As the Yankees lineup continues to struggle — now 10 games in a row without more than four runs — the question becomes, how much longer does this have to continue before the team makes some sort of significant change? Mark Teixeira has returned from his wrist setback. Carlos Beltran is back from hiS bone spur scare. The regular lineup has, essentially, the same players who were chosen to open the season.
As some point, does the team simply need new hitters?
“We’re just trying to move this thing along,” Brian Cashman told Donnie Collins in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. “If there are guys struggling in New York, I can’t wait.”
It’s an interesting comment from the general manager of a team whose lineup simply hasn’t been able to consistently drive in runs or hit for power, and the Yankees Triple-A roster has some interesting options. Would the Yankees be willing to give legitimate big league at-bats to one of these alternatives?
.330/.367/.464 in Triple-A
Who? Mostly a second baseman and left fielder, also has time at third base and — in a pinch — shortstop. He’s recently been getting time at first base, which Cashman acknowledged is an effort to give the Yankees more Teixeira backup options.
Why? Because his bat has been awfully impressive. Was kind of a forgotten prospect for a while, but he’s hit enough in recent years to earn fresh consideration. He’s been especially good lately.
Why not? Because his defensive reputation isn’t great. Can he play second base well enough to be a reasonable alternative to Brian Roberts or Kelly Johnson? Would the Yankees trust that this year’s results are sustainable in the big leagues? Trust it enough to cut ties with a veteran?
.310/.358/.506 in Triple-A
Who? Had a strong spring. Has experience all over the field, including time at shortstop this season and some familiarity with the outfield corners. Has hit .340/.404/.553 against lefties this season.
Why? Because he’s a right-handed hitter who can play multiple positions and just might be able to help in a variety of roles. He made a good first impression on the big league coaching staff this spring.
Why not? Because he’s still never spent a full year at Triple-A. He’d recently split time between Double-A and Triple-A before the Yankees signed him this offseason and sent him immediately to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Is there a better chance that he keeps hitting like this, or that a guy like Johnson gets on track and starts hitting some home runs again?
.305/.343/.455 in Triple-A
Who? Another right-handed hitter (which the Yankees could use). He’s primarily an outfielder but has played some third base this season and in winter ball.
Why? Because his overall slash line has actually improved significantly from month to month. He has some power and some speed and can play all three outfield spots. Could provide some of the power that the Yankees outfield generally lacks.
Why not? Because the outfield isn’t the Yankees biggest concern. He’d basically have to be an alternative to Alfonso Soriano? Similar to the question with Wheeler and Pirela: Is it more likely Garcia shows up and rakes or that Soriano gets on track and finds a productive middle ground between the beginning of this season and the end of last season?
.306/.400/.551 in Triple-A
Who? Left-handed hitter restricted to first-base defensively, but his bat has been impressive in both Double-A and Triple-A this season. Leads Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in OPS.
Why? Because it seems he can hit. His defense leaves him limited to first base or designated hitter, but there seems to be potential as an all-around hitter with power. Yankees minor league staff have said good things about his dedication in the cage.
Why not? Because he would need at-bat opportunities at either first base or DH, and those at-bats aren’t available as long as Teixeira and Beltran are playing.
.258/.325/.351 in Triple-A
Who? Veteran infielder with big league experience at second base and third base (plus one game at first base with the Yankees this season). He’s been up and down twice already this season and has hit lefties in his career.
Why? Because his overall slash line doesn’t tell the story. His value comes in his ability to hit lefties, and he’s hit .315 against them in Triple-A. Also has a decent track record against lefties in the big leagues. He has a 40-man spot.
Why not? Because calling up Sizemore would likely come at the expense of either Johnson or Roberts, and those two seem better equipped to play regularly because they’ve been able to hit right-handers in their careers.
.284/.327/.490 in Triple-A
Who? Switch hitter who’s best thought of as a left-handed hitter because he’s crushed righties and has struggled against lefties. Familiar because he spent part of last year and this year in the big leagues.
Why? Because he has power, and the current Yankees outfielders don’t (except Soriano who hasn’t been able to hit against lefties). Almonte could be, at least, a reasonable platoon option against right handers.
Why not? Because the Yankees already have three left-handed outfielders, and that’s essentially what Almonte is. Girardi didn’t give him at-bats last time he was in the big leagues, why would he suddenly get at-bats now?
You could make the case for others, beginning with the idea of finding a way to carry three catchers when Francisco Cervelli is eligible to come back. There’s also Antoan Richardson (who’s done a good job getting on base and stealing bases) and Russ Canzler (who’s typically hit lefties in his career and had a much better May than April). Ramon Flores and Dean Anna are both hurt right now.
Adding someone from Triple-A, though, likely means losing someone from the big league roster. Not stashing him in Triple-A, but losing him completely. That’s a pretty significant leap of faith. Guys like Soriano and Johnson have been awfully bad this year, but Soriano was an elite hitter as recently as last September, and Johnson has hit at least 16 home runs each of the past four years, including last season when he was a part-timer with the Rays.
Is there a better chance that one of them will rebound this season, or that one of the relatively unproven players can come up and actually do the job?
Associated Press photo