May
14

Yanks’ injuries and defensive problems are more than just bad luck

By
(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Last season was forgettable in more ways than one, but one thing I did not forget is the way it was written off almost universally as bad luck. They had too many injuries to overcome and really, who could see them coming? Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman and Randy Levine told anyone who would listen how proud they were of the guys for hanging in right until the very end. We heard it at every press conference this winter.

The problem with that whole idea was that many of the injuries weren’t bad luck. Curtis Granderson having bones broken by pitches not once, but twice? Yeah that’s bad luck. Derek Jeter having a series of leg issues after coming back from a fractured ankle? That’s not bad luck at all. Kevin Youkilis‘ back? Travis Hafner‘s shoulder? As predictable as injuries get given their histories. Mark Teixeira‘s initial wrist injury was not expected, but the fact that he eventually needed surgery surprised no one. There was much more than bad luck at play.

This season, the Yankees are going through almost the same thing right now. Michael Pineda has a shoulder injury after missing two years following shoulder surgery. CC Sabathia is on the DL for the third time in four years because his twice surgically repaired knee is acting up. Teixeira’s wrist has been fine, but his legs have been giving him trouble, as they did in 2010 (blown hamstring) and 2012 (calf strain). Carlos Beltran‘s elbow is an issue and, wouldn’t you know it, Frankie Cervelli is hurt again. The only surprise injuries this year are Ivan Nova‘s blown out elbow and Shawn Kelley‘s back, though Kelley landing on the DL is not surprising in and of itself. He has a long history of elbow problems.

The Yankees made their bed with potential injuries this year, and the same is true defensively. By far the most consistent aspect of the team is the defense. It is consistently bad and it hurts them in some way every single game. It’s remarkable, really. They never get away with a mistake. Beltran and Jeter have been poor defenders for years, presumed third baseman Kelly Johnson had only a handful of experience at the position before being relegated to the bench by Yangervis Solarte, who has his own defensive issues. Brian Roberts? The guy barely played the last four years and the rust has been evident, especially when it comes to throwing. The only defensive surprise has been Teixeira’s issues.

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

When Cashman & Co. sought to fix last year’s roster over the winter, it seems like the focus was simply adding the best players available. That’s good, don’t get me wrong. But there didn’t seem to be much regard for actual needs. The Yankees already had a top notch center field defender and leadoff man in Brett Gardner, yet they added another one in Jacoby Ellsbury. With Gardner and Ellsbury joined by slugger Alfonso Soriano in the outfield, they added another slugging outfielder in Beltran. The lack of power and on base skills still exists. Among the four big offseason pickups, only Brian McCann and Masahiro Tanaka filled actual positional needs.

The roster puzzle pieces don’t fit well together. The Yankees built an amazing outfield defense with Ellsbury and Gardner while more or less punting glovework on the infield. That unit is supposed to support a pitching staff that focuses on ground balls because Yankee Stadium is tiny and they don’t want to give up many homers. Do you see the problem here? It’s backwards. Either the infield needed to be the strongest part of the defense or the pitching staff had to start allowing the ball to be hit in the air. The Yankees have tried to compensate for the infield defense with shifts, but Mark Simon recently noted they have been hurt by the shift more than any other team in baseball. (Part of that is just how often they use them, more shifts means more chances to get burned.)

I don’t mean for this to come off as complaining, but I guess it sounds like that anyway. The point I’m trying to make is that all the injuries and shaky defense are not bad luck problems, they’re roster design problems. There was this sense of “let’s get the best players we can and figure out how it all works later” throughout the offseason. The roster is prone to injury because there are so many older and/or injury prone players, and it’s prone to bad defense because pitching staff is emphasizing the bad defenders. You need good players to succeed and the Yankees acquired several good players this winter. They were just good players who didn’t address the team’s biggest weaknesses.

Categories : Defense, Injuries
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Agreed.

    I can actually give Tex a pass due to rust, but everyone else in that infield has been atrocious. Even McCann has had his share of dumb blunders.

    Again, though, we knew what the infield landscape was in the off-season. What else could have been done? Would having some all-glove/no-bat guys on there have been better? If they were glove-AND-bat guys, they wouldn’t be sitting on the scrap heap.

    Omar Infante got a four-year deal. Perhaps we could have predicted Emilio Bonifacio Carew in Chicago (if he’s still even as hot as he was previously), but really?

    • lightSABR

      Though I do have to say, your summary of the offseason infield market it just begging for someone to point out the continued free agency of him-who-must-not-be-named.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I actually forgot him while typing this.

        • hogsmog

          Well come on down to the RAB comments section, your one-stop shop for remembering that Stephen Drew exists and is worth yelling about!

      • Sweet Dick Willie

        In fairness to the Yanks, they undoubtedly looked at his mediocre offense (career 98 OPS+) and his mediocre defense, combined with the fact that he’s never played a position in MLB other than SS, and decided that their $10 million/yr $15 million/yr (I forgot he is a Boras client) was better spent elsewhere.

