The Yankees need a backup-infielder as Cody Ransom and Angel Berroa are essentially anomalies. RAB has thrown out two very solid ideas for utility players, noting the presence of Mark Grudzielanek, who is an undervalued commodity, as well as Ray Durham, who was one of the better offensive 2B just a few years ago. Now, while I like these options, I’m also a fan of another near-40 guy—Rich Aurilia.
Aurilia is a righty and had a solid 2008 campaign, plus he hit lefties exceptionally well (.321/.377/.526). Therefore, his bat could still be very helpful. Furthermore, he’s versatile defensively, a plus for a team that is in need of defensive help at SS, 2B and 3B. Aurilia can actually play 1B, SS, 2B and 3B, although he didn’t see time at SS last year. While he was slightly below average at each position in ’08, he’d probably offer a defensive upgrade at SS and 3B, depending on how A-Rod and Jeter play. Or, of course, the defense would be a wash, as I doubt he’d be worse than either player, especially if he’s only playing part-time. If Cano steps up and delivers defensively in 2009, that’s fine, Aurilia can play there too and offer an occasional day off (against a lefty, maybe).
I think he’d be a solid addition. The Giants offered him a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training, so maybe if the Yankees offered him a role on the bench, guaranteed, he’d be open to an east coast trip (he’s a Brooklyn native, actually). The team has the pieces to win, but a guy like Aurilia could prove to be a key cog in ’09.