And so the thinkable has happened: Yankeeist's beloved Nick Johnson, a.k.a Nick the Stick a.k.a. Nick the Walk will be spending significant time on the disabled list, out until sometime in July at the earliest.
Last week we addressed some potential free agent pick-ups the Yankees could look at to fill in at DH. One potential signing I forgot to bang the drum for again was Elijah Dukes, but given that every single team in baseball has stayed away thus far it seems unlikely the Yanks would go that route.
There's also obviously no trade market to speak of in mid-May, as no team -- no matter how much they might suck (ahem, White Sox, ahem) is going to raise the white flag at this juncture. Andruw Jones and his .411 wOBA come at the bargain bin price of $500,000, but I don't think even Kenny Williams is stupid enough to trade Jones for whatever marginal players Brian Cashman would be willing to surrender. Although it certainly wouldn't be unprecedented. Cleveland's Travis Hafner has an impressive .396 OBP but the lack of power is alarming. Of the remainder of the DHs wOBAing above .330, the rest are all on contenders and/or have scary bad OBPs.
At this point in time it sounds like Cashman and Joe Girardi are content to utilize internal options for the Designated Hitter, and while I remain somewhat skeptical of a Marcus Thames/Juan Miranda (Miranda's ZIPS RoS wOBA projection is a measly .317, and his ZIPS Update is .316) platoon, perhaps Thames has indeed found whatever it was he was missing to make him an effective everyday Major Leaguer again.
As wretched as Thames has been in the field, he's actually been a rather pleasant surprise with the stick, albeit in very small samples. He's crushing lefties thus far, to the tune of a .497 wOBA in 35 plate appearances, and he hasn't even been a black hole against righties, with a more-than-respectable .357 wOBA in 28 plate appearances.
While he obviously won't be finishing the year with a .434 wOBA, Thames' ZIPS RoS wOBA is .344 (over 258 plate appearances) and his season-ending projection is now .362 -- quite a bit higher than ZIPS' preseason projection of .329.
Obviously the best-case scenario for the Yankees is that Thames fills in admirably in Nick the Stick's absence, and that Stick can get back on track at some point in mid-July before Thames becomes overexposed to the league and presumably shows why no one expected him to play every day this season. Or Brian Cashman places a call to Kenny Williams.