Friday, November 21, 2014

Someone left the cake out in the rain: The Yankees may regret leaving Kyle Roller unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 draft

Yesterday, the Evil Empire added four "kids" - Tyler Austin (age 23), Danny Burawa (25), Branden Pinder (25) and Mason Williams (23) - to their 40-man roster, protecting them in next month's Rule 5 scavenger hunt. Left outside the Bronx bubble is first-baseman Kyle Roller. 

I understand the decision. Roller is 26. Also, he plays a position where the Yankee drain is clogged: Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, two immovable statues stand in his path.  But Roller last year hit 28 HRs and batted .300, jumping from Trenton to Scranton. He's ripe for the pickings. I can't help but feel that another one is about to fly out the window.

Oh well, you can't keep everybody, and - believe it or not - I don't presume to know more than the Yankee scouts. I speak as a fan, not an insider. But wearing the ball cap of the fan, I say simply: WTF?

The Yankee brain trust is currently saying that, a) They expect nothing next year from A-Rod (which, actually, is smart p.r.) and that, b) they expect a bounce-back season from Teixeira. They say most wrist injuries take at least a year to heal, and that Tex clearly was bothered throughout 2014. Thus, next spring, he'll be ready.

When I hear that, a question emerges: WTF? If they knew Tex was likely to tank in 2014, why didn't they secure a backup 1B? At one point, they played Carlos Beltran, who hadn't stood at the position since high school. Nor did Brian McCann have experience. And when it became abundantly clear that Tex was not hitting - he finished the season at .216 with 22 HRs - they never gave Kyle Roller so much as a cup of coffee.

In the second half of 2014, Teixeira hit .179 with 5 HRs. How much worse could Kyle Roller have done? The only reason the Yankees stayed with Teixeira - as far as I can see - is they were paying him too much money not to play him. He was the baseball equivalent of JP Morgan - incompetent, but too big to fail. So he anchored the batting order, and pulled the team underwater.

Meanwhile, down at Scranton, Kyle Roller - an actual first baseman - was tearing it up.

We all know the deal: Sticking with old names - Brian Roberts instead of Jose Pirella, Chris Young instead of Zolio Almonte, etc. - is standard Yankee policy.

It is also the policy of cowards.

OK - so next year we'll have Tex back, plus A-Rod - and if they get hurt, there's McCann, who plays 1B like a catcher. After that, well, they can try Beltran, or sign some modern day version of Matt Nokes.

I get the feeling that Kyle Roller is about to roll out the door. Just another guy who wracked up numbers and never got a chance. That's the Yankee way, eh?

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