        • lightSABR

          I wasn’t saying they should have signed him, or that they should sign him now. I have no desire to argue all of that out again.

          But because I just can’t help myself, remember: 98 OPS+ isn’t mediocre for a middle infielder. And that’s all I’m going to say about the subject.

    • lightSABR

      Right. I’m perfectly happy with a “let’s take the best players available” approach – I just never expected it to lead to a successful one-year rebuild, at least not with Cano leaving. It’s more like year one of a two-year overhaul.

    • dalelama

      “What else could have been done?”

      Pssstttt….re-sign Robbie Cano and pass on Ellsbury….

    • Joe T

      They should have blew up the team last season. We could have gotten Profar for Cano.

  • Budnuh

    Mike,

    Let’s assume for a minute that

    -Cano leaves
    -McCann & Tanaka sign
    -all else is a clean slate, and you get to spend a similar amount of $

    give me a few players who would have been a better fit (defensively and otherwise)

    just curious; thanks

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

      I honestly don’t know. I preferred Choo to Ellsbury and there wasn’t much infield help out there to start with. Roberts would have been the last guy on my list given his injury problems though.

      • OldYanksFan

        I seem to remember the Yanks making Choo an offer, which he turned down, and ended up signing elsewhere for less.

        I disagree with your analysis Mike.
        It seems like Cashman knocked on every available door.
        You complained that the Yanks “added another slugging outfielder in Beltran” and then complained in the next sentence that “The lack of power…. still exists”

        What’s that about?

        The truth is the offseason market sucked.
        They offered Cano $175m.
        They offered Choo more than he signed for.
        They got Tanaka.
        They got Ellsebury.
        They got McCann.

        Isn’t that the top 5 FAs?
        I personally think the Yanks did well, and didn’t overpay too much, or for too long.

    • Nick Rash

      Why assume Cano leaves?

      Why not re-sign Cano, and sign Choo and S. Drew (along with McCann/Tanaka). You’d probably be talking about roughly the same money while addressing needs.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Cano got ten years and 240 million dollars to go play somewhere else. If you felt comfortable beating that offer, then knock yourself out.

        • Dick Rash

          Stop harassing my long lost brother. We were separated at birth, and I’ve been searching for him ever since.

    • JLC 776

      I think you’re comment is perfect because it really illustrates the corner the organization is backed into. There aren’t any obvious answers – it’s a stretch to name players that we could have signed that would make a huge difference, there are fewer and fewer chips to be traded, and our minor league system is full of guys that are perpetually a few years out.

      I sincerely believe the answer to fixing this team is a couple of years away, not a couple of trades or a few 8 figure contracts. And honestly, that’s just fine with me.

      • qwerty

        There is no answer a couple years away, because the FO doesn’t actually have any plans in place other than spend a shitload of money on free agents when things don’t work out.

  • kenthadley

    This sounds like a critique of Cashman. Hard to predict injuries to 3 starting pitchers in the first month of the season. I’m no apologist for Cash, but I thought he had a decent off season.

    • anon_coward

      don’t know if it’s the ownership or cashman but the win now philosophy to spend a lot of money every year on FA’s is finally catching up

      the mets have been crappy the last few years but they have a half dozen good arms in AAA they can call up this year
      same with the cardinals and the braves. every time someone is injured on those teams there is a never ending supply of guys on their farm to take his place

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        And it wasn’t catching up last decade, and the decade before that, and the decade before that? This is how the team with the most money has done business.

        The FA’s are fine. The pipeline with the younger players isn’t. Hence, they can’t fill every hole through spending. The farm’s rarely been fine, though.

      • hogsmog

        I don’t like it when people say it’s ‘finally catching up’, as if teams should want to do poorly for a few years in order to get some high draft picks. Even with high draft picks, a team that sucks isn’t guaranteed to start doing well either. Also, you saw what happened last year when the Yankees booted a season- nobody was talking about how good it felt when it was happening, and playing that way for five years or a decade could have severely damaged the franchise.

        I think we’re in the middle of a very agent-friendly cycle of contract negotiations, which will probably pass (and return, and pass, etc). Teams are more than willing to extend young players into their late 20s and early 30s, and then require insane Cano/Fielder/Pujols-esque contracts to lock up. So the Yankees’ model naturally involves these 30+ ageing stars, who will naturally get hurt. Hopefully they realize this and make good depth a priority, but it seems like they haven’t fully caught on yet (the same as when it took us a few years after the juicing years to figure out that players aren’t supposed to be productive after 35).

