McCann, Beltran, and the need for more power

Salisbury: Yankees scouting John Mayberry Jr.
TiqIQ: Prices For Tickets To See Yankees Honor Tino 26% More Expensive Than Old Timers Day
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees have won the first two games against the Blue Jays this week thanks to the tried and true formula of quality pitching and timely hitting. They also did something they don’t do very often these days: they hit the ball out of the park. Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer in the first game and Brian McCann hit a two-run homer in the second game. Both were cheap Yankee Stadium shots, but hey, you can only play in the ballpark they give you.

Through their first 70 games of 2014, the Yankees have hit 57 homers as a team, putting them on pace for 132 for the season. (The 2009 Yankees had 105 homers after 70 games, for comparison.) Last year’s team had the worst Yankees’ offense in two decades and they still managed to hit 144 dingers. This season’s homer pace figures to increase now that the weather is really starting to warm up, but the fact remains that the Bronx Bombers aren’t living up to their nickname at all. They lack the ability to change the game with one swing.

“We absolutely have to hit more homers,” said Mark Teixeira to Joel Sherman earlier this week. “At this park, you have to score and we just are not scoring enough. If we don’t believe we are going to do that, we might as well pick up and go home because winning will be very hard unless at some point we drive balls and score runs.”

There are plenty of reasons why the Yankees suddenly can’t hit homers. First and foremost, they flat out have a ton of non-power hitters in the lineup on a daily basis. Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, Brian Roberts, Yangervis Solarte, and Ichiro Suzuki are not going to hit the ball out of the park with any regularity. Kelly Johnson never plays, Alfonso Soriano has no more life in his bat, and both Carlos Beltan and McCann have disappointed at the plate.

Outside of swinging a big blockbuster for Josh Donaldson and Brandon Moss (or getting A-Rod‘s suspension overturned!), the only way the Yankees can improve their power output in a meaningful way is by getting McCann and Beltran to turn their seasons around. McCann had an awesome game last night and maybe that’s a sign he’s coming around. It would be nice but we’ve said this before. Between the bone spur and general ineffectiveness, Beltran’s been invisible since the last week of April. These two simply aren’t playing as expected.

There was always a kernel of truth to the “too many homers” concept, it was just expressed in the silliest way possible. There is no such thing as hitting too many homers — a homer is literally the best possible thing a hitter can do — but the Yankees did lack offensive diversity for a few years. The speed of Gardner and Ellsbury has changed that, though now the Yankees are too far on the other side of the spectrum. They rely too much on extended rallies in an age when infield shifts and specialized relievers make picking up a simple base hit harder than ever.

The Yankees play in a small ballpark in a division full of hitter friendly ballparks, and 50 of their final 92 games will be played against AL East teams. That’s the reality of their situation. They don’t need to set homerun records or anything, but they need to be able to cut a deficit or increase a lead with one swing, especially in their home ballpark. This team lacks that and it limits what the offense can do. Getting Beltran and McCann on track will help, as would replacing Soriano and adding an infielder. The Yankees play with a tiny margin of error because of this power-less offense.

Salisbury: Yankees scouting John Mayberry Jr.
TiqIQ: Prices For Tickets To See Yankees Honor Tino 26% More Expensive Than Old Timers Day
  • “_”

    Sign Morales and Stephen Drew!

  • Robert

    Bring up Pete Obrien give him 100 AB at DH.
    Bring up Z Almonte give him 100AB in Right Field.

    DL Beltran and DA Soriano.

    • Raza

      I agree, Almonte needs to be called up (as a platoon option) especially considering he’s worn out RH pitching in AAA.

    • Preston

      Yes the guys who’s hitting .228/.269/.517 at AA needs to be DHing on an MLB team ASAP. And Almonte’s has 132 MLB PA’s he’s hit .224/.258/.304. So let’s let the kids play in the minors and get better before we go cutting and fake Disable Listing veterans with proven track records.

