The Roster Madness

A Golden Opportunity
On the Yankees and developing pitchers
At least there are plenty relievers available to mop up this mess. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

The Yankees have been playing with a 24-man roster the last few days as Nick Swisher nurses his low-grade hamstring strain, an injury that will reportedly keep him on the shelf for another 5-7 days*. To make matters a little worse, they replaced Brett Gardner with another pitcher — first Cody Eppley, then D.J. Mitchell — when the left fielder hit the DL with various right arm problems. Of the 24 usable players, only eleven are non-pitchers. That’s a little nuts.

* I can’t imagine we’ll see him any early than Tuesday, following the scheduled off day.

No one will replace Gardner’s defensive value, but the Yankees have compounded the problem by keeping Swisher active rather than replacing him a healthy player that can play the outfield competently. That’s led to Raul Ibanez and Eduardo Nunez roaming the outfield and costing the team runs on defense, sometimes in painfully obvious ways. I understand not wanting to lose one the team’s most productive players any longer than you have too, but we’re starting to reach the point where keeping him on the roster will the cost the team more than they’ll gain by having him back a few days earlier.

The easiest way for the Yankees to fix their two-man bench problem is to simply send down Mitchell and get back to a normal 12-man pitching staff. They’ll still have Freddy Garcia available for long relief, plus CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have started pitching deeper into games on a more consistent basis. Monday’s an off day as well, a built-in day of rest. The need for eight bullpen arms just isn’t all that great right now. No, the pressing need is another warm body for the bench, someone who can at the very least play passable defense in an outfield corner and maybe even pinch-run. They don’t need miracles, just someone like Melky Mesa for a week. That’s all.

More than anything, my biggest concern in this entire roster mess is that Swisher won’t get the proper time to heal and his low-grade hamstring strain turns into a high-grade hamstring strain. It’s very easy to re-aggravate a muscle problem, especially a lower body strain on an outfielder. A setback would put the timetable for Swisher’s return at weeks, not days. If they’re dead set on keeping him off the DL, fine. They just better not rush him back because well, the bench is short. With Gardner reportedly unlikely to come off the DL when eligible tomorrow, just send down a pitcher and get another capable body where one is really needed, the corner outfield.

A Golden Opportunity
On the Yankees and developing pitchers
  • Matt Imbrogno


    • Typical MIT Nerd


  • Chris

    Could not agree more. The team needs another player capable of at least playing passable OF defense.

  • Dick

    Mariano Rivera has always wanted to play the outfield. He might be better defensively than Ibanez.

    • jjyank

      He’s always fielder very well for a pitcher.

      • jjyank


        • TLVP

          He also has a 0.250 career OBP which unfortunately isn’t that much worse than the alternatives

    • David N

      Mariano can save games in multiple ways.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    It seems to me like the team hedges its bets with the pitching staff because they don’t want to have keep Mitchell down for ten days (or, previously, Phelps)or DFA Rapada. This outfield situation just looks terrible, though. Ibanez and Nunez have cost the team multiple runs.

    If Mesa’s on the 40-man, and they don’t want to burn having to DFA Wise or Dickerson, then ten days won’t kill Mitchell’s development in the majors. Mitchell will be back. he will likely have to be sooner rather than later. We can live with the K’s at the plate if Mesa’s not dropping that flyball with runners in scoring position. If it’s a blow-out, Garcia can be the long man and pray in the interim. In the grand scheme of things, that’s actually less risky than the LF circus.

    I would also be able to torture my wife by pointing out that Melky is back on the team.

    • Ted Nelson

      If Melky is K-ing maybe 40-50% of his PAs (30% in AA last season) and has a wOBA in the .100s, he’s probably costing you as many or more runs on offense as he’s saving on defense. I’d imagine he would not play over Jones, Nunez, or Ibanez if he were on the roster. Maybe as a late inning replacement or pinch runner, but then you’re getting into the type of marginal value a 13th P brings.

      The current replacement OFs are not playing well, but it definitely can get worse. I don’t see much indication that Mesa is an MLB hitter at this point.

      • jjyank

        As a hitter, you’re right. But I think there is something to be said for defensive replacements late in the game. I’m sure we’d all be screaming for a player that could do that if, say, Nunez’s botched play in left last night had happened in the 8th inning with a 1 run lead.

