(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)
The Yankees addressed a serious need
yesterday Sunday by claiming Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. Ishikawa should immediately assume the role as designated lefty bench bat, a role the Yankees haven't been able to fill for the past few weeks and one that they could have put to great use at least a handful of times last week. They were back up to 4 available bench players again after Eduardo Nunez took David Phelps' spot on the active roster this weekend, but all 4 of those players were right-handed and severely below-average hitters. The anticipated replacement of David Adams with Ishikawa does bring a little balance back to the bench lineup. It's not the final move the Yanks should make if they're looking to add even more bench flexibility.
Even with Ishikawa, Joe is still left with the limp bat of Austin Romine, the platoon bat of Vernon Wells, and a combination of righty offensive weakness in Alberto Gonzalez and Luis Cruz. The bench is still overly right-handed and underly-productive, and it would be nice to see the Yankees continue to look to improve on that. There's really no need to keep both Gonzalez and Cruz. They're essentially the exact same player and can serve as the backup for every IF position except first in addition to playing third base. Making a move to call up someone like Dan Johnson, who has a .372 wOBA and 12 HR in 355 PA for Triple-A SWB and has hit a little in the Majors before, could give the Yankees a chance to play the L/R platoon at third base again and try to get some more out of the bottom of their batting order.
The ship appears to have already sailed on upgrading at catcher, even with Francisco Cervelli suffering a potentially serious setback. With Jeter and A-Rod still a few weeks away, the Yankees have nothing to lose by mixing and matching this group of sub-replacement level infielders to maximize their production potential from the left side of the infield and give Joe more late-game bench options. 2 of them are going to be goners when Jeter and A-Rod are activated anyway. Ishikawa was a good start at balancing the bench out. Making a move to Johnson for a week or 2 would be the next move to complete the transition.