Archive for Eduardo Nunez
Via ESPN NY: During a recent radio interview, Brian Cashman basically said he doesn’t see a role for Eduardo Nunez given how the team is currently constructed. “I look at Nunez and his value as a shortstop,” said the GM. “I don’t look at Nunez being valuable in an everyday role other than shortstop, and we have a shortstop. In terms of everyday status for Nuney, I don’t see one as long as Derek Jeter is sitting there … All the calls of putting him in left field, I don’t understand.”
Nunez had a nice (but brief) showing in the ALCS in place of the injured Jeter, going 2-for-6 with a triple, a homer, and a stolen base. He hit .292/.330/.393 (93 wRC+) with eleven steals in exactly 100 regular season plate appearances, though he was demoted to Triple-A in May because of his defense. Nunez makes a ton of contact (career 10.4% strikeouts) and has some pop and speed, so the offense is adequate for a utility infielder. The defense isn’t though, and the Yankees don’t have a place to play him full-time. It would make some sense to hold onto him as long as Jeter is recovering from his ankle surgery, but at the same time it also makes sense to trade him if the team truly feels he can’t cut it as a multi-position guy. He might actually be one of their better trade chips at the moment.
The Yankees have replaced Eduardo Nunez on the ALCS roster with Cody Eppley, the team announced. Jayson Nix was moving fine in the ALDS, so his left hip flexor strain appears to be a non-issue going forward. The Tigers have a very right-handed pitching staff, so the extra righty bat wasn’t imperative. Joba Chamberlain is also on the roster despite the bruise on his right elbow after getting hit with a broken bat.
The addition of Eppley gives the Yankees a dozen pitchers and just a four-man bench, and could be an indication that David Phelps will get the Game Two start tomorrow. It could also mean they’re starting Hiroki Kuroda and CC Sabathia on short rest in Games Two and Three, respectively, and want the extra arm in case they can’t throw as many pitches as usual. Who knows. Right now the only official pitching plan is Andy Pettitte in Game One tonight.
4:12pm: After the game, Joe Girardi said he made the move for defense and that Nunez is fine. I don’t get it at all, but then again I don’t get a lot of Girardi’s moves.
3:02pm: Eduardo Nunez left this afternoon’s game in the sixth inning with what I have to assume is an injury. He drove a fly ball to deep center an inning prior and seemed to be fine. Derek Jeter took over at shortstop, meaning the Yankees lose the DH for the remainder of the game. I can’t imagine they put the Cap’n in for defense in a tie game. Jayson Nix is back in New York having an MRI on his hip flexor, so if Nunez is hurt they won’t have a backup middle infielder. Stay tuned for updates.
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.
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Anonymous asks: Time for a post on tie breakers? My main question would be this: what happens if the Yanks and Orioles (or Rays) tie for the division lead, but have records good enough to be one of the Wild Cards? Will they do an on-paper tie-breaker or will they make them play a game? Since it’s so much better to be the division winner, I would think they would have them play. In the past it was a paper tie-breaker, but there was no negative to being the Wild Card. Now there is.
Under the old system, teams would only play a tie-breaker game if it was a situation in which one team would make the playoffs and the other would not. If two teams tied atop the division but were both going to the playoffs anyway, they didn’t bother to play a game and used (I think) head-to-head record to decide who was the division champ and who was the wildcard.
With the new system, teams will play a tie-breaker to decide the division winner even if both clubs are guaranteed to make the postseason, as they should. Home field for that tie-breaker game is determined by head-to-head record, but since the Yankees and Orioles split the season series, the game would be played in Baltimore because they have the better overall intra-division record (at the moment, still time to change that). The Yankees have to sweep the Rays this weekend just to tie the season series.
There would be a tie-breaker game if two teams tie for the second wildcard spot obviously, but I have no idea what happens if more than two teams tie for that spot. Given the craziness of the current races, there’s a very real chance we see a three-way tie this year. I’m not sure even MLB knows what they’ll do in that situation, but I’m rooting for the chaos as long as the Yankees aren’t involved. I wasn’t a fan of the new playoff system when it was announced and I still don’t like the one-game, winner-take-all aspect of the wildcard play-in game, but these last few weeks of baseball are going to be a lot of fun. Lots of tight races and big games coming up.
