On September Call-Ups And Realistic Expectations

Aaron Judge The Yankees will be back in action tonight after an off-day that was much needed for many players.  The Bombers have been slumping badly with the bats for the last 3 weeks, and there are a few guys who are banged up and/or slumping enough to probably get more time off tonight.  The decision to play with a really short bench the last few games has been a puzzling one, but there is some respite on the horizon in the form of September roster expansions.  They kick in next Tuesday and the Yankees are sure to take advantage of that added roster space and call up a healthy dose of players.

While that added depth could do wonders for the pitching staff, there isn't really much help on the way for the struggling, dinged up offense.  I've noticed an uptick in comments calling for the Yankees to "shake things up" and looking forward to the team "injecting some youth" when rosters expand, and while I agree with the basic idea that adding more bodies can be a benefit, I think it's important to be realistic in expectations as it relates to the players getting called up.  This isn't the Yankees' versions of Carlos Correa and Kyle Schwarber coming up to get regular at-bats as new additions to the everyday lineup.  In fact, I think there's very little the Triple-A guys can bring to the everyday lineup and I don't see the Yankees doing anything with them to make meaningful changes to that lineup.

Think about it.  If Rob Refsnyder was really going to come up and supplant Stephen Drew as the starting second baseman, wouldn't he be up here already?  As much as he's improved in the second half, Drew is way past the point of needing to prove he's worthy of keeping his job.  He's not, we all know that, and I'll put faith in the idea that the front office braintrust knows it too.  If they really felt Refsnyder was going to be a big step up from Drew, he would have replaced Drew by now.  He probably never would have been sent back down after his cup of coffee.  But he was, and he hasn't done anything to force the team to re-evaluate him and reconsider.  The statistical truth is that he's hitting .269/.360/.396 in over 500 Triple-A plate appearances this season.  That's not a lineup savior.

While he did confirm that the team is going to call up Refs on Tuesday, Cash's told reporters yesterday that the team is not planning on calling up top hitting prospect Aaron Judge.  People don't seem happy with that decision, but really look at the situation.  Judge is hitting .232/.319/.405 in 213 Triple-A PA with a 28.6% K rate, and he's not on the 40-man roster.  The holes in his swing have been found by upper level pitching and he could stand to spend some more time in the Minors working on shoring them up.  He might run into a few in the Majors if called up, but it's far more likely that he would struggle and if that's the case then why go through the hassle of juggling the 40-man more than you have to.

Other than those 2 guys, who else can we really expect to come up and make a major impact?  Gary Sanchez was put on the DL with a hamstring injury, so he's out.  Jose Pirela?  Slade Heathcott?  They provide great flexibility, but who are they going to replace in the lineup and significantly improve upon that player's performance?  The pitching staff should get a pretty healthy boost from roster expansions; all those Triple-A shuttle arms together in one place for Joe to choose from, Bryan Mitchell back as extra rotation depth.  But the lineup isn't fixing to get that same boost, if it gets any boost at all, and people need to accept that reality now.

And it's not a matter of the Yankees "not wanting to give the kids a chance".  Any smart fan who's followed this season already knows that's not the case.  The Yankees have done a great job using their top prospects and their upper-level depth to help the big league club this season, and the transition to the next generation of players has already begun.  But as far as this season goes, and as far as the postseason race goes, the Yankees are going to go as far as their slumping veteran bats are going to take them.  They need the Teixeiras and the A-Rods and the Gardners of the world to get back to the way they were hitting earlier in the season.  That's what got them here and that's what's going to push them into the postseason and take them as far as they're going to go.