Feb
09

Kevin Long sees majority of the lineup improving

By

We know that a number of Yankees didn’t meet their normal performance levels last year. Is that a sign of age, or is it just a fluke? If you listen to hitting instructor Kevin Long, it’s the latter. Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York got Long on record, and to say he’s confident is an overstatement. Here’s Matthews’s paraphrase:

One thing that stood out, however, is that despite the Yankees scoring an MLB-leading 859 runs (the Boston Red Sox, with 818, were a distant second) and 201 HRs, third-highest in the league, KLong believes seven of the nine regulars in the Yankee lineup can have better seasons in 2011.

The only exceptions are Robinson Cano and Nick Swisher. Long thinks that, given the standout nature of their performances, it wouldn’t be easy for them to “duplicate what they did last year.” Then the kicker: “But I expect the rest of them to do better.” Of course he thinks that; they’re his guys. But this is always nice to hear. It’s also a bit surprising in the case of Brett Gardner. If he tops last year we’ll all do a jig down River Avenue.

Categories : Offense
  • vin

    This is the hitting coach’s equivalent of “I’m in the best shape of my life.”

    • Guest

      + 1

  • Ivan

    He better hopes that father time agrees with him.

  • Mike HC

    Kevin Long has really made a name for himself as the Yankee hitting coach. Any chance other teams start thinking about him as their manager?

    • vin

      I’m sure he’d need to transition to a bench coach or minor league manager position first – like Don Mattingly.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/YanktheMike yankthemike

    But why wouldn’t we expect a better year from Gardner considering he played with an injury for half the year?

    • radnom


      But why wouldn’t we expect a better year from Gardner considering he played with an injury for half the year?

      Because he still greatly exceeded all expectations and we seem to hear the same ‘well these months he was playing with an injury so they don’t count’ story with Gardner each year.

      • Urban

        Greatly exceeed whose expectations? His MLB numbers are on par with what was expected based on his minor league numbers.

        • radnom


          was expected based on his minor league numbers

          Since when can you project a player purely on minor league numbers? Besides you know Gardner is the same age as Juan Miranda right? Try projecting his output from his AAA numbers.

          • Urban

            Please refer back to the work of Bill James and others since his initial work on this topic.

            • radnom


              Please refer back to the work of Bill James and others since his initial work on this topic.

              This is the equivalent of:

              Reference- The Internet.

              • Urban

                Hardly.

  • mike

    why is everyone kow-towing to our super-star hitting coach where by his own admission 7/9ths of his charges underperformed?

    more success like this and ill begin to worry

    • Esteban

      Well, if you looked at whose swings he’s retooled that seemed to improve (Swisher and Granderson), they seemed to improve after the work with Long. I remember stories of how Cano did extra work with Long before last season. Honest question, is there somebody that you heard of doing extensive work with that got worse or didn’t improve?

      • CS Yankee

        Paging 2010 Arod…

        /JK’d

      • Mike HC

        Tex. Long worked with him to get off to a better start last off season. It didn’t work out for his start, or his finish. And for all the Swisher talk, he ended up producing similar numbers to the year before last. Time will tell if the work he put in with Granderson will have a long term effect. Granderson is a really good hitter though. It was not that surprising to see him go on a hot streak to bring his numbers back in line with his numbers from the year before.

        Long obviously has the trust of the players and he is constantly working with guys to hit up to their abilities, so I think he is doing a great job. I don’t believe he is a miracle worker though.

        • Esteban

          I agree, I don’t think he’s a miracle worker, but he’s also almost certainly better than what mike implied above.

          • Mike HC

            Agreed, but I think Mike was just pointing a kind of funny/interesting logical contradiction in what Long said rather than really ragging on him. Or maybe more of a catch 22. A coach is always going to say there is room for improvement, of course, that also implies the team was not previously playing up to its max potential.

      • radnom


        Honest question, is there somebody that you heard of doing extensive work with that got worse or didn’t improve?

        Confirmation bias. Guys that tend to go to the hitting coach to ‘retool’ their swing generally have been slumping lately. Since the Yankees hitters are all pretty good, they have nowhere to go at that point. Look I like KLong too, but hes just a hitting coach.

        • radnom


          Since the Yankees hitters are all pretty good, they have nowhere to go at that point

          That is, nowhere to go but up

    • David

      Right. Only scored 859 runs.

    • Brendan

      There’s a difference between under-performing and improvement here you aren’t understanding. Someone can have a good season BUT have a better season the following year without “under-performing.”