    • Troy

      DFA Suzuki
      Platoon Soriano and Almonte
      DL Beltran
      DH Roller
      O’Brien is not ready yet. Roller sure looks like he is.

      That line up might get some power. There is not a lot to trade for and I do not want to see them sacrifice future years for John Mayberry, Jr. and in an effort to pretend to compete in 2014.

      • nycsportzfan

        Would love for Roller to get a shot to show if he is legit. Hes earned it, thats for sure.

  • willie w

    I still think it was a disaster to sign Beltran to a 3 year deal and for way over what he is worth
    he will be an expensive Soriano in a year or two

    • The Great Gonzo

      God, I love Carlos Beltran…. But you’re right. The time to offer him a three year contract was before he signed in St Louis when he was LITERALLY begging to be a Yankee (or before he signed with the Mets when he did the same)… Yankees had the leverage and didn’t take advantage of it.

    • Wolfgang’s Fault

      If his elbow is hurt, & I’m betting it is, it would explain his hitting wows. If he could get the arm right, he’s going to hit. Yeah, I’d be willing to give his LH A/B’s to Almonte, get a R/H bat such as Mayberry to platoon w/him, and D/L Beltran so he can do what’s necessary to get back on the field healthy again. To do this they’ll have to designate Soriano. I think Beltran’s going to need surgery on the elbow & that will mean he’s probably not back until ’15.

      • Wolfgang’s Fault

        If the price for Mayberry is too high, I’d bring up both Almonte & Wheeler, & platoon them both in R/F. Wheeler’s ability to play all over the infield & the corner outfield (w/greater to lesser effectiveness depending on where & when) gives the club even more versatility, & if his bat proves as useful as I believe it will, he’s a really inexpensive role playing guy you can plug in almost anywhere. If they bring him up & he’s solid, he then becomes a guy w/value you can later deal for further value, if so inclined, if & when some of the bigger named prospects are ready. D/L Beltran so he can do what he has to do for his elbow, designate Soriano, bring up Almonte & Wheeler to platoon in R/F, & if the Wheeler experiment doesn’t work, you still have time to make a deal for Mayberry to platoon w/Almonte. That’s my story, & I’m sticking w/it.

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    MAN, you shit on Soriano constantly—almost at least once per article. He must be really that bad. Shame to see some of the older guys run outta gas

    • hogsmog

      When a power hitter with no obp/pitch selection skills loses enough batspeed, they can go from good to cooked in the blink of an eye.

      • nycsportzfan

        I still think he has one more Sori type prolonged hot streak in his bat.

    • I’m One

      Not true (shit’s on him constantly). Just recently Mike wrote about keeping Soriano as he’s capable of going on hot streaks that can carry the team, as he did last year when he came over.

  • Mike HC

    McCann is actually on pace to hit over 20 homers, it is the rest of his hitting that is the problem. And with so few power hitters in the lineup to begin with, Soriano and Beltran’s struggles are killing us. And unfortunately, it is far from likely that they will both all of sudden get it going, although we are all hoping for that.

    I just don’t see this team winning with homers this year. Better stick with the pitching and timely hitting strategy.

    • Deep Thoughts

      Agree on the basic premise. Not ready to give up on Beltran just yet.

      • Mike HC

        Neither am I. And even if we were ready, it wouldn’t matter. 3 years 45 mil.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Right. While I think he’s going to play better anyway, what other choice is there, really? He’s here for two seasons.

          This is why I don’t get those so convinced of writing off Brian McCann.

          • WhittakerWalt

            McCann is due for a massive BABIP correction at some point.

  • Frank

    Mike, I thought the Yankees needed to go after Abreu in the offseason for this exact reason and you argued with me on twitter that they should pass saying they already had too many 1B/DH types. Still feel that way?

    • ALZ

      You do realize that you are talking about more than $11MM a year for a unknown player to play DH?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Every Cuban is always the right idea in hindsight, said no one who ever dated me before I met my wife.

