Options for the final bench spot

The days of Jack Clark in pinstripes
WFAN Breakfast Notes: Jeter, Joba, Andy, Misc.

Aside from the whole starting pitching thing, the Yankees don’t have many needs left to address this offseason. The Andruw Jones pick up gave them that all important right-handed hitting outfielder, and the bullpen has been shored up and then some. Assuming the team rolls with a seven man bullpen, they’ll have four bench spots to play with and three of them are already accounted for. Jones is the fourth outfielder, Frankie Cervelli is the backup catcher, and either Eduardo Nunez or Ramiro Pena will be the reserve infielder. That last spot could do to a number of players already in-house, like Nunez/Pena, Greg Golson, Kevin Russo, Colin Curtis, or even Jordan Parraz.

If the Yankees honestly feel that Nunez can be an everyday big leaguer like they’ve been saying for the last year, then they should let him play everyday in Triple-A. Sitting on the bench behind that infield all season won’t do a damn thing for his development. That should make Pena the default utility infielder. Golson would bring speed and defense, Russo versatility, while neither Curtis or Parraz have a real standout tool. We’re talking about the 24th or 25th man on the roster, so whoever fills that last bench spot won’t make or break the season. That doesn’t mean the Yanks can’t improve the position, though.

The free agent market is pretty barren these days, so we’re really digging for scraps here. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a few players that can help the Yankees though, so let’s look at two…

Augie Augie Augie, Oi Oi Oi! (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Augie Ojeda
Two things stand out about Ojeda: he’s a fantastic defensive player with gobs of experience at the three non-first base infield spots, and he’s a switch-hitting bat control freak, swinging and missing just 4.9% of the time in his career. Although his 2010 campaign was dreadful (.220 wOBA), a concern at age 34, he posted no worse than a .340 OBP from 2007 through 2009, drawing more walks (73) than strikeouts (65) in 713 plate appearances with the Diamondbacks. Ojeda has like, negative power (career .078 ISO) and little basestealing prowess (just seven steals and a 63.6% success rate in 503 career games), but that’s why he’s a bench player. Essentially a better version of Pena, Ojeda’s going to have to hope some team believes his 2010 performance was a 92 plate appearance fluke and not the sign of age-related decline.

And he pitches! (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Joe Inglett
Perhaps my standard for bench players is too low, because Inglett strikes me as a pretty useful player despite his continued unemployment. Over the last three years, a span of 644 plate appearances and 247 games played with the Blue Jays and Brewers, Inglett’s walked in 7.9% of his trips to the plate, including 9.4% last year. His overall power output is blah (career .111 ISO), but he swings from the left side and is an above average hitter against righties (career .336 wOBA vs. RHP). Add in a little speed (13 steals, 91.3% success rate last few years) and a bunch of versatility (lots of experience at second, third, and the corner outfield spots), and Inglett makes for a half-decent bench piece.

* * *

Let’s not forget Willy Aybar and Felipe Lopez, both of whom I’ve written about this offseason. Since Jones, Cervelli, and Nunez are all right-handed hitters (Pena’s a switch-hitter, but the hitter part is being generous), I’m thinking it would be nice to add a lefty batter for no other reason than to have some diversity. All of these guys fit the bill, and I actually like the switch-hitting Aybar the best. He’d give the Yankees some pop from both sides of the plate and a little versatility, plus he’s familiar with the AL East. Inglett makes a smidgen of sense in a limited role, Lopez moreso.

Either way, we’re talking about the last man on the roster, and the Yankees can afford to splurge a little on that spot. The hard part, as always, will be convincing a free agent bench player to sign with a team featuring the kind of regular lineup the Yankees have.

Note: I originally had Jorge Cantu and Andy LaRoche included in this post, but of course they had to sign with the Padres and Athletics last night, respectively. See anyone on the free agent list worth discussing? Cristian Guzman? Ronnie Belliard? Meh.

The days of Jack Clark in pinstripes
WFAN Breakfast Notes: Jeter, Joba, Andy, Misc.
  • Monteroisdinero

    Greg Golson. 25 years old. Cheap. Speed. Defense. Might even (shockingly) improve in his hitting in his old age.

    • Mister Delaware

      I like the idea of not giving up on Golson (regardless of how slim the chances of him ever turning into a contributor currently are), but that might be best accomplished letting him play full time in SWB rather than getting 1 PA per week behind the starting OF and Andruw.

      • Ted Nelson

        If you have a guy who is only going to get 1 PA per week, as you say, then someone with the speed to pinch-run and defense to give a regular an inning or two off may be a good use of that roster spot. At least to start the season, and if there’s not a better FA option willing to sign.

        I don’t really care if it’s Golson or someone else, but I can see his utility in that role. Nunez could also act as a pinch runner if they want him on the big league roster. Would at least try to bring a veteran to camp on a minor league deal to compete.

        • Mister Delaware

          I can see the utility in having someone in that role too, my point was that I agreed Golson has the talent to someday possibly be more productive than a 25th man PR/DR so maybe one more year of minor league PAs is worth it. There are plenty of other career runners to fill the role on the major league level.

          • Ted Nelson

            I don’t have much faith in Golson developing into more than a AAAA player, but what do I know?

  • Rey22

    We trade Igawa for Pujols. He’d add good right handed pop to the bench.

    • Wil Nieves #1 Fan


  • Dan

    Like your thinking of Nunez to Scranton for further development.

