Kevin Youkilis, Corban Joseph, and bad timing

Wang throws seven-inning complete game in win
Wang decides to stay with Yankees as first opt-out date passes
The play that re-injured Youkilis' back. (Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

The Yankees have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries already this year, but Kevin Youkilis’ recent back trouble takes an especially big bite out of the team’s roster. After all, he was originally signed as the replacement for another injured player, Alex Rodriguez. New York placed Youkilis on the DL yesterday, meaning they will be without their replacement third baseman for at least the next two weeks.

Because of the timing of the injury, the Yankees were left without a suitable roster fill-in. Corban Joseph got the call, but Brian Cashman made it clear they view him as a right-side infielder and emergency option at the hot corner only. Since Robinson Cano never takes a day off, it’s unclear how exactly the left-handed hitting Joseph helps the team right now. He’s one notch above a dead spot on the roster at the moment, a square peg forced into a round bench hole.

In a perfect world, the Yankees would have called up David Adams instead of Joseph. The 25-year-old would have given the team a legitimate option at third base and because he’s a right-handed hitter, he also would’ve helped with their struggles against southpaws. Theoretically, anyway. Unfortunately Adams can not be called up to the show until May 15th because he signed a minor league deal with the club after they released him last month. For whatever reason, those guys are forced to wait 30 days before returning to the show. Clay Rapada is in the same boat. The injury-prone Adams is perfectly healthy, but the rulebook keeps him in Triple-A.

Adams wasn’t the only right-handed option though, the Yankees also could have gone with 28-year-old Ronnie Mustelier instead of Joseph. He plays third base and left field, meaning he would have added some usable versatility and been an option to replace Ben Francisco once Youkilis did return. Mustelier is out with an injury though, specifically some kind of bruise suffered right at the very end of Spring Training. He was scheduled to play in his first minor league rehab game with High-A Tampa last night, but Mother Nature got in the way and the game was rained out.

There is never a good time for an injury, especially one to a player as important as Youkilis. The timing of this injury was particularly bad because the team’s best internal replacements are non-options. Adams is still two weeks away from being big league eligible and Mustelier still has an entire rehab assignment ahead of him before being ready for meaningful games. By the time Adams or Mustelier become legitimate options for the big league team, Youkilis will hopefully be ready to come off the DL. Given the way things have gone for the team health-wise this year, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised the latest injury comes at a time when the team’s best replacements aren’t even truly available.

Wang throws seven-inning complete game in win
Wang decides to stay with Yankees as first opt-out date passes
  • Robinson Tilapia

    It’ll be interesting to see both how much rehab time in the lower levels Musty needs before coming back to AAA, and if the team saw enough in him this spring that they wouldn’t want too much of an extra look before promoting him.

    It is what it is right now, and it’s oh so much better than we originally feared for the moment.

    • Travis L.

      I kinda figured that Francisco is only on the roster long enough for Mustelier to get the rehab work out of the way, then its goodbye Francisco and hello Mustelier.

  • Steve (different one)

    It has to be particularly frustrating for Mustelier, who had kindof a flukey injury right at the end of camp. Since the team literally needs a RHed DH, he’s not going to get many better opportunities than this one.

    With Adams, he was going to have the opportunity to man 2B all through ST while Cano was in the WBC, but he just couldn’t get himself on the field.

    This team keeps absorbing injuries and just keeps on winning. At some point I have to think they are going to hit a rough patch, but the more games over .500 they can bank, the better position they will be in to ride it out (obviously).

    If I told you a month ago the Yanks would be 16-10 in April, I doubt many would have believed it.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      There’s less time for that rough patch to occur, though. Time’s been ticking.

      Of course, the regulars’ return doesn’t necessarily excuse the team from having a rough patch.

      *Law and Order sound*

      • mitch

        I don’t like to look too far ahead, but the schedule over the next couple weeks is pretty weak. After OAK, they have a road trip to COL, KC, and CLE and then they’re back home to play SEA. If they can play .500 over that span, they’ll be in pretty good shape when guys like Granderson and Youk come back.

