With spring training injuries ravaging the Yankees’ already thin 40-man roster, Brian Cashman has resorted to his best Claude Rains impersonation. In an attempt to fill the team’s many voids, the Yankees’ GM has resorted to “rounding up the usual suspects”, but based on the reaction to some of his recent moves, fans of the team might prefer Cashman try his hand at the “Invisible Man” instead.
The latest stop gap signing by the Yankees is Tigers’ outfielder Brennan Boesch, who was released by Detroit earlier in the week and just cleared waivers. One year earlier, Cashman would have received plaudits for acquiring the left handed hitter, but after an abysmal 2012 campaign, Boesch is nothing more than a consolation prize coming at the end of the week in which not one, but two retired veterans turned down a chance to wear the pinstripes and earn some Yankee dollars.
It’s easy to understand why some fans would be critical of the decision to sign Boesch. However, the move makes sense for one simple reason: he is better than the other options currently in camp. Granted, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement of the move, but damning with faint praise is better than a total condemnation. In other words, although the signing of Boesch isn’t a bad move, it is a serious indictment of the Yankees’ off season, particularly its decision to make profit margin a priority over roster depth.
At several key positions, the Yankees are being confronted by unattractive options. There are the devils they know – veterans like Juan Rivera, Ben Francisco, Matt Diaz, and Dan Johnson – as well as ones they don’t. This latter group, which some Yankee fans have euphemistically called “the kids”, includes the likes of Ronnier Mustelier, Melky Mesa, and Thomas Neal. Although vastly different in terms of major league experience, these two groups have one unfortunate thing in common: a low probability of success.
Boesch is neither a veteran nor a journeyman minor leaguer. Despite playing three years in the big leagues, the outfielder is actually younger than Mustelier, for example, and only a year older than Mesa. Meanwhile, his 2011 campaign, in which he posted an OPS+ of 116, represents more recent success than any of the veterans vying for a roster spot. That doesn’t make Boesch a sure thing by any stretch, but if the Yankees best plan is to rely on a crap shoot until Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira return, he probably does tilt the odds ever so slightly in their favor.