We know there’s a decision to be made here, we’re just not sure what exactly the choices might be. There’s still a better-than-average chance that the Yankees will add at least one veteran hitter to the DH mix, and based on the options out there, he’ll probably be a left-hander to get significant at-bats against righties.
Whoever is added between now and Opening Day, the Yankees decision at designated hitter is really a series of decisions about various parts of their roster.
How often should the veterans rest?
Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter are going to get some DH days. We know that. What’s unclear is just how many DH days they’re going to need to stay fresh and healthy. A guy like Eduardo Nunez might not get a single DH start all season, but he’s essentially a part of the DH equation because he’ll certainly get some starts on days the veteran infielders get a half day off.
Is Andruw Jones a DH or an outfielder?
Obviously Jones is going to get a lot of playing time against left-handers. The question is, should that playing time come in the outfield, or should that playing time come at designated hitter while Brett Gardner keeps playing everyday? Jones has proven he can be productive in a platoon situation, and he’s a capable corner outfielder, but obviously the outfield defense is at its best when Gardner is out there. How many of Jones’ platoon starts are going to come at DH?
What can the Yankees get out of the free agent additions?
We already know Russell Branyan will be in camp competing for a spot. There’s a good chance someone like Raul Ibanez or Johnny Damon will be doing the same. Eric Chavez might be there too, and Bill Hall is a utility type who could open some opportunities for infielders and outfielders to get a few DH starts. Without Jesus Montero to slide into this role, much of the Yankees DH at-bats are likely to come from veterans who still have to show the Yankees that they can provide some reliable offense.
Are the young guys legitimate options?
To some extent this discussion involves a guy like Brandon Laird, but really it’s about Jorge Vazquez and a pair of out-of-options outfielders. Chris Dickerson has shown a pretty good bat against big league right-handers. Should he factor into the decision? Justin Maxwell has tools and showed some real power last year in Triple-A. Can he do enough to grab the Yankees attention? Vazquez has power that no one doubts or denies. Is that ever going to be enough to get a shot in the big leagues?
Associated Press photo