Who to call-up from Triple-A, whether to shuffle the lineup and when to realign the rotation are decisions that constantly come and go during the course of the season. It’s only natural that Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman will make those sort of decisions this month.
These five decisions are different. They don’t happen on a daily basis, and they’re somewhat time sensitive. One way or another, the Yankees will be forced to deal with these issues some time in the month of June. They can’t lean on struggling players forever, they can’t give injured players infinite rest and the dates of contractual issues don’t come with gray area.
How long does Jorge Posada get the benefit of the doubt?
He’s a great Yankee and one of this franchise’s most important players of the past decade and a half, but Posada is not hitting this season. And he’s playing a position that involves nothing but hitting. Eduardo Nunez and Andruw Jones have pretty much pushed Posada into a platoon role, but even in that limited capacity, how much longer can Posada remain a viable option? If Eric Chavez gets healthy, will he begin taking those at-bats?
Beyond the Big Three, is the bullpen deep enough?
Even without Rafael Soriano, the Yankees are still able to string together a series of dependable, late-inning relievers. But is the bullpen strong enough beyond Dave Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera? Boone Logan has been inconsistent as the only left-hander, the two long relievers are rookies and Luis Ayala has gone from Opening Day mopup man to essentially the sixth-inning guy. No question the young guys have pitched well in limited action, but in shorter stints, the Yankees have to decide whether they’re strong enough beyond their top three relievers. The Triple-A bullpen would provide some alternatives.
How much longer can Ivan Nova stay in the rotation?
The answer might very well be, “For the rest of the season,” but Nova’s been erratic, and two of his past four starts have lasted fewer than four innings. A rocky outing tomorrow in Anaheim could put Nova on the fence, and a strong start could put him back on fairly solid ground. Nova’s shown that he can pitch — and pitch well — at this level, but the Yankees don’t necessarily have the time or the patience to let a 24-year-old starter find himself at the big league level. If Nova’s not polished enough to find some consistency, the Yankees might have to look elsewhere.
Does Carlos Silva deserve a role on the pitching staff?
This answer might be tied to the previous question. Silva is putting up solid numbers in the Yankees minor league system, and the veteran could be an option to replace Nova if the Yankees decide not to stick with their rookie starter. Silva might also be a candidate to take a long relief role in the bullpen, letting Hector Noesi or Lance Pendleton get regular work in the minor leagues. Silva can opt out this month, so the Yankees have to use him or lose him.
What’s next for Eric Chavez, Phil Hughes and Rafael Soriano?
Three key Yankees are currently on the disabled list. Chavez needs to run before he starts doing baseball activities, Hughes is about to face hitters and Soriano is probably out another six weeks or so. There’s a chance none of the three will be back this month, but that doesn’t mean key decisions won’t be made this month. If things go well, Hughes will be rehabbing fairly soon, and the Yankees will have to decide how aggressive to be with an injury-prone guy like Chavez. The initial timetable on Soriano was six to eight weeks. This is probably the month when the Yankees decide whether it’s closer to six or closer to eight.
Associated Press photos