Feb
01

Pondering the three without options

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As far as Spring Training position battles go, the Yanks have few, and those they have aren’t very compelling. The pitching staff has the non-problem of having three hurlers — A.J. Burnett, Freddy Garcia and Phil Hughes — for one rotation spot, and barring an injury, the starting lineup is set in stone. It will be, then, business in Tampa as the Yanks will use March to fine-tune the team for the regular season.

Yet, the club will have to make some decisions, and it may come down to those who are out of options. As I see it now, the Yanks have 23 guys with their tickets punched to the 25-man roster. It goes a little something like this:

Pitchers (12)
Burnett
Garcia
Hughes
Kuroda
Logan
Nova
Pineda
Rivera
Robertson
Sabathia
Soriano
Wade

Catchers (2)
Martin
Cervelli

Infielders (5)
Cano
Jeter
Nunez
Rodriguez
Teixeira

Outfielders (4)
Gardner
Granderson
Jones
Swisher

This array of players leaves us with few noticeable holes. With Jones set to DH against southpaws, they could use another bat who can handle right-handers and serve as a weapon off the bench. They also could carry another infielder, as they did for much of last year. The in-house options include Ramiro Pena and Brandon Laird while Eric Chavez remains a free agent. We’ve heard Bill Hall’s name bandied about, but he hasn’t yet received his non-roster invitation to Spring Training yet.

For the empty outfield/DH spot, the Yanks could still look to the free agent market for help. Johnny Damon, Raul Ibanez and Hideki Matsui have all been linked, one way or another, to the Yanks this winter. It’s possible one of them could take spot No. 24 or 25. The Yanks though will let those players’ prices drop before making any sort of move. If one happens, it will be on our terms, and not yours, the Yanks’ brain trust has telegraphed.

The in-house options are Chris Dickerson and Justin Maxwell, and they’ll either break camp with the Yanks or on some other team. The two of them — along with Boone Logan, the only lefty on the 40-man with Major League experience — are out of options. The Yanks will have to take Dickerson and Maxwell with them north if they want to keep them or else the two players will have to clear waivers to remain in the Yanks’ system.

Throughout the winter, Mike has examined these two players in depth. He looked at Dickerson’s possible role earlier this month and Maxwell’s potential in December. Of the two of them, Dickerson seems to hit right-handers far better than Maxwell has, and that’s a need the Yanks have right now. The club may also be able to flip Maxwell for something reasonably useful as he’s a few years younger than Dickerson.

Complicating the roster dance are Brad Meyers, a right-hander, and Cesar Cabral, a lefty. The Yanks grabbed these two guys during the Rule 5 draft. Meyers would have to go back to the Nationals if the Yanks opt to exclude him from the 25-man, and Cabral could pick free agency as he’s a two-time Rule 5er. Cabral also would give the Yanks more bullpen options and pitched exceptionally well in Winter Ball this year. As Logan is out of options, he won’t bump Boone, but a solid spring could make the Yanks think twice about a second southpaw in the pen.

So for the Yankees, the big battles are all but over. We have to pick a fifth starter from a group of three guys who are all flawed for various reasons, and the last two guys on the team have to earn that trip to the Bronx. The guys without options have the inside track, but even then, they’re expendable AAAA types. With two weeks until pitchers and catchers, that’s not a bad problem to have.

Categories : Bench
  • OldYanksFan

    I believe the Yanks will decide the Rotation before ST, and unless someone is really, REALLY good, or really, REALLY bad, they already have in mind what they will do.

    Matsui might still be able to hit, but he can’t run or field. Same with Raul. Damon wouldn’t be too bad, for at least he is still a smart runner, and isn’t a total butcher in the field. The Yanks will wait him out, or go with Dickerson if JD signs elsewhere first.

    My guess is there will be a ton of DH types available at the trade deadline, so I’m not too concerned about the DH spot. This will be one of Cashmans easiest problems to fix.

  • ikl

    This is kind of an unfortunate situation. My gut feeling is that Maxwell has considerably more upside than Dickerson and I’d kind of like to see what Maxwell could do in the Majors. But Dickerson is a better fit at this point because we need another lefty. And I have no confidence that either would get through waivers.

  • cdr

    What about Joba…they can’t add Joba and Cabral to that list of 12 pitchers…someone has to go (BURNETT)

    • Steve (different one)

      Joba will go to the 60 day DL.

  • Steve (different one)

    If Cabral is lights out (or Okajima for that matter), they *could* send Wade down to start the season, right? Not fair, but it would buy some time to get a longer look at those guys.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    Something has to give in ST with 12 pitchers listed. The Fifth starting spot has 3 guys in competition. We can use two of them. One for the rotation and one for long relief. The third has to go.

