Jul
16

2014 Midseason Grades: The Outfielders

By

Even though it is not really the halfway point of the season, there is no better time to review the first half than the All-Star break. This week we’ll hand out some simple and straightforward grades, A through F, for the catchers, infielders, outfielders, rotation, and bullpen. These grades are totally subjective. We’ve already covered the catchers and infielders, so now let’s move on to the outfielders.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Brett Gardner — Grade A

Through the first 94 games of the 2014 season, Gardner has been the Yankees’ best position player. The team got out ahead of his impending free agency by signing him to a four-year extension worth $52M in Spring Training, a deal that looked sensible at the time and looks like a bargain now given his production and the lack of quality outfielders in the upcoming free agent classes.

Among players with at least 100 plate appearances, Gardner leads the team in one-base percentage (.353) and total bases (146), ranks second in batting average (.279), slugging percentage (.424), stolen bases (15), OPS+ (116), and wRC+ (116), and first in both bWAR (2.9) and fWAR (2.7). He’s already set a career-high with nine homers. Gardner actually started the season in a funk, going 15-for-62 (.242) in the team’s first 18 games, but he’s hit .286/.366/.447 (126 wRC+) in the 76 games since. That’ll do just fine.

Gardner’s defense continues to be excellent as well. He slid back into left field seamlessly and has performed up to his usually defensive standards, which are rather high. Inside Edge data rates his glovework very well. The Yankees tried shuffling things around and actually started Gardner in right field during a game at Fenway Park in April, but that was a disaster. It looked like he had never played the outfield before. Left field is where he remains and whenever the need has arisen for whatever reason, he’s slid over and filled in at center without missing a beat.

The only negatives in Gardner’s game are his career-high 21.7% strikeout rate and career-low 11.6% stolen base attempt rate. The strikeout issue seems to have to do with him being a little more aggressive in certain counts and swinging for a fences, hence the homers. The stolen base this is weird — he ran in 14.3% of his opportunities last year and in 25.0% of his opportunities from 2010-12. Gardner is still on pace for 26 steals (in 33 attempts), but it appears his days of 45+ stolen bases are over. That’s a shame. Either way, he’s having an unreal season.

Jacoby Ellsbury – Grade B

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

As the story goes, it became clear to the Yankees they were going to lose Robinson Cano on a Friday, so they acted quickly to sign Ellsbury before a bidding way broke out. The two sides were in agreement the following Tuesday, and the Friday after that, Cano hooked on with the Mariners. The Yankees replaced Cano with the second best free agent in Ellsbury even though he wasn’t a great fit for the roster — they already had a perfectly capable speedy leadoff hitter and strong defensive center fielder in Gardner.

Ellsbury has been very good through his first season in pinstripes, hitting .282/.346/.400 (105 wRC+) with six homers and 24 steals in 29 chances. That’s right in line with the .289/.341/.407 (103 wRC+) batting line he put up from 2012-13 following his outlier 2011 campaign. Ellsbury’s power has not ticked up despite the move into lefty friendly Yankee Stadium and that makes total sense — almost all of his hits are line drives to left and center field. That’s not a bad thing, it’s just not conducive to taking advantage of the short porch.

As expected, Ellsbury has had an impact both on the bases and in the field. He’s on pace for 41 steals with an 82.8% success rate, which would make him the team’s first 40-steal guy since Gardner in 2011. The defensive stats hate Ellsbury this year and I don’t get it — it’s a Gardner thing, it happened with Curtis Granderson too, he must be stealing outs and hurting the center fielder’s defensive numbers — but based on the eye test he’s been phenomenal in center. Better than Gardner last season and Gardner was awesome.

Because of injuries and underperformance and all that, the Yankees and Joe Girardi have had to improvise with their lineup. That means Ellsbury has been miscast as a three-hole hitter for most of the year while Gardner bats leadoff. They really don’t have an alternative at this point. Ellsbury lacks the traditional three-hole hitter skills in that he can’t create a run with one swing, but that’s not his fault. He’s a leadoff hitter the team is asking to hit third. Either way, Ellsbury was pretty awesome in the first half.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

Carlos Beltran — Grade F

Worst case scenario? Possibly. The Yankees signed the 37-year-old Beltran (for three years!) to be the middle of the order hitter they lost in Cano, but so far all they’ve gotten is a broken down former star who has struggled to both be productive and stay on the field. This is the position player version of Randy Johnson — the right player, only nine years too late.

Beltran has hit .216/.271/.401 (78 wRC+) with nine homers in 228 plate appearances this year while missing time with elbow, knee, and concussion problems. He has a bone spur in his elbow that cost him a month and will require offseason surgery. It has relegated him to full-time DH duty because he can’t throw. (He tried a throwing program but had to shut it down due to discomfort.) The concussion was a fluke injury that occurred when he lined a ball off the cage and back into his face during batting practice. It’s that kinda year.

