A few roster decisions on the horizon

Anticipating A-Rod's Return
The Andruw Jones Revival

For the past few weeks the Yankees have played with a short bench. Because they’ve used six pitchers in the starting rotation, and since they haven’t shortened the bullpen at all, they’re working with 12 position players and 13 pitchers. Normally they go with 13 position players, giving them a four-man bench, and 12 pitchers, giving them a seven-man bullpen. That won’t last much longer. When Alex Rodriguez returns they’ll have to alter the pitching staff, but with Freddy Garcia‘s injury that could get a little tricky. Here’s how it all could work.

The goal for Garcia, as Joe Girardi has stated, is for him to pitch Saturday against the Twins. Yet that’s no guarantee. He threw a bullpen session yesterday, but it comprised only sliders and fastballs. The Yankees won’t let him pitch unless he can grip his splitter, and they’re right to do that. Per FanGraphs’ pitch type values, Garcia’s cutter has easily been his most effective pitch this season, at 1.15 runs above average per 100 pitches. he also throws it more than 20 percent of the time, so he needs that weapon. The decision on what to do with Garcia will play into the roster decision.

Scenario 1: DL Garcia when A-Rod returns

There remains a decent chance that the Yankees place Garcia on the DL, just to gain a temporary reprieve. They’ll have to make a move with the pitching staff when Alex returns, since they can’t do anything with the bench. Placing Garcia on the DL, retroactive to August 8th, would give them an easy opening, and would allow the bullpen to stay at full strength through the current road trip. Garcia would be eligible to come off the DL on August 23rd, which would line him up to start the first game of the home series against the A’s.

Following him would be Bartolo Colon and CC Sabathia against the A’s, leaving Phil Hughes to start the opener in Baltimore. A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova would then take the doubleheader, giving Freddy the Sunday start. That would also get everyone back on turn, so the Yankees could pare down the rotation to five at that point, moving either Nova, Hughes, or Burnett to the bullpen, bringing it back to seven men.

Scenario 2: Option a reliever when A-Rod returns

If Garcia can go on Saturday, then the Yankees have a different issue on their hands. They’ll maintain the six-man rotation, which they essentially have to do through the doubleheader, anyway, but will play with a short bullpen for a week. That’s not the end of the world; the team can survive with an 11-man pitching staff. But it’s unfamiliar territory, and the Yankees will have to play through it until Sunday the 28th.

This scenario would have Burnett’s next start pushed back to Sunday, leaving Nova to open the series against the A’s. The schedule breaks down in a similar manner from there, with Colon and Sabathia finishing the A’s series and Hughes opening the Orioles series. Garcia and Burnett would take the doubleheader, with Nova pitching on Sunday. After that they could decide what to do with the rotation situation, but they’d have to make a quick decision, since the bullpen will be short until they move a starter there.

Scenario 3: Mixing it up

Here are just four of many possible ways the Yankees could handle the rotation in the coming weeks. Clearly, the first two involve no DL stint for Garcia, while the other two do.

After playing a man short on the bench for almost a month, the Yankees will play with a man short in the bullpen for at least a week, perhaps a week and a half. There’s no avoiding it, considering the doubleheader on Saturday (meaning the need for that sixth starter on Sunday as well). That’s why I prefer to DL Garcia. Not only does it give his finger time to fully heal, but it means the Yankees will spend less time with a short bullpen. It essentially moves Garcia back just two games, which at this point in the season, with the Yankees commanding a sizable lead in the playoff race, makes little difference. If it helps them get through the coming weeks with further issues, why not just do it?

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Anticipating A-Rod's Return
The Andruw Jones Revival
  • Tex sucks

    Let CC go. Trade him to the Padres.

    Then that opens the door for Alex np.

    • Jim S

      Can you imagine how crazy CC’s stats would be on the Padres? Lincecum/Kershaw, sit down and watch.

      • Tex sucks

        CC would murder the NL like he did with the Brewers.

        CC in Petco pitching in that weak hitting division would be unfair.

    • Yanksfan92

      Call up montero and possibly Banuellos. The two can cause a spark and change it up a bit. I’m right by the AAA team and se these guys play all the time. Montero just mashes. He could serve as a DH Easily. Banuellos has electric stuff as well.

      • Jim S

        What? Why do we need a spark? 1st place in the toughest division in baseball with the best run differential in the majors, and we need a spark?

      • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

        Spark? The Yankees need a spark? They’re in first place.

