A weaker lineup with Matsui limited

Wang returns to form against helpless Astros
RAB Bracket Busters

On June 19, exactly three months from today, the Yankees will not be able to use a Designated Hitter for the first time all season. That day, the team travels down to Miami for a three-game Interleague set with the Florida Marlins, and on that day, Hideki Matsui will finally test his surgically repaired knee.

For months now, Hideki Matsui’s lack of mobility has been an open secret around Yankee Universe. When Matsui went down last season, it was clear that his days in left field were long behind him. If Matsui returns to full health — if he can generate enough power at the plate from two surgically-repaired knees — he’ll do so merely as a DH. According to numerous articles published this week, that’s a-OK with Matsui.

But for the Yankees, it poses a difficult question of depth and lineup construction. Earlier this week, Joe tackled just that issue as he assembled a 1-through-9 that should strike fear into the hearts of any opposing pitcher. While Joe proposed an efficiently-maximized lineup with Jeter in the one hole, Teixeira behind him and Damon batting third, odds are good that Damon will lead off followed by Jeter and Tex.

That part doesn’t matter. It what happens next that I want to tackle. Back-to-back behind A-Rod once he returns will be Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada, both returning from injuries and both limited in their playing time. On days when Jorge catches, Matsui will DH. But what to do on days when Posada doesn’t catch?

According to the optimistic Yanks, Posada will be behind the dish for around 110 games this year. That still leaves Jose Molina and his anemic career OPS+ of 61 with 52 starts. When Molina is in the lineup, he and Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera will make for a rather tame bottom of the order.

Here is where the Yanks need to rely on Gardner (or Cabrera) to pick up the slack. Here is where the Yankees need to hope that no one else gets injured and that Hideki’s knees can withstand the beating of a season.

In a way, the need to DH Jorge will pay dividends for Matsui. He’ll be able to rest his knees and stay fresher. But if the Yanks lose Matsui at all this year, the team’s DH will be…Cody Ransom? Jose Molina? Shelley Duncan? All of a sudden, the Yanks’ great lineup, while still very good at the top, looks quite weak the bottom.

In a roundabout way, then, the Yanks’ bench looks to be an Achilles Heal. If anyone on the bench is asked to contribute in a meaningful way, the Yanks won’t have much to offer. Hopefully, this reality won’t come to pass, but with Matsui’s inheriting the DH spot in the news, this depth — combined with an old Yankee team — is something to consider as Opening Day nears.

Updated (10:56 p.m.): As many commenters have noted, I omitted a discussion of the Xavier Nady/Nick Swisher platoon from this piece. That was a grave oversight on my part. Clearly, if Matsui were to go down, the odd man out of that combo will slot in as the DH. Still, I’m not sold on that idea.

Nady had a good month and a bad month in New York last year, and his career numbers pale in comparison to Hideki Matsui’s. I feel far more comfortable with Swisher who had a bad year last year but has seen his OPS+ over 120 the two years prior. Of course, their presence adds a lot of depth to the Yanks, but that doesn’t solve the Jose Molina problem.

Wang returns to form against helpless Astros
RAB Bracket Busters
  • Yankeegirl49

    How I miss the days of Strawberry and Sierra off the bench.

    • steve (different one)

      Ruben Sierra’s OPS+ as a Yankee:

      1995: 95
      1996: 83
      2003: 100
      2004: 94
      2005: 69

      Xavier Nady is WAAAAAAY better than Ruben Sierra.

      if we weren’t banned from posting under players’ names, this is where i would post as Xavier Nady and say “HEY GUYS, WHY HAS EVERYONE FORGOTTEN ABOUT ME?!!”

      • jsbrendog

        but ruben had salsa music playing when he came to the plate!! that’s exciting and entertaining!

      • Yankeegirl49

        Nady should be starting..not off the bench. My comment was more of how I miss having some “pop” off the bench in the late innings.

        • jsbrendog

          well if you think nady should be starting then your pop you speak of is swisher. and if swisher is starting then your pop off the bench would be nady.

          both waaaaaay better than sierra/strawberry/circa 2000 jose canseco/glenallen hill/et all

          • Bo

            I think we’ve seen enough over the last few yrs to realize that Nady and Swisher will both get 500 at bats.

            • steve (different one)

              in other words, this is an area where the bench is strong?

              • jsbrendog

                bit if teh both get 500 abs then they’re not bench players!1!1!!11!11!111v1~!31~!

    • History Teacher

      Nady/Swisher is the answer!

  • MattG

    A name I read in connection with the Astros that should interest the Yankees as a strict salary dump/improve the bench: Melvin Mora.

    But then it occurred to me that Mark Grudzielanek/Estaben German is about the same guy for a lot less cost.

    • Bo

      Those guys don’t come close to the production of Mora.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Melvin Mora, mean wOBA 2003-2004 – .411
        Melvin Mora, mean wOBA 2005-2008 – .341

        Melvin Mora isn’t Melvin Mora anymore. German and Grudzielanek are a lot closer to his production than you think, and they don’t cost any prospects at all to acquire.

        • jsbrendog

          the only way they’re nto close is hr, mora hit 25 last yr, grudz will not do that. but again as you say, mora cossts stuff and i dont personally think he is that good or justifies giving up anything

    • jsbrendog

      esteban german signed.

