Sunday, June 7, 2009

More Roster Issues

The Yankees started the season without a long man in the bullpen.

It was a dumb decision and it burned them again and again and again.

Eventually Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi came to see the errors of their ways and rectified the situation.

Unfortunately, they don't learn for their mistakes.

The Yankees are carrying two catchers and useless utility infielder Angel Berroa, creating some inflexibility in the roster.

When Jorge Posada was set to come off the disabled list in May, I called for the Yankees to release Berroa and keep Kevin Cash, giving them three catchers on the roster.

The reason was simple. Berroa doesn't have a role on this team. He's not fast. He's not a good fielder. He's not a good hitter. It would be one thing if he had a viable role, but he doesn't. He's beyond useless.

In contrast, carrying three catchers would allow Girardi to DH Posada without having to risk making a move late in the game that would force to hit a pitcher, or risk losing the DH should that day's starting catcher get hurt.

Saturday we saw why Girardi needs that flexibility.

With the Yankees trailing 5-4 and one out in the eighth, Posada, the designated hitter, walked. To say Posada is slow and a bad base runner is being kind. He stinks on the basepaths. It should have been a perfect spot to pinch run with Brett Gardner.

Except Girardi couldn't.

Doing that would mean he couldn't pinch hit for light-hitting catcher Francisco Cervelli later on. It also meant that when he did send up Hideki Matsui to hit for Cervelli later in the eighth, Posada was forced to catch and the pitcher was inserted into the nine-hole in the lineup.

Now this inflexibility did not prevent the Yankees for tying the score, but it could have forced the Yankees into a disadvantage by playing an NL-style of ball had Mariano Rivera not melted down in the ninth.

Posada is invaluable as a catcher because of his hitting. Keeping him fresh while keeping his bat in the lineup, especially against lefthanders, is essential to the Yankees' success. But Girardi needs better tools to do that. He needs a third catcher on this roster.

It's time for Berroa to be designated for assignment.

Let's get Cash back up to the majors, now.


Raymond said...

A better idea: sign Paul LoDuca. Cash would be worse than Berroa. He can only play one position and can't hit his way out of a paper bag. You would still have roster inflexibility.

LoDuca can catch, play third and first. He can still swing the bat some. Having him on the roster would give the Yanks a valuable 25th man on the roster - and at this point in the season, he likely can be had relatively cheap

Aviv said...

Raymond, Lo Duca? Really? I don't think so for a number of reasons.

1) He proved in his time with the Mets that he wasn't a great fit in New York, often running into difficulty with the media and being pretty abrasive with his teammates.

2) He's a steroid guy named in the Mitchell Report whose offense has been average at best since testing began.

3) This is a short-term move. Jose Molina will eventually return from the DL and the Yankees still like him a lot.

4) We're talking about a third catcher, someone who might get into games in the late innings and maybe start once every two weeks. Defense is what matters most.

5) The rest of the Yankees' roster is already pretty flexible. Ramiro Pena has proven to be a very adequate backup at 2B, SS and 3B. Posada and Swisher backup first. There are four outfielders with Xavier Nady expect to return reasonably soon.

The only problem with the makeup of the roster is that Girardi's hand can be tied when Posada plays DH. And with Berroa serving no purpose on this team, there's no reason to keep him. He has exactly 3 at-bats in the last month. Offense isn't an issue for this spot on the roster.

Cash was serviceable when he was with the team. When he was called up, he had just come off the DL and his offense did improve toward the end of his stay. He will suffice until Molina gets back.