      If someone hits .300/.400/.500 in season 1 and the next year gains even MORE power and slugs .520 in season 2(these are just arbitrary numbers) would you say season 1 was sub par?

      • Sayid J.

        But if you look at people’s career numbers and then last season they were below that (Tex, Jeter, ARod, Granderson), then yes, they were underperforming.

  • vinny-b

    Jeter will be a black hole in this lineup.

    aside from nostalgia, Michael Young would’ve been a better option.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      Nope, not one bit. Look at his numbers outside Arlington.

      • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

        Yikes, you’re not kidding. He’s also a RH batter and YS is unkind to righties not named Alex Rodriguez.

        • vin

          Imagine if Joe D. was LH… or Ted Williams as a RH? This is why I get nothing done in my life.

          • http://www.twitter.com/tomzig Tom Zig

            Or if Ted Williams was a Yankee and Joe D was on the Red Sox.

            Imagine the possibilities!

    • CS Yankee

      Young:
      A) Just became available after the Rangers banked that a part time C/1B, now turned DH righty strikeout king is competing for his spot.
      B) Was at one time considered decent at SS…but reality is that he came up 2B, moved to short for Kinsler, moved off SS for a 20+ error weak hitting no power newby kid, moved off 3B because they realized that he couldn’t play there well enough D-wise and was too light of a hitter otherwise for the position.
      C) Unlikely the Ranger FO even picks up after seeing NYY on caller ID.
      D) Jeter is better value per dollar when compared to Young.
      E) Jeter brings more people to the gate than about anyone in the game today…image may not be everything, but it is profitable.
      F) Jeter dates way hotter chicks…
      G) Young is a whiner.
      H) One will be the first NYY to collect 3,000 hits (on or about June 1,2011)

    • FIPster Doofus

      There’s a common misconception that Michael Young is a really good player. He isn’t.

      • CS Yankee

        Define really good player?

      • vin

        His numbers looked a lot better when he was playing SS or 2B. His aging bat at 3B, 1B, or DH? Meh.

    • Urban

      Young has always been a poor man’s Derek Jeter, except he’s now paid as much as Jeter and would produce worse away from Arlington.

  • Daniel

    Joe, I will hold you to that promise of a jig down River Ave.

  • http://twitter.com/themanchine Bruno (The Manchine)

    If he tops last year we’ll all do a jig down River Avenue.

    The Last Boy Scout. I can’t find video of him doing the jig on the catwalk tho

  • gargoyle

    ARod and Tex must improve or Boston will run away with the division.

    • David

      It is about 80% likely that they will.

    • David

      Both improve, that is.

    • vin

      ARod and Tex The team must improve stay healthy and play up to their abilities or Boston will another team may run away with win the division.

      It was a lot of work, but I fixed that for you. Boston is improved, but they had a plenty good team on paper last year. How did that work out for them? On paper, they’re not leaps and bounds better than they were last February.

      • vin

        My fancy formatting got lost in the interwebs. You get the point anyway.

  • Urban

    Analysis of a number of advanced metrics do point to stronger years from Tex, A-Rod and possibly Granderson. I’d be happy with a repeat from Gardner, which I think is likely, unless that wrist doesn’t heal properly. We’ll know more in ST. Posada’s production should improve, too, unless he really can’t adapt to the DH spot. Martin also has a chance to improve, although it’s pretty unlikely he’ll produce anywhere near the combined offense that Posada/Cervelli did in 2010, and my guess is no matter how good he is on defense, the upgrade here may not be an upgrade at all. Perhaps a big dose of Montero will swing the scales.

    Jeter is the major unknown because of his age and off season. His June-August months were brutal, but in his favor was a low BABIP that hovered in the .270 range. My guess is what we saw from Jeter last year was age related, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t also hit in a bit of bad luck. It’s not necessarily an either-or situation. I think he will rebound some. Just not back to peak Jeter. I think we’d all take that.

    Cano and Swisher will most likely regress some, but not in a major way. Swish’s BA was high, but his walks were also down. Even if he returns to the former Swisher, the overall decrease won’t be major.

    Overall I agree with Long. There is a greater chance for improvement in the hitting than a decrease. The pitching, however, is another story.

    • cano is the bro

      Jeter’s BABIP was so low because he was hitting a ridiculous amount of groundballs. I believe this was because of poor plate discipline and aging bat speed. However, I do expect Jeter to bounceback somewhat, but i don’t think we’re going to see anything like his 2009 season again

      • Urban

        Agreed. That’s why I believe what we saw was both age related and bad luck. He’ll improve, but he’s not going to his .330 again. (Although I’ll be happy to be wrong on that.)