Musing On Lineup Possibilities

Joe Lineup Card While they're still hampered by an old, declining, high-injury risk group of power bats in the middle third of the batting order, the Yankees have done pretty well to upgrade their positions of greatest weakness and add some much needed depth to the position player portion of their roster this offseason.  There are enough guys in place and a few more guys who'll be in play when ST starts to give Joe the potential to mix and match his lineups more strategically than he's been able to the last few years.  Then it was him mixing and matching just to keep guys healthy and have enough warm bodies to fill out a lineup card.  Now it could be much more geared towards playing matchups and emphasizing the strengths of each player, of course with the goal of keeping the aforementioned old, injury-prone players healthy remaining in place.

With that in mind, I'd like to take a crack at putting a pair of lineups together for next season, one for right-handed starters and one for lefties.  The Yankees have a lot more platoon-ability in their bench at the moment, and I believe Joe is going to utilize that tactic more this season as long as he has the healthy bodies to do it.  Keep in mind that this is me doing this in the mindset that I think Joe might have at the start of the season, not what I would do personally.

First let's tackle the lineup versus righties.  The Yanks are going to face more of them and they've given themselves the opportunity to build a 9-man lefty-swinging army to attack them, something that could pay big dividends when they're playing at home.  I think that will look something like this:

1) Jacoby Ellsbury- CF 2) Brett Gardner- LF 3) Carlos Beltran- RF 4) Brian McCann- C 5) Mark Teixeira- 1B 6) Chase Headley- 3B 7) Garrett Jones- DH 8) Stephen Drew- 2B 9) Didi Gregorius- SS

That lineup assumes that Joe will be platooning Jones and A-Rod at DH, which seems very possible given how little the Yankees seem to be expecting from A-Rod and how much he's struggled against righties in recent years.  It also assumes that Beltran and Teix will hold their lineup spots, which I think is highly likely given how much the team has talked about expecting bounce backs from them and how loyal Joe usually is to his guys.  Even if the decline continues for them, the bottom half of that lineup is much deeper than it's been.  Headley's a good all-around hitter, Jones has pop and can make you pay with the short porch, and even Gregorius in the 9-hole is no slouch against righties.  There's not an easy out in that lot, and that's not something we've been able to say about a Yankee lineup in a few years.

Now the southpaws.  This is where I see some of the platoon action really stepping up.

1) Ellsbury- CF 2) Gardner- LF 3) Headley- 3B 4) McCann- C 5) Alex Rodriguez- DH 6) Teixeira- 1B 7) Chris Young- RF 8) Drew- 2B 9) Gregorius- SS

This assumes that the Yanks will let Gregorius face lefties, but if they don't this is where they could utilize Drew in a dual-platoon capacity.  If the team smartens up and kicks Brendan Ryan to the curb in favor of either Jose Pirela or Rob Refsnyder (ideally Pirela because he can play more positions), Joe could play Drew at short against lefties and still bat him 8th and then plug Pirela into the 9-spot as another righty bat.  That's 5 right-handed bats, a couple of lefties who hit left-handed pitching well, and Beltran and Jones on the bench for late-game pinch hitting situations, not a bad situation to be in, even if the 3-7 there is a little light.

That lineup also assumes that the Yanks are going to straight up rest Beltran when they play Young in right field, which is always going to be subject to change depending on who else needs a day off and who else may need a half-day off in the DH spot.  We could see John Ryan Murphy in for McCann against lefties every now and then, but I wouldn't go that route right away considering how well McCann mashed lefties last year.

There's a lot of moving parts in both lineups depending on who's hot, who's healthy, who the starting pitcher is, and what the matchup binder says, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.  I'm sure Joe has already started thinking about this and I'm sure we'll see his plan start to come together once the spring starts.  For now, it's a nice change of pace to look at a proposed 1-9 and not see multiple glaring holes.