Jul
26

The Cavalry Is Comin’

By

(AP Photo/David Goldman)

We’re all getting anxious as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches, but the Yankees are going to make a pair of pretty significant acquisitions before Sunday’s deadline. Later today they’re (likely) going to reinstate Eric Chavez to the active roster after 81 days on the disabled list with a bone bruise in his foot (and various setbacks). A day or two later, Rafael Soriano will join the bullpen after 73+ days on the shelf with an inflamed elbow ligament. No, neither fills the team’s biggest need (a legit #2 starter), but they’re definite upgrades to the roster.

Chavez tore the cover off the ball (.333/.391/.571) in six minor league rehab games last week (not that it means anything), and will presumably replace Brandon Laird on the roster. Expecting him to hit like he did before the injury (.303/.410/.424 with six walks and just three strikeouts) is probably unrealistic, but he gives the team a legit left-handed bat off the bench (sorry, Chris Dickerson) and if nothing else, figures to put together better at-bats than Laird or Ramiro Pena or even Eduardo Nunez. With Alex Rodriguez on the shelf for the next few weeks, Chavez’s presence will be even more helpful, though I wouldn’t recommend playing him everyday. Even just splitting time with Nunez improves the offense.

The bullpen has been surprisingly solid during Soriano’s (and Joba Chamberlain‘s) absence, but it’s not just because David Robertson has been the best reliever in the American League. Cory Wade has emerged as a legit seventh inning option and Hector Noesi has quietly morphed into a 2011 version of 2009 Al Aceves. Soriano will inevitably assume eighth inning duties once activated, and that’s probably what’s best for the team. That will allow Joe Girardi to be a bit more liberal with Robertson, using him to wiggle out of the jams in the seventh (or even sixth) inning while Soriano gets the easy job of starting an inning clean. That leaves Wade to fill in the gaps with Noesi and Luis Ayala around for whatever else has to be done. Bullpen chaining is great, Soriano’s not replacing Robertson, he’s replacing the last guy on the staff (Steve Garrison, I assume) and adding depth to the relief corps.

Now don’t get me wrong, Soriano was pretty bad before getting hurt. He walked eleven and struck out ten in 15 IP, giving up 15 hits and nine runs. Yesterday’s rehab game was the first time since Opening Day that he had a 1-2-3 inning. His velocity was reportedly back to 93-94 mph over the last two days, which we didn’t see much of earlier this season. I’m pretty confident in saying that his early season performance is not his true talent level. Soriano’s been performing at a high level for a number of years, the problem has just been staying on the field. Pitching to his career averages (3.29 FIP and 3.72 xFIP) is all I’m hoping for. That’s a damn valuable reliever.

Of course, the whole “staying on the field” thing is far from certain with these two. Chavez has been on the DL every year since 2006 and Soriano has still never gone three straight years without getting hurt. That’s life though, just because they aren’t guaranteed to stay healthy over the final 62 games of the season doesn’t mean they can’t be valuable. There is no bench help on the trade market that comes with a reasonable price (Ty Wigginton? hah), and you’re not going to find a potential shutdown reliever for anything less than a pretty good prospect. The Yankees are getting those two pieces back at zero cost* this week, and that’s two fewer things they have to worry about before 4pm ET on Sunday.

* That’s not 100% true, the Yankees will need to clear one 40-man roster to accommodate these two coming off the 60-day DL. I have to think Jeff Marquez is the first guy on the chopping block.

Categories : Injuries

74 Comments»

  1. How dare they cut Jeff Marquez and his 201 ERA+ and infinite K/BB!

  2. Rich in NJ says:

    I think the hardest decision they may have to make is how long to keep Hughes in the rotation.

    • CS Yankee says:

      If he is not corrected in August, I would think that Nova will claim his spot (less other injuries or trades) come September.

      • ADam says:

        That probably goes along with Jorge too.. If he and Andruw are still anemic at the plate, over the next couple of weeks, I have to Imagine Jesus is coming. Nova and Montero would be a nice youth movement down the stretch….

        • Rick in Boston says:

          Scary (but not forgettable fact): Hughes is only six months older than Nova.

        • jsbrendog says:

          andruw jones last 2 weeks:

          .353/450/706

          2 hr, 7 rbi, 3 walks and only 2 k

          please check before you speak.

          • Jim S says:

            Judging Andruw based on a sample size of a few weeks is silly enough, but to not realize he’s been great for the past 2 weeks is even sillier.

