What Went Wrong: McGehee & Pearce

The Yankees went into the season thinking Andruw Jones was going to be their designated left-handed pitching masher, and for the first half of the season he was. Things went horribly wrong for Jones in the second half, and when coupled with Alex Rodriguez‘s hand injury in late-July, the Yankees were suddenly very light on right-handed power and thus susceptible to lefty pitching. They acquired two players to help fill that void, neither of whom worked out.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Casey McGehee
Acquired from the Pirates for Chad Qualls (!) just prior to the trade deadline, the 30-year-old McGehee brought with him a track record of hitting southpaws and an 86 wRC+ in 293 plate appearances for Pittsburgh. He bounced between first and third bases in his first few starts with New York, and he actually hit well early on: 6-for-21 (.286) with three doubles, three walks, and the team’s third longest homer of the season. McGehee looked like a shrewd deadline pickup, but instead things fell part.

He went 2-for-22 (.091) with six strikeouts and no walks in his next seven games, and fell so out of favor that the Yankees sent McGehee all the way down to Low-A Charleston. It was a procedural move that allowed the team to recall him sooner than the usual ten days. All told, McGehee hit just .151/.220/.264 (28 wRC+) in 59 plate appearances with the Yankees, including 7-for-37 (.189) against lefties.. He was obviously left off the postseason roster, and after the season he elected free agency after being removed from the 40-man roster.

(Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post)

Steve Pearce
The Yankees originally signed Pearce way back at the end of Spring Training, and he spent two months absolutely mashing in Triple-A (173 wRC+). Pearce exercised an opt-out clause in his contract in early-June, forcing the Yankees to either release him or trade him to a team willing to place him on their 25-man big league roster. A few days later he was dealt to the Orioles for cash, but nearly three months after that he was back in pinstripes — the Yankees acquired Pearce from the Astros for cash after Houston claimed him off waivers from Baltimore earlier in the summer.

Pearce, 29, made his debut with the team as the cleanup hitter against the Blue Jays on August 28th, and he responded by scoring the winning run on a walk, wild pitch (move to second), ground out (move to third), and sacrifice fly. Pearce hit a two-run homer against the Orioles two weeks later, but that was pretty much it. He hit .160/.300/.280 (66 wRC+) in only 30 plate appearances with the team, including a 4-for-24 (.167) mark against southpaws. The Yankees designated Pearce for assignment when Brett Gardner came off the DL in late-September, and the Orioles subsequently claimed him off waivers. That was that, neither he nor McGehee contributed much to the team’s cause in 2012.

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McGehee elects free agency; Yankees return Meyers to Nationals

Casey McGehee has elected free agency, the Yankees announced. I guess the team outrighted him off the 40-man roster at some point and he refused the minor league assignment. The 30-year-old infielder was acquired from the Pirates at the trade deadline and hit .151/.220/.264 in just 59 plate appearances with the Yankees. He was buried behind Steve Pearce for a while and was left off both the ALDS and ALCS rosters. McGehee was a prime non-tender candidate and this gets him off the roster a little sooner.

In other news, the Yankees also announced that they’ve returned Rule 5 Draft pick Brad Meyers to the Nationals. The 27-year-old right-hander didn’t pitch at all this year after hurting his shoulder during an offseason workout. Left-hander Cesar Cabral, the team’s other Rule 5 Draft pick, is still on the roster. He’s a special case as a two-time Rule 5 guy and could be retained long-term. The 23-year-old pitched well in Spring Training and might have beaten Clay Rapada out for the second lefty reliever’s job had he not fractured his elbow near the end of camp. The Yankees currently have 12 open spots on their 40-man roster, but both Cabral and Michael Pineda still need to be activated off the 60-day. So it’s really ten open spots.

MLBTR’s projected arbitration salaries

Over at MLBTR, Matt Swartz published his projected salaries for this winter’s arbitration-eligible players. His model was accurate to within 10% for players who did not sign multi-year deals last year — including just a 5% error for the Yankees — and after a summer of tweaks and refinements, he could be even closer this year.

