Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Yankee Bench: Pathetic

One of the overlooked problems with the Yankee teams of recent vintage has been their lack of depth. This is very relevant now, when a lot of guys are struggling. Take a guy like Robby Cano - when his game is off, do you really want to put Miguel Cairo in there? A guy with a .600 OPS last year? Of course not.

And with the game on the line, who do they have that scares you? Nobody. Melky Cabrera is decent, but he's still pretty unproven. I know, last summer he did pretty well, but that's not much of a track record. And this year, he's off to a slow start, batting .226. Maybe '06 was a fluke.

And after that? It's a total joke. Josh Phelps is the scariest bat on the bench? Unbelieveable. And Wil Nieves (.040) makes ex-Met Charlie O'Brien look like Joe DiMaggio.

Compare the Yankees to their rivals, the Mets and Red Sox. The Mets have Endy Chavez, a guy who's gotten them a few clutch hits and, if not for Yadier Molina, sends them to the World Series last year with that amazing catch. Julio Franco may be a PR move, but the guy is still a solid hitter. Ramon Castro, too, is a guy who can hit. And now Damion Easley has been the latest guy to step things up. (To be fair, however, the Mets were in a no-lose situation and got lucky. Kind of like the Yankees and Aaron Small. Let's see how Easley's doing in August.)

The Red Sox have a solid bench as well. Wily Mo Pena can take a bad pitch and hit it over the fences. Cora and Mirabelli are great at defense. Hinske is nothing to write home about, but he's the Clay Bellinger of that team, so you can't go too crazy. If not for winning Rookie of the Year, you wonder how long Hinske would still be in the majors. There's a mystique to that award.

When you look at the dynasty teams, they had much better benches. In '96, they had Hayes, Strawberry, and Cecil Fielder. And of course, Jim Leyritz. And later they had Sojo, Vizcaino, and Ledee. Sure they had guys like Felix Jose and Tony Tarasco have cups of coffees in the big leagues, but when it came down to it, they had some good bats off the bench.

And now that the payroll has ballooned to $200 million, you'd figure they'd have more depth. Nope. Not with Cashman running the show.


The Yankee Despiser said...

Prediction for today's game: After Mussina gets knockced around, he complains that the rainout messed with his "routine." And YES man Al Leiter, who was full of excuses during his career ("Man, it was so hot in Cincinatti!") will completely agree.

Anonymous said...

It probably isn't sustainable, but Cora is hitting .370 in 54 at bats, with .667 slugging, .436 OBP, and 193 OPS+. That's on top of his glove.