The Injured Outfield

Fan Confidence Poll: March 30th, 2012
4/30-5/2 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles
(Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

The Yankees have a bit of an outfield problem at the moment. Brett Gardner has been on the DL for nearly two weeks with a bone bruise and a right elbow strain, and yesterday Nick Swisher joined him in the infirmary with a low-grade left hamstring strain. The early word is that it will keep him on the shelf for “more than a few days” but not long enough to require a DL stint. It’s one of those in-between injuries, one that really throws a wrench into the current roster situation.

At the moment, the starting outfield is Curtis Granderson in center with Raul Ibanez and Andruw Jones flanking him in the corners. The fourth outfielder is Eduardo Nunez by default, and he has 18.1 career innings in the outfield. The Yankees are left with a two-man bench for the time being, and one of the two is the backup catcher. Unless they unexpectedly release Freddy Garcia or demote the recently recalled D.J. Mitchell, there’s no obvious candidate on the pitching staff to go to Triple-A in favor of an extra position player.

“We won’t (add an outfielder) before tomorrow,” said Joe Girardi after yesterday’s game. “We’ll see how it goes. Gardy’s eligible to come back on Thursday. We’ll see how that goes. We could try to go through (without a call-up until then). We’ll see what happens and go from there.”

Gardner has swung in the cage in each of the last two days and could take batting practice as soon as today. I don’t know if a minor league rehab stint is necessary after such a short layoff, but basically everything has to go right between now and Thursday for the Yankees to get him back into the outfield after the minimum 15 days. It’s certainly possible, but planning for the best case scenario never seems like a smart thing to do.

If Swisher’s injury truly doesn’t require a DL stint, the best roster solution probably involves placing Garcia on the DL. They’re not going to release him after four starts, and frankly the Yankees should hold onto whatever pitching depth they have at the moment. Girardi did suggest that Freddy could be sent for medical tests following Saturday’s game due to his relative lack of velocity, and that alone would give them a reason to put him on the shelf. The Yankees could keep Garcia in the organization, keep Mitchell’s fresh arm in the bullpen, and keep Swisher off the DL while adding an extra position player to the roster. It’s a win-win (-win-win).

Having both Ibanez and Jones in the outfield at the same time for the next few days will bring back memories of the defensive disaster years when Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon roamed the corner outfield spots in the Bronx. It won’t be pretty, but hopefully it’s only temporary. Even if it is, the Yankees would really be rolling the dice with a two-man bench until Gardner comes off the DL. Brandon Laird makes sense as a temporary reinforcement since he’s already on the 40-man roster, can play both the infield and outfield corners, and can easily be optioned down later in the week. It’s just a matter of being willing to clear a 25-man roster spot.

Fan Confidence Poll: March 30th, 2012
4/30-5/2 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles
  • Manny’s BanWagon

    The Yankees would be better off going with the extra infielder/2 outfielder alignment they used in the 9th inning of opening day rather than playing Ibanez in LF.

  • Dave

    If you DL Garcia, why not just move Joba to the 60 (or same with Cabral — not sure what Rule5 says about that) and purchase Dickerson’s contract?

    • Soriano Is A Liar

      probably just because then you risk losing Dickerson when you send him back down. If you only need a guy for a quick stint to backup until Gardner returns, Laird can be sent back down no problem.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        That’s the issue with both him and Wise, but they’re probably even more useless if we just keep them in AAA for that reason.

        Who’s that guy with the hole in his bat….it’s Melky *clap* *clap* Mesa *clap* *clap*!!

        • Dave

          Dickerson already cleared waivers once. I don’t think it’s an incredible issue. What’s the point of having them to sit them in AAA?

          • Need Pitching

            I believe if they tried to outright him again, he would have the option of becoming a FA, so they could lose him even if he went unclaimed again
            As for the point of keeping him in AAA, Swish and Gardner should both be back relatively soon, no need to risk losing him for just a short-term temporary callup. Better to save the depth in case of a long-term injury

    • Need Pitching

      just noticed Dickerson is on the DL and hasn’t played since April 11 anyways. He appears to be a complete non-option at this point.

      If they make a move, it would likely be Laird or Wise.

  • Professor Longnose

    Mariano in the outfield.

    • JoeyA


  • Robinson Tilapia

    Maybe Baltimore will fall for the team putting a “Keep of the grass” sign in the outfield this week. I mean, it IS the Orioles after all.

