Trickle Down Roster-nomics

As Tyler Yates and James Baldwin took the mounds for the AA and AAA minor league games yesterday, the assembled crowd on the backfields told the tale of far reaching implications. In addition to Jeff Wilpon, Jim Duquette, Art Howe, and Rick Peterson, every minor league pitcher who's roster spot could be affected was watching for a clue about where they might end up.

They gathered in clusters behind the respective home plates, asked reporters if they knew anything, and watched Yates and Baldwin throw, knowing that who wins what job at the major league level, will affect who goes to Norfolk, which will affect who goes to Binghamton, and, as the old shampoo commercial use to say, so on and so on and so on.

The outcome of those outings didn't provide any defining clues, other than Tyler Yates being removed after 3 innings, so he could pitch again on Sunday, in case he is selected for one the last two spots in the big league rotation.

The New York beat writers insisted the tone of the quotes extracted from Art Howe and Jim Duquette indicated that Jae Seo's 4th slot is as up in the air as the fifth slot. The lack of final decisions isn't limited to just pitchers, either. Decisions on outfielders and injuries at the Major League level have position players in limbo, too. One minor league coach said, "Other than my third baseman and second baseman, I don't know who I've got either."

The injuries to Jose Reyes and Kazuo Matsui have the middle infield situation muddled throughout the organization. The AAA squad currently features Chris Basak with recently acquired Mike Collins playing second and Dave Bacani and Robert McIntyre subbing in as Danny Garcia sticks to the last moment in big league camp. That's paired newbie Dave Detienne at shortstop for the AA squad with Chase Lambin at second and Matt Galante in reserve, with Corey Ragsdale and Blake Whealy manning second for high A, and WIlson Batista at SS and Andrew Salvo at second getting most of the ABs at low A. When the Mets make a decision on Reyes, and subsequently Garcia, the move will change that entire dynamic.

The outfield assignments are even more confusing, as Raul Gonzalez, Roger Cedeno, Shane Spencer, and Eric Valent are fighting for two spots. Whether the remaining two players are cut or sent down will change the entire landscape as well, in an already overcrowded situation.

Jeff Duncan appears to be the only AAA OF with a lock on a job. Kenny Kelly, Prentice Redman, Esix Snead, Ron Acuna and Victor Diaz make six guys hoping to stick at that level, which is already one too many. With at least two of those six likely headed for AA, the Binghamton squad, who are already working Angel Pagan, Wayne Lydon, Bobby Malek, and Marvin Seale, will then have the same problem. The high A probables are already more than the roster allotment, so there will be some unhappy campers being reassigned to low A, and even unhappier ones getting "extended spring training" assignments, when they thought they were ticketed for a full season team.

But the most precarious decisions are those waiting on the big league pitchers. There remains the possibility that as many as four starters will be farmed out this weekend, including Aaron Heilman, Tyler Yates, Jae Seo, and James Baldwin. Bob Keppel, Jeremy Griffiths, Jason Roach, Jason Scobie, Randy Keisler, and Jake Joseph are already on the AAA squad and realize that at least three of them are going to be cut or ticketed for AA.

Joey Cole, Neal Musser, Matt Peterson, Wayne Ough, and Shawn Sedlacek toil at AA right now, again, knowing as many as three or four pitchers may be sent down, and knowing that Scott Kazmie leads a group that will be reassigned to St. Lucie that will be pushing for promotions to AA from day one.

Kazmir is joined by Kevin Deaton, Ryan Bicondoa, Ken Chenard, Jose Gomez, Miguel Pinango, Luz Portabanco, and others already working at high A.

All the players know that a)a lot of guys are going to be asked to repeat levels they have already excelled at, and b) a lot of guys that are here today, won't be on Sunday. While fans may see possible trades and releases as necessary roster machinations, to the players, it's friends and teammates they believe deserve jobs, who will be sent packing, which makes for a lot of gnawed fingernails, a lot of disappointed non-promotees, and a lot of apprehension as they watch the battles at the top unfold through the final excruciating days.

Huber Out Two More Weeks
Justin Huber continues to hit well DHing for the AA squad, hitting over .400 going into yesterday's tilt, however he reports he is probably still two weks away from catching in games. He has been able to warm up pitchers.

Malek Feeling Fine
Bobby Malek tripled yesterday, his ankle showing no ill effects from the sprain that had kept him sidelined until the beginning of this week.

PHOTOS: Peterson(3), Strange(3), Malek, Huber, Acuna(2), Rengel(2), Strange, Cardona, Collins, Peterson(4), Pagan, Detienne(3), Reynoso, Lambin, Huber, T. Garcia, Kelly, Duncan, V. Diaz, Duncan, Huber, Lydon(2), Wright, Huber, Anderson, ???, Wendt, Detienne, Lambin, Dulaney, Keppel(2), Joseph, Scobie(3), Morban(2), Brewer, Morban, Scobie, Lavigne, Pressley(2), Strange/Roach, Harvey, Johnson, Huber(2), Malek, Duncan, Malek, Lambin, Peterson, Yates(3), R. Peterson, Wright, Huber, Baldwin(2), Ough, Ring(2), Wallace, Hawk, Musser, J. Diaz, Duncan(2), Huber, Ough(2), Sides, Ring, J. Diaz(2), Gomez, Acosta(2). Lee/Pagan(2), Acosta, Ring(3), McGinley(2), Nye, Reynoso, Strayhorn(5)

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