No one wants to see a pro-athlete suffer an injury. They can, however, lead the way to improvement, and force the hand of the front office or manager to make moves they didn’t have the stones to make when a player is healthy.
Jacoby Ellsbury and C.C. Sabathia are among some of the latest injuries the Yankees have suffered. Ellsbury left yesterday’s game in the first inning with a right hip injury that a subsequent MRI would reveal was a strain. He is currently listed as day-to-day. Aging veteran C.C. Sabathia was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left groin strain.
The 40 year-old Alex Rodriguez also recently hit the 15-day DL for the second time this season, but even while being limited to a role as DH, it is to be somewhat expected. He is, after all, one of the few players in the league older than I am.
These are not season ending injuries such as the one the young first base prospect Greg Bird suffered during the off-season, when he had to undergo surgery to repair his torn right labrum, but they do open the door to possibly getting a glimpse of some AAA talent.
The bad news …
The timing is very “2016 Yankees”. Though they won on a controversial couple of 9th inning pitches by Andrew Miller to David Ortiz, which led to a strikeout of Big Papi with the bases loaded, a John Farrell ejection, and a game ending K versus Hanley Ramirez, timing has not been something the Bombers have excelled in this year, batting just .207 with runners in scoring position. C.C. is coming off two of his best starts in recent memory, and although the first of the two, in Texas, resulted in a Yankees loss and wasn’t exactly pitcher of the week material, it did show signs of the old [read: much younger] C.C. His last start, May 4, in Baltimore was very promising, having pitched 7 innings, with 6 K’s and no earned runs in an all-to-rare Yankees victory.
Likewise, Ellsbury has been coming on stronger of late, pulling his average up from near the Mendoza Line in mid-April when it sat at .213 to its current .260, and has a slash line of .400/.526/.600 over the last 5 games. Even ARod has started to come around recently, with a slash of .368/.400/1.000, with three home runs and 3 doubles in his last 6 games.
The less than great but not quite bad news …
While these injuries could present opportunities to get a glimpse of some young talent, even if it is brief, the Yankees instead optioned to call up Ben Gamel, a lesser known prospect who had a solid 2015 season with Scranton/Wilkes Barre, and Phil Coke, who is a solid 32 year-old pitcher that has spent most of his career coming out of the bullpen, so expect to see Ivan Nova fill the #5 spot in the rotation.
I’m actually alright with the move to bring up Gamel, letting the highly anticipated debut of Aaron Judge wait a bit longer, but I would have liked to have seen maybe Chad Green (1-3, 1.45 ERA, 1.16 WHIP) brought up from AAA for a couple of starts, or even Tyler Webb (1-0, 1.88 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) if you want to back fill Nova’s spot in the bullpen while he fills in for Sabathia. Nova has been in that role, and proven he can’t handle it, not to mention he has given up 8 earned runs in just 14 inning so far in 2016, so I’d personally rather see a starter called up.
The good news …
There is a light at the end of the tunnel … or so it would seem. The Yankees have a middle of the road farm system right now, but it is one of the best they’ve had in years. Prospects such as Aaron Judge, Jorge Mateo, and Gary Sanchez, provide a lot of hope for replacing some of our aging players such as Carlos Beltran, Brian McCann, and ARod (if Mateo can make an adjustment and play third base), and don’t forget about Greg Bird, who will hopefully be able to replace Mark Teixeira.
I do expect both Judge and Sanchez to be seen in The Bronx at some point this season, although with the less than ballsy moves by Cashman and company, I wouldn’t expect to see it prior to the September roster expansion.
There is hope Yankees Nation. We may just have to be, dare I say it …. patient.
Jason Greco, @thatbaseballer1
Header image credit: YES Network