Past and Future Yankees Among Minor League, Major League Free Agents

I wasn't sure we'd have a Ramiro Pena photo on file. - Mike Stobe

Lists of little import that sometimes prove to matter.

The annual list of minor league free agents is out. I usually spend a lot of time pouring over this list trying to find overlooked 25th-man types, but it is very hard to predict who is going to break through to be helpful at the major-league level, particularly when it comes to pitchers who might snap into focus at any random moment. Last season's better pick-ups included Gregor Blanco of the Giants, Miguel Gonzalez of the Orioles, Brandon Moss of the A's, and Justin Ruggiano of the Marlins. The Yankees had a minor league free agent signee of their own become an important part of the major-league roster in the form of utility infielder Jayson Nix.

Among the players departing the Yankees this fall include Kevin Whelan (finally), Kevin Russo, and Ramiro Pena -- in other words, no one they're going to miss much.

It's also educational to take a look at those former Yankees who were not signed by their former teams. The players we thought were fringe types when they were in New York proved to be ... fringe types. Some of those perceived fringers, like George Kontos, eventually established themselves in the majors and thus have graduated from annual inclusion on this list. Then there is Tyler Clippard, who despite fantastic minor league numbers was thrown away for one of the guys now on this list. Most, though, are still treading water:

RHP Jonathan Albaladejo (Diamondbacks)
OF Greg Golson (Reds)
OF Jamie Hoffman (A rejected Rule 5 acqusition; Orioles)
RHP Kanekoa Texeira (minors; Reds)
C Michel Hernandez (Indians)
RHP Jeff Marquez (Rockies)
C Omir Santos (minors; Rockies)
LHP Royce Ring (Rockies)
RHP Josh Schmidt (minors; Marlins)
INF Erick Almonte (Brewers)
RHP Daniel McCutchen (minors; Pirates)
OF Justin Christian (Giants)
LHP Steve Garrison (Mariners)
RHP Lance Pendleton (Rays)

This is only slightly related to the foregoing, but I note that the average age of the Yankees currently on the major league free-agent market is about 36. Above we have the never-weres; Freddy Garcia, Pedro Feliciano, Andruw Jones, Derek Lowe, and arguably Raul Ibanez are the has-beens, and then there are those you can only guess at, like Mariano and Pettitte. I'm not sure how to classify Russell Martin. "Neither-nor," I guess; "Of some value going forward." That's not meant to damn him with faint praise -- when you think about Omir Santos and Michel Hernandez, you remember just how little some catchers can give you.

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