It's difficult to see players like Aaron Judge, Greg Bird and Mason Williams show off what they are capable of and not get overly excited about what their ceilings might be and how soon we'll get the chance to see them contributing at the major league level. Jose Pirela is another one of those guys, and he's particularly enticing because of his apparent big-league readiness and his only real obstacle in being the seemingly disposable Brendan Ryan.
To the dismay of many fans, there's a very good chance Pirela won't make the 25-man roster out of camp, but it won't be because he failed to make the most of his opportunity. He shouldn't get too down on himself, though, for a couple of reasons. The first being the apparent fact that it wouldn't have mattered how well he performed, Girardi and Cashman came into the spring with a fairly concrete idea of what the roster will look like come Opening Day, and they're willing to stick with that until an injury or a lack of performance in the regular season forces their hand. The second reason being that in all likelihood Pirela will see a fair share of action with the big team this season, even if he's not with them on April 6.
Last season, the Yankees utilized a plethora of players who were capable of covering multiple positions both in the infield and outfield, including Martin Prado, Yangervis Solarte, Zelous Wheeler, Kelly Johnson, Jose Pirela and Brendan Ryan. Obviously only those last two are remaining in the Yankees organization in 2015, and there's no one else that has been either brought in or developed that jumps out at you as an everyday utility candidate. The truth is that with several elder statesmen creating a logjam for days off and spells at DH, the need for dynamic role players capable of both playing multiple positions and being worthy of a spot in the lineup becomes ever-important.
It might be easy to say proponents of Pirela making the team out of the gate are getting ahead of themselves based on his hot spring thus far. It's true, even though Pirela was always considered to be one of the few guys good enough to compete for a job coming into the spring, his stock has skyrocketed based on his play the past three weeks to the point where he's viewed by many as a potential key contributor to the club. However, this isn't about overhyping a player over a dozen or so stellar, albeit meaningless, games. The Yanks have no shortage of weak-hitting middle infielders, and none are more exemplary of the title than Ryan.
As Caitin Rogers broke down on Tuesday, and as her poll overwhelmingly supported, Brendan Ryan does not feel like a good fit on this team, especially if he's going to block the path for a younger, more productive piece. Ryan is a known quantity, and even if Pirela disappoints he is likely to bring more to the table than Ryan.
And yet that there's a good chance that Pirela finds his way to the Bronx sooner than later regardless of Ryan's status with the team. Injuries, both minor and major, are inevitable, and basically any infielder or outfielder who goes down for any amount of time paves the way for Pirela to slot in either as a starter or as a bench player. It may feel distressing to see a guy who's tearing it up lose a spot in favor of someone whose ceiling appears to be so low, but chances are it's going to be a wash in the end, as circumstances will lead to Pirela serving in the role necessary for him to thrive and to help the Yankees win.