Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Five Men Fighting For Mark Teixeira's 40 Man Roster Spot

The New York Yankees entered this weekend with 39 healthy players from their 40 man roster currently in the Major Leagues battling for the American League East Division race and/or the first American League Wild Card. That one player who is on the 40 man roster but not with the team is Mark Teixeira who will miss the remainder of the 2015 season with a fracture in his shin/leg leaving the Yankees with a potential decision to make. The Yankees, who are not against calling up a player late into September due to an injury, could replicate what they did last year with Jose Pirela and call up a 40th player for the stretch run. Who could that player be?

The Yankees watched as Slade Heathcott hit a game-winning home run the other night against the Tampa Bay Rays and based off the celebration in the dugout, on Twitter and on Facebook a ton of people couldn't have been happier for Slade. One of those players was his former teammate Ben Gamel. Gamel won the Minor League Player of the Year Award in 2015 and is Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season meaning New York will have to add him to the 40 man roster anyway to protect him. Why not just take care of the paperwork now and maybe let him steal a base or get an at bat in garbage time this season?

The same Rule 5 Draft protection is needed for Johnny Barbato who was brought over from the San Diego Padres in the Shawn Kelley trade. Barbato avoided the initial Tommy John surgery diagnosis that he came with when the deal was made and pitched to a 0.36 ERA in Triple-A this season. His Double-A numbers were less than impressive mind you, a 4.04 ERA in 42.2 innings, but he could provide another right-handed option for the Yankees bullpen that the team absolutely needs right now. 

The final notable player from the group that needs Rule 5 protection after the 2015 season is first baseman Kyle Roller who has been overshadowed by the emergence of Greg Bird from the Yankees farm system. Roller is a left-handed bat and a true first baseman that the Yankees currently do not have. Roller's bat leaves much to be desired this season after hitting .300 between Double-A and Triple-A in 2014 but his advanced age and defensive questions will likely leave him on the outside looking in unless New York loses confidence in their current first base backup options.

The Yankees bullpen is suddenly thin after moving Adam Warren back into the starting rotation and Ivan Nova into a mop up duty role initially. New York signed RHP Kyle Davies to a minor league deal this season and he was possibly one of the best pitchers not named Severino that took the mound for Scranton/Wilkes Barre inside PNC Field. Davies, 32-years old, pitched to a 11-8 record with a 3.60 ERA in 27 starts in 2015 and even made a playoff start for the RailRiders before his season ended. 

Keeping with the bullpen addition theme New York could also call on Mark Montgomery after the "Next David Robertson" had a bit of a bounce back season in 2015 with the Trenton Thunder. Montgomery was considered to be at least in the discussion to replace both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson as the Yankees closer before injuries and inconsistencies derailed his career. Montgomery pitched to a 2.93 ERA this season in Double-A before bettering that with a 1.17 ERA in Triple-A. Is Montgomery back? Would the Yankees be willing to test if he is in the Major Leagues?

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)