        • Ted Nelson

          It’s a pretty marginal value. There is value, sure, but how often is a meaningful ball going to come his way? i.e. how many innings between times when a ball he gets that Nunez/Ibanez wouldn’t is hit that has a reasonable chance of impacting the outcome of the game? Is that more valuable than a 13th P?

          Say he’s playing 5 innings per week. It will take him almost 2 weeks to play a full game. A lot of those games will be fairly decided one way or another by the time Mesa gets into the games.

          I don’t think it’s wrong to have Mesa over a 13th P. I just think it’s really splitting hairs and not worth making a mountain out of. Mitchell pitching 3, 4, 5 innings per week vs. Mesa defending 5 innings per week… who cares? I think I side with the Yankees, personally. The rotation has been pretty shaky and I’d like to see what Mitchell can do in MLB. (Interesting how the sentiment goes from “the Yankees block their SP prospects” to “the Yankees shouldn’t have called up a SP prospect…” I know it might not be the same people making both arguments… though I’d bet there’s some overlap… just funny… they’ll never win with everyone.)

          • jjyank

            You’re right, it is splitting hairs. I just think that a defensive replacement outfielder will actually be used in close games, whereas someone like Garcia will only be pitching in blowouts and have even less impact.

            • Ted Nelson

              Fair enough. I wouldn’t have a problem if they brought in Mesa, especially if it meant DLing Garcia so he can try to figure his stuff out.

              I just assume that the Yankees have done a lot more analysis on this issue than any of us. It’s sort of an appeal to authority, but they have statisticians and scouts and other resources… so I think it’s fair to assume that they use them.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        That’s what I’m playing with. I agree with you that this could be an adventure at the plate. Which adventure would the team rather have, though? I may rather give up the offense at that position for ten days, or whatnot, and have the plays in the field actually get made.

        I’m arguing for Melky Mesa to start in the Yankee outfield. Yikes.

        *punches another fire extinguisher*

        • jjyank

          I bet I could get your to break your hand if I say “Montero” three times.

  • DSSS

    It’s way past time to do some spring cleaning and get rid of dead wood.
    I see little value in Jones, Ibanez and Garcia; it’s past time to get rid of them.
    Nunez is a utility project until proven otherwise.
    If Hughes has options, send him down to work out his problems in AAA, not in real games.
    Do people really think Petitte is the man to take the Yankees to the WS?
    It’s time to start using prospects for things other than trading them.
    Phelps should be given time to prove himself; he’s earned it, and can’t be any worse than Garcia.
    The same goes for Mitchell- give him a chance to prove himself, not in 1 start but over time.
    Can Wise be worse than Jones, Ibanez and Nunez in the outfield; call him up.

    • LK

      Dewayne Wise has a career .256 OBP. He can absolutely be worse than Ibanez, Jones, and Nunez, even when you factor in his defensive advantage (which, considering he’s now 34 years old, may not be as large as it once was).

      May 2nd is not “past time” to get rid of someone. I wasn’t a fan of signing Ibanez or bringing Garcia back, and they haven’t been good, but if you jettison every guy who has a terrible month, you won’t have a team left.

      • Bartolo’s Colon

        why is wise on the 40 man and not dickerson? seems like he would be an upgrade in pretty much every respect

        • Need Pitching

          neither is on the 40-man now
          Dickerson is on the DL, hasn’t played since April 11

          • Bartolo’s Colon

            i figured he must have been hurt, has not had too many ab’s this year, thank you

    • A.D.

      Can Wise be worse than Jones, Ibanez and Nunez in the outfield; call him up.

      Defensively no, offesnively yes

    • jjyank

      You want to get rid of Jones? I think he’s the perfect 4th outfielder for this team. Won’t embarrass himself on defense, still has plenty of pop in the bat, and can mash lefties.

      They need to bring in another outfielder, not jettison ones they already have.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Some of this is taking a hatchet when a scalpel will do, though.

      I don’t think there needs to be much of a need to justify Jones’s role. We know why he’s here, and he’s good at exactly that.

