One constant theme that I have harped on for a while is Brian Cashman’s seeming unwillingness to address his bench in recent seasons. The dynasty teams always seemed like they could call a good hitter off the bench to get a huge hit when necessary. However, looking back at the numbers, it seems that this was not the case.
I looked at the 1999 Yankees and found that among bench players with more than 30 games, Chad Curtis was the only one with an decent OPS+, coming in at 100. Joe Girardi was at 60, Shane Spencer at 77, Luis Sojo was at 59, Jim Leyritz at 76, and Clay Bellinger at 34. This does not seem like a championship bench, nor does it seem much better than the groups that Brian Cashman has pieced together over the last few seasons. So what is the difference?
The answer, of course, is in the health of the starters. The Yankees had 6 of their 8 non-platoon players play in at least 146 games. Most bench players are on the bench because they are not good enough to be starting for anybody in the league, and you want to minimize their exposure by getting as many games as possible out of the starters. The Yankees of the last few years have had older lineups, and that is what has cost them dearly. Cash is no better or worse now than he was then at building a bench, nor is he worse than most GM’s at finding suitable subs. He just saw his core age and signed some older guys to long term deals, and it has exposed players who need to be used in limited circumstances.
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