It's that time of the year again. September call ups will soon be upon us as the active roster expands to 40. Many clubs use this time to evaluate the young players that they have in preparation for next season, while teams in contention use their call ups for depth and reinforcements in order to rest their starters.
The Yankees are somewhat caught in the middle this year. They've come out of obscurity to make a run for a wild card spot, however small a chance they have at this point, and now they have to play their starters as much as possible if they want the best shot at the playoffs. That doesn't leave much time for evaluation and most of them are unlikely to play much, if at all, but whoever they are and however they're used, they're likely to be helpful in some capacity.
Here are the candidates for the Yankees' 2013 September call ups:
40-Man Roster Candidates
David Adams - Despite hitting poorly (.194/.257/.271), Adams showed solid glove work at third base and could still bring some value as a late-inning sub in place of the injured Jayson Nix. He'll likely get a call up, but it's a mystery what they'll actually be using him for.
Zoilo Almonte - He's been MIA ever since spraining his ankle on first base. If he's healthy, he'll be the Yankees' first choice as a backup outfielder. Despite being a switch hitter, Almonte has really only provided value batting against right-handers (.715 OPS vs. .481 OPS). Considering the team is pretty set against right-handed pitching, he won't be getting much playing time.
Dellin Betances - Since moving to the bullpen, Betances has kept opponents to a 2.06 ERA and a .185/.291/.277 batting line in 56.2 innings pitched. He didn't get a fair shake at the major league level this year after pitching in only one game before being sent back down, but he has the potential to really be a knock out reliever now and in the future. The Yankees could use one of those since the majority of the backend of the bullpen is leaving. Expect him to be up again, but don't be surprised if he doesn't pitch.
Preston Claiborne - After starting his career off with an excellent first month, Claiborne fell back down to earth, but still managed to be a quality reliever. He had a 3.10 ERA and a .241/.318/.354 batting line against from the beginning of June to the end of July, yet it still got him a demotion while Joba Chamberlain and Adam Warren still remain with the team. He's now been sent down a second time to make room for Derek Jeter, but he'll certainly be back up in September to counteract the ineffective parts of the Yankee bullpen.
Brett Marshall - He made his major league debut earlier this season in what was a disastrous cup of coffee. In fact, his entire season has been a disaster, so it's doubtful we'll be seeing him this year.
Melky Mesa - He was one of the most likely candidates for a call up if the Yankees wanted an extra outfielder. He's collected 112 strikeouts against only 11 walks in the minors this season, but in 14 plate appearances in the majors he hit .385/.429/.538. It was a nice little streak that will hopefully continue, but that's not the type of hitter he is going to be. Unfortunately, he recently suffered a strained hamstring that could keep him out of the running.
Vidal Nuno - He hasn't pitched since early June, but he's started throwing again and could be close to returning soon. He provided 20 quality innings in the big leagues where he had a 2.25 ERA and batters hit just .213/.280/.373 against him. If Nuno is healthy, he could provide some good depth for the stretch run.
Jose Ramirez - He got his first taste of the upper minors this season and it's been a mixed bag so far. At Double-A he had a 2.76 ERA and batters hit .192/.279/.349 against him in 42.1 innings pitched. When he was promoted to Triple-A, however, he didn't fair so well, putting up a 4.78 ERA and batters hit .259/.394/.411 against him in 32 innings. There's talk that he will eventually end up as a reliever, so he could help in that regard, but he hasn't pitched since July, making it look like he won't be getting a shot until next season.
Non-40-Man Roster Candidates
Cesar Cabral - He could be of some value as another lefty out of the bullpen. His presence on the team would mostly be for evaluative purposes to see what he could potentially bring to the team in 2014. Right-handed hitters have an .872 OPS against him, but lefties only have a .688 OPS this season. With Boone Logan leaving at the end of the season, Cabral could offer an internal replacement and the Yankees would want to see what he can do.
Alberto Gonzalez - With the season-ending injury to Jayson Nix, the Yankees could use an infielder who can play on the left side of the infield. The Yankees will have Derek Jeter and Eduardo Nunez, but you can never be too sure this season.
Adonis Garcia - After returning from a broken hamate bone he suffered during spring training, Garcia has been wholly unimpressive with a .258/.313/.374 for Scranton. However, if Melky Mesa is unavailable to provide outfield depth, he could be an option if the Yankees also want to see what the 28-year-old can do in the majors, if anything at all.
Brent Lillibridge - He doesn't have much of a bat, but he can play almost anywhere on the field, which would give the Yankees a valuable utility player in the infield and outfield. With Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter back and with a full outfield, he's unlikely to get much playing time.
JR Murphy - He could be called up today and be the best catcher on the roster, but that's unlikely to happen. After hitting .268/.352/.421 at Double-A, he continued to hit with a .263/.335/.402 at Triple-A and with Chris Stewart and Austin Romine being the only people keeping him from the majors, he could definitely help the big league team.
Ronnier Mustelier - A lot of excitement surrounded Mustelier in spring training as he looked to steal a roster spot, but he injured his legs and lost a lot more time than everyone expected. Since returning to Scranton he's hit an underwhelming .267/.313/.378 after OPSing over .800 last season. Most of his perceived value has come from his ability to play third base, so he would be more valuable than Adonis Garcia if he can play both third and the corner outfield positions.
Michael Pineda - The promising right-hander has been shut down with shoulder stiffness making it highly unlikely that he'll make his Yankees debut in 2013.
Bobby Wilson - If the Yankees want a third catcher to keep on the bench, just in case, Wilson is probably more likely to be that guy than Murphy. He can't hit at all, but he does have a reputation for being a good defensive catcher, whether that means anything or not. He probably won't play much anyway.
The Yankees will probably not add any prospect onto the 40-man roster, though they could place Nix on the 60-day disabled list and bring up either Lillibridge or Gonzalez. The Yankees will call up Adams, Almonte, Betances, Claiborne, Nuno, and Lillibridge.
Travis Hafner might also return from the disabled list sometime in September and he might just serve as a pinch hitter. David Phelps is more likely to require Tommy John surgery than help the Yankees anymore this season, but we'll see.
Since the Yankees don't have any of their exciting prospects on the 40-man roster, it's likely to be a very dull September, especially if they fall out of contention relatively quickly.