A few days ago, I discussed the battle for the utility infielder spot that is being waged between Ramiro Pena and Angel Berroa. At the time, this is what I said:
It seems pretty close. While Berroa has obviously had a great spring with the bat, he has only taken one walk compared to 4 by Pena. Berroa has shown significantly more power, while Pena has been better on the basepaths. Defensively, although Pena has more errors than Berroa, he is widely considered a great defensive shortstop, while Berroa is deemed one of the worst. Joe Girardi is not going to have an easy answer here, as both players have earned a look. Personally, I would start the season with Berroa, being that this is doubtful to be a full season role. Once A-Rod comes back, Cody Ransom is likely to move to the bench, sending the winner of this job to the minors. The Yankees might be better off trying to catch lightning in a bottle with Berroa for a few weeks while allowing Pena to develop normally in Scranton.
Most of the comments on the post disagreed with me, and felt that Pena should win the job due to his youth, better defense, and Berroa’s poor track record. However, one issue that we touched on only briefly but may actually be the key point in the Yankees’ decision has to do with the 40 man roster.
Assuming that Cody Ransom will be handed the utility job upon Alex Rodriguez’s return, we are discussing a spot that will only be open for 6 weeks. Neither Berroa nor Pena is on the 40-man roster, so that someone will need to be removed from the 40 man roster and be made available to claims of other clubs in order to add one of these two to the list. However, what happens once A-Rod returns is where these two scenarios diverge. If Berroa is the choice, he can be removed from the 40 man at that point, with the worst thing that can happen being that Berroa is claimed by another club while passing through waivers. Considering that Angel is clearly not part of the Yankees’ long term plans, this is not a huge deal. However, if the Yankees select Pena, they will be forced to keep him on the 40 man roster for the long haul, as he would almost certainly be claimed when passing through waivers. This would severely limit the Yankees flexibility, as it will cause a roster spot to be occupied by a player who is unlikely to be a major cog on this club in the immediate future. I think this makes the decision easy: Berroa should make the team.
What do you think?
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