The New York Yankees are going to have some tough decisions to make once their injured players start returning to action.
Tommy Kahnle, Adam Warren, Aaron Hicks, Billy McKinney, Clint Frazier, Jacoby Ellsbury and CC Sabathia are all either on the disabled list or have spent some time on the shelf. However, there are two players who are currently working their way back from injuries that bring up the most questions: Brandon Drury and Greg Bird.
Bird has yet to play a single game in the regular season thus far, while Drury appeared in eight before being placed on the DL. Because of that, the Yankees needed replacements for their starting first and third basemen.
Had all three of these players been playing poorly, it’d be an easy call to have the injured players take over when healthy. But that’s not the case. While Walker has struggled, hitting just .172 with no home runs and three RBI entering Thursday, Andujar and Austin have been two of the better hitters on the team.
It seems like Andujar and Austin are getting extra base hits or driving in runs on a nightly basis, especially when it matters most. Entering play Thursday, Andujar is hitting .292 with 11 RBI and 13 extra-base hits, three of which are home runs. Austin is hitting .305 with five home runs and 16 RBI. If you’re the Yankees, how can you justify taking these bats out of the lineup?
They can’t. After a slow start to the season, the Yankees have begun to hit their stride. Messing with what they’ve got going right now doesn’t make any sense.
So what should they do?
Well, Drury seems to be the closest to a return. But with the team recently calling up Gleyber Torres to seemingly be the everyday second baseman, and with Andujar at third, Drury should be coming off of the bench.
When Andujar or Torres needs a day off, Drury could fill in. Exploring a trade involving Drury could be an option as well at some point, especially if Andujar continues to produce and Torres begins flashing his sky-high potential.
The first base situation may be a bit easier. Rather than demote Austin again because he has options, the Yankees should continue the platoon idea at first but swap out Walker for Bird.
Bird is highly thought of by the team and Walker was a guy they picked up last minute who has not performed. Once Bird is ready, the Yankees should release Walker and slide Bird into his slot, allowing him and the hot-hitting Austin to patrol first base.
While Walker is playing well defensively, only committing one error at first base so far, Austin is playing just as well. Austin too has only been responsible for one error, but his bat is far superior to Walker’s.
The ultimate point to be made here is that the Yankees cannot bench or demote Austin or Andujar just because Bird and Drury are returning.
With the team finally starting to look like the offensive monster that was advertised for months, they can’t go and mess with the formula. They need to ease them back onto the roster and continue to go with the hot hands.