Felix Hernandez was “effectively wild” on Tuesday night. If he didn’t throw a pitch that didn’t hit or come near a batter, I didn’t see it. The term effectively wild is a good one because he still threw 7.1 innings and gave up two runs. He struck out four and got the win on a bad night for the Yankees. In Alex Rodriguez’s second at bat, Felix threw a 3-2 pitch up and in and caught A-rod on the hand. A-rod crumbled and was in visible pain. A fractured hand was the result and a six to eight week recovery period awaits him.
The good news is that the Yankees are up eight games in the AL East. A-Rod going down is the bad news. The ugly news is the time period in which the Yankees wait for him to return to the lineup. The Yankees will trot Eric Chavez out and hope that he doesn’t injure himself. Chavez is notorious for his propensity for injury. So in the mean time, we’re looking at some kind of quarter platoon, if you can call it that. The team is looking to Chavez and probably Jayson Nix in the meantime. Are there better options lying in wait? Not really.
I don’t mind Chavez playing four games every week; in fact, if he could stay healthy I’d like him playing five to six. He’s currently hitting, .269/.324/.374 with eight home runs. He provides solid defense and serviceable offensive but we know how fragile Chavez is. There is another option other than Jayson Nix however his offense is equally mediocre if not worse than Nix’s: Ramiro Pena. He’s back with the team and in his time with Scranton he hit .249/.302/.316. These numbers blew me away and not in the good sense. They are that bad. It’s a horrible drop in production from Chavez and sad to say, Nix’s as well.
Jayson Nix should not really split time with Chavez, unless Chavez struggles or cannot competently field the position (read: injured). You know what you’re getting with Nix, a solid defensive replacement and not much more. He’s currently hitting, .235/.286/.412 at the big league level. Excuse me while I find a blunt object and bludgeon myself. This is bad. Even with Ramiro Pena moving up to join the team, affording the Yankees a plethora of defensive options, there are no offensive threats whatsoever.
It’s not a good scenario when Eduardo Nunez looks like a great option to this problem. He was demoted because he couldn’t field a baseball. While he can’t field, he can at least hit but that’s beside the point. It seems like Nunez will be stuck in Triple-A until September expansion and I don’t think he deserves a call up however I won’t be surprised if Chavez gets injured and we see Eduardo “No Hands”.
The Yankees could look to the trade market to acquire someone in Rodriguez’s absence. The main issue is that it’s not worth giving up prospects for the likes of Chase Headley, especially not Ty Wigginton. Headley will cost too much and won’t have a position once the playoffs start. Ty Wigginton, for all intensive purposes, is the same player as Jayson Nix. So it looks like the team is stuck looking at replacements from within and that’s not ideal.
For at least six weeks the team will have to rely on smart baseball and great starting pitching to keep the lead in the AL East. This shouldn’t be a problem as the Yankee lineup is still strong and has adequate, defensive options to replace A-rod. Will the offensive production be the same? No. It’s too hard to replace a guy like A-rod, but it’s possible to mask his absence and I can only hope Chavez can stay healthy because god forbid Jayson Nix becomes an everyday 3rd baseman. A healthy Chavez playing four to five games a week is exactly what the team needs right now.