        • anon_coward

          how do you get good depth when a few of your players are earning $100 million or more per year?

          the reason the cards and braves have depth is the young guys make peanuts and they have a lot of them, the older guys on extensions get more but there are prospects behind them in case they get hurt. and a few FA’s to plug a hole or two.

          last off season the cards signed one FA. the mets signed a few but only because a lot of injuries came off the payroll and they don’t have that many good position players on the farm. mostly pitching. even then some of the average position guys from last year are doing a lot better this year.

          and unlike last year this year guys are getting fired, sent to the bullpen or sent back to AAA with less leeway than last year.

        • Looser trader droids FotD™

          “you saw what happened last year when the Yankees booted a season- nobody was talking about how good it felt when it was happening, and playing that way for five years or a decade could have severely damaged the franchise.”

          The 2013 Yankees aren’t a great example to cite when trying to make the case that watching sucky teams invariably sucks. Why? Because it wasn’t a rebuilding process or effort. At all. It was a patchwork of bubble gum, duct tape, denial, and rah rah stupidity and bungling from the FO (see: $189mm, Plan).

          An actual rebuilding process, with a credible plan put in place by credible people, is something a fan base could buy into even if it meant a few losing seasons. The problem is that our farm has been mostly barren for so long no one could possibly buy as credible any rebuilding plan the Yanks put forth.

  • mark

    Great post…but, agree with the posts above…particularly Budnuh. You agreed with giving up Cano at that price. What would you have done to improve the infield defense? Love the blog. Thanks.

  • mick taylor

    solarte has been great with the bat, but he may be a pretty bad fielder like nunez. nunez is playing well for twins. it was assinine to give up on him and get nothing in return. and for all you joba haters, he is pitching well with tigers. i take him over anyone in yankee bullpen other than robertson and warren .

    • mitch

      I didn’t expect to read any “shouldn’t have let Nunez go” comments in a post about bad defense.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Thank you.

      • WhittakerWalt

        People want what they don’t have.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Nunez has played all of 5 games.

      • hogsmog

        This…

    • Yankee Fan 1

      2 losses to the Mets and people are missing Nunez. Glad we’re not getting hysterical over here

      • mick taylor

        why give nuney away for nothing when you have a barren farm system and old position players.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          Because he was worth nothing…

          • WhittakerWalt

            Took the words right out of my mouth.

  • Frank

    Agreed. I said in ST I didn’t like the looks of this team and wouldn’t be surprised if they finished .500. So far, it’s looking exactly that way. This was a case of just throwing money at the big name players in order to sell tickets rather than build a true competitive team. Personally, this season is about Jeter’s farewell and my hope he can finish his career with respectable numbers and remain healthy. After that, it’s about watching the likes of Solarte, Warren, Betances and Murphy continue to shine and hopefully give the Yanks something to build on for the future. But as far as this season, I’m resiigned to the fact it’s lost and perhaps next season as well. A weak farm system and the forfeiture of draft picks to sign the likes of Beltran (at least 5 years too late) or Ellsbury (not a need IMO)only serve to further paint a bleak picture for this team’s short term future.

  • mitch

    Isn’t Solarte’s best position 2B? Out of the entire group of infielders (aside from Tex) he’s the only guy with a chance to be on the team next year. Maybe it’s time to move him there and shuffle the other guys between third, short, and the bench. I don’t think Solarte is the future 3B of the Yanks, but he might be the future 2B.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Not sure about that. I think Solarte has looked pretty bad at 2B as well.
      Seems like he doesn’t have the range for middle IF or the quick reactions for 3B.

  • wallypip

    Aside from his early offensive struggles, I have no complaints about Roberts. he’s had a a couple of poorly-timed errors, but statistically he’s been about average. He’s actually got the best DWAR of MLB 2B for whatever that is worth in a SSS. If he manages to stay healthy, I think we have a league-average 2B on both sides of the ball.

    3B being a revolving door for two primary 2B has given us below average but not terrible defense. Tex is going to knock the rust off his glove. I have no worries there.

    Our infield defense is actually terrible for one reason. And that would have been the case no matter who they signed for the other positions.

    • WhittakerWalt

      And it’s the one thing that has absolutely zero chance of getting better this year.

  • Bo Knows

    I honestly don’t think Solarte is bad at all defensively, yes he made a bad error last night, but it happens

    • WhittakerWalt

      I don’t know what you’ve been watching, but he’s quite bad defensively.

  • bill

    The season is more about Jeter’s farewell tour than anything else… and as crazy as it sounds I’m fine with that… of course I wanna see the team win a championship, we all do, but that’s not going to happen so I really just want to see Jeter get as many at bats as possible and play as many games as possible…

    I won’t say anyone on the internet is “wrong” to want Jeter to get benched or moved down in the lineup, I’ll simply say that it isn’t going to happen and myself and every other Yankee fan I’ve talked to in real life don’t want it to happen.

    • Mike HC

      Watching a washed up Jeter is more sad than anything. And he shouldn’t be hitting second against righties. But even a washed up Jeter might end up being an average hitting shortstop.

