If there’s one New York Yankee whose future may be in jeopardy, it’s Eduardo Nunez. Let’s face it folks, Nunez is really not well liked by anyone as a player. Nunez has proven examples for his failing popularity, so it’s just not the tough fans grilling him to blame. He has a glove made of Swiss cheese, a bat that for whatever reason people find impressive and he’s definitely not someone I would call the successor to Derek Jeter‘s throne someday. Looking at who is in the farm, there are two people who are going to be ready to replace Nunez sooner than later.
For Nunez, the fact that his defense has left a lot to be desired may easily be the stamp on his ticket out the door. We’re not talking about a guy who only played with the Yankees a handful of times last year; we’re talking about a guy who has been up and down with the club consistently since 2010.
In 2011, Nunez had a fielding percentage of .913 at shortstop which was in 50 games played at the position, the most at any position for him. The very next year in 2012, Nunez had a .931 fielding percentage at shortstop inside 16 games. That is just beyond flat out awful. You may say, “Well, cut him some slack.” Why? We’ve given Nunez chances before at shortstop and he has proved time and time again that the position is too much for him.
His bat on the other hand is decent, but far from impressive. He held a .292/.330/.393 slash line in 2012 which sounds pretty decent, but when you factor in that he had an awful ISO of .101, an increased strikeout percentage (12%) from 2011 (10.9 %) and a decreased walk percentage (6.5 in 2011, 6.0 in 2012), it doesn’t sound so pretty. Sure, Nunez isn’t a bad contact guy and he has speed, but those are only two factors out of the many that makes a major leaguer. Not to mention he has one of the goofiest swings I’ve ever seen.
So if Nunez isn’t the guy going forward, who is? Well, two names come to mind: Corban Joseph and David Adams. What both players present to the Yankees, especially Joseph, is the ability to fly through the minors and be rather successful at doing it. Both are middle infielders, primarily second base, but they can easily be converted over to shortstop if need be.
Looking at Joseph first, he’s a player who just reached Triple-A last season at age 24. He played 86 games in Triple-A and had a slash line of .266/.366/.474 with 13 home runs, 56 RBIs, scored 50 runs and an ISO of .208. Pretty impressive for someone in their first year of Triple-A. Defensively, Joseph has never played shortstop and has some fine tuning to do at second, but if the Yankees were to retain Robinson Cano after 2013, then Joseph wouldn’t have to worry about playing that position anyway.
Adams, like Joseph, is another player who somehow seemed to fly by, but not quite as fast. Unfortunately for Adams, 2012 saw him in Double-A, but perhaps 2013 will give him his first taste of Triple-A ball. For the Trenton Thunder in 2012, Adams hit for a slash line of .306/.385/.450 and had eight homers, 48 RBIs, scored 44 runs and had a pretty decent BABIP of .336. Unlike Joseph however, Adams’ defense isn’t as spotty and he has time to fine tune his stuff before he’s major league ready.
So, do guys like Adams and Joseph spell the end for Nunez’s Yankee career? Maybe so. Nunez hasn’t shown us anything impressive and while his role is that of a bench player, my concern for him is that he’s going to be overlapped by younger talent someday. I hate to sound cynical, but he’s had major league exposure for a good three years now and the fact that he’s regressing even more in the field is beyond scary. Unless he magically alters his defense and adds a little pop to his bat, I don’t see him with this ball club for much longer.