How to handle David Phelps

Thinking about Chase Headley
Third base in the short-term
(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Going into the 2012 season, David Phelps was considered valuable rotational depth, with a chance to work his way onto the big league roster as a long man.  Phelps was part of an interchangeable trio of prospects, including Adam Warren and D.J. Mitchell, who were expected to fill the swingman role that Hector Noesi occupied in 2011.  While I appreciated his polish and fastball command, I never really thought he had a chance of holding down a rotation spot for the Yankees long-term.  I am still leaning in that direction, but Phelps has done a lot of late to demonstrate that he may have been undervalued in the past, as Ivan Nova was a few years ago.  With injuries to the Yankee rotation and bullpen, Phelps has divided his time between spot starting, long relief, short relief, and several minor league stints.  Phelps has handled himself well in all of these roles (particularly over the last few weeks), but the Yankees’ usage of him has raised questions about how he should be best utilized this season.  There are several routes that they could take, each of which has positives and negatives.

Replace Freddy Garcia, take over the #5 spot

Freddy Garcia has bounced back from his nightmarish start to the season, showing that he still has something left in the tank.  Since returning to the rotation after Andy Pettitte and CC Sabathia went on the DL, Freddy has given up 13 runs in 30 innings (about a 3.90 ERA) with 27 strikeouts against 9 walks.  This performance hasn’t given the Yankees much reason to make the switch, since there is a bit more uncertainty associated with Phelps (even though he has pitched well of late).  While Phelps could bump Garcia if he goes through another rough patch, the Yankees don’t seem especially interest in flip-flopping their roles.  If the Yankees have any interest in trading Phelps, giving him the opportunity to prove himself as a full-time major league starter is not a bad way to build value (assuming he succeeds).

Build up innings in AAA

Since Phelps’ long-term role is likely a starter (whether in the Yankee organization or elsewhere), it could make sense for the Yankees to let him get the opportunity to start every fifth day in the minors.  This would allow him to build up his innings, work on his secondary offerings, and allow him to experiment/tinker without too much concern about the outcome.  If he is going to earn a spot in the Yankee rotation next season (a big if), having no innings limit would be very helpful to the team.  The downside is that Phelps has already demonstrated his ability to succeed at the AAA level, and pitching in the minors may not provide enough of a challenge, possibly leading to stagnation or regression.

Long relief/swingman role

Phelps has proven himself capable of filling the niche that Noesi occupied last year, as he has the ability to work multiple innings to save the rest of the bullpen during a blowout.  He also can make a spot start should injury suddenly befall a member of the Yankee rotation.  The concern here is that Phelps’ usage could be sporadic (especially because the Yankees don’t get blown out too often), and the lack of work could hurt his performance and trade value.

Short relief

While the Yankee bullpen has been strong this season, there are still some areas where they can improve.  For the beginning of the season, Cory Wade held down the 7th-inning role very capably, but his recent struggles caused him to get demoted to AAA.  Clay Rapada, Boone Logan, and Cody Eppley have all exceeded expectations this season, forming a strong bridge to David Robertson and Rafael Soriano.  However, all three guys (with the possible exception of Logan) are best utilized in matchups against same-sided hitters, which limits their flexibility.  Phelps would likely not have the same platoon disadvantage, and could be used in middle relief roles against both righties and lefties.  This could provide some stability for the 7th inning, or any earlier important situations that the Yankees may come across.  When Joba Chamberlain comes back (which should be pretty soon), Phelps’ utility in this role will likely diminish, but until then this could be a good way of getting him some work in high-leverage outings.

As always, the concern exists about whether repeatedly switching Phelps between starter and reliever will cause him any long-term harm.  While many have blamed the Yankees’ treatment of Joba Chamberlain in this fashion for his subsequent injury problems, I’m not sure the connection is so clear.  Regardless, I don’t think Phelps is anywhere near Joba’s class as a prospect, and even with his recent improvements, his ceiling is probably that of a #4 starter.  Consequently, I have no problem with moving him around to help him fit the team’s biggest present need.  At the moment, that is in the major league bullpen.  I’d probably keep Phelps in a high-leverage short relief role until Chamberlain comes back, then shift him to more of a long-relief/swingman role (but try to get him some regular work so he stays sharp).  If Freddy Garcia falters before Andy Pettitte returns, Phelps should be able to step in and hold down the fort.

