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Yankees activate Eric Chavez from DL, send Eduardo Nunez to minors

May 11, 2012, 4:46 PM EDT

eduardo-nunez-yankees Getty Images

Eduardo Nunez has struggled defensively at every position he’s tried for the Yankees, which recently includes starts in left field for the first time in his professional career.

That has limited his playing time despite a decent .728 OPS and today the Yankees decided he’d be better off starting regularly at Triple-A, demoting him to the minors to make room for Eric Chavez‘s return from the disabled list.

This time last year Yankees fans who didn’t know better were getting excited about Nunez as the long-term shortstop after he played well subbing for an injured Derek Jeter, but now Jeter is back to hitting and Nunez is back to looking like a long-term utility man his minor-league track record suggested.

He’ll be back, if only because the odds of Chavez staying healthy are always slim, and also because the Yankees are unlikely to feel comfortable with Jayson Nix as their backup shortstop for very long. So far, though, Nunez has hit .271 with a .320 on-base percentage and .380 slugging percentage in 450 plate appearances as a big leaguer and turns 25 years old next month, so not playing regularly might simply prove to be his best role.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - May 11, 2012 at 4:54 PM

    If he was slugging .500 or picking it on defense, I could understand the Nunez love. As it is, I think he projects best as a backup 2B. Maybe the Phillies would give up something good to get him.

    • jwbiii - May 11, 2012 at 5:56 PM

      You can have Blake DeWitt for $25k. Do you think Nunez is worth more?

  2. bobwheel - May 11, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    He’s a talented kid who has been moved all all over the field by the Yankees, with not enough time to work through his fielding issues at any one position. Gerardi said as much after last night’s game. Hopefully he’ll be able to play regularly at one position and improve.

  3. pisano - May 11, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Edwardo (hands of stone) Nunez would be better suited for the outfield or as trade bait, the guy can hit, can run the bases, but is one of the worst infielders the Yankees have had in a long time. They need an everyday outfielder to replace Gardner, who will never be a reliable hitter as he strikes out too much. How about Melky Cabrerra from the Giants, he might be available as he’ll be a free agent at the end of the year. Just a thought.

    • genericcommenter - May 11, 2012 at 11:09 PM

      This is a joke, right? Melky pretty much peaked back in, what, 2006? Then dropped off. Last year he got better but benefited from a lot of at-bats, as a product of never walking and playing for a bad team that could afford to play him so much, inflating his counting stats, while having a terrible OBP. I think it’s too early to know how he’s going to do this year, as the small sample size shows something he’s really never done- high average, hitting a lot of triples, and walking a little more. He very well could regress to 2009, a slightly below average hitter. And he provides no defensive value.

      Gardner meanwhile has established himself as the most valuable outfielder in baseball, a league leading base-stealer, gets on base at a higher clip than Melky, scores runs, makes less than half Melky’s salary, and wont be a free agent until 2015.

  4. randygnyc - May 11, 2012 at 5:18 PM

    Yanks have too many guys, Nunez, wise and nix, who have no business being on the Yankees roster.

    • genericcommenter - May 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      Yeah, it’s too bad they can’t just convince All-Stars to come join the team to get paid to be 5th outfielders or reserve middle infielders. Your 6th IF and 7th OF on your depth chart aren’t going to be HOFers during their peak. Those spots are going to be journeymen and AAAA types.

  5. mybrunoblog - May 11, 2012 at 8:52 PM

    I like what I have seen from Nunez as a hitter. He can become a very solid big league batter. His problem is obviously his defense. I think he is athletic enough to master a defensive position but he needs time to do just that.
    He doesn’t really fit too well as a utility guy because of his defensive liabilities.

  6. genericcommenter - May 11, 2012 at 10:57 PM

    You call his playing time “limited.” I say he’s been playing a lot for what he is- a utility man. his OPS is only decent for a good fielding middle infielder or a backup. There’s not much exciting about him with the bat or glove, but for a reserve he’s alright. you expect backups to have limitations. If they were good they would be starting.

  7. Detroit Michael - May 12, 2012 at 8:01 AM

    Attention headline writer: “activate” instead of “active”

  8. anxovies - May 13, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    I don’t know what baseball universe Gleeman and some of the persons commenting are from but I have watched just about every game that Nunez has played the last 2 years and he is the real deal offensively. If he can find a place defensively he is a .280+ hitter with 15+ HR potential at the ML level, has a cannon for an arm, and is very speedy on the basepaths and a pretty smart baserunner for a kid. Aaron must have watched the Yanks a couple of times on Fox and dozed off when Nunez came up. Buck and McCarver will do that to you. Those of us that have seen his bat on a day to day basis can see that the ball jumps when he hits it. That includes not only me, but the Yankee staff and the AL East also. His problem is that he hasn’t learned to take his walks yet, his defensive shortcomings and the fact that he is in a system loaded with stars on the left side have limited his playing time in the Bigs. I do agree that he will probably end up as an outfielder-and maybe develop into a good one-but he will end up as an offensive weapon wherever he plays.

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