      The team’s narrative on Garcia is hard to argue with. There were no issues in ST. He’s looked terrible since, but it’s not crazy to suggest that looking into what is going on for him is worthwhile.

      Ibanez would not be as much of a burden if he were performing the role he was signed to perform, but this is way beyond what he should be doing. I like Wise a lot defensively, but you DFA him when you lose him. I agree with you on the AAA arms. You have to see what they can do. You have three rotation openings next year, and there’s not enough M’s you can add to Coal Hammmmmmels to easily fill them.

  • Fernando

    Amen to bringing up Melky, but I’d just DL Freddy to clear a spot.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’d actually forgotten about that option. I’d rather do that than send down Mitchell. Sure.

      • jjyank

        I think that’s the best way to go. The Yanks can keep Mitchell to see what he’s got at the MLB level, give Freddy some time off to see if he could maybe work out his problems, and add a player capable of playing defense. The Yankees have two long men in the bullpen right now (Garcia and Mitchell), so if you’re going to lose a pitcher to bring up an outfielder, one of those two needs to either be send down (Mitchell) or DL’ed (Garcia).

        And frankly, I’d rather be without Garcia for 15 days and be able to get Swisher back early, instead of being without Swisher for the full 15 days so we still have access to Garcia. I’m not advocating that they rush Swisher, but the team obviously believes that it will take less than 15 days for him to come back.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          You have to see what Mitchell can do. You have three rotation spots open next year.

          • jjyank

            Yep. Which is why I want to DL Garcia and keep Mitchell up.

    • Kosmo

      DFA Garcia or trade him. With Pettitte around the corner where the heck does Garcia fit into NYs plans ? Doesn´t Mitchell supplant Garcia ?

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Bring up Melky and he will show us an arm and speed the MelkyMesaWaysa way.

    All for it.

  • SMK

    It’s a tragicomedy, Nunez and Ibanez together in the OF.

    *laugh* *sob* *laugh* *sob*

    • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero


      They show us the error of their ways with alarming frequency.

  • Ted Nelson

    How much more valuable is Melky Mesa going to be than a 13th P? Especially when Hughes and Phelps can’t really be counted on to go deep into games?

    How much more valuable is Mesa than Nunez/Ibanez in the OF? Nunez/Ibanez might cost them some runs in the OF, but Mesa would cost them some runs at the plate. We’re talking about a guy who K’d 30% of the time last season in AA, and still hasn’t advanced past that level.

    • A.D.

      Assuming you play Mesa for 9 innings, and don’t just use him as a defensive replacement

      • Ted Nelson

        If you just use him as a defensive replacement his value becomes really marginal, playing a few innings a week where a difficult/meaningful ball may or may not be hit to him. At that point it’s not obvious he’s more valuable than a 13th P who actually gets into games. In fact, I’d call it pretty unlikely that he is. Which, I’d imagine, is why he’s not up and a 13th P is. He’s not going to play over Jones, Nunez, or Ibanez if he is up.

        • jjyank

          But if that 13th pitcher is Garcia and he continues to get lit up out of the bullpen, that’s costing you plenty of runs too. I’d much rather have a guy who can replace Ibanez or Nunez in a close game than two long men in the bullpen.

          • Ted Nelson

            I believe that Garcia is there for his long-term 2012 value. If you keep him, he might turn it around somewhat and be needed for depth later in the season. They could DL him, but I still don’t think it’s obvious that Mesa would have much value to the Yankees and be the guy to replace him. With the possibility that 40% of your rotation might not get out of the 1st or 2nd inning any given start they make… there’s value in extra arms.

            You’d also disrupt Mesa’s development. If he gets promoted at mid-season and handles AAA well, he could be a candidate to make a contribution at some point in 2013.

            • jjyank

              Oh, I’m certainly not advocating that they release Garcia. But I think they can DL him and not lose much.

              As for Mesa’s development, we’re talking about a week, maybe two here. I don’t think that disrupts much.

              • Ted Nelson

                Yeah. Agree on Garcia. I think the DL might do him good. Resting his shoulder if it’s acting up and/or give him some time to sort out his stuff.

