February 20, 2010

The more important debate: the lineup

Yesterday’s big news was Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain going head to head in bullpen sessions as both started their campaign for the fifth spot in the rotation. But don’t get wrapped up in that debate too much.

The second and fifth spots in the lineup are yet to be determined and those decisions will have a far greater impact on the season than the fifth starter.

Candidates to hit second
Nick Johnson
Curtis Granderson
Robinson Cano

My prediction
Johnson gets my vote here. He is the best guy at getting on base of the three by a longshot. The only downside of him up that high is that he’s the slowest of the three. I’m guessing he will be a guy who gets pinch-run for late in close games. I feel like Granderson could be a really big producer with the Yankees, and in order to do that he’ll need people on base ahead of him. As for Cano, I think he deserves a better spot in the lineup, but hitting second may put too much pressure on him.

Candidates to hit fifth

Jorge Posada

My prediction
I think Cano is bound for a big year in 2010. So even if he doesn’t start the year hitting fifth, I believe he will take over that role quickly. Does anyone remember that he hit .320/.352/.520 and was 17th in MVP voting last year? He’s the best slugger of the three remaining and is the best guy to protect Alex Rodriguez.

Having Granderson hit second and Johnson toward the bottom could create a logjam on the base paths with Posada, Johnson and Swisher (order doesn’t matter) at 6-7-8. This leads me to this Opening Day lineup prediction:

Derek Jeter SS
Nick Johnson DH
Mark Teixeira 1B
Alex Rodriguez 3B
Robinson Cano 2B
Jorge Posada C
Curtis Granderson CF
NIck Swisher RF
Brett Gardner LF

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