Over the last week the Yankees have added a few minor pieces such as Reid Gorecki, among others, to the depth chart. Guys like Gorecki and Jon Weber are not at all likely to open the year on the team; only if they have an amazing spring and other unforeseen incidents occur (such as injuries.) At this point however, should Brian Cashman consider himself “done” for the most part, when it comes to looking for depth at both the Major League and Minor League levels?
When it comes to the batters, my train of thought is this: “If a Yankees starter had to miss a month due to injury, would the Yankees have a suitable replacement?”
Catcher: The back-up catcher is most likely going to be Francisco Cervelli unless he has a terrible spring and Mike Rivera has an outstanding one. If Posada had to miss a month, Cervelli would take over, and frankly, the Yankees would be just fine.
First Base: If Teixeira missed some time, the Yankees would have a number of options here actually. For one they could move Nick Johnson to first base and have absolutely anyone that they want to DH. Or they could have Juan Miranda, or even Jorge Vazquez play first or DH, depending on how they want the defensive alignment to play out. They have two blocked mashers in the minors and a DH who plays first also.
Second Base: They have a plethora of options here. The Yankees could easily go to either Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo, or Reegie Corona.
Shortstop: Ramiro Pena is one of the best defensive shortstops there is and can hit for decent average. Reegie Corona can also play shortstop, but he has yet to hit at the AAA level. Throw Eduardo Nunez into the mix as well.
Third Base: Kevin Russo and Ramiro Pena have had a decent amount of games here, while Reegie Corona has only had a few.
Left Field: If Gardner or Hoffmann are injured the other could take full-time duties. In the minors Jon Weber and Reid Gorecki are coming off of successful seasons and could probably hold their own. Maybe Colin Curtis if he can continue that winter league success (but I’m not crossing my fingers.)
Center Field: Were Granderson to go down they can move Gardner to center full-time and have Hoffmann start in left, or do some sort of platoon involving Hoffman/Weber/Gorecki.
Right Field: Were Swisher to go down, they can move one of Gardner or Hoffmann to rightfield full-time, maybe implementing a platoon.
DH: Obviously they can go with anyone that they want. Or they can choose to go on a cycle allowing the starters to get half-days off, with bench players taking their positions for one game.
Basically, were the Yankees to go with the team that they had now, assuming there isn’t a huge plague on injuries in the minors, they would be just fine. They have suitable replacements in every position basically. However, if Jerry Hairston, Jr. to re-sign, he could be a replacement in literally every position but catcher. Hairston, Jr. would be very handy to have around were an injury to occur.
Rotation: Waiting in AAA should be Ivan Nova, Zach McAllister, Jason Hirsh, Romulo Sanchez, and Kei Igawa. Sanchez and Nova are the only ones on the 40-man roster though. Furthermore, in AA they will have Chris Garcia and Wilkin(s) de la Rosa, who are both on the 40-man roster. On the Major League roster, Alfredo Aceves, Chad Gaudin, and Sergio Mitre are all capable of starting on short notice. Furthermore, maybe whichever of Joba Chamberlain and Phil Hughes does not win the starting job. Plenty of depth here, at least right now. Also, a darkhorse candidate – Lance Pendleton.
Bullpen: I’m assuming the opening day bullpen will at least have the following: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Damaso Marte, Alfredo Aceves, Mark Melancon, and Chad Gaudin/Sergio Mitre. There will probably be one more guy added in there.
Now, down in AAA will likely be some combination of: Jonathan Albaladejo, Edwar Ramirez, Boone Logan, Royce Ring, Kevin Whelan, Grant Duff, Zack Segovia, Eric Wordekemper, Kanekoa Texeira (if returned), Zach Kroenke (if returned), and Josh Schmidt. I don’t see anybody that I would at this point feel comfortable with in Major League action. I see three guys with ERAs over 5 last year, a LOOGY with limited Major League success, a guy that can’t throw a strike, a guy that can throw fast but hasn’t even had much Minor League success, a guy released by the Nats, a 46th round pick, two guys that the Yankees didn’t feel like protecting, and a guy that throws low-80’s. I will also add Romulo Sanchez into that mix, who isn’t too shabby/
Conclusion: I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I don’t understand how Brian Cashman can feel comfortable with this bullpen, even without an injury occurring.
Recommendation: If I am Brian Cashman, I first trade Chad Gaudin to open up a few dollars on the payroll. Gaudin made $2 million dollars last year between the Padres and Yankees, so one can assume that he will make about $2.5 million next year. With that money I’m bringing on Jerry Hairston, Jr. (say…$1.8 million dollars with a team option for $2.2 million) and Kiko Calero, who is coming off a season where he had a 1.95 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and a 10.4 SO/9 for Florida, but isn’t receiving too much attention due to his age (35) and the injury risk (missed most of 2008) – for say, $2 million dollars over 1 year. Maybe I see if Chad Bradford would be willing to come into camp on a minor league deal, seeing if he can get over his injury-plagued 2009. Following the additions of Hairston, Jr. and Calero, I call it an offseason.