The Yankees have seven arbitration-eligible players to deal with this offseason — Chris Dickerson and Frankie Cervelli fell just short of qualifying — though Casey McGehee is a prime non-tender candidate. The biggest expected raise belongs to Phil Hughes, who should see his salary jump from $3.2M to $5.7M. David Robertson and Boone Logan figure to get ~$1M raises while Brett Gardner and Joba Chamberlain are in line for negligible pay increases following their injury-shortened years. Jayson Nix still projects to get a six-figure salary and could be non-tendered as well. Without McGehee, the six-man arbitration class will cost the Yankees approximately $16.7M. Not too bad at all.

McGehee will not be on ALDS roster; Nix hit in simulated games today

Via Andrew Marchand, infielder Casey McGehee said he was informed that he will not be on the ALDS active roster. Meanwhile, Joel Sherman reports that utility man Jayson Nix took some at-bats against David Aardsma and Adam Warren in a simulated game today.

Nix has been out for a week with a strained left hip flexor, and the original report indicated that he would miss 10-14 days. The last bench spot on the ALDS roster appeared to be a decision between Andruw Jones and McGehee, but the versatile and right-handed hitting Nix would obviously get the call over both if he’s actually healthy enough to play.

Pregame Notes: Cano, Granderson, Tex, Nova

Nova threw live batting practice before the game. (click to embiggen)

Robinson Cano is in tonight’s lineup as the DH after testing his left hip both in the batting cage and during batting practice. The second baseman said his the joint still feels “tight” following last night’s awkward step on the game-winning eighth inning hit, and he still feels it when he bends over. Hence the DH thing. There are no tests planned at the moment, but Joe Girardi wouldn’t commit to the lineup until Robbie hit on the field and gave the thumbs up.

  • That lineup, by the way, can be found here. Curtis Granderson is back in not just center field, but also in the second spot of the batting order. The regular 2-3-4 hitters have just been bumped down a slot.
  • Ivan Nova (shoulder) threw live batting practice to Eduardo Nunez and Chris Dickerson before the game. He faced seven “hitters” and threw north of 20 pitches, including breaking balls and changeups. Nova said he feels fine and right now the plan is to see how he responds tomorrow before determining the next step.
  • Mark Teixeira (calf) has been jogging but has yet to really push it and run sprints. He’s still not ready for that, making a Thursday return to the lineup unlikely at the moment. Unsurprisingly, Teixeira hopes to be back no later than the weekend.
  • Casey McGehee is back with the club and will be active tonight. The Low-A Charleston season ended yesterday, so he was able to rejoin the team without waiting the full ten days.

Yankees option Casey McGehee to Low-A Charleston

To make room on the 25-man roster for the recently-acquired Steve Pearce, the Yankees have optioned Casey McGehee all the way down to Low-A Charleston. The River Dogs have already been eliminated from postseason contention, so McGehee can return to the big leagues when their regular season ends next Monday rather than wait the full ten days. I thought they would make a similar move with David Phelps since he just started last night and Thursday’s off-day would allow them to shuffle the rotation, but they opted to play with a short bench instead. Weird.

Update: Yankees designate Ramiro Pena for assignment

August 2nd: Apparently the Yankees designated Pena for assignment yesterday, according to the official site. That seems weird, they didn’t need to clear a 40-man roster spot for McGehee and could have easily sent Ramiro to Triple-A. Brian Cashman did confirm the move to Chad Jennings, however.

August 1st: As expected, the Yankees have sent Ramiro Pena back down to Triple-A to make room on the 25-man roster for the recently acquired Casey McGehee. Pena had one single in four plate appearances and two pinch-running appearances during his brief stint with the big league club. McGehee is in this afternoon’s lineup, playing first base and hitting seventh.