As it stands right now, the Yankees’ DH heading into the season looks to be a platoon consisting of the newly-acquired Travis Hafner as the left-handed piece and some combination of Juan Rivera, Matt Diaz, Ronnier Mustelier, and Thomas Neal on the right side. Most likely, it will either be Rivera or Diaz as Mustelier and Neal have minimal experience above AA. However it ends up shaking out, that platoon’s probably not going to strike fear into the heart of too many opposing pitchers. It actually might be the weakest DH situation in all of baseball. The Yankees DFA’d a couple of bats this offseason who, and I know this isn’t saying much, would have stacked up well against this group—Chris Dickerson and Russ Canzler. Interestingly, both of these erstwhile Yanks ended up catching on with the Orioles.
Dickerson’s a soon-to-be 31 year old left-handed outfielder who’s been around for a while but has never really gotten a legitimate shot at the Major League level. But check out his career major league line in 599 plate appearances, a little less than a full season’s worth:
.266/.352/.407 11 homers 27 steals 14.2 UZR 3.8 WAR
Quite frankly, it’s a little hard to see why nobody’s tried him as a platoon or 4th outfielder. He cleared waivers with the Bombers after spring training in 2012 before being sent to the minor leagues. He proceeded to dominate in AAA and continued his hot hitting in a September-call up. Alas, he was DFA’d by the Yankees once again a few weeks ago to make room for… Russ Canzler. No team bothered to claim C-Dick and he recently signed a minor-league deal with the Orioles. Here are some 2013 wOBA projections for Dickerson compared to Travis Hafner:
Generally speaking, Dickerson’s not too far off the pace from Hafner offensively. In addition, Dickerson can provide plus defense all around the outfield which would certainly come in handy. Hafner provides literally no defense anywhere. Yes the Yankees had a surplus of left-handed outfielders, but it’s hard to understand letting Dickerson go for nothing and then dishing out $2M for Hafner.
Now let’s see how Russ Canzler stacks up against the internal options. Canzler will be 27 in April and has been quite an offensive force in the high minors for the last 3 years, but only has 102 big league plate appearances to his name. He’s probably nothing more than a quad-A guy, but he’s certainly done enough to warrant an opportunity somewhere. It was looking like that opportunity would come in the Bronx when the Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Cleveland Indians. He wasn’t a Yankee long though. Three weeks later, they DFA’s him to make room for Hafner and he was subsequently claimed by the Orioles. Canzler’s far from an offensive stud, but he doesn’t have to be in order to beat the other options.
Let’s look at some more wOBA projections:
Based on these projections, it looks like Canzler would fall right in line with the rest of the trash the Yankees are considering for the role. If anything, he has the most upside of this trio considering he’s the youngest.
To be honest, I think I’d rather see a Dickerson/Canzler platoon (in New York not in Baltimore) than what we’re looking at right now. Given the team’s internal options, you would think the Yankees could have found some other way to keep these guys on the roster. If the Yanks had passed on Hafner, they could have kept both of Dickerson and Canzler with just one 40-man casualty. Francisco Rondon, who has been inexplicably kept around as the team’s 4th string LOOGY, comes to mind. Obviously the Yankees have access to more information and scouting reports than I do regarding these players, but it’s a little hard to grasp why they would just let these guys go given their weakness at DH and lack of outfield depth.
Photo by Marianne O’Leary on Flickr (Original version)
UCinternational (Crop) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Common