Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How Does Brennan Boesch Fit Into This Team?

(Boesch's only Yankee highlight to date.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

There was a brief period of time after his signing on April 15th where things were looking pretty sweet for Brennan Boesch.  He had hooked on with a team in desperate need of help in the outfield, signed a guaranteed Major League deal with that team, and because of the circumstances surrounding the rest of the outfield competition, looked to be a lock for a starting spot in that team's outfield for at least the first month of the regular season.

Then Boesch missed a few games with a strained rib cage, watched as the Yankees traded for Vernon Wells and signed Lyle Overbay, and ended up being one of the final players selected for the Opening Day roster, now in the 4th outfielder spot instead of the starting lineup.  He was on the bench to start Monday's home opener as Joe elected to go with right-handed hitters Wells and Ben Francisco against southpaw Jon Lester, and there he stayed for the entirety of the game.  When Boston went to the bullpen and brought in a right-hander in the bottom of the 6th inning, it was Travis Hafner and Overbay who got the calls to be the lefty pinch hitters over Boesch, and they were the only lefty pinch hitters Joe used in the game's final 4 innings despite Boston using three more right-handed pitchers.

So where does that leave Boesch?  What is his role going to be?  Joe has already made it clear that Wells is the no-doubt third starting outfielder in the everyday lineup.  He's got the "experience" and his right-handedness allows Joe to keep the lineup balance that he values.  Boesch doesn't have the speed, contact skills, or defensive ability that Brett Gardner and Ichiro do, so he isn't going to unseat either of them in the lineup unless one of them gets hurt.  He's not as big of a power threat as Hafner is, nor can he play first base or draw walks as well as Overbay can, so it looks equally unlikely that he'll leap over either of them in the lefty pinch hitter pecking order.  If anything, Boesch appears to be the odd man out.

The Yankees didn't get much of a sample size to evaluate Boesch after they signed him, just 21 at-bats in seven games.  Boesch recorded just four hits and a couple walks in those 21 ABs, and even though one of them was a home run he apparently didn't do enough to convince the coaching staff that he could be a capable contributor.  It's only been one game, but with the way this team is currently constructed and the emphasis being put on defense, Boesch has been shuffled to the back of the playing time line.  The most likely destination for him and his Seth MacFarlane looks could end up being Triple-A when C-Grand returns.

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