Pondering roster moves for the returning pitchers

Javy Vazquez and the lost fastball velocity
Very quietly, a bullpen turnaround

During the next two weeks it sounds like the Yankees plan to bring in the cavalry for its pitching staff. First up could be Al Aceves, who faced four batters in Scranton on Tuesday and is scheduled to start for Trenton on Friday. Then, as Josh Norris relays, Andy Pettitte is in line to make a rehab start on Tuesday. That will be a boon to the pitching staff, though for the most part they’ve pitched pretty well recently. So well, in fact, that I wonder what two pitchers will lose their roster spots when Pettitte and Aceves return.

(AP Photo/Ray Abrams)

Aceves is a bit tougher to peg, since there’s no guarantee he’ll actually make a return. He has been out since he hurt his back mid-pitch on May 8. Since then he’s been through plenty, getting multiple epidurals and having his rehab shut down twice. This time through has been a bit more smooth in that he’s actually pitched in a live game. But when it comes to back injuries there are no guarantees. His return will largely depend, I’m sure, on how he feels following his outing on Friday.

Another rehab appearance might be in the cards, and the Yanks might even want to see if he can pitch on back-to-back days before activating him. Because he pitches in relief I suspect they’ll want to see him pitch more frequently than every third day before they let him face major league hitters. That could put his return anywhere from next weekend against Seattle all the way to September. That is, again, if he returns at all.

(AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

It’s unclear how many rehab starts Pettitte will make, though I’d guess he’ll make two. That would mean his second one comes on Sunday the 22nd, but with both Scranton and Trenton on the road that day I’m not sure what they’ll do. What I am sure of is the roster move that will correspond to Pettitte’s return: the designation of Chad Gaudin for assignment. He has served his purpose, but Dustin Moseley has been the superior pitcher. Pettitte’s return will move Moseley to the bullpen, where he can play the role of long man. DFAing Gaudin works in two ways, since the Yankees will also need to clear a 40-man roster spot in order to reinstate Aceves from the 60-day DL.

This leaves in question what the Yankees will do when Aceves returns. They have just four pitchers who still have minor league options: Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, David Robertson, and Boone Logan. After Joba’s kind-of demotion, Joel Sherman reported that the Yankees would not send him to the minors. They obviously won’t send Hughes or Robertson because of the prominent roles they play. Logan has been on the Scranton Express this season, but he doesn’t seem like the choice either. Not only has he been much better during his current stint, but Joe Girardi loves having a lefty in the bullpen. I doubt he goes down to Scranton again.

Chances are, then, that we don’t see Aceves until September, when rosters expand. That will give him enough time to build up stamina, allowing him to fill his previous role of hybrid long man and setup guy. It will also allow the Yanks to retain their depth, since Sergio Mitre would be the only logical casualty if Aceves returned before rosters expand. The same goes for Damaso Marte. Chances are we’ll see him pop up in a couple of rehab appearances towards the end of August, with a return in September.

The Yanks, then, will have a surplus of pitching to get them through the final month. They’ll have not only a glut of effective bullpen arms, but they’ll have spot start options if, like last year, they want to rest their starters before the playoffs. September could prove interesting, too, because of all the bullpen arms vying for postseason roster spots. It’s a good position to hold right now. The more options for the bullpen and the rotation, the better.

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Javy Vazquez and the lost fastball velocity
Very quietly, a bullpen turnaround
  • Meat Loaf

    I have to keep my reminding myself that our “problem” is a wonderful thing to have.

  • jsbrendog (returns)

    if everyone is in fact healthy during september the glut of BP arms should create a serious competition which, one would hope, would push everyone to their best

    • theyankeewarrior

      Yes.

      I think this year’s post-season roster choices will be very interesting. Usually, they go with a 5-man bench and 11 pitchers.

      CC, AJ, Andy, Javy, Mo, Hughes, DRob, Joba, Wood, Marte, Logan, Aceves, Moseley and Mitre make 14. And that’s after Gaudin is DFA’d.

      Basically, three of these guys will not make the post-season roster.

      Nick Johnson could be another guy who makes a push for a roster spot if he can find a way to return. Having a guy like him off the bench who will see a lot of pitches can be a big plus in an extra inning game.

      Again, all nice problems to have.

      • Ghost of Scott Brosius

        To begin with, one of Moseley and Mitre definitely won’t make the cut. So that’s 13. If a starter like AJ or Javy is shifted to the bullpen, they could make that person the longman and cut the other of Moseley/Mitre also. If Hughes is shifted to the pen, they’ll probably want him more as a setup guy, which could mean keeping one of Moseley/Mitre around.
        I’d say there’s a strong chance Aceves doesn’t make it, unless he looks very sharp in the last month. Last year he was very effective, and he still didn’t pitch much in the playoffs. Girardi will lean toward the power arms.
        I could also Girardi wanting the two lefties, but if one of them dramatically outpitches the other, I could see one of Logan/Marte being left off.
        I also think that if Joba struggles majorly down the strecth, his spot is far from guaranteed.

  • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

    Sergio Mitre would be the only logical casualty if Aceves returned before rosters expand.

    we know that ain’t going to happen…not as long as Joe Girardi has a breath in his body. He loves him some Sergio Mitre.

    (Knows Mitre has not been that bad in the pen. He’s actually been ok but i’ll take Aceves any day of the week over him)

    • YankeesJunkie

      Mitre has been more than capable that it would be unwise for the Yankees to DFA him when they do not have to at this point in time. The best thing to do is let Aceves rehab still September 1 and call him up at that point. Considering that Aceves could break down at any point while rehabbing there is no reason losing an above replacement player in Mitre.

      • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

        understandable but once Andy comes back Moesley isn’t going to be starting every 5 days. You might give him another turn just to give Hughes and Javy a breather but after that he can go to the pen and play Mitre’s role no matter if Aceves breaks down or not..

        plus…mitre isn’t exactly getting used on an everyday basis…before last night he hadn’t been used in a week.

        • Sweet Dick Willie

          The point is Mitre has some value. It doesn’t make sense to DFA him just to call up Aceves two weeks early.

          The Yankees currently have (or will have soon) a surplus of bullpen arms. No sense in needlessly reducing that surplus. Aceves can wait until September 1st.

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

            The point is Mitre has some value. It doesn’t make sense to DFA him just to call up Aceves two weeks early.

            That.

            More options >>>>>>>>>>>>> fewer options

            • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

              More options >>>>>>>>>>>>> fewer options

              Lets find a way to keep Gaudin then.

              • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                I’d like to, but getting Andy back in the rotation is a bigger priority. The situations aren’t exactly the same.

                The rotation needs an upgrade to take the pressure off of Moseley/Vazquez/Hughes, so it’s worthwhile to DFA Gaudin (who’s not pitching all that well) to get 6 good starters at our disposal. The bullpen, on the other hand, is doing great right now and DFAing Mitre or Moseley for Aceves or Marte wouldn’t be that big of an upgrade to justify jettisoning useful depth.

                • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

                  well…joe speculates that Andy will make 2 rehab starts. 2nd one on the 22nd. means the earliest he could start for us would be the 27th. Yankees have an off day the 26th.

                  If i want it…i could hold off on Andy til Spetember the 1st. Hang onto Gaudin. DFA some like…idk..Greg Golson. when the time comes for Aceves.

                  More options >>>>>> fewer options.

                  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

                    That’s just my speculation. Since both Scranton and Trenton are on the road that day, things might change. Combine that with Pettitte lobbying to come back after Tuesday’s start, and you might see him come back for the big league squad on the 22nd.

                    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

                      I mean if Andy can talk his way into that start on the 22nd then there is no choice but to DFA Gaudin and go about our day.

                      but if he does get 2 rehab starts…with that off day the 26th you got a extra day for all the starters that could afford you the luxury of keeping Gaudin around and having “more options” if you wanted.

  • bonestock94

    Wait, someone needs go for Marte to come back?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      If he comes back before September, yes. If not, no.

      (He’s not gonna be back before September.)

      • Accent Shallow

        Assuming the Yankees make the playoffs, that’s going to be an interesting debate on who goes in the pen.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Assuming the When Yankees make the playoffs, that’s going to be an interesting debate on who goes in the pen.

          Fixed.

  • Yankee27

    Edited by RAB: Please refer off-topic comments to the off-topic thread.

  • PinstripesNY

    I’ve been hoping Andy would make a rehab start when SWB plays in Syracuse on the 21st or 22nd. Last year I saw Mitre in Syracuse in his last start before being called up. It would be great to see Andy. I live a little over an hour away from Syracuse and would be there in a heartbeat.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Noooooo rehab in Trenton Andy

    • Sam P.

      Hey Pinstripes, where are you exactly? I grew up right in between Syracuse and Rochester. Just wondering if we were neighbors.

  • kosmo

    September is less than 3 weeks away.Gaudin looks like the OMO.Aceves comes back when the roster expands.
    It might not be such a bad idea for Moseley to step into Vasquez´ spot if Vasquez needs to be shelved for 15 days.Out of sight out of mind.

