Mar
24

Dean Anna, Yangervis Solarte, and replacing Brendan Ryan

By
Anna. (Presswire)

Anna. (Presswire)

When Spring Training started, the Yankees had about six players in serious consideration for the final bench spot. The number of bench candidates has whittled down over the weeks and, thanks to the pinched nerve in Brendan Ryan‘s back, another bench spot has opened. Joe Girardi has indicated they will take two of Eduardo Nunez, Dean Anna, and Yangervis Solarte north when the team breaks camp in a week.

Nunez seems like a lock for one of those two bench spots even though he has been the same guy he’s always been this spring, meaning lots of contact, lots of speed, but also lots of defensive adventures. Yet, because he’s the incumbent, Nunez appears to have a roster spot in the bag, especially in the wake of Ryan’s injury. That leaves one spot for Anna or Solarte. Is one a better fit for the roster than the other? Let’s look at what they have to offer.

The Case for Dean Anna
Acquired in a minor offseason trade with the Padres, the 27-year-old Anna provides four things, specifically: patience, contact skills, solid defense, and some versatility. He has always been a high-walk (12.6% in Double-A and Triple-A), low-strikeout (12.0%) hitter from the left side of the plate, though his power and speed are non-factors. Anna has a ton of experience at second base and shortstop, plus some at third and the two corner outfield spots. He’s not a Gold Glover but he’s not Nunez either. Adequate all around the infield, which is valuable.

Carrying Anna would give the team another lefty bat off the bench in addition to Ichiro Suzuki — considering they both make a bunch of contact, Anna’s probably the greater offensive threat because he’ll take a walk and not hack at everything — but this isn’t a lineup that will require a bunch of pinch-hitters. The Yankees will live and die with the starting position players. Anna’s glove is more reliable that Nunez’s, which would be valuable whenever Derek Jeter gets a day off from playing the field. That figures to happen fairly regularly, at least early in the season.

"Yangervis, he makes all the pitchers nervous!" /Sterling'd (Presswire)

“Yangervis, he makes all the pitchers nervous!” /Sterling’d (Presswire)

The Case for Yangervis Solarte
The only reason the Solarte is in the conversation for a bench spot right now is his Spring Training performance. He’s gone 16-for-35 (.457) with two homers in camp, the kind of numbers that get a non-roster player noticed. Solarte, 26, has also spent a bunch of time at the three non-first base infield positions as well as left field this spring, though he’s spent most of his minor league career at second, third, and left. Only 30 games at short in parts of eight seasons, 20 of which came in 2013.

Solarte hit .282/.332/.404 in over 1,100 Triple-A plate appearances the last two seasons, which were spent in the hitter friendly Pacific Coast League. Nothing about his 91 wRC+ from 2012-13 suggests he can be an asset at the plate in the show, though it’s always possible something has clicked this spring and he’s a new hitter. Since he is another low power, little speed, adequate defense guy, the only things Solarte has on Anna are his versatility (more experience in third and left, less at short) and his ability to switch-hit. Having a switch-hitter on the bench is always nice for matchup purposes, but again, Girardi doesn’t figure to use many pinch-hitters this summer.

* * *

Brian Cashman said “all the answers are here in camp” the other day when asked about going outside the organization to replace Ryan, and unless they’re going to pony up for Stephen Drew, there aren’t many available options anyway. The recently designated for assignment Juan Francisco could make some sense as a corner fielder with (huge) left-handed power, though he’s a butcher in the field who won’t walk and will strike out a ton. He’s a lefty Mark Reynolds without the plate discipline, basically. As the last man on the bench, maybe he makes more sense that Anna or Solarte.

The Yankees have a 40-man roster crunch at the moment, which could give Anna (on the 40-man) a leg up over Solarte (not on the 40-man). Adding Solarte to the roster will cost the team another player, unless Ryan’s back injury is so bad that he’s a 60-day DL candidate. Anna is the simpler move and since he a) can play short no questions asked, and b) seems like a safer bet offensively because of his contact/discipline approach, he might be the best fit for the bench. Solarte is hitting the ball far better right now and is a switch-hitter with a bit more versatility, so it’s not like he has nothing to offer. Either way, whoever wins the job will have a big opportunity early in the season.

Categories : Bench

91 Comments»

  1. I'm One says:

    Solarte has a huge advantage in name value. That’s gotta be worth something.

  2. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    Dean Anna Dean Anna Pollyanna is obvious here. Although both are unknowns on the MiLB level, the lack of a 40-man move should give Anna a huge leg up here. Solarte, if he keeps this up, would provide some decent depth.

