Friday, May 4, 2012

"Stuck With You", Starring Eduardo Nunez


Like it or not, the Yankees are stuck with Eduardo Nunez for the time being. Even if Joe Girardi stuck with 12 pitchers, giving him a fourth spot on the bench for a bat, the team still doesn't have a better alternative for a back-up middle infielder.

Let's start by looking at the Active Roster. First, subtract the 12 pitchers, and you have 13 hitters. When healthy, this is what the Yankees have...

Catcher - Russell Martin
1st Base - Mark Teixeira
2nd Base - Robinson Cano
3rd Base - Alex Rodriguez
Shortstop - Derek Jeter
Left Field - Brett Gardner
Center Field - Curtis Granderson
Right Field - Nick Swisher
Designated Hitter - Raul Ibanez
Bench - Chris Stewart (C)
Bench - Eric Chavez (1B, 3B)
Bench - Andruw Jones (LF, RF)
Bench -

So the Yankees have one more bench spot. Clearly they need a back-up middle infielder. Jeter has already started four games as the DH, and hasn't taken a day off. If you think Derek can play every game this year you're more delusional than I am when I think "if I ever met Mila Kunis in person, I could get her to go out with me". The Captain has never played all 162 games in a season, even when he was healthy all year long. Robinson Cano has started one game at DH, and also has yet to have a game off. And I wouldn't count on Cano for all 162 games either, even though he played 159 games last year. Not that it would surprise me if he did, it's just that the baseball season is a very long one, and these guys must need a day off at least a few times a year.

Looking at the infielders on the 40-man roster, outside of Nunez, Cano, and Jeter, you have Brandon Laird, Corban Joseph, David Adams, Ramiro Pena, and Jayson Nix (currently on the Active Roster).

You can cross Brandon Laird off the list right away, as he has never played shortstop or second base since becoming a pro in 2007. Even so, his line of .256/.323/.366 isn't any better than Eduardo's .270/.317/.297. And remember that Laird is hitting against AAA pitchers, so his line is bound to be lower in MLB.

The next guy to cross off the list is Corban Joseph. Other than 43 games at 3B, Joseph has spent his entire pro baseball career at 2B. And that doesn't count the fact he's never played above AA ball. Speaking of playing, Corban hasn't even played a game this season anyway. Which could be too bad, because although he probably wouldn't hit .277/.353/.415 in MLB, like he did last season for Trenton, he might be better than Nunez with the stick.

When it comes to being able to play some at shortstop, David Adams is in the same boat as Corban Joseph.... except for the fact that Adams is healthy. Adams has played 238 games at 2B, and only 14 games at 3B, with zero experience at short. Plus, Adams has only played in 3 games this year, while Kevin Mahoney is the Thunder's starter at 2B.

We finally come to a guy with experience at both middle infield positions. Both in the majors and the minors, Ramiro Pena has plenty of experience at second base and shortstop. And Ramiro has played for the Yankees in three different seasons, between 2009 and 2011. So clearly this is a fine option, right? Sorry. Pena may not boot as many ground balls, or throw away as many balls, as Nunez has, but I don't think that makes up for his inferior bat. In 334 MLB plate appearances, Pena has a triple-slash of .233/.255/.288. And in AAA so far this season he's hitting .250/.304/.361, so I wouldn't expect him to do much better in 2012 for the Yanks.

Now for the guy that is currently in MLB with the Bombers... Jayson Nix. Jayson started in his first day with the Yankees in 2012, and went 0-3 with a strikeout. Can we expect better than that out of him? Sure. But keep in mind that he was only hitting .233/.314/.367 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Empire State before getting called up yesterday. So again... he'll be better than what we saw last night, but it won't be by much. Shoot... if it wasn't for the fact Nix can play every position but center field and catcher, then I doubt he would be wearing Yankee pinstripes right now.

So that last guy on the bench has to be Eduardo Nunez. The only way Yankee fans will be able to turn on a Yankee game, with no chance of seeing Nunez get in, is if the team acquired another middle infielder. I don't expect that to happen anytime soon, but it is a possibility.

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)