With the injuries to Michael Pineda and Cesar Cabral, the Yankee roster is definitely going to take a new shape. Clay Rapada‘s spot is all but locked up now and Freddy Garcia will join the starting rotation (for the time being). That leaves the roster looking like this:
C: Russell Martin, Francisco Cervelli
IF: Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Eduardo Nunez, Eric Chavez
OF: Brett Gardner, Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez (DH)
SP: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, Freddy Garcia
RP: Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, Rafael Soriano, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, Cory Wade
That leaves one spot open and there are two ways the team can go with it. They can take someone else to be the long reliever–perhaps D.J. Mitchell or David Phelps–or they could lengthen the bench and give Justin Maxwell a shot before trading him or losing him on the waiver wire. If I had to put something significant on it, I’d say they’ll go with the long man and see what they can get for Maxwell. But there is a way they can swing it, and I think I’d prefer this hypothetical third way.
By all measures this spring, Cory Wade has not exactly pitched well. He, like Mitchell and Phelps, has options to burn. What I’d like to see happen is the Yankees send Wade down to AAA to start the year. That leaves the team with two roster spots to play with. This early in the year, it’s always nice to have a long reliever and I think Mitchell makes the most sense for this role. That still leaves the Bombers with another spot, and I think that should go to Justin Maxwell. The prospect of losing Maxwell is obviously real and given how he’s looked this spring–and his general skill-set–I’d like to see him get a shot. Now, the fifth outfielder probably won’t play a lot, right? So why “waste” the spot? Well, instead of just having Maxwell be a bench outfielder, I’d suggest playing him against lefties as a regular, whether in left or at DH while Andruw Jones does the other job. Brett Gardner would obviously be available as a late inning defensive replacement for either one. If Maxwell does’t work out, well, so long. If he does, great, and you’ve still got a long relief pitcher in Mitchell.
Of course, this plan does have a bit of a drawback in that it leaves the Yankees without a garbage time arm, and that’s exactly what Wade would be if he were on the team. Regardless of the 25th spot, I think it’s safe to say that we’ll see D.J. Mitchell on the big club as the long reliever. Which way would you go?
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