Phelps’ emergence this season has been a pleasant surprise, and his versatility will be important for the Yankees’ pitching depth this season.  He has put himself in the rotation mix for 2013 if Andy Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda do not return, and potentially boosted his value to bring back a useful piece in a trade.  Joe Girardi will likely utilize Phelps in a variety of roles between now and October, and I would be surprised to see him go back to AAA anytime soon.  Whatever role he occupies, Phelps should be a useful piece for the Yankees’ pitching staff this season.

Thinking about Chase Headley
Third base in the short-term
  • Eddard

    With Joba returning Phelps in the pen just doesn’t make much sense. He wouldn’t get into many ballgames and it would be a waste. Joe hasn’t used him right anyway, an example is the Oakland extra innings game where he took out Phelps to mix and match with lesser pitchers. Let Freddy waste away in long relief and give the kid a shot to start.

  • Genteme

    I would like to see him to replace Freddy.
    Phelps deserves the spot, and even he failed, I won’t regret to do this.
    If he can prove himself as a good, maybe not great, starting pitcher, he will be very cheap and useful for us or become good trade chips.

    • AC

      I agree. I like Phelps alot. He is night and day different than DJ Mitchell if your putting them in same class. The Yankees always say Banuelos and Betances are the cream of the crop. Nova was never considered a top prospect like that. At least I never read that. Look what Nova has done with his chance. Now he’s a fixture in rotation. Phelps isn’t showing the deer in the headlights look. He has cone a long way since his spot start in KC earlier this year. Phelps had confidence in his stuff everyone watching at home can see that. He can handle the 5 th spot. I really don’t wanna see him moved. I think he’s got better stuff than Ian Kennedy had with his time in NY. Just bc he doesn’t throw 97 he’s not looked at as a top prospect. Give him a shot and don’t trade him please.

      • Laz

        While I really like to give the Rookies a shot, it makes it difficult when freddy is pitching pretty good. I think that if freddy was struggling it would be alot different.

        • gc

          Freddy’s not exactly lighting it up though. One of the benefits of a big lead in the standings is to see what a guy like Phelps can offer you for the future, as a cog on your own team or as trade bait. Let’s be honest here, neither Garcia or Phelps (barring a complete rotation disaster) will be sniffing any post-season starts. They could both provide some value out of the bullpen in October, but really, if either of them end up in a game, it would mean the starter got shelled and the team is behind in a big way, or it’s extra innings and the team needs length from the bullpen. We more or less know what we’re getting from Garcia in that regard. Let’s see more of Phelps as a starter now so we can get a better idea of his true value to the team going forward. That’s my belief anyway.

        • New York Yankees

          I don’t think the real argument here is that Freddy is a disaster, because he hasn’t been as of recently. He’s pretty much Freddy of old. Not spectacular, not awful, but his style of pitching is ripe for a blow out. Meaning I’m just concerned that a few future match ups for Garcia are against hot teams (like the A’s for example – see last night – good grief) and they destroy him. That concerns me. As others have stated neither Freddy or Phelps will really add any meaningful wins or loses to the standing for the Yanks, neither has a defined role looking forward to the playoffs – maybe Phelps before Garcia out of the pen, so I’m purely looking at this as an organizational move (like Stewart being choosen over Cervelli) and looking towards the future at this point. Really that’s what it comes down to at this point. Phelps is almost Montero like in the sense they are using him gingerly with his appearances, almost giving me the impression that Cashman has other plans for Phelps and it doesn’t involve wearing pinstripes.

  • Gonzalo Hiram

    Very good post.
    All those moves between the minors and majors, and making him a starter, long reliever and short reliever got me crazy because It could just damage Phelps, but reading this article made me realize It’s not an easy situation.

    What I still really don’t like is the “I never really thought he had a chance of holding down a rotation spot for the Yankees long-term.”
    Why a guy like Brackman or Zach Lee (you can find him in rumors for Dempster or Garza) get so high ranking and people talk so nice about them when their numbers are just garbage. I don’t get how guys like Nova and Phelps have to make the impossible to take them in consideration, at the end the numbers are there and a team win with numbers your pitchers receive less runs than the other pitchers and you win

    • jjyank

      Prospects can certainly outperform expectations, but minor league numbers are only a part of the puzzle. A guy that can throw 98 and flashes a wicked offspeed pitch, but has poor numbers may be a better prospect than the guy with merely average stuff but solid numbers. If the first guy puts it all together, he could be an ace. Projection and upside are important too.

