Aug
21

The Second Base Logjam

By

Day off Dave. (Photo via Trenton Thunder)

With back-to-back picks in the 2008 draft, the Yankees selected a pair of second basemen who have since developed into two of their better infield prospects. University of Virginia Cavalier David Adams signed for $333k as the team’s third round pick that year while Tennessee high school shortstop Corban Joseph signed for $207k as the fourth rounder. Joseph moved to the other side of second base immediately and has never played even one inning at shortstop since turning pro.

The two players have more in common than just their position. They’ve both dealt with recent injuries — Adams the ankle, Joseph with a shoulder problem earlier this summer — and are hitting this year. The 25-year-old Adams owns a .313/.389/.433 batting line (134 wRC+) in 340 plate appearances for Double-A Trenton while the 23-year-old Joseph is at .275/.375/.469 (135 wRC+) with nearly as many walks (61) as strikeouts (62) in 435 plate appearances between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Adams does it from the right side of the plate, CoJo the left.

Both Adams and Joseph are quality middle infield prospects for the Yankees, but there’s an obvious problem here: Robinson Cano is in the big leagues, and no one is taking his job anytime soon. The Yankees figure to re-sign him to what will essentially be a lifetime contract after next season, further blocking their top two upper-level middle infield prospects. They’ve had Adams work out at third base recently, something he will continue to do in the Arizona Fall League in a few weeks. As Kevin Goldstein noted yesterday, Joseph has neither the quickness or arm strength to handle the left side of the infield, so maybe the corner outfield is an option for him. I have no reason to think it is at the moment.

(Photo via Mike Ashmore)

The Yankees have a logjam at second base and it’s a very good problem to have. It’s a difficult position to fill and the club is always going to need trade bait — heck, they already agreed to trade Adams two years ago only to have his medicals throw a wrench in things. Joseph has shown increased power this year and that’s good news for a left-hander, but his lack of versatility is a negative. The biggest knock against Adams is the fact that he hasn’t played a full, healthy season in three years now. He’s on a strict four days on, one day off routine with Trenton just to stay healthy, and one of those four days on comes at DH. His teammates even started a good-natured Twitter account (@DayOffDave) to rag on him about his playing schedule.

I don’t believe the Yankees will let Cano walk, but they do have two potential in-house replacements just in case talks blow up or something. More than likely, one of Adams or Joseph will get traded and the other will get a chance to hang around as a spare infielder. It’s almost like a poor man’s version of the Brian Roberts-Jerry Hairston Jr. debate in Baltimore a decade ago. There are no shortage of clubs out there looking for a quality young second baseman, and it’s up to the Yankees to decide whether Adams or Joseph is the one worth keeping long-term if it comes down to picking between the two.

Categories : Minors

68 Comments»

  1. Dick Whitman says:

    Why does David Adams look 40?

  2. Eric says:

    I remember reading awhile ago that the Yankees thought Cano would be a better 3B than 2B. Maybe it would make sense to move ARod to a corner OF or DH at some point, and move Cano to 3B to keep him healthy over the life of the new contract?

    Of course, Adams/CorJo would need to super-impress. Most likely, they should be trade bait.

    • jjyank says:

      I think that’s a definitely possibility. Cano played third in the minors, and while that was obviously a long time ago, he clearly still has the arm for it. But like you said, such a move would also need a second baseman, and Adams/Joseph have to prove they are capable if the Yankees want to go in house.

    • AaronGuielWithASmile says:

      I get the feeling that if anyone from the Yankees infield shifts to third base, it will be Jeter.

    • Mike says:

      I like this move especially with the idea of prolonging Cano’s career. Can you imagine if Cano experiences a career arch similar to Chase Utley, it would be worse than ARod’s contract. Why not move him to 3rd and save him from people diving at his knees every double play.

  3. Monty says:

    Adams to 3B, A rod to DH and CoJo gets traded…

    • Kosmo says:

      maybe but Adams has to hit around .285 w/ more pop than he´s been showing, 10-15 HRs might do it with 75-80 RBI w/ good D.

    • Bill says:

      Trading CoJo seems to make sense. There has to be a team in need of a 2B willing to give up a similar quality OF prospect. The Yankees need a cost controlled OF and almost half the teams in baseball could use someone that could potentially upgrade 2B. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle Corban next year. Do they stick Adams at 3B in AAA and keep Joseph at 2B? Or does Corban break with the big league team and they try to maximize his value by getting him ABs against right handed pitching (he has pretty heavy splits)? Or do they try him out in the OF? I think he’ll be on the trade market for sure.

      Adams could be a trade candidate too especially with Mcgehee under team control for a couple more years. That said I think he is less likely to be traded especially given his higher upside and more versatility, but the Yankees wouldn’t hesitate for a starting caliber OF prospect.

      I think unless the Yankees sign Cano to an extension they’ll probably bring at least one of these guys up to the majors to see what they have in reserve.

      • Kip Raymo says:

        Bill, if one checks the list of great 2nd basemen, you may be surprised to find most every one of them were more or less done at 32-35.
        A move to 3rd by age 30-32 would give him more value to the team!

  4. Murderers' Row Boat says:

    The obvious answer is to go the Boss route and trade them both for a 35-year old starting pitcher who used to be a big name.

