The Yankees lost their third baseman Alex Rodriguez to a full season suspension earlier this off-season. Despite A-Rod’s decline and injury trouble he’s still a very good player and it was a loss to the Yankees… a $25 million dollar loss! The Yankees parlayed their savings into a contract for a potential pitching star in Masahiro Tanaka and bolstered their pitching staff. Still there was a large hole at third base that needed to be filled. Enter Kelly Johnson. Johnson, a versatile infielder/outfielder was signed to a 1-year $3 million dollar deal and many thought he’d play second base after Robinson Cano left the team for a big contract in Seattle. But when the Yankees signed former All-Star second baseman Brian Roberts to a contract, Johnson was slated to platoon with a right-handed hitter at third base. So for most of the spring we’ve been looking to see who that righty would be. Maybe Eduardo Nunez? How about Scott Sizemore? What if we shift John Ryan Murphy to third and make him the platoon? On and on, over and over during spring training. So we waited and waited and now we have an answer… sort of.
Manager Joe Girardi recently stated that he probably won’t platoon Johnson at all. Okay, so wow! Thanks for sharing Joe. All our waiting and speculating has led up to an anti-climactic ending. Girardi has named his third base platoon team and it’s Kelly Johnson and Kelly Johnson. While he’s not vastly experienced at third base, Johnson can hold his own and has looked very solid at the position this spring. So what we’ll be looking at now is who will make the bench, Nunez or Sizemore? Murphy or the upstart minor leaguer Yangervis Solarte? We’ll wait and see, but in my opinion Johnson having sole position of third strengthens the starting lineup and the bench.
Johnson possesses some pop in his bat, as he’s failed to hit double-digits in home runs twice in his eight year career. While you shouldn’t expect him to hit for a high average (He’s a lifetime .253 hitter) he’ll give the team a few bombs. Johnson has some speed as well and can steal bases. In his eight-year career, he’s stolen 79 bases and was caught only 33 times. That’s pretty good and his decent speed could be a very light compliment to super speedsters Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner who will be a nightmare on the base paths for opposing pitchers. So what the Yankees have at third is a very solid, very economical, under the radar player. Remember Jayson Nix? Well, meet Kelly Johnson, the upgraded version of Jayson Nix. Solid, cost effective, underrated and the Yankees’ new full-time third baseman.