Yankees activate Teixeira & Youkilis; send Nuno & Nova to Triple-A

The Yankees have officially activated both Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis off the 60-day and 15-day DL, respectively, the team announced. Vidal Nuno and Ivan Nova were sent to Triple-A to clear 25-man roster spots. The Yankees had two open 40-man roster spots, so they didn’t need to make another move to accommodate Tex.

With Andy Pettitte set to turn on Monday, Nuno was an obvious send down candidate. Nova threw 61 pitches on Wednesday and was going to out of commission for another day or two anyway, so he was the other move. I assume both guys will step into the Triple-A Scranton rotation and start every five days. When Pettitte returns, the Yankees are likely to demote a position player — David Adams seems most likely now that his bat has cooled off — and get back to a normal 13 position players, 12 pitchers roster.

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Mailbag: Outfield, Draft, Overbay, Sim. Games

Got seven questions and six answers this week, so the answers aren’t crazy long. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send us whatever, whenever.

Paul: Kevin Youkilis to the OF? He’s played there before (albeit only 22 games and not really recently). Any chance David Adams has been shagging fly balls during BP recently?

Oh hell no on Youkilis. Aside from what will very likely be awful defense — as you can see above, he has played left field in Yankee Stadium before, rather lolingly at that —  I’m not sure I want a 34-year-old with a history of back problems running around the outfield day after day. Stick him at third base and be done with it, no need to needlessly complicate things.

Adams has zero outfield experience as a pro and from what I can tell, he never played it in college either. I’m guessing he didn’t play it in high school as well because of the unspoken “best player plays shortstop unless he throws left-handed” rule. I haven’t seen any reports of him shagging fly balls lately — he has taken ground balls at shortstop, but that’s not unusual — so I’m guessing the Yankees don’t consider him much of an option out there. I don’t see any outfield help coming until Curtis Granderson‘s pinky heals up.

Jeb asks: As unlikely as this is to happen, suppose that draft day is rather chaotic and there is a top-15 talent available for each of the Yankees’ first round picks (e.g. Ryan Stanek, Austin Meadows, etc.). Would you select each of these high-caliber guys and not worry about how to sign them, or would you perhaps take two and then go for some guys who likely would have lower demands to ensure that you can sign your top two picks?

This is very unlikely as you said, but this is where the new draft pool system would really screw a team over. The top 15 picks are all slotted at over $2.2M apiece, so those guys were expecting large bonuses. The Yankees have a touch less than $7.96M to spend this year, which probably isn’t enough to sign three top-15 guys even going super cheap with $10k senior seniors in rounds two through ten.

Given the team’s need to add impact talent to the system, I’d hope they would just blow through the draft pool number and get the three players signed. It’s an extreme circumstance and you can’t pass up a haul like that. The Yankees can spend up to $8,753,140 before forfeiting a future first round pick (that would come with a $596,805 tax) and up to $9,151,010 before forfeiting a future first and second round pick ($1,193,610 tax). If they could add three legit top-15 guys, they’d have to grab them and get them signed. It it costs a pick next year, so be it. They never have access to those guys.

Mike asks: What could the Yankees get in a trade for Lyle Overbay when Mark Teixeira returns? Who would be a potential trading partner? The draft is on my mind, what about a competitive balance pick?

Ryan asks: With Teixeira going on a rehab assignment and very close, what teams may have a need/interest in Overbay? They will likely keep him for a little bit to make sure Tex is healthy, but what might a trade look like, what kind of a return might they get?

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Might as well lump these two together. I do think the Yankees will hold onto Overbay for at least a few weeks while they make sure Teixeira’s wrist is healthy and he’s in the clear. He’d be a bench bat/part-time starter at first and DH, basically.

As good as he’s been, Overbay is still just a 98 wRC+ first baseman who can’t hit lefties. There usually isn’t a huge market for those guys, but I could see clubs like the Marlins, Mets, Brewers, and Rockies having some interest. Obviously injuries could create more openings, and that includes the Yankees. If they could get one of those competitive balance picks — #34-39 and #69-73, and they are tradeable between now and the draft — I’d take it and run. Otherwise I think the Yankees would be lucky to get a C-prospect out of Overbay in a trade. He’s been better than expected but still below-average overall. The demand just isn’t that great.

Matt asks: Which Yankees FA from last offseason (Russell Martin, Nick Swisher, Eric Chavez) would you most like to have back, given their current performances and the injuries/general awfulness of their replacements?

