Players often fail to live up to their reputations when thrust into the bright New York spotlight.
In this case, the Yankees got exactly what they paid for when they signed designated hitter Nick Johnson.
Ken Rosenthal, FOX Sports senior baseball writer, is reporting that the fragile Johnson will undergo right wrist surgery on Tuesday and won’t return to action until July.
The news should come as no surprise to anyone who has followed Johnson throughout his injury-riddled career.
Only once in Johnson’s 10-year career has he ever accumulated 500 at-bats in a single season. He’s played in 100 games just three times and hasn’t done so since 2006.
As I documented in the offseason , the acquisition of Johnson was a poor decision that was destined to go awry. Castoffs Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui signed for slightly more than Johnson and both obtained one-year pacts.
It’s mystifying why Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman was so eager to ink Johnson while slamming the door on two more proven, dependable performers. Cashman clearly wanted to avoid the histrionics of Scott Boras, Damon’s super-agent, but re-signing Matsui would have been far from a massive undertaking.
Although Johnson is about four years younger than Matsui, his health history should have been enough to nullify the age difference. Matsui was an iron man in Japan and carried that distinction through his first three seasons with the Yankees by playing every game.
Matsui, despite being slowed by knee problems in recent years, played 142 games last season and aided the Yankees to the championship while securing the World Series MVP award.
With Matsui and Damon elsewhere and Johnson occupying his familiar spot on the disabled list, the Yankees find themselves employing a revolving door at DH.
Marcus Thames is hitting a robust .414 against lefties, but is reduced to an ordinary .263 against right-handers. He’s ideally suited for a platoon role.
Francisco Cervelli continues to impress each time he’s inserted into the lineup to catch, but there are several drawbacks that prevent the Yankees from utilizing him as an everyday player.
Even though Cervelli is a defensive upgrade from regular Jorge Posada, Posada loves to catch and is reluctant to relinquish his full-time duties behind the dish. Since Posada is a member of the prestigious Core Four and an obvious leader in the clubhouse, it would be wise to keep the prideful veteran content.
Further, if Cervelli becomes the starting catcher and Posada is the DH, then the Yankees will need to carry a third catcher. In the event Cervelli was hurt during a game and the Yankees had to move Posada from DH to catcher, they would lose the DH for the remainder of the game and the pitcher’s spot would be inserted into the lineup with the roster as it’s presently constituted.
Of course, the ideal scenario to fill the DH void would have been promoting blue-chip prospect Jesus Montero from Triple-A, but he is not hitting at the astounding clip he did last year. The 20-year-old phenom needs more time to hone his craft in the minors.
As it stands right now, the Yankees will play Thames against lefties and Cervelli will catch more often than a typical backup would with Posada garnering appearances at DH to keep him fresh. Juan Miranda, if he hits, will have opportunities as well.
Joe Girardi may also opt to use the DH as a rotating resting place for regular position players such as Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Nick Swisher, and Mark Teixeira. Some will need the half-days off more than others.
Johnson, meanwhile, is cemented as an ill-advised addition.