(Hey look! It's a bench! From Yankee Stadium! It's the Yankee bench!)
Well, we're down to the last official season preview post. It's been fun, hasn't it? At least I hope it has, since I know almost nothing about it was informative. That being what it is, it's time to tackle the last piece of the Yankee roster puzzle, the bench. Thankfully, Joe was gracious enough to announce all his final roster decisions yesterday so that I don't have to guess at any of this.
In the outfield, the Yankees have traded in their Ford Explorer (Marcus Thames) for a Range Rover (Andruw Jones) to fill the 4th OF spot. Is that an accurate comparison for Jones' current skill set? Probably not, but you get the idea. Jones will be expected to provide exactly what Thames did at the plate last year in mashing lefty pitching, but he also brings the added bonus of being a capable outfielder. He certainly won't be winning any Gold Gloves in limited playing time, but Jones can be plugged into either corner spot and probably even play center in a pinch. Jones' value is already being exhibited as the Yankees know they will be covered in terms of OF defense if C-Grand has to miss some time early.
The infield is going to be covered by 2 guys at drastically different spots in their career. Eduardo Nunez is looking to prove that he can be a productive everyday player and even be capable of handling the full-time SS job when the time comes for Jeter to relinquish the role. He wrestled the utility infielder role away from Ramiro Pena after a solid ST and can start to carve a niche for himself moving forward if he produces at a similar level. Eric Chavez, on the other hand, is a former All Star who has already established himself as a premiere hitter, but injuries have taken their toll over the last couple years and Chavez is looking to prove he still has some gas in the tank and maybe earn one last big paycheck from another team. He will likely spell Teix and A-Rod at the corners and could also DH when needed. His bat has looked very good in ST and if he can stay healthy he could be another cheap steal for the Yankees and an upgrade over what was in his place last year.
Behind Russell Martin, the Yankees made a late audible at the line of scrimmage and are planning to start the season with Gustavo Molina as the backup catcher. I don't know anything about him other than the fact that I don't know anything about him, but with Frankie Cervelli getting out of his boot this week, it's likely that Molina is just a placeholder for Cervelli who is just a placeholder for Jesus. He didn't impress enough to win the job in ST, which is disappointing for Yankee fans, but if he continues to improve behind the plate and gets his bat to heat up again, we should be talking about Montero on the bench come summer time.
So there you have it, folks. The complete season preview. The lineup is stacked (again), the bullpen is deep, and bench should be much improved from the last couple versions in previous years. The rotation has question marks, but also the possibility for positive answers to those questions as the season progresses. Let's not forget that the Yankee rotation heading into 2009 wasn't exactly a bunch of world beaters, and that turned out just fine.
** SPECIAL AB4AR ALERT!!!
IT'S OFFICIAL. I REQUESTED THE AFTERNOON OFF FROM WORK ON THURSDAY TO BE ABLE TO WATCH AND LIVE BLOG OPENING DAY. IF YOU HAVE NOTHING BETTER TO DO, OR EVEN IF YOU DO, PARK YOURSELF AT A COMPUTER AND JOIN THE PARTY. **