Nunez To The Outfield?

Eduardo Nunez‘ bat has seemed to have taken another step forward this year.  Nunez is hitting .385 on the year with an .856 OPS. I saw this potential in Nunez’s bat last year, but he has taken it up even another level so far this year. Despite all of this Nunez still receives criticism for his shaky defense. Nunez is an adventure out there and you have no idea what he is going to do out there. While Brett Gardner is on the DL I think the Yankees should give Nunez a chance to play left field.

I still think Nunez has the tools to be a good defensive infielder. He has good range and a very strong arm. So why is he struggling so much defensively now? Maybe it is because he is playing 3 infield positions or it still may be in his head. People forget even Derek Jeter made 22 errors in his rookie year and it is not uncommon for young players to make these mistakes. It is part of their growth. I think a move to left field for the short term while Gardner is on the DL makes plenty of sense. Nunez has skills that make you think he could play the outfield. He has the speed and a very strong arm. He has a wider margin for error with his throws in the outfield than he does in the infield.

With Gardner on the DL Nunez should be in the lineup every day. His bat is to good right now for it not to be. In addition to his high average Nunez has only struck out once in 30 plate appearances. The fact that he is making these strides at age 24 is a very good sign. There is absolutely no reason for Raul Ibanez to be playing left field at all. He has no future with the Yankees and he is awful out there. Nunez cannot really be any worse than he is out there. I am fine with Andruw Jones playing left field against lefties. He is still adequate in the outfield and that will give you a chance to give Alex Rodriguez or Derek Jeter a half a day off or just DH Nunez.  Nunez is a very important player for the Yankees to keep developing and if they put him in the outfield while Gardner is on the DL that should help that development. Nunez is young, cost controlled, and is talented. Putting Ibanez out there does nothing for them.

The reason that putting Nunez in left field now is advantageous for the future is because Nunez is a candidate to play right field next year if the Yankees do not bring back Nick Swisher. Swisher is a free agent next year and the Yankees may not bring him back if they are serious about getting under the $189 million threshold. Swisher seems to be driving up his price so far this year with his AL leading 21 RBI. It does not take a mathematician to figure out that the Yankees will be hard pressed to make it to 189 million if they pay Swisher $12-14 million a year and pay Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson about $20 milllion a year. Nunez would be a very cheap option for the Yankees to put in right field next year. My problem with Nunez playing right field is that his bat plays better at shortstop. While I think Nunez has a very good bat, especially at shortstop, he does not have a power bat. Right field and left field are traditionally power spots. Can the Yankees get away with having little to no power playing the corner outfield spots with Gardner in left and Nunez in right? Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano provide the Yankees with power from non traditional power spots at centerfield and 2nd base so maybe that helps make up for it. That is the reason they are fine withGardner in left now because Granderson has so much power in centerfield. However, when you take Swisher out you have to replace his 25 HRs and 85 RBI numbers.                                                                                                                                                                                                               

I would much rather see Nunez as the Yankees shortstop of the future rather than their right fielder of the future. The problem is with how Derek Jeter looks it does not look like shortstop will be open for awhile. Meanwhile, right field is likely to be open next year.  There is no reason for Nunez not to be playing left field right now though. The Yankees need to see what they have with Nunez out there and Gardner’s injury has provided them with that opportunity. Joe Girardi has said Nunez is the backup centerfielder with Gardner out so why not play him in left? What is the point of playing Raul Ibanez out there? Playing Nunez in left field will improve their infield defense, can also improve their outfield defense, and can continue to help Nunez’s development.

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About Matthew B

I am a student at William Paterson University and studying to become a sportswriter. I have a huge passion for the Yankees and love sharing my opinions on them. I can analyze every aspect of the Yankees very well. I am very active on Twitter so feel free to contact me there Twitter: @RAYROBERT9

Posted on April 25, 2012, in Personal Opinion and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Nice article Matthew. Even before Gardner got injuried I have been calling for them to try Nunez in the outfield. To me it’s a logical idea.

