At the beginning of the month, I previewed April and the probable pitchers the Yankees would face this month. The discussion was centered around the Yankees' lineup against lefties, and fortunately, it looked like the first few weeks of April would be relatively lefty-free. Indeed, the Yankees faced a total of two southpaws, Jon Lester and Wei-Yin Chen.
Their performance in both games hasn't inspired much confidence, and our own Brad and Matt have their own issues with the Yankees' lineup against lefties. For me, any lineup that sports Ben Francisco and Jayson Nix regularly is going to be a problem, then add the recent platoon splits from Robinson Cano, and there's plenty to worry about.
We have been lucky enough to see only two lefty starters, but in the remaining 14 games of April, 7 project to be southpaws. Over the next couple of days, we'll see Wade Miley and Patrick Corban of the Diamondbacks. In the Blue Jays series, Mark Buehrle will take the mound. Then the Rays will throw out two tough left-handers, Matt Moore and David Price, which will be followed by another series against the Blue Jays, featuring J.A. Happ and Mark Buehrle again. With half the games started by southpaws, we're going to see a lot of Francisco and Nix over the next two weeks, and we could be in for a rough record by the end of the month.
While the team waits for May, and the return of Derek Jeter and Mark Teixeira, there are a few remedies available. Obviously, it's tough to justify a major trade to survive two weeks of baseball, but Casper Wells remains in waiver limbo, with the Blue Jays trying to pass him through their minor league system. As Mike Axisa over at RAB points out, four teams tried to claim him last week, and it'll be extremely difficult for the Yankees to win this waiver claim. In this case, the team could try to trade for him, but keep in the mind that the Blue Jays won't be too eager to send him to a division rival that they'll see 7 more times this month.
Some in-house options also remain. The switch hitting Zoilo Almonte has been on fire in Scranton, where he's 11 for his last 33 with a home run, a double, and 12 walks. After a good spring, Francisco has looked completely lost at the plate, and has only seen 10 plate appearances in the early goings. While a larger sample size is necessary, the outfielder has 1,731 major league plate appearances of mediocrity, and his platoon splits are nonexistent. Wells, if available, and Almonte, who's already on the 40-man roster, could be upgrades in both the outfield and at the plate.
Replacing Jayson Nix would be much more difficult. On the 40-man roster, only Corban Joseph remains as an in-house option. While Joseph's bat may offer more production, his glove is considered a tremendous work-in-progress, to put it lightly. Nix has seen his fair share of defensive troubles this season, but most of it comes at short stop. Nix also offers league average range at third base, something that Joseph wouldn't. Add to the fact that Joseph is left-handed, and I highly doubt Joe Girardi will even consider him. Addison Maruszak, who's currently 6 for his last 19 with a double and 10 walks would be an interesting choice after a breakout 2012 performance, but he's not on the 40-man roster. The organization also really seemed to like Ronnier Mustelier, who's currently rehabbing a bruised knee in extended Spring Training. There haven't been any updates on him, but keep in mind, he would also require a move to the 40-man roster.
More than likely, the Yankees won't make much of a move outside of putting a claim on Casper Wells. Regardless of sample size, both Nix and Francisco are on this team to produce in April, and if they continue to struggle offensively, the organization has a few in-house options that they could flex. I expect them to be proactive considering the number of left-handed starters ahead.