Do the Yankees Have Too Many Platoon Players?

Brian Cashman has done an incredible this season of finding great players to produce that he got at a minimal cost. Guys like Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix, Cody Eppley, Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and now Ichiro Suzuki have done a great job in their roles. While these players have all been very good contributors to the Yankees they all have one thing in common. They’re all either platoon players or OOGY pitchers. This really hampers what Joe Girardi is able to do late in games. Yes, sometimes he over manages, but this roster configuration doesn’t do him any favors.

A perfect example of how having too many platoon players can hamper Girardi occurred in Wednesday’s win over Seattle. With the Yankees down 2-1 in the 8th Raul Ibanez was due up against a lefty with the bases loaded and 1 out. None of Girardi’s options in this situation were good at all.  Ibanez has been on base a grand total of 7 times this season against lefties in 35 AB’s. He is batting .171, with 0 HR’s, 0 RBI, and a .452 OPS. Girardi’s only option to avoid using Ibanez in that spot was to pinch hit for Jayson Nix and most likely have Seattle manager Eric Wedge bring in a righty to face him. It worked out as Nix hit a bases clearing double, but Girardi was really handcuffed in that situation, as Nix was only 1-20 against righties this year prior to that AB. The same situation came up the previous game with Ibanez up against a lefty with the game on the line. This time Jones was available on the bench and Girardi should have went with him against the righty, but that situation is not really ideal either.

I probably noticed this more on this west coast trip due to Nick Swisher being out and Jones and Ibanez both having to play even more, but even with Swisher back the Yankees will be very vulnerable to left handed pitching with Alex Rodriguez out. A-Rod was the only right handed power player the Yankees have other than Jones and Mark Teixeira when he bats righty. Those fans who were booing him before will learn the lesson the hard way about what life is like without him. Losing a middle of the order guy with a team that is weak at the bottom of the order hurts greatly. Chavez is a fine replacement if he can stay healthy but he won’t be able to hit lefties and Jayson Nix will have to. I had no issues with the Ichiro pickup before A-Rod got hurt. He will be a very nice fill in for Brett Gardner and would have been a nice addition to the bottom of the order. Now he may have to hit lead off. He has very nice road numbers this year and getting out of Safeco Field and into a pennant race should revive him. However, if Cashman knew A-Rod was going to be out he might have tried to get somebody who could hit lefties as Ichiro is only hitting .236, with 0 HR’s, 8 RBI, and a .510 OPS against them. So now you have Ichiro, Chavez, and Ibanez who can’t hit lefties. You also have Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson who have not been as good against them this year as last year.  This all leaves them very vulnerable against lefties late in games and there is not anything Girardi can do about it.

The Yankees also have a similar problem in the bullpen. The Yankees have 3 OOGY pitchers in Logan, Eppley, and Rapada. They also have one guy in Chad Qualls who can’t get anybody out. The 3 OOGY pitchers have been great at what they do but that is what they’re limited to. So at the moment 4 of your 7 bullpen players are either OOGY’s or are incapable of getting anybody out. Fortunately, Joba Chamberlain has been lights out in the minors and should be coming to the Yankees real soon. He is a non OOGY pitcher who should be able to help solve this problem. You like to be able to matchup in the bullpen but you also like to have guys who can get both lefties and righties out so you do not have to burn through so many pitchers.

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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 July 27, 2012, in Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. Matt B. – I think your concern now boils down to ..we are susceptible to LH pitching because we have too many old farts that can’t hit left handing pitching. Ibanez, Chavez and Ichiro have an astoundingly bad on base percentage.

    One solution – get me Nunez.

    • Absoutely Twasp Nunez should be brought up

    • Good article Matt and I think Twasp is right….are we going to find another guy who can hit AND play better D than Nunez? ty Wigginton has hit .208 vs LHP this yr and in the last 2 yrs he’s made 13 errors at 3B in 39 games! Cross Ty’s name of the list Cashman!

      This team has been very good vs LHP the last 2 yrs. last yr they had the best record in baseball vs LH starters and this yr they are 1st in the A.L. at 21-12. But with ARod out, we are forced to start one of Ibanez or Chavez as the DH vs LHP. They are a combined 7 for 49 vs LHP this yr. They need a RH bat, even if only used as a DH. If they are that worried about Nunie’s defense, use him as DH as I recomended when Gardner went down early in the year. His speed and hitting are an asset.

      Some possible names via trade if they are so intent on letting Nunez play SS in AAA:

      Scott Hairston of the Mets – .308 BA with a .958 OPS and 9 HRS vs LHP
      Reed Johnson of the CUBS .329 BA & .921 OPS vs LHP
      Chris Denorfia of SD .337/.439/.470/.920 line vs LHP
      Jesus Montero .373/.409/.588/.997 5 HRs vs LHP OOOOOPS!

      • I know the Dodgers are a contender but you have to wonder if the Yankees and Dodgers could match up in a trade somehow that could benefit both teams in the short-term. The reason I say this is that the Dodgers have Jerry Hairston who hits very well against lefties (.313 AVG, .378 OBP, .463 SLG, .840 OPS, .360 wOBA, 130 wRC+ this year against LHP) and can play pretty well literally anywhere in the field. It seems to me that he is a perfect guy to have. What do you guys think?

        • I hear the Angels are getting Grienke according to Rosenthal. And I already thought they were the team to beat before.

        • Why would the Dodgers give him up? THey need players who hit lefties too and can play anywhere. No one is giving up a player like that while spending the money they are and trying to win their division.

    • I think this is a poor answer. Nunez was out for a very long time with a hand injury and hasnt hit for shit since coming back. Mostly likely Nunez wont be worth a crap as a hitter till next year. THe same thing goes for A-rod. Hand injuries linger. There is no real answers for the Yankees right now. Chavez cant play anywhere near as much as the Yankees claim hes going to play. Nix will get horribly exposed playing 4 or 5x a week. Laird is essentially the same hitter in AAA that Nix is in the majors, so the odds are pretty stong laird would be a drop off from Nix. Adams plays 3 days in a row then dh’s and gets the 5th day off, and he plays second base. Hes not an answer for 3b in MLB this year.

      I’m guessing the Yankees make a move to get a 3b before the deadline. The Yankees have a very legit chance at the WS and its dimished with loosing A-rod. If the Yankees stand pat without upgrading their 3b situation via trade, I would be suprised. As we saw with Ichiro, it doesnt have to be a guy we think is on the market.

      • Fin – I like your analysis, but how can you be sure that Nunez’s injury has not healed to the point that he can hit? Whom do you think he is …Nick “the Hurt Locker ” Johnson?

  2. The bullpen definitely has too many OOGYs. I think it’s partly a product of what Girardi wants though. He’s never been a guy to stick with the hot reliever instead almost always going for the better historical match-ups based on his binder.

    But I think the comeback of Joba should help. His career splits are nearly identical against both sides which will give Joe 3 power arms (with DRob & Sori) for the 7th, 8th & 9th, 2 lefties who dominate LH batters, a decent RH groundball pitcher and a great young guy who can go multiple innings (Phelps).

  3. Great article Matt. I think because of the issues you delved into in your article, the Yankees really could use a solid RH bat (could be Nunez) and a bullpen pitcher who can actually get batters out (that eliminates Qualls) & who doesn’t have a platoon split. Joba would fit that description, but I’m hesitant to heavily count on someone who is coming back from injury like he is.

    Soriano RHP
    D-Rob RHP
    Joba RHP
    Logan LHP
    Rapada LHP
    Phelps RHP
    Eppley / ??? RHP

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