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.