Look, it’s mid-January. Brian Cashman has announced that his Yanks are all but finished in terms of offseason transactions, and spring training is still a month away. I need something to keep me busy, so let’s have some fun.
What makes baseball so great is the possibility of seeing something incredibly bizarre and rare on any given night. The Yankees have had their share of oddities in the field, when players are forced to venture out of their comfort zones to positions they have little experience in, sometimes to hilarious results. So without further delay, let’s trot out the starting lineup for the Yankees’ All-Out of Position Team.
*Disclaimer: We’ll keep things somewhat fresh and limit the eligibility from around 2009 to the present day
Pitcher: Nick Swisher
The Yankees were still trying to find their way in April of 2009. Mark Teixeira was struggling without the protection of Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, who was still recovering from hip surgery.
On April 13th, the Yanks were being throttled by the Rays 15-5, leaving Joe Girardi with little bullpen assets remaining, so he turned to outfielder Nick Swisher. By some divine miracle, Swisher pitched a scoreless eighth inning, including a strikeout on a wicked 79 mph heater, sending Gape Kapler back to the dugout to rethink his life.
Swisher said it was his first time pitching since his freshman year of high school. Not bad Swish!
Other members of this pitching staff: Brendan Ryan, Dean Anna
Catcher: Jorge Posada
I know this seems ridiculous, but stay with me. Prior to Spring Training in 2011, Cashman told Posada to leave his catcher’s mitt at home. The Yankees’ aging member of the Core Four was deemed no longer fit to catch and would be used in a DH role. Well, that was until September when Russell Martin went down with an injury in the third inning, and Girardi elected to make a surprise move, putting Posada behind the plate for the first time all season.
What happened next was a very cool moment for Posada (I know, Robinson Cano bailed him out a bit, but it was still hard not to smile).
First Base: Alex Rodriguez
There were other options (Carlos Beltran comes to mind), but I had to go with Rodriguez here. So much was made of his switch to first base prior to the 2015 season, as the Yankees tried to pull off their own version of Scott Hatteberg to keep Rodriguez’s bat in the lineup. It didn’t work out as they had hoped, allowing Rodriguez to settle into a DH role for the season, where he was much more productive than he was in the field.
Let’s consider Beltran a backup for first, since in his first major league appearance at the position, he smacked three hits and tap danced around first base before helping record an out.
Middle Infield: Second Base, Francisco Cervelli / Shortstop, Robinson Cano
The 2013 season was just ridiculous. Injuries were everywhere, and with injuries came patchwork lineups and defensive changes. One of those strategies was moving Cano over to shortstop and Cervelli to second base. Cano wasn’t as outlandish as Cervelli given his natural defensive talent and incredible arm, but it still was a unique look. And hey, shortstop is a crucial infield position where only certain players are trusted, so Cano was the best option I could find.
Real quick, Posada was already used so I couldn’t have him take up two spots, but his adventure at second base was also memorable (he clearly had WAY too much time to think about this throw).
Third Base: Marcus Thames
This was great. With a win all but sealed, Girardi put Thames at the hot corner in the ninth inning of a 2010 contest with the Indians. Thames revealed that it was his first time at third base since he was nine years old, and in perfect baseball fashion, the ball found him immediately. Thames actually made a nifty play with the glove, and then quickly revealed his inexperience with this throw.
Left Field: Eduardo Nunez
It was hard to believe, given his constant issues in the field, but Nunez was brought up as an infielder. The Yankees loved the young Nunez’s bat, but his play in the infield was becoming an issue in 2012. So they elected to move Nunez to left, where he had less than nine innings of major league experience. After a mistake-free debut, his next appearance would prove much more eventful. Nunez misjudged a fly ball that he would eventually dive for and miss, allowing two runs to score on the error and blowing the game wide open in a 7-1 loss to the Orioles. Nunez would misjudge two more fly balls that night, one that he likely has tried to erase from his memory.
Right Field: Lyle Overbay
Back to the circus that was the 2013 season. After Teixeira returned from injury, the Yankees needed to find a way to keep Overbay’s bat in the lineup (yes, after scoring one run or fewer in five of their last seven games, the Yanks needed Lyle Overbay in the lineup). So for the first time since a minor league game in 2001, the aging Overbay took in the Yankee Stadium view from right field and escaped with little trouble. Overbay would eventually return to first base after Teixeira’s wrist acted up again, and he was shelved for the rest of the Yankees’ injury-riddled season.
Center Field: Darnell McDonald
This was another tough one, since it is very rare that you see a player suddenly move to a defensively demanding position like center field. Granted, McDonald did have some experience in center but was an overall poor defensive player that primarily played one of the corner outfield positions. He was claimed off waivers by the Yanks in July of 2012 to try and fill the void left by an injured Brett Gardner. As part of Yankee protocol, McDonald cut off his dreadlocks and donned the pinstripes for all of four at-bats before being designated for assignment. Not sure if that was worth the haircut for him. RIP, dreads.