  • steve (different one)

    According to the optimistic Yanks, Posada will be behind the dish for around 110 games this year. That still leaves Jose Molina and his anemic career OPS+ of 61 with 52 starts. When Molina is in the lineup, he and Brett Gardner or Melky Cabrera will make for a rather tame bottom of the order.

    or…………..

    20-30 times a year, you play Damon in CF.

    problem solved, no?

    speaking of, what happened to the other half of Xick Nasher? if Matsui goes down, don’t they have at least one above average hitter on their bench to fill in?? Nady and Miranda could probably form a pretty productive DH platoon while Matsui is out.
    i know it’s the CW to bash the Yankee bench, but aren’t they actually in a better position this year than they have been in a while?

    also, while it would be nice to have a nice backup on the bench for Matsui, i don’t see how you can construct your team with a spare DH on your bench. in the 12 pitcher era, everyone on your bench needs to play a position.

    finally, if Matsui goes down, how difficult would it be to pick up someone like Frank Thomas? probably not too difficult.

    i guess i am just a little confused why all of a sudden in the last 2 days it is “news” that Matsui won’t play the OF. as far as i was concerned, this has been plan for about 6 months….

    • jsbrendog

      i agree with everything and am slightly intrigued by a big hurt sighting in pinstripes if matsui goes down. he’s not playing so a call for a shot at a ring at prorated league minimum might tickle his fancy. and that would tckle my fancy.

      he is by far not the big hurt of old but still a productive bat as an emergency dh

      • Tom Zig

        Barry Bonds says hello….

        But the Yankees hide their face.

    • WhizzoTheWize

      Whizzo seconds everything said by Steve.

    • Bill

      Steve, I don’t have much to add as you pretty much nailed it.

      Damon should see some time in CF when Molina is catching and with Swisher/Nady on the bench we have depth.

      Also while Matsui/Posada are likely the 4/5 hitters to open the season and 5/6 when ARod comes back that is not set in stone. If Cano, Nady, or Swisher are having a good year any of those 3 guys could move ahead of either Matsui or Posada in the lineup.

      So long as Matsui’s knees holdup until at least A-Rod gets back we’ll be in good shape with our OF depth. If they holdup all or most of the year we’ll be in great shape.

    • http://www.bronxbaseballdaily.com Bronx Baseball Daily

      Is Xick Nasher pronounced ‘zick’?

      • steve (different one)

        yup

  • jsbrendog

    But if the Yanks lose Matsui at all this year, the team’s DH will be…Cody Ransom? Jose Molina? Shelley Duncan?

    uhhh nady/swisher?

    • Joe R

      Agree. Dont see why it wouldnt be whoever isnt the starting RF

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Matsui back-up plan A: Loser of the Nady/Swisher battle
        Matsui back-up plan B: Juan Miranda

  • Mike R. – Retire 21

    I believe both are currently available. Cross your fingers. ;-)

  • Mike R. – Retire 21

    I think the only area on the bench that can use an upgrade is with a utility infielder. Nothing against Cody “White men can jump” Ransom, but there are better guys out there.

  • Bo

    It is sinful that this team has such a weak bench. When you have 200 mill to spend you should be able to put together a solid bench. And even more so with the prices of good players plummeting this off season, they could have cherry picked good players.

    Yet they go into the year with Berroa and Ransom. And no big right handed bat. Where’s the speed?

    • Yank Crank 20

      What good players, exactly? This is what I don’t understand…”good” players most likely start on teams. We could have signed David Eckstein to be out utility infielder but he was good enough to start, which is what he’ll do this season. Did you want to give up a draft pick for O-Cabrera? I mean, I would also like a powerhouse bench of good players who can take the risk out of any injury to our starters but that’s just not possible. Who could we have had that is a better skill option or less cost-efficient than who we have now?

      • A.D.

        Generally the only “good” utility guys, are young guys breaking in, and thus have no say, or veterans who signed on to try and win a starting job and lost out.

        • MattG

          Or guys you trade for. They have no say, too.

    • steve (different one)

      It is sinful that this team has such a weak bench.

      the bench really isn’t that weak.

      you have Nady or Swisher, two very good players, on the bench. then you have Molina, who is an excellent backup catcher.

      Ransom is OK, has a little pop. we don’t really know how he’ll do, but he’s not as bad as people are making him out to be.

      Yet they go into the year with Berroa and Ransom.

      only while A-Rod is out. the plan was never to take both of these guys. just one of them.

      And no big right handed bat.

      Xavier Nady has a career line of .308/.383/.470 against LHP.

      what more do you want??

      Where’s the speed?

      depends. if Gardner is not the starting CFer, he’s the speed. come on, it’s not like it’s hard to find a fast guy who can’t hit if that’s what you want to waste your last bench spot on. Dave Roberts just got cut from the Giants. you can have him.

      • MattG

        Yet they go into the year with Berroa and Ransom.

        only while A-Rod is out. the plan was never to take both of these guys. just one of them.

        This was a mistake. And many of us said so in January. The Yankees should’ve been ready for an injury to one of Cano/Jeter/Rodriguez, with a second infielder. They should’ve made a very aggressive offer to Eric Hinske, and let him turn them down, or they should be bringing in one of Teahan/German right now.

        • steve (different one)

          yes, i remember you were high on Hinske.

          and many people argued that Hinske was MUCH more likely to go to Pittsburgh where he will get much more playing time and a chance for a bigger contract next year.

          many people also pointed out that he is not a realistic option at 3B, having stood there only a handful of times in the last 3 years.

          also, Teahan is currently employed by the Royals. you can’t just “bring him in”. what would it take to get him? and is it worth it.

