LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees Struggles A Reminder Of Year-End Roster Decisions

Friday, April 22, 2016

Yankees Struggles A Reminder Of Year-End Roster Decisions

Thursday's Yankees game was more of what we've seen all year, with the exception of the opening series against Houston. The Yankees struggled with their starting pitching in the early going, and the with their offense, and that nasty little stat known as runners in scoring position (RISP). Thursday added a new twist: a bullpen letdown with Chasen Shreve and Johnny Barbato the main culprits. The Yanks are 5-9 as we speak and 1-5 on the current home stand, having been just swept by the A's.


Which leads me to another topic, I'm seeing lots of opinions naming players that should be purged from the roster in one manner or another, because as we all know, we have to fix things right away.

An overhaul is not happening anytime soon, but there should be a roster purge at the end of season. Other possible moves are anybody's guess. I've taken the liberty to try and suggest the fate of these few players.

Mark Teixiera (Contract expires end of 2016)
The emergence of Greg Bird in 2015 seemed to have made this a no brainer. Teixeira was to be done as a Yankee at the end of 2016. Now I'm not too sure. Yes, Teixeira has said he could play for another five years, but where? The Yankees weren't going to re-sign him. A season ending injury to Bird changed all that, however. It seems more than a remote possibility, perhaps it's even likely that Teixeira gets a Yankee contract in 2017. Bird can no longer be considered a sure thing and if healthy next spring, might at least start the season in triple A, which was the apparent plan for 2016, until his shoulder injury that required surgery.

Solution: Bring Teixeira back on a one year deal.

Carlos Beltran (End of 2016)
Don't look now, but Beltran is their best hitter. Problem is, the Yankees pitching staff is in need of 27 outs every night with minimal damage, and it's not happening frequently enough. A good part of getting 27 outs is catching the ball, and Beltran has limited range these days in the outfield to get his part of the job done with consistency. Like Teixeira, Beltran sees himself playing several more seasons. Designated Hitter is the role best suited for Beltran, and with Alex Rodriguez under contract there is no place in the lineup but playing right field again in 2017.

Solution: Let the contract run out and hope someone fills the void offensively. Guaranteed improvement on defense, though,

CC Sabathia (End of 2016)
This is tricky. Sabathia has a vesting option, not a team or player option. All CC has to do is keep his shoulder healthy and he is on the roster one more season. His trick knee could  be his undoing, in which case Sabathia could spend a lot of time on the DL at any time this year or next.

Solution: Assuming no shoulder trouble, Sabathia will be back. See what he has to offer in the spring of 2017. Is he healthy? Can he still pitch? Decide his fate at the end of spring training 2017. Difficult to believe the option won't vest.

Aroldis Chapman (End of 2016)
His suspension, does not affect his service time, so free agency looms after 2016. Slated to be the main closer upon his return, his fastball is on the high side of 100 MPH. The Yankees' greatest strength is their bullpen with three capable, lights out closers. Also, the prospect list for the bullpen is long and talented.

Solution: Bye bye, Aroldis. Yes, we're writing Chapman off already and he hasn't even thrown one pitch this season. He'll either be gone via free agency at the end of the season if the Yankees contend all year, or  trade bait for July 31, (actually August 1 this year), if the Yankees continue their woes. Could bring a decent return in a trade. Spend the money elsewhere at the end of the season or consider a deadline deal.

Ivan Nova (End of 2016)
He is a free agent at the end of the season and has shown only a glimmer of ace stuff.  He could still slide into the rotation this season. What are the odds? Guessing better than 50-50, the way things might go with the current rotation.

Solution: Yankees will part ways with Mr. Nova after the season. End of story.

Michael Pineda (End of 2016 if non tender. Free Agency end of 2017)
He really shouldn't be on the list, but consider his Yankees tenure, which began with the 2012 season, and has resulted in a total of 40 starts in four seasons, 2012-15. That's 10 starts per year or more accurately 20 starts each year for the last two seasons.

Solution: I think he gets tendered this winter, unless he spends most of the 2016 season back on the DL in which case, all bets are off.

Austin Romine (Out of options)
Holding a place for eventual backup catcher, Gary Sanchez, Romine would have to clear waivers to be sent down to AAA, and unless a trade could be arranged, the thinking is that Romine might elect free agency over a AAA assignment. Seems to be a matter of time before this happens, but Sanchez struggled at the plate this spring and has struggled at AAA so far.

Solution: Eventually he will be playing for another organization, but don't expect it anytime soon.

The dismal play of the Yankees has a lot of us thinking worst case. Changes on the roster will be coming, but not without some risk. Were the deals for Eovaldi and Gregorius before last season good deals? How about this past winter which brought Castro and Hicks aboard? Time will tell. How about this question: Did the Yankees really win the Montero for Pineda deal? Jesus Montero was released by the Mariners this spring. Seems like a win. But questions remain about what the Yankees might ultimately do with Pineda. Cutting ties with him next winter might not seem likely at  the moment, but given his track record of injuries, the trade with the Mariners in 2012 might even out after all.

It all seems to be a wait and see game of roster roulette. Perhaps Cashman has played his best hand possible, but with the recent performance on the field, all eyes will be on the future moves that continue to reshape the roster. It will likely take the off season to see any significant changes, Chapman being the possible exception.

In the meantime we can only hope things get better and the Yankees start playing like a contender. They cannot get any worse than they are right now, can they?

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