      • bill

        Myself and everyone I know personally are still thrilled to have him around for one last season… And we all want to see him get as many at bats as possible, which means batting at the top of the lineup

        Like I said, you’re not *wrong* to feel that way, but we’re not *wrong* to feel the way we do especially considering this isn’t a championship team no matter what… to each his own

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I want to see him play. As a 40 year-old shortstop, though, I understand that it may occur less than it used to, and in a different role than it used to. There’s not much wrong with that.

          That being said, he’s not the biggest issue with this club, nor do I think his defense is causing Solarte not to field cleanly at third or no one around to cover first half the time when Tex had to shift over to get the damn ball.

        • Mike HC

          Fair enough. I haven’t given up on this team winning a championship though. Seems to me like most of baseball is in a race to the middle.

  • Pee Wee Herman Ruth

    The defense looks bad because nearly every time a bad play is made in the field it costs us a run(s). That’s the definition of BAD LUCK…hopefully that trend will revert to the mean.

  • Matt

    Hey Mike, they did not get the best second baseman available and we really miss his defense. I am sorry Jeter is going out like Mantle and not Dimaggio.

    • LK

      Mickey Mantle had a 145 wRC+ in his final season. Players just didn’t really hit in 1968, and for some reason no one ever takes that into account.

      We can’t be sure yet how exactly Jeter is going out, but so far it’s looking worse than Mantle and Dimaggio (who actually both went out similarly, despite the popular narrative).

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        Not completely sure, but I think he was referring to Dimaggio going out with a WS title while Mantle’s final team missed the playoffs.

        • LK

          Ah. If so then that would make sense. I have seen Mantle’s final season unfairly disparaged before so I was assuming that was where he was going.

  • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

    I don’t think Solarte has been atrocious in the field. I wouldn’t call him great by any stretch but I think he’s certainly been passable while being shuffled around from position to position. Not anywhere near Nunez level of frustration on defense IMO, and honestly with him hitting the way he has been they have to tolerate his miscues for the time being.

    Roberts and KJ fall in a similar category for me, passable but not great. Jeter has been predictably bad and Tex has surprised me with his share of blunders.

    I’m hoping Solarte improves with constant big league playing time and Tex/Roberts shake off the rust, but no matter how you slice it the Yanks aren’t going to have a slick fielding infield this year. It sucks, but as other posters have said, I don’t really see how they could have made it much different in the offseason.

  • JoeyA

    What is the most bothersome about this issue is that we all saw it coming a mile away. It’s one thing for there to be unexpected issues, but when people like myself and others who comment here, who are not baseball scouts or people who work for the team, can recognize issues and all the org. does is ignore them, that’s the worst part.

    I know it’s gotten to the point of sounding cleche, but Stephen Drew should have been on this team to play 3B. Hell, if they were really about winning, he should be the starting SS. I don’t expect much from his bat, but with a bat-first C and good O at almost every other position, you can deal with a glove-first SS. Brendan Ryan didnt deserve that contract when he got it and he surel;y doesnt deserve it now.

    You don’t spend what the Yankees spent in the offseason to improve and stop short at the 2nd most important position on the field. It’s simply dumb.

    Bottom line is there needs to be major changes to this oprganization if this team fails to make playoffs, mainly from a development standpoint.

    There hasnt been a position player, aside from Cano who wasnt exactly a heralded prospect, to come up and be an everyday player. That’s on Cashman. He took over in 2005 and has shown very little as far as how to contruct a roster.

    It says a lot about the teams depth when, a month and half into the season, the guy who the organization initially said they arent expecting much from due to labrum tear, is now the guy we are anxiously awaiting to return to save our rotation. When that much importance is put on a guy coming off that type of injury this early in the season, the GM has done a bad job of making a team.

    • JoeyA

      Ammendment:

      Gardner is obviously a product of our organization. But my point remains, Cashman regime has failed in the draft and with developing players.

      We are always looking at the high-A guys with hopes for their future, yet, by the time they make it to AA/AAA, they turn into what we are basically seeing with Mason Williams.

      Also, when you draft players like Culver/Gumbs/Bichette Jr./etc/etc, you lose the excuse of poor draft position bc of ML success. Pretty sure STL and BOS have had pretty good success over the last 5-7yrs and i would glady swap farm systems with either of those organization.

      • anon_coward

        isn’t STL light on FA’s and because of that they aren’t giving out their draft picks for years on out?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      “What is the most bothersome about this issue is that we all saw it coming a mile away.”

      This posturing is so tiring. Just because a bunch of gloom and doomers were glooming and dooming when things were getting bad, it doesn’t mean they possessed some magic lightbulb on their head others didn’t.

      I could play the same game. I saw this coming ten years ago when I did the math and realized the core that carried this team for so long would be exiting stage left at the middle of this decade, and that transitioning away from them was going to be easier said than done. Where’s my cookie?

      • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

        I just FedEx’d it to you.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          And in the end…

      • Mike HC

        It wasn’t only doom and gloomers. I seem to remember most of the projections, vegas lines, etc … basically had the Yanks with under 85 wins.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I hear you. That’s not a great projection, but it’s not a “tear everything down” projection either. I never saw this as a 95 win team. I saw them as better than last season, but more as a team who’d just make the playoffs instead of just missing them.

          • Mike HC

            I’m with you. And it was becoming obvious it was going to take more than one off season to rebuild this team on the fly.

            • JoeyA

              But this is my exact point:

              We grant the organization this leeway because they are “rebuilding on the fly”

              but the only reason they are in this position is because they stubbornly stick to signing/playing older players and not turning over the roster.

              DJ should not have been the first option at SS if your goal is to win
              The rotation shouldnt have been left to 39yr old HIROK, CC coming off last year, and 2 basically unknowns in Pineda/Tanaka
              2B/3B shouldnt have been platoon positions

              Aside from Cano leaving, these arent recent developments. These were issues that couldf have been seen coming for years. We knew we didnt have SP depth and continued to rely on the guys we had. Same goes for SS & 3B

              THAT’S where organization develpment needs to come in, but they either lack the foresight for this stuff or don’t care to address

              • Mike HC

                Big, big picture – This decline was inevitable and is in perfect lock step with the decline/extinction of Jeter, Mo, Pettitte, Jorge and Bernie.

                Big picture – All that winning and signing free agents to extend the dynasty as long as possible has put the Yanks picking last in every draft and losing picks due to free agent compensation. It would have taken a herculean development effort to overcome all those disadvantages.

                Small picture – Cashman failed.

                • LK

                  I’d like to nitpick a little on the big, big picture here. Obviously the “core 5″ was probably the biggest factor in the Yanks’ sustained success, but they’ve been successful without them as well.

                  The 1993 team, while they get no credit whatsoever, are the team that truly started this run. That team had more wins than the 2000 title team and would’ve made the playoffs under the WC regime had it been in place. Jeter, Mo, Pettitte, and Posada were all multiple years away at that point, though Bernie was obviously an important part of the team. The ’94 team was also in first without the aid of the (ugh) core 4, and the ’95 team made the playoffs with only Bernie and Pettitte really contributing. The team kept winning when Pettitte went to Houston and kept winning when he retired the first time, they survived Bernie declining young and retiring, they survived Posada retiring, they survived Mo tearing his ACL.

                  The run had to end at some point, but it could’ve lasted past the core 4, just like it started before them.

                  • Mike HC

                    That is why it is the big, big picture. When you start breaking it down into a bunch of smaller pictures, you lose sight of the big picture! :)

                    • LK

                      Haha no doubt.

                      I guess for some reason I feel like it’s my personal crusade to remind people that the ’93 team was actually good.

                  • Darren

                    Since when did Bernie decline young and retire early? Maybe compared to Bonds but that shouldn’t count.

            • The Big City of Dreams

              And it was becoming obvious it was going to take more than one off season to rebuild this team on the fly.

              ————

              They have been rebuilding the the fly since Cashman was given control yrs ago. At some point he has to deliver on what he set out to do.

          • JoeyA

            The “tear everything down” sentiment doesnt come from the success or failure of the ML team, it comes from there being 0 depth at any number of positions and Cashman has had almost a decade to right the developmental ship of this organization and has largely nothing to show for it.

            Our prospects are all floundering by the time they hit AA. We have 1 SP prospect worth even mentionning above AA and he’ coming off TJ. No INF prospects whatsoever, 3 outfield prosepcts whose stock has plummeted and a bunch of C’s

            There’s no legitimate help coming in the next 1-2years from the farm system at any position aside from C, where we just gave a guy 5/85 to play.

            so, tell me, why in the world, if this team doesnt make the playoffs, shouldnt there by widespread changes, possibly including GM. He’s has his “autonomy” since 2005 and very little progress. 1 WS appearance alongside some seriously pathetic playoff showings.

            Instead of holding the organization to the standards of having a competent 40 man roster and a strong developmental track record that produces, at the least, avg players, we are left instead to swoon over a 15M international spending spree, which won’t produce ML results for at least another 6-8years with most of those kids.

            Can’t wait to get excited about a bunch of 16yr olds!

            • WhittakerWalt

              Poor draft position is a very large part of this. The Yankees usually have the best (or close to it) record in the league. You don’t get good draft picks that way. Bryce Harper doesn’t fall into your lap when you’ve just won the World Series.

              • Looser trader droids FotD™

                This is a crap excuse and I’m sick of it.

                Yes, studs/no doubters are usually Top 1-10 picks.

                Forget the studs. How about credible, league average guys?

                When DRob, Nova, and Gardner are the best things the farm has produced since Cano, in all those years. you’ve got problems.

