When news first broke of Alex Rodriguez’s MRI and then knowledge of a slighlty torn meniscus, everyone began wondering what do the Yankees do for the next 4-6 weeks? The easy answer is play Eduardo Nunez at 3B, since he filled in so aptly for Derek Jeter while he was on the DL for 18 days with a strained calf, but the answer isn’t that simple. While Nunez, definitely showed he can handle himself at the plate, his defense in his rookie year with the Yankees has been the polar opposite. The other problem that is left with playing Nunez at 3B in Alex’s absence is that bench which at the beginning of the season with Eric Chavez and Andruw Jones showed some veteran depth, the Yankees since Chavez went on the DL in mid-May have been playing with a weakened bench and isn’t exactly that of a Championship caliber team, which has holes. Chavez’s role was to be able to spell the corner infielders, which has been a problem and will continue to be one as long as the Yankees don’t use their minor league system to produce a corner infield role player.
As the Yankees sit now their bench consists of Ramiro Pena (SS), Andruw Jones (OF), Francisco Cervelli (C). This is a humongous problem on a team that is a 1st Place team. Losing Jeter while it was tough given that he is one of the longest tenured Yankees, Captain as well as steady at Short Stop was easy for the Yankees to move Nunez who is a natural SS into the position, but it is resoundingly different to lean on the kid for 4-6 weeks at 3B. The time is now for the Yankees to promote Brandon Laird, who is currently hitting .268 with 10 HRs and 48 RBIs at Scranton-Wilkes Barre. With Laird in the mix, he can play both corner OF positions, while also giving Teixiera a breather at 1B once and a while. Given the nature of calf injuries, Nunez will be needed to spell Jeter at short 2-3 times a week especially since the 1st 8 games of the 2nd Half of the season are being played on turf at Rogers Centre in Toronto and at Tropicana Field in Tampa.
The other thought of some fans is to move Russell Martin to 3B and promote Jesus Montero and use him as the primary Catcher until Rodriguez comes back from the DL, but the problem there is twofold, 1 Montero is on the DL in AAA, 2 Martin isn’t exactly Cody Ransom at 3B.
These are my opinions what are yours leave your comments at the bottom of the page.
Think back to mid February, when fans and media were questioning Brian Cashman on his off-season acquisitions. What is he thinking signing Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon, what is this pitching rotation going to look like? Is a question that many fans asked. Well after Saturday’s 5-2 win over the New York Mets, the Yankees get to the halfway point of the season with a 50-31 record. The most staggering part of the record is that the team is 1-8 against the 2nd place Boston Red Sox, a team that coming into the season, the prognosticators had them running away with the AL East.
While it is easy to say that Mark Teixiera has had a great season to this point or Curtis Granderson is on his way to the best offensive season of his career, don’t overlook that the 2011 Yankees have their share of problems. As of late some have corrected themselves, there are still some issues that need to be addressed.
Derek Jeter hitting lead off: While Derek Jeter has been on the DL for a strained calf, Brett Gardner and Nick Swisher have filled in just fine and have flourished in the lead-off spot, but the stress an anxiety caused by Jeter’s impending return maybe causing on players like Gardner who is in flux as to where he will hit in the lineup come Monday. The argument of many fans an media comes back to is having a 37 year old lead off hitter going to help the Yankees in the short and long term? Well due to the platoon that Gardner is still in with veteran outfielder Andruw Jones is truly keeping Gardner out of the lead-off hole in the order, but this brings up another question while Gardy has lead off against RHP’s since June 14, and Swish has lead off against LHP’s is another one of the decisions facing Yankee Manager Joe Girardi. The move for the short term is to bring Jeter back into the lineup as the lead-off hitter but give him a very short leash especially, if he doesn’t turn around his season by August 1st. The other position that the Yankees are now in is to see if Jeter is the ultimate team player that everyone since 1996 has made him out to be. The move that keeps the Yankees at the top of the AL East and keeps them as a World Series favorite is Gardy 1, Swish 6, Jeet 7, but let’s if THAT happens.
Bullpen: The Yankees bullpen has been downright fantastic this season, without Pedro Feliciano, who has been out since spring training, Rafael Soriano, who has been out since mid-May, but even before his DL stint, he was awful. Joba Chamberlain who was quickly showing that he could be the 8th inning man or closer of the future, has been lost until late 2012 or 2013, the overwhelming need of a 2nd lefty that can help Boone Logan going forward. Between David Robertson and his near 1 ERA and Mariano Rivera doing what Mariano Rivera does, the Joe Girardi bullpen management is again a reason why he is in the discussion for American League Manager of the Year.
The Yankees have 2 major problems heading into the 2nd half of the 2011 season, but they are full on ready and up for the run, as fans the good thing is we get to sick back enjoy a nice tall Samuel Adams Summer Ale, in a perfect pint glass or straight out of the bottle and enjoy the 2nd 81 of the MLB season.