  • YankeesJunkie

    September should be a fun month for the Yankees as there should be a lot of competition for all the bullpen spots. Obviously Mariano and Robertson are the two locks at this point. After that you will have a choice of the five of Joba, Wood, Mitre, Moseley, Aceves, Logan, Marte, and possibly one of the starters vying for five spots in the bullpen. Woe are the Yankees ;)

    • jsbrendog (returns)

      wood has looked really good.

      • Jersey Johnny

        It’s unfortunate that we never had Wang and Wood on the staff at the same time.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          The competition between Wood and Wang to see who had the hardest sinker would have been a stiff one.

          /stillnotaswittyasNomaas’d

          • nsalem

            Depends on the splits. Is that Daytime Wood or Evening Wood?

            • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

              Depends on the splits.

              Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

              /doubleentendre’d
              /notaswittyasNomaas’d

              • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                notaswittyasNomaas’d

                Huh?

                • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

                  Poopy Pants thinks our beloved website pales in comparison to the unparalleled rapier’s wit of the great Nomaas.org.

                  He’s been passively/aggressively shitting on RAB for a while now.

                  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

                    Ah. Yeah, he doesn’t seem to like RAB all that much.

            • thurdonpaul

              morning wood can be pretty hard.

  • nsalem

    Simply unbelievable that 30 days ago many thought of the bullpen as
    a glaring weakness. Now it appears that there we will have pitchers who had credible years not making the playoff roster. On top of this guys like Ring and Abaladejo who have had great years at SWB don’t even
    seem to be on the radar. Gone are the days of Felix Heredia!!!!!

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Perhaps we as Yankees fans should stop freaking the hell out every May and just trust the Girardi/Cashman plan to succeed in the end.

      It’s worked three years in a row now.

      • thurdonpaul

        good idea, but thats to logical. :)

      • Poopy Pants

        2008 was great.

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          The bullpen was, yes. The conga-line of injuries wasn’t, no.

  • forensic

    The limit on the length of rehab assignments is 20 days. Since Aceves started his on the 10th, he has to be activated by the 30th, which is before September 1st. So, barring a real/made-up setback, it appears they will have to make a decision before expanded rosters. You can’t just ‘stash’ a guy in the minors for rehab for as long as you like until it’s convenient.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

      Rehab for pitchers is 30 days. Position players is 20.

      • forensic

        Yeah, I’m an idiot. I found that after reading one about a position player.

    • forensic

      My bad, I just found a note that it’s 30 days for pitchers, so theoretically they could keep Aceves down there longer, I just find it hard to believe that they would since they already started the rehab. If they were going to do that, they could’ve waiting another week before starting the rehab games.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joseph Pawlikowski

        They want to build him back up, and his first outing was only four batters long. This is going to be a slow process, and understandably so. Bulging discs are no small matter.

        • forensic

          Yeah, but it’s not like they want him built up to 75-100 pitches. Girardi (if you believe what he says to the media) said he needs him at 35-40 pitches. Since he’s supposed to go 2 innings tomorrow, that should about be there. I could see another couple of appearances over the next week, but 3 weeks worth just seems very unlikely to me.

  • BigGuy

    I agree with Joe about Aceves not coming back until Sept. I was at his rehab game the other night and he was not impressive. 2 walks of the 4 men he faced which doesn’t really surprise since it was his 1st game back, and his velocity was high 80’s. He hit 90 once. With that serious an injury they’ll take their time with him and probably wait until Sept when the rosters expand.

  • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

    Is this on topic? Feel free to move if it’s not.

    http://www.nypost.com/p/blogs/.....um=twitter
    a. The title. My mind is in the gutter.
    b. OH ANDY BE OKAY SOMEONE TELL ME NOT TO PANIC.

    • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

      Fuck.

      Please be nothing. Please be nothing. Please be nothing.

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

      Cashman said he was not concerned about the setback and that Pettitte would throw in the simulated game on Friday.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        That wasn’t in there originally. It got added. Whew.

        BUT THEY SAID SETBACK AAAAH (panics irrataionally)

        • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside the Elder

          Maybe it was a typo, and they meant to say that Andy was bringing sexy back.

  • bronxbrain

    I would be surprised if Andy pitches more than a single game at Trenton. If Javy were pitching as well as was a month ago, then the team would feel less compelled to bring Andy back after only one rehab start. As things stands now, they probably want him back sooner rather than later.

    I assume that, if Moseley continues to look good, then he will remain in the rotation for a while–even after Andy returns. It seems likely that they will shut Phil down for at least one start. But I wonder if they would also consider shutting Javy down for ten days or so–not only to allow the more effective starter (Moseley) to remain in the rotation, but (hopefully) to breathe some life back into his “dead” arm. Anyone have any thoughts?

    • bronxbrain

      . . . On the other hand, Bexarama’s last post may change things.