            • jsbrendog says:

              the dude is having a good year for a bench guy. he is almost league average and showing some pop.

              he also was signed as a rh batr off the bench and has a .263/.344/.513 line against lefties.

              i challenge anyone to find another bench role player righty bat off the bench having a better year. maybe you find 2-5 AT MOST. people need to freaking relax. jesus.

          • AC says:

            He’s not an everyday player anymore he’s the backup OF

        • Andrew Jones has an 11.1 BB% and a .192 IsoP, as well as a 99 wRC+. How is that anemic?

        • Actually, as our friend Ted Nelson has pointed out a few times, a Jorge/Andruw DH combo isn’t the worst thing in the world. Certainly not “anemic”.

          Jorge – wOBA vs. R .336
          Andruw – wOBA vs. L .374

          • Jetrer says:

            Andruw’s OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ vs. LHP this year are better than Thames vs. LHP last year. He’s useless vs. RHP, but against lefties, he has certainly done his job.

    • David, Jr. says:

      It shouldn’t be that hard if he doesn’t have more than he had against Oakland. It isn’t a bad position, in that most teams would love to have somebody like Nova in AAA.

    • theyankeewarrior says:

      I know it’s a sore subject after the Joba thing, but Hughes-to-the-pen in late August/September would not be such a bad idea if he is still pitching like Bronson Arroyo.

      His two-pitch approach might do him well there as he continues to figure out where his fastball went, and he could sit at 93-94 there for the stretch run/playoffs.

      Then next spring he can go back to “ace in the making” mode.

  3. CS Yankee says:

    Can’t Pena just go to the 60-day DL?

  4. “Even just splitting time with Nunez improves the offense.”

    I would think it’ll be an upgrade defensively as well.

  5. Cris Pengiuci says:

    On Chavez:

    Even just splitting time with Nunez improves the offense.

    And improves the defense. While Nunez had been very valuable in his limited time filling in for ARod and Jeter, Eric Chavez (if he remains healthy) is the better all around replacement for Arod. Nunez has shown he can be an adequate MLB player. Chavez, when healthy, is a better player, even considering the loss of speed compared to Nunez.

    • David, Jr. says:

      Very reasonable analysis. No disagreement here at all, from a major Nuney fan.

    • Sayid J. says:

      I hope Nunez still gets a few starts a week to stay fresh. Maybe a day a week for Jeter and 1-2 at 3B. He will also be valuable as a pinch runner in the late innings. Glad that Nunez got a shot this year, he’s proved he’s a valuable asset.

      • CP says:

        I would think that Nunez would start 2-3 times a week at 3B and probably 1 a week at SS – to give both Chavez and Jeter some rest. I don’t know that Chavez is capable of playing every day and staying healthy (although that may have nothing to do with playing every day).

        • Cris Pengiuci says:

          Definitely agree Nunez will continue to add significant value after EC returns. Chavez can’t play every day. 3 out of 5 games should be plenty for him. Add 1 of 6 days off for Jeter and Nunez gets 3 of 6 games to help the team. I really like him in that role as well as a late inning pinch runner.

    • Skip says:

      I completely agree that Chavez is a better overall player than Nunez. However, I think everyone relevant, that being Chavez himself, Girardi and Cashman, realize Eric is prone to injury and at this stage of his career he’s a bench guy.

      So, while Chavez is as a whole better than Nunez, Nunez is better than an injured Chavez. EC is going to be the one who spells Eduardo Nunez to give him a couple of days off.

  6. Gumbs gum says:

    We should cut Reegie Corona once and for all.

    Totally redundant piece with others in AA and AAA there to pick up his slack.

  7. Westcoaster says:

    Melky Cabrera is hitting .300, with 12 homers and 14 stolen bases. Arod begged the Yankees to sign him after the 2010 season.

    • Sayid J. says:

      The last thing we need is 26 GMs.

    • Jim S says:

      Where exactly would he be playing?

      Arguably he would only be an improvement over Swisher(who I guess could DH), but on the list of all the problems this team has, the lack of Melky Cabrera is near the bottom.

    • jsbrendog says:

      so? if he were with the yankees he would rarely play. would he have been a better signing than andruw jones? possibly, but who is to say he would do that in limited playing time? hindsight. they made the right choice at the time. seen that movie before and what he did in atl last yr is the reason why he ended up with a team like the royals., contending teams don’t give guys like jeff francouer and melky cabrera shots, they let shitty guaranteed last place teams do it and then trade a fringe prospect for them at the deadline

    • vin says:

      If we’re playing the hindsight game, I’d rather have Lance Berkman.

