Sep
17

Eduardo Nunez and solving the DH problem

By

(Ed Zurga/Getty)

This has been a bit of a nightmare season for Eduardo Nunez, who had a chance to really establish himself as a useful player for the Yankees going forward. Instead, he lost his utility infielder’s job in mid-May because he struggled with the routine play, then suffered a thumb injury that cost him two months after being demoted to Triple-A. He resurfaced when rosters expanded in September and was used sparingly at first, but this past weekend he took over the shortstop position while Derek Jeter nursed his left ankle injury.

Nunez, 25, took advantage of the opportunity by going 4-for-13 (.308) with a double, a homer, a walk, and three stolen bases. He would have had another double had Jerry Meals not gotten in the way, plus he made a nice baserunning play on Thursday by aggressively advancing to third from second a routine ground ball to short. Eduardo Scissorhands did show up and whiff on a routine grounder that led to an insurance run for the Rays on Friday, but otherwise he played short quite well over the weekend. He even made two very nice plays going into the hole to his right and showing off his strong arm.

I have to think that both Nunez and the team are happy with his play over these last four games, as he provided some nice offense from the bottom of the lineup while adding some of the speed they’ve sorely missed since Brett Gardner got hurt in April. The Yankees have been a very station-to-station club these last few months and Eduardo’s energetic legs really did stand out. Add in his ability to make contact — just a 10.3% strikeout rate as a big leaguer — and you get a player that provides a much different dynamic than the rest of the lineup.

The Yankees are reportedly committed to using Nunez at shortstop and nowhere else following his defensive lapses as a utility player, hoping that sticking to one position will improve his glovework. With Jeter expected to return to his usual shortstop position later this week, perhaps as soon as tomorrow, Eduardo is suddenly a man without a place to play. Joe Girardi did indicate yesterday that he will consider giving Nunez at-bats as a DH against left-handed pitching, a move that seems beyond obvious given Andruw Jones‘ brutally ineffective second half. Frankly, at this point they should consider playing Nunez against right-handers as well. Raul Ibanez is 3-for-51 (.059) over the last month and looks completely worn out after spending way too much time in the field earlier this summer.

By no means do I think Nunez is a budding star or anything like that, but the players the Yankees have been using at DH most of the season have completely cratered in the second half. With Mark Teixeira on the shelf and not close to returning, the Bombers need as much offense as possible right now. Ibanez and Jones aren’t getting the job done, not even close really. Nunez doesn’t fit the typical DH profile — the big, lumbering slugger type — but he does have a productive offensive game built on contact and speed. The Yankees can use more of that and fewer hitless games from their regular DH combo down the stretch.

Categories : Offense
  • jjyank

    Not your typical DH profile for sure, but I’m cool with that. Just like I’m past the point of caring how the team gets a win, I’m past the point of caring where the production comes from and in what form. If Nunez can help the team win as the DH, so be it. And they might as well try it. He can’t really be worse than Jones and Ibanez.

    • Ro

      Plus he’s got a little man love going on with Arod. Not sure what that means, but good to have a mentor and supporter like Arod. Arod’s game seems to be slightly elevated recently as well with Nunez next door at SS. I’m talking out my arse right now, but who knows, there secondary effect of having Nunez’s energy could be helping the entire team.

  • Jeters Bone

    Agreed

  • RE Junior

    Nunez recently been very good for the Yankees,if you take away the errors.I believe in him,he has a high ceiling for me.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      If his defense can improve, sure, he’s a quality infielder, whether it’s for the Yankees or for another team.

      If he’s hot, play him. Sure. He’s not a savior but, if a guy is giving you a spark, ride it.

      • JohnnyC

        But..but…but Andruw might run into one…one of these days.

        • Jose M. Vazquez

          Like in the Honeymooners POW to the moon if he ever again catches up to one.

  • Better off Eddard

    Two weeks late but better late than never. And it took Jeter’s injury just to get Girardi to realize that Nunez is the spark plug of the offense. He wrecks havoc on the bases. 3 SBs yesterday. He can hit the ball out of the park. Can Andruw Jones do any of these things? Nobody else on the team can. The team’s 4 out of 5 run was due to two things – Great starting pitching(minus CC) and Eduardo Nunez.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      My kid is starting to put multiple words together. Thank you, Eduardo Nunez.

