It’s telling that he re-signed with the Yankees.
“There’s always hope,” he said. “Especially with the injuries that have occurred this year. That was definitely in the back of my mind, and that definitely played a role in my signing back.”
Adam Warren said something similar just a few days ago, something about young Yankees pitchers believing they have a chance to pitch in the big leagues ever since seeing David Phelps do it last year.
There was a time when it seemed young players felt hopeless in this system — I wrote a story about it when I was in Scranton and talked to handful of former Yankees minor leaguers who spoke openly about wanting to be traded out of the organization — but I’m not sure it’s still that way. The Yankees might not be willing to hand Austin Romine an everyday job, and they they’ve been hesitant to make Phelps a full-time starter, but there are opportunities to advance in this organization. I’m convinced the Yankees would have given a young player a bench job out of spring training — Zoilo Almonte, Melky Mesa, Corban Joseph, someone — if a young player had actually performed in big league camp and earned the position.
“You see your buddy do it,” Joe Girardi said. “And you’ve basically been running alongside him for three or four years saying, ‘I’ve put up some of the same numbers this guy did; I can go up and do it.’ I think it gives them confidence. I think when they see one of their buddies fail, in a sense, or struggle, they’re going to ask them about it and they’re going to say, ‘What was difficult?’ and then that’s in their mind. When they see them go up and have success, I think it helps them. It probably relaxes them a little more.”
The Yankees have gone after veteran placeholders. That is absolutely true. They have been unwilling to hand young players everyday roles. That’s also true. But life in the Yankees system is no longer hopeless. There seems to be more hope than even four or five years ago when guys like Brett Gardner, Dave Robertson and Phil Hughes were breaking through the minor league system and into the big leagues.
Right now, the Yankees are carrying Gardner, Robertson, Hughes, Adams, Warren, Phelps, Preston Claiborne Austin Romine and Brett Marshall. That’s nine big leaguers, all in their 20s, drafted and developed by the Yankees. Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova, Francisco Cervelli and Eduardo Nunez would also fit in that category. Robinson Cano very nearly would. What’s next is for a few of these guys to play well and convince the Yankees to give them larger roles.
“Once those guys figure out that there’s a reason they’re here, a lot of times they’re successful,” Girardi said. “They stop worrying about if I have a bad day today or if I make a mistake today. The last thing is, all players make mistakes. Older players learn how to turn the page very quickly. Younger players beat themselves up. That’s the one thing that I think as a manager you have to assist them in. Young players can be very impactful. It’s fun to see them grow.”
Associated Press photo