I previously did an article on the Red Sox lineup & now I am going to dive into the Yankees lineup. Overall I am a fan of the Yankee's moves but I am a little worried that the '10 lineup may not match up to the '09 lineup's patience & overall run scoring ability. So here we go:
1) SS - Derek Jeter - The kind of OBP you want in a leadoff hitter (.406) and still has some gas in the tank to get around the bases (30 SBs). Would like to see him cut down on his strikeouts (90 K's), but Jeter is going for all-time hit marks and you don't get them by keeping your bat on your shoulder. Ideally you would want a guy like Carl Crawford or Jacoby Ellsbury leading off and Jeter batting second, but the Yanks won't be able to set that up until Crawford is a free agent next year.
2) DH - Nick Johnson - Health is the major concern here, but the hope is that a season spent mostly at DH and at 1B every once and a while to keep Tex fresh should be able to keep him on the field. Expect him to see a lot of rest if needed a la Hideki Matsui last year so that he will be ready for October. Why all the risk? Because Johnson had a .426 OBP in 2009, ideal for getting Jeter in scoring position for the big bats. A short right porch should help get the power number up as well.
3) 1B - Mark Teixeira - Excellent stat line from first season in the Bronx (.383 OBP .565 SLG). Tex seemed to thrive batting in front of A-Rod, getting to see a lot of pitches, which lead to his monster 39 HR 122 RBI output. Only knock is that he seemed to disappear at times completely at both the beginning of the season and in the playoffs. But hopefully he will get more comfortable in his playoff shoes and start cutting down on the strikeouts.
4) 3B - Alex Rodriguez - When A-Rod isn't bogged down by his own ego, he has the potential to be the 2nd best hitter in baseball (behind Albert Pujols of course). +.400 OBP, scary excellent power to both fields (583 carrer HRs), decent speed (avg 15 SBs lately), and a great glove to boot. But like I said that all can turn to mush if A-Rod's head says so.
5) 2B - Robinson Cano - I would like to see Cano step up to the #5 hole and increase his already elite 2B stat line of '09 (+200 hits, .520 SLG, +100 runs). The major improvement that needs to be made in Robby's game is plate discipline. Cano just doesn't walk as evident by his .320 AVG but .352 OBP, but what can you do, the kid loves to swing.
6) C - Jorge Posada - How many more good years behind the plate are left for Mr. Posada? He is getting up there in years and in catcher's years he is getting to be ancient. Soon Jorge will have to retire to DH land where the Yanks can use his .363 OBP & .522 SLG on a consistent basis, instead of having to rest him every 3-4 games. At that point his numbers should get a nice boost, but until then the wear and tear of everyday catching will continue to drag his stats slowly down.
7) CF - Curtis Granderson - Weird spot for a speedster CF to be batting, but until I see the Grandy of '08 (. 280 AVG, .365 OBP, +110 runs) and not the '09 Grandy (.249 AVG, .327 OBP, 91 R), he will need to be out of the middle of the lineup where he is a potential rally killer. This move makes total sense from a defensive standpoint, but at the plate this is a little bit of a scary move. If he can get his stats back up to his '07 & '08 levels with the help of a stacked lineup and short right porch, he will be just fine. If not, let the boos rain.
8) RF - Nick Swisher - It took me a while to like this guy, but I will try and explain why I do now. Besides being a good clubhouse guy, this guy TAKES PITCHES. It kinda drives you nuts because he takes a lot of called strikes, and often leaves himself in a 2 strike hole. If it drives you nuts, imagine what it does to a pitcher. Swisher walks, and walks a lot. His .249 AVG and .371 OBP are evident of that. Swish gets on base and keeps innings going, and he makes the SP work. Also he has pretty good power (29 HRs) and was pretty clutch all last season. He made a believer out of me, all you have to do is ride out his cold streaks (avg 2 long ones a season).
9) LF - Brett Gardner - Here is the Yankees hole in the lineup, if you consider .270 AVG, .345 OBP, & 26 SBs, to be that big of a hole. The Yankees are looking to save money to be the winner of the Carl Crawford sweepstakes next season, so why not give a young guy like Gardner a full time shot. He has crazy wheels, is a good glove in left, and makes contact (40 K's in 248 ABs). Worse comes to worse if the experiment fails you go to the free agent market this summer. Done and done.
The Yankees are taking a calculated risk letting Hideki Matsui & Johnny Damon walk. They will miss both hitter's excellent run production, but in the end Damon's fielding (+ crazy contract demands) and Matsui's bad knees were too much evidence not to re-sign the two. The Yanks may suffer a bit in run scoring, but it isn't like they were ever suffering in that department in the first place. Maybe getting a little bit younger and stronger defensively was the right answer. If not well there is always the trade deadline.