    While I’d love to consider Sizemore here, perhaps he does need to be playing everyday down in Scranton to truly get his groove back. Hopefully, we’re able to either get him up for 5/1 or get him to stick around past the first opt-out. All things being equal, though. I’d take him over Nunez any day.

  3. Thomas says:

    Is it just me or does Anna’s skillset sound a lot like Mark Loretta? Adequate defender with adequate speed and gap power, but good contact hitter with good patience. I am sure he won’t be as good as Loretta (certainly not peak Loretta), but definite sounds like he could be a decent bench player. I certainly like him better than Solarte who is only interesting based on Spring Training games.

  4. Liam says:

    Dean Anna looks like Eric Chavez and Tulo had a child.

  5. The Yankees know what they have in Nunez, and if he does has a minor league option, I would want to see what Solarte has. He is probably Juan Miranda II but I always like to know who he is instead of assuming that he won’t amount to anything.

  6. JoeyA says:

    It should be these 2 and Nunez should be in AAA/somewhere else. He offers nothing but speed and the last thing you want from a bench player is a defensive butcher in the field.

    • The Great Gonzo says:

      “Nunez seems like a lock for one of those two bench spots even though he has been the same guy he’s always been this spring, meaning lots of contact, lots of speed, but also lots of defensive adventures. “

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      So who would you DFA for Solarte? This doesn’t exist in a vacuum, or is your solution to, in fact, DFA Nuney?

  7. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    I’ve been a Nuñez apologist for ever, but his schtick on defense is wearing thin on me. After a while, all that unfulfilled promise is not enough. If he has a MiLB option…. Use it.

    • I'm One says:

      Unfortunately, using his MiLB option doesn’t give you a 40-man slot, which is needed if they want to bring Solarte north with them.

      I’d take Solarte over Nunez (although I don’t think it will make much of a difference in the season as a whole), but I’d prefer not to lose Nunez for absolutely nothing, so I would certainly understand the Yankees chosing to bring Nunez north.

  8. adjusts batting gloves says:

    I was looking at the 40-man roster and there’s no one I would consider designating for assignment for Solarte, right now. Mike is, as very often, absolutely right. It’s a cluttered 40-man, but would anyone on this thread really want to expose Nik Turley, or Campos, or Heathcott, or Romine, or even Cesar Cabral to open a spot for Yangervis? They could try to sneak Ramon Flores through waivers, but, again, why risk it?
    They’re going to break camp with Nunez and Anna, unless Ichiro gets traded.

    • Yankee$ (Formerly Pseudoyanks) says:

      Unless they are offered a Minor League prospect (that they really like) who won’t require 40 Man protection for a guy like Romine, and can then go from 5 Catchers on the 40 man to 4, it’s a no brainer that Anna will get the nod, IMO.

      • I'm One says:

        Or maybe they take a non-prospect for Ichiro and kick in very little in the way of salary relief. But I agree, unless there’s some last minute move, Anna clearly has the advantage due to the 40-man crunch.

    • Preston says:

      That’s why you go with Anna and Nunez. If Ryan is hurt long term then that opens up a 40 man spot, if somebody else gets hurt or a trade opportunity arises then you can bring up Solarte if he’s deserving at AAA.

  9. dkidd says:

    picking up juan francisco sounds like something the 2013 yankees would do

    pass

  10. Robert says:

    Always liked Nunez but yesterdays error was my last straw.If I was Cash he is a throw in on the next trade!!!

    • BFDeal says:

      Emotional logic and knee jerk reactions to a singular event in a meaningless game are the best.

      • Darren says:

        Disagree. It’s reasonable to look at Nunez’s performance in these games as more than just a very small sample size. I think it’s valid to say that if he’s STILL butchering throws after all this time, and the thrown the other day was one of many bad plays this spring, it’s really never gonna get better. He’s not just nervous, it’s not just early in camp, you’re at the tipping point and that throw crystallizes the decision. It doesn’t represent the only reason why to give up, it just pushes it over the edge.

        • BFDeal says:

          My comment stands. That was an emotional thought process. Allowing one play to “crystallize” a decision is bad decision making.

  11. Zach says:

    Why not 60 DL Heathcott or Austin and add Solarte? Can they do that?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      Why would they? Who says either of them need to be out that long?

      • RetroRob says:

        Heathcott has been brought along slow, but all indications are he’ll be playing early in the season. Austin will be ready at the start of the season. So, yeah, no reason to do that.