      • Laz

        Nova is seeming like nothing more than a #4 starter, but i’m fine with that. They were lucky to get him back, and he is filling in the rotation and keeps you in games, which is important. I’d like to give phelps a spot at starting sometime because he will have a good chance to be with the team next year, he has been very good in almost 50 innings in the majors, but i’d like to see more.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Since you need five guys in your rotation, I’m fine with Ivan Nova looking like a #4 starter.

    • Havok9120

      Because Phelps’ raw stuff simply wasn’t/isn’t as good as other pitchers. Numbers aren’t everything anymore than gut feelings or projections are.

  • Brian S.

    Did he have that cutter he was showing yesterday in the minors or is that something he learned up here? I’m really impressed with what Phelps has done this year. At first I thought he was just increasing his trade value but now I don’t want him leave. I think he would be great rotation insurance for next season; or even give him the fifth spot if Kuroda or Pettitte retire.

  • Frank

    Phelps in my opinion is a better pitcher than Hughes. Hughes has value in a trade or move him to the BP which is where he’ll end up in the postseason anyway. Garcia can hold down the 5th spot until Pettitte returns.

    • Get Phelps Up

      Hughes has been pretty good since the middle of May. He’s only given up more than 3 ER in 2 starts since May 6 and only failed to complete 6 innings 4 times during that span (14 starts). There’s a chance he could be the #4 starter in the playoffs and Nova could end up in the pen.

      • Frank

        Phelps and Nova are better “pitchers” than Hughes. Hughes is getting expensive. I don’t think he’s worth the money.

        • Get Phelps Up

          He’s making $3.2M this year according to BBRef. That’s not “expensive” at all.

        • jjyank

          I think it’s a little early to call Phelps a better pitcher than Hughes. And Nova is certainly not a slam dunk either.

          • Laz

            Surprising thing is that even after everything Hughes has been through up here he actually only 4 months older than Phelps. Outside of his first 5 starts this year he has been a very good starter.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Based on what, you not liking Phil Hughes?

      David Phelps has yet to last five innings in an MLB start.

      Weak game, son.

    • JohnnyC

      Phelps is a better pitcher than Hughes but Hughes has value in a trade? Why not trade Phelps? A better pitcher has better trade value, no? And he’s making the minimum to boot. Just keep the Hughes hate coming, bro.

  • dan2

    Freddy’s ERA is about 3.90 not 3.00.

    We need to develop young pitching and not be so reliant every year on retreads and hopes.

    Hughes was a prospect that finally developed, but he is only 25 now. We are lucky that we got rule 5 Nova back and he had an opportunity to prove his worth. Now, for the good of the future, give Phelps a chance. At worst he can continue bouncing around. At best we have a long-term starter for us or as a significant trade piece.

    • Eric Schultz

      Fixed, thanks.

    • Steve (different one)

      Nova had next to no chance of sticking on a MLB roster all year in 2009. It wasn’t really “luck” that he was returned so much as “most rule V guys never stick”.

  • Rich in NJ

    Phelps should be in the rotation. He needs the innings and the experience.

  • vin

    Ordinarily, I’d say “let him start to see what we’ve got.” However, if Phelps is going to contribute in the playoffs, it won’t be as a starter (he’s not bumping CC, #Hirok, Phil or Nova), but as a reliever. Also, I don’t think the Yanks need another single inning reliever… especially once Joba comes back. The Aceves-type role would be perfect.

    If the starter gets knocked out in the 5th or 6th, use him. If you’re down a run or two late, use him. If you need to protect a 4 run lead in the 9th (ie a non-save situation), use him.

    It’s impossible to only use this type of pitcher in the perfect scenarios. There will surely be extra inning games where he had already been removed, or pitched the last two games, etc. But it’s worth a shot because that’s how he can be most useful to the club when it matters most.

    • Tremont

      His playoff role would be as a long man. Wouldn’t he be most useful in this role if he was a)stretched out and b) got more experience pitching in the majors?

      • Eddard

        Absolutely. This is all about getting him experience and seeing if he can start for us next year. In the playoffs you generally go with your 3-4 best relievers- Soriano, Logan, Joba, Robertson will get all of the work late in close games. Phelps would only get in if there’s a blowout, injury to a starter or extra innings.

      • vin

        Possibly, however, I think the presence of Hughes/Nova in the bullpen will solve the long man role.