    Other than that, live with it until Gardner comes back, or DL Freddy. I doubt either Mitchell goes down or Rapada gets DFAed.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    we should have signed matsui for some outfield depth, damn the rays

    • Robinson Tilapia

      ….and, for shits and giggles, sit Granderson one night.

      • jsbrendog

        nunez in cf, jones in rf, ibanez in left.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Stop messing the visual up.

  • LK

    I think as long as Gardner looks like he can come back on Thursday, you roll the dice for 3 days that you can go Jones/Granderson/Ibanez in the outfield. Nunez is there for an emergency. As awful as Garcia has been, I think he’s sort of a necessary evil at this point, since having a caddy for both Hughes and Phelps isn’t exactly a luxury, and Mitchell can’t serve as the long man twice in 3 days.

  • John “Bradshaw” Layfield

    Are there some established rules as to the conditions where a player can be placed on the DL? Can you just randomly say “This guy’s hurt he needs to be DL’d” or does the league have some sort of checks and balances system in place to make sire you aren’t lying?

    • A.D.

      From what teams have done recently you can pretty much put someone on for whatever you want

  • CP

    Girardi did suggest that Freddy could be sent for medical tests following Saturday’s game due to his relative lack of velocity, and that alone would give them a reason to put him on the shelf.

    From the chart it looks like his velocity (it made me cringe when Girardi referred to it as velo) is down, but I think that’s just a classification issue. He’s still throwing plenty of pitches between 85-90 MPH, they’re just not getting classified as fastballs.

    That being said, the guy is giving up a .440 BABIP this year and 23% HR/FB. No matter what they do with him, I expect to see improvement in those numbers.

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      The guy is soon to be 36 years old with over 2000 innings on his arm and multiple shoulder surgeries.

      It could just be he’s at the end of the line.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        There’s actually merit to the “this wasn’t happening in Spring Training” line of thinking, though.

        Send him for tests. I actually like the idea of justifying a DL stint here in order to get an OF up.

        With Hughes starting and Phelps not stretched out, Nova’s going to have to go seven strong this start, isn’t he?

  • SMK

    “memories of the defensive disaster years when Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon roamed the corner outfield spots”

    Ugh, the defense in 2008…


  • ahinds

    why not bring up mason williams? I’m not being ironic or anything, so what he’s had only 416 milb plate appearances?

    whats the difference between him and bryce harper. besides advantage in the power tool, and the walk tool?

    he’s even older than harper. i wouldn’t expect him to come up and hit .320. i would guess that such a pure hitter could have a slash line of 280/340/390ish… and i wouldn’t expect his base-running and fielding to be subpar, not like gardner at all but good.

    why not is the question

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      How about you destroy the kids confidence when he’s totally over matched by major league pitching.

    • Need Pitching

      this isn’t serious, right?????????

    • CP

      i would guess that such a pure hitter could have a slash line of 280/340/390ish…

      You mean just like Montero is?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      1. The New York Yankees do not need to promote big name prospects in order to sell tickets or create additional excitement for their franchise.

      2. Mason Williams has 1/100,000,000th of the name value Bryce Harper does.

      3. – Notice how many levels Harper has played and excelled at. Williams is still in low-A. Let’s allow him the ability to play through the minors, as Harper was actually given the ability (albeit quickly) to.

      4. Who else, other than Alex Rodriguez and Miguel Cabrera, has done this this quickly?

      5. I’ve never met Mason Williams but, if he was the kind of player the two above were, he probably would be in Pittsburgh or Washington’s system, and not a second-round pick by the Yankees.

      I think those are pretty good answers to “why not.”

      • Need Pitching

        also Mason apparently injured his shoulder today

        • Paul VuvuZuvella

          what ?

          • Need Pitching

            got PH for in the second inning today, Marchand said he jammed shoulder making a diving catch (must have happened previously though, as he was DH today)


            • Paul VuvuZuvella

              That’s right, Mike mentioned in a DOTF a couple of days ago that he was lifted for his final AB of a game and hoped it was just because the team had a lead. Maybe that was when it happened.

    • jjyank

      Sarcasm? Please be sarcasm. The kid is in Low A.

    • Paul VuvuZuvella

      Yeah, too soon for Mason. Wouldn’t rule out Zoilo (he’s on the 40 man, right?) for a quick call up from AA not to play or anything, but to be a body on the bench if they need an emergency OF. They did call Melky up from AA inititally IIRC.

