I will not disagree that David Phelps had a terrible outing this past weekend in Kansas City. I will also say that he over thinks his stuff a bit, but in reality, with all of the criticism, lack of support and experience from Yankee players and leadership and frankly, just overall pressure, he doesn’t stand a chance in this city.
Criticism: we all get it and sometimes it is warranted and sometimes it is just harmful to a person’s psyche. My daughter keeps singing this song by Magic entitled, “Why You Gotta to Be So Rude.” The refrain reads, “Why you gotta be so rude? Don’t you know I’m human too.” Yep, that about sums up my sentiment.
So much criticism for one guy is just ridiculous. Here are the facts: David Phelps came in when he was needed; when our ace, CC Sabathia, went down, Ivan Nova went out and Michael Pineda, well, got stuck in pine tar and I guess found his way back to the DL. Phelps became the fall guy, stepping out of the role he was used to and into a hole that needed to be filled. At the beginning of the season Phelps said he was up for the challenge of supporting the team anyway he could. “My job is to go out there and get guys out, regardless of my role. I haven’t changed the way I approach the season anyway. I’m just going out there and trying to get on a roll, throw strikes. Regardless of my role, that’s how I’m going to approach it,” stated Phelps in an interview with MLB.com at the beginning of the pre-season. We posted a piece about Phelps in early March entitled, “David Phelps: Keeping an Eye on the Ball.”
But no one on the team right now takes the heat like the young David Phelps. According to NY Post article at the end of March, “Nuno doesn’t have the pedigree of Phelps, Warren and Pineda. Phelps came out of Notre Dame; Warren from UNC and Pineda was an All-Star as a rookie in 2011 with Seattle. Nuno, attended Baker University and battled through the independent league circuit before reaching the big leagues last year with the Yankees when he appeared in five games (three starts) going 1-2 with a 2.25 ERA.” I don’t get it. Vidal Nuno doesn’t have it quite together either, but he gets a pass. Adam Warren has been used in the bullpen and it is uncertain, right now, if he will step out of this role into the starting rotation, so we don’t know how he would do. That leaves Phelps and he stepped into some very big shoes, without the offense to support him in runs and even the defense to make routine plays. Yes, Salvador Perez hit the ball hard in Kansas City and Phelps got intimidated by Billy Butler's bat so he psyched himself out and walked him. But, my question is this: why wasn’t a veteran catcher like Brian McCann behind the plate? I like John Ryan Murphy, but he is a rookie too and McCann has worked exceedingly well with his pitchers this season. Why doesn’t he catch for Phelps regularly? Phelps needs experience over youth to stay focused and build confidence.
Lastly, if the criticism continues the way it has, Phelps will not be able to perform to his potential. He is over thinking things as it is. And this negative self talk is keeping him from just keeping it simple: throwing strikes, getting ahead in counts and keeping the ball low. Phelps may do well to move on to a smaller market ball club, where perhaps, he won’t take the heat and get the mentoring he needs in veteran catchers and pitchers. I would hate to have us give up on him, but at this point, I am afraid that David Phelps doesn’t stand a chance in the environment the Yankees have created for him so far this season.
--Suzie Pinstripe, BYB Senior Staff Writer
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