Out with Nix, in with Nunez

Nunez has added some spice to the offense. He has stolen four bases in five attempts and four for four as a starter. He has an .863 OPS in September and suddenly, the Yankees’ lineup has a little spark. And Nunez has not been half bad in the field. He made one glaring error at short that may or may not have cost the Yankees a game. But other than that, he has been clean.  Suddenly, a lineup against left-handed pitchers that does not include Eduardo Nunez seems naked.

The fact is, Jayson Nix will never be anything more than a utility guy. That is no knock on Nix. That is what he is. He follows in a long line of utility guys like Miguel Cairo and others. Teams need guys like him who can play fundamentally sound baseball in a pinch and not hurt the defense when he plays. But any kind of long-term playing time exposes Nix. He is not an every day player and never will be.

Nunez on the other hand, has always seemed to possess the talent to be an every day kind of guy in a lineup. He may have to provide that ability for another team someday. Or it may have to wait until Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are not every day players if Nunez is still around. Nunez has his bone-headed moments. And those moments have been forehead slappers. They certainly have not endeared Nunez to his manager. This bone-headedness has been frustrating, because it is easy to see that the raw talent is there. When Eduardo Nunez shines, he can shine quite brightly. He adds electricity to the base paths and, though he has lacked patience and pitch awareness at the plate, can ruin a pitcher in a hurry.

Obviously, against right-handed pitching, Eric Chavez is a much better option than Nunez. But against left-handed pitching and in every situation where Joe Girardi has to pick between Nix and Nunez, the pick should always be Nunez. He may fail, but when he exceeds, it adds an element the Yankees can get from few other places. In fact, if it came to a playoff roster spot, that spot should go to Nunez and not Jayson Nix. Opinions may vary on this one, but Nunez seems a better option from this vantage point.

At his best, Nunez can be a difference maker. At his worst, he can be a difference maker in the other direction. Nix can only be a decent cog in a slow moving water wheel.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

12 thoughts on “Out with Nix, in with Nunez

  1. Rafa

    "Suddenly, a lineup against left-handed pitchers that does not include Eduardo Nunez seems naked."
    I mean… I don't even know what I mean…
    But, seriously, this was a joke, right? RIGHT?

  2. mcmastro

    Nunez has a whole lot of potential, and with his bat and speed it seems like he makes a good impression each time he's with the club. That being said, in the field, his errors always seem costly and it's extremely difficult to tolerate simple mistakes that he makes. I'm fairly certain given a full season he could steal 25 bases and hit .280, but how many errors would he make in the field and how many games would he cost the team with the glove?

    • williamjtasker

      I totally agree and have long felt the same way. But at this point when ever edge matters, I'd rather have him than Nix.

    • jay_robertson

      Fine – but ya know, the Captain has made a few errors, too, this year. Not to mention all the times he just grins and watches the ball go by – thereby avoiding making an error.

      Nunez isn't Jeter – but he's not Giambi or Jones in the field, either. If Jeter's ankle stays bad, I don't have any real problem with Jeter DH and Nunez at short. If you care about numbers, Jeter has a negative DWAR – Nunez is a 0.1, and Nix has the high score, 0.3.

      I've never been a Nunez hater – I'm glad to have him back. btw- that was an untimely error the other night; so was the one where Alex allowed two runs; for that matter, Derek seems to muck up at inopportune times. It happens.

      • h.sevush

        Not only is Nunez a nightmare in the field with both his glove and his arm, he's one of the worst, not slowest but worst baserunners I've ever seen. What he gives us with his bat he takes away with his lack of heady play. If we have to start him fine, but take him out of games where we have a lead late in the game.

  3. brian

    No doubt that Nunez has to be in the lineup at least every other game…

    i do think nunez is eventually going to settle in as jeters replacement for 5 years or so, beginning probably in 2015…

    he'll be fine, and so will the team..

    the key is, if jeter is still racking up the hits… the yankees are going to want to get him his 500-600 at bats, get nunez 400-500 at bats… and of course get 500-600 at bats as well

    i'm not sure if the math quite adds up without maybe jeter or nunez moving to the outfield.. but i don't think it's gonna be some big issue, whenever u have too many good players guys get injured or whatever, having too many guys who can play is something i'll sign up for as opposed to not enough

    • brian

      *get arod

  4. roadrider

    While I agree with you on your assessment of Nix I think you're overselling Nunez a bit. He makes too many mental errors in the field and on the bases (Stealing third with no outs? Really?) and he is a bit hacktastic at the plate. I don't value stolen bases enough to think they overcome the deficiencies in Nunez' game. I wouldn't nail him to the bench but I wouldn't send him out there every day at SS either.

    • williamjtasker

      Can't disagree on the whole here, road. While I also agree that stolen bases are a bit overrated, the distraction the threat of them give the pitcher and the defense is often underrated.

      • jay_robertson

        Totally agree on the distraction offered by a baserunner. You see it time and again. Plus – the added benefit – the pitcher starts changing pitches, pitching out, and there's always the chance of a pickoff throw going into the outfield or the dugout.

        His steal of third made sense; no one was expecting it, and the pitcher was oblivious to the runner in that case, anyway. Had it been the ninth, it wouldn't have been a steal – it would have been "Defensive Indifference."

        The one time he HAS been caught, since being called up, everyone in the stadium KNEW he was going to steal. Steals always work better with an element of surprise.

        • roadrider

          Eh, I think the distraction angle is overplayed although I'm willing to be convinced by actual data rather than anecdotal observation. I doubt that the better class of pitchers (and catchers) is bothered by the possibility of stolen bases. My feeling (and yes, this is my anecdotal observation) is that we tend to remember the much smaller number of times that distraction does come into play while the much larger number of times that it doesn't pass without notice.

          Have to disagree on the steal of third. It's a bad play with no outs and it makes no difference that he made it (and scored a run). If he did it on his own I'm more willing to believe that he did so because he either 1) didn't consider the number or outs or 2) didn't know how many outs there were. Of course, if the steal was ordered then the fault is on Girardi and the coaching staff.

  5. uyf1950

    And yet as inconsequential as Nix is that he can be sacrificed to play Nunez the Yankees insist on giving AB's to Jones. Yes Andrew Jones who hasn't done squat in probably 2 months if not more. Why not give Mesa a few opportunities to play he can't possibly be any worse at this point than Jones. I realize I changed the topic but I had to get in this about Jones.

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