        I want to see Montero as much as the next fan, but expectations don’t balance with reality. His .283/.343/.437 triple slash after repeating AAA does not scream elite hitter. His numbers are lower than his first season in AAA and he’s yet to have any major hitting drive like he did the last two months of 2010. I don’t want to say he’s a disappointment, but his stock has taken a bit of a hit this year.

        Is he bored, as some have speculated? I hope not. A 21-year-old repeating the highest minor league level should not be bored. If it is, not a good sign. Is he simply not listening to the coaches, as we’ve heard? Also not a good sign. Has the league figured out a slight flaw in his hitting approach? If so, it’s no doubt correctable if he’s willing to listen.

        I’m looking forward to the arrival of Montero, but I’m really not sure what to expect.

        • Cuso

          Ooh, gotta disagree with a tiny part of this, even though I agree with most.

          Re: “Is he bored?”

          My answer would be ‘I hope so.’ Because any alternative reason would mean trouble.

          He’s still allowed to be a little immature (i.e. bored) at 21 y/o.

          He’s just a kid. A kid that expected to be here by now. He’ll learn about the true grind as matures.

          But if his poor hitting was because of injury or inability to hit advanced pitching….yes…THEN I’d be concerned.

          Not concerned with the makeup of a 21 year-old getting bored after spending most of two years at the same level getting teased about promotion.

  • Brian S.

    Have A-Rod bring up Montero with him. Send Cervelli and Noesi (so he can actually pitch and build up innings) to AAA and introduce Russel Martin to the bench.

    • Jimmy

      This.

    • Monteroisdinero

      Agree. A nice mixture of Montero/Martin/Nunez/ARod at catching/DH/3B will work out fine.

      • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

        You really cant send down Cervelli because Montero is really just a bat at this point. I doubt if they call him up hes gunna be trusted with any kind of responsiblity behind the plate. I’d 60 Day DL Pena and when the rosters expand bring up him and Molina so Martin can be as fresh as possible for the Post Season. He was a beast early on in the season. Hopefully Montero will have another oppurtunity to win the starting catching job in Spring Training next year and he’ll turn some heads with a late season callup

        • Brian S.

          Martin was a beast in April, and has been absolute garbage since. I believe 1.8 of his 2.2 WAR came in April so he’s been replacement level for three and a half months. His OBP and SLG are each lower than .300 in that time period. Eff him.

          • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

            I can assure you 100% that the Yankees will not be turning over their pitching staff in late August to a defensively challenged rookie catcher as they’re heading toward the postseason.

    • Reality

      Martin’s stellar defense begs to differ with a bench role.

      • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

        I know hes not batting .320 and doesnt have 25 HRs and 90+ RBIs. I could see Martin taking over a platoon with Montero hopefully next year but right now he is starting to hit again and his rapport with the pitching staff is alot more important than his batting average.

  • ida nextace MannyB

    I’m all for giving Hughes and nova as many starts as possible before the post season. If Hughes builds up enough arm strength and is even 90% of what he was first half of 2010 and we can rest colonoscopy to get him fresh we can def go far in October

  • Ken

    Why do they need a 6-man rotation for a doubleheader? Doesn’t a rainout just push everyone back a day?

    • steve (different one)

      Not unless you have an off_day AFTER the DH…

  • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

    Right now, the post season rotation looks like it’ll be CC, Colon, Garcia, Nova and Burnett or Hughes if nessacarry.

    I would send Noesi down now to make room for Valdes. Having another lefty for the playoffs is pretty important at this point. Which also leads to cutting Ayala to make room for A-Rod but we are gunna have Hughes or Burnett in the bullpen so its kinda overkill even though he has been effective.

    I’d DFA Molina OR 60 Day DL Pena to make for Montero, even if its just for a late September look and I’d 60 Day DL Marquez to make room for Banuelos, same deal. Just get a look. No reason for them to be thrusted in the Post Season just yet.

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      1) The Yankees don’t NEED a second lefty, especially when Valdez isn’t noticeably better than any of the righties the Yankees currency have in the bullpen. He got cut for Arthur Rhodes, after all, so we’re not looking at a world-beating lefty.

      2) Even if the Yankees want a second lefty for the playoffs, they shouldn’t sacrifice current depth to do it. There is zero reason to cut Ayala, who has excelled in the role of low-leverage reliever. You can call Valdez up in September to be 2nd lefty, and then get him on the playoff roster in exchange for one of the yankees’ 60-day DL guys, all while keeping Ayala in the organization and on the roster.

      3) I’m of the opinion Valdez was a depth move anyway. It pays to have a second loogy option not necessarily alongside Logan, but in the off-chance Logan suffers a season-ending injury from here on out.