                There’s two sides to the Mesa coin, and you’re right that it is a short time. Getting the big league exposure of a call up could be good for him. He seems to be somewhat figuring out AA this season, though, and probably in-line for a mid-season promotion to AAA. (If his BABIP were higher he’d be having a heck of a start… already a solid start, but I have no idea how much of that is luck and how much is weak contact.) Not getting any real PAs for a couple of weeks and/or King in 50% of his MLB PAs might set him back.

                • jjyank

                  True. I think we pretty much all agree here that whatever decision the Yankees make, it will have very minimal impact. In fact, the only thing we discussed that might have a real impact is DLing Garcia to give him some time to work things out. That might even help the team out in the long run more than the player who replaces him.

            • DM

              I’m not for a Mesa promotion, but I don’t consider him enough of a prospect to worry about disrupting development. He’s cut from that same Dickerson/Maxwell/Golson cloth. Athletic tools but won’t hit much.

              But I agree with keeping Garcia in this climate. I can’t see him being released or even traded if he starts pitching better. They’ll need him if can regain his form. They need all the potential starting pitching they can get now.

              • Ted Nelson

                I agree that’s the most likely outcome for Mesa, but at 25 and a year removed from a break-out season I do think that he has upside. Plus OF is potential need for the Yankees depending on how things shake out with Swisher and then Granderson in FA.

                As I say above, he’s had a good start this season (small sample, but has cut K-rate in half) and might be promoted to AAA sooner than later.

                There’s not much value in trying to preserve his development path (especially since MLB exposure could be good for him), but there’s also not much value in a defensive replacement. I don’t know why they didn’t get him more reps in ST, but losing a few runs with Nunez in OF short-term might also pay off long-term by increasing his value if he learns LF.

                • DM

                  I agree on Nunez — but I never thought much of Mesa’s breakout season in Tampa. Managing to hit .260 in High A isn’t much to hang genuine prospect status on. In fact I think the other names I mentioned were much closer to being genuine prospects — through AA at least. Mesa has never really hit anywhere.

                  • Ted Nelson

                    Those guys were better prospects, but then they hit walls they couldn’t overcome. We don’t know if Mesa will or won’t hit that insurmountable wall yet, which is the point.

                    Contact will never be his thing, so his BA will be low. If he can keep the K% under 30, his BB% at 10%, and the ISO above .200 as he gets to AAA and MLB… along with plus defense and baserunning… I think he can be an acceptable MLB starting OF in the best case. It’s not likely, but I think it’s possible enough to keep in mind while handling him. If he were LH I think he’d really have a shot.

                    • Ted Nelson

                      And his BA this season is deflated by a low BABIP. I don’t know if that’s luck or weak contact. If it’s luck, he might actually be hitting quite a bit better this season than his stats indicate.

        • Need Pitching

          I’d say neither would have enough value in those roles to fret about, but a defensive replacement/PR at least has the possibility to help seal a win. He would actually be used regularly in a close game. A 13th pitcher is generally only used in blowouts, where he would have virtually no possibility of influencing the outcome of the game.

          • Ted Nelson

            Generally, but not necessarily if your starter goes out in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th inning and the game is still well within reach if you can keep them from scoring. I don’t have any confidence that 40% of the rotation will see the 5th inning in any given start. Hopefully Hughes is starting to pull it together after last night and Phelps proves himself.

            Also, more arms can allow Rapada to be a true LOOGY (maybe Boone too) rather than a long-man who gets shellacked by RH.

            I don’t think there’s any way to prove this, but it might help keep key relievers, and ever starters, fresher later in the season by keeping their work load down.

            And what % of games is Mesa going to impact? Not only does the game have to be close, but a ball has to be hit to him in that one or two inning span he’s in that the other guy would have made an inferior play on. I don’t doubt Mesa is a better OF than Ibanez and Nunez (maybe even Jones at this point), I just don’t know how much of an impact he’d have as a defensive replacement. Some impact, but how much?

            • Need Pitching

              right, I don’t see a big impact from either
              just that OF will have a greater chance to impact close games because they would be much more likely to be in a close game
              Neither are going to impact many games. Seems the extra OF would be a bit more needed right now and give the Yankees a bit more flexibility until Gardner or Swisher are back.
              No big deal either way, imo. (unless the OF called up would actually start some games, which I doubt Mesa would, but someone like Wise might)

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    The slice to left that Ninez botched was a play born of inexperience and not recognizing the tailing spin of a lefty’s flyball to left field. The most interesting utility man in the world is not the brightest.

