As September approaches, it’s about time to consider who the Yankees might look to as reinforcements when the roster expands. The expanded rosters will enable the Yankees to have extra depth can certainly come in handy, especially in extra-inning games. It will also allow them to give a few rookies an opportunity to get a taste of the big leagues. In addition, Andy Pettitte and Alex Rodriguez are expected to return at some point in September. In recent years, the Yankees have only called up players they plan to use with some regularity on the first of September with more coming once the AAA squad’s season is over. They will likely continue that trend this season. Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of potential callups and how they would be used.
Francisco Cervelli: September callups almost always include a third catcher and this year will be no exception. The obvious choice would be Francisco Cervelli who was shunned to AAA with the pre-season acquisition of Chris Stewart. Cervelli has been mediocre at Empire State this year having posted a .318 wOBA. He should be activated on the first and likely won’t see too much playing-time barring injury.
Austin Romine: 2012’s been pretty much a lost year for Romine due to nagging injuries. At long last, he’s healthy and playing in AAA now. It would be silly to call him up and sit him on the bench while he could be getting some much needed reps in the minors. However, there’s a chance he’ll be called up once Empire State gets eliminated. The Yankees did this with Cervelli when he missed most of the season back in 2008. It’s unlikely he’ll see any meaningful time.
Corban Joseph: Joseph has played very well in AA and AAA this season. Considering he’s already on the 40-man, there’s a good chance he gets the call once the minor league season is over. He would probably just be used in blow-outs and meaningless games to get his feet wet in the majors.
Ramiro Pena: Pena pretty much is what he is at this point. He’s a good glove, no hit infielder who can play all over the infield. There’s a chance he’ll be back in September to serve as a late inning defensive replacement. However, there’s probably a better chance he gets cut to free up a roster spot for someone more significant.
David Adams: Adams has finally managed to remain healthy this year and has hit well in AA. Considering he’s already on the 40-man, a callup is a possibility. However, he would be pretty far down on the totem-pole and wouldn’t see much playing time.
Brandon Laird: Although he’s on the 40-man, it’s hard to imagine Laird even getting a callup. His wOBA in AAA is an unimpressive .325 and he’s made 19 errors in the field. He will probably end up being DFA’d to make room for someone on the 40 man.
Chris Dickerson: Chris Dickerson has absolutely raked for AAA Empire State this season as he possesses a .418 wOBA. Considering he’s also a plus defender, he would definately be useful. Although he’s not on the 40-man, there’s still a chance he’ll get a callup and serve as the team’s fifth outfielder down the stretch. The only issue would be clearing a spot for him.
Melky Mesa: Mesa hit very well in AA this year (.373 wOBA) and has continued to hit upon being bumped up to AAA (.357 wOBA). He’s on the 40-man here’s a good chance he’ll be up to get his feet wet after the minor league season is over, especially if they Yankees can’t find a spot for Dickerson.
Zoilo Almonte: Almonte has also hit well in AA (.374 wOBA), but is clearly behind Mesa on the depth chart for the time being. A callup is unlikely despite his spot on the 40-man.
Brett Gardner: Joe Girardi has said there was a chance Gardner would be back in September as a pinch runner. That would certainly help the team, but also might risk Gardner’s availability for next year. Considering someone would have to be cut to free up a roster spot, a Gardner return seems unlikely.
Pedro Feliciano: After 2 years of rehabbing, Feliciano is supposedly close to returning. He would work as the third lefty out of the pen and would have an outside chance of forcing his way onto the playoff roster given the Yankees bullpen struggles.
Cory Wade: Wade was one of the team’s most reliable relievers in 2011 and in early 2012. Unfortunately, he completely fell apart and was sent to AAA to try and work things out. He’s been decent in AAA (2.70 ERA, 4.51 FIP) and will certainly be back to ease the bullpen load a little bit. He would have a very outside chance of making the post season roster.
Mark Montgomery: Montgomery has been great in Tampa and Trenton; but, a callup is probably not going to happen unless there’s an injury. Aside from his lack of experience, adding him would lead to a roster crunch. Laird and Justin Thomas would be the obvious cuts for Pettitte and Feliciano. The only other person on the 40 man who would appear disposable would be Ramiro Pena. Dickerson probably has a better chance at taking that spot than Montgomery. Nonetheless, an injury to any of the bullpen pieces might force the Yankees’ hand. There’s a little excerpt about Montgomery in yesterday’s article on middle relief.
Adam Warren: Warren has been solid in AAA all season and should see some innings out of the bullpen in September.
Dellin Betances: Betances’ 2012 season has been disastrous. He’s on the 40-man, but he’s also done nothing to earn a callup. It’s probably still too soon to DFA him though, given his flashes of potential.
Justin Thomas: He’s a fringy lefty reliever who is all but guaranteed to be cut unless Feliciano were to experience a setback in his rehab.
Photo by Keith Allison [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons