The Yankees and offensive adjustments


There is nothing worse than an underachieving team, and the Yankees certainly have an underachieving offense at the moment. The pitching staff has been just fantastic as a whole in the postseason, more than giving the team a chance to win each time out. The offense has been miserable aside from the occasional outburst (ninth inning of ALDS Game One, anything Raul Ibanez does, etc.) though, and it’s reasons number one, two, and three that they’re in a 2-0 hole in the ALCS.

The worst offender has not been Alex Rodriguez or Nick Swisher or Curtis Granderson, it’s been Robinson Cano. The same guy who was so molten hot for the final few weeks of the season and one of the very best hitters in all of baseball. He’s currently riding an 0-for-26 (!) stretch that is the longest single postseason hitless stretch in baseball history, and he hasn’t reached base on anything other than an intentional walk since the first inning of ALDS Game Two. That’s just hard to believe, and yet the majority of his plate appearances seem to end like this…

Anibal Sanchez threw an offspeed pitch on the outer half that Cano tried to pull, resulting in a weak grounder to second. When Robinson is not swinging right, he generates a ton of outs on ground balls to the right side of the infield. Raul Ibanez was the same why earlier this season, and Hideki Matsui is probably the poster boy for the 4-3 put out slump. It’s not a pleasant thing to go through, either for the players or the fans who watch.

“You have to make adjustments,” said Joe Girardi following yesterday’s loss. “We know what they are doing to us. They are not going to put it on a tee for us. We know that. We are more than capable of scoring runs and have done it a number of times this year. We have to make adjustments.”

Cano’s weak grounders to second are the perfect example of what Girardi is talking about as far as making adjustments. Here is his spray chart since Game Two of the ALDS (via Texas Leaguers), which is the start of this miserable slump that is suffocating the offense…

That’s 22 total balls in play — the one hit in the right field corner was his first inning double in ALDS Game Two — and eight grounders to the right side. The three balls hit in front of the pitcher’s mound are likely a symptom of the same problem, lunging out and trying to pull the outside pitch, so this covers more than half of his ball-in-play outs during this slide. Here are the pitches that Cano has swung at during this stretch…

Now here are the pitches that he’s taken for either balls or strikes…

Everything is on the outer half, like 90% of the total pitches I’d say. Something extreme like that. I’m guessing that at least some of those pitches on the inner half where intended to be outside as well, but the pitcher just missed his location. We’ve got a ~30 plate appearance sample here of how pitchers are attacked Cano, and it’s away away away. Thirty plate appearances is far too long to make an adjustment, which is what Girardi was talking about yesterday. The hitters have to adjust to way they’re being pitched, it’s Hitting 101.

I know this looks like I’m piling on Cano but I honestly don’t mean it that way. This is a team-wide problem and Robbie is both the club’s best and least productive hitter, so he’s easy to single out. Plus his problems are easier to identify since, well, all of his at-bats seem to end with ground balls to the right side. As Jeff Sullivan pointed out today, Cano has made some very good contact and driven balls to the opposite field during this massive 0-fer but has yet to be rewarded with hits. I think anytime a hitter goes through an 0-for-20-something there is an element of bad luck coming into play, just think about the line drive off Doug Fister in the second inning on Saturday. That play results in a hit what, nine times out of ten? Forty-nine times out of 50? I don’t know exactly, but the answer is along the lines of “a lot.”

We could go through almost every hitter in the lineup and find some kind of pattern with their hitting failures, whether it be right-handed fastballs to A-Rod or left-handed breaking balls to Granderson. It feels like everyone in the lineup has an Achilles heel that is being exposed this last week, yet the adjustments are not coming. We know Cano can take pitches on the outer half a to the opposite field and not just for singles either, the dude has been hitting rockets to all fields since the day he was called up. It just hasn’t happened yet. These adjustments are far easier said than done of course, but like Girardi said they need to be made otherwise the Yankees won’t have a prayer of extending their season beyond Wednesday.

