What Went Wrong: McGehee & Pearce

A look at the Yanks' infield defense from '03-'12
Heyman: Yankees believed to have interest in Shane Victorino

The Yankees went into the season thinking Andruw Jones was going to be their designated left-handed pitching masher, and for the first half of the season he was. Things went horribly wrong for Jones in the second half, and when coupled with Alex Rodriguez‘s hand injury in late-July, the Yankees were suddenly very light on right-handed power and thus susceptible to lefty pitching. They acquired two players to help fill that void, neither of whom worked out.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Casey McGehee
Acquired from the Pirates for Chad Qualls (!) just prior to the trade deadline, the 30-year-old McGehee brought with him a track record of hitting southpaws and an 86 wRC+ in 293 plate appearances for Pittsburgh. He bounced between first and third bases in his first few starts with New York, and he actually hit well early on: 6-for-21 (.286) with three doubles, three walks, and the team’s third longest homer of the season. McGehee looked like a shrewd deadline pickup, but instead things fell part.

He went 2-for-22 (.091) with six strikeouts and no walks in his next seven games, and fell so out of favor that the Yankees sent McGehee all the way down to Low-A Charleston. It was a procedural move that allowed the team to recall him sooner than the usual ten days. All told, McGehee hit just .151/.220/.264 (28 wRC+) in 59 plate appearances with the Yankees, including 7-for-37 (.189) against lefties.. He was obviously left off the postseason roster, and after the season he elected free agency after being removed from the 40-man roster.

(Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post)

Steve Pearce
The Yankees originally signed Pearce way back at the end of Spring Training, and he spent two months absolutely mashing in Triple-A (173 wRC+). Pearce exercised an opt-out clause in his contract in early-June, forcing the Yankees to either release him or trade him to a team willing to place him on their 25-man big league roster. A few days later he was dealt to the Orioles for cash, but nearly three months after that he was back in pinstripes — the Yankees acquired Pearce from the Astros for cash after Houston claimed him off waivers from Baltimore earlier in the summer.

Pearce, 29, made his debut with the team as the cleanup hitter against the Blue Jays on August 28th, and he responded by scoring the winning run on a walk, wild pitch (move to second), ground out (move to third), and sacrifice fly. Pearce hit a two-run homer against the Orioles two weeks later, but that was pretty much it. He hit .160/.300/.280 (66 wRC+) in only 30 plate appearances with the team, including a 4-for-24 (.167) mark against southpaws. The Yankees designated Pearce for assignment when Brett Gardner came off the DL in late-September, and the Orioles subsequently claimed him off waivers. That was that, neither he nor McGehee contributed much to the team’s cause in 2012.

A look at the Yanks' infield defense from '03-'12
Heyman: Yankees believed to have interest in Shane Victorino
  • Tcmiller30

    This was/is still very confusing to me. I thought McGehee was a pretty nice little pick up but then they never used him. I wasn’t expecting him to set the world on fire, but for how little they actually used him it seemed kind of pointless to even go out and get him.

    • http://www.twitter.com/mattpat11 Matt DiBari

      He did play (virtually) every day from the 8th to the 22nd and was putrid for those 41 AB. If ever a way to post a .195/.214/.341 line with nine strikeouts and really look so much worse than that, Casey McGehee figured it out. Then he went away, came back and played periodically and never got another hit.

      Really, I dreaded the McGehee or Pearce days, but Pearce had a certain charm that McGehee didn’t. I don’t know if it was because there really was a 25 percent chance that he was just some fan from the crowd, or that Joe inexplicably kept putting him in the middle of the order, but there was something funny about Steve Pearce that Casey McGehee couldn’t match

      • Robinson Tilapia

        “I don’t know if it was because there really was a 25 percent chance that he was just some fan from the crowd”

        That is really fucking funny.

      • Tcmiller30

        Hmm I guess I just misremembered it then. It felt like he got here, played a couple, then disappeared. I guess his play was so bad when I thought he had disappeared he was actually just sucking. Haha

  • The Real Eddard

    Still don’t understand why both were necessary. Chavez should be brought back in that role on a cheap contract.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      As a lefty mashing DH/PH type? The Andruw Jones replacement? Please read the article. I think most of us agree that if Chavez feels he’s capable of coming back as a fill-in 3B (same role he played this year) that we’d love to have him back. But he never filled the role that either McGehee or Pearce was supposed to fill and won’t do that in the future.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Chavez was busy filling in at the other side of the infield.

