For many teams, day in and day out, nothing changes except the starting pitcher; in the Bronx this year, however, that's not the case - just as the Yankees used an absurd variety of lineups last year to try to maximize production, this year Girardi will reach for his binder in an attempt to create the best lineup possible based on the guys who are playing on a particular day and which of the old guys gets to rest, either with a full day off or as the DH.
In any case, though, it's still fun to try to figure out what the "stock" lineup will be, and doing so does shed a lot of light on what's in Girardi's head. Since this is ludicrously early in spring training, however, it's almost impossible to figure out the binder, so instead I'm just going to put myself in Girardi's shoes, and I ask you all to do the same.
Without further ado, here is the lineup I came up with, with an explanation about each player.
1. Brett Gardner, LF, L
Although he will likely hit ninth, I still like the idea of hitting the newly-extended Gardner leadoff. He gets on base at a solid .352 OBP, which is actually 2 points higher than the likely leadoff hitter, Jacoby Ellsbury's. Although his SB totals were lacking last year, I expect them to rise again, as he will no longer be hitting behind Robinson Cano (when he did not run to prevent being thrown out while the best hitter was at the plate) and would be hitting behind the double-play machine known as the Captain.
2. Derek Jeter, SS, R
There's really not much to say here. The Yankees would obviously prefer the Jeter of 2012, not the Jeter of 2013, to play. He'll be DH-ing and sitting a lot, for sure, which would give Brendan Ryan more ABs, which is unfortunate.
3. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF, L
Many project him to leadoff; not surprising, since he has almost exclusively led off for Boston; I, however, would like to hit him third in the order. He is a double and triples machine, and although he hasn't shown much HR pop since 2011, doubles and triples both drive in runs and set up for the next guy in the order. And when Gardner and Ellsbury are on 1st and 2nd at the same time.....look out, catchers; not that the warning will help you much.
4. Carlos Beltran, RF, S
Beltran is arguably the best pure hitter on the team; he has power, hits for average, and draws walks. With a healthy (and performing) Mark Teixeira behind him, expect him to get pitches to hit, and while he doesn't have the speed he used to, he has *just* enough to be able to take advantage of it in the right situation.5. Mark Teixeira, 1B, S
Tex may very well make or break the Yankees season; a strong season from the first baseman recovering from wrist surgery will bolster the weak infield. At this point in his career, he is not a spray-it-all-over-the-field hitter, merely resorting to a hit-it-over-the-shift approach, in which case he needs to work on capitalizing on whatever pitches he gets over the plate. Expect opposing pitchers to try to pitch him outside so he can't turn on the ball and drive it as well.
6. Alfonso Soriano, DH, R
If he hits like he did last year, then he will be the best #6 hitter in baseball, and in all honesty the only reason he would be hitting this low is to provide protection for the guys in front of him. As always, expect him to swing at anything, everything, and then some, and we know he'll be lucky to have an OBP that cracks .300. But in this lineup, it is his power that is most important, although he also has the ability to make plays on the basepaths with his legs. Another 15+ SB season is not unthinkable.
7. Brian McCann, C, L
It's mostly unthinkable to have such a big-market free agent signing hit seventh in the order, but that's what we have here; it's more a testament to the lineup's strengths than anything else. Interesting to note is the fact that he has not had a 25 HR season, and has not had 80 RBI since 2009, but the ample opportunities he will have with this lineup and the short porch in right should rectify that. Do not, however, expect him to hit for average.
8. Brian Roberts, 2B, R
The classic example of hitting your worst hitter eighth, not ninth. That said, although nobody expects anything significant from Roberts, he does have the capacity to be a top-of-the-order....well, threat isn't the word, but factor. Yea, he could be a factor at the top of the order for most teams; instead, he hits in the bottom third. The Yankees are hoping his strong September (.250/.306/.450, 5 HR, 10 RBI) are a sign of things to come, not a fluke.
9. Kelly Johnson, 3B, L
The super-utility player who has under the radar hit 16 HRs on a consistent basis; expect the lefty to take advantage of the short porch in right significantly. I hit him ninth to provide a strong link back to the top.
And there you have it; obviously on a daily basis this will change, when different guys take days off.
What do you guys think? If you were Girardi, what would you do?