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Thursday, May 30, 2013

TEIXEIRA, YOUKILIS & THE YANKEE LOG JAM

With the imminent return of some injured Yankees, including Mark Teixeira and KevinYoukilis, the team faces an interesting dilemma. What in the world will they do with Lyle Overbay and the rest of the Yankees who filled in for them? The Yankees, who were brilliant in replacing injured stars with a mix of rookies and available veterans, now have to figure out the impending logjam that will be their active roster. Let us take a walk around the Yankee lineup.
(In Photo: David Adams) 
The easiest problem to solve will probably be third base. Assuming Kevin Youkilis’ back is completely healthy, he will probably take over at third. David Adams, who has shown signs of a bright future, will probably go to the bench. Again, this assumes that Youkilis is healthy and stays healthy. This is not an easy assumption to make, given recent history. He came to the Yankees with a reputation for being fragile, and he will have missed more than 2/3 of the season by the end of this week. The Yankees need him to be productive, so we will probably see him get regular rest and David Adams may still get lots of playing time. 
The problem getting the most airtime with Yankee announcers is the first base problem. Mark Teixeira is about to return, and Lyle Overbay has not played a position other than first base in the majors. His clutch hitting has gotten the attention of the fans and Yankees management. It has gotten enough attention that the Yankees are rumored to have considered him playing the outfield. He has 60 games played in the outfield in minor league ball, the last time being when he was only 24 years old in 2001. That is a long time. This assumes that he would even want to switch positions. It also assumes that Mark Teixeira is ready to take on every duties at first. This will probably be another case of the injured player getting lots of rest while his substitute fills in. If they want Overbay’s bat in the lineup, they could always play him at designated hitter. Which brings us to the next problem.
 
So, who is going to be the everyday designated hitter? Good question. Travis Hafner has been the almost-everyday DH, and he has not played a field position since 2007. With a .373 OBP and a .869 OPS (as of this writing), his bat would be sorely missed in the lineup. Nevertheless, since he cannot play the field, we may be better off trading him. We are also carrying four potential outfielders in Vernon Wells, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, and Brennan Boesch. Boesch is clearly the odd man out, but with two other strong candidates for the DH spot, it is going to get hard to justify the $1.5M the Yankees are paying him. He seems to be a likely candidate for the exit door.
The problem gets worse once some of the other regulars start coming back. Derek Jeter’s return is probably the simplest problem to solve. There is an opportunity cost for Jayson Nix as starter, but he would just resume the backup role he had prior to Jeter’s injury. Curtis Granderson, slated to return in late June or early July, would add to the outfielder/DH logjam. Following on the heels of Granderson’s return, the Yankees expect Alex Rodriguez back after the All-Star break. 

At that point, where do you put Kevin Youkilis? Which all begs the question, in mid-July, of what to do with four premier outfielders, two premier first basemen, two premier third basemen, an everyday designated hitter, and a 25-man roster where the manager likes to carry lots of pitchers (13 as of this writing). Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman have some tough choices to make.

Some have suggested that the Yankees set up a blockbuster trade for some of our replacement players once the regulars return. This seems unlikely to work. If the Yankees were to get some serious talent, the teams that would be giving them up tend to want young, inexpensive talent. The talent we would be giving up is neither young nor inexpensive. If they can pull something off that would really benefit the team – like where we get an ace starter – we will tip our collective hat off to Mr. Cashman. As well, we cannot forget how fragile some of our regulars are, so we will have to keep some of the backups around.

At the end of the day, the Yankees will probably mix and match players and put the best team possible on the field. If it were up to yours truly, we would get rid of Hafner and Boesch and rotate the other players in and out. Hafner cannot play the field, and we have other DH options. Boesch just is not putting up the number to justify keeping him around. I would trade them for whatever I could get or release them outright. Nevertheless, we can only guess what the brain trust will do. Whatever happens, it will sure be fun to watch.


--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row



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