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Postional Battles – Where They Stand



By Mike Silva ~ March 4th, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva.

fter a week of game action where do both teams stand with positional battles? Let’s take a look:

Yankees

Brett Gardner vs. Melky Cabrera – Is Brett Gardner for real? Another three hits against Team USA puts Gardner well over .500 for the spring. Melky Cabrera hasn’t done a bad job, but pales in comparison. Cabrera is out of options. Do you believe in Gardner or are you in the Nomaas camp that this is done against inferior competition? Options or not, if this continues, it will be hard to see Gardner not be the Yankees starting centerfielder on opening day. There is, however, lots of baseball left to play this spring.

Bullpen
Joe Girardi has not indicated whether he has an aversion to keeping seven pitchers in the bullpen. If he does, I believe Phil Coke is a lock to make the team. You could always use a second lefty, and Girardi already talked about how he might use him in long relief situations. That means Mark Melancon, Jonathan Albaladejo, and David Robertson (assuming Edwar Ramirez is healthy) will battle for the final spot. Melancon have the most upside as many believe he will eventually replace Mariano in the bullpen. Regardless, each arm has tremendous upside giving the Yankees the deepest bullpen in baseball. My bets are on Melancon making this team and playing a key role in 2009.

Bench

I think if the Yanks carry twelve pitchers Juan Miranda is ticketed for Scranton. Especially since Cody Ransom or Angel Berroa can play multiple positions. His chances don’t look good considering Matsui can only DH, Posada may need to DH, and Mark Teixeira plays every day. Miranda smells of the type of player that the Yanks will use to acquire a piece mid-season. This very well might be the best for Miranda since there really is no spot for him (channeling Joe DelGrippo). Right now Berroa is outperforming Ransom with the bat. I prefer Ransom’s versatility and power, especially since Berroa is not that great of a fielder.

Mets

The Fifth Spot
Are you ready for El Duque part two? What seemed to be a spring signing for depth may turn into a saving grace for Omar Minaya. Livan Hernandez as clearly outperformed his main competition (Freddy Garcia) to date. I still don’t take Jon Niese seriously because I believe he needs a full year of AAA under his belt. He has done nothing to indicate otherwise to date. The sleeper still is Tim Redding who has yet to pitch, but you hear the Mets like him in long relief. I am fine with Hernandez in the fifth spot, but is quantity of innings valuable if they are to the tune of a 5.00 ERA?

Final Bullpen Spot
Jerry Manuel went on record as saying he doesn’t want to carry more than 11 pitchers. At the beginning of spring training I had only one spot available because I assumed that Duaner Sanchez was a lock to make the team. There now have been rumblings that the Mets may trade, or release, Sanchez if he doesn’t show improvement. The 85 mile per hour batting practice fastball early on is not a good sign. Brian Stokes, Bobby Parnell, and Nelson Figueroa all have had their moments. Assuming that Redding is healthy and not starting you may have a difficult decision to make. Do you go with another lefty (Tom Martin, Ron Villone) or keep one of Brian Stokes, Darren O’ Day, Rockey Cherry, Figueroa, and Bobby Parnell. I still think Sanchez, and his guaranteed contract, have the edge. Much will depend on how the fifth spot turns out since Redding might be needed in the rotation. This is still very much up in the air and too close to call.

Bench
If Manuel keeps only 11 pitchers than his bench will have six spots. Tatis, the backup catcher, Alex Cora, and Marlon Anderson make up four spots already. Angel Pagan continues to be a modern day “Darren Reed” (if you don’t know what that means go look it up) with his second consecutive productive spring training. Jeremy Reed, Bobby Kielty, Robinson Cancel and Jose Valentin are all possibilities as well. If I had to take a guess, Pagan makes the team and takes over the Endy Chavez role. The final spot will either go to Cancel or Kielty. The Mets can use a right handed bat to spot in the outfield and pinch hit. The determining factor is whether Castro is healthy enough to catch, or Jerry Manuel wants to use him as a pinch hitter. Pudge Rodriguez, the X factor, still looms depending on his WBC Performance.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Postional Battles – Where They Stand

  1. James K.

    Mike could you provide a link for Jerry Manuel’s 11-man pitching staff statement? I hadn’t heard that. The Mets have historically kept 12 on their opening day staff.

  2. Steve

    I still think that they carry both Gardner and Melky. Gardner will be the everyday CF, but with Melky out of options, they have to carry him or let him go. What are they going to get if they try to trade him?

  3. Mike Silva

    James – listen to his interview from Francesa last week – he mentions that if you need 12 pitchers than your first 11 aren’t good enough. I agree with you that he may carry 12, but he seemed against it with Francesa

  4. James K.

    Fortunately I don’t listen to Mike Francesca and don’t plan to anytime soon. But I’d be shocked if the Mets carry only 11 pitchers. Manuel isn’t the one making those decisions anyway, that’s the GM/front office’s decision.

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