                • The Big City of Dreams

                  The excuse is the get out of jail free card and then when it’s mentioned that other teams drafted late and obtained good players that gets ignored as well.

          • ChrisS

            When a team commits to spending $250m a year on baseball players, they’re never really going to be at a “tear everything down” record – depending on where you set that bar. Teams that even only $100m in annual payroll rarely win fewer than 75 games.

            A high payroll is no guarantee of championships, but it certainly elevates the floor.

          • LK

            Here’s my take on this situation. The 2013 Yankees were probably a true talent high-70s win team. They ended up winning 85 thanks to some fortunate sequencing, but really nothing, from run differential to team WAR to the eye test to the GM’s comments suggested they were actually that good.

            They then lost Pettitte, Mo, Logan, A-Rod (yes, despite all the garbage he was a contributor last year), and Cano, while getting back Tex, Jeter, and Pineda and nothing notable from the farm. Everyone would have their own assessment of that, but I would say once the decision was made not to retain Cano (which is perfectly defensible given the contract) they had something like a 70-win roster in the most likely scenario.

            And the problem there is, there’s basically no way to turn a 70-win team into a real contender in one offseason. You could acquire Mike Trout twice and you’d still need a couple breaks to go your way. There were basically 2 ways to go.

            One was to do the teardown. Acquiring a guy like Tanaka still makes sense there since he’s only 25, and maybe McCann since I think his contract is pretty favorable, slow start notwithstanding. It wouldn’t have included a guy like Ellsbury, who was somewhat redundant on the roster and already 30, or certainly a guy like Beltran who’s declining apace at his age. Keep the comp picks, try to buy low on some guys and see if you can rebuild enough that it makes sense to go for it in 2015.

            The other option was to go for it and hope to get some breaks. I’d say this would be the offseason they had, plus probably signing an IF like Drew or Infante (or even both, really) and a bullpen arm. Perhaps even biting the bullet and retaining Cano.

            What I find frustrating is that they took a middle ground. I don’t think this team was good enough to win anything without getting a lot of good fortune, and they’ve given up some draft picks, locked themselves into a Beltran deal that might only provide value this year, etc. I think they’re trying to have their cake and eat it too, and they might end up doing neither.

            • Need Pitching & Hitting

              Pretty much agree with all of this.

              Having such a massive talent gap to becoming a true contender forced them into some very questionable long-term moves to try to contend (and try to stem their ratings and attendance losses), and they still didn’t likely add enough to take advantage in the short term by winning now.

              I would have passed on McCann if they weren’t going all-in for 2014 though, as I think it would have been more beneficial to see what they had in the Murphy, Cervelli/ Romine group with Sanchez hopefully not to far away.

              • LK

                I go back and forth on that. I can see your side of it for sure, and you didn’t even mention the draft pick. On the other hand, I think McCann’s salary will end up looking pretty small compared to other contracts getting handed out, and I can remember not too long ago when people were worrying about how they’d fit both Romine and Montero on the roster. I think that move’s defensible regardless of what their long term plan was.

            • Looser trader droids FotD™

              This. The middle ground makes me crazy. And 2013 was the worst frickin example of it. They fed us dog food. The sad thing is that so many people ate it.

          • Looser trader droids FotD™

            I disagree. Not all 85 win seasons are created equal. Last year’s team was dreadful and its final record way outperformed all peripherals.

            To me, you look at the 85 win projection and ask why? The answer in this case points more to a do over IMO than it does to the kind of random patchwork we did this off season.

            Look I’m obviously frustrated, and of course any down seasons are troublesome to the Bros. Steins’ bottom lines. However, I don’t give a rats ass about that.

            This team is not built to win. Not in 2014, and not in 15-16 either.

            Great.

      • Sterling Stalin

        Nobody could have predicted an old roster would get injured more frequently, right? If that’s your point, it’s a bad one.

  • Frank

    I think solarte’ arm has gotten him in trouble in some play recently. He may be better suited for second base, which is fine, because our best lineup has him and KJ BOTH PLAYING.

  • Robert

    My biggest surprise is Jeter and Roberts have not gone on the DL yet.

    • ChrisS

      The season is young.

  • Mike HC

    Pitching has been just awful. Between Tex and Solarte, overall, the infield has probably exceeded expectations with the outfield under performing expectations, particularly Beltran and Soriano.

    I’m not ready to give up on this team yet, but this has been a disheartening stretch of games.

  • Tom B

    Hilarious, since every single thing you write comes off as “complaining” Mr. Axisa.

    • Randy Keisler

      Ain’t that the truth.

  • Bronx_Boy

    The shift thing is driving me nuts. They got burned twice last night-once by the most pissant dribbler up the third base line my grandmother could have hit. (She was all glove, no bat.)

    Pitcher injuries are up league-wide. Don’t know why, so maybe the Yanks get a pass there, but the infield defense is a disgrace. It’s like watching the Cubs.

