make the team as well. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Ramiro Peña and Nick Johnson will be the infield crew with Jorge Posada and Francisco Cervelli behind the dish. That’s 13.

The pitchers left in camp also number 13 as Chad Gaudin was released and will not be coming north with the team, obviously. Who will be cut? The likely 26th man is Boone Logan. A lefty who came over in the Javier Vazquez trade from the Braves, Logan has thrown seven pretty good innings this year. He has allowed two runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five, and the team would feel comfortable about using him as a second lefty in the pen.

Yet, there is also this looming matter of the fifth starter. If, as we suspect, Phil Hughes is announced as the fifth starter later today, the Yankees will have a choice. In fact, even if Joba Chamberlain, and not Hughes, is announced as the fifth starter, the Yankees will have the same choice. Do they start the season with the loser of the fifth starter race in the bullpen as a potential set-up man or in AAA as the team’s sixth starter? Sending the odd man out down to AAA would allow the Yanks to keep Logan on the team as a second southpaw, and it would allow the Yanks to stretch out Hughes or Chamberlain to keep them on track to meet their innings goals.

I’m holding out hope, perversely, for a minor league assignment for the sixth starter. The future of the team will benefit greatly if neither pitcher is encumbered with an innings limit. Joe Girardi says this final announcement will be made later today, and only then will we finally see what developmental course the Yankees have charted for their young arms. Boone Logan might just be the beneficiary of a team looking not only to 2010 but also beyond.

Categories : Spring Training


  1. Paul says:

    Thanks everyone for talking me off the ledge. I have to assume the only reason Logan is still around is because he will stick. Then let the 6th starter hang with the big boys until he gets “demoted”.

    Joba needs the mL work. He never really got it in 2007 and certainly not at the highest levels. Let him work there and he’ll definitely be back. Either because of Hughes’ limits or because of an injury.

    The B-Jobbers will squeal, but then they were squealing throughout a championship season. They’re just noise.

  2. Stryker says:

    i’m still not understanding why hughes is apparently getting so much consideration. the only way i can rationalize it is a way for hughes to reach an innings limit so both joba and hughes can be limitless in 2011.

    • Ana says:

      I think that’s a big part of it, and I think that in the long run it could work out better that way. If we can even get Joba to throw 90-100 innings this year, whether in the minors or in 2 or 3-inning relief stints or what have you, he’d likely still be limitless in 2011… then we’d have Joba and Hughes, then 25 and 24, without training wheels and hopefully both ready to pitch at least close to their potentials. I call good move.

      • Chris says:

        No matter how many innings Joba throws this year, he will likely have not limits in 2011. I’m not sure that I agree with the Yankees thinking, but they have said in the past that the innings limit is determined off of a pitchers previous career high in innings, not the prior season.

        • Ana says:

          Which would mean that Hughes is practically limitless this year, right? His career high was 146, in 2006 (although those were minor league innings).

    • How much does this innings limit really affect Hughes as a #5 guy? No one expects a #5 to go 200 innings, so 160-165 IP is more than resonable for your #5 starter and I’m sure his limit is around there.

      • Coach6423 says:

        Mainly because that was what was thought of Joba last year, then Wang happened, and all of the sudden instead of 22-25 starts, Joba has to make 30-33. Same thing could happen to Hughes this year.

    • Paul says:

      I think it’s because:

      a) Hughes has already done the minors (62 starts). Joba really hasn’t (15 starts).

      b) They can easily maximize Hughes’ innings this year. He hopefully starts for four months then they move him to the bullpen for the stretch run.

      c) They’re set up for 2011 with two good young starters and no-limit. It won’t have been pretty but it will have been effective – we hope.

    • If the plan is to have one of them start in MLB and one start in AAA, then I really don’t have any problem with them going with Hughes over Joba for the MLB rotation. They know these guys, and if they think Hughes is better equipped, today, to handle big league innings, then so be it. I’m actually also of the school that doesn’t think some time down in AAA would be the worst thing in the world for Joba’s development, but that’s kind of a tangential issue.

      But if the plan is to send one of them to the bullpen, then it would make no sense for the reliever to be Joba.

  3. Rose says:

    Is there a chance they are somewhat afraid of how Joba will pitch after a significant jump in innings when compared to the previous year?

    • Well I think that’s a certainty, I think every team worries about the kind of thing when dealing with just about any/every pitcher. But that’s not a good reason to stunt the guy’s development and send him to the bullpen. At some point, the kid’s gotta pitch.

