One of the strangest parallels between last spring training and this spring training is that Brendan Ryan is injured yet again. Last year it was an oblique strain that turned into a pinched nerve in his neck/back. He continually downplayed the injury, but his recovery went on much longer than anticipated and he didn't make it into a regular season game until May. Now Ryan's dealing with a back strain that occurred while doing bicep curls in the weight room in the days leading up to spring training. Just like last year, he wasn't expected to miss much time at all, but five days has turned into nearly three weeks, which leads me to this week's burning question: Is it time for the Yankees to cut ties with Brendan Ryan?
When the Yankees signed Ryan in December 2013, it was on the basis that he is one of the best defensive shortstops in the game and that he could backup Derek Jeter. After playing just 17 games in 2013, there was no telling how Jeter's ankle would hold up and it made sense to have a plan in place in case everything went awry. This still doesn't explain why they gave him a two year deal, plus an option for 2016, but maybe the Yankees didn't anticipate that Jeter would retire so soon. Fortunately, Jeter ended up playing 145 games last year, and the fact that Ryan started the season on the disabled list didn't impact the team too negatively. On the other hand, he didn't really have any positive impact on the team either. Ryan made it into 49 games total, and hit a truly pathetic .167/.211/.202 and was worth -0.7 fWAR. He only played six games in June, just five games in August, and the bulk of his playing time came in September, when the Jeter Farewell Tour was winding down, and Jeter spent more time as the designated hitter. Now that Jeter's gone, there seems to be less of a reason to waste a roster spot on Ryan just so that he serve as a late-inning defensive replacement.
The Yankees have a tendency to hold onto players longer than they should. This happened last year with both Brian Roberts and Alfonso Soriano, though they eventually parted ways with them. It should be Ryan's turn next. He said that he's hoping to get into a spring training game sometime this week, and that the Yankees are "anxious" for that to happen. I don't really see why they should be. Jose Pirela is having a fantastic spring training (.421/.476/.632 in 19 at bats), and at this point he deserves to make the team instead of Ryan. He's already on the 40-man roster and he can play nearly every position. The Yankees already have Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew lined up at shortstop and second base, and obviously Ryan isn't going to be platooned with anyone. If the Yankees replace him on the roster with Pirela, and for some reason they need a defensive shortstop to come in late in the game, they could have Drew shift over and put Pirela in at second. Brendan Ryan may be a great defensive shortstop, but the Yankees didn't use him enough last year for it to make very much difference at all. Why not give Pirela a chance?
Is it time for the Yankees to cut ties with Ryan? Can you make a strong case as to why Ryan needs to stay? Let us know in the poll below.