It was an interesting strategy in the winter when Brian Cashman elected to beef up an already strong bullpen instead of trying to tinker with the rotation. Both had depth, but one was already a strength. It showed the Yankees’ were willing to get creative for a better result.
Suffice it to say, Alex Rodriguez‘s injury can lead to the same sort of revelations about the offense.
With A-Rod down for the count and expected to miss more than the minimum amount of time, the wheels are in motion for New York to be able to experiment a few different strategies for both short and long-term improvement with an offense which has cost the team the most out of any of it’s April struggles.
Here are the different events which can take place and how the Yankees’ can benefit:
Carlos Beltran is the DH:
With Beltran able to move to the DH role it improves the Yankees’ defense, saves Beltran long-term and provides better production from a hitter-only position. Beltran is currently hitting: .243/.259 and if off to a slow start, but still offers a switch-hitting bat and has a history of coming alive later in the year.
Aaron Hicks Gets Playing Time:
The natural follow up to Beltran being moved out of right field is Hicks getting playing time as a starter in the outfield. Hicks has already shown himself to be an elite defender with an elite arm, which should already improve the team as a whole by taking runs off the board for the opposition, but in addition, Hicks has a promising and steadily improving bat from his days in Minnesota. Though off to a slow start in limited time in a small sample size, Hicks has shown signs of turning it around since playing every day, launching his first home run of the year against Boston on Friday night providing what proved to be the game winning hit once David Ortiz had a completely embarrassing meltdown as a grown man.
The Road for Outfield Prospects Just Became Clearer:
With Hicks getting extended time as a starter in the outfield, it leaves a thin net for Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, two players prone to getting banged up and/or injured. If Beltran is at DH, Hicks is in one of the outfield slots and Ellsbury or Gardner go down, that creates opportunities for Ben Gamel and, assuming he’s still hitting by June, Aaron Judge, to try to provide a spark to the offense. Gamel is already on the MLB roster, but it’s unclear as to how long. Judge is still holding his own in AAA and could be up in June once Super Two threats for pre-arbitration are in the past and the Yankees can make a logical move on the 40-man roster.
The Yankees Shouldn’t be Afraid to Take Risks:
Ultimately, either A-Rod’s injury helps or hurts the team. They’re either going to win more or continue losing. If they win more, the Yankees should consider limiting A-Rod’s playing time, like maybe against just lefties so you can continue with this plan more often. If they continue losing, the team is headed towards a selling deadline and can be more creative in the interim. Someone like Chase Headley, tied to third base because the Yankees don’t want to abandon a $52 million dollar commitment, could see the bench in favor of Ronald Torreyes, claimed over the winter and currently hitting about 150 points higher in batting average and batting right-handed in a lefty heavy lineup. New York will be more prone to doing things like sitting Headley and giving Torreyes a chance, or playing Hicks everyday regardless if the Yankees are in shambles or if A-Rod is already missing time.