Ever since Zoilo Almonte made his big league debut on Wednesday, the Yankees media notes have included this nugget.
The Yankees have used 41 players thus far during the 2013 season … used 45 players total all of last year … of the 41 players used this season, 18 have made their first-ever appearance as a Yankee, with six players making their Major League debuts (INF David Adams, OF Zoilo Almonte, RHP Preston Claiborne, INF Corban Joseph, RHP Brett Marshall and LHP Vidal Nuno) … the Yankees are one of five teams to use at least 40 players already in 2013 (also Toronto-46, Miami-42, Los Angeles-NL-40 and Seattle-40).
So, only two teams have used more players than the Yankees this season, and I’m wondering if the Yankees are about to cut that number in half.
With their next new player, the Yankees will match the Marlins with 42 players used this season. And there’s a solid chance No. 42 is on the way. Ivan Nova made a spot start yesterday, and now the Yankees have to decide what to do with him. There are really four options.
1. Keep Nova and play with 13 pitchers and a short bench. This is technically possible because the Yankees are currently carrying a fourth outfielder, a fifth infielder and a backup catcher. If absolutely necessary, the Yankees could put either Jayson Nix or Lyle Overbay in the outfield, and they could take a shot with either Vernon Wells or Chris Stewart in the infield in an emergency.
2. Keep Nova and send a pitcher to Triple-A. Possible because the Yankees have relievers with options, but it’s worth noting that, because Nova just threw 6.2 innings, he won’t be available for a while. Even with today’s off day, the Yankees would likely want to keep Adam Warren to give them a true long man. Would the Yankees really send down Joba Chamberlain, Shawn Kelley or Preston Claiborne in favor of Nova? I’m sure there are plenty of calls for Phil Hughes to go down, but Joe Girardi has basically said that’s not happening.
3. Option Nova back to Triple-A and bring up a fresh reliever. The Yankees have an open 40-man spot — and could easily 60-day Kevin Youkilis — so they could choose anyone, including one of several left-handed relievers on the Triple-A roster. Given the current bullpen setup crew, though, there might not be much use for another one-inning reliever.
4. Option Nova back to Triple-A and bring up a position player. Depending on what the Yankees think of Nova — whether they see more value in having him stretched out and working on things in Triple-A, or see more value in having him immediately available in New York — this option would give the Yankees a typical roster setup with a four-man bench and a seven-man bullpen with one long reliever.
The problem with No. 4 is this: Which position player comes up?
There are 12 extra position players currently on the 40-man roster. Seven of them (Cervelli, Jeter, Nunez, Rodriguez, Teixeira, Youkilis, Granderson) are on the major league disabled list; three of them (Joseph, Boesch, Mesa) are on the Triple-A disabled list; and one of them (Thomas Neal) was just sent down and can’t come back yet. That leaves only Ramon Flores, who’s hitting .245 in Double-A.
Basically, the Yankees don’t have a good choice on the 40-man, and with Ronnier Mustelier and Josh Bell also on the Triple-A disabled list, the Yankees best call-up options seem to be…
J.R. Murphy — A young catcher who’s hit well since a promotion from Double-A, but if he’s coming up, it’s surely to replace Austin Romine, not to fill this open bench spot. Just hard imagine the Yankees making him a platoon DH or backup catcher when he seems to be making real strides in the minors.
Fernandez Martinez/Corey Paterson — Experienced outfielders, but also left-handed hitters who obviously don’t jump out as upgrades over Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki or Zoilo Almonte.
Dan Johnson — Has started to hit a little bit after brutal numbers in March and April. Even so, he’s a left-handed first baseman who can vaguely play third. Would the Yankees be willing to platoon him and David Adams?
Randy Ruiz — Signed out of Mexico just a few days ago to bring some much needed offense to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He has a lot of right-handed power — which suggests a 1B/DH platoon option — but he also has a significant PED past. Given the current climate with Biogenesis and such, that might not be the kind of attention the Yankees are after.
Addison Maruszak/Brent Lillibridge — These two are right-handed hitters who can play anywhere. Lillibridge has quite a bit of big league experience and hit 13 big league homers just two years ago. Right now, if I had to guess, I’d guess Lillibridge would be the guy.
Given the options, what would you do on Tuesday?
Associated Press photos