On Tuesday, we got the latest word in the Damaso Marte saga: the lefty could rejoin the team in Boston this evening. Yes, Joe Girardi said “might,” but why would he say it at all unless it was the likely move? Marte, if healthy, could even further upgrade a bullpen that’s been among the best in the league over the last few months. In fact, because the bullpen has been so good, and because the Yankees need some extra arms in order to accommodate Joba Chamberlain’s innings limit, they might have some difficulty shuffling things around in order to make room for Marte.
The only two options for demotion in the pen are David Robertson and Phil Coke. Robertson’s been pitching awful well lately, and it’s doubtful he goes at this point. Coke has had his struggles, but he’s also been an effective option out of the pen. Plus, both Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have expressed their desire to have two lefty options, something they’ve essentially lacked all season. With Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre needed in the rotation, it looks like no one on the pitching staff will get demoted.
That leaves one name: Ramiro Pena. He’s a useful player to have around. He can play all around the infield, and the Yanks think he can handle the outfield. His bat isn’t anything to brag about, but he doesn’t look completely lost up there. He can also pinch run. In other words, he’s a serviceable utility guy. The Yankees have another player like that, Jerry Hairston, and they might opt to use just one utility player for the rest of August rather than deplete their pitching staff.
Thankfully, the month is almost over. The Yanks play three in Fenway, then have a day off before playing the final seven games of the month. After that they can have up to 40 men on the active roster, meaning they can recall Pena if they so desire. It might hurt to have a short bench, but it’s only for 10 games. With the off-days surrounding the Boston series, the starters should be fresh enough to handle it. Even if they’re not, the Yanks can deploy super-sub Hairston.
The most interesting part of the next 10 games will be how the Yankees use Marte. No, they won’t use him in a tight spot over the weekend, but they’ll have to get him some work so they can gauge how useful he’ll be down the stretch. We’ve been saying it since the man went on a rehab assignment: a healthy Marte makes this bullpen perhaps the best in the league.