Hard to tell the difference between the bench and the lineup these days. Francisco Cervelli and Marcus Thames have seen regular playing time most of the month, Juan Miranda is getting regular at-bats at designated hitter and Kevin Russo has been worth a look in left field. Thames has played in more games than Curtis Granderson, and Randy Winn has played in more than Nick Johnson.
What’s gone right?
Cervelli and Jorge Posada have played in the same number of games. Posada has outstanding offensive numbers, but Cervelli still has more RBI. In his oversized helmet and bigger-than-expect role, Cervelli keeps getting big hits in big situations. The Yankees took a chance on him this winter, choosing not to sign a veteran backup catcher, and the faith has paid off and then some.
Unless he’s heading for a Hall of Fame career, Cervelli’s numbers are sure to dip at some point, but he looks like a guy who can hit and certainly catch at this level. And he made the decision easy when the Yankees might have been tempted to rush either Jesus Montero or Austin Romine after Posada’s injury.
Other bright spots: Thames’ offensive production against both righties and lefties; Thames’ walk-off home run; Russo’s first major league start; Miranda showing some power; Pena proving his defense can play anywhere.
What’s gone wrong?
When everyone was healthy, Winn’s primary role was to play right field defense after Nick Swisher’s final at-bat, but occasional duty has been a tough adjustment for the longtime major league starter. Winn has come through in the clutch a few times, but for the year he’s hitting just .213 with a .295 slugging percentage. Both are ugly numbers for a corner outfielder.
If it hasn’t been Winn filling in, it’s been Thames, who’s done more than enough with the bat while continuing to struggle in the field. There will never be a better example than his walk-off home run one night, followed immediately by his game-changing error the next night.
Other problem areas: Pena isn’t expected to hit much, but you’d like to get more than a .211/.244/.237 slash line. Even that’s kind of nit-picking considering Pena’s role on this team and the fact he’s come through more than once. Ultimately, there’s not a lot to complain about on the bench.