          German was someone they could have looked into, i will grant you that.

          • steve (different one)

            also, players will shake free as ST draws to a close.

            there will be players who don’t make the teams they joined as NRI’s and opt to become FA’s. there will be players who are available in trades for peanuts.

            for example, it looks like the Yankees could get another crack at Andruw Jones if they wanted to (i don’t think they do).

            the season hasn’t started yet.

          • MattG

            Sorry, I meant Grudzielanek, not Teahan. Odd how they are all Royals.

            • steve (different one)

              ok, gotcha. i grant you Grudzielanek. and i don’t know what his deal is either. i would like them to pick him up.

              • MattG

                Also, I had a V-8 moment when the Mets signed Alex Cora.

                • steve (different one)

                  but Cora sucks.

                  i don’t see how Cora is any better than Ransom.

                  he happened to get hit by a bunch of pitches last year, so his OBP looked decent.

                  otherwise, he’s a career 75 OPS+ hitter.

                • MattG

                  Funny, sometimes I trust recent stats, sometimes I trust career stats. I just had the opposite stance on Bruney recently, but I like the recent version of Alex Cora. And although he might not be better than Cody Ransom, I am fairly certain he is better than Angel Berroa.

                • steve (different one)

                  he IS better than Berroa.

                  but you are comparing apples to oranges.

                  Cora got $2M on a major league deal. Berroa is on a minor league deal.

                  you can’t just swap in Cora for Berroa.

                  if you sign Cora, he is on your 40 man and he is your Utility IFer. since you yourself admit he might not even be better than Ransom, was that a good signing??

                  in other words, you seem to think that even the Yankees emergency AAA U-IFer (Berroa) should be a $2M-type player.

                  it’s unrealistic.

                • MattG

                  Here’s the thing (and don’t think this in hindsight, as I’ve fretted over it forever)–that missing replacement player can cost you the playoffs. Insurance can be expensive, but it is necessary. If you don’t do Cora because you are waiting for someone like German to shake loose, fine. But do not go into the season with Angel Berroa the man you DFA Giese for.

                  It was going to happen. At some point, someone was going to need to he DFAed so an infielder could take a spot on the Yankee bench. It so happens it will happen on 4/6–but it was going to happen. Rodriguez, Jeter and Cano were not all going to go through the season without landing on the DL. I can see Alex Cora holding a starting spot for a month, six weeks. That would be okay. $2M doesn’t seem like all that much when the payroll is $200M and it might mean a playoff spot.

                • steve (different one)

                  I can see Alex Cora holding a starting spot for a month, six weeks.

                  ok, but that is just based on your opinion and you deciding to cherry pick his stats, which you fully admit to in your last post.

                  the difference of Cora over Ransom for 6 weeks is going to be negligible.

                  Alex Cora sucks and I can’t believe we are arguing that Alex Cora could be difference between making the playoffs of not.

                  never has a career .245/.313/.348 hitter been so important!!

                • MattG

                  Ah, maybe you’re right. Berroa KILLED the Dodgers last year, and they still made the playoffs (division had something to do with that). I just don’t like a plan that has anybody getting DFAed for Angel Berroa. Grant me this–that is, not really optimal.

                  And it seems so obvious that you don’t really want Angel Berroa on your team, it makes me wonder–Did the Yankees not see how likely this situation was to arise? Did they really think they had a chance to get through ’09 with Berroa in the minor leagues the whole time?

                • steve (different one)

                  Grant me this–that is, not really optimal.

                  i will.

                  Did the Yankees not see how likely this situation was to arise? Did they really think they had a chance to get through ‘09 with Berroa in the minor leagues the whole time?

                  not sure. and i am with you on someone like Grudzielanek, i’d still like to see that happen. there is still time, if we are sitting here in mid-May and Berroa is getting significant ABs, yeah, i’m not going to be happy.

                  but there should be some players available in the next few weeks. or at the least, they should have a better handle on how A-Rod is progressing.

    • Mike R. – Retire 21

      The bench consists of Molina, Melky, the loser of the Nady/Swisher battle and Cody Ransom. How is that weak? What specific player would you add/change to make it better?

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      They also go into the year with either Xavier Nady or Nick Swisher on the bench so there’s either a big right handed or switch-hitting bat who together can play all three OF positions, and first base if needed.

      Ransom and Berroa are probably no great shakes but most bench guys aren’t. Molina is one of the best back up catchers in baseball so that’s alright. I’m okay with the bench as it’s constructed right now to be honest.

    • jsbrendog

      Ladies and Gentlemen your 2009 Devil’s Advocate!

    • jsbrendog

      name me a bench that is better? you can’t and if you can then it has at least one overpaid former starter who is only on the bench because they aren’t that good and got supplanted by a younger cheaper better player coughcoughlugocoughcough (even tho lugo is injured now).

  • mikef

    The bottom of the Yankee lineup has been pathetic since Melky became a regular, and I really cannot understand how someone like Cameron would not be a better short-term fix than having Gardner/Melky battle for “closest to almost league average” in CF.

    While the Yanks are likely feeling budgetary constraints, the same would go double for the Brewers – making a deal more palatable for the Yanks than perhaps it was a few months ago.

    I would certainly feel alot better if Cameron was hitting 8/9th than Melky or Gardner.

