…But at least so far, this isn’t because the Yankees have made a deadline-day deal.
The Yankees announced a slew of moves today that fundamentally change the RailRiders as they head into the final full month of the regular season competing for the International League North Division title.
Try to keep up…
-P Esmil Rogers, who the Yankees released from his contract so he could sign with the Hanwha Eagles of Korean Professional Baseball.
-1B/OF Garrett Jones, who was designated for assignment — presumably to clear room on the roster for the recently traded-for utility man Dustin Ackley.
-OF Slade Heathcott, who was activated from the 60-day disabled list and optioned to the RailRiders.
-LHP Chris Capuano, who was outrighted to the RailRiders after the Yankees DFAed him earlier in the week.
OK, so here’s a way to look at it:
Capuano replaces Rogers in the starting rotation.
Obviously, Yankees fans will lump them into the same category — failed big-league long reliever. But, in essence, these are two very different pitchers. Rogers has electric stuff, a good fastball and maybe not the command you’d like to see go along with it. Capuano has so-so stuff, but when he’s on, he locates it very well and can keep hitters off balance. (As former Red Barons manager, current IL Hall of Famer and my old friend Marc Bombard used to describe it, “he can put a little on and take a little off.”)
Is this an upgrade for the RailRiders? Not sure it is. Not sure it isn’t. Capuano is a fairly solid back-of-the-rotation big-league guy, when he’s getting regular work. It was tough for the Yankees to give him that because 1.) he didn’t pitch well enough when he was in the rotation and 2.) the Yankees had better options. He’ll get it here, and it stands to reason he can be a steady factor in the RailRiders’ rotation that has been in a seemingly constant state of flux. Yet, Rogers had a 3.38 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in seven starts for the RailRiders. He was fairly OK for them. I’m sure the RailRiders would like to see Capuano better those numbers slightly, but here’s assuming the safe bet is that he matches them.
Heathcott replaces Ramon Flores in the outfield.
This is a move that was pretty easy to see coming. There was no room for Heathcott on the big-league roster, and his 60-day DL stint was up. So, the Yankees optioned him and day after trading Flores.
Heathcott was a really terrific leadoff man for the RailRiders early in the season (.277/.331/.348) before he got called up and, subsequently, missed time with a quad injury. Before last night (when he made what technically was a rehab start for the RailRiders), he hadn’t played in Triple-A since May 19. But to that point in the season, I would dare say those who had been around the team would have said the impact Heathcott was making on the RailRiders lineup was at least equal to the impact Flores was having.
Heathcott undoubtedly will retake the leadoff spot (Ben Gamel had been doing a fine job there), and in that sense, he’s not the same type of hitter Flores was. Flores was a middle-of-the-order guy who could drive in runs. Not saying Heathcott can’t, but he’s a table-setter by nature. Time will tell on this one, because it will be interesting to see if Heathcott sets up more runs now than Flores would have driven in. Flores had 10 RBIs in his last 14 games before the trade.