    Mistakes will be made.

    Drink up.

    • A.D.

      That and Nunez does make errors fairly regularly at whatever position he plays

    • Ted Nelson

      One thing I don’t understand is why they didn’t get Nunez more ST innings in OF if they knew it was a possibility he’d play there.

      • Need Pitching

        they should have
        though maybe they just figured he would get the vast majority of his PT in the IF, and he still needed as many reps as possible there to become even close to passable as an IF

      • JohnnyC

        How much would that help? After all, he’s had thousands of innings in the infield.

        • Ted Nelson

          His problem in the IF isn’t technique. It’s mental/consistency.

          Actually seeing balls of the bat in the OF and working on routes would have helped immensely. There’s a difference between overthrowing the cutoff man and not being able to field a routine ball. He might still overshoot the cutoff with more reps, but he would be a lot less likely to just botch a play by being unable to read the spin or taking a bad route.

  • botz

    Cashman seems to be asleep at the wheel. I really think it’s time for a change at GM.

    • steve s

      I think so to. Abreu is available and Diamonbacks are about to sign Vlad (to play the outfield!). A half-speed Vlad temporarily in the outfield is still better than what we are seeing and then he neatly fits in as DH.

      • jsbrendog

        not sure if serious…..

        • steve s

          Diamondbacks are certainly serious.

          • Need Pitching

            are you sure about that?
            sounds like he’s still a long shot to sign there
            Sounds like they were mainly checking him out because he’s friends with an Arizona executive, and Towers was going to DR to watch amateur players anyways and decided no harm in checking out Vlad while he was there

          • Ted Nelson

            Should the Yankees do everything other teams do? Are other teams always right?

            Arizona has 4 OFs once Young is off the 15 day DL. If Vlad makes that team it’s probably as a PH. And if he does make the team, let’s wait to see if he’s any better than Jones or Ibanez.

            • Cris Pengiucci

              ” let’s wait to see if he’s any better than Jones or Ibanez.”

              Probably would be offensively (he had a pretty good offensive season last year. Guy can hit). Defensively, maybe he could match Ibanez (maybe), but I definiltey don’t see him being as good as Jones. I think I’d prefer to see Nunez in the OF than him.

              • Ted Nelson

                He had a .318 wOBA last season… about in line with Ibanez and well behind Jones (who played a more limited role and got to face a lot of lefties, of course).

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I’d imagine the Segway sponsorship needed to make this work would take about as long as Gardner’s recovery.

    • the other “D.J” of the Yankees (formerly STONE COLD Austin Romine)


    • jjyank

      He’s getting fired now over whether or not we need a 13th pitcher or a defensive replacement outfielder? The things we fans get upset over…

      • steve s

        Just to clarify I was agreeing to the “asleep at the wheel” part of botz’s comment, not the fired part.

        • jjyank

          For not getting Abreu or Vlad? Are either of those guys really any better than Ibanez? How many old players that can barely field do we really need?

          • Ted Nelson


            • Cris Pengiucci

              Apparently, more than we have now. :-)

      • botz

        Between the Pineda fiasco, and now having a horribly out of wack roster I’m just getting tired of Cashman. He’s had a great run but everything comes to an end and I think it’s time to see what someone else can do running the team.

        • Ted Nelson

          Who are you going to replace him with? He’s done a well above average job. Chances are that randomly replacing him will result in worse performance.

          Pineda reportedly got hurt after arriving.

          The roster is not “horribly out of wack.” It’s a really marginal concern, with arguments on both sides.

  • Duh Innings

    Call up Melky Mesa already.

  • roadrider

    get back to a normal 12-man pitching staff

    It’s sad commentary that this is what’s now considered “normal”.

  • What the Kruk?

    I read elsewhere people pining for Justin Maxwell.

    I’d take Nunez in left over Maxwell. The dude’s bat has holes in it.