  5. Andy in Sunny Daytona says:

    Both will be trade bait I think. Angelo Gumbs and Anderson Feliz are the next Adams/Cojo

    • Richard Leo says:

      Anderson Feliz is rarely metioned in yankees prospect talks.

    • Kosmo says:

      If Adams continues to impress and makes strides as a 3B in the AFL I could see NY holding on to him unless AONYCR is made. If Joseph isn´t 2B material then one can imagine every team´s scouting Dept. is well aware of it. Maybe it´s time Joseph begins taking OF reps ?

      Gumbs doesn´t really make either of them expendable seeing he´s still 3 years from the show.

      • Bill says:

        Joseph can play 2B he’s made great strides there defensively. He just doesn’t have the versatility to move to 3B. He might be able to play some LF, but probably not in YS. And I don’t know that his arm is good enough for RF.

    • MattG says:

      I am anxious to see the results of the Refsnyder experiment.

  6. blake says:

    Im not anxious to move Jeter from SS and have terrible player X take his place there …

    • Cris Pengiucci says:

      They’re very likely to get better defense from “Terrible Player X” but also significantly worse offense (at least until Jeter permanently declines offensively). I’m not anxious for it either, but I’d need to see the entire trade off.

      • blake says:

        How “bad” Jeter’s defense is is overstated IMO and who are they going to put there?

        • Cris Pengiucci says:

          Well, he doesn’t move well. His hands are still good an his arm seems at least adequate. I have no idea who they would put there and that’s why I’d need to see the whole picture. Again, I said likely to get better defense and less offense. Is it worth the trade off? Depends on how much better D and worse O. With the way he’s hitting, I don’t see it now. If he reverts back to 2010 Jeter? Perhaps. Depends who they get.

        • Bill says:

          Yep, the Yankees will gladly take the hit in terms of range at SS for better offensive production and mostly error free defense at the position. Besides not only would you decrease your offensive production from SS you also might be weaker at whatever position Jeter would move to (DH or corner OF).

  7. MattG says:

    Tim Teufel/Wally Backman re-incarnated. Damn the 13 man pitching staff.

  8. Robinson Tilapia aka Melky's Webmaster says:

    Ah, minor league depth. Has a habit of working itself out, doesn’t it? Remember the great Ranger catching depth situation?

    The problem, to me, is that it seems like both these guys are knocking at the MLB door, with little place to put them. You may try to work one in a Nunez type role in order to give him close-to-regular MLB experience while we allow the chips to fall where they may wih Robbie, but I can’t see how both these guys stick around. One or both of these are going to be trade bait

    Wait, I thought we had no position prospects at the AAA level?

    • MattG says:

      I knew Adams was a prospect, but suspect health has usurped his value. I never knew CoJo was regarded as a major league regular, and if the can’t handle the left side of the infield, he’s of no use to any major league team.

      When you say work one into a Nunez type role, I read, get him enough playing time so that a rival GM might think of this guy as a full time player. Yes! Do that, then trade him! Don’t make the mistake of thinking, “Hey, maybe this guy is better than we thought” again…assuming that is what happened with Nunez…not totally sure…

      • Bill says:

        2B is easily one of the weakest offensive positions league wide. The idea is that Joseph could potentially be a regular starting 2B somewhere. That has a lot of value even if he can’t play the left side of the infield. Even if he can’t be an everyday regular its very possible he could take the heavy end of a platoon and play 2B against righties. That doesn’t have a lot of value to the Yankees cause they already have the best 2B in baseball and he also is a lefty, but it could have a lot of value elsewhere.

        • MattG says:

          No, I don’t think so. If he can’t start, and if he can’t play SS, then in the advent of the 13 man pitching staff era, he can’t play. It’s everyday starter, utility, or career minor leaguer.

          The platoon second/third baseman is dead my friend.

  9. JMK says:

    What’s wrong with you people? Easily the most interesting thing in this analysis is the satire David Adams Twitter account (no offense, Mike).

    Check out some of these gems:

    *Only got 480 grams of protein today, 20 less than quota, can’t play, day off #dayoffdave

    *Farts on own pillow gets pink eye, can’t play. Day off #dayoffdave

    *Walked off the bus, nobody wanted his autograph, can’t play, day off #dayoffdave

    *Teammate exits game early, jealous, day off. #dayoffdave

  10. Robert says:

    Adams will replace Laird next year at AAA, CoJo will get a shot in Spring training but both will be back up insurance against injury.Both will be in AAA next year.

  11. rogue says:

    Giving Cano a “lifetime” contract would be a horrible mistake. Like ARod, Boras will have the team bidding against itself.

  12. RetroRob says:

    If Cano was to leave, then they could keep both CoJo and Adams. They’ve been working Adams out at third and it seems to be going well in the early going. Adams could be a solid reserve, second infielder who has a bat.

  13. RetroRob says:

    If Cano was to leave, then they could keep both CoJo and Adams. They’ve been working Adams out at third and it seems to be going well in the early going. Adams could be a solid reserve, second infielder who has a bat. Keeping both also gives them two options for second, which increases the chances one of them working out.

    Neither will be Cano, but if they can provide an above-average bat at second, then the Yankees can direct the Cano money elsewhere to make up the loss in Cano’s offense.

  14. Greg C says:

    So “Co Jo” was almost 20 in high school? A full 2 years older than my classmates with late birthdays.

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