Yankee radio post-game analyst Sweeny Murti asked the question last night after a Yankee 2-1 win over the White Sox: Because of his incredible speed and utility in helping to score a run for the Yankees as a pinch-runner, should Rico Noel make the post-season roster? Suzyn Waldman’s immediate reaction was ‘no’.
Rico had entered the recently-completed game in the 8th as a pinch runner for Carlos Beltran who had walked, and immediately stole second base, putting himself in scoring position for an insurance run. He never came across but his blinding speed and ability to impact the game is eye opening.
Waldman and Murti bickered back and forth a bit; Waldman held fast to her ‘no’ answer. Murti held that it at least needs to be discussed.
The thing is — the post-season roster is changed before every series. The first series is the wild card game. For the wild card game, do you add this explosive runner who can get you a run? Do you need to have 11 pitchers for the wild card game?
Here is a possible wild-card roster for the Yankees:
|SP: Masahiro Tanaka (R)||C: Brian McCann||OF: Jacoby Ellsbury|
|SP: Luis Severino (R)||C: John Ryan Murphy||OF: Carlos Beltran|
|SP: CC Sabathia (L)||1B: Gregory Bird||OF: Brett Gardner|
|SP: Michael Pineda (R)||2B: Dustin Ackley||OF: Chris Young|
|SP: Ivan Nova (R)||2B: Stephen Drew||DH: Alex Rodriguez|
|2B: Brendan Ryan||OF: Slade Heathcott|
|RP: Andrew Miller (L)||3B: Chase Headley||OF: Rico Noel|
|RP: Dellin Betances (R)||SS: Didi Gregorius|
|RP: Justin Wilson (L)|
|RP: Adam Warren (R)|
|RP: Chasen Shreve (L)|
Left off the above roster are Rob Refsnyder (who got 2 hits yesterday) and Nathan Eovaldi (who is supposed to be ready for the post season but would not have pitched at all — unless Yanks give him some innings in the last week).
If you add Eovaldi to the roster, instead of Noel, the question is — do you really need all those pitchers? Are you going to use 11 pitchers in a wild card game? Is Ivan Nova going to pitch? Or do you add Caleb Cotham (RH), Nick Rumbelow (RH), or Branden Pinder (RH), and not include some of those starters?
If you add Refsnyder for his hitting — question is, do you need 4 second basemen? Or would you rather have the lightning-quick Noel for his speed to manufacture a run in a one-game-takes-all scenario?
Who Is Rico Noel?
The Yankees signed Rico Noel in August after the San Diego Padres had released him, after 5 years in their minor league system. Rico was batting .244 in AAA for San Diego’s El Paso club. The Yankees put Noel in AA Trenton where he batted .121; promoted him to AAA Scranton where he batted .059, and then the callup to the big leagues.
Rico Noel Makes Stealing 2nd Base a Given
In a league where stealing second base isn’t as easy as it used to be — with so many catchers having incredibly strong, accurate arms and pitchers holding runners better — Noel makes stealing second base an almost given. The Yankees keep using him in tight games they need to win, so maybe Joe Girardi has already answered this question?