Nate asks: Is it me, or has Robinson Cano hit more opposite-field home runs this year than ever before?
He has, actually. The two-run dinger over the Green Monster on Wednesday was Cano’s fifth homer to the opposite field this season, a career-high. His previous career high was three, which he’d done multiple times (2006, 2007, 2009, and 2011). Robbie’s always hit the ball to all fields but almost all of his power has been to the pull side, which is not unusual at all. This year he’s starting to spray the dingers out a little more, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that he’s set a career-high in homers during the year in which he’s showing the most opposite field power.
Nar asks: When does Eduardo Nunez become arbitration-eligible and did he spend enough time in the minors this year to delay it another year? Thanks.
If he spends all of next year in the big leagues, Nunez is going to be right on the Super Two bubble at two years and 30 or so days of service time. The cut-off for this coming offseason is approximately two years and 34 days, but it fluctuates year-to-year. Either way, Nunez won’t be eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season if he’s back in the show for good. Whether he’s a Super Two (and arbitration-eligible four times instead of three) depends more on the cutoff next year than anything else.
Reggie asks: Is it possible that David Adams could latch on with the ML team next season as a utility guy from the go? Is it too late to get Adams to play a corner OF spot when Brett Gardner and a re-signed Nick Swisher need an off-day? If Adams can play 3B, that’d be a boon for the team, especially if Eric Chavez retires/signs elsewhere.
It’s possible but I also think it’s unlikely. Adams hasn’t played a single inning at shortstop as a professional and has fewer than 40 games worth of third base experience, so the Yankees would still need another middle infielder on the bench. It’s not too late to try him out in the corner outfield, though a) I’m not sure how well he runs these days after the ankle injury, and b) that’s not exactly something you want him to learn at the big league level. I think it’s far more likely that Corban Joseph breaks camp in this Chavez role next year than Adams.
Len asks: In the never-ending parade of one-run loss horrors lately, how many did the Yankees actually lead in (and how many of those were blown by the bullpen?) and how may were failed comebacks?
Since the start of the four-game series in Oakland that seems to mark the beginning of this downward spiral, the Yankees have lost 28 of 50 games. Thirteen of those 28 losses came by one-run while another three were decided by two runs. Here’s the breakdown of the one-run losses…
- The Yankees had the lead at some point in eight of the 13 games. That’s an awful lot.
- The bullpen blew the game ten times (!) in the 13 games. That’s not just surrendering the lead, it’s also giving up the go-ahead run in a tie game. That’s also an awful lot.
- The Yankees had the tying run on-base in the seventh inning or later (my arbitrary definition of “failed comeback”) in seven of the 13 games for a total of nine failed comebacks. They had the tying run on-base in multiple late innings in a few of those losses.
One of those failed comebacks was the Mark Teixeira/Jerry Meals game, a comeback that was completely successful had the first base umpire made the correct call. What can you do though, can’t go back in time to change it. Anyway, a lot of these recent losses were really close and imminently winnable games, but the Yankees have just been unable to get over the hump lately. It’s frustrating as hell.
Via Jeff Bradley, infielder Eduardo Nunez will play winter ball in his native Dominican Republic after the season to make up for all the at-bats he lost this summer. He’s come to the plate fewer than 250 times between the Majors and minors this year due to a thumb injury that sidelined him for more than two months.
The Yankees wanted Nunez to play shortstop exclusively when they sent him to the minors in May and I presume they’d like him to do the same this winter. Clubs do have some say in how a player is used by their winter club, but I believe service time dictates exactly how much say. They play to win down there, a slumping player will sit even if he’s the best prospect in baseball history. Either way, Nunez needs to make up for the lost playing time and I’m glad he’ll do so this winter.
We were running light on questions this week, so I opened the floor to the Twitter public yesterday afternoon and got a bunch of responses that way. Feel free to send us questions via Twitter in the future, but I can’t promise I’ll catch them all. You’re much better off using the Submit A Tip box for mailbag questions or anything else.
From @DanFoolery: What’s the Near/Not-so-Near yet still-pretty-near plan for a MLB catcher for the Yanks? Romine? Sanchez? (Gulp) Martin?
