Perhaps an off day followed by a road trip to Atlanta and Boston for six games against the hapless Braves and Red Sox will prove to be the remedy for what has ailed Joe Girardi’s offensively deficient Yankees. Prior to their three-game feast against the awful Atlanta pitching staff, Girardi’s team looked like an old, broken-down team all but swallowed up by the dog days of August.
Their lead in the AL East completely evaporated. Veterans C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira finally got bite by the injury bug. Alex Rodriguez started to look like a 40-year old. Chris Young began to look more like the Mets version of Chris Young. Even Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius looked pooped from the grind of a long season. But with the calendar flipping to September on Tuesday, the team will get much needed reinforcements as the rosters expand.
On Thursday, general manager Brian Cashman told the media that it will be “all hands on deck” regarding the 40-man roster, even if it means taking away from a roster of a Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team that is in contention for the International League playoffs.
“I hate to say it,” Cashman said, “but I’m not going to care about Scranton. I’m going to care about New York. I’m not bringing anybody unless they can help New York, period, but if there’s somebody down there we think can help, they’re coming.”
Among those not on the 40-man roster, former top catching prospect Austin Romine makes sense as a third catcher and he has played well enough to deserve another shot in the big-leagues. Then there’s 26-year old outfielder Rico Noel, a career minor leaguer who has been used almost exclusively as a pinch-runner at Triple-A of late. Reliever and 2009 American League Rookie of the Year award winner, Andrew Bailey could also get the call. The former Oakland Athletics closer, has a 2.19 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP in 12 1/3 innings for Scranton. The 31-year old’s arm appears healthy after suffering a torn capsule in his throwing shoulder in 2013, and he can make the bullpen an even bigger strength.
Speaking of the bullpen, the Yankees will call-up a slew of arms, most of whom have already made cameos at some point or another for the big club this year. Youngsters Nick Goody, Caleb Cotham and Nick Rumbelow, will be back, the latter two when they are eligible. Rumbelow has pitched to a 2.79 ERA in 10 games for the Bronx Bombers, Goody has a 1.45 ERA in 18 2/3 innings for Scanton and Cotham has a 1.74 ERA in 31 innings with the RailRiders. Hard-throwing 24-year old James Pazos is also a possibility, but the lefty is not on the 40-man roster. 29-year old castaway Chris Martin, who looked like a nice find in early April before getting hurt, will either return or be a DFA candidate.
There’s also a possibility that we will also see the return of beleaguered lefty Chris Capuano, who seems to have nine lives with the Yankees after being designated for assignments four times now. The Triple-A rotation has been thinned out, so Capuano could end up back there to make a few starts into the playoffs just to get him back into the swing of things before he returns. While we are on the subject of Capuano, I just want to mention a stat about him that I came across which boggles the mind more than his mostly awful pitching this season. From 05/13/07- 06/03/10, Capuano appeared in 26 games (19 GS) and the Brewers lost all 26. Wow.
Moving along, second baseman Rob Refsnyder, who has already made his major-league debut this season, will be among those coming. How often he plays, however, is anyone’s guess. While fans seem most enthused about seeing Refsnyder come back, Slade Heatcott, Jose Pirela, Dustin Ackley and Cole Figueroa will all probably be back as well. Not of these guys are expected to contribute much, but each of them is in his mid-to-late 20s and has played in the big leagues this season
Heathcott is hitting .252/.300/.317 in 58 games with Scranton and he could provide outfield depth for Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Pirela has been lighting it up with the RailRiders (.330/.394/.441 in 59 games), but he would simply be the back-up to Stephen Drew, who ended yesterday over .200 for the first time since June 19th of 2014. Ackley was the Yankees’ only trade deadline addition, but he soon after went on the disabled list with a herniated disc. The Yankees obviously like him and he his healthy now, but his role should be incredibly small. Figueroa’s role should be even smaller, but Cashman may want him for his versatile glove and left-handed bat. Or else, he may also be a DFA candidate.
One name that will most likely not be joining the big club, however, is top position player prospect Aaron Judge. Judge remains the Yankees’ top offensive prospect, but he’s hitting just .224 in Triple-A, he will not be Rule 5 eligible this winter, and there’s currently no clear role for him to play in New York. Cashman see’s little sense in having him unnecessarily clog a 40-man roster spot all winter just to come up and get a cup of coffee in the big leagues.
Jacob Lindgren would surely be a call-up lock, but he’s not even throwing bullpens yet. Meanwhile, Gary Sanchez, who was also in line for a promotion, was put on the disabled list on Thursday with a hamstring injury and adding him depends entirely upon when he returns to health. He might be a useful pinch hitter even if the Yankees don’t want to use him behind the plate, but it’s probably useful to at least give him a taste of the big leagues.
It’s worth noting that the Yankees’ 40-man is pretty loaded right now, and finding spots for some of these guys will be difficult. Additionally, the Yankees have several other intriguing prospects who need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this offseason — Pazos, Ben Gamel Johnny Barbato, Jake Cave, Tony Renda and others, but Cashman said no one will be called up strictly because he needs Rule 5 protection.
“I’m not bringing anybody unless they can help New York, period,” Cashman said.
Well the Yankees could surely use the help, and the sooner the better.