- Posted: 9:41 AM, April 4, 2012
I did five of these items. But here is a sixth that will have long-range implications:
Manuel Banuelos/Dellin Betances vs. Matt Harvey/Zack Wheeler (under No. 25 in next year’s Baseball America top-100 prospects) – To begin this season, Banuelos and Betances were ranked 29th and 63rd, respectively; Wheeler was 35th and Harvey 54th. Wheeler will begin at Double-A, the others at Triple-A with all having a chance to be called up at some point.
Both New York teams have worked to assemble high-end young arms. The Mets, for example, think Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia (rehabbing from Tommy John surgery) could push their way to the majors this year and earn significant roles soon.
For the Yankees, Banuelos continues to have a high ceiling, but he must show better command than he did in 2011. As for Betances, there continues to be a large segment of outside executives who believe that he will be a reliever not a starter. Betances is a big kid and will have to demonstrate that he can find a metronome quality and repeat his delivery enough to be successful.
2. One other area that the Mets feel they have prospects coming and could have a strength in the near future is lefty relief.
Josh Edgin, a 30th-round pick in 2010, impressed the Mets brass this spring training. He was sent to Double-A to close and he could be up at some point relatively early this year if he continues to progress.
Jack Leathersich, a fifth-round pick last year, faced 47 batters at Brooklyn and struck out 26. The team thinks he can be on the fast track toward the majors, as well.
3. I have no inside information on this. This is just a gut feeling based on how impressed the Yankees seemed with Justin Maxwell this spring. He is out of options and I do not think the Yankees want to simply expose him to waivers to try to get him to Triple-A. They believe he would be plucked by a team in need of outfield depth. Heck, you can make a case that Maxwell’s athleticism and ability to play center should make him attractive to the Mets.
The belief has always been that the Yankees would go with 12 pitchers and 13 position players and, in that scenario, they would be locked in with four reserve players: Francisco Cervelli, Eric Chavez, Andruw Jones and Eduardo Nunez.
But it is possible that early in the season with everyone fresh that the Yankees could go with 11 pitchers. Remember that one of the relievers was going to be the starter that failed to make the rotation, likely Freddy Garcia. However, once Michael Pineda was injured, the Yankees did not have to use a relief spot for that reason.
Therefore, they could go with a six-person bullpen of Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan and then decide upon two others. When spring began, Cory Wade appeared a lock for one of these positions. But he did not pitch well in the spring. So it is possible the Yankees could carry a second lefty, Clay Rapada, and a long-man type such as D.J. Mitchell or David Phelps or Adam Warren.
The Yankees could then let the season dictate when and if they need an extra reliever. For example, if they have no blowouts early and their starters are giving them six or seven innings, then they could simply stick with the six-man pen. Or they could manipulate the roster by, say, sending down Phelps if he is needed in long relief and bringing up Mitchell. They could see if Rapada is worth a pen spot or remove him from the 25-man roster and bring up Wade.
Maybe an outfield injury comes along and the Yankees just keep Maxwell on the roster. But if and when they have to remove Maxwell from the roster to get a seventh reliever on, my hunch is the Yanksee would believe he would have a better chance to pass through waivers once every other team has set its 25- and 40-man rosters, which means after the season begins.
Essentially this would be the Yankees trying to buy time to make a more informed decision about their roster without risking losing Maxwell in the next day or two.