This is the million dollar question right here and there’s no obvious answer. Austin Romine effectively lost a season due to his back injury, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a viable big league option next spring. It just means that he might not be ready for the job full-time. Gary Sanchez is still years away and is not a 2013 factor, and J.R. Murphy probably won’t enter his name into the race for another year as well. Frankie Cervelli is just a backup.
The free agent catching market boils down to Russell Martin, Mike Napoli (hasn’t started more than 70 games behind the plate since 2009), Kelly Shoppach (pretty good option on a one-year deal), and contract year A.J. Pierzynski (someone will overpay based on this season). Trade targets could include Nick Hundley (Yasmani Grandal took his job) and John Buck (no way). I want to think that Martin’s poor season has lowered his value to the point where the Yankees could bring him back on a one-year, $6-8M pact to serve as a stopgap, but I just don’t see it happening. Sanchez is the clear long-term solution here, but what happens between now and then is a total mystery to me. That’s not a good thing.
From @adakannayr: Small sample size, but could Dickerson be a suitable replacement assuming we aren’t bringing back Swisher?
I like Chris Dickerson probably more than anyone should, but I don’t see him as an everyday outfielder for a contending team. He’s always had a significant platoon split (this year in Triple-A notwithstanding) but the good news for him is that he’s the more often used left-handed half of the platoon. Dickerson can run well and play very good defense, so that’s not a problem. The Yankees would just need a platoon partner, and that means they’ll be using two roster spots to replace the production as one. If they don’t bring Nick Swisher back, I would hope they’d look for a legitimate everyday solution and use a Dickerson-based platoon as just a fall back. Not even Plan B, like Plan C or D.
From @TomHasOpinions: Wonder if Nunez could be a CF answer-Lower bar on offense, fast w/arm strength, bad accuracy could be masked in OF..thoughts?
Center field is interesting. I’ve always thought that if Eduardo Nunez was going to play one position on an everyday basis, the best bet is probably second thanks to the short throw, but center would make much better use of his speed. Now obviously the transition from the infield to center is not an easy one and something you want him to go through in Triple-A, but it’s definitely doable at his age. Nunez isn’t a great hitter but he makes a ton of contact, steals bases, and has just enough pop to be dangerous, so maybe there’s a chance he develops into a .280/.330/.390 guy who steals 25+ bases in center. That’s not a star but it is a pretty useful player if he can figure the defense thing out. Consider me intrigued.
I always tend to think conservatively when it comes to prospects having big league impact, but I do think that’s a very real possibility. Austin has done nothing but hit since the day he turned pro, and I mean hit for both average and power. His bat will have to carry him because he isn’t a great defender, but the kid can hit. Despite this late season call-up to Double-A Trenton, I think Austin will open next year back with High-A Tampa before earning a quick promotion back up to Trenton in May or June. If he continues to mash there and gets in a few Triple-A games late in the summer, he’d be right where he needs to be as far as being a big league option. Does that mean he’ll produce in the Bronx right away? No, he probably won’t, but I think there’s a good chance Austin will hit his way into consideration for a big league job by Spring Training 2014.
From @HyShai: Is there another pitcher (in history, other than Mo) that had success only throwing FBs and cutters, with no off speed?
I have no idea how to look this up for all of baseball history, but we can make this work for the PitchFX era (2008-present). Looking at the 111 starters who have thrown at least 500 IP since 2008, here are the ten most fastball-heavy pitchers…
- Kyle Kendrick — 77.8%
- Aaron Cook — 77.6%
- Justin Masterson — 76.6%
- Jon Niese — 76.4%
- Cliff Lee — 74.6%
- Jon Lester — 74.0%
- Matt Harrison — 73.3%
- David Price — 72.9%
- Mike Pelfrey — 72.5%
- Chad Billingsley — 72.0%
That includes four-seamers, two-seamers, cutters and sinkers, but not splitters, which are an offspeed pitch. Kendrick, Cook, Masterson, Harrison, and Pelfrey are all sinker-ballers while Niese, Lee, Lester, and Billingsley mix it up and throw four-seamers, two-seamers, and cutters regularly. Price is just a BAMF and pumps the heat all the time. Andy Pettitte is 12th on the list at 71.3% while CC Sabathia is way further down at 68th (59.9%). He’s actually right behind Hiroki Kuroda (60.1%).
