Normally, when a team throws out the same lineup day in and day out, it shows stability and health within the organization. It means your roster is healthy and your players are productive. This is a good thing right? Well, yes and no. The cookie cutter lineup is a strong lineup, but it takes a little something away from the game.
Take the Yankees 2014 lineup. There are a lot of players who should be in the lineup more days than not but some positions like second base and third base could be played using a revolving door. Lets face it, the Yankees will never replace the production that Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez supplied at second and third. That’s not possible… well at least not with just two players. It is unreasonable to rely on Brian Roberts and Kelly Johnson to hit around 40 home runs. But if the Yankees used two players at both spots it’s not hard to imagine four players hitting 10 home runs each. That’s a very fair plan and it’s very possible that a few guys can muster up those numbers. It also keeps players fresh and helps prevent other teams from becoming so familiar with the Yankees’ lineup. That is a real plus for a team that is looking to make a splash in 2014.
Last season Jayson Nix was one of my favorite players. Why? Nix was not a superstar and he didn’t put up tremendous numbers as the Yankees’ utility man. But, he was a grinder who threw everything he had on the field when the Yankees desperately needed production from guys like him. Because of that, he put up a very solid season and was involved in some really big moments for a Yankees team ravaged by injuries. It was exciting to see someone as unexpected as Jayson Nix be the hero every now and then. This season if the Yankees plan out their lineups strategically using a very strong bench, it could add a lot more entertainment to the game and maybe even more production.
In recent years baseball has been a very Democratic game. Everyone gets their fair chance to play as long as they can help the team. When that is the case, we sometimes find ourselves rooting for the solid, hard working players over the game’s best players. It’s fun! It really is! It’s common to cheer on the underdog. The outfielders like Zoilo Almonte who don’t make Jacoby Ellsbury money. They’re a little closer to us in that sense. Look, I get that having a moral victory isn’t the point of baseball. The point is to win. How many teams out there find success with a revolving door lineup? Well, I can think of one.
The Tampa Bay Rays are not the New York Yankees by any stretch of the imagination. They don’t have a seemingly endless bank account or the lore of playing on a big stage like New York. They have a few stars like Evan Longoria, David Price and Wil Myers, but overall they are not full to the brim with high caliber talent. Yet they win. They win a lot. They win with a multitude of players who switch out with each other and mix together to produce a winning formula. It’s never just one guy when it comes to the Rays and that causes them to be one of the best all around teams in the game. It’s a really cool thing to see them win by using a lot of players who could pass as bench players on squads like the Yankees or Dodgers.
So when critics of the Yankees call out gaps at second base and third base, take it in stride because it’s not such a big deal. With a very deep bench, the Yankees for once have a lot of options to make up for some lost production. What it comes down to is not how talented your players are, but how you utilize the talent of your players. Besides, the cookie cutter lineup is just boring and who wants to watch something boring.