      • DF

        But can your kid make the routine throw from short?

        • jjyank

          I hear his kid can hit 97, throws lefty, and has been dominating the competition down in Cuba.

          • not that mike

            sounds a little like Cliff Lee…or the ace we didnt have for the past 2+ years because Nuney couldnt be traded

            • jjyank

              ?

              • DF

                Pretty sure that was supposed to be a joke. I laughed, anyway, so I hope it was.

                • jjyank

                  Hard to tell around these parts. Anyway my original comment was a joke to R-Tils, so I’m confused where Cliff Lee and Nunez came into play.

                  • Joe

                    Nunez was supposedly the reason we didn’t get Cliff Lee in a trade years ago. The “deal breaker.”

                    • jjyank

                      I know the back story. But from what I recall, it had just as much to do with David Adams’ medicals and the Mariner’s preference of Smoak over Montero.

      • MannyGeee

        Hooked on Nunez worked for me!!

  • Robert

    Toronto throwing 2 lefty’s at us,How about we “rest” Andrew Jones and have Nunez and Melky Mesa batting 8th n 9th just a thought!!!

    • Ro

      Strangely, I actually support that. Get them both in the line up.

      • Jose M. Vazquez

        I’m on that train too.

        • Jose M. Vazquez

          May I add that I’d like to see McGehee in place of Pearce at first base. At least McGehee has had some success at the major league level. Anyone on board with this?

          • Nice Scheister

            I’d prefer Jose Vasquez.

            • Jose M. Vazquez..

              Thanks but I can’t play any more. My 95 year-old mother who still watches all the games and is very lucid told me that she could pitch two innings against this team (that was when they were very bad) and shut them out.

          • Deep Thoughts

            This cowshit sandwich tastes terrible. I’d like to see what a dogshit sandwich tastes like. Anyone on board with this?

  • DF

    I’ve never been a Nunez fan at all, but the Yankees could do worse than him as a shortstop going forward. He’s not Jeter’s replacement (because no one is), and his game has flaws, but he might just have the ability to be a productive player, particularly given the sorry state of shortstops around MLB.

    • MannyGeee

      this. he could start on 1/2 the major league teams as a SS with his bat and speed alone.

  • RetroRob

    I’m in the Bill James camp on this. Positions don’t hit, lineups hit. If the best offensive lineup has Nunez at DH, then that’s the lineup they should field, err, hit.

    Yet considering the shape of Jeter’s ankle, they probably should keep Jeter at DH with Nunez at short. If they’re both going to be playing, they should do what they can to get Jeter’s ankle back to full strength, or as close as possible.

    • Ted Nelson

      Yeah, would be nice to get Jeter some off days. Maybe play every other day or 2 of 3 in the field.

  • Darren

    Last year, the only live bat in the end of September and in the playoffs belonged to Montero. (exzcept of Posada of course).
    Girardi didn’t play him and it costs us.

    This year, one of the only live bats belongs to Nunez. he should be playing shortstop or DHing basically every day for the rest of the year and in the playoffs or Girardi should be fired. If you’re too blind to realize that Jones is cooked, Ibanez is mostly cooked and you can’t rely on Swisher, a hobbled Jeter, a decent but shadow of ARod, an all or nothing Granderson you deserve to go.

    Yes, Terry Francona is your replacement.

    • MannyGeee

      as reactionary as this post may read at the first glance (and “Fire Girardi to hire Tito” doesnt help your cause, BTW), Darren carries a great point here.

      Girardi tends to be married to the veteran presents in the playoffs. sometimes it pays off & sometimes it doesnt. Collective heads will explode in October if Nunez gets bumped to pinch runner duty while Ibanez/Jones/Chavez go a combined 1-18 with 7 Ks in the ALDS. Would Nunez do better? whos to say. But play the hot hand…

      Girardi has always seemed to struggle with playing the hot hand, especially when the playoffs start, and going at it based on whats on the back of one’s baseball card…

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        That’s because veterans get paid more, therefore they can afford better presents.

        • Mike

          But if veterans can’t produce at all, sometimes they are left off a postseason roster entirely, even the big money players, such as Giambi in 2004 and Barry Zito in 2010

      • Nice Scheister
  • not that mike

    i would even bat Nunez 2nd for the next few games…

    • Ro

      Not. a. terrible. idea.

