For those of you who haven’t been keeping up, the Yankees gave Dean Anna a bench spot yesterday, which leaves one spot left on the roster (Brendan Ryan is hurt, so this is his spot, technically). The two remaining guys in camp are Eduardo Nuñez and Yangervis Solarte. Furthermore, the mystery took another turn when the Yankees instructed both Solarte and Nuñez to show up to camp today without their bags packed (even though one of them is going to Houston with the team). So who should the Yankees pick?
If we’re basing it on major league experience and convenience, then Nuñez should get the job. “Nunni” not only has already earned a patented Joe Girardi nickname, but he’s spent the better part of the last four seasons with the team. He can also play basically all around the infield, and has shown a little pop from time to time. He brings that versatility to the table, as well as a ton of speed, and could be a useful part of this lineup. Unfortunately, the kid has gotten chance after chance to make an impact and has all but fallen flat on his face every time. His defense, despite having great range, is atrocious. He also hasn’t been able to display the pop in his bat on a consistent level. Last year, when Jeter went down all year, Nuñez did nothing to establish himself as a major leaguer. Why should they trust him again?
We’ve covered Solarte on the blog before. At 26, he’s only a year younger than Nuñez, but he has zero big league experience under his belt. Than being said, Solarte has had a couple of decent years at AAA with the Rangers the last two seasons. Last year, in the admittedly hitter-friendly PCL league, he hit .276/.323/.403 with 12 homers and 75 RBI. That’s the same league Dean Anna hit .331 in last year, so the average is pretty low, it seems. That being said, Solarte has torn the cover off the ball this spring, and is currently hitting .429/.489/.571 with 2 homers and 9 RBI. He can also play second, short and third like Nuñez, but unlike Nuñez, he can hit the broad side of a barn with his throws. Solarte, however, is not on the 40 man roster, which means someone would have to be removed if he is to make the team, although I think Ryan’s DL stint will alleviate that concern.
At the end of the day, it should come down to who can help the team most. The Yankees are very familiar with Nuñez. This could help him or hurt him, because they know what he’s good at and what he’s terrible at. Solarte is more of an unknown, as he’s never faced major league pitching other than in Spring Training, but it might be time to try someone new for the spot. Solarte also has an opt out in his contract if he doesn’t make the team, although he has said he’s willing to go to AAA with a team if he thinks he has a good chance to eventually be in the bigs. Nuñez, meanwhile, has a minor league option left, so the Yankees can send him to AAA without having to make him clear waivers first. They can afford to try Solarte for a while and turn back to Nuñez if Yangervis falters.
At the end of the day, this is not a World Series making roster move. This is the 25th man on the bench. If whoever wins this spot plays more than once per week, the Yankees are probably in trouble anyway. Also, Ryan will, presumably, be back sooner rather than later, so neither one of these guys might be around for long anyway. I think the right move is to try something new and go with Solarte. They can always bring Nuñez back if necessary. Also, his name is Yangervis. I can’t stress that enough.
Featured image courtesy of: US Presswite (Nuñez) and Yanks Go Yard (Solarte)
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