      • nyyankfan_7

        Yeah but June 19, 2014 Frank called January 19, 2014 Frank and told him he would have 20+ bombs so he wasn’t really an unknown player to those who matter most……

  • TWTR

    If McCann has been pressing, I hope last night’s output did something to reduce that.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    The health and effectiveness of the guys you thought would bring you to the dance is always most important. You can’t Band-Aid your way around it.

    The team needs a heathy and effective Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. The team needs Brian McCann to be consistent at both ends of his game. The team needs Jacoby Ellsbury, Derek Jeter, and Brett Gardner to be getting on base at the high end of what they’re capable of.

    It’d be really nice if we’re a couple of days away from a Soriano hot streak as well.

    This is what we’ve got. At the end of the day, no matter what trade rumors are out there or whatnot, these are the guys who are going to get you there, or not, offensively. You might as well believe in them.

  • Naved

    “We have to hit more home runs” – Teix

    This is exactly why our offense is in the gutter. Every hitter that comes to the Yankees sacifirce their batting average for the short porch and bites them in the ass every time. What happened to the Teix that hit over .300? McCann hitting over .270? Beltran hitting for average? I am tired of this stupid act. Get hits first and go back on how you use to swing and then focus on the home run ball. The offense as a whole will improve. Kevin Long is doing something wrong and should be on the chopping block if the offense does not improve.

    • nyyankfan_7

      Have you watched a baseball game in the last 5 years? The Teix that hit over .300 didn’t face a shift every at-bat, same for the .270 batting McCann. They also got to face the same starter for 3+ at-bats per game; now almost every team starts bringing in specialist relievers in the 5th & 6th inning unless you are facing an ace.

  • Bats

    Axisa, if you really believe what you said in regards to the Yankees’lack of offensive diversity than STOP LOBBYING for the Yankees to acquire players with high homerun numbers but with low batting averages.

    Your dependence on wRC is ridiculous. Keys keep it simple.

  • Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

    The White Sox aren’t completely out of it but I think that trading for Adam Dunn at this point makes the most sense at the deadline. Hopefully Beltran can continue on rehabbing his arm and he can play RF while Dunn can be the true backup 1B/full time DH. Soriano would be the roster cut with this move. Dunn would hit appox 159 HR in the 2nd half playing at Yankee Stadium.

    My trade proposal sucks:
    What would it take to get him? You are getting a player half year before Free Agency so would Mason Williams/Austin Romine do it? I would make that trade instantly.

    • Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

      Dunn’s power numbers are down a little bit but right how his 12 HR would be leading the Yankees.

    • ALZ

      Too bad he can’t play the outfield everyday. If Dunn is available, and Beltran can play some rf, then I’d jump at chance to get him. His avg sucks, but he walks enough that he would be fine in the 6th spot.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Yeah, this makes sense if AND ONLY IF Beltran goes on the DL to get right. You need to find a way to get a healthy Beltran and ABs for Beltran/Dunn/Teix would be a hard sell.

      That said, I am buying it if that is the way the dice roll.

      • Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew) RIP Egon

        LF Gardner
        SS Jeter
        CF Ellbsbury
        RF Beltran
        1B Teixeira
        DH Dunn
        C McCann
        2B Solarte
        3B Johnson

        Would be a great looking lineup to me

  • Joe C

    I think this team needs to get rid of its obsession with homers. Seriously, they need to stop thinking about hitting homers and focus on making contact. They need to get back to basics by focusing on hitting line drives. Iff they do that, they’re going to ended up hitting their fair share of homeruns. But if they start thinking about hitting homeruns and actually trying to hit homeruns they’re actually going to hit homeruns. I’m sorry but they’re just not going to do it.

    Think of it as a happy accident because it really sin’t anything that you can work on or anything by taking extra batting practice. If you try you’re actually going to make things worse.

    To some extent that’s what has been happening this team. They’ve been trying to hit homeruns and it has caused these players to get into some bad habits that have caused them to stop hitting entirely.

