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Yankees Bench Broken

New York Yankees hats The Yankees have a broken bench. They’re still sitting comfortably in the dugout, of course, but something is wrong. The Yankees who sit on that bench are just not doing their job. It may not be the reason they have a losing record in September, with 21 games to go, but it certainly doesn’t help. Andruw Jones, Raul Ibanez, Eric Chavez, Jayson Nix and Chris Stewart are the corps of Yankee backups who are responsible for performing on the days they’re called upon. There are other September callups hanging around, but this is a focus on the likely playoff roster members.

Andruw Jones was brought back this year to hit lefties, but this seems to be an odd year for him. After killing southpaws to the tune of a 151 wRC+ in 2011, Jones has only managed an 85 this year. He has actually hit right handers slightly better, but that’s not what he’s here for. Even worse is the fact that he’s been terrible in the second half of the season. After posting a wRC+ over 100 in every month from April to July, he fell to a 38 wRC+ in August and so far has a 40 wRC+ in September. His power has also disappeared completely. His .095 Isolated Power in August is on level with utility backup infielders. He might only be 8 games and 17 at bats into September, but right now his ISO is .000; he has no power. Many other organizations would have dropped him from the team by now, especially since no one else on the Yankee bench can hit lefties. It’s probably too late for him to start doing what he was meant to do, but it might not be too late to resurrect his power and be useful once again.

Raul Ibanez is a man that was not meant to be paid this much attention. The injury to Brett Gardner is what started the Raul Ibanez experience that plagued many a Yankee pitcher’s ERA. Before he was thrown into the outfield on an everyday basis, he was supposed to hit right handers off the bench. Thankfully he’s done that, managing a 100 wRC+, but it hasn’t been very consistently. 2012 has looked like a roller coaster for Ibanez. He’s been up and down from month to month, but it seems like the second half has been all drop and no climb. After putting up a 69 wRC+ in August, he’s at a -15 in seven September games. Obviously, he still has time to start hitting, but it seems more likely that he’ll only have had one really good month, May, when everything is all said and done. Like Jones, he could have been dropped, but it appears he’s here to stay, whether he does anything or not.

Eric Chavez is carrying his own weight. He’s really the only bench player the Yankees have that has contributed consistently all year. When Alex Rodriguez was out for a month, Chavez picked up the slack. He had a 169 wRC+ in the month of August, effectively replacing A-Rod’s production for the time being. However, since A-Rod’s return from the disabled list, Chavez has had to compete for playing time and in the month of September he’s at a -3 wRC+. The other problem with Eric Chavez is that, while he clobbers right handed pitching, he is completely useless against left handers. Still, it seems Chavez is essentially doing Raul Ibanez’s job for him. At least someone is working hard.

There is nothing interesting about Jayson Nix, except maybe how uninteresting he is. He hits lefties and righties equally as below average for a grand total of 88 wRC+. He has also never had a month where he hit at a mark considered to be above average. Nix has been a decent fielder when he’s not playing shortstop or second base, but the Yankees already have outfielders and two third baseman that can hit at a much higher level than he can. It’s really a mystery as to what he’s adding to this team. A backup middle infielder is useful for any team, but such a mediocre player has to be easily replaceable, right?

On most teams, nothing is expected from the backup catcher. While this might be a silly method of managing a team, it’s certainly true for Chris Stewart. In very limited playing time he’s hit worse than Jayson Nix, so he is interesting in how inept he is at hitting baseballs. August was a good month for him, as he reached, a nearly average, 97 wRC+, but he’s unlikely to even match that with two other catchers on the roster in September. Which makes me wonder why Francisco Cervelli has gotten exactly zero playing time. Stewart is the backup catcher the Yankees are stuck with, and he’s the backup catcher that will probably never be seen, come October. A better option off the bench would have been nice, though.

Together, the Yankee bench has been able to put up a combined 3.7 WAR, thanks largely to 1.3 from Eric Chavez and 1.2 from Jayson Nix, of all people. Everyone has had a positive WAR season, but most of that has come from early season contributions. Right now the Yankee bench is tanking and so has the Yankee lead on the division. It might not be their fault, but it definitely doesn’t help, especially when no one better is coming in any time soon.


By: Jason Cohen Staff Writer