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

      ESPN ran a piece yesterday on how some younger Latin American players(as in still teenagers) had the arms of 30+ year olds according to some sort of medical imaging (please forgive my horrid lack of specifics, I wasn’t paying that close attention). They were postulating that it could be due to kids pitching full time at a younger age instead of playing the field most days and pitching one day a week. Didn’t see any data, and idk how accurate any of it was, but it’s interesting to think about.

  • Vern Sneaker

    It’s certainly not a potentially championship roster and probably not a divison winner or even a wild card roster. Tanaka and McCann were good signings, and I disagree with Mike about Ellsbury, who I thought was an excellent signing then and now. It provided terrific outfield D in that big expanse and Ellsbury had much more of an upside than Beltran. Nova’s injury was bad luck but he was always inconsistent and we shouldn’t assume he would have been good all year (still, tho, better than what’s now left). It’s the same old Yankees reliance of past-peak free agents like Beltran and too-long contracts like Sabathia’s, Texeira’s, and A-Rod’s (let’s not forget he lurks!). And with the exception of Sanchez and probably Banuelos there’s nothing coming for sure from the farm system. The Tampa, Charleston, and Staten Island prospects are fun to think about but nearly all will no doubt wash out.

  • Cy Tanaka

    I like the Ellsbury signing. Great defense and speed.

    Maybe they should’ve signed Choo over Beltran. If you’re going to go over 189 then go all in.

    Other than that it has been alot of bad luck with injuries this year.

    They really should try to acquire a competent starter though. Do whatever it takes. Can’t afford to wait for Pineda to get back as we could be pretty far behind at that point.

  • Robert

    Just read in the Star Ledger that Cashman is open to starting Adam Warren. Hopefully soon!

    • Long-Past-His-Day-Rod

      I don’t know how I feel about this.

      On one hand, he has a role now that he’s thrived in. The bullpen is shaky enough without removing one of the most consistent pieces. On the other hand, despite the inevitable regression we would see in his performance following a conversion back to starting, he may very well be better than the other options.

  • emac2

    I disagree. I think you have to consider the incoming limitations. This was a really bad team that needed to get as many good players as they could.

    Signing Elsbury was a bad idea because we have Gardner? How much would Gardner cost next year as a free agent if we hadn’t signed him at his lowest value after signing Elsbury. Having two legit centerfielders is very valuable in my mind as well.

    The infield was a disaster with no real clue what was needed. They signed a lot of cheap versatility, are letting it sort out and will make moves as they present themselves.

    The Thornton signing weak but everything else was good.

    I really like how they are rotating through the AAA arms to see what sticks and risk risk losing marginal arms.

    It would be easier if they just overwhelmed with talent but they could just stop giving it away. Is Solarte still hitting at the bottom 1/3 of the order while Jeter hits number two? Why? why is that completely dismissed while we blame Solartes errors or players that aren’t playing well? Play matchups, move people around. try harder that way and we take advantage of the versatility instead of getting hamstrung by it because people play for reasons other than the results you can reasonably expect on that day. A lot of these guys aren’t good enough to go mano y mano but can be effective if matched up carefully, well rested and not expected to produce with the bat against 20% of the pitchers. (that means expect an advantage to playing guys less and look for the matchups)

  • Paisa

    It’s beyond time to move past this, but Cano @ 10 years was the better move (at least for this team) than the Ellsbury/Beltran plan that they elected to pursue.

    • Cy Tanaka

      I don’t think so at all.

      The Yankees were in the same…actually worse situation last year with injuries and ended up missing the playoffs with Cano.

      So why should they have given 10 years to one guy?

      Also it’s yet to be seen how well cano ages during the last 3 years of his massive contract.

      Had the Yankees signed him to 240 for 10 and he had a bad last few years you and many others would be bitching about it.

      • nsalem

        From 2010 to midseason last year Cano HR/PA ratio was 1/22.5. Since the 2nd half of last year its 1/63. Maybe his aging process has started.

      • Paisa

        I just think that over the next five years, with the other guys they brought in like Tanaka and McCann and the players already in the organization, they’re a better team with Cano rather than Ells/Beltran. If that’s true, then I could have lived with a bad last few years.

        But like I said, it’s time to move on.

  • CA-Dave

    I also agree with list of problems mentioned here. The equally biig issue is the Yanks inability to form a new core of young players. I am sure a lot of won’t agree, but I give a lot of the blame to Girardi. He is just too critical and not supportive of young players (and more so with catchers). When Bernie Willliams and Robbie Cano came up they were very much not perfect, but Torre could appreciate the skills they had and work to minimize their weaknesses.. Anyway, I’d much rather watch a young group making mistakes than old group with declining abilities. Once your core is identified only bring in veterans that play other positions (don’t bring an expensive catcher when you already have 3 or 4 prospects, who cares that they can’t frame a ball).