    Having said that, it they focus on hitting line drives and trying to make contact they’re going to get their fair share of homeruns. In addition they’re going to get extra base hits. But because they’ve been trying to hit homeruns they haven’t been hitting homers and they haven’t been able to get extra base hits in general.

    To my mind that ‘triple’ by Brian McCann was probably more important than his homerun because it cleared the bases and allowed the Yankees to score more than three runs in an at bat.

    What this team needs to remember, indeed what this franchise needs to remember, is the fact that you don’t actually need to hit a homerun to score multimple runs. At least not all the time. You can be equally as successfull by hitting doubles or triples. Extrabase hits in general are a good way of scoring runs but an extrabase hit doesn’t always equate to homerun.

    ps. Even though I though McCann runs about as fast as a snail his triple was more legit than Jose Reyes Triple the night before because Gardner played that ball into a triple. It should have been ruled an error.

    • TWTR

      Having said that, it they focus on hitting line drives and trying to make contact they’re going to get their fair share of homeruns. In addition they’re going to get extra base hits. But because they’ve been trying to hit homeruns they haven’t been hitting homers and they haven’t been able to get extra base hits in general.

      I agree with this part (although apart from Soriano, I don’t really know what they are trying to do). It isn’t, or at last shouldn’t be, one or the other. Of course, you want players that have good plate coverage, but the ability to SLG in general, and hit some HR, in particular, is important for any really good offense. Overall, you want balance, and this team doesn’t have that to this point.

      So yes, I don’t want the Ibanez types, despite his unexpectedly awesome contributions at times, because more often than not, you don’t get outlier awesome contributions from players who either K or hit a HR without paying a significant price in missed opportunities as well.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      A home run hit instead of that triple would have been a grand slam. Just sayin.

      The triple was also a couple of inches away from being a hell of a catch.

      • ALZ

        And was a triple because of that. Should have been a double if played normally.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          Heck, could have been an inside the parker if the hitter wasn’t slower than Jorge Posada on crutches.

        • The Great Gonzo

          If played normally, the RF would have cut it off before it gaps and it becomes a hard single.

          If The Queen had balls, she’d be King.

  • mitch

    More power would be nice, but really they just need more good hitters. A lineup full of Gardners and Ellsburys would score plenty of runs.

    However, I agree the solution is for Beltran and McCann to start hitting better.

  • ChuckIt

    Beltran hurt? We all knew that was a good possibility when management signed him.(so did they).The hope was that Mccann would pull more fly balls at home,for an increase in power.20 hrs were his average w/Atlanta expectations for the stadium were more like 30.I’ve always liked Sorianos’ bat,and know he’s a career streak hitter,but this is one heck of a streak.But if he turns it around,that could be one HELL of a streak.History shows he can carry a team offensively.We’re still not at the halfway point,and the deadline is still a bit away. I think starting pitching should be addressed through trade,as there are some nice bats down in the farm.

    • The Great Gonzo

      That wall he fell over didnt have anything to do with the fact that Cashman Failed by signing a guy who was gonna get hurt, huh?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I look forward to Aaron Judge hurting walls, and not the other way around, someday.

  • jason

    Axisa: I need more power! Cash: I’m givin’ it all she got!

  • TheRealGreg

    Well Kelly Johnson is starting to play more regularly. He’s starting tonight and will have started 5 of the last 6 games.

  • Jpinstripes

    There is no reason to believe that the left handed bats and the switch hitting lefties in the Yankee will not start hitting home runs at Yankee Stadium. Small sample size to date and much ado about nothing.

  • Jpinstripes

    There is no reason to believe that the left handed bats and the switch hitting lefties in the Yankee line-up will not start hitting home runs at Yankee Stadium. Small sample size to date and much ado about nothing.

  • Nathan

    Man, the whole “Yankees hit too many homeruns” seems so long ago.

    If the Yankees ever develop a power lineup and I hear that statement again, I’ll slap whoever says it.