Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Right Field and DH Issues

Anyone who read the previous game recap knows my ire is currently focused on Gary Sheffield, who dropped a routine fly ball last night. It was an all out lazy effort by Sheffield, and it brought a simple fact to light: he shouldn’t be trotted out to right on a daily basis. This isn’t a new notion by any means; in fact, one of the major discussions among Internet Yankees Fans this winter was finding an adequate replacement for him in right field so he can spend all of his time wiggling his bat in pitchers faces.

My desire to see Sheff at DH fits will with the other glaring problem with the Yankees lineup: Bernie Williams. The man has been there through thick and thin, won a batting title, holds multiple postseason records, and was an integral part of the four championships in the late 20th century. But his time has come; he simply lacks the ability to continue as a Major Leaguer. He’s 11 for 42 on the year with exactly one extra base hit – a double. It’s not only that, though. Of his 11 hits, I would guess (from having watched the bulk of his plate appearances) that five or six were bloops that barely dunked in for hits. He’s just not making solid contact, and worse yet has walked only twice.

[MORE]The first course of action should have been enacted a year ago: he should only be batting right-handed. He’s a natural righty, and with his diminished bat speed, his left-handed cut just won’t suffice. However, I don’t believe this will raise his level of play from atrocious to acceptable. He’s done, and I’m hoping that people within the organization are beginning to realize this.

Obviously, I’d like to see Bernie banished to pinch-hitting situations (there are far worse guys off the bench on teams comparable to the Yanks) and Sheffield plugged in as the DH four or five days a week. That leaves a hole in right field, one which the Yanks are going to have trouble filling at first. But, before everyone starts in on trade speculation, let’s have a looksee down at the farm:

Melky Cabrera50.380.448.160
Mitch Jones.360.439.300
Kevin Thompson54.296.371.148

Why not give one of these guys an extended shot? Jones is 28 and probably at the peak of his game. Why not bring him up now and give him a shot to play right and DH? I find it hard to think he’d be worse than Bernie. Of course, this would mean the ouster of Bubba Crosby, which doesn’t seem like a horrific idea at this point. The hope is that Jones would provide a stopgap so that Melky can be given more time in Triple A to develop his power game.

In short, the plan would be to DH Sheff four days a week and give the remaining two to Giambi. Playing seven games in a week? Throw Bernie a bone and let him DH for the seventh game. So now Mitch Jones has the opportunity to play four times a week, and Andy Phillips twice.

Ultimately, I’d like to see Cabrera get another shot, but would be content to see him finish out the year with Columbus and take his September call-up. He still needs some power development, as he has only four extra base hits this season (19 total). A promising sign is that he has walked seven times, compared to a single strikeout.

For more on Cabrera, check out James on Yanks Blog. He’s got a few ideas on the youngster, as well as a Phil Hughes update – 6 IP, 1 ER, 8 K in a 1-0 loss last night. For his full season stats, check out the sidebar at In George We Trust. Trenton by May?

All right, time to dig in and enjoy this day game. The only question is: why can’t we just get another game on ESPN rather than three hours of ESPNNews. Lord, I hate that freakin’ network.