All of the above? If I had to pick one, I’d go Swisher over Martin even though he plays the less important position because the Yankees really need offense and he’s the better offensive player. I think the difference between Swisher and Ichiro Suzuki is greater than the difference between Martin and Chris Stewart. Chavez has quietly been awesome by the way (153 wRC+) — he did leave yesterday’s game hurt — and I didn’t think he’d do it again. Good for him.

Michael asks: Could you write a post where you explain exactly how a simulated game “plays?” For instance, are there nine fielders? Are they playing at 100% or is it simply a way for the pitcher and hitter to do their work? Are there two discrete sides playing and changing between batting and fielding? Is the pitching coach calling balls and strikes? And so on … Thanks.

It’s glorified batting practice, basically. There’s a pitcher (with no L-screen) and usually two batters (one lefty and one righty) alternating at-bats in simulated “innings.” No fielders, and a coach will call balls and strikes and declare balls in play hits or outs or whatever. The pitcher will sit down for 15 minutes after getting three “outs” before going out for the next inning. The players are supposed to play at 100%, but you can’t truly simulate the adrenaline levels of a big league game. It’s just a way to get work in.

Bernie asks: How many wins do the Yankees have when trailing in the 7th or later and how many did they have all of last year? Has to be close?

I’ve spent more time on Baseball-Reference than I care to admit over the years, yet I always seem to be finding stats and info I didn’t know they had. Win-loss records when leading after a specific inning are one of those things I discovered within the last few weeks, so I can actually this question.

The Yankees are just 3-19 (.136) when trailing after seven innings this year, which is better than the league average winning percentage (.104). Small sample size, yadda yadda yadda. Last season they went 9-58 (.134) when trailing after seven, so a negligible difference. It’s basically the same pace. This year’s team does, however, already have more wins when trailing after eight innings (two) than last year’s team (one).

Teixeira & Youkilis both go 1-for-3 in Double-A rehab game

In their second minor league rehab game with Double-A Trenton, Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Kevin Youkilis (back) both went for 1-for-3 in seven innings of work. Teixeira grounded into a double play while Youkilis plated a run. Brian Cashman confirmed yesterday both players will rejoin the big league team on Friday if this game went well, and it appears it has. Obviously nothing will be official until tomorrow either way.

Update: Cashman confirms plan is to have Teixeira & Youkilis back with big league team on Friday

1:03pm: Brian Cashman told Josh Norris the plan is to indeed have both Teixeira and Youkilis back with the big league team on Friday. Both have to make it through tomorrow’s game fine first, obviously.

12:39pm: In their first minor league rehab games with Double-A Trenton, Mark Teixeira (wrist) and Kevin Youkilis (back) both went 0-for-2 with a walk in a planned seven innings of play. Teixeira struck out swinging and popped up to the shortstop in his two at-bats, and his only defensive plays at first base involved receiving throws from other infielders. Youkilis popped up to the first baseman in foul territory and was robbed of a base hit on a nice play by the right fielder, fielding just one ball — a soft line drive — at third base.

Both Teixeira and Youkilis will play for the Thunder again tomorrow night, and I assume they’ll play a full nine innings. The official word from the team is that both will be re-evaluated after that game, but there have been hints both could be activated off the DL in time for Friday’s game against the Red Sox.

Lineup help coming, but at all the wrong spots

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Later this morning, Mark Teixeira and Kevin Youkilis will play their first minor league rehab games with Double-A Trenton. Teixeira has been sidelined since early-March with a wrist injury, Youkilis since earlier this month with a back problem. Both players will spend today and tomorrow with the Thunder, and the Yankees have been dropping hints that both could be activated on Friday if everything goes according to plan. Obviously they’ve yet to say anything officially.

The Yankees have scored a total of five runs in their last three games, and for the month of May they’re averaging just 3.7 runs per game. The AL average is 4.5 runs per game this year. Getting Teixeira and Youkilis back on the same day would be a major boost to the lineup, at least in theory. The problem is that neither guy fill a position of real need right now. Lyle Overbay and David Adams have been competent at worst and rock solid at best at the corner infield spots, where Tex and Youk will ply their trades. They will be upgrades, but first and third bases are hardly problem areas right now.