  12. mustang says:

    Its it me or isn’t Anna and Solarte about the same player history wise coming into spring. Both are older minor leaguers with a history of success only in the minors.
    Since Solarte is a bit more versatile then Anna and is having a better spring cut Anna give his spot to Solarte.
    My only question would be can Solarte be sent down to AAA without having to go through waivers once Ryan is healthy?

    • mustang says:

      Personally I’m tired of Nunez he has had his chance and has done nothing with them how about dumping his ass and letting someone else get a chance.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      If he’s not on the 40-man, he’s not burning any sort of option. Solarte’s an MiLB player in camp. That’s it.

      Your line of thinking only makes me plant my feet in the Anna bandwagon more. If they profile the same, and I agree that they have similar career arcs, then you start out with the guy who doesn’t require a 40-man move to remain on your team.

      I assume that, by “cutting” Anna, you mean optioning him. Under no circumstance do I think keeping Solarte by giving him Anna’s 40-man slot should be an option. You don’t cut your depth at this position this early on. No way.

      • mustang says:

        Ok, agree.

        I just like Solarte and with the Yankees infield being what it is I find it hard to let any infielder go. I mean their stacked in the outfield they can’t find a spot there maybe Ramon Flores.

        • mustang says:

          Doesn’t it also makes sense in the future too. They probably won’t, but what if Anna or Solarte stick in one of the many infield needs the Yankees have that’s one less need going forward.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            It may seem to make sense in the future but, unless you’ve got some sort of pecking order based on what allows you to preserve as much depth as possible, it really doesn’t make all that sense.

            The Yanks, whether we agree with it or not, are basically going with a “throw a bunch of shit at the wall and see what sticks” approach at second and third. For that to work, there need to be enough Option B and Option C’s to go around. This complicates itself even further when you’ve got a health question mark like Jeter potentially drawing from the same pool if he goes down. This is why I think you have to go with the options that don’t cost you moves first, which probably means Anna and Nunez.

            Flores and Turley are the two most obvious casualties from the 40-man and, while I don’t sit here envisioning multiple All-Star seasons from either, there’s also not compelling enough a reason to expose and potentially lose them when Anna and Nunez make for about as decent an Option B as anyone else under contract.

            And, yes Mustang, I think this is all much preferable to the Attorney General, Reid Brignac, and Luiz Cruz.

    • Joe says:

      Spring training stats are a small and unreliable sample size. Anna hit 331 in the PCL last year. Solarte hit 276 in the same league. Anna’s on base skills (410 obp) compared to Solarte’s OBP of 323 last year, along with Anna’s 177 minor league games at SS (30 for Solarte) should be considered as well. Anna has him covered. Solarte deserves a shot at some point though.

    • Cheval Anonyme says:

      Solarte has very little experience at SS, while Anna has played a lot there. and with Ryan down, they really need a backup at short. I don’t trust Nunez there. Emotionally I prefer Solarte, both for his cool name and his hot Spring; but my head says Bannanna Fanna Fo-fanna.

    • anotheryear says:

      Here are minor slashlines Solarte

      Minors Only

      nunez 2981 PA .272/.315/.365
      Solarte 2804 .286/.336/.397 minor league since 2006
      Anna 2207 .286/.386/.428 minor league since 2008

      Totally agree a hot spring training does not make Solarte the choice. Anna on 40 man. If ST stats were that important we are really in trouble based on the big guys stats.

      Jeter .114
      Beltran .262
      Mc Cann .243

  13. Matt DiBari says:

    I really wanna know what its gonna take for the Yankees to finally give up on Nunez

  14. Darren says:

    It would be nice to see if the Yankees can capitalize on a hot streak from Solarte. Seems like there’s a good chance to let him take some ABs from Kelly Johnson and Roberts if he ends up hitting well. Even if (when) he comes back to Earth, his minor league numbers look pretty good for a back-up who provides insurance all over the infield.
    I would think it’s worth it to try and trade Flores or Nunez for a couple of minor prospects who wouldn’t require 40 man protection. Nunez likely has more value for another team than us at this point.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

      I don’t need to see that movie. It’s like “hey look….Iron Man 8 is coming out. I’ve seen the other seven Iron Mans. I know how this goes.”

      • Leroy Wisch says:

        Anna has been consistent. 331 even in the PCL last year for 130 games are still pretty good numbers.Should handle the field adequately bat around 260 maybe 270 and have an upside with OBP.Ever see “Money Ball ”
        He’s the one.

    • Preston says:

      Why? Our infield is shaky and we need the depth. Yet nobody on this site feels comfortable with Nunez getting significant playing time. What team would feel comfortable with him? I think his defensive deficiencies make him pretty useless to anybody at this point.

