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Predicting The Triple-A Pitching Staff
13 years ago  ::  Jan 12, 2009 - 7:29PM #1
Posts: 181

Obviously, guessing the Triple-A roster requires guessing the major league roster, so for the sake of this exercise, this is my big league pitching staff:
Rotation: Sabathia, Wang, Burnett, Chamberlain, Hughes
Bullpen: Rivera, Marte, Bruney, Veras, Ramirez, Robertson, Giese

Signing Pettitte would, of course, bump Hughes from the rotation, and I don't feel especially confident with those last two spots in the bullpen -- Aceves, Albaladejo, Coke, Melancon and maybe some sort of late free agent signing could also be in the mix -- but for now, I'll go with those seven.

And so, my Triple-A pitching staff would be...

1. Ian Kennedy
2. Alfredo Aceves (right)
3. Phil Coke
4. Chase Wright
5. Kei Igawa

Best bet: Kennedy. I also believe pretty strongly that Coke will be in the mix. Word that he has been told to prepare as a starter further makes me think he'll be in the Triple-A rotation rather than the big league bullpen.

Toughest decision: Wright and Igawa. The Yankees seem to never rule out any idea, so I doubt we'll ever get a feel for whether the Yankees are considering putting one of these two in the bullpen, but it seems to make some sense, especially if the Yankees have to open a Triple-A rotation spot for Phil Hughes or one of the following...

Next in line: George Kontos. Pitched well enough in Double-A last season and could very well open this season in Triple-A, but in my mind he's penciled back into the Double-A rotation. Could he go into Triple-A the rotation with either Igawa or Wright bumped to the bullpen?

What do you do with: Alan Horne. If Horne's healthy in spring training, there is no sense sending him anywhere but Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, but given the Yankees wealth of Triple-A-ready starters I could see the organization taking things slow with Horne and having him open the season in Tampa to come back from his shoulder surgery in warm weather. They did something similar with Mark Melancon and J.B. Cox last season.

RHP Mark Melancon (right)
RHP Jonathan Albaladejo
RHP Steven Jackson
RHP Anthony Claggett
RHP Humberto Sanchez
RHP J.B. Cox
RHP Jason Johnson

Best bet: Jackson. I would say Melancon, but I think he has the best chance of this bunch to open in the big leagues (I'm not saying that will happen, but I'm starting to think he has a shot). And so, I'll say Jackson is the most obvious Triple-A bullpen arm, and if he picks up where he left off last season, he could also be the first reliever called to New York.

Toughest decision: Cox. Cox's late-season struggles were brutal last year and he was never heard from after August 16, but Mark Newman has said Cox is healthy and he has already dominated Double-A, so there's plenty of reason to believe his bad finish was a blip on the radar.

Next in line: Kevin Whelan. Pretty good turn in the Arizona Fall League certainly gave his stock a bump, and he very well could be in the Triple-A bullpen. I'm in no way ruling him out. But, he pitched just 20.2 innings in Double-A last year and his control seems to be a very real concern. I could just see him being left out. Eric Wordekemper and Michael Gardner could also push for a spot.
* Don't forget about Rule 5 picks Jason Jones and Zach Kroenke. If they return they'll certainly figure into this discussion.

What do you do with: Sanchez. Am I right on this one? I have him in the Triple-A bullpen, but I'm not sure anyone knows exactly what to do with or what to expect from Sanchez at this point. I'm also not sure what you do with Jason Jones if he doesn't stick with Minnesota. If I were him, I'd lose my mind at the prospect of going back to Double-A. Again

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