Categories : Offense


  1. Eddard says:

    Whose sole job is it to see these things and help the players make adjustments? Kevin Long. That’s his sole job. He’s not an overseeing the club like Girardi or making the signs from the bench like Pena. Long’s sole reason for being on the staff is to notice these things and work with his players to make adjustments. If they go down like this KLong should be fired.

    • 0 for everything says:

      I agree. Long needs to go. This entire year has been to miserable for him to stay. Only guy who did well was Jeter who dumped K. Long’s suggestions last year and took off after that.

    • SammySosasBleachingCream says:

      Don’t you think he knows this and has been telling the players how to fix it? Or do you just think it’s brilliant RAB commenters who’ve noticed the way Cano’s being pitched?
      The players AREN’T LISTENING. That’s not Long’s fault.

    • Deep Thoughts says:

      At any level, coaches can only inform, suggest, intruct, persuade, and help a player become mentally comfortable and ready. At the end of the day, only players can execute. This especially applies for elite players at the highest level in the sport.

      I’d like you to point out another offense that was so productive all year with injuries to so many starters and middle-of-the-order bats.

    • MB says:

      162 games and the game’s best offense, year after Kevin Long year, vs a handful in the spotlight. I’m sure it’s his fault.

    • Squints says:

      The hitting coach…really?? The hitting coach is simply that, a coach, how can you expect to swing the bats. Theres a book on Cano and the rest of these guys, Yankees aren’t adjusting. Blaming the hitting coach is a huge cop out.

      • herby says:

        It’s been Kevin Long who has put into their head the idea of pulling the ball so consistently…with his flip drill, and screen…he’s got them thinking short porch, short porch, short porch..as if the other section of the field doesn’t exist at all. I’ve been saying he’s overrated for the last three years, and has turned the Yankee offense into a one dimensional team. Wouldn’t be surprised if you dumped him if you saw a different A-rod next year, he puts so much faith into him it’s ridiculous..he wants to be Tony Gwynn with power.

    • commerce says:

      Time for a change of voice re our hitting coach–KLong has been given extraordinary credit for his “fix” of Granderson’s swing v. LHers and seems beloved by Swisher, Cano, and A-Rod. It is time for him to be accountable–it doesn’t wash for him to get all the accolades and none of the opprobrium.

      Clearly, one of his notions is “positive thinking” as if that clears the mind and insures success as long as it is combined w/ solid mechanics. Some players thrive ignoring reality while others extend slumps often thinking a base-on-balls is a big achievement…or a soft line drive to LF somehow translates to a time–soon to come–when the ball will be driven. Long, it seems to me, operates on the “doing bad but feeling good” philosophy, and stubbornly preaches that view. Paul O’Neill used to trash water coolers, moan and groan that he was through and will never get another hit–that cleared his mind and he became a wonderful hitter who produced consistently over the years. There isn’t ONE WAY. HIs most beloved acolytes are among our most talented hitters and the most dreadful during this postseason. Time for a dose of reality. If he is kept–and I think that is probable–he might try some of the other tools in his box.

  2. Little CANOlli says:

    Look at all those CU’s in the dirt, it’s hard to visualize a left-handed hitter wearing pinstripes swinging at those lately. In all seriousness though, does anyone remember the ball Robby hit out to LF in Dodger Stadium like 2 years ago? Whatever happened to those oppo-bombs he used to hit? I can’t quantify this, but he has seemed way more pull-conscious this year than he has in the past.

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      Maybe he likes Dodger Stadium. If the take A-Rod they can have Cano.

    • SammySosasBleachingCream says:

      And that was off a lefty, too.

    • commerce says:

      LC is correct–see his bright and expansive grin when he parks one in the upper reaches of the RF bleachers/seats. He has fallen in love w/ the HR. No one could hit the pitch away with such authority as Cano–usually lining a double upon which a week’s wash could be hanged. He still can do it…but right now he prefers to try to get his bat around pitches away to try to rake them to RF.

      He knows how much $$$$ can be earned by a 2nd baseman who can clobber 30-40 bombs. He reached his 30 this year…40, to be sure, is in his sights.

  3. rogue says:

    Thank you Football Giants! Thank you for numbing the throbbing and annoying pain that is the New York Yankees. The Giants are on top of the football world right now and the only team that can topple them are themselves.

    Cano must be traded this offseason. It’s simple. He’s hooked up with Boras and giving this guy a Boras contract (overpaying him in his decline years) is just plain stupid. And I know the Yankees won’t do anything stupid.

    Oh wait.

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      All for a Cano trade and a Granderson trade.

    • commerce says:

      Yes, thanks Big Blue; I needed that big win over the Niners too. I favor trading Cano before we commit to him for a long term and big money. If the Yankees are serious about their payroll coming in under the lux tax levels, it makes inordinate sense to unload him now. He should land us a boatload of players who are big-time prospects. With the collapse of the scaffolding represented by minor league starting pitchers like Brackman, Betances, and Banuelos. We were going to hang the structure of our future starters on those kids plus Pineda…we all know that picture is bleak today.

      CC and Hughes are the foundations for the future w/ maybe DPhelps assuming the role of a respectable #5. Robbie should land us two premier pitching prospects plus a strong middle-infield prospect. Shedding Granderson in the same manner for OF talent gets the club younger and below the “soft cap” that has terrified Hal as we move forward.

  4. BaltimoreYankee says:

    In defense of Robbie, technically he should be one for 26 now. :-)

  5. rogue says:

    Players who don’t draw walks tend to go for 0-20something slumps.

    • SammySosasBleachingCream says:

      Ichiro’s still gotten his share of knocks, and nobody walks less than him.

    • Nigel Incubator-Jones says:

      Actually, I’m pretty sure the other longest (20+) 0fer srteaks they showed were from Wade Boggs and Dave Winfield. They drew walks.

  6. SammySosasBleachingCream says:

    Robbie could just as easily go 4-4 tomorrow and I wouldn’t blink. Grandy, Swisher, and ARod, on the other hand…
    I can see the Yankees getting swept and still setting a postseason record for strikeouts.

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      He can easily do that but won’t, that’s the frustrating part of it with Cano. All the talent in the world but when he is down he is way down.

      • Little CANOlli says:

        You trade Cano, what do you think you’re getting in return?

        • JonS says:

          1 A- prospect, 1 B- prospect.

        • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

          We’re getting them to take Arod in the package.

        • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

          A guy who doesn’t go 0-26 in the playoffs. Plus it’s not just what he’s doing now, gotta take in to account the future. $189 million for a payroll budget and he’s going to get very expensive after next year.

          • toad says:

            Or maybe a guy who doesn’t get to bat in the playoffs.

            Cano gets $15mil next year, and then he’s a FA. What do you expect to get in return for one year at that salary?

            You have to find a good team – because no non-contender will make that deal – that badly needs to fill a hole at second and that will offer something valuable in return. Who is it?

        • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

          A Magic Johnson autographed playing card :)

        • commerce says:

          At least 2 pitchers from another organization, plus a middle infielder–plus an improved payroll situation and flexibility. Robbie will be due $15mm for ’13 and then a long-term, big dollar deal after that. Time to move on our get younger on the roster and avoid the lux tax that will be brutal in the future. (I don’t care about the fiscal issues, but the club has announced its intentions and I’ll take them at their word.)

      • SammySosasBleachingCream says:

        He was slumping big-time right before his end of the year explosion, then got insanely hot literally the next day. It was like a switch got flipped on. It can happen.
        Cano’s also had three postseason series where he OPS-ed over 1.000, and two others where he was over .800 (which isn’t bad at all by postseason standards). It’s not like he’s NEVER hit in the postseason.

  7. Deep Thoughts says:

    This is a great write-up, Mike, and the most cogent thing I’ve seen up here in days. Spot-on about Robbie trying to hook one all the time, Grandy and his breaking balls in the dirt, and Alex swinging through the fastball down and away over and over.

    These guys are pros. They should, and must, figure out what’s happening and adjust. And they better do it right quick.

  8. Joe Kotulak says:

    We can sit here and blame the hitting coach all you want, but as Jack Nicholson from the shining would put it these guys have had their whole f*****g lives to work with the hitting coach so what good would good would putting in more work with him do them now?

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      Right. End of the day it’s on the players shoulders

      • Cris Pengiucci says:

        Yet, per your earlier post, K. Long should go. I get it.

        • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

          Can’t fire the players and after a showing like this someone usually goes. Gotta blame someone. Get it?

          • Robinson Tilapia (Overreacting is American) says:

            Actually, no. You don’t have to blame anyone. It just makes people feel better when they do.

            That and actual accountabiity mean two different things.

            Please, though, you all go ahead and party like it’s Nineteen-Ninety-LoHud.

  9. Mike HC says:

    To Cano’s defense a little bit, the umps will call some of those outside balls a strike, then forcing Cano to swing at pitches outside the zone. Although there is no excuse for him continually trying to pull balls on the outside corner, or off the plate.

  10. Eddard says:

    Kay asked Cashman about Gardner on his radio show. Cashman said there could be a role for Gardy in the spacious outfield of Comerica and he sees Gardy as a hitter. I think this means Swisher is benched. Gardner would be a huge upgrade on defense and couldn’t do any worse on offense than Swisher. Nick Swisher also bashed Yankee fans in defense of his horrible play so I think he’s done as a Yankee.

  11. Thunder Road Runner says:

    It’s numbing to see the same results over and over and over…These are veteran, professional hitters, how can they not be making the needed adjustments?. I think Long has some culpability, but it is certainly not all his fault. However, his head will be the first to roll this off season, count on that!

  12. Stevis says:

    my most fAvorite thing is watching Cano trot down to first if he hits a grounder…..good hitter or not his ass would be on the bench

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      Gotta love his effort on the grounders. He slumps over and trots like running is beneath him. Jeter busts it down the line everytime and so should everyone else.

  13. Gerald Williams' Hairline says:

    Game 3 Line-up
    Gardner CF
    Suzuki RF
    Tex 1B
    Ibanez LF
    Chavez 3B
    Martin C
    Nunez 2B
    Stewart DH
    Nix SS

    Can’t do any worse than what the other options are….

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      That’s interesting… Can’t see Stewart DH’ing. He needs to be on the bench incase Martin gets hurt. Can’t risk losing the DH spot in the first inning, Mo forbid something happens…

    • awesomeo says:

      I’ve seriously thought the same thing. Throw the guys in there that have nothing to lose if they don’t win and maybe they can get it done.

  14. awesomeo says:

    They need to be happy with walks, and singles, and none of them want any part of singles. The pitchers are just throwing off speed garbage to every batter, and the ones content with getting a single MIGHT see the occasional fastball.

  15. Carmine T says:

    Can’t believe I am saying this, let Swisher and Granderson leave and sign Hamilton. Gardner Left, Hamilton Center, Ichiro Right in 2013

    • awesomeo says:

      Never happen. We aren’t signing anyone big for a while.

      • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

        BIG is the key but not in name and contract but in size. Look at how well CC did, Boomer Wells was a great pick up, love Price and Cecil Fielder. Big men win championships!! :)

    • 0 for infinity and beyond says:

      BJ Upton is looking better and better each day. He might end up being a better value than Hamilton or Swisher if you get him for the right amount of dollars and years.

    • JohnC says:

      Hamilton? No way! Guy would crack under the pressure of NY. He’s having problems staying focused in laid back Texas. How would he perform under the cruitny of the Yankee fans and media, especially when he goes into a slump? I’d take BJ Upton or trade for Justin Upton before Hamilton

  16. Barrel Roll says:

    Too late, too late, too late- this team is not going to change its approach in Game 170 of the season. Even Girardi has called them a HR hitting team all season.

    We all saw this coming – we bitched and moaned about their RISP failures all season long. Why would it change in the PS?

    • JohnC says:

      Cashman was just on with Michael Kay and his comments made it sound like Gardner could very well be in the lineup tomorrow night against Verlander. He actually said when asked about Gardner, “He very well could be, can’t be any worse off”

      • awesomeo says:

        Bench swish for gardner. I’d seriously throw him in the top of the order and hope he can get on for tex, or raul to knock him in. He at least can make dribble outs into hits.

  17. Andrew J. says:

    Same with his botched dp throw. Not a care in the world. Do de do do.

  18. Cuso says:

    Game 3 Line-up

    Gardner CF
    Sax 2B
    Suzuki LF
    Tex 1B
    Ibanez DH
    Slaught C
    Dickerson RF
    Hayes 3B
    Espinoza SS

  19. RossA says:

    It isn’t Kevin Long’s fault.

    It is the most frustrating thing, but we have seen this for years with the Yankees in the playoffs. They get to the playoffs, then stop hitting.

    The usual trope is that they have an offense built around homers, and are unable to generate hits against the better caliber of pitching seen in playoff games.

    I don’t believe this.

    The Orioles were pretty pitiful offensively. The Tigers are not hitting great.

    It’s just harder to hit in these games, in this weather, this late in the season. They feel the pressure. That simple.

    They feel more pressure than other teams because they are the favorites. I don’t care what any player or commentator says about not feeling pressure, or the Yankees being “professionals” or whatever it is, it’s pressure, plain and simple.

    They are all choking. Hitters are choking worse than pitchers, so the pitchers look good.

    There is no way to work your way or will your way out of this. Just like when a hitter gets “locked in” in a short series (Lemke of the Braves, Munson in 1976, Ichiro earlier this year, Mattingly that time in the 80s….), hitters also can get “locked out.”

    You just have to hope they catch a few breaks, catch a pitchers’ mistake that loosens them up and gets them relaxed and playing normally again.

    I have my doubts. But I don’t count them out. If they hit even average, even average for what you’d expect against good pitchers, they will win everything. They have the best team in the playoffs.

    But they have to come out of the choking repitition.

  20. DJ4K&Monterowasdinero says:

    2nd and 3rd no outs down 2-0 and the Tigers are letting a run score on a grounder and Arod, Grandy and Martin all K, all with the same approach.

    Nobody chokes up and slaps a weak grounder just to plate a run and advance a runner.

    These guys seriously stink.

    /Old school baseball fan….

    • nyyankfan_7 says:

      couldn’t agree with you more and been saying it for a long time. this team will not win until we get some guys who don’t try to win the game with a 3 run homer every at-bat.

    • J says:

      I actually stopped watching when this happened. Especially when swish went down out. These guys have been watching pitchers throw offspeed stuff on the outside all night long and as a professional hitter you can’t pick that up and sit on one. These guys are so geared up to turn around a fastball. You only need to put the ball in play up the middle to get a gimme run. Seriously, look for something offspeed and shoot it up the middle. Get a run and start a rally. Hitting is contagious and it doesn’t need to start with a 450 lb. bomb to center. The little things get pitchers sweating and give guys confidence.

  21. Thunder Road Runner says:

    No way vin, Cano is a loafer. A talented loafer, but a loafer nonetheless. When he’s 35 he’ll be sitting under a coconut tree watching the wheels go ’round and ’round…

    • vin says:

      He might be. Mo knows I’ve found myself yelling at my tv when he’s thrown out on a bobbled groundball. I just have a hard time believing that any starter on a team with the likes of Jeter, ARod, Tex, Sabathia, and Rivera can get away with inadequate effort. I could just picture those guys in ST beating him with bars of soap like in Full Metal Jacket.

  22. DJ4K&Monterowasdinero says:

    If Pfister and Sanchez throw junk splitters, changes and slow 12-6 curves why don’t ARod and Grandy move up in the batter’s box and shorten their swing depending on the situation? Not as if these guys throw 95.

