YES Network interviewed Joe Girardi on Monday night, and the Yankees' manager had plenty to say about the upcoming season. Aside from announcing that Aroldis Chapman would be the Yankees' closer, he also addressed the concerns surrounding the second half performances of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner. Girardi stated that it will be "extremely important" for Aaron Hicks to have a good year, and that the Yankees intend to use Hicks "four or five days a week" in order to give players such as Ellsbury and Gardner one or two days off a week.
The Yankees clearly have high hopes for Hicks, and there is no question that the 2016 Yankees will require a lot of rest. Many of the team's position players are getting up there in age or have injury concerns, and that's where Hicks comes in. If Hicks gets as much playing time as Girardi predicted, that amounts to weekly off-days for Gardner, Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, and they could use them. Historically, Gardner has hit better in the first half of the season than in the second half, but he really fell off of a cliff in 2015. He hit .302/.377/.484 prior to the All-Star break then hit just .206/.300/.292 for the rest of the season. He was reportedly suffering from a wrist injury all season, which could have contributed to the drop off.
Likewise, Jacoby Ellsbury had one of the worst seasons of his career in 2015. Ellsbury hit well in the early part of the season, batting .318/.399/.376 in the first half, but struggled to return to form after suffering a knee sprain in May. Carlos Beltran ended up having a great season in 2015, but he is no spring chicken, and the 38-year-old's defense is not great, to say the least. With Hicks available, the door opens for to Beltran to fill the DH role occasionally, since Alex Rodriguez will need time off, too. Girardi also discussed the importance of getting Mark Teixeira occasional days off, noting that Dustin Ackley can backup both first base and second base.
Although it is good to hear that the Yankees have a plan to address these problems, it is also somewhat concerning to hear that they are expecting the regular players to need so many days off. This is also asking quite a bit from Hicks, who has only ever played, at most, 97 games in a season. Meanwhile, backup outfielder Chris Young found his way into 140 games last year. Hicks has hit .225/.306/.349 lifetime, so it will be interesting to see how he fares when given more playing time.
What do you think of Girardi's plan for Hicks? Do you think that it will be to the detriment of the team for the regular players to be missing from the lineup so frequently?