The Inflexible Roster

Fan Confidence Poll: August 8th, 2011
The new designated hitter platoon
(AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

The Yankees continued the long and painful process of phasing Jorge Posada out yesterday, informing their long-time catcher that his playing time will decrease because they need to put their best lineup on the field and he’s not a part of it. “[We’ll] try some different things [at DH],” said Joe Girardi before yesterday’s game, a pretty good indication that they’re going to rotate people in and out of the spot for the next few days and maybe weeks. That’s all well and good, but now the Yankees are working with a roster that offers very little flexibility.

Due to the team’s six-man rotation situation, the Yankees are currently carrying 13 pitchers on the 25-man roster, which means only three bench players. Before yesterday those three guys were Frankie Cervelli, Andruw Jones, and either Eduardo Nunez or Eric Chavez. Now it’s Cervelli, Jones, and Posada, basically a backup catcher/emergency infielder, a platoon outfielder, and a platoon DH. You can’t do anything with that, especially if the Yankees are committed to not playing Posada more than once or maybe twice a week.

“Eventually we will probably get to 12 pitchers,” said Girardi. “That will give our bench more versatility. We are not a club that necessarily pinch-hits a lot, we are not a club that has to make a double switch. The bench in the American League, the versatility isn’t used a ton. Our thought moving forward is that some of our guys’ day off will be DH days.”

I’m in favor of the six-man rotation, at least temporarily to give Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova innings at the big league level while CC Sabathia, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia all get a little extra rest heading into the season’s final month and (potentially) the postseason. It’s going to hinder the roster construction but only if the Yankees let it. There’s no reason to carry all three of Hector Noesi, Luis Ayala, and Cory Wade on the roster, so send one down for an extra position player. Noesi is the easy choice there, let him start in Triple-A to build innings and what not. A six-man bullpen isn’t the end of the world.

The Yankees also have the option of using the phantom DL to open a roster, basically coming up with a fake injury. They did this to a certain extent with Lance Berkman last season, though that whole situation started with a legit injury. He hurt his ankle running through first base in Kansas City and was only going to miss a few days, but the Yankees placed him on the DL and kept him there for two weeks until Sept. 1st. Perhaps Jorge will feel something in his back during BP this week and needs some time off. It’s not the most ethical thing in the world, but teams do it all the time and the Yankees should at least consider it.

Roster spots are precious like outs in a game because there is a finite amount of them. The Yankees do a great job of not making outs, but right now their 25-man roster is completely inflexible. They’ve been shooting themselves in the foot by keeping the unproductive Posada around for this long, so they might as well hold onto him until the rosters expand in three weeks. He might still be useful as a veteran pinch-hitter against lefties, but that’s pretty much it. The roster right now is basically the regular starting nine, the rotation, three or four core relievers, and half a dozen 25th men. It’s tough to work with that.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 8th, 2011
The new designated hitter platoon
  • Andy In Sunny Daytona

    Noesi, Phil or Nova are the only ones who can be sent down outright. Ayala and Wade have no options left (though Ayala was in the minors earlier this year on a rehab assignment.).

    • Mike Axisa

      I remember Cashman saying Ayala had an option left earlier in the year, right after his DL trip they said they had to decide whether to activate him or option him. I couldn’t find it when I googled though.

      • Steve H

        On Luis Ayala: The GM said the Yankees are “ready to do something” with Ayala after a strong two-inning relief appearance for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre last night. Cashman indicated the Yankees have to decide whether to activate Ayala in New York or option him to Triple-A.

        While that’s not him necessarily saying “Ayala has an option” it surely indicates that.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Ayala has been in the league since 2003. He was an Expo!! No way he has options left.

        • Steve H

          You need to add in the exchange rate

  • Nick

    Montero Monday???? lol

  • stuart a

    send down noesi.. it will be good for him to start at AAA and add a bat. only problem in adding montero is now have about 4 catchers on the roster…

    jorge needs to retire….

    • Smallz

      DFA Molina to make room and send down Noesi/Ayala doesnt like much of a pain to me..

  • stuart a

    ayala is a decent last man out of the pen, counting on him in igh leverage situations is a bad idea….

    losing him also would not exactly be catastrophic..

  • Bum Rushed

    “Roster spots are precious like outs in a game because there is a finite amount of them.”

    Ummmm, oh-kay….

    If they’d send down Cervelli for Montero, they condense two roster spots into one. Of course, Martin shouldn’t be the starter but that’s another story…

    • FIPster Doofus

      Who should be starting over Martin?

      • Bum Rushed


        Let’s review Martin’s monthly splits:
        April: .293/.376/.587
        May: .200/.333/.347
        June: .185/.274/.241
        July: .213/.308/.263

        He’s should be starting no more than three or four times a week.

        Gee, I wonder who they have that could start 2 or 3 times a week and DH the rest…

        • Sarah

          I’m all for calling up Montero, but by all accounts he’s not a very good catcher and he’s NEVER called a major league game. When he gets called up, he’s going to DH and I’d guess catch no more than once a week as long as Martin and Cervelli are healthy. No reason to remove Martin from behind the plate if Montero can still hit as DH (all of which assumes he comes up and, you know, hits).

