Well with a billion days left before the season starts, I think now's the time to start profiling the players competing for spots on the bench. Hence this segment titled "Meet the Bench".
Shelley Duncan 1B/RF/DH - Shelley has had a torrid start to his spring training, and I think he's proven that he deserves a spot on the roster. His defense at 1st is average, but he can play right field in a pinch and that makes him a good bench guy to have. In games he doesn't play, he can provide some right handed pop from the bench. His energy is certainly welcome in a mostly veteran clubhouse.
Morgan Ensberg 1B/3B/DH - Morgan Ensberg had a very good year for the Astro's back in 2005, and has failed to come close to those numbers since then. Now he's competing for the first base job on the Yankees. He is a third baseman by trade which makes him an eligible corner infielder, but A-Rod has third base on lock, and first base will be a competition. I don't know if Ensberg will make the roster, but it isn't for lack of talent or ability. Ensberg's hitting has gotten progressively better with each spring training game, but Shelley has been an animal and I expect him to win the spot. Still, I hope the Yankees can do something with Ensberg in 2008.
Wilson Betemit 1B/2B/SS/3B - The Yankees traded Scott Proctor for Betemit last year at the trade deadline revealing that they had been looking at him for a while and were glad that they could finally acquire him. The Yankees liked his potential as a power bat off the bench, not to mention as a power hitting utility guy. However, the Yankees seemed to be turned off by how out of shape he was when he came over, and I don't know how sold they were on such a large guy being their defensive replacement. They liked his bat though, and his switch hitting was also a selling point, but he strikes out a lot. He leads the team in spring training with 7 strikeouts. I wonder if Shelley's on the roster, if Betemit becomes obsolete, and they look to keep a true defensive infielder on the bench.
Jason Lane 1B/OF - Another former Astro's player with a great 2005 campaign followed by two consecutive subpar performances, Lane is looking to compete for a spot on the roster. They signed him to compete for the first base job, but they've been playing him in the outfield more often. The outfield is of course his true position. Lane has shown some pop, but he probably won't win the first base job, and I don't know that the Yankees will look to hold 5 outfielders on their roster, especially when Shelley can also fill in right field when needed.
Chris Woodward 1B/2B/SS/3B - Chris Woodward was signed to compete for that utility infield spot, and his bat has been making a strong case for him. Although its just spring training, he is batting over .400 while the other two utility infielders are batting .091 (Nick Green) and .211 (Wilson Betemit). Woodward has struck out once in 19 at bats as compared to Green's 5 and Betemit's team leading 7. If I was a gambling man, which I am, I would put my money on Woodward making the team. However, I'm a little strapped these days so please buy some "Respect Jeter's Gangster" t-shirts from our online store so I can gamble away the proceeds.
Nick Green 1B/2B/SS/3B - Green played for the Yankees in 2006, and I thought he was a pretty solid defensive player who showed a little bit of pop. He isn't a power threat however, and he isn't having the best spring training of the bunch. His .091 batting average this spring is reminiscent of the .077 average he had in 2006 when the Devil Rays dropped him prior to his coming to the Yankees. Just a guess, but I don't think he'll make the team.
Kyle Farnsworth DH - Farnsworth doesn't typically play off the bench or DH for the Yankees, but I think he should. Remember when Darryl Strawberry used to attack pitchers from the dug out? We need someone like that, and who better than Farnsworth? Why waste his size and attitude problems in the bullpen? He can even get an at bat every now and again to keep him sharp. I bet he could draw a walk by staring down and pointing his bat at the opposing pitcher, before every pitch. Maybe he can even flex the biceps he's been sculpting his entire career just to add to the intimidation factor. Instead of batting gloves, he would wear brass knuckles. Then once he got on base, they could pull him for someone who can run.