      • Thomas says:

        I think every team worries about the kind of thing when dealing with just about any/every pitcher.

        I think this is key. If the Yankees are afraid ofChamberlain stuff/results declining with the increased innings over his career high (like happened last year), then they should logically fear this for all pitchers, Hughes included.

      • Rose says:

        Agreed. But perhaps they are overreacting to his loss of velocity and his inability to improve his control.

  4. teddy says:

    used joba as a reliever like the yanks used mo in 96. is not strter value, but is still value

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Mo was a 5.4 WAR player in 1996. Hot damn.

      • pete says:

        Mo was, IMO, insanely lucky to not get hurt with that kind of workload as a reliever. i’d rather not take that risk with Jobber.

        • Will says:

          107 innings really isn’t insane, especially when you consider Mo through 100 total innings the year before and was already 26 at the time.

          • Accent Shallow says:

            Well, 100 IP as a starter isn’t nearly as stressful as 100 IP for a reliever, since you’re not getting the same amount of rest, warming up and not going into a game, throwing while fatigued, etc etc

            • Don W says:

              It was the way Mo was used that limited his injury risk. He only pitched one inning or less 20 times. He very often pitched 2 or 3 inning. At one point he had 4 straight appearances where he pitched 3.0 innings. He only pitched in 61 games that year so he had longer between appearances and probably wasn’t warmed up and then not brought in very often.

        • teddy says:

          i am, if joba going to the pen, this should be his role

      • teddy says:

        d@mm, i know his numbers were sick. 107 he allowed 1 hr. gave up like 70 hits , love this number 130 k’s in 107 innings

      • AndrewYF says:

        No one should expect any pitcher, especially a pitcher with control issues like Joba, to put up those kinds of numbers, even in the bullpen.

  5. Will says:

    If the goal is to have both in the 2011 rotation AND the belief is Hughes is simply a better starter right now, then demoting Joba makes sense. However, if the goal is to have the best 2010 team, his demotion is a bad move. As much as I like Robertson, he is far from a proven commodity, meaning after Mo, the only reliable reliever is Aceves. It also means Park will have a very prominent role. Is that enough, especially with Logan, Mite and Marte filling out the staff? It’s all well and good to build for the future, but the Yankees run the risk of endangering the present. In the AL East, one fewer win could make all the difference.

  6. pete says:

    until Girardi or Cash says “Hughes is the 5th starter” I’m not buying it. It’s all just opinions manifesting themselves as facts.

    Joba has outpitched Hughes in each of their last two outings. Joba has outpitched Hughes as a starter in his career. Joba is limitless in 2010, Hughes isn’t. Joba has better stuff.

    • pete says:

      IF they do end up making that call, though, which right now i don’t think they will, then I would be willing to concede that there’s a good chance that it’s the right call, since the guys in charge know a hell of a lot more about this than i do. But until it’s certain that thats gonna be their choice, I just don’t believe it.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      How much better is the stuff if Joba’s big fastball is gone for good? If he’s going to throw 92-95 as a starter, instead of averaging 95 and hitting 99?

      • Joe R says:

        92-95 is more than enough to get the job done. If his other pitchers weren’t good then he would have to rely on his fastball but its not necessary because he has average-above average 2nd, 3rd and maybe even 4th pitches.

      • Mike Pop says:

        We’ll have to see if he can hit that fast again first. But yeah, anyway the more important thing is learning to throw his other pitches more consistently too. FB and Slider is nice, but if he can get that change better, he’ll be fine. Many starters can get by on 92-95. Velocity isn’t the most important thing.

      • Steve H says:

        But that’s still better than Hughes’ fastball.

        • Accent Shallow says:

          Is it? Joba’s fastball got smacked around last year. Obviously 92-95 is more than enough fastball to get by, but a slower fastball with more movement can be more difficult to hit. If Joba’s throwing straight gas, he clearly has the better fastball. (Witness 2008). But if Joba’s throwing 92-95, and Hughes is throwing 91-93, I’m not so sure.

          • Steve H says:

            Hughes’ fastball is very straight. And for overall stuff, even Hughes’ mother would admit Joba has better stuff. Joba has a better second pitch, and his 3rd/4th pitches are more refined, primarily due to getting 30+ starts last year.

