Tyler Kepner wrote on this Bats blog late last night that the Yankees have upgraded their rotation big time (like, duh) but their lineup remains as anemic as ever. I’ll quote at length here:
The Yankees targeted starting pitching as their top off-season priority, and they’ve plowed $243.5 million into the duo they will introduce Thursday at the old Yankee Stadium: C.C. Sabathia and A.J. Burnett.
But pitching was not the only reason the Yankees tumbled out of the playoffs last year. After scoring 968 runs in 2007 (the most for the franchise since 1937), the Yankees managed only 789 runs in 2008 –- just seven more than the last-place Baltimore Orioles. And now the contracts of Bobby Abreu and Jason Giambi have expired.
So how will the lineup look behind Sabathia, Burnett, and the other starters? For now, the Yankees will go with Nick Swisher at first, Robinson Cano at second, Derek Jeter at short, Alex Rodriguez at third, Johnny Damon in left, Melky Cabrera or Brett Gardner in center, Xavier Nady in right, Jorge Posada as the catcher and Hideki Matsui as the designated hitter.
Let’s discuss this. Bobby and Giambi are out, correct. The Yankees will miss Abreu more than Giambi. Giambi has been replaced by Swisher. The Yankees were offset by serious injuries to Matsui and Posada. Posada alone had a career year in 2007 and won’t have that kind of season again but he can be counted on to provide a 125+ OPS compared to what the platoon of Molina, Moeller, and I-Rod provided last year — 75+ OPS.
Matsui hit before A-Rod in his monster season in 2007, so we know he is an offensive threat when healthy.
So, the lineup will bounce back. Posada was responsible for 117 runs created in 2007, and if memory serves me correctly, the catching platoon was responsible for 50 runs created in 2008. That alone would have pushed the Yankees probably into playoff contention.
So, the line-up would be drastically better this spring, but the Yankees still need one more big bat — that be Tex, Manny, Dunn, or anyone else who can bring the same kind of game Abreu did.