Living up here in the land that still thinks Jim Leyritz made the world right (rather than sending all right-thinking Americans into a decade-long funk) I try, unsuccessfully, to avoid following the Yankees. It’s not actually possible to do this if you go out to bars or watch Derek Jeter in Ford commercials or, God forbid, have an opinion about Alex Rodriguez, but it is possible to let the smaller parts fly well beneath the radar. So I managed to spend 2009-2012 without really paying any attention to the Yankee’s main utility infielder, one Ramiro Pena. The fact that anyone earns the major league minimum on a team which throws money at Derek Jeter which they weren’t required to do in his option year (because Jeter) is really odd. What kind of car did Pena manage to drive on his mere $400K? Where in the New York area can one live on a salary that equals the tips that Teixera throws to the clubhouse guy who washes his jockstraps?

So when the Braves got him last year, I really had no opinion at all. I expected, oh, say, Elliot Johnson. His career OPS+ of 46 in the Bronx was certainly uninspiring. Not that he looked like much of a glove guy either – in 170 games (mostly replacing ARod) he managed an aggregate dWAR of 0.3.

But he came to the Braves and in the 50 games he played he was great — at least as greatness is defined in a utility backup — 109 OPS+ and 0.3 dWAR. By way of comparison, Omar Infante’s precedent-setting All-Star Utility year was a 111 OPS+ and 0.9 dWAR in almost three times as many games. Slightly better than what we saw out of Ramiro, but not much.

I hate the Scouts vs. Quants debate, but there was nothing in Ramiro Pena’s performance with Los Yanquis that suggested he had this in him. Some scout has got to be responsible. But then he got hurt and that was that.

So the two questions are: is he healthy and will he regress? Here is my fancy two-by-two chart that assesses his worth:

  Regresses Is Infante-like
Healthy Gwinnett needs a 3rd baseman Days off for Simmons, Johnson and Uggla with no dropoff; rested players in the postseason
Not Healthy Coaching in Monterey Wait Until Next Year

Ramiro’s spring will be one of the most interesting thing happening in Orlando this year.