  15. RetroRob says:

    If Solarte is for real (meaning he’s made some adjustment), then he’ll show it down in AAA. For now, he should be sent down and Anna should get the spot.

    • Darren says:

      Maybe, maybe not. He could be rising to the challenge but if he’s sent down he loses whatever confidence and groove he’s in. It might be temporary, which makes it all the more reason to try and exploit it. If turns out it was totally a product of spring training, you can always return him to the minors. I just think the potential value of getting someone exceeding his expectations is worth the 40 man slot. Otherwise, why even invite him to camp?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        “He could be rising to the challenge but if he’s sent down he loses whatever confidence and groove he’s in.”

        Then he has business playing professional sports.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

          NO business.

          • Darren says:

            That’s literally the craziest thing anyone’s ever said, anywhere. Are you seriously saying that success in sports isn’t determined in large part by confidence, at least for some players? That could make all the difference for a marginal MLB player like Solarte and doesn’t mea he has “no business” playing if it let’s it bother him.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

              If an athlete who goes into every season knowing, year-in, year-out, that he’s going to be fighting to get a cup of coffee in the majors, is suddenly going to lose his focus because he wound up on the losing end of the battle he will go through every year (sentence construction be damned), I really have to question whether they’re up to the task at all.

              Not to mention you’ve never even introduced yourself to Yangervis Solarte, much less know a damn thing about his emotional makeup.

              • Darren says:

                First of all I said confidence, not focus. And even if he lost focus, that means he retroaticely wouldn’t deserve the spot now?

                You can’t imagine Solarte being bummed out after having a crazy hot Spring and STILL not making the team? That would seem like a natural reaction.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

                  I don’t give a flying shit what his reaction is. He’s a minor league journeyman. It’s not a bad way to make a living.

                  No matter what happens to him, you could easily argue that he’s already come out winning. In camp, you’re just as easily auditioning for a job on ANY MLB roster, not just the one matching the uniform you’re wearing. He’s, at the very least, put himself on someone’s map. He’s already done his job.

                  Being a player of his caliber means that, once you reach that level of service time, more often than not, you are being cut from teams.

                  Read “The Bullpen Diaries.”

            • Preston says:

              He’s not saying confidence isn’t important. He’s saying if you weren’t confident in your abilities you wouldn’t have made it out of A ball. The only thing that’s going to cause Solarte to succeed or fail at this point is his own talent level.

              • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                And/or injuries.

              • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

                Imagine if DeWayne Wise lost his confidence and focus every time he didn’t win an MLB job out of Spring Training. He’d be coaching middle school.

                • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead says:

                  I am going to regret this post for obvious reasons.

                  I was rejected by sooooo many girls in high school/college. If I’d lost confidence I never would have found my current flame.

                  You get desensitized to rejection after a while. It hurts the first few times, but after that, if anything, it’s just part of life.

                  And that’s a minor, tiny, life annoyance. I would imagine that anyone in professional baseball has a little more intestinal fortitude than an idiot on a blog.

            • Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

              Actually, what you said is literally crazier than what he said. Since if what you think he said is literally the craziest thing anyone’s ever said anywhere, there are quite a few people I’d like to present to you.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        Have you looked at the list of players the Yankees invite to camp every season?

      • Preston says:

        The point is so the staff can get a look at him in person before sending him to AAA. So that when he gets called up due to injury/ineffectiveness at the MLB level, they know something about him.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting says:

        It might be temporary

        yep.

        Since March 13: 250/294/250

        If he was still on fire, I could somewhat see your argument.
        But he’s not still on fire.

  16. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    At what point do otherwise-rational-and-intelligent baseball fans resist from being seduced by a marginal player’s ST stats?

    I’d have loved it if Josh Phelps worked out at 1B too.

    • Darren says:

      Eh, it’s not being seduced to think a great spring should earn someone the 25th roster spot over a career minor leaguer like Anna.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        The other guy’s a career minor leaguer too.

        It’s the same shit every off-season. At some point, after time #134 of seeing this, you learn not to pay attention and hope that, at least, you’ve got someone who can provide some punch during the season when shit happens.

        I love me some successful journeymen, but goddamn.

        • Cheval Anonyme says:

          All three (Anna, Solarte, Nunez) are worth very little if you look at their histories. The only reasons not to just DFA one are either you need the depth at AAA, or you think one of them is suddenly blooming at this relatively late stage. It’s happened before, but it is rare. At AAA, they have Pirela and Cojo, Sizemore, Zelous Wheeler… are they really losing all that much if one of the top-three mediocrities gets lost?

          • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

            Probably not, but I’d be seeking to do this with as few losses as possible, and stretching out the amount of time before you’re reaching for the Rolodex and dialing up Luis Cruz.

            • dkidd says:

              stop picking on luis cruz!

              i have an irrational fondness for the guy, based entirely on his half season as a cult hero for the dodgers (stole home in his first game). he’s playing in japan this year, but i haven’t given up on him becoming a solid mlb utility infielder someday

          • RetroRob says:

            So you’re arguing to cut Solarte?

            The depth is really for the MLB team, not the AAA team. With the likes of Brittle Roberts at second, and questions at third, and a 40-year-old manning short, the Yankees need more depth this year than usual. So no reason to cut any of them.

            The cut involves someone else from the 40-man roster. There’s no reason to do that because a career minor leaguer had a nice camp playing mostly against B lineups.

            Solarte is serving the purpose he was meant to serve. If he never sees an AB on the MLB level this year it actually will be a good thing.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

              “Solarte is serving the purpose he was meant to serve. If he never sees an AB on the MLB level this year it actually will be a good thing.”

              Repeated for emphasis.

        • Darren says:

          So basically you’re saying there’s no way in hell the Yankees pick Solarte? Or that if they do, they’re wrong and you’re right?

        • emac2 says:

          The funny part isn’t someone attaching value to a spring training hot streak.

          It’s the fan attaching more value to someone else who has spent even more time doing less just because they have been around longer.

          I can’t assume that someone that couldn’t earn a job for a weak 2013 Yankee infield is better than someone that didn’t amaze in a deep rangers organization.

      • Joe says:

        For a player with healthy enough stats at the minor league level, it cannot be determined that he is a career minor leaguer until he’s been given a chance at the major league level. There are many horror stories about players not being given a chance. When people throw that term around it burns me up.

    • RetroRob says:

      At what point? When we have a Chicxulub-like extinction event, wiping out all baseball fans worldwide. Didn’t Mike pick Solarte to win the overrated-omg-we-have-to-take-him-north-with-the-team award at the start of ST?

  17. Preston says:

    I’m not a fan of Nunez, but he and Solarte are the same age, and Nunez has posted comparable offensive numbers at the MAJOR LEAGUE LEVEL, that Solarte has posted in MiLB. Nunez is a plus baserunner, while Solarte has never posted double digit steals at any level (3 each of the last two years). Yes we know that Nunez isn’t going to be a great fielder. But at least he has the range for SS, I’m not sure that Solarte does. And before we get carried away by Solarte’s versatility, his FP% at 3B in the minors is .933, which is only slightly better than Nunez’s atrocious .923. As for his ability to play OF, what’s the point? We have Ellsbury, Gardner, Beltran, Soriano and Ichiro for that, and Kelly Johnson can play the OF in an emergency (as can Nunez 8 games as an OF in 2011 and 12). And if one of them is injured I’d rather call up Almonte than give the playing time to Solarte. I get it, he’s torn the cover off in ST. But that’s pretty meaningless. So let’s move on.

  18. Need Pitching & Hitting says:

    Why no love for Zelous Wheeler????

    Just think of all of the pun possibilities.

  19. emac2 says:

    Solarte and Cervelli to the rangers?

  20. Tom says:

    Is this really much of a question? Anna is a bit of an unkown. Solarte is a complete unknown. The 40 man only further cements it in my view. They would likely lose Anna if they had to put him on waivers (or make a difficult cut elsewhere on the 40man). Given Roberts history, they both could be on the major league roster rather quickly.

    While Solarte’s flexibility and possible ability to also play OF is nice – the Yankees have 5 OF’s and Kelly Johnson can also play the OF if things get crazy in an extra inning game or a random day to day injury issue. Is being a potential 6th or 7th OF really any extra value to the bench?

    If Solarte had 4 fewer hits this spring he’d be hitting ~.333 and people would be asking: Solarte, really? Also his opponent quality this spring is 8.1 which is pretty much AAA level opposition (from baseball reference). To make this move it would seem the Yankees would have to put more weight in a good 36 AB stretch against AAA level competition than several years of actual minor league data.

  21. anotheryear says:

    Sorry if this was stated earlier, The Yankees traded for Dean Anna prior to rule 5 draft and put him on 40 man in November.

    Yes the trade was for another unknown minor league player but I would assume they were scouting Anna and liked what they saw knowing they were going to need infield depth.

    Anna has played solid and its obvious Solarte’s spring numbers will not translate to MLB. It appears Anna was put on 40 man for this type of situation.

    Solarte is a NRI who has opend some eyes and I love an underdog story and Anna and Solarte are both an underdog. But I think Anna gets the nod.

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