A few spots will be decided in spring training, but for the most part, we now know how the 2009 Yankees have transformed into the 2010 Yankees.
Of the 31 players who got at least 70 at-bats or pitched at least 25 innings last season, 11 will not be back. All but two have been replaced by someone younger.
Out: Johnny Damon
In: Curtis Granderson
Whether it’s Granderson, Gardner or Winn in left field, this seems to be a defensive upgrade. Offensively, Damon’s replacement seems to be Nick Johnson, who generally has a better on-base percentage, but almost certainly has less speed and power.
Out: Hideki Matsui
In: Nick Johnson
Actually, Johnson is Matsui’s replacement in title only. In reality, the Yankees will probably look for Granderson to replace Matsui’s offense. Granderson actually has a higher career slugging percentage than Matsui, but only time will tell whether he’s actually a more productive hitter in New York.
Out: Chien-Ming Wang
In: Javier Vazquez
Perhaps the biggest difference for the Yankees rotation is that Wang threw fewer than 100 innings each of the past two seasons, and he threw more than 200 innings once in his big league career. Vazquez has thrown at least 200 innings each of the past five years.
Out: Melky Cabrera
In: Randy Winn
This is the spot for a switch-hitting outfielder who will go into spring training to battle for a starting job, and is capable of playing all three outfield positions well off the bench. Cabrera is younger and had much better stats last season. Winn is cheaper and had much better stats in 2007 and 2008.
Out: Phil Coke
In: Boone Logan
Coke held lefties to a .195 batting average and .218 on-base percentage last season. Logan didn’t come close to those numbers – .231 average, .318 on base — but he did keep the ball on the ground and limit lefties to a .308 slugging percentage (left-handers slugged .366 against Coke). Despite having pitched in almost twice as many big league games, Logan is actually two years younger than Coke.
Out: Jose Molina
In: Francisco Cervelli
So far, this is true. Molina is still a free agent, Cervelli is the only backup catcher on the 40-man roster and the Yankees seem content to leave it that way. Cervelli actually had more Yankees at-bats last season than Jerry Hairston Jr., Eric Hinske or Cody Ransom. He was better than Molina in every offensive category and — subjectively — was just as good defensively.
Out: Brian Bruney, Jose Veras
In: David Robertson, Alfredo Aceves
Bruney and Veras were on the Yankees opening day roster last season. Robertson and Aceves were not. Things changed by the end of the season, and that change will likely carry into 2010. Bruney, Veras and Coke are the only Yankees relievers who won’t be back after throwing at least 25 innings last season.
Out: Jerry Hairston Jr., Cody Ransom, Angel Berroa
In: Ramiro Pena, Kevin Russo, Reegie Corona, Eduardo Nunez
Berroa didn’t have 70 at-bats, but he was one in a string of utility infielders last season. The front-runner to open 2010 in that role is the same guy who opened 2009: Pena. If he can’t handle the spot, the Yankees have three other young infielders on the 40-man. If none can do it, last year taught the that it’s pretty easy to trade for a replacement.
Out: Eric Hinske
In: Jamie Hoffmann
Hinske was brought in mid-season for depth and power off the bench. He was good to have, but ultimately expendable (hence the one postseason plate appearance). Hoffmann is kind of the same. He hits right handed and probably doesn’t have Hinske’s pop, but he’s being brought to camp as a Rule 5 wild card, a low-cost gamble trying for a bench job.