          • FIPster Doofus


          • Bum Rushed

            No reason? Did you read the above?

            As for Montero, *NEVER* is subject to change in one day. After that, it’s all about experience. And there, you need reps behind the plate.

            I don’t think Montero is a catcher full-time. But there’s only one way to find out if he can even be Victor Martinez.

          • Bum Rushed

            P.s. You missed the part about sending Cervelli down. If he’s CC’s personal catcher, he has no place on this team with Montero in the system. Let Montero learn by being CC’s catcher.

            Moreover, Romine should be in AAA. He’s wasted a year of development because they can’t make up their minds about Montero and they’re too afraid to “risk” a 7 game lead on the playoffs.

            • MannyGeee

              Worth mentioning that Cervelli is “CC’s Personal Cather (TM)” because it plays to the need of the team, which is to get Martin some rest, and infuse some fist pumps and grit…

              I think Montero can do that… and hit the living shit out of the ball too.

              • Bum Rushed


        • nsalem

          A BA/SLG/OPS triple slash shouldn’t be the main criteria in deciding who should catch.
          Or maybe you think it should be?

          • Bum Rushed

            ORLY? Good thing Posada was stellar behind the plate.

            BTW: Joe Girardi was a great! defensive catcher.

        • Mike Axisa

          He’s should be starting no more than three or four times a week.

          That’s basically how often he’s played since Cervelli has become CC’s personal catcher.

          • Gonzo

            But would you offer arb this offseason?

          • Bum Rushed

            When’s the last time he started three times in a week?

            • Bum Rushed

              Or: When’s the last time he started five times in a week?

  • stuart a

    cervelli appears to be CC’s personal catcher.

    cervelli also has been playing a lot better recenlty. how about eliminating Jorge, he serves no purpose. not to be mean the guy had a great 15 year career, it happens to them all.

  • Pants Lendelton

    They’ve had a inflexible roster pretty much since Laird was sent down.

    Its crazy to think that at this rate in terms of production , the Yankees may have 2 players making serious coin being left off a *possible* playoff roster.

  • Johnny O

    What do they do when A-rod comes off the DL?

    • Rick in Boston

      I’m guessing Ayala or Noesi to AAA, with them back up when rosters expand.

  • Multiple Personalities

    corey wades actually been amazing..they’d be nuts to send him down

  • Gonzo

    I wonder if The Giants would have taken JoPo off the Yankees hands earlier in the year. I guess now it would be an outright release to get him on someone else’s roster, right?

    • Sarah

      No. They weren’t even interested in Pudge. Jorge isn’t an upgrade for them offensively OR defensively at catcher.

  • Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat

    Isn’t Posada such a team player? He is sticking around trying his best to help his team at a point that most people would have called it quits.


    • Johnny O

      How can he be a team player when the “Core 4 is crumbling”. You can play and crumble at the same time.

  • Jorge

    It’s pretty ridiculous to continue to hear people clamoring for Posada to be off the roster. Posada will be off the roster after the team has played its last game this season. End of story.

    The team does not need 13 pitchers. It’s especially silly in light of the fact that a starting pitcher came in to pitch the 10th last night. You send down Noesi for what could help the team most off the bench right now, whether that is Montero or not. Sorry, Hector, but you ride the Scranton shuttle your first year. That’s life. You’ll live. We love you. Worst case scenario, Montero is up in three weeks. The world will not end, and the World Series not decided, on whether Jesus Montero was a Yankee n 8/8 versus 9/1.

    • MannyGeee

      got to agree here. Noesi shoulda been down instead of Nova in the first place.

      is what it is, see you in 3 weeks buddy

  • Craig

    Should’ve kept Berkman

    • pat

      Or at least offered arbitration.

      /Hindsight is always 20/20’d

      • Ed

        Didn’t Berkman say he’d only waive his no trade clause if the team agreed not to offer arbitration?

        • Mike Axisa

          I thought he agreed to waive it only if the Yankees agreed to decline the option, not decline to offer arbitration.

          • MannyGeee

            he would not have accepted it anyhow IMO. I think he really wanted to play everyday, which was not going to (initially) happen in NYY. Jorge had the insdie track for DH.

            and you think this roster is inflexible now? wait until you have THREE DH/1B on the roster. plus at least 2 backup 1B in Chavez and Swisher…

          • Ed

            I think you’re right. I forgot he had the option and knew he demanded something.

  • nsalem

    He wanted to play the outfield everyday. Would you want that and have Gardner as the 4th outfielder?

    • Craig

      It was tounge-in-cheek. Although could you imagine if he was the DH this year? “Don’t pick up my option” be damned.

  • Boo Radley

    Let’s get one thing straight- Cory Wade ain’t goin nowhere. Ayala and Noesi have been less effective and Noesi is younger with more options. He will be sent down with his poor performance at Boston. They should call up Montero. Chavez can’t play everyday, even at DH. We need his DH bat for the postseason so keep him healthy.