      • The Fallen Phoenix

        Put another way, if you’re in a close-and-late situation in the playoffs (down or ahead in the 7th, 8th, or 9th innings), are you REALLY going to pull Soriano, Robertson, or Mo for Logan? That’d be crazy, right? So if you’re not going to see your first lefty late in a playoff game, what makes you think you’ll see your SECOND one?

        Unless you think you need a lefty for the 5th AND the 6th, which again, seems…redundant. Maybe if you relegate Wade to being a ROOGY, but even then, it’s hard to see a second lefty getting meaningful October innings in this bullpen.

        • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

          yea, I see your point

          • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

            So I guess you can take it or leave with Ayala. its really up to them if they think they need another lefty. I was making Raul Valdes out to be Mike Stanton haha, just figured that might be why they picked him up but they did have Romero and Flores and never called up either so.. yea. Noesi doesnt need to be on the post season roster with Hughes or Burnett down there as well, I guess thats really my point and move a few guys off the 40 man and make room for some youngsters (Montero, Banuelos, Betances (hes already on the 40 man) of the world) so the fans can get a look. Penas not coming back and Marquez, well who really cares

    • JoeMoes

      Puts one guy on short rest

    • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

      There is no fifth starter in a post-season rotation, so whomever is fifth is either in the pen or not on the roster. My guess is that Burnett, even if he maintains his starting rotation spot through the year, will not make the postseason roster. Hughes will probably be in the pen, although maybe it will be Nova in the pen and Hughes in the rotation. Much can change over the next six weeks and will be determined by which starters are doing the best.

  • Joe

    With September call ups just a few weeks away, who do we see getting the calls? I would say Molina,Pendleton,and Golson are first. Then Montero, Dickerson,and a few pitchers. Just wanted to know what the chances are for Scott Proctor,Kevin Russo, Jordan Parraz? They aren’t on the 40 man so moves would need to be made but Maxwell is out for the year so he could be called up and placed on the 60 day. Let me know.

  • sfly6844

    Anyone who rags on Martin’s offense and wants him benched or platooned with Montero really shows a lack of respect/knowledge of the catcher position. Alot of the good stuff the pitching staff is doing collectively this year is a direct result of Larry Rothschild and Martin’s influence. Getting Posada (a great Yankee) outta there was critical as calling a game and blocking balls was not what he was about. Youth will be served with Montero, but I doubt very seriously Yankee’s going back to a Posada (all offense) type catcher. If Montero could catch he would have been up yesterday. His future is elsewhere as he has no where to play on Yanks and is a bad fit. Their will be more roster flexibility when Romine and the next wave of catchers who can defend first are ready.

    • tom

      I very much agree with this. Way back in the history of baseball, the catching position was primarily defensive — most writing on games spoke of the battery (pitcher/catcher) as nearly equally responsible for the runs prevention part of the game. Naturally, having a catcher who hit well (a la Bill Dickey) was a huge plus, but it wasn’t till later in the century that offensive statistics became a must at the position.

      I love what Jorge’s done for the team this past decade, but it has to be said that a great number of pitchers at one time or another expressed difficulty in dealing with him — starting with David Cone, extending through Mike Mussina and Randy Johnson, so it’s not just AJ. And it’s hard to dismiss out of hand how much better the Yankee pitching has been this year — within a hair of first in ERA/Runs per game — better than any of us could have expected back in Spring. I think Martin has to be given an enormous amount of credit for that, and if he hits a little on top of it, he’s making a serious contribution to the team.

      • http://myspace.com/bksmalls Smallz

        I agree with that too. I like Martin and by saying platooning him with Montero I didnt mean that in any kind of disrespectful way, BUT his inconsistencys at the plate arent gunna win him a starting job next year. Theyre just not. I’d love to see him come back but if Montero breaks camp with the team, I’d like to see Montero catch every 2 or 3 days and DH any days in between. Just because Martin is the catcher, it doesnt mean they cant get Montero at bats.

  • ida nextace MannyB

    I agree completely. As far as I’m concerned the yanks need to bring him back next season as well. I guarantee he will hit better with a fresh start and he would be an amazing mentor for the youngsters montero/romine

  • Tom Zig

    Peace Noesi.

  • Wave Your Hat

    I’m not following the short bullpen argument. If the Yanks were to take the simple approach, they’d activate ARod and send down Noesi, which by my count leaves 6 relievers in the pen, and six starters. Since when is 6 relievers a short bullpen?