It’s easy to forget Beltran actually mashed at the start of the season. He was hitting .298/.339/.614 (151 wRC+) with four homers through the team’s first 16 games, then he flipped over the short wall in Tropicana Field while trying to catch a foul pop-up, and has hit .189/.249/.331 (56 wRC+) in 193 plate appearances since. I don’t know it it’s just a coincidence or if he hurt himself flipping over the wall, but he hasn’t hit for nearly 200 plate appearances now. Clutch hits? Beltran hit that walk-off homer against Zach Britton but otherwise has a .156/.216/.297 (25 wRC+) batting line with men in scoring position and a .130/.241/.391 (55 wRC+) batting line in high-leverage situations.

Because he’s not hitting and can’t play the field — not that his defense was a positive, he hurts the team less as the DH, to be honest — Beltran has very little value to the Yankees right now. He could start hitting at any moment and it would be a huge help if he did, but the combination of injuries and age are working against him. Beltran’s first three and a half months in pinstripes couldn’t have gone much worse.

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

Alfonso Soriano — Grade F

Man, this sucks. Soriano was one of the most fun to watch players when he on a roll and having a full season of him was supposed to give the Yankees a big offensive shot in the arm. Instead, he put up a .221/.244/.367 (60 wRC+) line with six homers and an unsightly 71/6 K/BB in 238 plate appearances before being dropped from the roster roughly two weeks ago. He wasn’t even hitting lefties anymore (80 wRC+). That’s it. Without warning he went from 34 homers and a 121 wRC+ in 2013 to being done in 2014. Like done done.

Soriano started the year as the full-time DH in deference to Gardner, Ellsbury, and Beltran in the outfield. He eventually moved to right — he had never played the position before (other than Spring Training) and I thought he did about as well as he could have realistically been expected to perform defensively — once Beltran got hurt, but eventually he lost playing time to Ichiro and was pushed into the light half of a platoon. The Yankees released Soriano earlier this week and he told Marly Rivera he might simply retire rather than continue playing. It was not a pretty end.

Ichiro Suzuki — Grade C

The Yankees relegated Ichiro to fifth outfielder status with their offseason spending spree, and even that was only after they were unable to trade him. And yet, through the traditional first half, he has batted 220 times and appeared in 81 games, the sixth most on the team. He took over as the most of the time right fielder a few weeks ago thanks to both his strong performance and the underwhelming performance of others.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Ichiro is hitting .297/.347/.337 (90 wRC+) with six stolen bases on the season, though his bat predictably cooled once pressed into everyday duty. He went 25-for-37 (.373) with a 142 wRC+ as a reserve player during the first 47 team games of the season but has managed only a .259/.308/.289 (63 wRC+) line as a regular in the 47 team games since. Ichiro’s defense has been fine and he’ll still steal the occasional base, but that’s pretty much it. He’s a very good extra outfielder and a pretty terrible regular outfielder at this point of his career.

Zoilo Almonte — incomplete

I get the feeling the Yankees are not going to give Almonte an opportunity to show whether he can be of some use at the MLB level, even as a nothing more than a fourth outfielder. He’s been up and down a few times this year thanks mostly to Beltran’s injuries, getting into ten games and going 4-for-25 (.160) with a homer. Even with Soriano gone, the Yankees have opted to play Ichiro everyday and sub in Zelous Wheeler on occasion. Meh

* * *

Coming into the season, the outfield was expected to be the strength of the team, and it has been. It just hasn’t been as strong as expected due to Beltran’s struggles and Soriano’s brutal ineffectiveness. Gardner and Ellsbury have been the team’s two best players all season and have lived up to expectations in my opinion. Everyone else in the outfield has kinda stunk. Getting Beltran back and producing at an above-average rate will be imperative in the second half. The Yankees will only be able to acquire so much offense in trades.

Categories : Players
  • W.B. Mason Williams

    You have to figure with left and center firmly cemented, we can make some sort of useful platoon with the Ichiros, Zoilos and Pirelas of the world in right.

  • http://twitter.com/rational_sports Rational Sports

    Man. This Beltran contract is so disappointing. I was so excited to finally have him on the Yankees. Hopefully he can get healthy and start producing again, but it’s not look great at the moment.

  • Steve

    I’d rather see Mason Williams hit .220 and steal some bases, then trade away the only capable prospects such as G. Sanchez or Luis Severino to bring in another A. Soriano type…

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      The first doesn’t even sound within the realm of possibility, and there’s been zero indication, other than fan anxiety, that the team is even considering the second.

