Though many Yankees fans have grown weary of Stephen Drew’s low batting average at second base (and “grown weary” is admittedly an understatement), Chad Jennings of the Journal News offers a well-reasoned explanation for the team’s decision to stick with Drew and Brendan Ryan over the likes of Rob Refsnyder and Jose Pirela. Jennings notes Refsnyder’s poor second half at Triple-A and questionable glovework and also points to the fact that Ryan has been an ideal platoon-mate at second base, providing good defense and a hefty .286/.333/.500 batting line against lefties this year. Jennings dispels several oft-used myths, such as the Yankees’ reluctance to rely on young talent or the claim that only manager Joe Girardi would continue relying on a struggling veteran such as Drew.
A few more notes from the AL East…
- Darren O’Day’s time with the Orioles is quite possibly winding down, writes Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. Despite being a bit older than typical free agents — he’s 32 and will pitch next season at 33 — O’Day is primed to cash in on a nice free-agent deal due to his recent string of dominant seasons. Manager Buck Showalter offered high praise for the sidearming setup man: “Darren, there’s no doubt he’s the leader of that bullpen,” said Showalter. The manager noted O’Day’s role in keeping the bullpen a tight-knit unit, noting that his shoes would be tough to fill if he ultimately signs elsewhere upon hitting the open market.
- Carlos Pena is humbled and grateful for the opportunity to sign a contract and retire as a member of the Rays organization, he tells Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. “As much as the Rays have meant to me, for me to even believe that I meant the same to the Rays as well, I couldn’t be more grateful,” said Pena. “This is a dream come true to end my career in such a way, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
- Rays top prospect Blake Snell was disappointed not to be called up in September, writes Topkin in a separate column, but the left-hander nonetheless has hopes of making the team out of Spring Training in 2015. Snell, 22, hadn’t pitched above A-ball heading into the season but broke out with an absurd 1.61 ERA, 10.9 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 134 innings between High-A, Double-A and Triple-A. Baseball America named Snell its minor league player of the year as a result of the strong performance. Snell could very well have a chance at cracking the roster next season, especially considering the fact that Topkin has recently said it seems likely that Tampa Bay will deal from its surplus of rotation options this offseason.
- Baseball America’s Matt Eddy examines Snell’s historic minor league season, noting that he’s tied for the second-lowest composite ERA for a starter since 2003, trailing only Justin Verlander. Of the 10 pitchers to have posted a composite 1.60 ERA or better across multiple minor league levels, Snell is the only one who reached Triple-A in his dominant season; the others spread their dominance across lower levels. Snell’s season, Eddy writes, was one of the best in recent minor league history.