Here’s one problem the Yankees have run into: Despite acknowledging that their offense is a mess right now, there’s not a lot they can do without going outside of the organization. Their top Triple-A hitters are hurt, their injured big leaguers are still several weeks away, and their bench players aren’t exactly pounding their way into regular playing time.
Today, the Yankees made a few of the only moves readily available, and the video above is of Joe Girardi discussing the basics of those moves, but here’s a little more.
1. Reid Brignac was designated for assignment
Girardi didn’t try to come up with some hard-to-believe story to explain this move, it was made strictly because Brignac hasn’t hit. As a left-handed infielder, he seemed to be a solid fit, but he’s brought next to nothing at the plate. He’s a fine glove, but so is Alberto Gonzalez.
“Hopefully (Gonzalez) will bring some offense, a little bit more offense,” Girardi said.
Yes, a career .242/.279/.319 was called up to add offense, and the move makes perfect sense. That’s what it’s come to.
2. David Adams named regular third baseman
In connection to the Brignac move, Adams will no longer be viewed as a platoon player getting his only at-bats against lefties. Girardi said that he essentially views Jayson Nix as the everyday shortstop, Adams as the everyday third baseman and Gonzalez as a true backup who will play only occasionally (and, I assume, play some late-innings defense).
That means Adams is getting a chance to prove himself again. He got off to a terrific start in his first eight games, but he’s since hit just .122/.140/.143. He’ll obviously have to do more than that to keep this job, but for now, it seems to be his.
“I think there’s adjustments that teams make to players, and players need to turn around and make adjustments to teams,” Girardi said. “They get a better idea of what you can do. And he’s probably used to playing more on a regular basis than he has been here, and when I say that, he was generally playing three days on, one day off, six of the seven days of the week, sometimes when you’re first called up, things are a little bit different, and you have to adjust to your role, but that’s okay.”
3. Zoilo Almonte put into the starting lineup
Almonte is a switch hitter who’s better from the left side, which made him kind of a poor fit for a while. The Yankees outfield was supposed to be full of lefties, then they added Brennan Boesch, then Vernon Wells got off to such a start that he was playing against lefties and righties.
Today, though, Curtis Granderson is still on the DL, Boesch is also hurt, and Wells has looked overmatched for a month. Suddenly, Almonte’s left-handed bat seems like a pretty decent fit in the outfield. He was hitting .303/.377/.451 against right-handers down in Triple-A, and he gets his first big league start against a right-hander tonight.
“I think anytime you’re out there it’s an opportunity,” Girardi said. “There’s a lot of guys where you say, we’re going to give a guy a day off, then he does well. And he’s playing a second day. And then one more. And then all of a sudden, he’s playing a lot more. Anytime you go out there, it’s an opportunity.”
• Curtis Granderson is with the Yankees through the weekend, then he’ll head down to Tampa to begin the next phase of his rehab. For now, his hand literally won’t close because it’s been in a protective cast for so long. Once he gets to the point that he can grip a bat, he’ll begin to do so. “Once we can grab it, probably similar to what we did with this (broken forearm),” Granderson said. “Get back in the pool with a small object similar to a bat, then graduate to the one-hand bat, then to a larger bat, probably some dry swings, tee, toss, but I’m assuming once we get that going, things should – hopefully – go relatively quick.”
• Granderson has been able to play catch and lift with his lower body, so he said he feels in pretty good shape, just has to go through all the necessary steps before playing in a game again. He said he expects the rehab process to be roughly the same as it was for his previous injury. “In terms of the timing before I can play a game, I think that stuff should be the same,” he said.
• Boone Logan was hit by a comebacker yesterday, but he’s fine.
• The Yankees have traded for right-handed reliever Yoshinori Tateyama, agreeing to send future considerations to the Rangers. Tateyama was a pretty good big league pitcher in 2011, struggled in limited appearances last year and had a 1.38 WHIP in Triple-A this season. He’ll go to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. “I think anytime you’re on the Triple-A roster you have an opportunity to help the team in the long run,” Girardi said. “I really believe that if we didn’t believe he could help us we wouldn’t have acquired him.”
• MLB Trade Rumors also reported that the Yankees signed lefty Mike Zagurski to a minor league deal. Zagurski has some big league time. Seems safe to lump him in with Josh Spence and David Huff (who’s pitched pretty well out of the Triple-A rotation).
• Speaking of minor league moves: The Yankees announced that catcher Peter O’Brien has been promoted from Charleston to Tampa. So has pitcher Alex Smith, but the O’Brien move stands out because it surely means that Gary Sanchez is close to a promotion from Tampa to Trenton to fill the spot vacated by J.R. Murphy’s recent promotion to Triple-A. O’Brien has been crazy good this year — .325/.394/.619 — so he’s a legit name to know.
• Girardi left no doubt that he now considers Adams a lineup regular, but he didn’t commit to the same thing with Almonte. “Go day by day,” he said. Seems a little premature to think Almonte is definitely replacing Wells against right-handers, but it seems he’s getting at least a chance to do so.
UPDATE: While I was writing this, apparently Ivan Nova was scratched from his Triple-A start — Zach Nuding starting instead — which certainly seems like an indication that Nova could make a big league start this week (Yankees need someone after the doubleheader). Also, Donnie Collins reports that Corey Paterson is in the Triple-A lineup. Moves!
Associated Press photo