Following the latest blow, what will the New York Yankees opening day lineup look like?
It seems the tables have turned on the Evil Empire. This time around it's Yankee fans who'd sell their soul for a long ball hitter. This Yankees team was already unlike any other, relying on fewer power hitters after the injury to A-Rod last season and the departure of Nick Swisher. Add in Curtis Granderson's 8-10 week injuries and we were looking at a severely depleted Yankees lineup that would rely heavily on stalwarts Derek Jeter, Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira for pop while praying Kevin Youkilis could return to form. Well, Yankees fan are going to have to pray a little harder now that Mark Teixeira will miss 8-10 weeks of his own with a strained ECU tendon.
So the question that immediately pops to fantasy players minds is: Who do they turn to next? Could it be the rise of the Great Pumpkin (Dan Johnson)? It seems unlikely. Teixeira's injury aids his case for a roster spot more than a starting gig. Juan Rivera already seemed to be the most plausible option in left field, filling in for Curtis Granderson. Perhaps he'll shift to first and we'll see more of Ronny Mustelier, Zoilo Almonte or Melky Mesa? It's possible, though I think the Yankees would prefer to leave Rivera in left and let all three of those guys spend more time in the minor leagues.
Reading the tea leaves, I think this means extra playing time for Eduardo Nunez. Either at first or third base, since he's a bit of a butcher in the field, Nunez has the best bat of the Yankees bench options, and their current 3B Kevin Youkilis can play a nice first base. We might see them swing Rivera to first base against southpaws to create room in the lineup for Matt Diaz as well.
The last option remains finding a player outside the organization. There aren't many notable names out there this far into Spring Training, though I have seen Jim Thome bandied about. Unfortunately, the Yankees already employ Jim Thome in the form of Travis Hafner, and neither of them can play first base. I've also seen Carlos Lee or Aubrey Huff. I could see Lee as an appealing option (ok, now I feel dirty), but what do you do with him after Teix gets back? Sigh. Who would have though Russ Canzler could have been this sorely missed?
If none of these options seem appealing...it's because they're not. This is an odd Yankee team, and it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out. And if you were counting on the long spring training saving the Yankees, remember that both Granderson and Teixeira will have to get back up to speed after their layoffs. Additionally, the New York Star-Ledger's Andy McCullough relayed this quote regarding Teixeira from Yankee's GM Brian Cashman:
Cashman said he was told Teixeira's injury is similar to the one Jose Bautista suffered last year. Which is, um, concerning.— Andy McCullough (@McCulloughSL) March 6, 2013
Point being that everyone who owned Bautista last year can remember quite well how frustrating it was to own him and how long a wrist strain can affect the power output for a player. On top of that, Cashman himself is banged up after breaking his ankle while skydiving for charity. Surely he can't be too far from receiving a visit from Mr. Applegate himself.
When it comes to fantasy, your best bet is to avoid this situation altogether. If you can't or won't avoid it, I see Juan Rivera and Eduardo Nunez getting the biggest benefits, though both were already in the Yankees plans. What say you, Yankee fans? I've speculated here, let me hear what you think in the comments.
For the SB Nation Yankee fan reaction, check out Pinstriped Bible here.
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