Jobu tackles another player he wants off the Yankees, reliever Shawn Kelley.
After pondering how long Ben Francisco and Iván Nova would continue to hold down their current roles on the New York Yankees, I realized it’s fun to think about your team releasing terrible players, so I figured I’d continue with another guy I really wish weren’t on the roster, Shawn Kelley.
It seems to me that Joe Girardi paid close attention during his time as a player for the Yankees from 1996-1999, because he has picked up an awful lot from former Yankees skipper, Joe Torre. One of these nuggets of knowledge that was apparently bestowed upon the younger Joe was that pitchers who can pitch multiple innings are more valuable than those who can only pitch one inning. Now, don’t get me wrong, I agree with this sentiment… when the pitchers are actually good at baseball. Shawn Kelley has become Girardi’s Tanyon Sturtze (or probably a half dozen other guys Torre wore out). Those are two guys that Torre infamously pitched basically into the ground, despite the fact that they were never particularly good.
The Yankees have played in 27 games this season. Kelley has pitched in eight of them. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, it’s because the starters have been working deeper into games, so the binder has taken over and allowed Girardi to his more standard 7th, 8th and 9th inning combinations. The last time Kelley pitched was just the other day against the Houston Astros, when the Yankees ended up needing to bring in Mariano Rivera for the save despite starting the inning up 7-2… that’s really all I need to say about that game.
It was another stinker in a season full of them so far for the guy who only made the team because David Aardsma can only pitch one inning. So far this season, Kelley has pitched 10.1 innings, allowed 12 hits, 4 walks and 9 earned runs. He has also allowed 4 home runs already this season, so he’s basically putting the ball on a tee for opposing hitters. I will give him props for one thing, and that’s his 15 Ks. The Yankees feel that Kelley has a put away slider, and he’s been using it. However, I’ll take 15 groundouts over 15 strikeouts if nine runs can stay off the board.
I know what you’re thinking… Jobu. There can’t possibly be anyone better, or the Yankees would have them on the team instead. Well, if we ignore David Aardsma, who is clearly better, there are still several viable options from the MLB and AAA roster. The Yankees are now carrying Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno. Those guys are, essentially, both long men. They are starters by trade, and really should be starting, or pitching regularly somewhere. Warren has barely played this season, Nuno just got called up. While those guys can’t take Kelley’s roster spot, they can certainly take from him all of his meaningful innings.
But seriously, there are plenty of guys that could take his actual roster spot too. I just took a quick gander at the AAA roster and found five guys I’d rather have on the team right now than Shawn Kelley. Let’s start with the least likely guys, like relievers Juan Cedeño and Preston Claiborne. Caiborne actually made a lot of appearances this spring, which is when he first got on my radar. In AAA so far, the 25-year-old has been acting as the closer for the Railriders, and has done pretty well. In eight games (just like Kelley), he’s pitched to a 3.48 ERA and has 3 saves. i don’t think he’s particularly overpowering, but he has 10 Ks in his 10.1 innings and no homers (not like Kelley). Cedeño, a 29-year old veteran, has also pitched in 8 games and posts a 0.90 ERA, although he’s walked 5 men. Don’t ignore 27-year-old Sam Demel either. Kid has a 1.42 ERA in 7 games. Josh Spence should also be in the mix. He’s not that good, but his 2.35 ERA in 7 games isn’t bad.
The next guy I’m going to talk about is the one that I’d like to see on the roster for sure. 22 year-old Mark Montgomery has been talked about as the next David Robertson for the last few years now. Montgomery is about the same size as Robertson, and they both wear their socks high, but there are actual talent comparisons too. Like Robertson, Montgomery can strike out the world if he wants to. So far this season, he has racked up 17 Ks in 12 innings and a 1.50 ERA. If the Yankees view him as a stud middle reliever (or potential future closer) for years to come, wouldn’t everyone benefit from calling him up so that he can learn from the greatest closer of all time for four or five months? I think so.
Another guy not much talked about so far is former Yankees hurler Chien-Min Wang. That’s right, friends. He’s back. Wang was once one of the best starters in the league, winning 19 games two years in a row for the Bombers not too long ago. He got hurt in 2008, and his career derailed. Yes. It’s been a long time since he was that guy. I understand the risks. He did hold his own in a late season stint with the Nationals last season though, and he’s been pitching very well for AAA. In three starts, he’s 2-1 with a 0.95 ERA. I bet he’s a guy who could come in and mop up better than Kelley… or maybe come in and get some key double plays to get out of jams. Of course, if David Phelps struggles again, I might be trumpeting Wang to come up and take a rotation spot for himself. I don’t care that he doesn’t throw mid 90s anymore. Sinkerballers will always get ground balls if their sinker is sinking (sink sink sink!). Plus… what a story it would be!
Whatever the Yankees choose to do when they let Kelley go (we all know it will be Cody Eppley… sigh), Shawn needs to go.
Featured image courtesy of: Leon Halip/Getty Images North America
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