    • Bo

      Let’s not make Cameron out to be an all star here. He’s got some pop and a rep as a great CF. That’s about it.

      Will it kill them if Gardner hits 9th and has an OBP of .340 and gets to every ball in CF with his speed?

      Also why go for a guy like Cameron now when during the yr with the economy teams will be off loading guys? Why not wait to see if some real good players become available?

      • mikef

        Because a few days a week the back half of the Yankee Lineup wil likely look like this if any two things happen ( i.e Arod takes longer,Matsui,Jorge… we have named them all before) Nady/Swisher/Ransom/Molina/Gardner – that is worse than most teams in baseball.

        So while a Gardner and his speed and defense would be a nice compliment, the Yanks need to make up potential offensive production, and since it appears Ransom and Molina are fixtures, CF is likely the best place to look for an upgrade, especially since the Yanks are betting on the better of two mediocre talents with obvious flaws actually surpassing their projected stats to become league average.

        • steve (different one)

          so basically you are saying that if Matsui, Posada, and A-Rod are worse off, the Yankees are f’ed?

          really?

          if that happens, Mike Cameron won’t be the solution to anything.

          the Yankees were going to get Cameron, but they maxed out their budget on Teixeira instead. why is this so hard to accept?

          they had a limit, they spent the money on the far superior player.

          they will re-visit at the trade deadline when they only have to pay 40% of the salary.

          • Stanton Social

            Not to mention the only think cameron has over gardner is power. They will both most likely have the same low average and OBP. The difference is almost every-time Gardner gets on base its an automatic double or triple.

            If Damon Jeter Tex Matsui Nady Swisher cant carry the line up, like Steve said cameron isnt fixing shit. Also, you probably figure days when Molina is catching you put damon in center. To offset the loss of posada.

    • MattG

      I was a major Cameron fan, and I am no fan of Brett Gardner, but I am very willing to admit that the difference in value between Gardner and Cameron in 2009 might be nil. Cameron is not the same defensive player, and his right handed fly ball bat will be most unhappy in Yankee Stadium.

  • VOIII

    This has always been my problem with Cashman, Cash always hopes for the best but never prepares for the worst, leaving the bench naked every year. You would think he would have learned his lesson by now, especially since he can’t assemble a health and conditioning team or plan. To have not signed a more experienced utility infielder when so many were available is amazingly short sighted. Thank God (Mo) Cashman’s one real asset is his ability to trade mid-season. If someone goes down for any length of time, the Yankees have the young arms to acquire almost anyone.

    • Bo

      But why should they need to trade top arms for something they could have fixed during the off season for just money?

    • steve (different one)

      thye bench is not naked this year.

      nor was it last year.

      Betemit was a very good backup infielder.

      the problem is that people have unrealistic expectations for backup players.

      • mikef

        Also, because the Yanks have percieved all-stars at each position who play every day, its very hard to get a player to come to the Yanks as a FA, knowing how much time he will spend on the bench – arod, cano and jeter never miss games, and they have enough speed to not be replaced by a pinch-itter/runner. Which FA wants to sit on the bench for two years ? That kills his value next time around.

        This is a reason why Cashman makes me nuts, because the system is – at a minimum – supposed to produce players of replacement level to fill in for a week or two, and this is part of a bigger business plan where the Yanks should be producing players to a certain talent level and versatility in the minors because of their propensity to sign veteran, regular players at the every-day positions.

        Thus, because their system cannot produce a middling middle infielder in the past 10 years, they have popoulated their bench with Cairo, Sojo, Ransom etc – and given the manager less tools to work with

        • steve (different one)

          absolutely.

          but you can’t let Bozo the Clown run your draft for 9 years and expect your system to produce good players.

          this will not be case going forward. but we are not at that point yet.

          it’s part of a bigger problem that is hopefully on it’s way to being remedied.

          • A.D.

            Presumably that wave of solid bench guys/maybe a starter is on its way with BG, Russo, Cervelli, & Miranda

        • jsbrendog

          agreed but also the main focus of the yankees for the past 5 years or so has been pitching. pitchig wins games and championships. aces are harder to find then infielders. so while i agree with you i also feel that organizational depth starts with a focus on pitching, then a shift in management to fielding prspects with a pitching side dish served room temp.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      To have not signed a more experienced utility infielder when so many were available is amazingly short sighted.

      Who are all these amazing experienced utility infielders who were readily available you speak of? Because there’s basically been two types of infielders this offseason:

      A) Guys better than Cody Ransom, who know they’re good enough to start for most major league clubs and hence, want no part of signing with the Yankees where they’ll be permanently buried on the bench behind Tex, Cano, Jeter, and ARod, and
      B) Guys worse than Cody Ransom, who we really have no need for in any event.

      • steve (different one)

        Alex Cora!!

        the one guy i like is Grudzielanek. but he hasn’t signed ANYWHERE yet. why not? he thinks he should be starting somewhere? i don’t know.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          I agree that signing Grudz makes sense for us and would be a smart move and a welcome addition.

          But no, not signing Grudz is not evidence of Cashman being “amazingly short-sighted”. As you said, there could be dozens of possible explanations other than Cashman’s incompetence as to why we haven’t signed Grudz.

          • MattG

            Honestly, on March 18th, what explanation is better than “Cashman’s not interested.”

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Does the fact that he’s not interested mean that he’s a dumbass? Or that he thinks we’ll be fine?