            • FWIW, Fangraphs pitch type value metric rates Hughes’ fastball as far more valuable over his career, and in 2009.



              • Steve H says:

                But Hughes’ fastball as a reliever is much better than as a starter, as was Joba’s. It’s also pretty small sample sizes.

                • I’m not sure how much I buy into the pitch type values to begin with.

                  That said, you can’t get a bigger sample size than their entire career and the info does seem to suggest, right now, that Joba’s fastball is far less valuable than one might imagine.

                  That could change, and the methodology could be flawed, so I take it with a grain of salt. I just think that it’s good to not make assumptions about his fastball being automatically better than Hughes’ because Hughes’ is “straight”.

                • Steve H says:

                  I agree that pitch type values are suspect at best.

                  It’s still a SSS, even if it’s their whole careers, they still haven’t thrown many innings.

                  I know velocity is not everything when it comes to pitching, but as far as pure stuff, higher velocity=better stuff.

              • Thomas says:

                The problem with that is of course SSS and role. The majority of Hughes’ work has been out of the pen where one should expect his fastball to be better compared to Joba as a starter.

                If you just look at Hughes starting fastball it is only -.04 (assuming I computed correctly), which is not overly impressive. I don’t have the data to compute Joba’s FB, but judging by the values it would still be lower.

          • Drew says:

            At times it got smacked around..


            Did his fastball get smacked around? Yeah, sometimes. The main problem was walks, which should be expected in a young K pitcher.

  7. Jammy Jammers says:

    Two men enter! One man leave!
    Two men enter! One man leave!
    Two men enter! One man leave!

  8. Coach6423 says:

    We can all wonder what might have been, had their bullpen not sucked in 2007…

  9. paul says:

    So who is the future closer of the team? Mo cant last forever-I wish he could, so who out there is his replacement? Melancon, D Robertson, Joba, who?? I am on the side of Joba being the closer-the mentality he has as a reliever, his demeanor, etc.

    • Steve H says:

      the mentality he has as a reliever, his demeanor, etc.

      This mentality and demeanor that you speak of is 100% opposite of Mo, so I don’t know why it’s so great.

      The future closer doesn’t matter, you can find good closers, there is only 1 Mo in the history of baseball, he will not be replaced.

      • Haha good point Steve, I think a lot of people make Joba out to be this potential heir to Mo without actualy comparing them. Mo pitches with finesse and intelligence around hitters. I’ve yet to see Joba really make that change in how he throws. When he’s on he has great pitches, but he’s more of a thrower than a finesse pitcher like Mo.

    • Coach6423 says:

      grunts/farts/fistpumps FTW!!!!11111

    • Ana says:

      the way he grunts and farts in a meadow…

      wait, that was wrong

    • Mike Axisa says:

      This is not something that we have to worry about now.

    • Yanksfan001 says:

      I have watched Melancon for quite some time. Except for the rookie nerves last season, this kid has incredible demeanor to make a top notch closer. After watching him “close” last night (Spring Training) after Mo, there is do doubt in my mind the Yankees are grooming him for Mo’s replacement. I think they want to get him a little more experience before they ask him to try to fill those shoes. Time shall tell…

  10. ADam says:

    I would much rather have Gaudin or Logan over Mitre any day, not complaining, its essentially the last BP spot. Personally i think Mitre SUCKS S-U-C-K-S, and will be serving it up in the pen all year.. then prob DFA’d by june or july.

    I think Gaudin would help this team much more than Mitre… i think they picked the wrong guy…

  11. Klemy says:

    It was announced on local radio in Buffalo this morning that it would be announced today. I’m ready to accept it.

    This will make sure Phil gets his innings in. I just hope they send Joba down to get starts in AAA. If they put him in the bullpen, I’ll be really disappointed. It’ll just further slow his development.

    There is also a good chance there ends up being a hole in the rotation that Joba could be called up a month or two in to the season. These 6th starter things always seem to work themselves out.

  12. Lou says:

    If there was a need to limit Hughes’ innings I would say do it early on so that he can be there for the Yanks towards the playoff run – reversal of how they handled Joba by limiting his innings in the end. Limit Hughes’ now and give him every other start, meanwhile let Joba pitch the other games. That way we have both starting, and if we finally determine that Joba is more suited for the bullpen then shove him in there in the end when Hughes’ can go limitless. I don’t approve of the AAA route for the loser as the quality of batters they face just isn’t the same, they both need to develop the MLB mentality.

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