On Wednesday, after 22 games and 18 2/3 innings, David Carpenter was designated for assignment. It was the start of a pleasure-filled day with the removal of one of Joe Girardi’s most-trusted, yet horrible relievers, followed by the return of Masahiro Tanaka pitching a gem in a 3-1 win. After looking like the team that pissed away a nine-games-above-.500 record for most of May, the Yankees have gotten back on track in June with three straight wins and a sweep of the Mariners to remain in first place in the AL East. But back to Carpenter …
Carpenter had been bad for most of the nearly two months he was a Yankee. The Yankees traded once heralded prospect Manny Banuelos to the Braves in the offseason for Carpenter and left-hander Chasen Shreve, who has climbed the Joe Girardi Bullpen Pecking Order. Carpenter’s strikeout numbers had drastically declined this season, and after striking out 10.1 per nine innings in 2013 and 9.9 in 2014, that number had dipped to 5.3 this season. He failed to record a strikeout in his final five appearances for the Yankees, facing 12 batters over that span, and with an increase in walks and an increase in contact against him, four of his last six inherited runners scored. Carpenter had just one perfect appearance in May. It was time to go and so he went.
The move had been long overdue, but when it comes to Girardi and Brian Cashman, no move is ever made on time or before disaster strikes. The Yankees are all about second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth and seventh chances for players with limited ability or players who clearly not working out or players with no future or who have reached their ceiling or who have a history of being bad. It’s why Esmil Rogers, a 29-year-old with a 5.50 career ERA, is still on the team. It’s why Stephen Drew, who has hit .163/.235/.301 over his last 482 plate appearances is still a Yankee. It’s why Chris Capuano, a career starter who has been detrimental to the team in all four of his appearances this season, is still a Yankee. And it’s those three that are on the DFA Waitlist.
UP: Esmil Rogers
Esmil Rogers has made 16 appearances for the Yankees. One of those has been perfect. That appearance came on Opening Day when he faced one hitter (Jose Bautista) and struck him out. Since then, Rogers has been the same old hittable Esmil Rogers that has pitched to a 5.50 ERA in 452 career innings.
On Opening Day, Rogers was the long man, but now with Capuano being forced to the bullpen, he doesn’t have a role anymore. In 10 of Rogers’ 16 appearances this season, he has either allowed at least one earned run or at least one inherited runner to score. So you can scratch the idea of him being trusted as a right-handed middle reliever in a big spot. His role now is to wake up every morning and thank God he is a Major League Baseball player for the New York Yankees making $1.48 million (!!!) this season.
Unfortunately, the only two right-handers in the bullpen for the Yankees now are Rogers and Dellin Betances. Girardi would rather pick a right-handed person out of the crowd to face a right-handed hitter prior to the eighth inning than let one of his left-handers face the righty, so this is a problem. As long as Rogers is on the roster, Girardi is going to find work for him, and if the situation calls for a righty and it’s not the eighth or ninth inning, it’s going to be Rogers getting the call until Girardi realizes that ability matters more than the arm you throw with.
If the Yankees designate Rogers for assignment (I say “if” because they let Sergio Mitre and Chad Gaudin hang around forever), I would bet heavily against another team picking him up.
ON DECK: Stephen Drew
I said Stephen Drew had full-season “Ladies and gentlemen” immunity after his grand slam in Baltimore in April, but I didn’t say he had “DFA” immunity.
The Yankees finally sat Drew down on the West Coast to give Jose Pirela a chance to play more than once a month and just when it looked like Drew was playing himself off the team, he came up with a game-saving hit against Fernando Rodney on Tuesday night. But like Stephen Drew does, he followed it up with an 0-for-3 on Wednesday to drop to .165. He hasn’t seen .200 all year with his highest average of .193 coming on April 27.
Drew has been lucky that he is the only player on the team that can play both second and short with Didi Gregorius only being able to play short and Jose Pirela only being able to play second. But Brendan Ryan is on his way back and he can play anywhere, so Drew will now have to play with some urgency, even though I would take Stephen Drew over Brendan Ryan every day of the week and twice on Sunday because the best Brendan Ryan is going to do for you is hit a single. At least Drew can hit for some power.
If it was my call, I would play Drew at short, Pirela or Rob Refsnyder at second and sit Didi Gregorius down, as he has been a disaster in the field, at the plate and on the bases. Put Drew back in the only position he ever played before becoming a Yankee and let him try to regain the comfort level he had with the Red Sox in 2013. However, Cashman will never admit to his mistake of trading for Gregorius and likely still views the player who lost his starting job with the Diamondbacks in 2014 as the shortstop of the future for the Yankees, so that idea is out of the question.
If Drew doesn’t start to hit with some consistency, he is going to lose his job. And he is going to lose it to .234 career hitter with 19 career home runs.
IN THE HOLE: Chris Capuano
The Yankees should have never re-signed Chris Capuano. The Yankees should have never done a lot of things they have done in the last two offseasons, but they did. Capuano made three starts for the Yankees going 0-3 with this line: 12.2 IP, 18 H, 11 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 12 K, 2 HR. For $5 million, which is what Capuano is making, I could have made three starts for the Yankees and lost all of them.
Now that Tanaka is back, Capuano is in the bullpen, which is where he was for all 28 of appearances for the Red Sox last season before he was designated for assignment by them. Capuano’s only job will be as a long man since he doesn’t have the stuff to translate into a middle reliever or late-innings role. If he pitches the way he did in his three starts as a reliever, he will be designated for assignment for the second time in as many years.