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Can Juan Rivera replace Andruw Jones and Raul Ibanez?
One of the Yankees strengths last season was the hitting available off of their bench. They could run Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez or Andruw Jones out to DH on any given day or play Chavez at a corner infield spot and Jones and Ibanez at corner outfield spots.
Chavez was stellar in limited time, hitting .281 with 16 home runs and posting an .845 OPS in 278 at bats. While splitting time, Jones and Ibanez combined for 617 at bats, 33 home runs and 96 RBIs. All three players are gone this season and their replacements are unproven to say the least.
In the outfield, the Yankees signed Juan Rivera and Matt Diaz to minor league contracts, while hoping that Eduardo Nunez can field well enough to warrant a major league roster spot for his bat. None of those players have proven capable in recent years of putting up run production numbers like the Yankee bench last season.
The sole hope is Travis Hafner, signed to a one year contract with incentives. If healthy, Hafner has one of the best left handed power swings in baseball and could thrive at Yankee Stadium. From 2004-2007, Hafner averaged 32 home runs, 102 RBIs and a .296 batting average while posting a ,976 OPS.
However, injuries have plagued Hafner for five years and he has failed to log 400 at bats since 2007. The Yankees will surely regret failing to sign any sure-thing replacements to adequately fill in for their lost bench production from last season.