As we have stated many times since he signed with the team, Nick Johnson is not the greatest bet to make it through a season unbothered by injuries. Nick has never played more than 147 games, and missed all of 2007 and most of the 2008 season. He has had myriad injuries of all sorts, with various different body parts being afflicted. Already, he has sat a few games with a sore back, and missed a bit of time in Spring Training as well. The question I pose to you is, what would you do if he got injured and was slated to miss a long stretch of games? How would you alter the roster?
As I see it, outside of a trade, there are three options. One option that is quite unlikely to happen is to call up Jesus Montero. While his potential is enticing, he has struggled a bit at AAA and likely needs to log some more at-bats there to adjust to superior pitching. Furthermore, the most important element of development for Montero remains his defense, as his bat is close to ready while his glove lags far behind. Bringing him to the Major Leagues to DH would stop the development of his glove entirely, and would hinder his chances of ever turning into an adequate backstop.
The second option is to call up Juan Miranda. Much like Johnson, he would be the backup first baseman as well, and should be able to provide decent on-base ability and a bit of power. However, he is atrocious against left-handers, with a career .725 OPS against them (vs. .890 against righties) and therefore would need to be platooned with Marcus Thames. That would be a solid platoon, and should keep the Yankees in decent position while Johnson recovers.
The last option is to keep the roster as is in terms of hitters, and simply play Frankie Cervelli at catcher against all right-handers. Basically, Jorge Posada would DH against righties and catch when the opposing pitcher was a lefty (with Thames as the DH). This would help keep Jorge fresh while allowing the team to play their best defensive catcher more frequently. The team could use the extra roster spot to call up Mark Melancon, giving Joe Girardi another arm to throw in the mix.
Thankfully, this is simply a hypothetical at this point, as Johnson has remained relatively healthy. Hopefully, the fact that he is rarely going to play the field will help keep him healthy for the entire year, and these contingency plans are rendered moot. However, if they do need to fill in for him, I would go with the third option and just play Cervelli more. He is not atrocious offensively, and his value defensively makes this the best of the three choices to me.
What do you think?