              I thought Angel Berroa was going to suck balls and wanted to yank his NRI and give it to Grudz, but he’s hitting the tar off the ball. So maybe Cashman isn’t as concerned as we are with good reason.

              • MattG

                Didn’t call him a dumbass (or short-sighted). In fact, I haven’t labeled Cashman anything at all–and I am certain there are those with Cashman’s ear with that disagree with this decision, and I don’t think they’re dumbasses necessarily either.

                Maybe he likes Berroa. Maybe he figures he can do another Proctor-for-Betemit deal, just before the end of spring. I don’t know what he’s thinking, but I do think it is controversial.

                • whozat

                  Maybe he’s called Grudz, and the guy wants to see how the STL 2B spot shakes out. There’s basically a starting spot over there that could be up for grabs. Should Cash offer the guy $3mm to back up a position we don’t know he can play? Or wait to see if he wants to come on board for less?

                • MattG

                  I don’t know. If the only options remaining are Grudzielanek at $3M or Berroa, I think, grudgingly, yes. I hold out hope he’s got a line on a AAA infielder-for-RH reliever deal in the offing.

  • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

    If Matsui hits the DL, I don’t think a Miranda-Duncan platoon would be anything worse than most Major League teams have to offer off their bench for an extended period of time.

    • steve (different one)

      what do we know about Jorge Vazquez?? i know nothing, but i saw him a little in the WBC.

      that is meaningless, but he looked like he can hit a little.

      i wonder if he could have a role as a bat off the bench in the second half of the season.

      i am asking a serious question, i honestly don’t know much about the guy.

      anyone have any insight?

      • A.D.

        He’s a Mex league vet, that’s 27 and apparently done well there. Yankees told him they’re starting him at AA, but he could be in AAA by the end of the season.

        • A.D.

          My guess is best case he and Miranda could be some type of platoon in the majors.

    • http://www.new.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/profile.php?id=594331910&ref=name Jamal G.

      Wow, I totally forgot we have both Nady and Swisher.

      • A.D.

        Yeah if Matsui went down it would be Nady/Swish for DH/RF. Then if one of them were traded or went down, Miranda would get the call to hit at least against righties.

  • Mike R. – Retire 21

    I’d like a guy like Tulowitski as a back up infielder and Adam Dunn as our 4th OF/Backup 1B.

    • Mike R. – Retire 21

      Now that I think of it if that were our bench people would scream “Dunn plays awful defense! Cashman is a idiot!”.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        What, no Russell Martin to be our backup catcher?

        Just like Cashman, you, my friend, have failed.

        • MattG

          I was thinking Hanley would make an OK super-U.

        • Chris

          I assume that he was being sarcastic.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            I know that, I was joining in.

  • Rob in CT

    IMO, Matsui should only play the field in case of emergency. He’s a terrible, terrible defender who has two surgically repaired knees. I don’t want the team risking him in the field both b/c he could get hurt (easily, given his recent injury history) and b/c he will be the run fairy in LF.

    The bench is weak in the sense that the backup infield options are particularly poor. The OF situation is better. The BU catcher situation… Molina can’t hit a lick, it’s true. He is pretty amazing defensively. I’m not looking forward to 52 games of Molina, but I don’t see better options out there (better hitters, most likely, better overall? I’m not so sure).

    The obvious spot to upgrade is BU-IF. Trouble is that with ARod’s injury, that weakness is highlighed in flashing neon for the rest of the league, so trading for an upgrade has the potential to be pricey. Is Grudz still available as a FA? I forget. I wouldn’t mind him. Ransom is a 33-yr old career minor leaguer with a track record of meh (yes, he has a handful of flukey good MLB plate appearances). Berroa is terrible.

  • steve (different one)

    to further the DH discussion, the Yankees also have John Rodriguez in the minors.

    if you don’t let him near the OF, he could probably provide league average offense. he’s hit well in the majors and has been raking in the minors (as he should) the last few years.

    CHONE has him for a .340 wOBA, which i imagine is right around average (take that with a huge grain of salt obviously).

    • Reggie C.

      Make J-Rod the centerpiece of a deal for Colby Rasmus. Do it Cashman!1!11 Maybe duh Cards fall for it!

  • Jay

    I agree with Rob in CT when he says:

    “Matsui should only play the field in case of emergency. He’s a terrible, terrible defender who has two surgically repaired knees. I don’t want the team risking him in the field both b/c he could get hurt (easily, given his recent injury history) and b/c he will be the run fairy in LF.”

    The weak lineup at the bottom won’t be a problem. Gardener and Molina will contribute plenty in other ways — Gardener with his speed causing havoc for opposing pitchers on the bases (thank goodness Joe Torre is no longer the manager) and in the field, and Molina with his incredible defense.

    The Yankees do have a problem though that the blog post mentions — and it’s their age. Because they have so much age in their lineup, it will be at least a minor miracle if they don’t wind up with one or more of their key players being hobbled due to injuries or age — be it Jeter (who already seems to be nothing more than a shadow of what he used to be) or Posada or Damon or Rivera or Matsui.

    • jsbrendog

      please use the reply button in the lower right hand corner of the comments. it just makes everything run mroe smoothly and helps us to follow the discussion and agree/disagree with you.

      (if you don’t like it tell mondesi to release my family and I’ll stop saying it..damn you mondesi!)

