(Who knew this guy was still a threat? Courtesy of the AP)
With the lineup and bullpen remaining mostly unchanged this season, and the main focus being building up the depth of the rotation, the Yankee bench was once again a last-minute construction job heading into Spring Training. The team was relatively successful in their 2011 approach of piecing the bench together with some younger internal pieces and cheap veteran platoon players, and they stuck with that approach for 2012. The biggest loss was Jorge Posada, who retired after his down 2011 campaign, and his power was replaced by a 2-part lefty/righty DH platoon that was also expected to serve as the 2-man 4th outfield spot when older regulars needed a day off. Combine that with a flexible infield pair and a defensive-minded backup catcher, and things should have been covered.
But as was the case with every other part of the roster, the bench plans were greatly affected by the injuries that befell key members of this year's team. Once the bench players were forced into regular duty, the depth and flexibility of the group took a major hit. These were not supposed to be guys that played every day, especially not in the field, and their overall effectiveness did suffer a bit as a result. But the bench was still plenty effective, with 3 players who hit 14 or more HR, 3 who stole more than 5 bases, and multiple guys who stepped in and played multiple positions. Take away a few big plays here and there from members of this season's bench, and the Yankees probably don't win the division.