A lot was made in the offseason about the Yankees new found commitment to youth. So far this year there has been, predictably, mixed results. Ohlendorff, Alabedejo, Joba and Gonzalez have shown promise while two of the big three - Kennedy and Hughes have struggled.
Along with the commitment to youth I hoped for more of a merit-based system of managing the players and the opportunities they receive. We have seen that with Bruney as he has clearly jumped Kyle and Hawkins in the depth chart, but will the other spots on the roster follow merit-based assessments or will the New Joe act more like the Old Joe and give spots and opportunity to "proven" guys?
The following roster moves would show us that times have changed;
Gonzalaez over Betemit
Gonzalez is clearly a better backup player at this point then Betemit. He simply fits our needs better. He provides outstanding defense in the middle of the diamond and some speed for late inning pinch running spots. Betemit provides mediocre defense and power. He is a better fit on a team that needs some offense and his best positions might be first base and third base where we are loaded with candidates (Ensberg, Giambi, Duncan when he returns, Posada).
Duncan over Giambi
Giambi might still come around at the plate but his days as a first baseman are over. So how long will he keep getting regular at bats while Duncan either sits on the bench or destroys AAA pitching? Duncan deserves a shot to show whether he can sustain the power he flashed last year.
Gardner over Damon
I don't believe Johnny Damon is completely finished, but I think his days as an elite player are over. I think he is going to be a sub .350 OBP guy with about 10 home runs. Also, his defense in LF is average and his arm is extremely weak. So how much value does that have? Matsui makes more sense as the everyday LF. That would free the DH role up for Giambi and Ensberg. You could also play Posada at DH once a week to lessen the load and keep him fresh. If you are looking at a fourth outfielder, a player with game changing speed and superior defense adds a lot more value then Damon would. You could sub late for Matsui and have a weapon late when you need a steal in a big spot.
Alabadejo, Edwar, or Patterson over Hawkins
Latroy has been terrible and if he continues this for another couple of weeks the Yankees might want to seriously consider cutting their loses. I think his Yankee career was doomed the moment he trotted out opening day wearing number 21. I don't agree with the booing, but sometimes there are bad omens early in a players Yankee career that you must recognize (ala the Randy Johnson camera incident). So while Latroy has shown bad karma and even worse pitching, Jonathan, Edwar and Patterson have done enough to warrant a longer look.
If the Yankees made the above moves I think they would be a younger, deeper, faster and more versatile team. Also, the players moving in have more upside and would offer more roster flexibility when a Jeter quad or a Posada dead shoulder happens. So will the new Yankee thinking move a step further and make some of these moves? Or will we continue to go with the proven and potentially less talented team? I hope the New Joe is different and we see some of these moves made for the better of the team.