        I am talking about keeping him somewhat stretched out. Maybe not 100+ pitches (which you NEVER plan on a long man needing to throw), but in that 40-60 range.

        • Anthony

          Hughes/Nova in the bullpen..?

          • Anthony

            Oh, in the playoffs. My bad.

    • gc

      If Freddy contributes in the playoffs, it won’t be as a starter either, barring a pretty terrible rotation collapse in August and September. And should such a thing occur, heaven forbid, wouldn’t you want to know how Phelps measures up as another possible option? We know what Freddy offers. With a big lead in the division, why not see how Phelps does in a few starts to see what value is there as well?

      • vin

        I somehow lost my original response…

        I never mentioned Freddy, I did however forget to name Pettitte, although I mentally accounted for him.

        My thought on the playoff pitching staff:

        CC, #Hirok, Andy, Nova

        Soriano, Robertson, Joba, Logan, Hughes, Phelps, Rapada/Eppley (depending on matchups)

        That’s 11 pitchers, which is typical.

  • Robert

    The Yanks are gonna mess this guy up!!! Long relief,Short relief,Spot starts, Minor Leagues!!!! Come on Cashman wake up….

    Make believe there is a rainout and give this guy the ball in 4 days against the O’s.Send Freddie to the Pen…

    Look at the A’s and there young staff (ex Bartolo)

    When a young pitcher falls into your lap and excels you owe it to the team to find out if the guy is for real.

    Freddie wont get mad besides we have Maine and Ortiz and Nelson Figuero waiting in the wings at Scranton!!!!

    • JohnnyC

      Look at the A’s and their huge ballpark! Park factors are not meaningless.

      • KeithK

        More importantly look at the team’s and their expectations. The Athletics were supposed to be terrible this year and for the first six weeks played that way. When your team is terrible and has no expectations you play your young pitchers and see what you’ve got. If they flame out you’ve lost nothing and gained knowledge. If they succeed you’ve found good young pitching.

        Obviously the Yankees are in a different situation. I think last weekend shows that a seven game lead isn’t quite as secure as we might think. (Not to mention memories of Boston last September.) The Yankees should do what’s best for the team right now, which is probably to use Phelps in one of the relief roles. Maybe if we have a seven game lead on Labor Day you worry about roles and positioning guys for October or the future. Not yet.

    • Ted Nelson

      The A’s also didn’t have any good veteran starters ahead of those guys. They’re just using their best arms, which are young (and not coincidently cheap) arms.

  • New York Yankees

    I’ve got to agree with the general sentiment in this post. Well done, Eric for articulating the important points. As it’s already been said, with Joba due to return and looking freakishly good (God I hope once and for all Joba realizes his full potential and does good – which I think he will this time around) I don’t see a perfect fit for Phelps in the pen. It’s redundant to have Phelps along with Joba, Robertson and Soriano, all hard throwing righties. Phelps has too much potential and value to have him be the long man or mop up guy. Freddy hasn’t been terrible, but as I stated last week, the Yanks really need to be focusing on the future, something Freddy doesn’t offer. I like Freddy and the results have been mixed, but why doesn’t Girardi put him in the damn rotation at this point? It’s actually starting to piss me off a bit and I’m open for any counter argument that he shouldn’t, but I just don’t get this one. They are 8 games up and 10+ on probably their biggest threat, the Red Sox, there isn’t a better time to give Phelps that 5th spot. Again, my only thought is that his value is so good right now, that Cashman doesn’t want to risk it and maybe having him fail in the rotation. I think that’s a stupid argument, but merits a mention. Maybe his value is good enough where they could package Phelps, Williams and Romine/J.R Murphy for Justin Upton in the offseason, but that’s just thinking way too far ahead. Not every top of the rotation or 2-3 was a top round pick, in fact there are many pitchers in the league that have realized great success with a profile like Phelps. He’s got a little Mike Mussina in him, but I don’t know that’s just me. He’s like Mike Mussina and David Robertson in one in a weird way, which kind of is what you look for in a starter, no? Is this comparison accurate?