  • Bartolo’s Colon

    is pettitte’s start going to be broadcasted? live game chat?

  • gageagainstthemachine

    I think the biggest issue that Swisher going down (hopefully not for long) with Gardner already out shows is just how big of a problem the OF is going to be in the organization for a few years.
    1) This shows just how valuable the combo of Garnder/Grandy/Swisher really are when you don’t have quality replacements for 1 (and now 2) of them. Swisher and Grandy are going to have some serious leverage in negotiations if the Yankees are filling their vacancies with Ibanez and Jones and then staring at AAA saying, “Oh…crap…” (which brings me to #2).
    2) What will the Yankees use to negotiate with when they have to decide on Grandy/Swish (and Cano in the infield)? “Hey, we have Mason Williams and a couple of others…who are…umm…a few years away from being ready at the least”. Why did we stock AAA with players that apparently are worst/last-case scenarios for call up? Dickerson would have to claim wavers a second time (we lucked out once already) if he were to come up and go back down. And we’re sitting on Wise who is performing well, but we can’t call him up either because he would basically have to be released once his services were no longer needed with the top club. What good does having a AAA outfield (or any position players/pitchers for that matter) if you can’t actually use them?
    I suppose this is the problem you have as a winning franchise when you don’t get the draft slots of the Royals or the Orioles to load up on the farm and bide your time. Shows just how dependent the Yankees have become on free agency (both with other teams’ free agents and their own).

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Sure, the lack of OF depth helps Grandy and Swisher’s cases, but replacement OF’s don’t have to come from within. Trades and FAs are always out there too.

      • gageagainstthemachine

        That’s part of the problem. As I see it success for the Yankees means being a) too dependent on Free Agency and b) weak in the farm. They need a better balance of the two, but it’s tough to draft well when you are in the playoffs every year and draft position is annually low. With that, players and agents know they are dependent on free agents. Thus, the higher leverage situation for possible free agents and higher salaries handed out by the Yankees. It would appear that the Yankees trying to get below the $189 luxury tax threshold are trying to change this situation, but the question remains, “What has to give for it to work?” and “What are they willing to give up to make it work?” A situation brewing where you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Freddy “Kitchen Knife” Garcia?

  • mike

    biggest issue is the yanks feel the need to have 85 people in the pen against baltimore and KC because their starters have sucked, and because of the way Girardi likes matchups.

    not that it doesnt help the pen, but it leaves the Yanks – an older team with injury issues seemingly every year – having to compromise on the bench

    if the yanks had one less pitcher in the pen, there would be wise/dickerson etc for these circumstances on the bench- either
    for late inning replacement of Ibanez/Jones in the field, or a pinch-runner late in the game, especially in the cold springtime etc.

    i realize the last person on the roster – whether it be pitcher or position player – is basically irrelevant, but why designate the spot on a pitcher when these circumstances seem to hamstring the Yanks all the time

  • mt

    The last person in pen right now is Garcia and they probably do not want to DFA him – with Swisher out for a couple of days, we are in effect operating with 23 men (I don’t really see Garcia’s used in pen the next few days).

    Also both Wise and Dickerson have options issues so they are not the best alternatives for 25th man – would like someone who can go up and down at will.

    I am holding my breath with the use of Ibanez and Jones in OF the next few days. But Cashman specifically before season said he wanted Ibanez as DH (as opposed to Matsui/Damon/Guerrero) so that he could play outfield for a couple of days and weeks to avoid disabling a regular (like swisher) so Cashman probably thinks this is fine.

  • RetroRob

    “Having both Ibanez and Jones in the outfield at the same time for the next few days will bring back memories of the defensive disaster years when Bobby Abreu and Johnny Damon…”

    I think that’s a bit hard on Andruw Jones and the implication probably not even true. He’s a far cry from his youth when he may have been as good a defensive CFer that ever played the game, yet he still rates as a plus defensive OFer, even if marginally so. He’s certainly well ahead of where Damon and Abreu was. Right now Jones is not the defensive problem. It’s Ibanez.

  • forensic

    And just like that, tonight it’s Nunez in LF and Ibanez in RF. Time to up that inning count for Nunez.

    • RetroRob

      They probably want to see right away if he can be a viable option in the OF since the Yankees announced that Swisher will be out until next Tuesday. That’s six games they’ll have to patch together, although having Gardner for the KC series will help, even if he’s there for defensive reasons.