    • Ro

      p.s I don’t know WTF happened to Swisher. There is something very wrong with that dude mentally at the moment. I actually think that outrageous run he had a few weeks ago went to his head. I’m officially done with the Swisher coming back idea. Make the guy a QA and move on. Sorry to be off subject, but does pertain to the 2nd hole in the line up.

      • Nice Scheister

        I’d hate to see him go to the Sox, but F it at this point. He’s been inconsistent as one can be, he’s either hitting the cover off the ball or 0-fer. I love his personality but that only counts if you’re contributing, IMO.

    • Mike

      Mike Francesca thought the same thing. Not a bad move I’d say.

  • Ro

    Jones and Ibanez have both been awful at the plate over the last 2.5 months. Chavez as much as I love him has also been a little banged up. This is probably the easiest decision of the entire season so far. Without question Nunez should be the primary DH right now. He can get on base, can hit, steals, throws off the pitchers and his fielding seems to have improved greatly. Keeping him hitting and in the lineup should keep him mentally strong for those days he gets the start at ONLY!! SS. A young guy like this needs to be in it. He’s more of a full time player than utility player and as we’ve already seen he’s worse when not playing and coming off the bench.

  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    Never saw this coming.

  • Mick taylor

    Girardi and crashman should never sent him down. And after he was heed from his injuries healed could e been brought back two weeks earlier. And girardi never played him after sept 1 until jeter got hurt. Instead he keeps playing andruw jones who is hitting 120 since the allstar break

    • Ro

      Best thing Cashman and Girardi did was in fact to send him back to AAA. He got injured, like every other freak thing that’s happened to this team, but it was very logical to send him back down to play SS specifically not be in the spot light, especially after what I imagine being embarrassed in front of his teammates for so many stupid errors.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      When you can’t field simple ground balls you don’t deserve to be in the MLB, much less on the Yankees.

      Calling him down was the kick in the ass he needed.

      • Darren

        Kick in the ass? Dude has a hard time fielding grounders but there’s never been any indication it’s because of lack of focus, work ethic or desire. it’s hard to do. WHich is why Jeter’s skill – yes, skill – at fielding the routine and not quite so routine grounder with such amazing consistency is so under-valued. Picking up a MLP grounder is not the same as submitting a comment to RAB. Not every shlump with two fingers can do it.

      • MannyGeee

        if memory serves, he had not problems ‘fielding’ the grounders, it was what to do after the fielding that eluded him.

        • Nice Scheister

          He went to the Marcus Thames school of infield throwing.

  • DSFC

    Since Gardner’s missed the entire season, we’ve all seen what that has cost the Yankee lineup, and right now Nunez is providing a similar spark. What do they have to lose? Jones and Ibanez are giving them nothing.

  • rek4gehrig

    Play Nunie. Please play Nunie

  • http://StinkRaul.net Level Headed Fan

    Ro, in regards to Swisher, you’re just seeing what he does in October earlier this year due to fact Yankees are in a fight for postseason. Realize most don’t believe in “clutch” play, but this guy is about as gutless as they come when games matter and situations in a game matter. Making it worse, he does this preening/posing bullshit which I’m stunned hasn’t resulted in someone drilling him. It’s like “how did THAT guy get me out” as he stands for 5 seconds at homeplate after another laughable K, or a pop up where he throws his bat and shakes his head. If I were pitching–he’d be ear-holed after doing that–but that’s not acceptible, so how about a pitcher offering him the ball at 1st after he gets a hit–and show his phony ass up?

    • jjyank

      So much hate.

    • Sweet Dick Willie

      Your comment belies your handle.

      • CS Yankee

        Agreed.

        Swish is way cool, has trouble with the off-speed and gives away some AB’s though. Wish they (would) could extend him in the 2/25 to 3/40 range, but bigger paydays are ahead for him.

        Plus the wife is a hottie.

  • Joe

    This is an awesome idea. Isn’t the DH meant for eh fielders? He’s a good hitter and horrible fielder. So make Nuney the DH!

  • Ted Nelson

    Where have all the people exposing personal hatred for Nunez gone?

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      They’re hating on CC, Jones and Ibanez now.

  • CS Yankee

    The model that the “Joe’s” established is to only use aging Vets at DH…therefore the best solution would be;

    1) Keep Jeet at DH…still hits well, overlook the power-outage and recieve solid-to-great OBP instead.
    2) Keep Nunie at SS, he’ll boot and air mail a few but his range will overall make up for it.