Other than Tim Wakefield and R.A. Dickey, the least used fastball(s) belongs to Bronson Arroyo (27.9%). The most used individual pitch by a starter since 2008 is Clayton Kershaw’s four-seamer at 67.7%. Seems like two out of every three pitches being a fastball is the closest we’ll get to a one-pitch starter. The most used offspeed pitch is Armando Galarraga’s slider (36.0%), but among MLB-caliber pitchers it’s the sliders of Ervin Santana and Bud Norris (both 35.6%). Here are the fastball-heavy relievers (min. 100 IP for 244 qualifiers)…
- Mariano Rivera — 99.4%
- Jason Motte — 90.6%
- Kenley Jansen — 89.7%
- Ronald Belisario — 86.7%
- Andrew Bailey — 85.2%
- Matt Thornton — 85.0%
- Octavio Dotel — 83.6%
- Neftali Feliz — 81.8%
- Danys Baez — 81.8%
- David Aardsma — 80.9%
That missing 0.6% for Mo are just pitches the system was unable to classify for whatever reason. PitchFX ain’t perfect. Aroldis Chapman (80.1%) is right behind Aardsma while David Robertson (74.6%), Rafael Soriano (70.2%), Joba Chamberlain (63.0%), and Boone Logan (55.3%) rank 34th, 61st, 140th, and 192nd, respectively. The most used pitch by a reliever since 2008 is Thornton’s four-seamer (82.6%) while the most used offspeed pitch is Luke Gregerson’s slider (57.8%). This shouldn’t be a surprise, but relievers have far more success relying on what amounts to one type of pitch than starters. Mo just takes it to the extreme.
Via Peter Botte, the Yankees have designated Ramiro Pena for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Chris Dickerson. Unlike the first time he was designated, he will now need to be traded, released, or passed through waivers within ten days. Click here for an explanation of that weirdness.
Day one without Alex Rodriguez went well, as the Yankees mounted their league-leading 31st come-from-behind win to take the series from the Mariners. Starting third baseman Eric Chavez went 0-for-2 with a strikeout and a pair of walks (one intentional) while presumed platoon partner Jayson Nix came off the bench to hit the go-ahead three-run double in the eighth inning. The seven-game West Coast trip went about as poorly as possible, but at least they picked up that nice little win before coming.
As I said, Chavez and Nix are expected to platoon at the hot corner either until the Yankees either make a trade or get A-Rod back from the DL. Obviously Chavez’s penchant for getting hurt is a concern, especially with the increased workload. As the left-handed hitter in the platoon, he’ll see the majority of the playing time at third. Here’s a quick look at the projected opposing starting pitchers for the next two series…
- Friday vs. Red Sox: RHP Aaron Cook
- Saturday vs. Red Sox: LHP Jon Lester
- Sunday vs. Red Sox: LHP Felix Doubront
- Monday vs. Orioles: RHP Miguel Gonzalez
- Tuesday vs. Orioles: RHP Chris Tillman
- Wednesday vs. Orioles: LHP Zach Britton
Now obviously these things are subject to change, especially with the trade deadline looming, but the next six games project to feature three right-handed and three-left-handed opposing starters. Chavez won’t have to start more than two consecutive games — next Monday and Tuesday — for at least a week. The Mariners come to town after the series with Baltimore and if they trade southpaw Jason Vargas as rumored, they’ll likely have five right-handed starters in their rotation. After that the Yankees are off to Detroit for four games and they have five right-handers in their rotation since Drew Smyly is on the DL. That’s when things will get tricky with the platoon and resting Chavez.
The trade deadline is 4pm ET on Tuesday, so the Yankees have plenty of time to swing a (major or minor) deal for a third baseman. I get the sense that Eduardo Nunez will eventually be back to replace Ramiro Pena, perhaps even as soon as tomorrow, and will get a chance to man the position regularly. The Yankees didn’t call him up yesterday just because of the travel and the timing — by not going to Seattle he’ll be able to play in two Triple-A games (yesterday and today) instead of zero big league games. Even if they leave Nunez down for a few more days, the schedule works in their favor through this weekend and early next week as far as not overtaxing Chavez.
