Making sense of roster moves: Revs sign ex-major league outfielder Kielty
His team had just come off a 5-1 loss to the Sugar Land Skeeters. Andy Etchebarren had just watched his team collect five hits, a night after the York Revolution used nine hits to beat the first-place Lancaster Barnstormers, 6-3. Yet, the Revs returned to their inconsistent play again Monday. The last two days sort of sum up what York has been like the last couple weeks. A sweep of the Somerset Patriots, getting swept by the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs, then taking two of three from Lancaster. York (8-15) now sits 5 1/2 games back of first-place Lancaster (14-10) in the Atlantic League Freedom Division.
Despite York’s hitting woes on Monday night, Etchebarren appeared confident in his ball club. And a lot of that may have to do with the flurry of moves York made on Monday (and the possible moves that could be looming in the near future). Maybe the Revs skipper feels that help is on the way.
York made three moves on Monday, signing ex-major league outfielder Bobby Kielty and relief pitcher Andy Wells while trading away utility infielder Joe Spiers to the Lincoln Saltdogs, of the independent American Association, for a player to be named later.
Though Kielty is 35 and has yet to play this season, he could be an upgrade to the current crop of York Revolution outfielders. (Etchebarren said Monday night that Kielty will be in uniform for Tuesday’s home game against Sugar Land but will not play).
Kielty has played in 599 career major league games for Minnesota, Toronto, Oakland and Boston between 2001 and 2007. In the majors, Kielty has accumulated 53 home runs and 253 RBIs, with a .254 average. His last at-bat in the majors was a homer in Game 4 of the 2007 World Series that gave Boston a 4-1 lead. The Red Sox ended up winning the deciding Game 4 by a final score of 4-3.
Primarily a corner outfielder during his career, Kielty does have major and minor league starts in center field and at first base as well. What that means for the current crop of Revolution outfielders remains to be seen. But it’s clear York has made the move to upgrade its offense, which sits last in the Atlantic League in several categories.
Kielty gives York five outfielders, joining centerfielder and lead-off man Scott Grimes, corner outfielders Michael Hernandez and James Shanks and outfielder Stephen Douglas.
Douglas and Grimes have given York little to no production at the top of the lineup thus far. Grimes returned to action over the weekend after missing nine games because of bone chips in his right wrist that were caused when he was hit by a pitch in a game against Long Island on May 8. Grimes is batting .222 (4-for-18 through Monday) since his return. And he was seen during Monday’s game shaking his wrist. So, who knows how healthy he is? For the year, Grimes is batting just .161.During Grimes’s absence, Douglas served as York’s lead-off man, but hit just .129 (4-for-31). For the season, he’s batting .207.
Michael Hernandez has been one of York’s best hitters. Despite his .261 average, Hernandez’s seven home runs is tied for first in the Atlantic League and his 19 RBIs is third among all players.
With all the moves made Monday, York now has 25 players on the active roster (12 position players and 13 pitchers). Atlantic League clubs can carry as many as 27 players until the end of the month, at which point rosters have to be paired down to 25. So, York could very well keep its current group of active players. Still, it’s likely we’ll see an outfielder be moved (either off the active roster or away from the team) at some point in the near future considering York doesn’t need five outfielders.
WELLS: Wells, 24, is mainly being brought on board to give York some pitching depth over the next couple weeks. York will play seven games this week and eight next week (there’s a double-header scheduled at Long Island on June 2) And with reliever Ricardo Gomez and Shaun Garceau still recovering from injuries and reliever Ian Thomas recently being picked up by the Atlanta Braves, the Revs are in need of some bodies in the ‘pen. Wells had a 6.88 ERA in five collegiate seasons split between Siena College and Wagner College. He’s split time between four independent ball clubs in his first two pro seasons, accumulating an 8.68 ERA.
Hill scratched from start: There’s only been a handful of times where York Revolution starting pitchers have gone past the fifth inning in a game so far this season. And the best pitcher, by far, has been left-hander Ryan Feierabend (2-1, 2.67 ERA). It’s likely just a matter of time before a big league club comes calling for Feierabend’s services, which won’t help York one bit.
Then on Monday, Etchebarren said right-hander Shawn Hill is being scratched from his Tuesday start because of soreness in the left part of his back. The right-hander went four scoreless innings against Southern Maryland on May 17 in his first start for York. But there should be reason to be concerned about Hill, who has undergone a number of surgeries and missed plenty of playing time since 2004. Etchebarren hopes Hill will miss just one start.
Left-hander Yunior Novoa will start in place of Hill on Tuesday against Sugar Land. That doesn’t help York’s bullpen, which combined to toss 5.2 innings on Monday night. Novoa has started three times for York this year, but only made it past the fifth inning once. The ‘pen will likely be called upon again to do some heavy lifting on Tuesday unless Novoa has several short-inning outings.
So, while the Revs are busy figuring out how to improve the offense, they might soon be turning their attention to the pitching given the number of innings the relievers have thrown to this point and the possibility of Feierabend being picked up in the near future. The good news is that, if a move needs to be made, Etchebarren and his counterparts have already proven they’re not fine with just sitting still.