    Adjustments=swallow the ego for the team’s sake.

  23. Darren says:

    I’ve defended Cano, especially in the field, but that play where he grounded out to Sanchez and Sanchez underhanded the ball about 30 feet? Cano would have been safe if he even marginally tried to run it out. What. The. Fuck. Robbie.

  24. jim p says:

    The Yankee Analysts http://www.yankeeanalysts.com/.....ball-45935

    cover this well in “The Real Reason The Offense Is Struggling? Pulling The Ball”

    Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long has preached work on pulling inside pitches since the start of last season. It’s helped guys like Cano and Granderson overcome left handed pitchers jamming them, but at the expense of going to the opposite field. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that guys like Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher also show the same pull-heavy approach.

    …So, knowing that the very patient Yankee hitters constantly work on pulling the inside pitch, what should an opposing pitcher do? Force them to hit the ball to the opposite field. Bombard them with fastballs away and secondary pitches down in the zone. Guess what pitchers have done this postseason?

    Then they’ve got the pitch charts showing exactly what was said in their article and in this one. There being no short porch in Detroit, maybe this will help our guys mentally to go the other way more, to just be happy with contact over a hr more.

  25. JJ says:

    After reading these comments, I just thank God that none of these morons who want to trade Cano for a prospect have any say whatsoever in the personnel moves of this team.

  26. Ariel Prince says:

    Robbie has been my favorite Yankee for the past three years or so. His effortless, but unparalled efforts in the field exceed anything I have observed in over 60 years of devotion to the Yankees. Similarly, his fluidity with a bat in his hands and the awesome power he can generate are a sight to behold, take in and become mesmorized. How easy it has been to dismiss the far too frequent occasions of clutchless ineptitude. But not anymore!!! He simply sthas not done it when the chips are on table. I cannot recall a time when he delivered a late inning hit to win the game, if ever. Pile on hits, absolutely, to perhaps put the game out reach, but to win it in clutch time (Tommy “Ole Reliable” Henrich style) absolutely not.

    • JJ says:

      He’s had 12 game tying or go ahead home runs this year …. but ya … who needs stats when they don’t work in your favor? He also OPS’d over 1.000 in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs.

    • Jim Is Bored says:

      Are we seriously doing the ARod thing with Robbie?

      Really? REALLY?

    • SammySosasBleachingCream says:

      He’s OPSed over 1000 on three separate occasions in the playoffs. You must have a very selective memory. Or maybe you think that it’s incumbent on a good player to NEVER have a bad playoff series?

      What about these numbers:

      Those are some of the postseason OPSes for David Ortiz. You remember him? The clutchiest clutch player who ever did clutch? Yeah he had some series where he was incredible. He also had some where he hit like Chris Stewart. No one EVER does it every postseason series. Not David Ortiz, not Reggie Jackson, not Derek Jeter, not Bernie Williams, not Scott Brosius. Nobody.

      Tommy Henrich’s postseason OPS, by the way, was .786.

  27. Robinson Tilapia (Overreacting is American) says:

    We have lost our fucking minds on here.

    Help us, Obi-Axisa. You’re our only hope.

  28. Mmf says:

    Would do

    Ss Donahue
    C girardi
    Cf Gardner
    3b arod
    1b granderson
    Dh Levine
    2b waldmyn
    Rf Nunez
    Lf Suzuki

    Play to everyone’s strengths, you know?

  29. Mmf says:

    Would do

    Ss Donahue
    C girardi
    Cf Gardner
    3b arod
    1b granderson
    Dh randy Levine
    2b waldmyn
    Rf Nunez
    Lf Suzuki

    Play to everyone’s strengths, you know?

  30. Mmf says:

    Would do:

    Ss Donahue
    C girardi
    Cf Gardner
    3b arod
    1b granderson
    Dh randy Levine
    2b waldmyn
    Rf Nunez
    Lf Suzuki

    Play to everyone’s strengths, you know?

  31. DUgan says:


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