How Much Longer Should The Yankees Wait To Make More Roster Changes?

A little over a month ago I wrote a post on the importance of the Yankees using some off-days to prepare for how they could go about improving the weakest parts of their roster.  At the time they had a healthy bullpen, a good enough rotation, and a few position players (Drew & Jones) that stood out as obvious replacement candidates based on their weak production. 4 weeks later, the landscape has changed a bit.  The bullpen is now in tatters, both in terms of health and effectiveness, Jones has started to hit better, and Chris Young has slid into Jones' spot as the painfully under-performing bench player.  Drew is still stinky and that's a problem, but it might not be the most glaring one anymore based on his power output and above-average defensive value.  With the team in the midst of another bitter cold streak and its lack of overall depth being exposed by the National League rules, it's time for the brain trust to get serious about what they can do to improve these areas of weakness and when.

As far as the bullpen is concerned, the rebuild efforts are ongoing.  Jacob Lindgren has come and gone and landed on the DL since being sent back down to Triple-A, Jose Ramirez still doesn't appear to be the answer for important middle relief work, and we haven't seen enough of Sergio Santos yet to accurately say if he's just another Esmil or not.  The Yankees are probably going to make a few moves today to get some fresh arms up and they do have the luxury of having plenty of those fresh arms available in the upper levels of their system.  There are a few intriguing trade possibilities to consider (cough cough, Papelbon, cough cough), but the Yankees don't necessarily need to wade into those waters just yet.  The fact that they are already working on addressing the bullpen problems is the most important thing.

So what about Drew?  He had a little hot streak going after his weekend benching at the end of May (7-25, 4 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 1 BB, 1 K from 6/1 to 6/9).  Since last Tuesday, however, he's 3-18 with no homers, 2 BB, and 2 K, and his season slash line sits at an unsightly .174/.238/.364 (63 wRC+).  Jose Pirela didn't do much in his short-lived audition for more of Drew's playing time, and Brendan Ryan obviously isn't the answer there either.  If Drew is going to continue to hit this poorly and contribute a few homers here and there, he shouldn't be the everyday second baseman.  Rob Refsnyder is swinging a hot bat in Triple-A again and it's gotten to the point where his potential offensive production should carry more weight than Drew's defensive value.

Young has basically fallen off a cliff since his scorching hot April.  He OPS'd .405 in May with a 28.6% K rate and he hasn't hit for much average or power in 20 plate appearances so far this month.  He's hit 1 home run since May 2nd and has but 1 other XBH in that same timeframe, a double on May 9th.  Unlike Drew, he isn't contributing much with his glove either, so it's almost impossible to see what value he's bringing to the team right now.  If Jacoby Ellsbury weren't on the DL and Carlos Beltran wasn't a walking waste of roster space in his own right, chances are we would have seen the last of Young already.  But the Yankees aren't short on Triple-A outfielders either and they need to start giving serious thought to how important it is to have Young's "presence" as a right-handed bat on their bench.

Even the rotation could be fit into this discussion, with Ivan Nova close to returning from the DL and the 3 guys at the back end all having some form of legitimate case for why they should stay or go.  Adam Warren has a track record of success in the 'pen and could be a big help in filling that gap.  CC is basically a 6-inning starter with a penchant for giving up home runs at bad times, and Eovaldi straight up doesn't miss bats and can't finish off hitters with 2 strikes.

That decision will be coming soon simply because Nova's rehab time will be up and he will have to be activated.  The decision timelines for Drew and Young are unknown and could take longer.  The All-Star break isn't all that far off and the trade deadline is close behind it, but can the Yankees really afford to wait that long?  They've managed to stay at or near the top of the division despite all these glaring weaknesses, and I'd like to think they can help improve the extreme hot-or-cold nature of their overall performance by addressing those weaknesses.  Drew has had plenty of time to prove he can hit better than he has and he hasn't done it.  Young has turned back into the player he was before he was released last season.  If they're both still around in their current roles come the ASB a/o trade deadline, that would be another sign that ownership really isn't focused on winning.