Open Thread: Morgan Ensberg

(AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)

Long before the days of the Mark Teixeira, the Yankees used a number of stopgap first baseman during the end of the Jason Giambi era. There was Doug Mientkiewicz, Josh Phelps, Andy Phillips, and even Morgan Ensberg. Ensberg had some huge years in Houston (.391 wOBA in 2003, .395 wOBA and a fourth place finish in the MVP voting in 2005), but he signed with the Yanks three years ago today after an ugly 2007 season (.318 wOBA) with the ‘Stros and Padres. He was supposed to be a righty hitting option of the bench that could fill-in at the infield corners, but that never materialized. Ensberg had just a .228 wOBA in 80 plate appearances for New York before being designated for assignment on June 1st. He finished out the year in Cleveland’s minor league system, and was out of baseball for good by Spring Training of the following season. Ensberg is now on Twitter and runs a fantastic blog, but like many before him and what will surely be many after him, his Yankees career was completely forgettable.

Anywho, here is the night’s open thread. The Nets are the only local team in action tonight, so you’re on your own when it comes to entertainment. You all know what to do, so go bananas.

The end of Ensberg nears

A note from Chad Jennings: Jason Lane has an out in his contract that he can exercise on May 31. So the Yankees have a decision to make. Do you give Lane, who sports a .827 OPS at Scranton, a shot? Or do you let him walk? For what it’s worth, Jennings also notes that Lane was doing footwork at first base this week.

I’m personally of the mind that while the Ensberg experiment was a worthy one, it’s got to come to an end. Might as well plug in Lane and see what you’ve got there. Lane would take Ensberg’s 40- and 25-man roster spot, so there’s really no harm in this one. One experiment ends, another begins.

Wilson Betemit should be back soon, too. We could actually see the designation of Ensberg upon his return, with Lane taking the spot of Alberto Gonzalez. I actually like this a bit better. But in any case, there’s little chance Ensberg remains with the team past this week.

Ensberg added to 40-man roster

Via PeteAbe, the Yanks have added Morgan Ensberg to the 40-man roster and will pay him $1.75M to come off the bench and start against tough lefties this year. Carl Pavano lands on the 60-day DL to make room for Ensberg, who is out options and will NOT wear number 21. This basically means that the bench is set, with Ensberg joining Wilson Betemit, Jose Molina and whoever sits between the Shelley-Matsui-Giambi-Damon group on a given day. I suppose that Shelley could be shipped to Triple-A with a Cody Ransom-type taking his spot on the bench, but I think it’s unlikely. I like the move; Ensberg is a class act and one helluva complimentary player.

The Organizational Depth Chart has been updated accordingly.

Yanks Ink Ensberg

Here’s something we wanted to see happen last year, but apparently was blocked by Joe Torre. The Yanks have signed Morgan Ensberg. No word on the nature of the deal — that is, whether it’s a major or minor league deal. My guess is that it’s a minor league one (saving the Yanks a roster spot), with an opt-out if he doesn’t make the big league roster.

I would suppose that he’s being brought in as competition for Shelley at first base. He’s only played three games in his career off of third base — one at DH, one at first base, and one at shortstop. I’m not quite sure if he’d be a viable bench option. We’ll see as Spring Training progresses, though.

Update: It’s a minor league deal. Just thought of something else, too. Ensberg could be Giambi insurance. If he goes down in ST, Ensberg would have a seat on the bench. Not a bad fallback plan.