        • jjyank

          That is encouraging. Hopefully the schedule allows them to continue to keep their heads above water until Tex and Grandy come back, as well as better depth options such as Adams and Mustelier.

          I think they will. With all the blows this team has been dealt, I’ve been pretty impressed with how they’ve been playing.

    • Jim Is Bored

      Of course we’ll hit a rough patch. Even the most idealistic among us don’t see this as a 101 win team. Even with all the regulars, that was going to happen sooner or later.

      The injury timing does suck, but it’s 12 games, and even the biggest upgrade at 3rd would only be worth maaaaybe .8-1 more WAR over that time.

  • LK

    The key is to avoid the inevitable Hafner injury until some other guys get back.

    • mt

      Agreed – I am dreading the inevitable Hafner injury – right now I look forward so much to Hafner’s ABs – I don’t know what it is – I was not that excited about Youkilis’ good start because I figured he would get injured before Arod would come back even though replacing injured Arod was his main purpose (turned out to be sooner than I thought; I have a raw nerve here; should have signed 3B/1B Mark Reynolds – strikeouts and all; Youkilis signing reminded me of signing the injury prone Nick Johnson ro replace the aged high-injury concern Matsui). With Wells I love what I see so far (although he still is too pull-happy in scoring position situations); however, I am waiting for the inevitable rough patch in performance because I am not all the way convinced he is back.

      But for me 2013 Hafner has been a revelation – power, patience, works count and also able to get a ground ball through infield against shift when men are in scoring position – see last night’s second run. It sounds easy but tell that to Mark Teixiera. I try not to give in to my Hafner optimism because of all the bad things happening one after the other on injury front but I have fingers and toes crossed that Hafner can last at least 100 games into season this year at this superior level.

  • Larry

    Does it make sense to give Cano a half day off at DH and start CoJo at 2B?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I thought about just this on the drive to work this morning. Don’t see why not.

    • jjyank

      That means benching Hafner though, I’m not sure that helps. I know Hafner shouldn’t play every day, so I guess it’s not that big of a deal. Still though, Hafner and CoJo are both lefties, so there’s no potential platoon match up there. They did work CoJo out at 1B a bit, so maybe he’ll play for Overbay a couple times? Granted, I have no idea if CoJo is remotely passable at 1B defensively, but that’s something else to think about at least.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Not that it means anything, but we sure do spend a lot of time talking about what CoJo can’t do on here.

        • jjyank

          Probably a product of watching him at 3B during spring training. I hope he can play a halfway decent 1B. Maybe he can hit better than Overbay.

          • LK

            I think giving him a couple starts over Overbay makes sense (assuming they think he can play 1B passably).

          • mitch

            Does CoJo have a strong platoon split? If not, maybe they could get him some ABs playing first against lefties

            • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

              He has a pretty huge platoon split.
              2011-13 vs LHP: 219/292/293
              2011-13 vs RHP: 297/387/496

              Probably not worth playing at all vs. LHP.

              • LK

                “Probably not worth playing at all vs. LHP.”

                Well, we know he’ll fit in!

        • mt

          I think it is the frustration that David Adams is perfect for the role but we can’t bring him up up to the May 15 rule and then the only reason he was released in first place even though (ex will not be back before May 22 or June 1 (whatever the date is) and maybe should have been put on 60 man. Also people frustrated that Musty is not available. I think CJ bears the brunt of all that frustration.

          We have so many injuries to All-Star level players you would think the current, “replacement” 25 man roster would in exchange for a lot less talent on papaer at least be flexible since we don’t have as many huge inflexible contracts on 25 man – but instead we have no back-up SS (since Nix must play 3B at same time Nunez starts), a bad defensive back-up 3B (Joseph), really no back-up 1B (I don’t count Boesch or Corban Joseph) and no OF who can really hit LH pitchers (the Francisco slot) when that was an obvious need since end of last year

          • mt

            Tex will not be back, not “ex”.

