A Small Surprise

We knew the Yankees were going to have to make a roster move to get Masahiro Tanaka activated today. We knew the roster move would involve a pitcher. What is surprising is that the move is a DFA of David Carpenter. Carpenter was brought in to be a power righty in the late innings and he flopped. His strikeout rate plunged while his home run rate increased. His ERA is almost five, but his FIP is even higher. Clearly he wasn’t getting it done, but it is still a surprise. I say that for two reasons. First, they just traded Manny Banuelos for Carpenter and Shreve and Carpenter hasn’t even reached arbitration eligibility yet.  Second, by removing Carpenter from the bullpen, the Yankees now have five lefties and two righties in there. That could be a serious problem.

Now the first reason doesn’t bother me at all and actually encourages me. The Yankees recognized that Carpenter was sunk cost and they decided the best course of action was to get rid of him and find a different solution. That’s a great way to think in a sport where guaranteed contracts tend to paralyze decision making. (Carpenter is only making $1.3-million, but still the cheap/easier move would have been to demote Lindgren.)

The second reason is more of a worry to me because five lefties is a huge number and it only works if the lefties can get righties and lefties out. Here the Yankees may have some issues. Not with Andrew Miller, he clearly gets both out. And not with Justin Wilson. His numbers aren’t pretty so far, but his FIP is 3.06 and he has held lefties to almost the exact same OPS as righties in his career. The problem is that beyond that we just don’t know what the remaining lefties are capable of.

Capuano is the long guy, and so far this season he hasn’t gotten lefties or righties out. How his FIP is almost two runs less than his ERA, but an ERA over 4 is still below average in the majors this year. Then you have Shreve and Lindgren, two guys with potential, but not much in the way of a track record. Those two are the key to this move. If they can pitch to both lefties and righties, the Yankees have made a smart decision. If they can’t, expect the bullpen shuttle to warm up quickly. It’s a gutsy move and one that I like, but there is plenty of risk to it.