  • HD

    Always sad to watch a long-time star player fade away at the end of his career. When you consider his position – it’s pretty impressive that Jorge lasted as long as he did before falling off the cliff.

    Hopefully five years from now Yankee fans “forget” the 2011 Jorge – and remember the Jorge that was one of the premier offensive catchers of the last 20 yrs, a critical piece of some truly great teams, and simply a great Yankee.

    • NEPA Yankee

      HD, Well said. Its easy to lose sight of what Jorge meant to this team over the years, as we watch in frustration as his AB’s get worse and worse.

      • Jorge

        I don’t think that’s actually happened. I think most fans haven’t forgotten. I think there’s a desire on the part of commenters here to be “cold and calculating” because they think Brian Cashman will let them fetch them coffee or something.

        If the public hadn’t caught wind of Posada’s “batting ninth” tantrum several months ago, perhaps there wouldn’t be the negative sentiment to the extent that we’re seeing it.

        Yes, he’s terrible right now, but he’s going to be the first of a few players the team is going to have to overpay and carry for that final year. It was worth those five championships.

        • MannyGeee

          word… wait until Jeter and A Rod are batting 8th on their walk years… lets hope Alex has a few more rings in him.

          • Jorge

            Would you really want it any other way? This is why I don’t gripe over Posada too much. Five rings.

  • David, Jr.

    A believe that the construction of the roster, combined with two key injuries, has made Nunez quite important. When you consider what he has been thrown into, at two positions, and when you consider the stage of his career, I believe that he has done very well.

    • Mike HC

      Yes, definitely. At a recent press conference, Cashman sung the praises of Nunez (and also Nova), saying that in last years proposed Lee deal, Seattle was either going to want Nunez and Nova, and Cash was happy to see the important contributions they made to the team this year. Of course, Cash was also trying to promote himself there a little bit too.

  • http://deleted Total Dominication

    Can september call ups go on the playoff roster?

    • vin

      It’s a bit complicated, but they are almost always eligible to be on the roster.

    • MannyGeee

      yes, so long as they are in the org (on the 40 man? on the Yankees Insider Mailing List??) on Sept 1st…

      • bg90027

        I think the rule is that they have to be on the 25 man roster prior to September 1, on the DL at September 1, or on an inactive list (because of bereavement or some other approved reason where the team can deactivate them).

        If someone on the 25 man gets hurt and goes on the DL, that opens a spot for someone else who otherwise wouldn’t be eligible. As a result, there’s usually an opportunity to sneak one or two guys on the roster but it’s not an unlimited ability and has nothing to do with the 40 roster.

  • Jesse

    For what it’s worth this is what my postseason roster will look like when October rolls around:

    Lineup: Jeter, Granderson, Teixeira, Rodriguez, Cano, Swisher, DH*, Martin, Gardner
    DH either Montero or Chavez
    Bench: Montero/Chavez, Cervelli, Nunez, Jones, Dickerson

    Pitching rotation: Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Garcia
    Bullpen: Colon, Noesi, Romero, Logan, Wade, Soriano, Robertson, Rivera

    Posada and Burnett will both be off the postseason roster
    And I see that I have 26 men on my roster. I would think Romero would be a nice piece in the bullpen, and if he comes up and pitches well he’ll be a must. You could take out Dickerson or Jones, or Cervelli if you have Montero. I think Colon will run out of gas, his innings are piling up and he hasn’t pitched this much since 2005. He can be effective in the ‘pen. Or if he completely melts he can be off the roster. Noesi can also be a guy off the roster.

    Rotation wise like I said Colon should fizzle out, sorry for being a downer but I try to put some perspective in it. I think Nova will step up and be the number two. Hughes I think has what it takes to be a number three. I’ve loved this guy since he came up, and I’m sticking with him until the very end. We’ll see, but this is how I think it will play out.

  • David, Jr.

    Need something explained by someone smarter than me. Can’t figure something out.

    One narrative is:

    Montero isn’t a catcher that you can trust bringing up in a pennant race.
    Pitchers on the staff, particularly CC, know and like Cervelli.
    Therefore, Cervelli would stay up and be BUC, and Montero would at most DH.

    However, they publicly said that they tried to trade Cervelli to Pittsburgh.

    When I first saw this I said “Great! It means that they trust Montero as a catcher!”

    However, yesterday Girardi said that if Montero came up it would not be as a catcher.

    What is going on?

  • Bob Michaels

    Posada should take the hint and retire gracefully.

  • Bronx Byte

    No way Posada get cut. The front office would see it as a bad PR move. That being the case, the team has a 24 man roster. If Cervelli were sent down anytime soon, he’ll be back in Sept. when the rosters expand. DFA Jones and bring up Golson who can play any of the 3 OF positions, has speed, and can’t be a worse RH hitter than Jones. Lots of flexibility at DH and Chavez or Swisher can play 1st base when necessary. Send Noesi down and have him back in Sept.