Ronnier Mustelier, Not Mike Napoli, Would be a Fit for the 2013 Yankees
Mustelier hit .303 with 10 HR and 49 RBI in 89 games in AAA Scranton
If Brian Cashman had a check list it would surely include the following rules for the Yankees this offseason:
1. Save money wherever possible.
2. No long-term contracts.
3. Make the playoffs.
New York was swept out of the post season because of an inability to do anything offensively, not because of pitching. Though it’s true Hiroki Kuroda needs to be resigned at all costs, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova need to take steps forward, Andy Pettitte and David Phelps need to contribute and CC Sabathia has to come back healthy for 2013 to begin to look like a success, the Yankees have to concentrate on offense and saving money for the first time in a long time.
Two years ago, New York was linked to Carl Crawford in offseason rumors for weeks before he eventually signed for too much money and too many years with the Red Sox. It was known from day one the Sox wanted him and the Yankees’ front office later admitted they had no legitimate interest in Crawford.
Now, while it seems Boston is linked to every Free Agent out there with such a small amount of money committed to the payroll, a player like Mike Napoli would be a perfect fit in Fenway. Napoli has playoff experience, is a righty hitter, can play first base and catcher, two positions the Sox could stand to improve, and is a Red Sox killer himself.
In the last few days the Yankees have been linked to Napoli. While Nick Swisher‘s departure has left the backup first baseman job up in the air and New York does not currently have a MLB starting catcher on the roster, Napoli is pretty clearly not the answer.
The Yankees are likely to go with Russell Martin for the catcher spot because they can sign him to a one year deal, unlike Napoli, who is seeking something closer to three years. Though both struggle defensively behind the plate, Martin has the better ability to be successful due to past history. Both produce similarly offensively but Martin already knows the pitching staff.
Napoli would be a luxury and not a need and so therefore the Yankees will not pursue him. Instead, a bat who can help solidify the bench, restore some production left by Swisher, play the outfield and can come cheap is already in the Yankees’ system.
Ronnier Mustelier is the better fit for the 2013 Yankees
Mustelier, who defected from Cuba in 2011, is by no means a prospect. At 28 years old, the outfielder represents more of exactly what the Yankees could benefit from in a transitional season next year. He’s a player who doesn’t have to play everyday, doesn’t have to be seasoned any longer and doesn’t cost a lot since he would be making the league minimum. He’s the type of player the Yankees lacked in 2012.
He also might be able to hit a little bit.
Mustelier’s name rarely gets mentioned although sometime this year he was considered as a potential call-up, but his numbers speak for themselves. The 5’10″ right hander hit .353 with 13 extra base hits and 20 RBI in 25 games in AA Trenton before hitting .303 with 10 HR and 49 RBI in 89 games in AAA Scranton.
Clearly, Mustelier’s bat is ready and he also primarily plays left field and has infield experience, two things the Yankees can benefit from. With Nunez, Mustelier, Chris Stewart/Eli Whiteside/Francisco Cervelli and Chris Dickerson already on the roster, the Yankees may only need to turn to a Jayson Nix or an Eric Chavez replacement to complete the bench and if Mustelier can hit enough, he can see time at designated hitter for a team who did not hit left handers well and did not have a power right-handed bat in 2012.
Giving a player like Mustelier a chance out of spring training is the exact type of thinking New York will need to enact if it wants to field a contending team in 2013 and reach its financial constraints by the following year.