Today’s Pinch Hitter, Sean O’Leary, is familiar with blogging. Along with a group of friends, he formerly designed, developed and managed 161st and River, a blog and discussion forum dedicated to the Yankees. As he got older, Sean settled in as a web developer in upstate New York and the blog faded away, but he’s now beta testing a relaunched version at http://www.161andriver.com/ 
For his post, Sean returned to blogging to voice his disagreement with a trend in roster construction.
Let me first preface this post by saying that I am not a sabermatrician. I understand the value of sabermetrics, but in my mind, the game isn’t played on paper, so analysis is just as good if it comes from gut feelings, general observation, and basic, more tangible statistics.
That being said, has anyone else noticed an increasing comfort among managers with the concept of platoon players? In particular, our very own (formerly) Crew Cut Joe? Like sabermetrics, I do understand the value of platoon players in certain situations, but recently, it seems that every player over the age of 32 needs a platoon partner. The problem got so crazy this offseason that fans were upset, if not downright livid, that Nate Scheirholtz (NATE SHIERHOLTZ!) signed with the Cubs, thus spurning the Yankees. Not to mention the reaction by some that Cashman was just sitting on his hands because he “let” Scott Hairston sign with those same Cubs on a two-year deal (one year too long in the minds of most rational fans).
I’m not sure he so much “let” the Cubs have him, but rather prayed that they would take him so he could stop hearing the rumors of Hairston in pinstripes.
Yes, the Yankees starting outfield is all left-handed, full of questions, and likely to get more praise for defensive speed than offensive production (on that note – whatever happened to Granderson’s speed on the bases? Did K-Long work that out of him, too? I guess that’s a post for another day.), but maybe it’s not such a bad thing that they will get to see more left-handed pitchers than they would if say, Justin Upton were in town.
If I remember correctly, there was a consistent uproar about Girardi’s matchup decisions and questionable lineups (especially in August and September) that left Ichiro on the bench during a hot streak last season. Those decisions, likely reached due to something deep in the bowels of the Girardi Binder Archives, seemed ridiculous at the time, but when the offseason hits, fans forget that more options can be a bad thing. Bottom line, if you let them see more lefties, there’s a chance they could get more comfortable against them, allowing them to return to previous success (that they’ve all had against lefties at points in their careers).
My solution to this problem? Look for a more defensive bench player that brings some speed to the table, as well. Let’s face it, the Yankees are slow right now — faster than last year (I say this only because Gardner will be back for a whole season, hopefully) — but still slow enough on the bases that a professional pinch runner would be a huge late-game benefit. We also can all acknowledge that the defense is a little suspect.
All of this brought me to the idea that the Yankees should look to trade for someone like Peter Bourjos. His offensive stats won’t blow anyone out of the water, but his defense and speed are there, plus – don’t get too excited – he’s a righty outfielder. I’m not saying this is the guy for the Yankees to go after, especially with the Angels seeming resolute on Vernon Wells collecting splinters all summer, but this is the type of player Yankees fans should be hoping for: Young, speedy, solid defense, and offense just bad enough to keep Girardi out of his own way.
Associated Press photos