(It's a Swiss Eduarmy Knife. Courtesy of The AP)
We've reached the final piece of the 25-man puzzle for the 2012 Yankees, the bench. The Yankees tried to build a mix of young internal pieces and cheap veterans last season and it worked out pretty well for them. So as much as I was against holding out to spend less money on guys like Eric Chavez and his spotty health history again, and would have rather rolled with the young bucks in house, I can't really argue with the plan when it's worked for them before. The 2012 bench will be comprised of mostly familiar faces, with one new surprise entrant included after yesterday's surprising catching moves. There's flexibility in this group, and that's really the most important thing for the Yankees, as they aren't looking for consistent day in/day out production from anybody on their bench, but rather the ability to plug guys into spots for a day or 2 and keep their older veterans rested and fresh.
The first member of the bench is also the newest member. For some reason the Yankees decided they weren't comfortable with Francisco Cervelli as their backup, even though he's held the role for the past 2 seasons, and so they brought in former MiL farmhand Chris Stewart. Stewart is a defensive-only catcher and proved that last season in his first major chunk of Major League work, posting a .204/.283/.309 line, .259 wOBA, and 60 wRC+ in 183 plate appearances with the Giants. He can take a pitch here and there but anything the Yankees get from him with the stick is gravy. As a defense-only catcher, however, he is a very good one. He threw out 28 of 72 attempted base stealers last season, good for 38.9%, and was ranked as the 15th best defensive catcher out of 114 last season by Beyond The Boxscore. For all his offensive shortcomings, Stewart did rack up 1.2 fWAR last year in his limited work, and if he can quickly learn how to work with the Yankees' pitching staff he should be fine for the purposes of giving Martin a rest every now and then.
More after the jump