With Sergio Mitre starting and a big four game set against the Red Sox looming, Anthony Claggett's recall yesterday was a prudent move. The downside is it returned the roster construction to the absurd 13 man pitching staff (not to mention indirectly caused some baffling substitutions).
That said, Brett Gardner's broken thumb and Alex Rodriguez' semi-regular rest necessitates the presence of a second back-up infielder on the roster beyond Jerry Hairston Jr, so another move will likely be made today.
Cody Ransom was a replacement level player at best, but I can't quite comprehend the level of vitriol directed at him in recent weeks nor the amount of revelry in the wake of his DFA-ing yesterday. Then again, I made bashing Angel Berroa and Brett Tomko a routine part of my schtick, so who am I to judge? I wouldn't be at all surprised if Ransom winds up at Scranton when this all shakes out.
Either way, a replacement is needed for the replacement level player, and indications are that a move may be made today (see the 5:41 update)- which would be wise in my estimation.
Ramiro Pena will almost assuredly be the player to come up and Claggett will almost assuredly be the one to go. Too bad Claggett didn't get a chance to lower his 43.20 career ERA. As for Pena, he was sent down on July 1st following the acquisition of Eric Hinske. Going to AAA for the first time in his career, Pena hit .241/.341/.366 in 134 PA. His AVG at Scranton was actually lower than his career minor league mark, but he showed improvement in both OBP and SLG. The IsoD of .100 is particularly encouraging. The sample size is small, but in one month at AAA Pena received 38 more PA than he did in three months in the Majors. I'm hopeful that his needed time in AAA will prove valuable to his overall development.
Defensively at Scranton, Pena made 19 appearances at SS, 8 at 2B, and 5 in CF. Learning centerfield was one of Pena's main objectives upon his optioning out, but as Cliff Corcoran pointed out at Bronx Banter yesterday, the arrival of Jerry Hairston Jr makes it far less important for Pena to be capable in CF for right now. For what it's worth, he handled 10 chances in CF flawlessly at Scranton, and can still increase his stock over the long term if he's able to play both IF and OF.
As it looks right now, the Yankee bench moving forward will be Hinske, Hairston, Pena, and Jose Molina, with Pena likely being optioned again if Gardner returns this month. That bench doesn't offer much in the way of offense. Hinske, and to a lesser extent Molina, will run into one every now and again, but none of the four have particularly good OBP skills.
However, to a man, the Yankee starters are good to excellent offensively, with Melky Cabrera's OPS+ of 111 ranking last amongst the usual nine. As such, the offensive skills of the bench are of secondary importance to what else the bench can offer.
In Molina there is an excellent defensive catcher who is reputed as one of the best game callers in the league.
In Hairston there is a utility man capable of playing anywhere but catcher. He offers some speed off the bench and has a good baseball pedigree coming from one of the three baseball families to span three generations.
In Pena there is an excellent defensive infielder who also can pinch run and who I hope has made some progress at the plate during his time at AAA - perhaps that's already manifested in his IsoD.
In Hinske you have a good pinch hitting option who has good pop and average OBP skills. He's a risk with the glove, but he won't kill you in RF or at 1B, and could play 3B and LF in a pinch.
As Joel Sherman pointed out yesterday, that's a nice, versatile bench - and that's about the best you can ask for when rolling out a regular line up such as the one the Yankees have. Gardner's return and the September roster expansion will allow the Yankees to augment the bench further and maybe add a little more offensive skill just in case.
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