Matt Holliday is sick. I’m not about to start speculating on what it could possibly be, but apparently he ate something in Oakland that caused an allergic reaction, and here we are over a week later and he’s still undergoing blood tests. I’m not sure what allergic reaction would allow him to play through five games and then incapacitate him, but he hasn’t played since Sunday. Now a stint on the disabled list is being discussed, but what do the Yankees do if that happens?
In a perfect world, the Yankees would be able to use a rotation of players like they have done in the past. Veterans like Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley could get a day off in the field, with other power hitters available to help out. Unfortunately, Greg Bird is still hurt and Chris Carter is gone. We still need to see what Tyler Austin is capable of doing with the bat. This means Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez would likely end up as the primary designated hitters.
The problem with this arrangement is that both players need regular playing time in the field at this point in their young MLB teams. The more reps behind the plate that Sanchez gets, and the more chances Judge has in right field, the better they will be in the long run. Shoving them in the lineup as designated hitters might help solve today’s problem, but it won’t do much for questions regarding the future.
Using Judge and Sanchez also means that lesser players are forced into the everyday lineup when one is filling the DH role. If Judge isn’t in the outfield, it means the Yankees are rolling with Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, and Jacoby Ellsbury, which is obviously an inferior configuration. If Gary isn’t behind the plate, it means that Austin Romine is playing and there isn’t a backup catcher on the bench.
Because of this, they need to find a way to keep both in their proper positions. Internal options are slim beyond Tyler Austin or Rob Refsnyder or Aaron Hicks. In the upper levels of the farm system, Mike Ford and Miguel Andujar offer some power options. They could also seemingly get Clint Frazier up and let him switch off in right field with Judge.
We don’t know what is going to happen to Matt Holliday. It could honestly end up being nothing, but if it’s not, the Yankees don’t seem to have an optimal replacement ready to go. Someone like Carter is not here anymore and Bird might not be ready to return for some time now. It’s also difficult to go shopping for a designated hitter without giving up more than you should for a one dimensional power hitter.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is that the Yankees need Matt Holliday to be healthy. They also need him to come back and hit well like he was before all this happened. Thanks to Judge and Sanchez, they won’t be helpless without him, but it could hurt the development of key players in the long run.