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Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Missing Links: Bobby V, Martin & Williams

By Andrew Marchand

Let's do some Wednesday Missing Links:

1) Joba Chamberlain as the savior? That is what Wally wrote a column about. In some respects, it seems farfetched with Joba not returning until June and with Rafael Soriano, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera ahead of him on the depth chart. However, Wally makes a really good point about the length and preconceived notions during a baseball season.
By the time Joba is ready to return, the Yankees might be more than ready to welcome him back. They might very well need him.

Because as we often see over the course of a baseball season, things that seem carved out of granite in April sometimes turn to sand in August.

The Yankees bullpen, now so deep and stocked there would hardly seem to be a place for Joba if he were healthy, might be begging for him in a couple of months.

It could be fun to see if the situation, that Wally paints, plays itself out and the Yankees need Joba this summer in an important role.

2) The dynamic of Bobby Valentine into the Rivalry has already started and the teams have not even played their first exhibition game against each other. That comes March 13th at The Boss.

For right now and forever, Valentine just loves being the center of attention and, as a smart man, I think he knows it is good to divert everyone's eyes from the horrors of last season for the Red Sox. So Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter were on jab line yesterday in Bobby V's latest Boston Tweak Party.

At the Winter Meetings, when Valentine said he hates the Yankees, I thought he was putting those words out there on purpose. I said it was just the beginning. Harper from the News agrees.
What you have to remember about Bobby Valentine, especially on a day when he makes news taking jabs at the Yankees, is that he never says anything by accident. And he truly seems to enjoy being an agitator.


This stuff is just getting started. It won't end. Some Yankee fans are calling Bobby V the Rex Ryan of baseball -- a lot of talk and no rings. That is not inaccurate but I think Valentine is much smarter than Ryan. And Ryan, people seem to forget, has been pretty successful as the Jets coach despite not fully living up to his big talk.


3) We wrote yesterday about how the expected Yadier Molina five-year, $70-75M deal should help Russell Martin and hurt the Yankees chances of resigning or, at least, at the price they wanted. Martin agrees in this story by King & Sherman of the Post.

“Thanks, Yadi,’’ Martin said in the middle of the Yankees’ clubhouse yesterday.”That sets the tone right there. It helps me because teams understand how important [offense and defense] are for a catcher.’’
4) I've talked to a lot of people about Mason Williams. He is the guy who is going to replace Manny Banuelos and Jesus Montero as the prospect you are going to hear about incessantly. He has not hit for power yet, but the Yankees think that will come. Everything else -- at least at A-ball -- is already there. He is a kid to watch. McCarron from the News profiled him.

Sure, it’s only drills during a pre-spring training workout for a kid who’s only 20, who has all of 73 games of professional experience, mostly at low-Class A. But Williams has gotten so good so quickly that it’s not only the wags around the batting cage talking about him.

Opposing teams are asking for him when they talk trade with the Yankees. “His name is on the tip of all of their tongues,” says Mark Newman, he Yankees’ senior VP of baseball operations. “All the time.”

The A’s wanted Williams when the Yankees spoke to Oakland about possibly dealing for Gio Gonzalez over the winter.

And Williams was recently named on several lists ranking the top 100 prospects in baseball, reaching No. 34 on the list compiled by ESPN’s Keith Law, a former baseball executive. Williams was the player of the year in the New York-Penn League last year after batting .349 with a .395 on-base percentage and .468 slugging percentage and 28 steals for the league champ Staten Island Yankees.

“He deserves what buzz he’s gotten because he went out and dominated a league of mostly college players when he was 19-20,” says Damon Oppenheimer, the Yankees’ director of amateur scouting. Oppenheimer chose Williams out of high school in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. “Now it’s a case of continuing to earn it. It’s baseball - he’s going to have to prove it at every level. But with his ability, his tools and his makeup, he should continue to get better and perform.”
5) Last spring, Mariano Rivera told me that Manny Banuelos was the best pitching prospect he has ever seen. In this Q&A with Carig from the Ledger, Banulos says he is learning from Rivera.
Who in here has taught you a lot? Who do you listen to?
Mariano (Rivera), of course. Always baseball. He taught me about pitching, how I can learn the hitters’ swings with my pitches, especially with my fastball. Just looking at hitters and how they’re swinging at my pitches. And after that, what can I throw. Just watching their reaction.

Banuelos has a better chance of reaching the majors this season, but it won't happen for awhile, if at all. The Yankees want him to refine his fastball and next year at this time he could be in competition for the No. 5 spot. If he gets called up this year, it could possibly be late as a lefty reliever, if the Yankees have a need there.