    The most likely to be pinch hit for are martin and Jeter. Cervelli and Posada, in a pinch, cover catcher replacements. Pena covers Jeter as a late innings defensive upgrade and replacement after being pinch hit for. Like the remaining spot for Russo who can fill in in infield and outfield.

  • J. Scott

    In the abstract it’s defensible to consider pinch hitting for Jeter in certain situations. But, this is still Earth, and on Earth Derek Jeter does not get pinch hit for.

    • thurdonpaul

      you said that better then i could have. ty

    • Accent Shallow

      Yeah, but who is a better hitter than Jeter, available, and fits into a role?

      • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

        Andruw Jones.

  • Nick
  • Josh S.

    I looked at the free agent starting pitchers and for half a second I thought Pedro Martinez could be interesting if he’d agree to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Then I remembered the last time I saw him pitch – getting destroyed by Hideki Matsui in game 6 of the 2009 World Series. Nevermind. He’d never cut it in the ML these days, and definitely not in the AL East.

  • Ted Nelson

    “See anyone on the free agent list worth discussing?”

    Pettitte, Andy…

    No, Lastings Milledge could be a good play for AAA depth if he’s looking at a minor league deal. I’d take some other guys on minor league deals too.

    Cervelli detractors might be interested in Bengie Molina.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Cervelli detractors might be interested in Bengie Molina.

      No way. By no means am I Cervelli fan, but Molina is God awful.

      • Ted Nelson

        I agree, I can just see people calling for Molina over Cervelli.

  • Wil Nieves #1 Fan

    Hey, Axisa. I think it’s about time we take a look at the case for Wil Nieves. Who knows, but the Brewers could be looking to unload that heavy 1 year / $775k contract. And as a catcher at the age of 33, he’s really just starting to come into his prime. And for the sake of this post with no supporting evidence, let’s just say he’s a pull hitter, which means, like Curtis Granderson, he could easily hit 35 to 40 HRs in Yankee Stadium.

    Let me know when you want me to start writing for the site.

  • UncleArgyle

    Aybar would be a nice 25th man. Not sure what else you’d want out of the 25th spot; a 4C guy with playoff experience and a little pop, who’s a switch hitter under the age of 30.

  • MannyGee

    I would like to think Ronnie Belliard would be the best fit… If for no other reason I think he would be rolling out with CC to da club after the game. Seriously, you couldn’t see Ronnie driving CC’s Range Rover around with Curtis and Golson in the back playing PS#? like a P Diddy video! I am excited for this!

  • http://twitter.com/astrophunq Dax J.

    My option for another bench player would be Willy Aybar. I think he could be a very nice addition. Mike, did Tampa non-tender him already?

  • J.R.


    I’d go with Golson simply for the speed factor. If you look at the rest of the bench, that is the only thing they are missing.

  • Sal

    Nick Johnson??

  • Drew

    Why is Cervelli guaranteed a spot on the bench? What about Montero/Martin whoever isn’t starting.

    • Preston

      I think we’re assuming that if you go out and sign a free agent for 4 million bucks he would have to be god awful in Spring training not to win the job. And if Montero isn’t starting he should be playing every day and getting work both at the plate and behind it. So Cervelli would be the back up.
      Does Brandon Laird not have a shot at being the 25th man? Best bat of the options, they played him in the OF during AZFL to make him more versatile. If not Laird I’d go with Golson, no he can’t hit, but he brings defense and speed things that we could utilize.

      • http://www.theyankeeu.com Eric

        I have been wondering about Laird as a possibility too. Could be an Eric Hinske type off the bench (able to play 1b, 3b, maybe corner outfield) with some pop. Granted, his lack of much AAA experience may hold him back, but he’s versatile enough defensively to be of some use, and a much bigger threat with the stick than any of the other options.

  • B.J.

    I want to see Inglett play in 2011 but NOT in a NYY uniform.

  • A-rod#1fan

    I see Eduardo nuñez as future Yankee shortstop by 2013


    What is wrong with you people….Curtis?, Russo?, Parraz? They are not major leaguers!!! They had their shot. The final spot should absolutely be Jorge ‘El Destructor’ Vazquez!!! Tremendous power off the bench, corner infielder, and DH. You talk about the other guys with development. There is no developement with Jorge. He is a monster. He is a 30/100/.300 hitter in the majors, and a starter for many other teams!!He has the experience…Superstar in Mex Lg, WBC(a grand slam his first WBC ab about 470ft). He is perfect for huge power off the bench. And people are worried about his glove. In the winter lg he made one error in 390 chances in the field .998%…while for his winter including playoffs hitting, .360, 14hr, 41rbi in 46g 1.081ops. He ended his winter with a 21 game hitting streak hitting .440, and in his last 25 games hit .417, 11hr, 31rbi, .460obp, .796slg!! and 1.256ops. Hitting a hr every 9ab. and during the season he hit .403 with runners on, .645slg, and 1.045ops. He is the real deal!!!! He is to Mexico what Hideki was to Japan. They love him in Mexico, on Gatorade ads and everything!!!! He can really help, and this is the year to use him!!

  • http://www.pridefulpinstripes.blogspot.com Billy Rugen

    I don’t know why Cashman didn’t try to do more to improve our backup infield option. To keep them both fresh, A-Rod and Jeter will probably have to miss a day in the field every week. We should have someone viable to play each of those days. Inglett is my pick. His versatility and youth could be a valuable addition to the Yankees bench.