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Trimming The Fat: The Yankees 40-Man Roster

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Nailed it.
Nailed it.

This post was supposed to be something slightly different, and thanks to the Ichiro trade, it is kind of different. Only in that it won't include Dewayne Wise, but still different. It also helped get this introduction out of the way. Hate these things most of the time. So thank you, Yankees. You're the best sometimes.

The trade deadline is July 31. That's just a week away! Good, I hate the trade deadline. Really, I'm a little surprised as many people like the deadline talk as much as they do. I guess it's cool to think about having a new toy for the second half the season, but it brings out the worst in fans. Sellers have to face the prospect of the team selling off fan favorites, buyers want the sellers to sell their best for ridiculous player packages, sellers hate the fans of the buyers because of the imaginary trade ideas; it's baseball civil war. That never ends well.

Whether the Yankees make more moves in the next week or not, changes are going to be made to within the system. The team has ten players on the 60-day DL, some of whom may actually come back this season. Baseball lets teams do a lot of things, but they're pretty unwavering with their roster restrictions. When, or if in a couple cases, the extended injury players are activated, some people are going to have to go from the 40-man roster. Lucky for the Yankees they have a few expendable players kicking around in various places.

Ramiro Pena: Yes, he's still around. Pena's birthday was last week. He turned 27. That's all sorts of weird. He's one of those guys who looks like he's going to get carded at the liquor store until he's in his 40s. I don't even know if he drinks. He might get carded outside the store so the owners know whether they need to call in an Amber alert or not.

Pena's middle name is Guana. Not really sure why that's relevant, but it's dangerously close to the masculine form of a similar word in guano. If you know anything about guano other than what it is, first, seek help, and second, you know why that's not a good thing to be close to. It would be mean to say that it's oddly fitting for Pena, but when you really think about it, yeah.

His defense has to be the only reason he's hung around as long as he has. The bat was never going to be his ticket to staying with a team, and what little offense he does offer appears to be getting worse. But the defense has always kept him in the mix for call-up. That also seems to be getting worse. Nine errors already this season, seven at short, are pushing him in the direction of having no value to the team anymore. The defense doesn't make up for the bat and the bat certainly doesn't make up for the defense. Even if there was some ridiculous mess of events that led to him being recalled, we've seen where this road leads. It goes nowhere and it's usually littered with guano.

Possible Move: DFA for Austin Romine. You really think this team will release a pitcher for a position player?

Chad Qualls: Teams are constantly searching for relief pitching around the trade deadline and they usually have to trade something to get it. The players they get might not be game changers or even major league pieces, but relievers fetch something. Qualls was traded for cash. A sinking Phillies team gave him away for nothing.

Look, I understand the presumed need to have specialists in the bullpen. Maybe not understand, but I accept that it's going to happen. That usually only applies for lefties, though. A righty specialist? Isn't that just a pitcher? Most pitchers can get righties out without a huge platoon split, so I'm not really sure what his role is. Making it all the more confusing, Qualls hasn't even been good at his specialty since coming over. Righties are posting a .420/.450/.570 slash against the resident groundball righty. Lefties have done nothing against him. They can, but they haven't yet. Specialists confuse me.

He's a placeholder, or at least he should be, but a move to get Qualls off the 40-man might need to happen before one of the injured players is ready to go. The issue of having too many specialists is making its presence known and it's not welcome. If a specialist is needed to hold a place for another couple weeks, it should be one that doesn't specialize in being bad.

Possible Move: DFA for Joba Chamberlain. It almost has to be the move. Qualls is bad, Joba is good and will be coming back soon enough. Problem is soon enough isn't soon enough.

Justin Thomas: Oh, come on. Really? Another specialist? Where are all these players coming from and why do they always seem to find a home in the Yankees system?

Of all the expendable players hanging around the organization, Thomas has a better shot of being there longer than the others. You know why. It's the same reason a lot of relievers keep finding work and why he was nearly called up earlier this season; he throws with the wrong arm. I'm left-handed so I'm allowed to say that.

One thing that can be said about Thomas is that he does his specialty role well. The 55 lefty batters that have faced him in Triple-A this year have mustered a line of only .216/.259/.235 against him, so there is at least some value there. Dave Miley needs to stand at the top step of the dugout when he's on the mound, though. Once a righty comes to the plate, the hook has to be swift. Thomas can't keep them off the bases, handing out a .364/.472/.409 line. At least he's good at that one thing. More than you can say for a lot of lefty specialists.

Thomas might actually be to handle the lefty role if given the chance, but he's kind of a victim of circumstances. Boone Logan and Clay Rapada aren't going anywhere unless they get injured, so he's basically relegated to treading water in the minors. Even there, he's the third lefty option out of the pen behind Juan Cedeno and Mike O'Connor, when they aren't giving him spot starts. He's the third lefty no matter where he goes in the organization.

Possible Move: DFA for Andy Pettitte. He'll stick around a little while longer, but the better lefty will obviously need a place. I have to imagine the DFA conversation going like a TV break-up. No, Justin, it's not you. You're great! It's us. We're in a weird spot right now and we just can't now. Friends? Or least as close to friends as a team and a guy stuck in the minors can be.

This is just for the players that are almost certainly going to be back at some point. If David Aardsma or Brett Gardner somehow find a way to put the setbacks aside for a few minutes, then you run into some tougher decisions. That's when Ryota Igarashi and Brandon Laird start looking over their shoulders, if they aren't already. Things get easier with expiring contracts at the end of the year, but then you deal with a whole crop of prospects needing a 40-man spot. It can never be too easy, can it?

It's also barring more trades in the next couple days, but how much trading needs to be done? The Yankees' trade deadline targets are already in-house, waiting to come off the DL. They'll have to thin out in a few places for things to work, but it's really beefing up when you think about it.