    (and yes I thought they should have kept Nunez until they at least found a better young player).

    • WhittakerWalt

      Bernie Williams was already firmly established when Joe Torre came aboard.

      • Need Pitching & Hitting

        And the excessive playing time Joe Girardi received at the expense of the younger, better Jorge Posada whilst Saint Joe was managing somewhat flies in the face of his argument anyways.

        • Looser trader droids FotD™

          Not to mention the largely ludicrous notion of developing a core to replace the one we lost. That was once in a lifetime people. Get past it.

          Thing is, I’m not looking for a core from the farm. I’d settle for a couple of solid guys. As I said above, when DRob, Nova, and Gardner are the most productive pieces from the farm on the roster – for years – you have issues.

    • JohnnyC

      You have a seriously distorted image of Torre if you think he was ever supportive of young players/prospects. He didn’t want to start Jeter in 1996. Was given no choice when the Felix Fermin trade fell through in ST.

      • Mike HC

        I remember it being am anomaly that Cano wasn’t benched when he came up and struggled mightily for a while. Everyone was afraid they were going to pull the plug on Cano too early.

  • nsalem

    I believe this team as constituted with the correct deadline moves will still be in the mix. I don’t regret Cano moving on for the kind of money that would have had to been spent to retain him. The FA choices were limited last winter and most of them were overpaid. As mentioned by emac2 the Thornton signing seemed like the weakest one. Time will tell. I think the AL East will be won with the team that does the best FO maneuvering in June and July. Hopefully we are simply in the midst of our worst stretch of the season and the type of play in the last 4 games does not become the norm.

  • rogue

    You can’t blame Cashman for failing to get INFs that weren’t available. If you want to take a shot, fault him for Cito Culver. Has he even sniffed AA? Bust.

  • Darren

    When you put it that way….

  • Kosmo

    Yanks could have drafted some very good INF these last years but passed them up as did other teams.

    I think adding older players past their respective primes would at some point factor into the season.

    NY needs to add a SP and a 3B or 2B and with the hope Pineda and CC come back healthy and be reasonably productive. Solarte is probably a better 2B than 3B.

    The AL East winner could come down to a 85 win team.

    It´s still to early to start pointing fingers. Mid-June all gloves come off.

  • D$1184

    The White Sox just designated former Met Jeff Keppinger for assignment. Would he be an up-grade?

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      I’d just as soon give Scott Sizemore a chance at this point, though I don’t think either is necessary right now.

      Maybe a milb contract…

  • http://Riverave CB

    Ok so I am gonna get slammed on here but here she goes…. Future core is there: jags at 3rd rysfender at 2nd one of the older international signings at short. 1st well tex/Mac I guess.. One of the in house catchers I am ok with. Left and center covered. Rt maybe YS but maybe some combination of our middling of prospects with bird as a coming dh. It’s there but they need to put them together as a unit to play together maybe at AAthis yr and then see how we can supplement them going forward! Pitching well it’s just bleak. Tanaka Pineda phelps with nova maybe wArren but he is thriving in bp so let’s not no a him to much. Pitching is a question

  • willie w

    what I have been saying for several years is that cashman and top management are inept

    • WhittakerWalt

      I assume this “several years” started in 2010?

      • dalelama

        I forecasted the decline when Damon and Matsui (aka our heart and soul)left.

  • Bronx_Boy

    Forget all the details (details schmitails) – you lose Cano, A-rod, Pettite, Rivera in one off-season, it’s gonna be rough.

    Add to that the reason Jetter is retiring is as easy to understand as those DPs he keeps hitting into. He knows why he’s retiring, now we do too.

    (mutters to self ‘it’s only May’ over and over again)

  • Cool Lester Smooth

    Pineda has a lat injury, not a shoulder one. I know it’s near his shoulder, but it’s not the same thing any more than a broken hand and a broken arm are the same thing.

  • dars

    If the Yankees want to compete, they have to be smart on how they spend their money and not be crazy of some expenditures and cheap on others. Yes, they spent money this offseason but they did not have a plan. Gave a truckload of money to Ellsbury that he was not worth of and threw a lot of money at Beltran when it was clear he had seen his better days but they did it anyway because. I agree with signing Tanaka and McAnn, but the others were major mistakes.

    We were fine with Gardner in CF, they should have kept Cano, if the years were a problem, pay him more per year $26 M a year for 7-8 years. They should have never brought Kuroda back, those 16 M a year would have brought us Santana and more… They should have signed Nelson Cruz and not Beltran.

    The problem for Yankee management and ownership is that Yankee fans are smart fans and fans that care and want to win. You can’t attract fans to Yankee games if the team is not winning, they sound will find out if this team does not get their act together.

  • dalelama

    I think we would have been better of re-signing Cano an Granderson and passing on Beltran and Ellsbury…but hey Cashman is the genius…..