          • Robinson Tilapia

            My question does become “what can Corban Joseph do to benefit the New York Yankees,” though.

            He can play several positions, but none of them very well. He has the potential to hit, but not really in a manner which makes him appealling as a guy whose defense you tolerate because his bat is good.

            I root for him to succeed, but he just seems like the epitomy of “fringe” to me, and like someone for whom it’s more likely his 40-man spot will come into question long before there’s an actual role for him past what you see now with this team.

            • Travis L.

              I bet he is traded or DFA, once they lock up Cano. Especially with Adams and Musty around. No reason to keep Joseph in the fold.

      • JRod

        A little surprised to be saying this, but I really want them to leave Overbay alone. Plus defender, 4 HR, 12 RBIs, the guy’s been rock solid for an ostensible 6-8 week rental. I mean, he’ll need a day now and then, but I think they should keep riding this horse until as far as they can, which is whenever Tex comes back.

  • DInnings

    Good job by Cashman releasing Adams. ‘Guess he thought Youkilis was gonna be healthy all year and Nix could start at 3B for a month in case Youkilis got injured pssshhhh.

    Corbin Joseph…a second baseman…when Cano plays 2B just about every day. SMH. Hopefully Joseph can at least play a competent 3B. He can’t possibly be worse than Nix at the plate.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting (but mostly hitting)

      Guess he thought Youkilis was gonna be healthy all year and Nix could start at 3B for a month in case Youkilis got injured pssshhhh.

      Huh? Adams can’t be brought up until May 15. That’s not all year. It’s 2 more weeks. It only became relevant at all because 1)Jeter had a setback, 2) the specific timing of the inevitable Youk DL stint, and 3)Musty still not being ready to go.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I think the “point” he’s attempting to make is that, this time, Cashman failed because he released David Adams knowing he wouldn’t be able to recall him to the majors until 5/15, if re-signed, when obviously he’d be needed before that.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Nix has been starting in place of Youkilis. I guess I’ll have to apologize for his not being Mike Schmidt at least once per day.

      There’s also a non-zero chance Jayson Nix is a better major league player than David Adams.

      • LK

        Yeah, if anything it’s likely Nix is better than Adams, at least for this year. Given how often top 100 prospects turn into absolutely nothing, fringe guys really shouldn’t be counted on to do much of anything.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          We consistently underestimate the veteran who can go in there and not embarrass himself on a daily basis.

          He’s not a world-beater. He’s going to play the fundamentals of his position(s) well and has the ability to contribute offensively in small ways. None of that, especially the first half of that, is going to be a given with Adams.

          I believe there’s some benefit to Adams’s bat simply because of team needs right now. I don’t think he should be here as Nix’s replacement, though.

          • jjyank

            Right. If anything, I’d like to see what Adams or Mustelier can do as Francisco’s replacement, not Nix. If we have to wait until May 15th (for Adams, anyway), so be it. Not a huge deal to me.

  • coolerking101

    If we’re going to lament about the lack of options, let’s not forget to mention that Rob Segedin, the Yanks 3B down at AA (who is raking) just went down as well.

    So if you’re keeping score, that means, the starting 3B is hurt, his backup his hurt with a back injury(Youk), the backup’s backup (Mustelier) is hurt, the backup backup’s backup is not eligible (Adams), and the backup backup backup’s backup (Segedin) is also hurt.

    Got that? Pop quiz later.

    • JRod

      Yikes. This is some Dan Brown type deal. Can’t be coincidence. If we keep following the trail of succession, will we find out that they still have Scott Brosius squirreled away in some obscure corner of the organization ?

      • FEED.ME.MORE!

        I hear Aaron Boone hasn’t been playing lately…..

        HE’S FRESH!!!!

  • Caballo Sin Nombre

    I think the current Cojo theory may be that if either Nix or Nunez has to sit, Cano moves to short. Not likely to happen, but Cano has better defensive tools than Cojo, and did play 80 games there in the minors.