    11 Ks already in 25 ABs for Houston. He’s a mid-.600s OPS guy. More dead weight is not what the lineup needs.

    • Need Pitching

      isn’t Nunez essentially a mid-600s OPS guy as well (mid to high really)?
      Maxwell would at least be able to field the position

  • CJ

    Who makes these decisions Girardi or Cashman? If the answer is both, who has the final say? Cashman.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      and the difference is……?

      • jjyank

        Which one gets fired, duh.

  • DM

    I don’t buy the Melky Mesa thing — or the panic. But if you only wanted defense, they could activate Gardner anyway. You could work him back into the lineup slowly since that’s what his rehab is really about — but I’m sure he could play the field right now.

    • jjyank

      Maybe, but he got hurt playing the field in the first place, so I think they’ll want to take it easy with that. I don’t think anyone is panicing, but you can’t deny that watch Ibanez and Nunez botch plays isn’t frustrating to watch.

      • DM

        Yeah, I know. But his inability to swing in BP was what put him on the DL. He’s being doing OF drills all along. But like Ted and others mentioned, I don’t know why Nunez wasn’t given more reps in LF and CF in ST. Despite the misplay last night, I would still use him out there. And Ibanez is Ibanez, I don’t think it should be surprising. You just hope they make all the routine plays, then cross your fingers with the rest.

  • Duh Innings

    Yanks-Red Sox day-night doubleheader 7/7.

  • David N

    Because I’m feeling masochistic for some reason…is there a video of the Nunez error? MLB doesn’t seem to have it, and I’m kind of curious to see just how ugly it was.

    • the Other Steve S.

      Go to the Orioles MLB site, check highlights, it’s down the line a little.

      • David N

        Hmm, guess I missed it the first time.

        And wow was that ugly.

  • paul a

    The Yankees need to look elsewhere for another outfielder. A cheap alternative is Mitch Maier of the Royals. He can play all three outfield spots and is a left handed bat. hes a better defensive outfielder than Jones and Ibanez. The Royals are playing pretty badly and may be looking to make some moves, and Maier won’t cost us much.

  • Frank

    Playing Nunez in the OF is an embarassment. Especially for a team with the resources the Yanks have. It seems like the powers that be had no back up plan in place should any of the starting OFs get hurt (in this case 2 are out). So, instead, they go with 2 DHs (one who is absolutely dreadful on defense and a former gold glover who has no speed whatsoever) and a role player who, if they envisioned him as a backup OFr, should have been instructed to play the position in winter ball and/or at least played more than 1 game at the position in ST. And I’m tired of hearing of Nunez’ offensive potential. The guy is way over-rated as a hitter. He has a long uppercut swing which he needs to cut down significantly. That’s why almost every out is a pop up. Once in awhile he’ll connect, but his swing needs ALOT of work.

    • Ted Nelson

      Wise and Dickerson are the back-up plans. Adding them to the 40-man, though, means cutting someone (plus Dickerson is hurt). So in the case of a short-term need Jones, Ibanez, and Nunez are the back-up plans.

      Jones is still a solid defender.

      Nunez has offensive potential for a SS.

  • Kevin

    IMO,Swisher should have been DL. It is NOT worth risking an injury to him.
    But then again,what do I know?

  • rek4gehrig

    Seriously, this isnt rocket science. Girardi, get it done!!!!

  • ralph

    Cashman has got to go , attitudes have got to change
    This is not the first bad move by Cashman but should be his last
    His ability to judge free market players or those involved in trades

    Granderson may look of now, but in 5 years … do not think so

    Yankees need to give the players in the minors a chance.

    Relics and retreads are not a winning formula

    • ralph

      Good the batting have been any worse then in the last 3 games

      Ibanez and Jones are done

      Chavez cannot stay healthy

      Arod is the highest paid singles hitter on the plan

      Cano who knows

      Tex —- in an early decline

      No where near the hitter he was a few years back , thank you Kevin Long

      Could it have been any worse with Montero, Cabrerra and Jackson in the line up and Kennedy throwing every 5th day with CC

      I am afraid there is no calvary coming over the hill

      It was painful to watch the last three games, but I guess by some point down the road I will become numb to the disappointment

  • doug

    where are all these supposed minor league studs the yankees have ???

  • FreeAgentSignee

    I agree. Send down Mitchell and call up an Wise or another OF.