  8. Bronx Byte says:

    Montero should be added sooner than later with Cervelli going to AAA.

    Hughes needs to show his worth in his next 2 starts or Nova gets the call.

  9. theyankeewarrior says:

    A Chavez/Nunez platoon to fill in for Alex for 2-3 weeks?

    Daddy likey.

  10. NC Saint says:

    Not that I disagree one bit about the importance of adding another good starter, but I don’t think it’s fair to say that we don’t have a legit #2 right now. Compare these two players:

    Player #1: 7.96 K/9, 2.34 BB/9, .95 HR/9, ERA- 83, FIP- 85
    Player #2: 6.35 K/9, 1.74 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9, ERA- 81, FIP- 88

    Player #1 gives up more line drives, and gets fewer ground balls. But fewer of his fly balls go for home runs, and he has a lower BABIP. Player #1 is pretty damn good, and he’s a lot luckier than player #2, but player #2 is clearly a bit better.

    Player #2 is Bartolo Colon. Player #1 is Cy Young winner 2005 Bartolo Colon. Even the least deserving Cy Young winner in recent memory, which he surely was, is a legit #2 starter. Colon both is that guy, and is better than that guy.

    • Mike HC says:

      I agree. I think the biggest need is a legitimate “long term” number two starter. This year, Garcia and Colon have been just short of miracles.

      • X-62 says:

        Exactly, you’ll notice how when people talk about trading for a guy that could be a top of the rotation guy there talking about younger pitchers. I think there also is concern about how long Colon will hold up just this year alone, can he last through October, nobody knows.

      • NC Saint says:

        Absolutely, that’s why I started off saying I agree that it would be great to add another solid starter. Bartolo is awesome, but he’s definitely a huge injury risk, and presumably not a long term solution.

        But unless we get a truly elite pitcher, the ‘legit #2 starter’ would only be the 3rd best starter on the Yankees, for now.

      • jsbrendog says:

        i would now like to once again rub it in everyone’s faces that i called bartolo colon as being the comeback player of the year after watching him throw twice in ST.

        /gloat

    • Hester Prynne says:

      The concerns aren’t so much about his stuff or what he’s done thus far but whether he can stay healthy through October. He hasn’t pitched this long for years. It’s a legitimate concern so that’s why I think people are wanting a solid #2 just in case he goes down.

      • Rich says:

        And don’t forget he also threw alot of innings in winter ball before he even joined the Yankees…he’s a ticking time bomb.
        Just hope he doesn’t explode til after the season.

      • Jared says:

        The thing you have to remember is that another very good pitcher doesn’t act as a replacement for Colon. The rotation just becomes that much deeper in addition to Colon. Basically, the Yanks won’t be forced to start two pitchers of the AJ/Phil/Freddy combo in the playoffs.

      • Hugh says:

        Here’s a silly idea.

        What do we think about a six-man rotation (with Noesi or Nova the 6th guy) or, alternatively, using Nova or Noesi to spell Colon one start in four or so. ‘Cos the only thing wrong with Bart right now is that potential to explode. If we can keep him fresh til October, I strongly agree with the guy above who said he’s a legit number 2.

        Am I being stupid?

  11. Sean says:

    Colon this year is a #2.

    • Jetrer says:

      performance-wise, yes
      Its probably not prudent to expect him to continue to be able to be effective or especially healthy for the rest of the season give his track record over the last few years

    • Crime Dog says:

      Haha thats hilarious.

      No, not the fact that Colon is great this year. I can’t dispute that. The fact that “Colon is a #2″ is just a funny statement. Because colon has a double meaning. Get it!?!

  12. Crime Dog says:

    When’s the REAL cavalry coming back? I miss Sergio Mitre

  13. Yank The Frank says:

    We need another quality starter for the stretch and playoffs. The Colon/Garcia/Hughes/Nova hydra won’t get it done. Colon/Garcia have been great but I can’t help feeling we are on borrowed time. Hughes is an enigma and Nova is a #4 or 5 at best.

    • A legit 2 would certainly go a long way towards improving our chances in October, but not having one doesn’t knock us out. This rotation kind of reminds me a little of the ’96 rotation.

  14. Bob Michaels says:

    Whose that idiot who signed Soriano? Does he think that he is the OWNER, if he is what an A.H

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