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      G-A-R-D-N-E-R

      • jsbrendog

        come on give him a pass, he has impecable spelling otherwise

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Dude, you have to at least know how to spell the names of the players on your own team. It’s not like he flubbed Grudzielanek or Krzyzewski, that’s understandable.

          It’s Brett Gardner. Not that hard.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

          *Impeccable ;)

          /nit-pick

          • jsbrendog

            DAMN!

            • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

              Haha, fail.

              I just failed horribly–I saved a career in ’09 over a franchise that had me in June, up 5.5 games on the Rays and Sox, leading the league in RBI w/Hideki, HR w/A-Rod, and WHIP/K’s with CC. I’m livid, haha.

              • jsbrendog

                with these playstations and xboxes so much like pcs i see in the next version a backup, like a pc, where u can backup your memory card or hard drive to a different sector or something. or maybe not. lol.

                id be pissed too.

    • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

      Jeter is a shadow of what he used to be? C’mon now. I know he’s in his decline phase, but he was hurt all last year and still had a respectable year for a shortstop. I see him having a line of something like .310/.375/.410 with 85+ runs, 70+ RBIs, and with a UZR of, say, -5.0 – he’s still one of the top 10, possibly top 5 SS in the game.

      • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

        The only thing that was alarming about Jeter last year was that his power fell off. His AVG/OBP were down, but it’s not like they were down too drastically.

        • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

          He had a wrist injury all year, that obviously zapped his power. I still don’t see him hitting more than 15 homers at the most, but you’d hope he gets more XBH and less GIDPs.

  • Chris

    Let’s compare the Boston bench to the Yankees:
    Baldelli vs Swisher
    Kotsay vs Melky
    Lugo vs Ransom
    Varitek vs Molina
    (I’m assuming Varitek loses battle to be the starting catcher)

    The Yankees are better or equal in every spot.

    • MattG

      Mmm, I would grade that 3-1 for Boston…but Varitek is the Sox starter, and Baldelli is Nady’s equal. Swisher is the RF.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        …and Baldelli is Nady’s equal.

        Which alternate universe is this that you speak of?
        Swisher > Nady >>>>>>>> Baldelli

      • jsbrendog

        baldelli si nady’s equal? baldelli hasnt played really in almost 2 years! and there is no way to know if he will be able to. he is the biggest question mark of anyone on that list. nady >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> baldelli until baldelli proves he can play a full season.

        • MattG

          I stand by that statement. I love the Baldelli signing for the Red Sox. If he can’t play, Melky’s better. If he can play, he will have no trouble equaling Nady’s offensive performance, with better defense.

          I happen to believe he will be able to play.

          • jsbrendog

            we shall see sir.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      The Yankees are better or equal in every spot.

      … except for Kotsay > Melky.

      /nitpick

      • Rob in CT

        Lugo > Ransom.

        • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

          Julio Lugo = Erick Almonte.

          therefore, Cody Ransom = Julio Lugo OR Cody Ransom > Julio Lugo.

        • steve (different one)

          probably.

          but Lugo just had his knee scoped and will be out for a month. knee surgery probably doesn’t help a middle infielder’s defense much.

          also, he was signed for $36M.

          calling him “better than Cody Ransom” is not really something for Boston to hang their hat on.

          • A.D.

            Exactly when you sign someone to be your starting SS and then they suck, and are a money black hole, its really not that good of a plan

      • Chris

        In 2007 with the A’s Kotsay posted a 62 OPS+. In 2008 with the Red Sox he posted a 57 OPS+. In 2008 with the AAAA Braves, he was good.

        I expect that Melky could equal those numbers.

    • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

      If Varitek loses the starting catcher job to Kottaras, than Boston doesn’t have a starting catcher.

      • UWS

        Varitek is a “starting catcher” only in the loosest sense of the word…

  • Mike R. – Retire 21

    So basically it is:

    1B check
    C check
    OF check
    IF Question mark

    This equals a weak bench?

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

      Duh. There’s supposed to be an all star at every position, and that includes the bench.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        I find it deliciously ironic that many of the same people complaining that we don’t have all-stars on our bench also complain that we have too many all-stars and not enough “grinders” in our starting lineup.

        • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

          By the end of ’09, I’m going to wish the word “grinder” was never uttered. I can already tell it’s going to be the “buzz word/theme” of this season of baseball like “small ball” and “quality start” in years past.

          • Mattingly’s Love Child

            I like to eat grinders. Though if you go to a restaurant in the South they have no idea what a grinder is….

            • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

              Yeah, I’m pretty sure that the area in which I live is the only part of the US that calls it a “wedge.”

              • Mattingly’s Love Child

                A what? I haven’t heard that one before!

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

                  Exactly.

                • putt

                  As my experiences go, it’s usually a grinder in CT, a hoagie in PA, a hero in NY, and a sub most other places on the East Coast.

                  I’m out in Cali now, and all they make is sourdough sandwiches (and they feel compelled to put avocado on it, not matter what), so they are completely befuddled if you ask for any of the above. I’ve only heard “wedge” in a few random places, though…

              • jsbrendog

                we also would’ve accepted hoagie and hero. i’ve heard all 4.

                • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

                  I hate the term “hoagie.”

        • Darth Stein

          That is only because you fail to realize that all-stars belong on the bench while gritty grinders belong on the field. When you see it with your eyes you will understand.

          • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

            IETC.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            If we would have acquired Nails back in 1999, we would have used him as a UTI and kept ScottyBro in the starting lineup where he belongs.

