We're only a month into the season and it already looks like Garrett Jones has been buried on the bench behind the rest of his teammates. He was brought in as part of the Nathan Eovaldi deal in order to serve as a proper backup first baseman, something the Yankees have tried to do without over the last few years, as well as a bonus right fielder in case injuries struck. Heading into the season, it appeared he would be a valued member of the team after averaging 19 home runs over the last six seasons, however, we have yet to see that kind of production and it might be time to wonder if Jones is this year's Kelly Johnson.
Despite what the Yankees brought him in to do, Garrett Jones is used to being an everyday player. Some players are able to adapt to playing part-time, but many others are simply unable to adjust. When you're brought in to play as the backup, but everyone you can possibly fill in for–Mark Teixeira, Carlos Beltran, Alex Rodriguez–have been healthy, it's incredibly easy to be forgotten about as a left-handed hitter. If he were a righty, Joe Girardi could easily find him at-bats against left-handed pitchers, like he has for Chris Young, but as a left-handed hitting bench player, you're not going to get many chances when everyone ahead of you on the depth chart is either healthy and producing, or in Beltran's case, making a lot more money than you.
Unfortunately for Jones, playing out of his element has done nothing for his offensive game as he sits with a .167/.194/.267 batting line over 31 plate appearances. For comparison's sake, Jones received 106 plate appearances over the first month of the 2014 season and he managed to hit .250/.302/.396 with four home runs. Without much of a role on this team, Garrett Jones is looking a lot like Kelly Johnson and it's not likely to end well for him.
Johnson was a regular second baseman brought in to play third base, so right off the bat, both Johnson and Jones are out of their element. What made things worse for Johnson was that he was quickly pushed out of his third base role by the right-handed and hot-hitting Yangervis Solarte, like Jones has been pushed out by healthy and productive Tex and A-Rod. Within a matter of days, Johnson was moved into first base duty and by the time Solarte was finally sent down, it was already too late for Johnson to establish any type of role on the team. Another left-handed bench player lost in the shuffle.
After four months of below-average production, Johnson was eventually shipped off to Boston for Stephen Drew, another player who didn't seem to have much of a role on his team. He never appeared to recover and only managed to hit .203/.271/.328 over the last two months of the season between the Red Sox and the Orioles. Johnson ended up having to settle for a $1.5 million contract with the Braves this season and has only collected 56 plate appearances so far. Is this the fate that awaits Garrett Jones? The two are the same age, but Jones has been a much better power hitter over their respective careers. It would be nice to get Jones more playing time to see what he can offer, but it will be hard to give him a larger role with everyone clicking right now unless someone goes down longterm or the Yankees finally bench Beltran. Hopefully he can adapt to his situation soon, because otherwise he could end up by the curb like Kelly Johnson did and that rarely ends up being a good place to be.