The Futility Infielder

A Baseball Journal by Jay Jaffe I'm a baseball fan living in New York City. In between long tirades about the New York Yankees and the national pastime in general, I'm a graphic designer.

Saturday, August 18, 2001

 

Clay's OK

Clay Bellinger has been making the most of his latest opportunity. Bellinger's played third base for the Yankees in ten of the last eleven games, and he has four homers in that stretch, including two off of Tampa Bay's Paul Wilson on Wednesday night. He had a stellar night at the hot corner on Tuesday, making three putouts and six assists, including a spectacular diving play and the key double-play which got the Yanks out of the eighth inning. Yesterday, he started two double-plays, including one in which which he tagged the runner who'd wandered off of third base before firing to first. He had a diving Nettles-esque stop as well, but he also committed an error amid the Mariners four-run second inning.

Bellinger's served the Yanks as a useful spare part over the past three seasons; he's played seven positions (everything except catcher and pitcher) and picked up two World Series rings for his contributions, which also include riding the Columbus Shuttle any time a roster spot needs to open up. Bellinger's no stranger to the minor leagues--he spent TEN SEASONS beating the bushes before he made the Yanks Opening Day roster in 1999. He's the type of player who's happy just to be in the bigs, and he shows it by his hustle and his adaptability.

Bellinger's play will probably have some bearing on whether the rumors about the Yanks deal for the Mets' Robin Ventura come to fruition. With Scott Brosius out another two to four weeks and a free agent at the end of the season, Ventura would provide a more credible alternative than Bellinger, both for the remainder of this season and next. Since Brosius is a free agent who could probably draw a two- or three-year contract elsewhere, and highly touted Drew Henson is still at least a year away from the show, the Yanks will need a stopgap solution. They could do worse than Ventura, provided he's healthy.

But he probably isn't--Ventura's mired in a slump (36-201, .179 since June 1) that's likely injury-related. That, the fact that the Mets would have to pick up a significant portion of his salary, the fact that the two teams haven't made a deal since 1993, and Bellinger's recent success make a trade somewhat less than likely.

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