    My thoughts are Burnett to be traded. Hughes gets the rotation. Freddie goes to long relief and is the relief valve in case of injury to any starter. The trade of Burnett my come if a possible contender in any other division loses a starter or at the trading deadline since we acquired some use of Burnett and the money dump has lessen a bit.

    As far as DH from the right side, I have no issue with Dickerson unless something comes up or anyone of the group from Branyan, Matsui, Ibanez or Damon. They offer stability in the clubhouse and a great stroke to right field. Branyan intrigues me with his power almost as good as HR derby display by Josh Hamilton.

  • Monterowasdinero

    Dickerson will disappoint as DH. He will not last the whole season as DH against righties but he could last as a late inning defensive replacement for Swish.

    15 HR’s from Damon and more clutch hits would be worth it for The. New. York. Yankee$.

    • MattG

      I’ll take that bet. Dickerson has to get the chance, though.

      Cliff, Johnny. Johnny, Cliff. Careful!

    • thenamestsam

      The idea that Damon is a clutch hitter is so tired. There isn’t any evidence for it, and the moment that Yankees fans think of as “clutch” as far as Damon goes involves baserunning and not hitting.

      • Monterowasdinero

        Maybe but Dickerson is a lousy hitter who is simply not in Johnny D’s class. Athletic frame, runs well, throws well but not a good enough bat to DH 100+ games a year.

        Greg Golson has more power than Dickerson!

  • DZ

    Honestly, Hughes is going to be the odd man out, whether he pitches the best in ST or not. The yankees have been trying to trade AJ, with no luck. And if last season showed anything, they’re going to stick with him no matter how bad it gets (he also pitched pretty well until june the last two years). Garcia will get the long man spot, and Hughes will probably be traded, and succeed somewhere else.

    • Dan

      They wouldn’t just dump Hughes in a trade just to trade him. There is more of a likelihood that they send him to the minors to start since he has one more option remaining. I think the least likely move is for Hughes to be traded because the Yankees won’t get much back for him and they aren’t just going to trade him to make roster space.

  • jsbrendog

    so what you’re tlling me is cashman sucks?

    this season is going to be awesome. I can’t wait to see PIneda pitch in pinstripes and Kuroda pitch at all. I have never seen Kuroda throw the ball. the 23rd and 24th spots on the roster don’t bother me very much.

    I do however maintain that Philly Phranchise should go to aaa to try and work on an out pitch until freddy/burnett suck/get hurt. a 6th starter will be needed by mid may IMO and having hughes stretched out and a shuttle ride away makes mroe sense than having him inthe BP and only being available for 50 pitches. For him that’s what, 2 innings since he can’t finish anybody off with no real outpitch?

  • Slu

    I really wish any lefty bedsides Logan worked out. I am sick of him. Too wild for me. I know he has gotten some big outs, but he has also had many spectacular flame outs.

  • ThatstheMelkyMesaWaysa

    How important is Justin Maxwell really? He seems a lot like Golson to me. One play wonder?

    • nick

      he hits for power

      • Robinson Tilapia

        He gets A-Rod sloppy…..fourths.

  • MattG

    This is why I say let Dickerson and Maxwell start the year as the platoon DH. Yes, I would like another IF on the roster, but I would be ready to liberally DL Jeter or Rodriguez at the first sign of injury. Neither can make it through a 162 game season while producing all the way, anyway.

    I’ll say this, too: with that starting staff, there is no way this team needs 12 pitchers. If one of those relievers needs to start the year on the DL, that gives Dickerson, Maxwell and Laird roster spots.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      So, when the regulars need a half-day off, they’re not going to get due to that mighty Maxwell/Dickerson platoon that was so worth holding onto?

      We’ve discovered a cousin to “prospect hugging” called “marginal major leaguer hugging.”

      I like Dickerson. I don’t like him THAT much. Him, Maxwell, and the Rule Fivers are as expendable as can be.

  • DZ

    I don’t see how people say there are two more spots for pitchers. They JUST signed Garcia, he has a spot on the roster no matter what, they can’t trade him yet, and he probably is the most likely to be consistent. No matter what, he has a spot, in at least the long relief role. It really comes down to Hughes and AJ, if Cash can find someone to take AJ, Hughes has a major league job. If not, they won’t just drop Burnett and release him. The more and more I think about it, the less likely it is Hughes is with the big league club, which really sucks, because he should have the first shot.