I flew into Kansas City last night, and I landed to find an email with the subject line: “trade.” Not what I wanted to see when it’s roughly 1:30 in the morning out east. Turned out, it wasn’t exactly a stop-the-presses move, but the Yankees trade for Alberto Gonzalez certainly says something about the state of the Yankees infield.
A few random thoughts as the Yankees are about to open a series here in Kansas City.
• The Rockies have been a pretty good offensive team this season. There were some names in that lineup that might not be immediately familiar to those of us mostly follow the American League, but the Rockies lead the National League in slugging, on-base and batting average. They easily lead their league in runs. The fact the Yankees held them to five runs in three games carries some weight. With this depleted lineup, the Yankees must pitch well. And that’s happening right now.
• Speaking of which, Adam Warren and Preston Claiborne have been pretty good. Granted, Claiborne only has a handful of innings, but those innings have been promising. So who goes down when Joba Chamberlain comes back? Claiborne? Shawn Kelley? Vidal Nuno to get stretched out as a starter?
• Maybe a better question is, what’s next for Ivan Nova? Seems like the big league rotation, the big league bullpen and a demotion to Triple-A each have some merit. David Phelps looked awfully good two days ago. Is it possible Phelps and Nova will start Monday’s doubleheader as a kind of one-day, head-to-head competition to be the fifth starter?
• Obviously beggars can’t be choosers, but you could argue that Curtis Granderson is the injured position player the Yankees have missed the least this season. He also seems to be the closest to being activated. He should bring some welcome power, but the outfield has actually been pretty good this year, and the Yankees have plenty of left-handed bats.
• Vernon Wells had gone cold, and so had Robinson Cano, and this lineup had almost no chance without those two. The past two games for Wells, and yesterday’s two-hit game for Cano must have been a huge sigh of relief. The Yankees desperately need those two.
• Speaking of which, I thought of this when Cano was clearly feeling some pain in his foot yesterday: He’s going to need at least a half day off one of these days. Probably against a left-hander with Travis Hafner on the bench, Cano at DH and the Nunez-Nix-Nelson trio in the infield. He doesn’t take many days off, but you just know he’s going to get one at some point, maybe during this long stretch of games.
• In Colorado, Joe Girardi said something about Brett Gardner not being very aggressive on the bases early in the season, and Gardner stole a bag the very next day. Gardner’s always been a streaky hitter, and I feel like he’s a streaky base runner too. Maybe I’m wrong about this – I’m kind of thinking outloud here – but doesn’t it seem like he’ll occasionally steal a couple and then start running more and more? I wonder if Girardi’s words can push him into that sort of aggressive streak.
• Honestly, I understand why so many people want Austin Romine to get more playing time. I also understand that he was hitting well in Triple-A and there’s a sense of missed opportunity when his bat was kept on the bench. But I’m not convinced he’s a better player, right now, than Chris Stewart. I think he could be, but I don’t think it’s crazy to think he’ll have to prove it by showing something when he’s given a chance. Stewart’s worked well with this pitching staff, and right now the Yankees best hope is to keep that staff pitching well.
• If Melky Mesa weren’t striking out at an absurd pace, surely he’d be in the big leagues right now as a right-handed alternative to Ben Francisco. Same might be true for Thomas Neal if he hadn’t gotten hurt. As it is, the Yankees best right-handed bats in Triple-A are probably David Adams (who can’t be called up yet) and Ronnier Mustelier (who was just activated a few days ago). Zoilo Almonte’s been good, but he’s been much better from the left side. Would he be worse than Francisco’s been so far? Well, that’s a fair question.
• By the way, the Yankees are in first place.
Associated Press photo