Yankees keep playing the claim game

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This used to be the province of the Blue Jays. However, this year, the Yankees have taken over as the king of the waiver wire. Since the end of March, they’ve grabbed all of the following off waivers:

March 28 – C Craig Tatum
April 5 – RHP Cody Eppley
May 12 – LHP Justin Thomas
May 17 – 2B Matt Antonelli
May 29 – RHP Ryota Igarashi
June 26 – RHP Danny Farquhar
June 29 – RHP Chris Schwinden

Of the six players picked up prior to today, only Eppley and Igarashi remain on the 40-man roster. Farquhar, who was picked up from the A’s on Tuesday, was dropped today to open up a spot for Schwinder. For Schwinden, it’s the third time he’s been claimed he’s been claimed off waivers in a month: he went from the Mets to the Blue Jays on June 2 and then to the Indians four days later.

Still, regardless of what happens with the rest of these guys, the Yankees have already gotten their money’s worth for the group with Eppley, who has a 2.89 ERA in 18 2/3 innings to date. That’s because the waiver price remains $25,000, just as it has been for decades, providing no disincentive for teams engaging in this kind of behavior. I’ve always thought it odd that more teams don’t keep a 40-man roster spot “open” for these purposes. A team can simply claim a player and immediately drop him from the 40-man; if he gets picked up by someone else, the team still hasn’t lost anything. If he doesn’t, it’s pretty much a free player.

Sandy Alderson thinks Tim Tebow will play in the major leagues

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Based on his track record so far I don’t think Tim Tebow deserves to play in the major leagues on the merits. Not even close. But then again, I’m not the general manager of the New York Mets, so I don’t get a say in that.

Sandy Alderson is the general manager, so his say carries a lot of weight. To that end, here’s what he said yesterday:

Noting the Tebow experiment has “evolved” into something greater, general manger Sandy Alderson on Sunday said, “I think he will play in the major leagues.”

To be fair, Alderson is pretty up front about the merits of Tebow’s presumed advancement to the bigs at some point. He didn’t say that it’s because Tebow has played his way up. He said this:

“He is great for the team, he is great for baseball, he was phenomenal for minor league baseball last year. The notion that he should have been excluded from the game because he is not coming through the traditional sources, I think is crazy. This is entertainment, too. And he quietly entertains us . . . He benefits the Mets because of how he conducts himself. He’s a tremendous representative of the organization.”

I take issue with Alderson’s comment about people thinking he shouldn’t be in the game because of his background. Most people who have been critical of the Tebow experiment have been critical because there is no evidence that he’s a good enough baseball player to be given the opportunities he’s been given. I mean, he advanced to high-A last year despite struggling at low-A and he’s going to start at Double-A this year in all likelihood despite struggling in high-A. If he does make the bigs, it will likewise come despite struggles in Double-A and maybe Triple-A too.

That said: I don’t mind if they promote Tebow all the way up as long as they’re being honest about why they’re doing it and aren’t trying to get everyone on board with some cockamamie idea that Tebow belongs on the baseball merits. If they do put him in the majors it’ll be because he’s a draw and a good promotion and because people generally like him and he’s not hurting anyone and I can’t take issue with that.

That’s basically what Alderson is saying here and if that’s the case, great. I mean, not great, because Tebow in the bigs will likely also mean that the Mets aren’t playing meaningful games, but great in the sense of “fine.” Baseball is entertainment too. No sense in pretending it isn’t.