    • New York Yankees

      …and just a side note about 2013. I’m pretty confident that the Yanks offer Kuroda another 1 year deal. He checks every box for the Yanks, exactly the type of pitcher/player they like. The Yanks have always shown their desire to go with experience and results first. The free agent crop, while decent is comprised of some big names that will seek big contracts, few of which are really ideal matches for the Yanks. Everything leads me to believe that Kuroda returns for another year which would actually give me more reason to put Phelps in that 5th spot now, because looking forward, the rotation for 2013 should already shape up with CC, Kuroda, Hughes, Nova, Pineda, Phelps…with Pettitte a possible return again and who knows with Banuelos, but if he’s healthy and pitches winter ball, along with a strong spring, could finally be a candidate for the rotation, although it’s starting to seem like he may not be an option until late spring (May-June 2013).

      • Laz

        Banuelos will not be up early next year. He missed almost the entire season this year. (he only has 24 innings, and there is only a month left of minor league season) His previous high in innings was 130, which puts him at max around 160 innings. So unless you will shut him down early next year he won’t be up. Also in his time he needs to get better results in AAA before he comes up. He only has 60 AAA innings over 2 seasons, not ready. Although they will probably see where pineda is in health, and resign 1 of kuroda or pettitte. Freddy will probably be gone.

        • New York Yankees

          Fair points on Banuelos. I agree with most of that. Who know though, there is the chance he is considered for the 2013 team, but I do agree, the inning are not there right now so it’s really not worth considering him for much of anything next year. It’s just a possible bonus. Agreed, Freddy’s ship will sail in November. I’m willing to bet $1,001 dollars and .25 cents that Kuroda is resigned based on the other options that will be available via free agency and even for trade. Plus with their intent to stay within budget for 2014, Kuroda would be a perfect fit for another year and as I said, checks all the organizational boxes.

        • Ted Nelson

          I don’t think he’ll be up early, but more so because I don’t think they’ll need him. I think they’ll have 6 or 7 capable starters with more experience. Chances are against 2 or 3 of them going down in ST.

          I think he could if they needed him, though. There’s no magic number of AAA IP a guy needs. A lot of top prospects skip AAA altogether. And when Banuelos was fully healthy this season he just crushed AAA. I think it’s very possible that if fully healthy next season Banuelos could be an effective MLB SP. The innings limit is an issue, but if you are in a situation where you need a SP on your MLB team and a guy is clearly the best option you worry about that later.

    • Tremont

      You’re absolutely right. The counter arguments are really weak at this point. I can’t imagine a more perfect scenario to at least give Phelps a shot at cracking the rotation. According to Baseball Prospectus odds, we are sitting at a 99% chance of winning the division right now. I think Phelps in the rotation improves our chances of winning the division. I suppose I should be open to the possibility that Phelps will peform slightly worse than Garcia. However, over a 5 week stretch Phelps would have to be god awful to substantially affect their playoff situation.

      • Bunt Gardner

        So you’re saying starting Phelps gives the Yankees a 100% chance of winning the division, but yet he might perform worse than Garcia?

        • Robinson Tilapia

          What, that doesn’t make perfect sense to you?!

          *knocks on head*

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Excellent article. You had teased this a bit in a reply to me yesterday. Indeed, great minds do think alike. :)

    It makes little sense to replace Freddy if Freddy is doing the job. This is a fill-in until Pettitte gets back and nothing else. I have absolutely zero problems with effective veterans getting the nd in the stretch run.

    Still, there’s merit to every option here. I like what it seems like the team has chosen because if fills a short-term need without going outside the org and seeking out potentially volatile middle relief help. I actually think Phelps can get a lot of work in if he’s effective enough against both sides to get the call ahead of Eppley Rapada Overdrive (let’s just throw shit at the wall and see if it sticks with that name.) Him, Joba, and Logan will hlep get DRob some rest as well.

    Whatever on the Joba stuff. I agree with you completely.

    In conclusion, you are awesome, Eric.

    • New York Yankees

      Fair points about “doing the job.” I’m a big supporter of Freddy mainly because he’s a good guy, accountable, knows how to pitch and has a good time on the mound. There is also some apprehension on my part, as a fan, the days he pitches. Every part of me wants to root for him and see him do well, but I’m also very frightful that he won’t have his stuff or more importantly, the opposing team is hot and just destroys him. I’m looking at it more from the business aspect and looking forward and I’m just concerned the Yanks throw Phelps to side, when the guy really might be something to look at and becomes nothing more than filler for a future trade. He’d without question be a starter in most other rotations right now, so I’m just having a hard time figuring out what the Yanks plan is with this guy.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Him not starting in 2012 does not take away the team’s opportunity to do that. They can do that in 2013. They can do that based on the pitching he does now. I think you’re going to see him often.

