There are some Yankees who are struggling mightily right now, and I’ve discussed all of them in some shape or form in the last week or so. I devoted posts to Phil Hughes as well as Jorge Posada and Derek Jeter, and I’ve mentioned Mark Teixeira in passing. We “know” that these four will break out of it at some point. They just have to; they’re too talented to continue a performance level this low for an entire season. Still, it’s worth asking just how long the leashes should be before a move is made.
We went through the same thing with Tex last year: he’s hitting poorly while Robinson Cano is hitting well. Of course, the temptation is definitely there to flip them. We haven’t gotten any indication that something like this could or would happen, so I won’t hold my breath for it. Do I think it should happen? Maybe. I don’t think flipping the two of them in the order will have much of an impact on the overall run scoring from the lineup. Tex should definitely get the longest leash of the hitters in question, just because his “upside” is larger than Jeter’s or Posada’s at this point. If we get a repeat of 2010 and Tex isn’t hitting into mid/late May-early June, then sure, flip him around in the order.
I’m inclined to give Posada a relatively long leash, but not an unlimited one. It makes sense to think that his bat will improve while he’s just DHing since there won’t be as much wear and tear on his body as there was when he was catching. But, of course, Jorge is old. Very old. He has the classic skills to allow for an offensive rebound: power and patience. There isn’t anywhere else I’d put Posada in the lineup, but if he continues to struggle, the calls for a DH platoon with Eric Chavez will probably grow to be loud, especially if Chavez chips in a few more hits. I’d have, though, big reservations about doing that and would definitely want to wait at least another month before committing to something like that.
Derek Jeter won’t be leaving the lineup at all any time soon and I’m not ready to say he should. I have next to no faith in Eduardo Nunez as a Major League regular and I’d be scared–straight up scared–to have him replace Jeter. Jeter may not be hitting at all and he may not hit well the rest of the way, but the bet on his improvement is a much safer one than the bet on Nunez being an adequate replacement. Jeter’s issue then becomes the lineup spot. I’ve discussed this, too, wondering what would happen if both Derek and Brett Gardner failed to improve at the plate. The leash with Jeter SHOULD be short, but we know he’ likely to have the loneest leash of any of these hitters. I could see both switches mentioned above–a Tex/Cano flip flop and a Posada/someone DH platoon–happening before seeing Derek Jeter knocked down in the lineup. That is not a good thing.
Phil Hughes has been a disaster so far and there’s no getting around it. He afforded himself some confidence last year, but at this point, the leash needs to be no longer than two games. If Hughes turns in another outing that looks like his first two, then he needs to either be sent down or put on the disabled list. Like Teixeira, I think Hughes can perform his way out of it, but the time he should be afforded for accomplishing that ask needs to be short. The Yankees cannot stand to have an under-performing starting pitcher.
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