I don't want to try to jinx anything here, but at this point in the season I think we can all agree that the Yankees will make the playoffs one way or another. So now the question becomes, what is their initial postseason 25-man roster going to look like? Taking injuries out of the equation, we can safely assume the roster will look like this:
Bullpen: Mo, D-Rob, Wood, Joba, Marte, Boone Logan (the only guy who doesn't get a nickname or even his name shortened because "Boone Logan" just sounds badass), Aceves, Vazquez
Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of taking injuries out of the equation, and if the playoffs were to start today, you wouldn't be seeing A-Rod, Berkman, Andy, Marte, or Aceves on the roster for the ALDS. Their spots would most likely be filled up by Eduardo Nunez, Dustin Moseley, Ivan Nova, Sergio Mitre, and Chad Gaudin for 12 positional players and 13 pitchers instead of the other way around.
We more than likely won't be seeing Nunez or Gaudin on the postseason roster as A-Rod will be back, but the other 4 guys are not such sure bets to make it back. Andy has already had setbacks to his return and is still out until at least mid-September, Berkman's injured ankle could linger and limit his ability to play, Aceves has battled his back issues all year and got rocked in his last rehab outing last night, and nobody seems to know anything about Damaso Marte's status so he might have actually died. This combined uncertainty about guys who would be playoff roster staples combined with the continued piss-poor performance from A.J. and Javy poses some very interesting scenarios and choices for the Yankees.
As it is right now, I would not even consider putting Vazquez on the roster, instead putting Sergio Mitre in the 'pen as the long man. And I've already stated that I would rather see Phil Hughes start Game 2 of any and every series and push A.J. back to the 4th starter role if Andy is good to go. But what if Andy can't go? Who becomes the 4th starter? If Ivan Nova dazzles down the stretch, does he deserve a spot? If Nunez starts to adjust to Major League pitching in the last month and starts hitting better, does he get the utility spot over Pena? And who is the next position player in line to fill in if another guy goes down? These are the important possibilities the Yanks are going to have to consider as the season winds down.
** Check back tonight for my initial 2010 AP Top 25 Yankee Playoff Roster Poll. **
Just in case we needed a reminder, here's how bad A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez have been this year. Their combined stats for the season are as follows:
18-20, 278 IP, 285 H, 113 BB, 152 ER, 213 K, 4.92 ERA, 1.43 WHIP, 1.88K/BB ratio
Just putrid. And when you factor in their combined $28 million in salary this year, the Yankees are paying them $1,555,555.556 per win this year.
For the sake of comparison, here are Dustin Moseley and Ivan Nova's combined stats:
5-2, 54 IP, 54 H, 19 BB, 25 ER, 27 K, 4.17 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 1.42 K/BB ratio
Now I know that's a very small sample size, but still. Come the fuck on! If you would have asked most Yankee fans if they thought A.J. Burnett and Javy Vazquez were going to put up combined numbers so bad that the Yankees would be skipping their starts and separating them in the rotation with 23-year-old Triple-A pitchers while they counted on Dustin Moseley to provide some balance and winning to the rotation, they would have emphatically said "no."
The point is, A.J. and Javy were being counted on this season to provide length and stability to a rotation that featured an older pitcher who did end up on the DL and a younger one on an innings limit and they haven't done that. It's actually kind of sad that the Yankees have had to count on Moseley and Nova this year, but thank The Almighty Jesus Montero for Moseley and Nova being there. Their combined contracts value is $800,000 so the Yanks are paying them chump change for their wins and innings while they give away millions to Dink and Doink for a sub-.500 record and 3- and 4-inning clunkers.
At this point, Javy has all but pitched himself off the playoff roster, and A.J. may not be far behind. At the very least, he would be the 4th guy in my rotation behind CC, Hughes, and Andy (assuming Andy is healthy). And if he can't get it together over the last month of the season, I wouldn't hesitate to put Moseley or Nova on the playoff roster and throw them out there for a Game 4 start if I were Joe.
For all the bang for their buck that the Yanks have gotten from CC, Teix, and Swish, they simply aren't getting anything from A.J. and Javy.
It's only for one start, but it's better than nothing. At least the Yankees are making decisions that give the team the best chance to win rather than throwing more unearned loyalty to a veteran who's pitching like dogshit. That being said, I'm sure Javy will be back in the rotation after he gets skipped on Sunday, but you never know. If Nova goes out and pitches well again this weekend, he could make the decision very difficult. At the very least, the Yankees will step on the field this Sunday with a chance to win, something they wouldn't have with Javy out there.