One mystery remains before Yankees start season

arodblogpbible033109.jpgNOW OUR REVELS ARE ENDED, KIRK
With the demotions of Alfredo Aceves, Dan Giese, and Brett Tomko, all but one of the spring’s competitions and mysteries have been resolved. Brett Gardner (3-for-4 today) is your center fielder. Xavier Nady is your right fielder. Jon Albaladejo is in the bullpen. Jorge Posada and Hideki Matsui are more or less ready to go. Mariano Rivera seems more than ready to go. Southpaw Phil Coke should make the team, and he looks like he’ll be a weapon. Joba Chamberlain started the spring in the rotation and will finish the spring in the rotation. Any time a setup man blows a lead all season long someone will second-guess his being there, even if he’s 16-1 at the time, but he’s in the rotation. All that remains to be determined is the identity of the reserve infielder, a player who may only cling to the roster until Alex Rodriguez returns. Assuming no major injuries and a timely and effective return for Rodriguez (which is assuming a lot, but let’s go with it), that player should only have minimal playing opportunities… Unless, as I hopefully speculated yesterday, Joe Girardi is brave enough to use a late-inning defensive replacement for Derek Jeter.

Earlier this spring I touted Jeff Keppinger as a player who would make a useful A-Rod substitute and post-Rod utility player. While not a defensive standout at any position, he’s adequate around the infield and has a far better bat than either Angel Berroa or Ramiro Pena. Today, the Reds dealt him to the Astros for a player to be named later. As the Astros’ farm system is drier than my aunt’s Thanksgiving turkey, the PTBNL isn’t likely to be anything special, which is to say that the Yankees, had they been in on Keppinger, likely could have topped the offer without giving away anyone of real significance. As the Yankees found out last year, the better your bench players, the better the club’s insurance against injuries to star players. I wrote yesterday that Ramiro Pena could be a fine late-inning defensive substitute, but if he has to start for two weeks the Yankees will suffer greatly. You can’t just look at these reserves as guys who are only going to pinch-run and start once a month when someone needs a day off, and you certainly can’t take the health of your players for granted. Jose Molina should have taught the Yankees that. He’s the true example of what happens when a star player gets hurt, not Erick Almonte.

It was a bad couple of days for ex-Yankees as Gary Sheffield (499 home runs) and Mike Stanton (1,178 games, second all time) hit the release pile. The Tigers are now free to rotate some useful players, like Marcus Thames and Jeff Larish, through the DH spot. In a spot of good news for a former Yankee, it looks like utility infielder Nick Green has made the Red Sox, Julio Lugo being out and Alex Cora being a Met… Amazing that Alfredo Simon, a pitcher with a career 5.04 ERA in the minors (and a 23-40 career record) will be in the Orioles’ rotation… Chan Ho Park is the Phillies’ fifth starter; in other news, the Phillies will not be defending their championship. They also released Geoff Jenkins, who was made redundant last season after Jayson Werth emerged as an everyday player… The Marlins are going to start Emilio Bonifacio at third base; here’s hoping they enjoy their .350 slugging percentage at the hot corner… Dear Royals: Why Sidney Ponson?


  1. daniloalfaro

    “Unless … Joe Girardi is brave enough to use a late-inning defensive replacement for Derek Jeter.”
    Well, Girardi is the manager, isn’t he? Jeter has crafted this persona of putting team first, not caring about individual records, “it’s all about winning,” etc. etc. So if Girardi uses a late-inning defensive replacement ? or pencils Jeter in at CF, for that matter ? Jeter can’t exactly pitch a fit about it without exposing himself as a selfish prima donna. Which is exactly what he would have to be if he insists on staying at shortstop to the detriment of the team.
    Again, doesn’t the manager decide who plays where?

  2. alvaritogt

    Just found out that Dallas McPherson was released by the Marlins. I hope the Yankees go after him.

  3. hateslibs

    STEVIE,STEVIE,STEVIE, Ya know I luvs ya, but sometimes your stupid drivel drives me nuts. To solve the problem to replace A-Rod ,you dis-like or slam anyone suggested. Why? Berroa, Pena, Ranson all play decent 3rd. It makes me wonder if you ever played the game, or just handed water to the boys as they came in from the field. I am not quite ready to put you in MIKE PUKIA,oops I mean Lupika’s league but you working your way towards him. Hey I heard Boog Powell is available to play 3rd, go get em Stevie!!!!!!!!!!!


    Now before you all start shooting me with we don’t need another old guy, look at this picture.
    We upgrade the bench with him on it, he can pinch hit in late situations and even share dh duties with matsui, we are only talking one year here. You know he can still hit Hrs and he still imposes fear in the opposing pitcher. Imagine having that weapon on your bench?
    and if he acts up, well we are not going to pay him that much so just cut him. theres no downside.
    remember when we won those championships that everybody loves to recall, we always had power on the bench. (Cecil Fielder, chili Davis, Darryl Strawberry, Ruben Sierra)


    Jeter has always been great with the team first attitude. But how he projects his image might not reflect his emotions in every instance.

    For example, when Jeter was recently shifted from the 2-hole to lead off, Giardi said Jeter was on board as long as he bats in one of the top three spots in the line up.

    Story with that info here:

    That was a little curious to me. He obviously has a pride issue to set parameters on where he bats. So I think if he gets pulled for a defensive substitution it will hurt his pride. Possibly creating some tension in the clubhouse? I guess we’ll see.

    And hateslibs, we have one roster spot left and Sheff is not a utility infielder (or any other type of fielder anymore for that matter). Did you forget our need? It ain’t DH.

  6. hateslibs

    Dear bon410, you must have me mixed up with someone who cares, as I never mentioned Sheffield. Tks…

  7. letsgoyankees

    atorres-Have you gone crazy? Forget another old guy. Sheffield is a blowhard, and if he had to settle for being ONLY a pinch-hitter, he’d become a clubhouse cancer. He’s wasted. Done. He shoud just retire. He’s no weapon, you stick him in as DH and he’s an automatic out. It would be a terrible move, and a waste of money.

  8. letsgoyankees

    Steve-You point out that defensive metrics (I believe you used PECOTA) say that Jeter has bad defense. But the River Ave. Blues blog said otherwise. They pointed out that it depends on the metric. Certain metrics place Jeter in the bottom five in the league in shortstops. Others put him in the top five. Which means we’re back where we started. In the end, it’s a matter of your own interpretation. I honestly-really, honestly-have not noticed a really significant downslide in our Captain’s defense. If you have, you’re allowed, but I don’t buy those defensive metrics. He does not need a late inning replacement!


    Yes hatelibs, I mistakenly attributed you to atorres’ post just below your post, apologies. Not sure how that constitutes me ‘mistaking you for someone who cares’, you obviously care enough to comment in a blog.


    Yes hatelibs, I mistakenly attributed you to atorres just below your post, apologies. Not sure how that constitutes me ‘mistaking you for someone who cares’, you obviously care enough to comment in a blog.

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