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Concern About the Yanks #5 Hitter?

By Mike Silva ~ December 27th, 2009. Filed under: Mike Silva, New York Yankees.

Who will bat fifth for the Yankees? It was a point brought up by one of the comments on the site. I speculated about the Yankees lineup over a week ago that Jorge Posada would be the guy to protect Alex Rodriguez in the lineup.

Posada fits the criteria, but last year he only played in 111 games. You assume the “open DH” slot will allow for another 20 plus games – assuming that he stays healthy for a full season. That hasn’t happened since 2007. If not Posada, the only other logical choice would be either Robinson Cano or Curtis Granderson. Neither of those guys strike the same “fear” into opposing pitchers that Matsui did. Outside of Jeter, some believe Matsui was the guy the opposition least wanted to see in a big spot. With Posada, Cano, or Granderson behind A-Rod there is a chance he will surpass his career high in walks (100).

The Yankees lineup is still very good so I am not suggesting they are going to have trouble scoring runs. When you add Javier Vazquez to the rotation you can make a strong argument they are a more balanced team today than at any point in 2009. You keep hearing the Yankees won’t go after Bay or Holliday, but each fits their lineup like a glove. What a perfect scenario it would be for Bay coming to New York and hitting at Yankee Stadium behind A-Rod. Imagine the good pitches A-Rod would get as well. Holliday might be even better since he yearns for the big stage of the Bronx and probably would strike more fear into opposing pitchers.

I still continue to think Gary Sheffield would have been a nice fit for the Yankees. He could have split time between left field and DH, and been the perfect right handed hitter in that slot. None of the bats left- Marlon Byrd, Reed Johnson, Xavier Nady, or Austin Kearns – fits the bill of a number five hitter like Sheffield. I understand the “clubhouse cancer” factor, but maybe things could be different with this group of guys.

This is not something to get crazy about, but as good as the Yankees lineup may be, it may lack some of the balance we saw during the 2009 season. I am not sure this will change with whomever Brian Cashman brings in, short of Bay or Holliday.

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Mike Silva has hosted sports shows on 107.1 FM Champions ESPN Radio Long Island ,1240 AM WGBB , Blog Talk Radio and live from Mickey Mantle’s Restaurant. He’s also built and maintained two popular social media hubs: New York Baseball Digest and Sports Media Watchdog. Mike has broken national and local stories, as well as been mentioned on the YES Network, SNY.tv, WFAN, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, NY Daily News, New York Magazine, Journal News and the NY Post. Contact Mike professionally at mikesilvamedia.com

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4 Responses to Concern About the Yanks #5 Hitter?

  1. Ben


    please lay off the drugs

  2. Studiophototrope

    I was the chap who brought up the 5th slot last week. Let me expand a bit.
    Posada, whom I think is great, is just not a 5 hole hitter, plus, at his age and position he wears down as the season progresses. Additionally, if you move Jorge to the 5 hole, you really remove the huge advantage the back “half” of the order has had recently. [Unlike most, I divide lineups into unequal halves, the first five and the bottom 4] Having Posada in the 6th/7th slots makes this lineup really formidable.
    Can we also add Swisher to an excellent “bottom half lineup” player?
    As far as Granderson or Cano in the 5th slot? I’m not a big believer in Granderson turning it around against lefties, even with a new hitting coach; his career stats speak for themselves. I really can’t see him a a #2 hitter either, with his penchant for the strikeout, despite his base stealing ability. I think you have to bat Granderson where you batted Melky, in the bottom half. [BTW...Andy Van Slyke indicates Granderson is a corner outfield kind of guy, not a center fielder]
    Moving to Cano…I’m not a big Cano fan, plus, the Melky move was definitely a message to Cano, imo, but, there is no one on this current team who is LESS clutch than Cano. So, wrong choice for the 5 hole. My thought is to try Cano in the 2 hole in front of Tex and Arod, he could really flourish there despite his inability to use the bunt and, with his contact ability he would make a great hit and run guy….
    But that still leaves the 5th slot. First question…why give an injury prone Nick Johnson 1 year, 5.5 mil, when you could have done the same thing with Hideki [see the Angels]? Makes no sense to me. For the same money, even with limited legs, I’d take Hideki over Johnson anytime. Plus, the one benefit of Nick J would be his defensive abilities. Sorry, there’s only one First Base on a diamond.
    My guess is the 5 hole will become a problem if it’s addressed with guys not fit to fill it. My other guess is that with a void in the 5 hole and a void in left…there’s another move to come.
    Believe it or not, all of this would be moot if they resigned Damon…one could then move Cano to the second spot, and, hold onto your hats, put Damon in the 5 hole. They don’t come anymore clutch than Damon., imo. I’d rather have Damon than Bay or the other hyped free agent left fielder on the market…..don’t laugh me out of this saloon, I’m serious.

    I’ve often thought, even as a lifelong Yankee fan, if this organization didn’t have limitless monies to field a team, would they be capable of cultivating, evaluating and fielding a winner if they couldn’t outspend everyone else? I sometimes think not.
    Best Regards,

  3. Mike Silva


    Great replay. Fair points in all.

    Few things that Frank Russo and I talked about on last weeks show.

    1. Trading Melky was partially a message to Cano according to his Yankee insider. They weren’t happy with his performance in the postseason which reeked of “Bad Cano”

    2. The Yankees believe Matsui will break down. The work he had to do to prepare for a ballgame gave them reason to believe even a one year deal was not worth it.

    3. I think Damon coming back would make for a very left handed lineup. I would prefer a Right handed bat, and don’t mind Dye, hence my Sheffield suggestion.

    4. Great point on weakening the bottom of the order. The best Yankee lineups never gave a pitcher a break, not sure if this squad qualifies, but way too early to make any definitive statements.

  4. Studiophototrope

    One other point I wanted to address. You’re correct in saying that w/Posada, Cano or Granderson batting fifth, ARod would lead the league in walks. Question is, do you pay the highest paid player in the game to have him lead the league in BB’s? I don’t.

    To me, Damon’s the answer, although I don’t believe Yankee management is capable of realizing that 1- Damon’s no longer a base stealer so you wouldn’t really be signing a first/second hitter, you’re signing a lefty RBI/power hitter/DH, 2- Damon is a clutch RBI guy not afraid of the big spot and in the Stadium he’s a legitimate #5 hitter. Even if they resign him after the DeRosa deal is announced, they would never use him as a fifth hitter. Too bad.
    As far as Cano, he’s extremely fortunate he had the excellent defensive year he had this year, otherwise, I think he would already be gone.

    If we want to get really daring,not go over budget and give the opposition a deep lineup here’s what you do.
    Gardener leads off and plays CF [give Brett a full opportunity, this team needs some over achievers]]
    Cano gets his chance and bats second on a trial basis
    Jeter moves to the 3 hole
    ARod 4th
    Tex 5th
    Posada 6th
    Johnson/Nady/Hoffman DH [I believe Hoffman's a player]
    Swisher 8th in RF [Nick behind the DH to get the opposition to pitch to the DH's]
    Granderson in LF [double leadoff]

    That’s assuming they don’t get a real left fielder/# 5 hitter.

    As far as your Damon assertion re: a left heavy lineup…I never worried about Damon facing a lefty/righty…with the exception of just a couple of lefty power pitchers

    Along with my playing background I didn’t play Strat-O-Matic all these years for nothing.
    Best Regards,
    P.S. I’m glad I found your site. Great job.

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