Hey there, hardball fans! Spring Training is in full swing, and unfortunately, that means that it’s time for the injury bug to bite. Plenty of teams are adjusting on the fly as players go down with injuries both major and minor. This week’s edition of the Roster Report will focus on a couple of recent injuries that are opening up roster spaces across the league, especially one young player with a career just starting out. On the other end of the spectrum, an old friend returns to his old stomping grounds in an unexpected twist. All this and more in this edition of the Roster Report.
The New York Yankees sign SP Andy Pettitte to a $2.5MM minor-league deal.
Yeah, I’m not sure anyone saw this one coming. Fresh off the heels of adding two solid starters (Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda) this off-season, the Yankees have gone ahead and added yet another starter. Surprisingly, Andy Pettitte has emerged from his retirement to pitch again for the Yankees, and one should imagine that the team wouldn’t ink Pettitte unless they planned to use him in the rotation. I’m sure the Bronx faithful are happy to see their old favorite back in the House That YES Built, and once he’s ready to pitch, he’ll slot right in for regular work every fifth day.
So why would the Yankees be in the market for another arm? Word on the
street blogosphere is that the Yankees are worried about Michael Pineda‘s Spring Training velocity. If Pineda is ineffective, or needs additional work in the minor leagues, the Yankees will have a pretty serious hole in their rotation. But don’t the Bombers already have Freddy Garcia waiting to take the last slot in the rotation if that were the case? The truth of the matter is, you can never have too much starting pitching depth. Considering how many times pitchers get banged up and have to miss time, there’s no reason not to add another starter. And Pettitte wasn’t too shabby in his last go-round with the Yankees, posting a 3.28 ERA and a 3.85 FIP. Garcia should be able to slide into a relief or swingman role if he’s not already in one when Pettitte comes back. As for Pineda, if he’s healthy and there’s no space in the rotation for Pettitte, Phil Hughes could probably move into the relief role where he had such success.
In the end, there’s very little downside to this deal for a team like the Yankees. Two and a half million dollars for a player likely to be an average-or-better starter, even for part of a season, is a good deal. If the Yankees have too many starters, well, that’s a problem most teams would like to have. I’d bet the Red Sox wish they could get a player of Pettitte’s caliber at that price.
Kansas City Royals C Salvador Perez is out for 3-4 months with a knee injury.
Fresh off the heels of an awesome new five-year contract, 21-year-old Royals catcher Salvador Perez is out. It appears that Perez will need surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, and could miss anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks. A knee injury has to be especially rough on a catcher, but Perez was ready to prove his contract (and 2011 performance) were no fluke. Pena’s .331 average in limited action last season is an oft-sourced statistic, but he has the potential to play at an above-average level beyond just a decent batting average. With the injury and rehab time, one shouldn’t expect Perez to get too much development time, and this could turn out to be a lost year for the young backstop.
Brayan Pena is now the full-time catcher for the Royals, which is not good at all. Pena is below-average hitter, according to his career wRC+ of 71. No matter how good defensively Pena is, it won’t make up for his bad bat. There aren’t too many catchers available on the open market, though I hear Ivan Rodriguez could use a job. Pudge hasn’t been too effective recently, but would provide veteran leadership on a young Royals squad. The Royals have dreams of contending soon, and they’ll need every bit of help they can get to beat out the Tigers. There’s not a player in house that’s capable of taking on more responsibility behind the plate with Perez out, so adding a player through trade or free agency should now be a priority. Maybe Jorge Posada‘s ready to follow Pettitte’s lead and will be the next guy to come out of retirement?
- New York Mets third baseman David Wright has a minor abdominal tear, and while he says that he’ll be ready for Opening Day, never trust a DL estimate from the Mets. If Wright isn’t ready to go to start the season, one would probably expect Justin Turner to get most of the spots in Wright’s place. As for who might make the team on a temporary basis, I’d expect Josh Satin (or Zach Lutz) to get the call if Wright looks to miss extended time, but don’t overlook C/3B Lucas May either. May looked solid defensively in the Tigers-Mets Spring Training game, and he’s proved to be a reasonable hitter at the minor league level.
- Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins has some left knee inflamation, so he may miss some time but should be ready by April. If Stanton had to miss time, the Marlins are actually in pretty decent shape with Bryan Petersen. Not only is Petersen the star of an online webseries, but he’s also an underrated player. Petersen hits well (.334 wOBA) and showed solid defensive chops (5.6 UZR) in the outfield last season. But Stanton is one of the most exciting young hitters in baseball, and if he misses any time, the Marlins will suffer.