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Yankees Spring Training: Who will replace Brendan Ryan

Dean Anna or Yangervis Solarte?

Brendan Ryan hasn't played in a spring training game since March 4. He was previously sidelined with an oblique strain and was expected to return to the lineup on Thursday. Unfortunately, he was held out of the game due to back spasms and, upon further testing, it appears he has a pinched nerve in his back. He will receive a cortisone shot, but it is looking like he will begin the season on the disabled list.

Brian Cashman has already gone on record that, when Ryan is ready, he will play in a minor league game so they can backdate his DL stint. Joe Girardi seems unsure about the shortstop's status and whether or not he will be able to return in time for the beginning of the season as well. If that is the case, then Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte are looking at an opportunity to replace him.

So far this spring, Anna has hit a moderate .233/.361/.233 in 30 at-bats while Yangervis Solarte has led the team with a .455/.514/.636 batting line in 33 at-bats. Neither have ever tasted the majors before, but which one should? If a replacement is needed, Anna is the more likely choice, since he's on the 40-man roster, however, Solarte has been more impressive and he could be easily added if they designated Anna for assignment. Solarte is a switch-hitter, which the Yankees obviously like, though he has limited experience at short.

Ryan was brought in to be the backup shortstop capable of filing in for Derek Jeter when he needs a rest. If the Yankees thought enough about him and his role to sign him to a two-year deal (signed before Jeter decided to retire), it's likely that they would value Anna's positional experience over Solarte's spring performance. The Yankees don't like DFAing players they don't have to and getting rid of Anna wouldn't make sense if they want to replace Ryan's very specific role.

Playing Anna might even improve the team somewhat since we all know that Ryan is all glove, no bat. I averaged the Oliver, Steamer, and ZiPS WAR projections for each player and it turns out this injury might not be that bad after all. Brendan Ryan is projected to offer around 0.6 WAR over a full season, while Dean Anna is actually expected to contribute a whopping 1.6 WAR. It might be a short stint, and the difference won't play up in such a small sample of playing time, but maybe Dean Anna is a better choice for Brendan Ryan's role than even Brendan Ryan is. Even Yangervis Solarted projects to have a marginally better 0.8 WAR over a full season. I might take either of them over Ryan, at least to start the season. At least there's a chance they could hit.