While the Yankees currently feature a 13-man pitching staff, that won’t last for long. They’ve found a 12-man pitching staff a bit much at times, and if Vazquez’s turn gets skipped this week then Mitre might not get into another game for 10 or so days. Adding Melancon might help the Yankees with a fresh arm this afternoon, but it won’t go far in solving the team’s roster problems.
Baseball Prospectus’s injury guy Will Caroll forecasts a two to four week absence for Curtis Granderson, which doesn’t seem bad for a groin injury. Since it’s a lower body injury I’ll assume the longer estimate, so the Yankees will likely be without Granderson until June. The solution, for now, is a combination of Randy Winn and Marcus Thames in LF while Brett Gardner slides over to CF. I’m not sure those two present the best possible option, even in a temporary substitution scenario.
When Thames starts Winn will likely sub for defense later in the game. Nick Johnson will also DH, so there’s no real issue here. While Thames’s weaknesses are exposed much more against lefties I’m sure the Yankees would like to pinch hit for him later in the game if possible. Problem is, there’s no one to do that at this point. I doubt they’d pinch hit Winn, unless he starts to show something with the bat.
When Winn starts, the real troubles arise. Again, there’s no one on the bench to pinch hit for him except Thames, and that only works against lefties. Even then, the only other outfielder on the bench is also Thames, so that makes the team much weaker defensively. True, if they’re pinch-hitting for Winn then they need the offense more, but as we saw yesterday, little is more frustrating than taking the lead late in a game and then losing it. It will be triply frustrating if Thames’s bat puts them ahead and then his glove costs them the lead.
This makes me wonder if they’ll go with someone like Chad Huffman, who flashed some power at AA and AAA in the past two seasons, or Greg Golson, who is around for his defense more than his offense. Golson has flashed some power in his first month in the International League, and is on the 40-man roster. So is Huffman, so I think we’ll see one of the two headed up in the next few days. Do they go with the bat, or do they go with the speed?