    Play Chavez or Swish at 1B and really try not to play Pearce at all.

    • TrollHunter

      Im so sick of Steve Pierce and his crappy one handed upercut helicopter slice swing!!!!

    • Jose M. Vazquez

      See my comment in answer to Robert above.

    • Reverse Mormon

      I’m sure if Nunez “boots and air mails a few” costing the Yanks a game or two down the stretch everyone will be OK with it. He can’t be out at SS during a key game. The risk of him making a key error(s) on routine plays is just too great against the number of chances he will have to make a great play. Jeter should be back at SS the moment his ankle allows it. I think Nunez should be at DH over Jones/Ibanez at this point because he is bringing more to the plate than those washups but he just can’t play SS for an extended period.

      • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

        If we’re going to make the playoffs, make Jeter take a few breaks. The minute the playoffs start, it’s a different story.

  • jim p

    Play lots of Nunez because he hits and things happen around him; but also because this gives overworked Ibanez and Jones some rest. This strengthens the team all around.

  • TrollHunter

    IMO the Yankees made a big mistake sending down Nunez and Cervelli this year. I was shocked when the Yankees got rid of their only source of speed in Nunez while knowing that Gardner was going to miss significant time. Also, (maybe someone can help me out with the stats) I think Cervelli was always a team leader with RISP which we all know is a huge fail for this 2012 team. Stewart and Nix wouldn’t have been missed but Nunez and Cervelli certainly were. Another great decision Cash!

    • jjyank

      Eh, Cervelli being on the team would solve RISPFAIL problems for everyone else? I don’t think he’d be enough of an upgrade over Stewart to get really upset over it. As far as Nunez goes, he was pretty much unplayable in the field. At that point in time, it was also too early to jettison Ibanez and Jones and let Nunez DH.

    • Andy Pettitte’s Fibula (formerly Manny’s BanWagon)

      Unless I’m wrong, wasn’t Nunez hurt for most of the year?

      As for Cervelli, he and Stewart are probably a wash. I would have preferred to have Cervelli and Kontos over Stewart but once the trade was made, the 2 were probably interchangeable.

      • gc

        Come on, everyone knows that fist pumps = clutch.

    • Kosmo

      not that Cervelli would solve RISP situations but his numbers are actually quite good in 489 career ABs .315, 64 of his 71 career RBI have come in 149 ABs all RISP situations. 2 outs RISP situations he´s hitting .373.

  • thenamestsam

    It’s nice to have a small sample of something positive for everyone to way overreact to and get all in a tizzy over. It seems like we’ve only had the negative sorts recently.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Small victories, I guess.

  • rogue

    “By no means do I think Nunez is a budding star or anything like that,”

    I disagree. I’ve always liked Nunez and believe he can be a very good player. Girardi has been too impatient with him. Yes, his mental lapses are maddening, but he’s still a better SS than Jeter, right now. To start Jeter at SS while leaving Nunez at DH is a waste and harmful to the team. Nunez has shown great range at SS, has been a elite base stealer, and not only can hit for contact, but for quality contact. Girardi must stop overreacting and punishing this guy every time he makes a mistake.

    Is Nunez eligible to be on the postseason roster? If not, more shame and stupidity to pin on Cash.

    • jjyank

      Oh relax. Jeter is not going to be moved off short, and that’s not really on Girardi. Nunez played himself off the roster, he wasn’t “being punished”.

      And yes, he can be on the postseason roster.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I once saw a simple ground ball hit to Eduardo Nunez and, before he was able to catch it, Girardi ran out of the dugout and whacked the ball into leftfield. For shame.

      If Eduardo Nunez was running for president, both Romney and Obama would drop out tomorrow.

  • JTALES

    By all means. I still cannot for the life of me understand why Andruw “Bemused Smile” Jones is still on the team, let alone getting critical ABs.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Because he’s not taking up a 40-man spot which the team is dying to give someone else and, during a time of expanded rosters, on a team that’s suffered a slew of injuries, there’s very little rush to give his spot away.

      I doubt he’s back next year.

  • http://riveraveblues panos

    eddie can hit. great short swing. does not k. i could see him playing short next year and jets moving to 3rd.