      • Cris Pengiucci

        To be fair, Chavez has played some 1B in his time with the Yankees and McGehee did play some 3B. (God, I’m losing my NY attitude!)

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Of course. I was referring more to Chavez having to play third due to Alex’s injury while Sammy was playing first and BATTING CLEANUP (!!!!)

          • Ted Nelson

            Yeah, it was due to injuries and necessity.

  • Cris Pengiucci

    Casey McGehee
    Acquired from the Pirates for Chad Qualls (!)

    You get what you pay for, I guess. Seems like Pittsburgh knew what they were giving up.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    They were both low-risk rolls of the dice. No one died. We gained one of the best RAB memes ever out of it.

    I understand why these prospect-turned-AAAA-journeymen types will get chances and make some team fall in love every spring and/or summer.

  • FLYER7

    Honestly not interested in Chavez as one of two infield reserves despite his ability to plan 1B and 3B. Time to find another answer, maybe someone that can play SS and 2B or SS and 3B…Stephen Drew is preferred.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      What’s your reason to not want Chavez back if he can still perform, both offensively and defensively, at a solid level when playing part-time, other than injuries he was mostly able to avoid in 2012?

      I can live with Drew for Nix, but Drew for Chavez doesn’t make much sense.

    • Ted Nelson

      They’re not necessarily mutually exclusive. If they bring back Chavez they still need a SS/2B back-up. Drew’s probably not signing after Chavez already has, but they might be able to get Drew and still bring back Chavez.

  • Sweet Dick Willie

    It’s called “catching lightning in a bottle” for a reason.

    I consider myself reasonably optimistic, but to expect these scrap heap types to work out with any type of regularity is not realistic.

    They’re low risk transactions, so they’re worth a flier. If they produce a big play here or there, great. If not, move on to the next one.

    Eventually, one will work out beyond all reasonable expectations before reverting to their true talent level, like Aaron Small.

  • Robert

    Given the performance of these two players, I feel we have plenty of AAAA ball players in our own system who could have been given the same chance last year.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Sammy Pearce was in the system to start the season, replacing everyone’s previous favorite AAAA boyfriend, Jorge Vazquez.

      McGeehee was acquired for a bag of Qualls. Who gives a shit.

      • MannyGeee – The race to $189 starts here!

        “bag of Qualls”

        My new favorite expression. You never disappoint, bossman!

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Someone else came up with that back in the day.

  • gc


  • King of Fruitless Hypotheticals

    I still don’t understand how he hits 173 at AAA then 66 in NY. Amazing that the pitchers/fielders in the majors are 3X those in the minors…

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Yet we see these guys every day. It is amazing sometimes how different the talent level often is and how the MLB game is so less tolerant of the mistakes often made even in AAA ball.

  • LK

    I really felt like they gave up on McGehee too quickly. Anybody can have a putrid few dozen ABs, just ask Robinson Cano from last year’s playoffs. McGehee had a track record which Pearce couldn’t touch, and I think it was very short-sighted to start using Pearce exclusively. That said, this is just about the most insignificant decision that Girardi made the entire year, and wasn’t even worth the time it took to type this paragraph.

    • Cris Pengiucci

      …and wasn’t even worth the time it took to type this paragraph.

      And yet … :-)

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Meh. McGeehee had more MLB experience, but it wasn’t anything to truly hang your hat on in comparison and the Yankees did acquire him for CHAD QUALLS, which speaks as to where he stood with the PITTSBURGH PIRATES.

      This was all about producing in the short term and the team was going to go with whoever produced best. Sam Pearce barely won that battle, but he did.

      • LK

        As I said in my comment, I don’t think this was a big deal at all, but I don’t think you can make a credible case based on the totality of their track records that Pearce was a better option than McGehee.

        McGehee may have been traded for Chad Qualls and let go by the Pirates, but Pearce was let go for nothing by the ASTROS. I rest my case.

    • Ted Nelson

      Yep. The sample sizes are not significant here. Ultimately they underperformed (even against modest expectations), but it was as likely to be random noise as anything.

  • MB923

    Off topic, I believe Carlos Ruiz has been suspended for PED’s