  2. Well I’m not all excited about Nunez being in the OF but I am curious. If the Yankees are going to try it then they better do it soon. Gardy’s slated to come off the DL late next week.

  3. Nunez defeinitely has the tools to play OF. i think the only reason the Yanks haven’t used him out their much is because he’s having enough problems in the IF and they don’t want to overwhelm him. He could still play everyday with Gardner out though.

    However, here’s what I would do. Tell Nunez to worry about SS and OF. I have seen enough of Nunez at 3B to say that’s not his position. And with Chavez on the team, we don’t need him at 3B right now. Add 2B to that list because Cano can play 160 games. Nunez is an athlete with range, speed and a strong arm. Let him play positions where he can use his athleticism…SS & OF. I think he’d be better than the ancient Ibanez, lazy Jones and mediocre Swisher. When Nunez is in the lineup, those guys should be DH’ing

  4. I don’t have a problem with Nunez playing SS and giving the OF a shot once in a while but, why put him out there when he needs all the time he can get at SS. Jeter should play against lefties and day games. If you guys want to see Jeter do nothing but hit well all year, let him play 3 or so games a week and rest the other days. Jeter is hitting real well right now, so put him at DH when not in the field. When he comes back to earth, which we all know he will, then 3 days a week is plenty.
    As some of you have said, “Nunez is one of the new core of Yankees”…in other words, he is one of the future mainstays of the Yankees. Guys like Jeter and A-Rod and Granderson are on the way out. Let the new guys show they can hold their own in the Show, just like the other guys had to do when they came up, although in Jeters case he was brought up because of an injury. He came up and still had to show he belonged on the team…which he did very well, I would say. Now it is his turn to move over, he is no longer the future of the Yankees. :)

    • ugh Ken i don’t even know what to say to this. :(

      • 15 game hitting streak maybe we should only play him 2 days a week. ;-)

        • People there are 147 games left right, maybe you guys think I say what I have because I dislike him…nay, nay, nay. As I have said many times, he is a very good player but, some of you think he is the second coming or something. You forget, defence is also part of the game, right now he is a poor SS, why not have the future SS play much more than once in a while?
          I realize Jeter has a sure glove and throws well but, he makes easy plays look harder than they should be and doesn’t get to others.
          Right now, putting Nunez in at SS would be a better choice than Jeter, not that Jeter isn’t doing well right now. Jeter is gone after 2013 or 2014 and Nunez is going to take his place.
          Nunez is hitting very well himself, so it wouldn’t be a bad deal at all.
          I understand we will never see Jeter in the same way, this I don’t care about at all. His hanging on for more hits is not helping the team for the future…the key word is still team not, ME or I.
          So, I am a good chess player and some of the fans are still playing checkers, sorry about that.
          Hope to see Jeter prove me wrong and keeps hitting well.
          See you later Matt! :)

  5. Ken are u going to ignore what he did form July on from last year? The man has only been hot for 4 months but he should play 3 days a week come now lol. Not saying he is going to hit .400 but really play him 3 days week? I am the biggest Nunez fan I know and I even think that is crazy.

    • No Matthew, I don’t ignore anything at all but, it seems fans as you are do.
      Maybe you don’t remember how much his hitting hurt the team in the preceding months. That’s what I have been trying to get through to you guys.
      If, come to think of it, I was going to say…”If Tex, Granderson, A-Rod or Swisher were hitting like he was, they would be moved down around and up side down”…but then again, they were moved around, weren’t they? I guess some are just super stars and can’t be held to the same standards as the more mortal players, can they?
      The same thing happened to Willie Mays and Mickey, no one wanted to see how bad they had become…although, they were still the best on each of their teams, the teams were really bad at the time. Each would have good runs but nothing like they use to have.

  6. Ken I did call for him to get moved down when he was struggling but that was last June. We are approaching May of the next year almost one calendar year. It might be time to give that up. The man has been on fire for 4 months now bro

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