Bench Seems Set

With yesterday’s acquisition of Randy Winn, the Yankees’ bench seems to be set. Let’s examine the implications this could have for the 2010 team.

First off, the fact that Johnny Damon is not returning should give current left fielder Brett Gardner a big confidence boost. By not re-signing Damon, instead opting for a cheaper player who isn’t likely to take a starting job from the “incumbent” Gardner, the Yankees are telling the young outfielder that they believe he can hold the position competently. I don’t have much faith in Gardner getting much better than he was in 2009, but there is still room to grow. With plus defense, a decent OBP (.340-.350?), and his speed, Gardner could be a net positive in left field for the Yankees.

Next we come to the “order of operations,” if you will (excuse me, I’m interning at a middle school and doing a little bit of work in math classes) for the outfield. Barring anything unforeseen between now and the beginning of the season, the regular OF alignment will be Gardner–Granderson–Swisher. Defensively, this outfield is pretty solid. Offensively, two-thirds of it is above average. The first man off the bench will obviously be Winn. As I discussed last night, he’s a good option at each of the outfield positions and can at least handle himself at the plate. Signing another bench outfielder will likely have a double-edged-sword type of effect on Rule V pick Jamie Hoffmann.

On the one hand, it will allow Hoffmann to develop at a slower pace. He will no longer be the first option off the bench, nor will he be an injury away from being a full time starter. On the other hand, though, it does mean fewer at bats for Hoffmann and the only way to grow as a major leaguer is with consistent trips the plate.

Frankie Cervelli will assume the back-up catcher’s duties and I don’t think we should expect anything from him that we didn’t expect frohttp://www.theyankeeu.com/wp-admin/post-new.phpm Jose Molina. Cervelli will likely bring a relatively weak bat to the plate, but should play above average defense behind the plate. I wonder, though, if he’ll be paired with any one pitcher. Perhaps Joe Girardi will pair Cervelli with A.J. Burnett as he did with the latter and Jose Molina in 2009. Another route that could be taken is pairing Joba Chamberlain with Cervelli. It seems as though Posada and Chamberlain never really got themselves on the same page, so maybe Joba would work better with Cervelli.

The last spot is the utility infielder’s spot which will most likely be either Ramiro Pena or Kevin Russo. If it’s Pena, I’ll expect the same thing as Cervelli: good defense with an almost anemic bat. If it’s Russo, I’d expect a little more of the bat with a little less defense.

So, as of now, I’m willing to bet that the Yankee bench will be made up of outfielders Randy Winn and Jamie Hoffmann, with Francisco Cervelli doing the back up catching, and one of Ramiro Pena or Kevin Russo playing all over the infield; let’s also not forget that Nick Johnson and/or Nick Swisher could play first base in a pinch. This bench may not have a ton of power, but it’s versatile and the parts are more or less replaceable if they do not perform.

8 thoughts on “Bench Seems Set

  1. JMK aka The Overshare

    Forgive me being possibly obtuse on this one, but how does the possibility of signing another bench outfielder become a double-edged sword for Hoffmonster? The Yanks will not be carrying 6 outfielders in 2010; if another bench outfielder is signed, Hoffmann is gone due to the roster inflexibility and his status as a Rule V. Even as a hypothetical, say another is signed and they keep 6 guys on the 25-man, how does he develop at all if he’s a playing extremely sparingly? I realize you somewhat touched on that, but how much value could a 6th outfielder you can’t option have, particularly if they don’t get ABs?

  2. MJ

    I was going to write the exact same thing. Hoffmann is either this team’s 5th OF or the Yanks sign another OF and Hoffmann gets put on waivers and likely finds his way back to the Dodgers.

  3. MJ

    “Perhaps Joe Girardi will pair Cervelli with A.J. Burnett as he did with the latter and Jose Molina in 2009. Another route that could be taken is pairing Joba Chamberlain with Cervelli. It seems as though Posada and Chamberlain never really got themselves on the same page, so maybe Joba would work better with Cervelli.”

    I assume they’ll start the season without personal catchers for any of the starters and that Cervelli will get his playing time dictated to him based on the need to rest Posada, until and unless a similar need for personal catchers arises again in 2010.

    As for teaming Cervelli and Chamberlain, I’d hesitate to do so, even though I don’t think very highly of Posada’s defensive/game-calling acumen. I’d want an undisciplined and hard-headed pitcher like Chamberlain to work with a veteran catcher, if only because I don’t want Chamberlain pushing a young guy like Cervelli around.

    “[T]he Yankee bench will be made up of outfielders Randy Winn and Jamie Hoffmann, with Francisco Cervelli doing the back up catching, and one of Ramiro Pena or Kevin Russo playing all over the infield…[t]his bench may not have a ton of power, but it’s versatile and the parts are more or less replaceable if they do not perform.”

    The Yanks bench will be an offensive black hole. Cashman has a track record of building his bench as the season goes along (Craig Wilson in ’06, Nady in ’08, Hinske in ’09) so I hope the pattern continues. Hoffmann/Winn cannot be counted on to provide any offense in their substitute roles and so any game that features two of Cervelli/Pena/Winn-Hoffmann will be reminiscent of watching Jose Molina, Cody Random and Ramiro Pena all take AB’s in the same game early last season.

    • As for teaming Cervelli and Chamberlain, I’d hesitate to do so, even though I don’t think very highly of Posada’s defensive/game-calling acumen. I’d want an undisciplined and hard-headed pitcher like Chamberlain to work with a veteran catcher, if only because I don’t want Chamberlain pushing a young guy like Cervelli around.
      ==========================
      I disagree with the last part of that quote……
      Cervelli has a history of handling pitchers and not getting pushed around, he is much better getting pitchers to do things without getting in their face.. Most reports from the pitchers, on how he calls the game and keeps them on their game, has been very good.

      • MJ

        Whatever Cervelli’s reputation was in the minors in this regard isn’t entirely relevant. And while Cervelli may not be a push-over, I’d still rather force Chamberlaina and Posada to work together because it is in the best interests of the team.

        • We discussed the pros and cons of special catchers for pitchers last year, no need to do it this year, is there?
          My comment was about the pitchers pushing Cervelli around…nothing more.
          His reputation was the same with the Yankees as it was in the minors, the pitchers liked pitching to him very much.
          The idea of making someone work with another, is a bit on the risky side. It depends on the individuals, some can do it some can’t.

    • Jay

      I agree. Pairing up personal catchers is just a bad idea. It should be avoided if possible. Now that Molina is gone, the issue can just walk out the door with him.

      • Agreed, Jay.

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