David Adams is hitting again. He looked to be on the fast track for the majors until a severe ankle injury ended his 2010 season after just 39 games. A standout hitter and second baseman at UVA, Adams had done nothing but hit since becoming an adult. He was hitting .309/.393/.507 for Double-A Trenton at the time, and had come off a similar batting line between Charleston and Tampa in 2009. The injury knocked him out for more than a full year, and it wasn’t until early this year that he finally returned back to normal.
65 games into his season, Adams is now hitting a very strong .320/.391/.445 and playing decent enough defense at 2nd, where he had played every game of his career above Single-A. Recently however, the Yankees have been playing him at 3rd base, and he now has 12 games there. He probably will not hit well enough to be a major league 3rd baseman. Clearly, they are finally preparing Adams for a future utility role.
I think that Adams can be a starting major league 3rd baseman on a decent team. Robinson Cano is obviously a better candidate, but Adams (or my personal favorite, an Adams/Joseph platoon) is a decent enough back up plan. As a utility player, he would be a genuinely strong player backing up Yankee infielders.
There’s only one problem though – Adams can’t play shortstop. Any backup infielder is going to have to not-so-occassionally spell Derek Jeter at short. The Yankees would still have to carry a Nix or Nunez even with Adams on the roster. This would make an Adams/Joseph backup difficult.
Bigger picture: The current Yankee roster requires very good backup players to be competitive. Mark Teixeira, Derek Jeter, and Alex Rodriguez are going to miss significant time over the course of a season, and need to be DHed for even when they are healthy. The team has so far been well-served by guys like Raul Ibanez, Andruw Jones, and Eric Chavez on the roster, but that may not last forever. Adams and Joseph are a part of the next generation of this arrangement. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Corban Joseph tried out at 3rd base as well, and maybe some time at 1st or left field too. A lot of teams would, assuming the Yankees view Robinson Cano as the long term solution, use guys like Adams and Joseph as trade bait. The Yankees should not follow this model.
The Yankees have an underrated prospect in Adams. I didn’t have a lot of faith in him as recently as a few months ago, but he’s been on a long enough tear that I am a buyer again. He’s 25 years old, but is more like a 23 year old in terms of actual minor league playing experience. He and Joseph are both on the 40-man roster, so perhaps we will see quite a bit of them in September.
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