What the Yankees Should Do in the Next Two Months of the Season
With two months left to go in the baseball season, the Yankees and Red Sox are tied for first place. No one would have expected this after Boston's horrendous start to the season and with all the Yankee injuries.
Both teams will probably make the playoffs. Whoever wins this weekend's series will have an advantage for the division, while the other will have at least a five-game lead for the Wild Card.
With that said, here are some moves the Yankees should consider moving forward for the final two months.
Keep Ivan Nova in the Rotation
The Yankees do not need a six-man rotation. They did it for one week to allow Colon and Garcia to get an extra day of rest after the team playing 24 out of 25 days after the All-Star break. The Yankee starters have been pitching lights out, with the only exception being AJ Burnett.
With the Yankees enjoying a comfortable lead in the Wild Card (yes I know they are tied for the division) they can afford to skip either Colon or Garcia to allow for them to be rested for the playoffs. No one expected either to last this long, so resting them makes a lot of sense.
Nova has been outstanding in his last two starts. His new slider has made him more of a strikeout pitcher than before. Before his demotion, he was 8-4 with an ERA of 4.12. After beating the Orioles and White Sox he now is at 10-4 with an ERA under 4. Great stats for a rookie.
Make Eduardo Nunez an Everyday Player vs. Lefties
With A-Rod scheduled to return in about two weeks, Eduardo Nunez still needs to get ABs. His speed has added another threat to the lineup. Nunez's role should be more of a utility player allowing Joe Girardi to rest most of his regulars.
The Yankees have gotten no production for Jorge Posada batting right handed. I would use a lineup of Jeter, Granderson, Tex, A-Rod, Cano, Swisher, Martin, Nunez, and Gardner depending on the left-handed pitcher. Cano, A-Rod, and Jeter would share the DH spot.
If you bench Gardner, insert Jones seventh and push Martin and Nunez down in the lineup. Jeter and A-Rod will share the DH spot. With Jeter and A-Rod getting up there in age, I'm sure Joe would want to get them a rest when he can.
Chavez and Posada Share DH Spot vs. Righties
Jorge Posada has produced much in his role as DH for the Yankees this year. Having already lost his DH spot vs. lefties, Jorge should share the DH spot with Eric Chavez. Chavez has been great filling in for Alex Rodriguez at third base this year.
Chavez when healthy throughout his career has hit for power. At worst, Chavez gives you the same production as Posada.
Best case scenario, Chavez hits 5-7 home runs and hits for .300 average. It will also make the Yankees bench at little more productive.
Promote Jesus Montero and Option Francisco Cervelli to the Minors
Francisco Cervelli is a good player to have on your team. He brings emotion, energy and a good work ethic to his position.
Unfortunately for him, the rest of his game isn't all that great. Being a below-average hitter and adequate defensive catcher doesn't keep you in the majors too long.
Montero has struggled at times in AAA but after almost two seasons at Scranton, Montero is ready to make the majors. He is batting .289 with 11 HRS, and a respectable .350 OB%.
Jesus has improved behind the plate as well. Throwing out a respectable 20 percent of would-be base stealers is a better percentage than Cervelli.
Jesus can be used to catch one or two games a week as he learns in the majors. Catching Nova to start would help since he has already worked with him down in Scranton.
Best-case scenario: Montero makes his debut and starts off really hot offensively.
Worst-case scenario: Jesus struggles both at bat and in the field, lowering his trade value in the offseason.
The Lineup Should Start with Gardner, Jeter, Granderson, Then the Rest
With Gardner and Jeter at the top of the lineup, the Yankees lineup has been rolling. Scoring 18 runs against Baltimore and Chicago White Sox, there is no need to rush back Alex Rodriguez off knee surgery.
Gardner has done the job leading off. A threat to run at all time when on base, Brett has stolen his last 20 attempts without being caught. After a poor start in the stolen base department, Gardner has turned it around.
Since Jeter has gotten his 3,000th hit, he looks like a different player. Looks more rejuvenated. Derek is batting .320 after the All Star break.
Curtis Granderson has had an amazing year. 28 HRs, 98 Runs scored, 20 SB and a .278 batting average vs lefties. Granderson has earned the No. 3 spot in the lineup.
You can mix and match Tex, A-Rod, Cano any which way you want. My lineup would be:
1) Gardner LF
2) Jeter SS
3) Granderson CF
4) A-Rod 3B
5) Cano 2B
6) Tex 1B
7) Swisher RF
8) Posada/ Chavez DH
9) Martin/ Montero C
Do you see any outs anywhere?
Keep David Robertson in the Setup Role
Where would the Yankees bullpen be without Robertson? David's remarkable season earned him an All-Star spot. Arguably the American League's best setup man, Robertson does it with a fastball that doesn't break 93 mph.
Rafael Soriano was given the role but failed because of injury. Joba was next and he went down to injury. Next was Robertson and he hasn't dropped the ball. David's stats are amazing: 1.49 ERA, 12 Ks per 9 innings and a .186 batting average against.
There is no need to mess with the bullpen roles. Soriano gets the seventh, Robertson the eighth and Rivera the ninth. Even if Soriano reverts to last year, Robertson has bailed the Yankees out of enough games for him to lose his spot.
Find a Replacement for Boone Logan
What happened to Boone Logan? In 2010, he shut down left-handed batters, keeping them to a measly .190 batting average against. This year, that hasn't been the case. Lefties are batting .246 with 3 HRs against him. That is bad when only facing one batter a time
With Logan struggling, the Yankees need to have a reliable lefty in their bullpen. Now that the trade deadline has passed, the Yankees should first look into their farm system to find a replacement.
JC Romero will probably be given a shot soon. JC is a proven lefty reliever who can get the David Ortiz's of the world out when you need it. Down in Scranton, Romero is keeping lefties to a .182 batting average against. If Boone continues to struggle, a call up isn't out of the question by next week.
Manuel Banuelos is the Yankees' most coveted prospect: a lefty with nasty stuff who knows how to pitch and isn't afraid of throwing any pitch at any time. At 20, Manuel is the youngest player in AAA.
After a impressive year in Trenton, Banuelos was promoted to AAA to get him ready for the majors either this year or next. Manuel could be be used a la David Price the year the Rays made it to the World Series. Get a lefty out, pitch an inning of relief, you get the idea.
If the Yankees pass on either Romero or Banuelos, they will need to find someone through the waiver wire. Guys I would target include Tim Byrdak of the Mets, Matt Thornton of the White Sox, Randy Choate and Mike Dunn of the Marlins. Getting one of these guys would improve an already great bullpen.
AJ Burnett is not going anywhere. His salary and recent poor performance will not get him demoted out of the rotation.
Let's face it, he going to pitch every fifth day unless the bottom completely falls off. Until then, most Yankee fans are going to have to grin and bear it.
The Yankees have two months to find themselves a No. 2 pitcher and a lefty reliever. Let's see what happens.
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