As the Yankees lost yet another “must win” game against the Red Sox on Tuesday night, we got our first peek at those “Baby Bombers” called up with the expanded September rosters. The Yankees need to take full advantage of these last twenty odd games of the season to see which players can help the Yankees in 2015. This season is rapidly coming to a close and as disappointing as it was, the Yankees can give some deserving players a taste of The Show and determine if any of them should be in contention for jobs during Spring Training. The initial list of eight players added to the Yankee roster were J.R. Murphy, Preston Claiborne, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley, Rich Hill, Chris Young, Chaz Roe and Antoan Richardson.
If GM Brian Cashman was smart, that list would be expanded to include some of the better Yankee prospects such as Manny Banuelos, Rob Refsnyder, Luis Severino, Jacob Lindgren and others. While some of these moves would require alterations to the 40-man roster and potential early starts to the service clock for some of these prospects, these concerns should not limit the Yankees’ long term thinking.
Today’s additions also required changes to the 40-man roster as Masahiro Tanaka and Slade Heathcott were added to the 60-day DL, Matt Daley was released and Zoilo Almonte was designated for assignment. Also, even in these recent times of austerity, the Yankees should not fear having to shell out big bucks to these prospects should they develop into big time players. The Yankees need big time players and will still be cheaper (and more productive) than whatever aging player they can get on the free agent market. Of course, Cashman has already stated that he does not plan on bringing the likes of Severino or Lindgren up, but there is still time for him to change his mind and do the right thing.
Of course, it does the Yankees no good if Cashman sees the light and adds these players to the roster but manager Joe Girardi refuses to play them. The Yankees are unlikely to re-sign several veteran free agents currently wasting space in the Yankee lineup. Guys like Ichiro Suzuki, Stephen Drew, Chris Young, and Brendan Ryan need to find a spot at the far end of the bench and collect their final pinstriped paychecks while the Yankees get a good look at the kids and players who will be around when the Yankees have another chance at the playoffs in 2015.
The Yankees also need to get realistic with their pitching staff. First of all, both Tanaka and All-Star Dellin Betances should be told they have played their last major league game in 2014. Tanaka’s rehab needs to change course and focus on getting him ready for next season, not a meaningless start in the last week of the season. Betances has already appeared in 60 games and has thrown 80 innings. He has had a great season, but there is no longer any reason to risk injuring the most dominant bullpen arm the Yankees have had since Joba Chamberlain circa 2007. Sit him down and get him ready for next season with an off-season work out regimen that will let him build on his breakout 2014 campaign.
Likewise, it’s time to skip starts from Hiroki Kuroda and Chris Capuano and let Mitchell, Whitley and Serverino take the mound a few times this month. Kuroda is likely to retire at the end of the season, and has pitched batting practice in September the last two years. Capuano has been a respectable fill-in for the Yankees in the second half this year, but the 35-year-old will not be in the Bronx when the Yankees enter the post-Jeter world.
As for Derek Jeter himself, he should play every day from here on out and continue to bat second. The Yankees aren’t going anywhere anyway, so who cares if hits .207 in September like he did in August. Any fans who will still show up for the rest of the games will be there for one reason and that reason is number 2. Give the fans what they want. Start him in every game and take him out in the sixth inning of each game so the fans can give him a final standing ovation each night. That would be honoring the past while looking forward to the future, each of which is infinitely happier than the sorry state of the present.