Can minor move turn out big?

With three lefty-hitting outfielders in front of him, playing time would have been limited for Chris Dickerson. The DH spot would probably be the spot for him.

But in a move in which the Yanks got younger and perhaps more versatile, the Yankees DFA’d Dickerson and picked up Russ Canzler off the waiver line.

Dickerson, 31 in April, can play all three OF positions. In 69 games at AAA last year, he hit .316-7-25 with 17 SB. He was 4 for 14 (.286), 2 HR and 5 RBI for the Yanks in 25 games in 2012, 3 for 3 in SB. Not bad.

As a Yankee, Dickerson didn’t get much playing time, but in 2011-2012 was 17 for 64 (.266) with 3 HR and 12 RBI. He was a perfect 7 for 7 in SB.

In his MLB career, Dickerson is a .266 hitter in 518 MLB at bats, with 11 HR, 47 RBI and 27 SB in 33 attempts. His OPS+ is 101. He has struck out 157 times. You do wish the Yankees or someone would give him more of a chance. Maybe Dickerson should look toward Japan. After all, look what that Japanese team gave Andruw Jones (Jones may need that $$ now that he’s committed domestic battery and is being sued for divorce).

But the Yankees DFA’d Dickerson while picking up Russ Canzler. It may turn out to be a good move. Only time will tell.

For one thing, Canzler is a bit more versatile and seems to fit certain Yankees needs a bit better. Canzler will be 27 in April, so he is four years younger than Dickerson. He is also a righty bat as opposed to the lefty-hitting Dickerson, and the Yanks have been looking for that, despite the recent signing of Matt Diaz to a minor league deal. Maybe it is a sign that the Yankees are out on Scott Hairston. Canzler has played mostly 1B in his minor league career, but has also played 3B, LF and RF. I believe it’s his ability to play 3B that appealed to the Yankees. By being able to play 1B and 3B maybe they feel he can fill in the role that Eric Chavez had before Chavez left to go to the Diamondbacks.

Let’s not forget, that Teixeira missed about 35 games last year. While Youkilis can play 1B, who’d play 3B then with Alex out? The two guys who filled in for Teix the most last year—Chavez and Swisher—are both gone. If Youk is only playing 3B because A-Rod is out for half the year or more, who is Teix’s backup?

Canzler apparently can backup at 1B and 3B besides being a righty bat who plays LF and RF, which Chavez couldn’t do, nor Andruw Jones. Of course, Canzler could DH also.

Canzler is a bit “local”, as far as where I live. He’s from Hazleton, PA, which is about an hour’s drive from where I live in the Lehigh Valley. Who is also from Hazleton? Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, who briefly managed Canzler.

Canzler has played 448 games at 1B in his minor league career, 112 in LF, 126 at 3B, 68 in RF. What bothers me is 43 errors in 126 games at 3B. I like the versatility, but that’s a lot of errors at 3B. I understand the need to have someone who can fill in at 3B with the uncertainty of A-Rod and possibly Youkilis (and yes, it’s still strange to type in the name of Youkilis), but 43 errors? Ugh.

So we will see about the defense. But his last three seasons in the minors have been good offensively.

2010: AA, Tennessee, Cubs system: .287-21-66 in 112 games.
2011: AAA, Durham, Rays system: .314-18-83 in 131 games.
2012: AAA, Columbus, Indians system: .265-22-79 in 130 games.

Canzler went 1 for 3 for the Rays in 2011 with 1 RBI and in 93 at bats for the Indians last year had 25 hits (.269-3-11). For his MLB career, he is 25 for 96 (.271), 3 HR, 12 RBI, OPS+  97. He spent 11 games at 1B and 8 in LF.

So there might be a stick here. The Yanks did need a righty bat. With Canzler they may have that, have someone in his prime (27) and have someone versatile. We’ll see how he does.

As for Dickerson, see above. He seems like someone who can help a team, either here in the U.S. or maybe in Japan. It’d be nice to see him get a shot.

But Dickerson just hit from the wrong side of the plate. With Granderson, Gardner and Ichiro, Dickerson was on the outside looking in.


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