Sunday, January 14, 2007

Non-Roster Invitees

Let's take a look of whom the Yankees invited to their Major League Spring Training in addition to the 39 players on the 40 Man Roster.

RHP Phil Hughes - You know him. You love him. You get to watch him on TV. He won't make the team, but we'll enjoy watching him and letting the media speculate that he will.

SS/3b Angel Chavez - Someone has to play 3rd for Columbus. If he sees big league time, it means that Alex Rodriguez is injured.

C Raul Chavez - Will compete for the backup catcher job. May be the worst option of the three. He'll nurse pitchers in AAA.

INF Marcos Vechionacci - His two spring training invites show how high the organization is on him. Lots of scouts are saying that he could still hit 30 home runs, and I love his Strike/Walk numbers. I remember Torre raving about his defense a year ago.

C Ben Davis - Has a very very long shot at the big league catcher job. He'll be sent down to AAA.

C Todd Pratt - A 40 year old who may be our best option at backup. I'm not sure how he still is defensively, but he has a history of hitting well. Things could still work out badly (we all thought that Kelly Stinnett was an upgrade over Flaherty), but I'd take him.

RHP Jeff Nelson - I'm glad he could retire a Yankee. He was an overshadowed piece of our dynasty teams.

RHP Kevin Whelan - This one surprised me a little bit. J.B. Cox didn't get an invite, but Whelan did? The Organization must love him and his strikeout rates. Whelan's next task is to attack the high minors and lower his walk rate.

SS Ramiro Pena - He may be the best defensive shortstop in professional baseball. The Yankees must be very high on Pena to invite him. He was rushed beyond imagination in 2006, so he'll return to Trenton. He'll have to hit better than a pitcher to even be a useful MLB backup.

LHP Ben Kozlowski - For me, he's the most interesting of the group. He was a failed left handed starter in the minors, bouncing around from Atlana to Texas to the Dodgers to Cincinatti and back to the Dodgers. He languished in AA for five years, only conquering the level when he was converted to the bullpen. His two small forays in to AAA weren't pretty. If the Yankees are really really desperate for a second left handed pitcher, he could compete with Henn for a spot. More likely, he'll play Wayne Franklin in Scranton (and hopefully not New York).

RHP Tyler Clippard - The Yankees get a chance to showcase their most valueable asset that they are willing to peddle. If Clippard does well in Scranton, he'll have a lot of suitors. I'd love to see Clippard in a Yankee uniform, but he's way down on the depth charts by virtue of staying off the 40-man roster.

SS Andy Cannizaro - He probably could do Miguel Cairo's job better than Miguel Cairo, but Andy gets another season at AAA. The Alberto Gonzalez trade was horrible news for him. Too bad, because I was hoping to see Andy in the bigs again. He may not get the chance, and that is a travesty.

RHP Ross Ohlendorf - Will be fighting to stay out of the bullpen in Scranton. One starter will have to either be converted or sent down to Trenton, and I hope that Ohlendorf is not it.

RHP Steve Jackson - Same as Ohlendorf, although I would prefer that he is the odd man out.

1b/3b Eric Duncan - He raked last spring, but Duncan's task now is to prove that he is healthy. I hope that the Yankees send Duncan to Scranton, not Trenton. Duncan showed that when he was healthy, he punished AA hitters.

C P.J. Pilittere - Is only on the roster because we will need catchers, but Pilittere will be the primary catcher at Trenton. If he hits like he did in 2006 at Tampa and Arizona, Pilittere could be a mid-season option at backup catcher.

OF Brett Gardner - He's one good season away from a call up. I think that Gardner needs to start at Trenton. There is no pressing need for him immediately anyway. We may see him in September.

OF Jose Tabata - He'll be the youngest guy at the big league camp. Tabata will look to add the one missing piece to his game in 2006 - power. A full season at Tampa will challenge him. He could always pick his game up and move fast, but I think that the organization will prefer to keep him close to their home in Florida.

RHP Steve White - In midst of all the Chaos, White had a pretty good season in 2006. Yankee fans overlook him, but he's still a legit prospect. Trade bait? Maybe. If the Yankee rotation suffers a meltdown, White could be a capable fill in. I'd be interested to see him in a bullpen role though.

C Omir Santos - Just a roster filler. Santos is a good defensive catcher who will never hit. But the pitchers need someone to throw the ball to, right?

I was very surprised not to see J.B. Cox or Justin Christian on this list. I'm also interested to see Alberto Gonzalez, T.J.Beam, Humberto Sanchez, and Juan Miranda in spring training.