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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WHAT TO DO WITH EDUARDO NUNEZ

There was a huge response from Casey's piece titled THE YANKEES FUTURE SHORTSTOP...EDUARDO NUNEZ? So, I needed to give me 2 cents as well. So here it goes...

When Eduardo Nunez made 2 errors in the first two innings of play against the Rays last week and Girardi pulled Nunez in the sixth inning of that game in favor of Jayson Nix, I got to thinking...why do the Yankees still hang onto this guy? It's a long story...here it goes...
Look, Nunez is a young player who is trying to stick in the major leagues. Now that he's been shipped to the minors, his confidence is likely shot with all the constant, and sometimes well deserved, ridicule he’s received due to his defense...the demotion doesn't help things either, although he's trying to stay positive and the Yankees are too saying that they really want him to play every day. Read HERE.

I wanted to break down Nunez and his positions for you. I thought it would be a cool exercise. So far this year, he’s played shortstop, third base, second base, left field, and right field. Let’s take a look:

  • Shortstop: 66 games, 468.2 innings, .929 Fld%, -23.6 UZR/150, -11 DRS
  • Third base: 62 games, 412.1 innings, .920 Fld%, -27.5 UZR/150, -3 DRS
  • Second base: 18 games, 91 innings, .977 Fld%, -7.4 UZR/150, 0 DRS
  • Left field: 4 games, 26 innings, 1.000 Fld%, 9.1 UZR/150, 0 DRS
  • Right field: 4 games, 17.1 innings, 1.000 Fld%, -10.6 UZR/150, -1 DRS
We’re dealing with some pretty small samples here, but Nunez doesn’t have a long resume in the Bigs, so this is all we’ve got for now. As you can see, he’s played the majority of the time at either shortstop or third base. In the minors, however, Nunez played 600 games at shortstop while playing only 17 at third base. Shortstop was Nunez’s primary position in the minors, and the same should be said of him in the majors. Personally, Nunez shouldn’t see third base unless if it’s an absolute emergency. The Yankees have players on the roster who are capable of playing third when Alex Rodriguez is not. When healthy, Eric Chavez can fill those duties, and the same can be said of Jayson Nix.

While Brett Gardner was injured, and before Nunez went down to AAA, the Yankees tried Nunez in the outfield, specifically in left field. I was on board with that; It give Nunez some more at-bats considering Derek Jeter can’t have a half-day or a full day off at shortstop every time out. Nunez is athletic, and I think he has what it takes to play the outfield. Read WHY NOT MAKE NUNEZ AN OUTFIELDER? It's our opinion at BYB that he’s looked fairly decent in left, considering he’s only played out there for a short amount of time. The old saying is practice makes perfect, right? If the Yankees were to stick with Nunez in left field, maybe things would work out nicely...if he ever comes back up again. But I’m sure the experiment would have worked out.

I know some of you are asking why Nunez didn’t DH more often. There are two reasons why. One being that guys like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez need their half-days off. Both of these guys are getting up there in age, so the Yankees didn’t want to clog the DH spot with a young, athletic player who should get his time in the field. Secondly, because his lack of power. I’m probably not alone on this, but I like DH’s who can hit for power, and so far in his young career Nunez can’t hit for much power. Nunez has just six homers in 162 career games (68 AB/HR), a career .377 slugging percentage, and a career .110 ISO, all well below average. It’s not bad that Nunez doesn’t hit for power, it’s just that DH'ing isn’t the right fit for him.

So what happens now with this kid? The Yankees train Nunez in AAA and wait.  Clearly they want him to be the Yankees shortstop, but don't dismiss that left field role either. We kind of like that idea here. Some fans want to unload him, but that’s simply wrong . Nunez is 24 years old, cost controlled (Earns $500K in 2012, isn’t arbitration eligible until 2014, under team control until 2017), has speed (33 career steals, 83% success rate), and can play many positions. Those four things make him pretty valuable and I can see why the Yankees are giving Nunez every opportunity he can get.



--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
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@SchindlerJesse


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