        He’d absolute be a starter in other organizations. Those organizations aren’t in first place right now.

        It’s fine for you to have a bit of a lump in your throat when Freddy pitches as long as he does the job. Other than the admittedly-shitty start to the season, he’s been the perfect back-end guy for this team. Everyone waits for the other shoe to fall, but it hasn’t.

        I really like David Phelps. I’d love to see him get a real opportunity as a New York Yankee. It’s not going to be easy for him.

        This appreciation for Phelps is sweet, but it’s a tinge overblown. Every option Eric listed has merit to it.

        • jjyank

          Agreed, there are pros and cons to pretty much every path. I’d like to see Phelps as a starter in a vacuum, but Freddy is doing fine right now so I don’t think it’s a big deal.

          • fin

            What are the cons of starting Phelps for a few weeks until Andy returns? The only one I can think is that he sucks, and the odds seem at least equal that Freddy could suck during that time also. I just cant find the cons of him starting until Andy gets back.

            • Ted Nelson

              It’s possible that Garcia is better suited to starting. It’s speculation, but his shoulder has had serious damage and might have a harder time warming up quickly. So, he might be just about as effective as a SP as Phelps but less effective as a RP. This way you maximize your roster. If they can get comparable starts out of Garcia, it’s nice to have Phelps in the pen right now. He might be their 3rd or 4th best reliever.

              • fin

                I would agree with your premise completely if Joba wasnt going to be back any day. I think its pretty clear that Phelps is better suited for high leverage relief than Freddy for the issues you stated. However, I dont think he is going to get used in those situations do to Joba being back on the team. As far as long man/swing man/mob up guy goes, Freddy performed pretty well in that role earlier in the season. Therefore, in the roles that they are most likely to be used in out of the pen, I’m not sure there is an advantage in one player over the other.

                • Ted Nelson

                  I think there will still be plenty of meaningful IP in a Mendoza/Aceves type of high value long-man role. Especially with all the appearances some of the relievers have built up so far.

                  • fin

                    Isnt that the type of roll that Freddy did well at earlier in the season though? Why couldnt he go back to that? Again, I dont think this decision affects the season at all, and its really not a big deal as both guys are mostly likely in the pen in a month or so anyway.

                    However, there is value in getting Phelps major league innings as a starter. It keeps his innings totals up, gives the Yankees a little better idea of what they have going into next year and the possiblity of catching lighting in a bottle as Phelps has looked fantastic for about a month now. Its not that the Yankees gain a ton by using Phelps in the rotation, its that they gain a little which is a more than they gain with Freddy. Then again, I dont have to deal with the person Freddy, and I’m guessing its more of a personal thing, that the Yankees have some loyalty to Freddy and that doing the right thing by him over the next month is more important to them than the little they gain by starting Phelps.

                    • Anthony

                      I’m with you on this one. You and New York Yanks have summarized a lot of my thoughts on the topic. I’ve said in previous posts that Freddy has been pretty good in the long man role, so why not let him excel there. And similarly, someone in this post mentioned why not get a better idea of how Phelps does as a SP, in case circumstances change come playoffs. Having Phelps start now will help the Yanks prepare for not only the playoffs but also next year.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      I’m not saying that I wouldn’t start Phelps, personally. I just don’t think it really matters much. Ps much better than Phelps have spent time in the BP to go on to great careers. Guys like Pedro, Schilling, Wells, Kenny Rogers, etc.

                    • Robinson Tilapia

                      “Isnt that the type of roll that Freddy did well at earlier in the season though?”

                      Freddy was doing mop-up work, not high-leverage work so, no, that wasn’t what Freddy was doing.

                      As for roll, I think it was a Keiser roll. *snare*

                      I have no issue with Phelps starting. I just don’t think it’s wrong to do what the team is doing right now. Garcia’s done nothing to lose the job, and the team would absolutely benefit from havingh another solid bullpen arm that’s not an OOGY of some sort. For the purposes of the stretch run, this works and, I think, will work well.

        • New York Yankees

          All fair points and worthy of having this debate. There is any wrong move, I guess. I’m just more in the “let’s start Phelps” camp on this one.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Under different circumstances, I probably would be in that camp as well.

  • jamie

    Given that the Yankees brought Phelps back up after sending him down to stretch him out to start and haven’t used him as a starter, i think they brought him up to help out until Joba is ready, and then he goes back down to stretch out again.

    Garica pitched well out of the pen, but he’s really only a garbage time reliever – i wouldn’t want to see him in any high leverage situation. at this point, he’s a starter or nothing and Chad Qualls will serve as the garbage time guy. there is no value in DFAing Garica or Qualls at this point, and that’s what you’d have to do when Joba comes back AND if you make Phelps a starter. i think the yankees will get whatever value they can from Garcia and Qualls until they pitch so badly they have to DFA them, and they’ll adjust when they have no choice.

    unless there is an injury or Garcia reverts back to his April self, I don’t see Phelps starting with the Yankees this year.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I don’t think he’s starting again this year either without either of those two occurring. I think Garcia’s going to hold up just fine until Andy returns.

      Question, though: If Freddy remains in the rotation, Phelps goes back to AAA, AND Qualls goes for Joba, who’s got that last slot in your bullpen?

  • The Ghost of Joe Dugan

    The Yankees are treating Phelps like they should be treating Garcia, as an easily replaceable commodity. Phelps can not only help now but taking this opportunity to develop him could pay dividends for the future. They could be increasing his trade value while giving the team a better idea what he could contribute as a starter. This would allow the front office to decide where he places in their current and future plans. By not starting him you’re just putting off this data collection so that a pitcher who has no future in the organization can give you most likely at best nominally better starts.

    This is kind of thing the Yankees still do that makes me crazy. It the Steinbrenner way of doing things that we got away from for awhile in the 90’s. They’re getting a little bit better but when in doubt they almost always revert back to using an almost washed up veteran instead of the unproven rookie.

    • Ted Nelson

      That’s because the unproven non-elite rookie will usually prove to be bad. Generally it’s the right thing to do. Who have they held back that you’re upset about? People talk about how much they do this, but I can’t think of many guys they held back who proved to deserve it.

      In this case Phelps has been proving himself in MLB and I have no problem with him starting, but I also don’t care one bit that he’s not. He’s not in Siberia, he’s in the bullpen.

      • The Ghost of Joe Dugan

        How about Nick Johnson and Mike Lowell going back a little bit. Keeping Tino and Scott and dealing those two made no sense and turned out very poorly. Those two were finished products and ready for a job but instead of giving them the jobs they were ready for they re-signed two almost done vets. That’s classic Yankees 80’s baseball.

        As much as I love Grandy it’s becoming clearer by the day that the Yankees probably will lose that trade when you figure in the difference in salaries. I was for that trade at the time so I’m not going to complain much about it now.

        What the Yankees do that annoys me is not always giving their young players the best opportunity to succeed. They sometimes do this even when it’s in their best interest to do so. I’m not talking about giving Jeff Karstens 20 starts and hope he’s better than you think. I’m talking about giving a guy who projects as a 4th or 5th starter the opportunity to start AS the 4th or 5th starter rather than a guy like Garcia. They were forced to do it with Nova only out of desperation and he was able to blossom. Hopefully Phelps gets that chance without another injury forcing the Yankee’s hand.

        • Steve (different one)

          Nick Johnson was not traded because of Tino. He was traded because Jason Giambi was 2 years into a 7 year contract and coming off another monster season. Your facts are off.

          Tino came back a full year later.

          They traded NJ because they needed a starter, and Vazquez was coming off a great season. He was entering his prime and insanely durable. It was a smart trade that looks bad only in retrospect.

          • Ted Nelson

            This. And did that really turn out poorly? Guy couldn’t stay healthy for the Yankees and he couldn’t stay healthy when he left the Yankees. Javy has out-WAR’d him by a wide margin since the time of the trade. Out-WAR’d him and Rivera I think.

            Trading prospects is not the same as giving up on them or not giving them a chance. Sometimes a trade is the right thing to do. Phelps has not been traded yet, he’s just breaking in as a swing-man his rookie season.

            It’s a huge assumption to say they were forced to do it with Nova. He most likely would have gotten his chance. Just like Phelps will if he earns it. The Yankees generally keep down the Karstens. And it’s because they’re not totally unknown, they’re in AAA. The Yankees have an idea of what they bring vs. what a Garcia brings. They generally bring up the IPKs, Hughes, Jobas, Novas, Wangs, Noesis, etc. and give them a chance.

  • JohnnyC

    Joe Dugan was not nicknamed Jumpin’ Joe because he had hops. Rather, it was because he would often take unauthorized leaves from his team.