At this point of the season, with a seven-game lead and 65 left to play, the Yankees are just looking to maintain their cushion and stay healthy. The latter is sometimes out of their hands though, and last night they lost Alex Rodriguez for an unknown length of time when a pitch broke the fifth metacarpal in his left hand. It’s a non-displaced fracture and although that’s better than a displaced fracture, but it will still require a DL stint. Most estimates put his timetable in the 6-8 week range but we won’t know fore sure until he gets back to New York and sees the doctors on Thursday.
One way or the other, the Yankees just lost their starting third baseman and an important middle of the order bat for a not insignificant period of time. A-Rod is no longer the historically great hitter he once was, but his .356 wOBA and 121 wRC+ will be very tough to replace. The Yankees also have zero right-handed power in their lineup now — it’s basically Andruw Jones on the days he starts and that’s it. Switch-hitters Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher do soften the blow, thankfully. The team has not yet announced the corresponding roster move, but they have some options to plug the third base hole.
The Yankees have gotten some fantastic production out of Chavez this year (108 wRC+) and he remains a standout defender at the hot corner, but they would risk injury by running him out there on a full-time basis. It’s not a matter of if he would get hurt, just a question of when. Joe Girardi has done a fine of job of limiting his playing time in a way that both helped the team and kept Chavez off the DL. Doing that with Alex on the shelf will be much more difficult.
Nix has been fine as the utility infielder but he is a right-handed bat who does almost all of his damage against left-handers (99 wRC+). He and Chavez make sense as a platoon tandem in the short-term but the Yankees run the risk of exposing Chavez to injury and exposing Nix to opposing pitchers by using it permanently.
Eduardo Nunez & Ramiro Pena
Nunez is still working his way back from a thumb injury in the minors, so he’s probably not an option just yet. The Yankees love him and almost certainly would have used him as A-Rod’s replacement had a) he been healthy, and b) his defense not been so bad in April and May that he had to be sent to Triple-A. We’re all familiar with Pena, the switch-hitting slap hitter with a .249/.302/.316 batting line in Triple-A this season. He can play all over the infield and is excellent with the glove, but he can’t hit. You don’t want him out there on a full-time basis at all. Both Nunez and Pena are on the 40-man roster.
Brandon Laird & Corban Joseph
It’s been two years since Laird broke out with an MVP-winning season in Double-A, but Triple-A has been a much more difficult challenge. He’s hit .253/.294/.406 in just over 1,000 plate appearances at the level but has been hot of late, hitting .313/.367/.613 in July. Laird is a right-handed hacker with some power and he can actually play the position well, so he seems like a potential call-up candidate. CoJo has been mashing at Triple-A since making his debut a few weeks ago — .281/.379/.503 with nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (34) in 220 plate appearances — and has 43 games of third base experience to his credit (for his career, not this year), so he has to be considered as well. As a left-handed bat, he would get most of the playing time in a platoon. His ability to play second base would be nice as well. These two are both on the 40-man roster.
Go figure, Ryan Roberts was both designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks and traded to the Rays just a few hours before A-Rod got hurt. He would have been a solid temporary replacement had the timing been right. The Yankees could still explore the third base market with the trade deadline a little less than a week away, but I have to think they’ll wait for an official timetable from the doctors before diving into anything. Chase Headley is the big name now that Hanley Ramirez is off the market, but I have a hard time thinking they’ll do something of that magnitude. Headley wouldn’t just impact 2012, he’d impact 2013 and 2014 as well. A free agent-to-be like Marco Scutaro, Stephen Drew, Ty Wigginton, or Placido Polanco may make more sense.
* * *
Regardless of who the Yankees call-up to fill A-Rod’s spot — I expect it to be Nunez, but that’s nothing more than a guess — we’re probably going to see quite a bit of Chavez (and a little bit of Nix) at third for the next week or so. Chavez is an obvious fill-in but Girardi and the Yankees have to be very careful with him, they must ensure that he’s well-rested unless they want to lose two third baseman to the DL. I don’t have much faith in Laird or really any of the minor league guys at the moment, so swinging a trade before the deadline would be preferable. Either way, the Yankees will not be able to replace Alex and everything he provides, even this aging and declining version.