As much as I have always been an advocate for and fan of the farm system, I have never gone so far as to say the Yankees should play a prospect over a more qualified player just to let him develop. In the past, the Yankees have never been in a situation where they are not in “win now” mode. There is certainly value in that type of move, as players can’t get better if they don’t see major league pitching. For the most part, it hasn’t made much sense for the Yankees to do such a thing in the past unless a prospect had already shown they can be a successful major leaguer.
There is a time and place where it’s appropriate to play the youngsters to see who sticks and who can help the team in the future. For the Yankees, that time and place is now. It’s really the perfect timing. Hindsight tells us they should have been sellers at the deadline, but hindsight is 20/20. There is enough season left to see what players bring to the table, and there is enough season behind us that the probability of a playoff run is looking miniscule. Here are the players who would be full time major leaguers getting regular playing time for the rest of the season if I was the GM of the New York Yankees.
1. David Adams – He has clearly had some trouble adjusting to the majors, but he needs a longer look. He is a much better hitter than he has shown so far, and they may need him to play second or third base next season. The cool thing about this season is you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by playing him every day. If he can’t cut it, he’s probably a DFA candidate for next year, but if he hits like he did in the minors he’s a huge asset to this team.
2. Austin Romine – Chris Stewart is what he is, and he’s not gonna get any better at this point. Trotting him out there every day to catch is not making the Yankees that much of a better team. The Yankees have very little to lose by making Romine the full time catcher this season. He’s solid defensively and his bat has started to show signs of life. In his last 10 games he’s hitting .393 and he has walked 5 times. He’s still striking out a lot, but it may take some time for him to adjust to major league pitching. Give him a shot. He has far more potential than Stewart, and may even be better than him now.
3. David Phelps and Adam Warren – when Phelps returns from the DL he should immediately be re-inserted in the rotation. Hughes should be removed. Simple as that. Not only is Hughes a free agent after this season, but he is also a terrible pitcher for Yankees stadium. Plain and simple. Hughes is not a part of the future of this team, and he should be treated as such. Send him to the bullpen, offer him his $13 million dollar contract in the offseason and get your first round pick for him next year. If he accepts the contract, trade him. Phelps can help this team in the long term as a back end starting pitcher.
4. Dellin Betances – call up Dellin Betances, and DFA Joba Chamberlain. Is anyone paying attention to what this guy is doing? He hasn’t let up a run in his last 17 outings, earned or otherwise. That is 30 and 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball in a row. He has 41 K, and 13 BB during that time. There’s no reason he shouldn’t be up and helping the team now. He’s better than Joba now and he actually has a future.
5. Zoilo Almonte – When he gets off the DL he should be in the lineup every day. Alfonso Soriano is okay, probably better than Zoilo, but Zoilo has potential and he is going to be around past 2014, unlike anyone else in the outfield. Granderson is gone after this season, and the Yankees may need Almonte in the outfield next year. They need to start playing him as soon as he gets back to get him as ready as possible for that task in 2014.
Preston Claiborne, Ivan Nova, Shawn Kelley, and Eduardo Nunez are all clearly going to continue to play. That is certainly a positive at this point and all have already shown they will be valuable to the team in one way or another in the future.
That’s nine young players who should be in the lineup in one way or another every chance the Yankees get. If they do this, they will be setting themselves up for the future, something they have failed at entirely in 2013.