Things have not been going well for Brian Cashman's offseason acquisitions. Nick Johnson is hitting only .141 but walking enough to keep his on base percentage high enough to just barely justify his presence. Javier Vazquez continues to get hammered all over the ball park by American League hitting, most recently at the hands of his former teammates on the South Side of Chicago. And the crown jewel of Cashman's free agent strategy, Curtis Granderson, has now landed on the 15-day DL and, according to his manager, could be out for up to a month.
So where does that leave the Yankees? Built for depth, the team still has the constantly improving Brett Gardner, the stalwart veteran Nick Swisher, the blazing hot Marcus Thames, and the multi-dimensional Randy Winn to fill the outfield positions. Gardner can be shifted back to center, Thames and Winn can platoon in left, and Swisher can continue to man right field.
But although mired in a slump — batting only .225 with two home runs — Granderson provided a presence in the lineup and a Gold Glove-caliber mitt in the field. He also allowed Gardner to shift to left, creating an outfield arrangement stocked with speed, range, and ability. Eventually Granderson's bat would have turned around but even taking that assumption out of the equation, losing Curtis costs the Yankees quite a bit on the defensive end, which inevitably translates into runs surrendered.
The Yankees are left with two options. They can look to their farm system, essentially calling up a fifth outfielder for security purposes. Thin at the position throughout the minors, speedster Greg Golson could provide defense and a few stolen bases, but has failed to hit consistently at nearly every level of the minors. Left fielder Colin Curtis is off to a very hot start for the Yankees' AAA affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees, but he too has a spotty track record at the plate. From a pure talent standpoint, the highest ranked outfield prospect in the Yankees system is 18-year-old Slade Heathcott. And while the Yankees' 2009 first round pick definitely possesses the natural talent to play with the best, he is far too raw to be promoted to the show now without possible severe effects on his development.