The return of Nick Swisher? Good.
The ankle injury to Marcus Thames? Not good.
The foot injury to Jorge Posada that will sideline him for 3-4 weeks? Really not good.
With Posada (and Johnson and Granderson) sidelined, the Yankee lineup remains much less circular than it did at the start of the year. Jorge’s return would have helped greatly. Obviously, it’s not going to happen so the Yankees must construct a lineup without their regular catcher for a little while.
Marcus Thames’ absence will also have a negative effect. This means there will either be a rotating DH (read: Ramiro Pena or Kevin Russo will be in the lineup while a regular DHs) or the Yankees will have to let Juan Miranda hit against left handed pitching. This may not seem desirable, but after two years–2007 and 2008–of awful hitting against lefties in the minors (OPS’s of .664 and .551), Miranda’s apparently learned how to hit southpaws (.874 in ’09, .952 in ’10). Major League lefties are definitely a different beast all together, but the improvement is much welcomed. For the time that Thames is out, there really isn’t another option, unless the Yankees want to put a free out in the lineup in the person of Ramiro Pena. When Thames returns, a Miranda/Thames DH platoon should work out nicely.
A key to the Jorge-less lineup is going to be Nick Swisher. That he is back in the outfield is a big plus, especially now that Thames is hurt. If Swisher couldn’t play, the Yankees’ outfield would have absolutely no power threat. The return of Swisher also means a better, more powerful bat behind Robinson Cano. While he’s hit well, I don’t think we liked seeing Francisco Cervelli as the six hitter the last few nights. And while it may not be as intimidating as it was on Opening Day, a Swisher inclusive lineup is much deeper than the one the Yankees trotted out this week. The moral of this paragraph? It’s a good thing Nick Swisher is coming back right now.
If I had to guess, I’d say the lineup will look like this each night:
1. Jeter SS
2. Gardner CF
3. Teixeira 1B
4. Rodriguez 3B
5. Cano 2B
6. Swisher RF
7. Miranda DH
8. Cervelli C
9. Winn LF
The 7-8-9 isn’t great, but the 1-6 is still very solid. If the pitching staff can rebound from an awful stretch against Boston and Tampa, the Yankees should be fine while waiting out Granderson, Posada, and Johnson.
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