  • fin

    Unfortunately, I dont see any chance of the Yankees moving Freddy to the pen. They rarely, if ever give the rookie the spot over the vet playing just well enough to keep his spot. In truth with Petite getting closer to rejoining the team, this makes no sence to me. What is there 5 or 6 starts left before Petite returns and both go to the pen ? What is the possible downside of pitching Phelps over Garcia in the rotation? Sure Phelps could pitch worse than Freddy but the odds seem against it as he really has been lights out for about a month now. Those 5 or 6 starts would be much more valuable to the yankees and Phelps than the 5 or 6 starts would be to Freddy and the yankees.

    Hell, with as good as he has pitched maybe the Yankees would be catching lightining in a bottle and he ends up the 4th starter in the playoffs. The big downside I see is that with Joba coming back, Phelps will rot in the pen like Noessi did last year. That could have implications on next years team as Phelps could very well rot in the pen and not get the work he needs, leading to regression and inning limitations.

    I dont think Phelps starting or not, will have any impact on this season but it seems a waste not to start him for the next month or so.
    Keeping him in the pen and using him in high leverage spots would make sence if Joba wasnt set to return any day now. With Joba comming back it just seems to be a waste of Phelps right now.

  • Joe R

    Corey Wade has been pitching better of late and is stretched out to 50 pitches. If he is indeed fixed, or close to it. Bring him up. Joba off the DL. Dump Qualls. Send Phelps down and stretch him back out fully.

  • Ted Nelson

    I think that they need him on the MLB roster right now. Whether that’s in the pen or starting, but it looks like the pen at this point. I don’t think AAA is much of an option unless Wade or someone is ready to step up as a high quality reliever.

    I don’t think that changes with Joba coming back. I think you DFA Qualls or Eppley (does he have an option). Those guys are pretty redundant as ROOGYs.

    If he keeps earning it he’ll get his shot to start. Doesn’t have to be his rookie year.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Eppley’s ridden the shuttle already this year. He’s got options. I don’t think he goes over Qualls, though, unless you really want Qualls for garbage time.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        ….or has he? We only got him before he was DFAd by Texas. I might be misremembering here.

      • Ted Nelson

        You’re right, he has 9.1 IP for Empire State. I think Eppley is the better P right now, so they probably keep him. At the same time, it might be wise to keep both by optioning Eppley. Qualls is about as good against RH this season and has been better against them long-term. He’s been totally unusable against LH this season, though.

        • Ted Nelson

          Then you have both for depth and have both when rosters expand. Part of it probably depends on what sort of faith they have in Wade, Ryoto, etc. as usable depth.

          I think it’s more likely to just DFA Qualls and use Eppley… but it’s an option.

  • LarryM.,Fl.

    I did not have the time to read the comments but very interested in Phelps usage. As I indicated in a prior segment. IMHO he should be a starter as of now until Andy comes back. He should not be used as trade bait unless its for a starting positional player that will help with the 2014 plan. I believe this kid can be this good from middle to back solid starter. Good control, decent speed and ability to pitch. Sometimes the desire to win clouds the decision process with veteran over rookie decision.

    Garcia has been credible in recent performances but I shudder the thought of him in the playoffs as the talent level of players and teams is heightened.

    If the Yankees are not going to move Phelps into long relief or higher leverage situations and give him work then send him down to get the innings cap out of the way. Phelps is the perfect for the back end for the 2014 cap as a starter.

    • Ted Nelson

      He’s going to be 26 next season, so I don’t think there is any innings limit. Those are for guys whose connective tissue hasn’t finished developing.

  • RetroRob

    The Yankees are using their AAA starting pitch depthing exactly as they are supposed to, especially since all these guys are back-end or bullpen arms. Phelps is being used as a swingman between the starting rotation and the pen, as well as shuttling between the big club and the minors. Mitchell was used as part of a trade to bring back a hopefully useful piece for the stretch drive. Warren sits in AAA to be used if something happens to Phelps or as another trade piece.

    I’ve been a Phelps supporter just as I was Nova prior, the difference being I can see Nova developing into more of a front-end starter. I can’t see Phelps being more than a #4, and probably is a #5. Useful, but proper perspective required.

    • RetroRob

      I should add that many scouts don’t think Phelps can hold down a #5 slot in the AL East. They maybe right, but I’m more bullish. Being one of the starting five, even if it is the #5, in the AL East and on the NY Yankees is not low-balling Phelps. It’s better than most project.