Today being another off day got me thinking just what the Yankees are going to do when all of their current disabled and DL'd players come back to action. The Yankees have quite an impressive list of players on the DL currently including Brett Gardner, Mariano Rivera, CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain, David Aardsma, and some other guys that we do not expect to see this year. The 40 man roster is full... what do we do?
Let us start with Joba Chamberlain who just got off of an ankle surgery after a freak trampoline accident and a tommy john surgery. He threw his first rehab game pitching 1 IP with 2 K's and an unearned run. The most important part, to me, was the 97 mph. We have not seen that kind of velocity since he was a dominant set up man for Mariano Rivera. Who goes down when Joba makes it all the way back to the majors? If you ask me today, and I know I am going to shock some people, but I say DJ Mitchell will go back down to AAA Empire State Yankees. I know a lot of people think Chad Qualls was just keeping the seat warm for Joba but he has pitched very effectively in a ROOGY kind of position. I like his veteran leadership and I love matchups in the pen. That is why Rapada stays for me and keeps me two left handers in the bullpen. Do not get me wrong I love what I see out of DJ Mitchell but he is a young guy and has plenty of time to make the pen out of spring training next season.
Brett Gardner has played a total of nine games this season to the tune of 28 at bats. He has been battling an elbow injury and elbow setback after elbow setback. The Yankees really "need" his speed and presence in the lineup, if anything to get Raul Ibanez back on the bench where he belongs. We currently are carrying 6 outfielders because of the lack of need of a 5th starter right before and right after the All Star break. We will not have five when Gardner comes back, which is slated to be in late July. I expect that Darnell McDonald be cut and David Phelps to be called back up, now fully stretched out and dominating AA batters, to fill the starting spot for Andy Pettitte or long man spot for Freddy Garcia. DeWayne Wise has been a pleasant surprise for the Yankees this season and some even say that he may have turned the Yankees season around... but when Brett Gardner comes back he is going to be DFA'd.
I do not expect Mariano Rivera to pitch again this season after tearing his ACL shagging fly balls in the outfield. Even with a partial tear it will still be tough after sitting and waiting for about a month to get rid of a blood clot and reduce swelling before he even had surgery. Also the fact that it would be a September comeback anyway means the rosters would be expanded so we would not need to make a roster move. My question is what do we do, saying he comes back and is healthy and effective, come playoff time? I would have to think that Clay Rapada , as of today, would have to lose his roster spot and we keep Qualls, Joba, and co. This is probably all wishful thinking though.
If David Aardsma can get good news from his little set back and fully come back from tommy john surgery and be healthy then we have a cluster and a big "problem" in our bullpen. That means with Joba back, assuming anyway, that someone who is very effective would have to go down. I mean I guess we could push him back till September when the rosters expand but that is no fun to speculate about. Would a very effective and big surprise in Cody Eppley be sent down? This is certainly a good problem to have.
The Yankees do not really need to make any moves in this years July 31st trade deadline. The Yankees have an ace, a #2 starter, a dominant closer, a dominant (at times) set up relief pitcher, and an all star caliber speed demon of a left fielder coming off the DL soon in reserve. All the Yankees have to do is get healthy and they will add more to their team then any team will at this year's trading deadline.