The true problem areas are catcher, shortstop, and right field. Here, look at this mess (stats don’t include last night’s game, which don’t make it any better anyway):

  • Catcher: .239/.300/.380 (92 OPS+) in 183 plate appearances
  • Shortstop: .213/.289/.290 (69 OPS+) in 196 plate appearances
  • Right Field: .225/.277/.342 (66 OPS+) in 204 plate appearances

That’s three below-average to well-below-average spots in the lineup on any given night, not counting the black hole Vernon Wells has become. The lack of offense at those spots isn’t a “surprise, injury!” thing either. The Yankees willfully replaced Russell Martin and Nick Swisher with inferior players this offseason, and Derek Jeter‘s injury was known way back in October. The team decided Eduardo Nunez and various scraps would be good enough should the 38-year-old icon not heal exactly on schedule.

There is no immediate help coming to shore up those three positions. Jeter has yet to resume baseball activates following his setback and isn’t expected to return until sometime around the All-Star break. Curtis Granderson saw a specialist about his fractured left pinky yesterday and will be shut down a minimum of four weeks, meaning he’ll likely miss at least six weeks when you include rehab games and all that. Frankie Cervelli will head to Tampa later this week to continue rehabbing from his fractured hand, but he has yet to begin throwing a ball or anything like that.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Assuming Youkilis and Teixeira make it through their Trenton assignments okay and are indeed activated on Friday, I think the Yankees will clear room on the roster by optioning Brennan Boesch and a pitcher to Triple-A Scranton. It makes sense to get the 13-man pitching staff down to a normal dozen, and I guess it’ll be one of Ivan Nova, Shawn Kelley, and Preston Claiborne who goes down. Seems obvious it should be Nova, no? The other two have been solid and Nova could start every five days in a non-results-oriented environment to work on things.

That leaves the Yankees will a four-man bench of Jayson Nix/Reid Brignac, Adams, Overbay, and the backup catcher. Nix, who has a handful of big league appearances in left and right fields, would be the de factor fourth outfielder. Overbay would be a spot starter at first base and DH as well as being Joe Girardi‘s go-to lefty bat off the bench. Adams would be the backup second and third baseman, and would probably see plenty of action against lefties.

Carrying what amounts to three first base/DH types in Teixeira, Overbay, and Travis Hafner is far from ideal, but I get the sense the Yankees want to keep Overbay around until they know Teixeira’s wrist is in the clear. Not only did Girardi say they plan to ease Teixeira back into the lineup earlier this week, but wrists are tricky and generally easy to re-injury. I doubt they want to dump Overbay only to have Teixeira go down a week or two later. It’s an imperfect roster, but I assume it would only be a short-term thing.

The returns of Youkilis and Teixeira will improve New York’s offense, especially against left-handed pitchers. Like, super duper improve against lefties. It would help if they played positions other than first and third, but that’s life. The Yankees need all the lineup help they can get right now and aren’t in a position to beg. There are no solutions for those catcher, shortstop, and right field problems on the horizon though, so the offense will continue to be a problem even after the two big corner bats return in a few days.

Injury Updates: Pineda, Hafner, Joba, More

(John Munson/Star-Ledger)
(John Munson/Star-Ledger)

Got a trio of injury updates to pass along…

  • Michael Pineda (shoulder) will throw 50 pitches in an Extended Spring Training game tomorrow. Brian Cashman has said they want to stretch him out to 65 pitches before sending him out on an official rehab assignment. Seems like the earliest possible return is late-June. [Jack Curry]
  • Travis Hafner (shoulder) will take batting practice before tonight’s game. If that goes well, he will be available off the bench as a pinch-hitter. The Yankees will face left-hander Mark Buehrle on Friday, so I guess the earliest Pronk will return to the lineup is Saturday. [Meredith Marakovits]
  • Joba Chamberlain (oblique) is not yet ready to come off the DL. He’ll make at least one more minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A Scranton. The Yankees swapped Brett Marshall for Dellin Betances today, just to add a fresh arm to the bullpen. [Bryan Hoch]

Update: Chad Jennings has lots more injury news, so let’s recap…

  • Derek Jeter (ankle) was checked out recently and although he’s healing well, he’s still not ready to do any sort of baseball activities. He could shed his walking boot soon, however.
  • Ivan Nova (triceps) will pitch in a minor league game on Monday. He felt some discomfort in his back last week, near his left shoulder, so he’s been setback a bit.
  • Alex Rodriguez (hip) hit off a tee and soft toss the other day. It’s slow and stud with him, a minor league rehab assignment is still a long ways off.
  • Kevin Youkilis (back) has also been hitting off a tee and soft toss, and he’s expected to take batting practice soon. Seems like David Adams‘ audition at third base will last for at least a few weeks.

Kevin Youkilis, Corban Joseph, and bad timing

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.