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New York Yankees News: Rounding Out the Roster and Reforming the Divisions

Ah, awkward laughter.
Ah, awkward laughter.

Following yesterday's farewell from Andy Pettitte, the Yankees announced that they had signed Ronnie Belliard and Eric Chavez, both on minor league deals. Both are former All-Stars, and both or either could give the bench more depth.

Since neither can play shortstop, I don't think either can make the team without an injury somewhere. The first spot on the bench is still a battle between Yankee farmhands Ramiro Pena, Eduardo Nunez, et al.

But maybe this tells us something about Joe Girardi's roster plans. Five men for the rotation plus a bullpen of Mo, Sori, Feliciano, Logan, D-Rob and Joba makes 11. Nine starters with Martin behind the plate. Cervelli as backup catcher to start the season, Pena for middle infield, Jones to backup outfield (brings the roster to 23). Choose two out of three: long-man, corner infield backup, fifth outfielder.

I had assumed the Yankees were going with a 12-man bullpen, especially with question marks in the rotation, but I believe that Logan, Robertson and Chamberlain all have at least one option left. An option is good for an entire season, which means Joe G could take the burn-and-discard approach that was so effective in 2008: when the starter doesn't go long enough, throw a kid with options out there for three or four innings. After the game swap him with an arm in Scranton.

The Orioles lineup moved from solid to deep with the addition of Vladimir Guerrero. Having already added Derek Lee, the Fightin' Showalters are poised to play spoilers in the AL East. I think it's a shame, because if any AL East team played in any other division in baseball, they'd be the best or second best team in the division. 

On that note, I'd like to reintroduce my idea for floating divisions: six five-team divisions (Ruth, Cobb, Mathewson, Wagner, Johnson, Robinson).

  • Any team can swap places with any other team in an adjacent division.
  • An unbalanced schedule: Each division plays against 3 other divisions - 3 games home and 3 games away (6 games x 15 teams = 90 games), and each team plays the teams in its division 18 times (18 x 4 = 72; 162 game season). This restores an element of mystery to the postseason because teams may face off who have not played each other that season.
  • The home team decides whether or not to use the DH each off-season. This means that the Yankees might want the DH to stash an aging slugger like Posada or A-Rod, but when they roll into Toronto, they have to be prepared to play National League style baseball.