            It all makes so much sense now… OH, IF WE COULD ONLY GO BACK TO THE TORREOLITHIC ERA WHEN MEN WERE MEN!!!!!

  • MattG

    I would say the bench should pass the “I can see that” test.

    An OF/DH/1B is hurt, Nady must play every day. I can see that.

    An infielder is hurt, Ransom must play every day. I can see that for about 2 weeks.

    Posada is hurt, Molina must play. I already saw that.

    I look at this, and I say I would like to upgrade Molina and Ransom. But I don’t think there is really anyway to upgrade Molina, and I think Cashman did a little due diligence here, so he gets a pass on that.

    Can someone explain to me what he’s thinking with Ransom and Berroa?

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      Can someone explain to me what he’s thinking with Ransom and Berroa?

      Maybe, just like Molina, he did a little due diligence there as well and there were no better options. Is that not a possibility?

      • MattG

        Nope. German definitely wants a major league job. I have to believe Grudzielanek would listen, too.

        • jsbrendog

          brush up my friend, german signed on march 13th. yes he signed aminor league deal but he wouldve had to do the same with the yankees. hed ha dto come in and prove himself. you dont just get outright released by someone unless theres something wrong with you.

          • MattG

            did not know that, but it doesn’t actually change the argument–Cashman prefers the guys he has to German, or doesn’t see a big enough difference to matter, and I think that is a mistake. I like German so much, I would have DFA’d Giese and given German a major league deal while he was available.

            • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

              Yeah, well, I don’t like German, and I can see why Cashman wouldn’t be particularly hot for him either. He’s atrocious defensively. He’s like a combination of Jason Giambi and Andy Phillips, only he’s got the wrong side of both equations: Phillips’s bat and Giambi’s glove.

              • Mike Pop

                Agreed, I don’t see what the fuss was about this guy. I could see people being a little annoyed that they haven’t picked up Grudz yet, but German isn’t any good. Only if we signed Nick Punto!…or Aaron Miles.

                • steve (different one)

                  i was actually in favor of Punto when those rumors were flying, but then the Twins gave him like $4M, which was just nutty.

                • Mike Pop

                  Me too. I liked Aaron Miles too but he went to Wrigley quick.

                • MattG

                  Oh, you and I have a healthy difference in opinion of German’s ability. German will win the starting spot in Wrigley, and might very well post a .370+ OBP in the park/division. I would say German’s pessimistic offensive projection is right about what people dream Brett Gardner will do.

              • MattG

                ? He’s nothing of the kind. Esteban German is a speed/on-base guy. Phillips is…an out.

                I don’t know how you are so certain about his defense. The sample sizes are all tiny, and in the only ‘large’ sample of 406 innings, he had a +8.4. If you are going off stats, you can conclude anything.

                But maybe the Yankee scouts say the same as you. It’s hard to understand how he got that 8.4 though.

        • steve (different one)

          German signed with the Cubs. which probably gives him a better shot at playing time at 2B.

    • steve (different one)

      i think the problem here is that none of us really know how good a player Ransom actually is.

      he actually has shown some hitting ability in the majors and the minors, and his defense seems to be adequate.

      the problem is that it’s hard for us to have this argument b/c we don’t have enough NUMBERS. the Yankees are going on their QUALITATIVE assessment of Cody Ransom, and because we don’t have access to that information, we are skeptical. it’s a scouting thing. and none of us are scouts.

      because if we just go on the numerical projections, Ransom probably comes out close to almost every other option that has been discussed here. the problem is that we can’t trust that projection, since it’s based on such a small sample.

      CHONE projections – wOBA:
      Ransom: .302
      Grudz: .299
      German: .326
      Cora: .304

      German could have been a nice pickup, but his defense also projects badly. Grudz offers a better glove, but overall, is probably close to Ransom.

      in other words, most Utility IFers suck. so we’ve spent 100 posts arguing for what is essentially the title of “World’s Tallest Midget”.

      in other words, Ransom for $400K is probably the smarter move than Cora for $2M.

  • http://www.theyankeesuniverse.com EJ Fagan

    Isn’t our DH Swisher if Matsui gets hurt?

  • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

    Mea culpa on my part. I completely omitted Nady/Swisher when I wrote this post. Obviously, he and Swisher add to the Yanks’ depth and would fill in at DH if Matsui were to go down.

    That doesn’t solve the problem of Jose Molina, and I’m still not convinced though that Nady is going to be as good as some people think or that he’s going to get those 500 ABs.

    • Moshe Mandel

      It depends on who you are referring to. I think Nady can give numbers similar to last year, with maybe a small downward correction. People say it was a career year, but if you look at his numbers, they show a very natural progression of improvement from year to year.

    • Stanton Social

      But you still arent finding anything better as of now, and contract year all bets are off. In terms of molina, have Damon in CF for those games, and then Molina bats 9th and you call it a day.

      Also, all the numbers that have been run suggest Molina is an ungodly defensive catcher, meaning he is a wash. Also, I think last year his numbers were at the low end of what he is capable. He was playing pretty well, until he broke-down from overuse… and apparently came in prepared to catch more if necessary.

      I just think if we are counting on backups this year to provide offense we are in big trouble. We have a few contract year guys and others who are trying to prove last year was a fluke. I think we will be alright .

    • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

      Jose Molina is a problem? He’s one of the best defensive catchers in the game and a great game caller. Let’s say Jorge plays catches 100 games this year – I’m more than happy to have Molina fill in for the other 62. Remember, he’ll put up better offensive numbers per capita as a backup since his body won’t go through so much wear and tear.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        So Jose Molina turns in a 75 OPS+ instead of a 60 OPS+. That’s not very good either way. His defense could though make up for some of it. You’re right about that.

        • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

          Certainly Molina will never be anything but well below average as a hitter, but in the context of having a quality offensive-minded starting catcher in Jorge, Molina as a complimentary defensive specialist is a plus. He’s well below average as a starter, but arguably above average for a backup.

          • steve (different one)

            this is where i get confused by what people’s expectations are for the bench players.

            bench players are generally

            1. good bats/poor gloves
            2. defensive specialists/poor bats

            players who do both are called “starters”.

            Molina, as a backup catcher, is excellent. Molina as a starting catcher, not so much.

            • jsbrendog

              indubitably

    • Joe R

      Debbie Downer

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Ben K.

        Devil’s Advocate. Hopefully, none of this will come to pass, but we can’t be blind to something that may happen.

        • steve (different one)

          absolutely, but on the other hand, we can’t necessarily prepare for EVERYTHING that can happen either.

          i’d wager that almost every single championship team makes mid-season roster adjustments, and the Yankees may have to do that too.

          that doesn’t mean they can’t tweak the backup IFer position. like i said, i’d like to see them get Grudzielanek.

          but aside from that, i don’t think they can sit here with a spare DH on the bench in case Matsui can’t go.

          if he can’t, they may have to make a trade. it happens.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            absolutely, but on the other hand, we can’t necessarily prepare for EVERYTHING that can happen either.

            YES BUT THE 200 MILLON WE SPEND WTF CASH WHY YOU NO HAVE THE BACKUP PLAN?!?!?!??!?!!!!?!?!?!?11?!!

            Anybody else tired of that argument? We don’t spend 200M to solve every problem and fix every hole. Solving every problem and fixing every hole is impossible and never was our intention. We spend 200M to have a better, more talented roster than anyone else, and we have that.

            Spending money =/= being perfect

            Spending money = increasing your chances for success

    • steve (different one)

      I’m still not convinced though that Nady is going to be as good as some people think or that he’s going to get those 500 ABs

      sure, but if he doesn’t get 500 AB’s, that means that 1) Swisher rebounded 2) Matsui stayed healthy 3) Posada caught 110 games

      in other words, if Nady is getting enough playing time, it probably means the rest of the team is doing well.

      • Mike Pop

        Good point there. You’re so wise, you’re like a miniature Buddha.

        But, if he doesn’t get those 500 AB’s, what kind of free agent status will he have? Type A or B?

        I know that it’s not that big of a deal but I was just wondering.

        • http://evilempire20.com/ Ryan S.

          Is it in the back of anyone else’s mind that it’d be kinda funny to have Swisher force Nady into a bench role just because Scott Boras will get pissed off?

          • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt

            Say that happens–do you think the Yankees would offer arbitration to Nady? I feel like if he got forced to the bench, he might be quicker to take an offer.

  • Expired Milk

    The DH will be……Barry Bonds on a pale steroid induced horse and hell will come with him

    • Mattingly’s Love Child

      Hey why the heck not bring in Bonds if Matsui gets hurt…if he can still hit. Cash doesn’t care about steriods, you just gotta produce. But I think at this point (after over a year away) there is very little chance that Bonds is a better hitter than what’s on the Yankee roster right now.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Barry Bonds
        Frank Thomas
        Jim Edmonds

        … All fine DH depth options if Matsui goes down. (As is Juan Miranda.)

        • jsbrendog

          jim edmonds? seriously? seriously? i think dbhof rotted your brain

          • steve (different one)

            as a DH, he could be ok.

            i think his defense is what is keeping him unemployed.

          • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Nothing of the sort.

            I don’t want to hand the CF job to Jim Edmonds. But if Matsui gets hurt and is out for an extended period of time, we move Nady into the DH slot and we have an opening on the bench for another bat. I’m fine with calling Jim Edmonds and seeing how much he’d want to be one of our backup outfielders/pinch hitter/occasional starter.

            For all intents and purposes, Jim Edmonds = Rocco Baldelli. They can both play all three OF positions and have a decent amount of pop and OBP skills, and as long as you seriously limit their PT and exposure to keep them healthy, they’re quality guys in small, small doses.

            Sure, he’s old as dirt. But he did still OBP .343 and SLG .479 in limited duty last year. As long as you keep him out of the field as much as possible (which is pretty much our plan for Matsui anyway), he’ll contribute as a backup.

  • AndrewYF

    It’s Achilles’ Heel. The body part.

  • mryankee

    I dont get while the words old yankees team is used compare position by position with Boston for example how old are the yankees?

  • Frank

    This is a non-issue for me. Last season, this would have been a troubling issue, with Rasner, Ponson and Geise taking the hill. The Yanks needed top notch production from every spot in their lineup and didn’t get it. It’s different this season with the rotation we have.

    Even with a depleted lineup… we’ll have a chance to win a lot more of those games this season.

  • http://theenlighteneddespot.com NC Saint

    I’d love to see Miranda called up and played against righties in the event of a Matsui injury.

  • Rob S.

    Hey there Mr. gloom and doom. Why don’t you wait for a problem to actually happen before you start belly aching about it. If our pitchers stay healthy (probably even if one went down) our offense will be fine.