      I get your general point, though. The outfielder good enough to make that impact (and someone will undoubtedly bring up Refsnyder here, I’m sure) isn’t close enough in the system, nor do I see that “Soriano type” out there anyway.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      They didn’t have to give up a prospect anywhere near the caliber of Sanchez or Severino to get Soriano last year, not sure why they’d need to do that to get a Soriano-type this year.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        They simply wouldn’t.

      • The Great Gonzo

        “How dare you talk about Corey Black like that.”

        - Everyone that panicked last year when he was traded for Soriano

    • TWTR

      If they are trading those two, it would have to be in a Tulo type of deal. Otherwise, what’s the point?

      • ac1

        Agree. Save the prospects and get Tulo in the offseason.
        I don’t even really know what to do about the rotation at this point. This team is too far off being a top team, so I let the young guys pitch and see what we have next year.

        Right now, Phelps is the man to watch, as he is the only guarantee for the 2015 opening day rotation.

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    All Cashman had to do was pick up a Nelson Cruz instead of giving 37 year old Beltran a 3 year deal. Just an awful awful decision that has given the Os the upper hand on the division. The same thing happened in 2010 when he didn’t seal the deal on the Cliff Lee trade, Texas got him and it gave them the upper hand in the ALCS.

    • nyyankfan_7

      Yes all he had to do was give a guy coming off a PED suspension a 4 year 60 million contract – that’s all he had to do.

      Oh yeah, and have the foresight that the guy was going to have a career year, which may or may not have happened if he wasn’t in Baltimore.

      • nyyankfan_7

        And before anyone jumps on me, No I don’t know why I even bother responding to him. I see stupid and I react; I don’t know why – must be genetic.

      • fred robbins

        I didn’t remember that Cruz wanted a 4 year deal– I remember he signed a one year deal for 8? yes?
        And Yes.. foresight is not always easy. Maybe you can call it baseball judgment or common sense as well…

        While no one can be held to know that Cruz would have his best year ever by the All Star game with home runs and RBI- he was at least a much better defender and able to play a better outfield than Beltran.

        Beltran was never going to be the every day outfielder due to his age and defense. So right there- you have a signing of a guy who is very limited and was looked at- most likely- as a guy to hit home runs into the short porch.

        What do you call the GM’s who signed Melky- who has done well- that short stop from Detroit- Peralta? was singed as well — and Kazmir who I mentioned at the start of this year as being over-looked by Cashman for no good reason but I got so much shit for saying why not take a chance on a lefty like Kazmir- but here he is at the All Star game–

        SO– Yes– foresight is for the talented few but good judgment should be a requirement for a GM and yet Cashman seems to go the same way most of the time- old, past their prime, yada yada etc.

        I mean, for all who love Cashman, how many of you can say the Yankees will have a better team next year? Who in the world will they get for starting shortstop? Another big name flopper like Hanley?

        • Get Phelps Up

          Cruz signed a one year deal during the beginning of spring training, when most all teams already had their OF in place. The reason he lasted that long is because he wanted a deal in the range of 4/60, in addition to costing the team that signed him a draft pick.

          • Steve (different one)

            You are arguing with the guy who spent the entire spring ripping Cashman for not signing Grady Sizemore.

            But yes, it takes a genius to look back now and say we should have signed Cruz.

            When it goes the other way, i.e. guys that everyone wanted in the winter but do not look that great now (cough Balfour, Infante, Drew) no one ever revisits that.

            I recall a lot of talk about trading Gardner as well.

            Stephen Drew might be the worst player in the league right now.

            I am not saying Cashman is the best GM, I am simply saying his job is really hard.

            • Get Phelps Up

              Oh, you bet I’m enjoying how much Stephen Drew has sucked ass this season. For a division rival no less!

              • ac1

                Yeah just what the Yankees wanted to do is deal with another PED user. And I dont believe Cruz is clean now either just because he is tested more. He didnt test positive last year either, meaning the testing is irrelevant to the argument.

                • dalelama

                  Let’s see Cano and Cruz or Beltran and Ellsbury…no wonder we are circling the bowl like a oxycodone hardened dump.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    I’d like to see those power numbers tick a bit upward for Ellsbury and for him to, at least, stick in the 15-20 HR range through his time here. Maybe too much to ask for, but OF power has to come from somewhere (until the mighty Judge finishes his ascent, of course.)

    My worst-case scenario for Beltran was potentially better than this. I wanted one good season from him. Perhaps that’s 2015. That is not looking good right now and, while I understood the third year as the price of doing business at the time, it especially bites now.

  • ChrisS

    I don’t think I’d use the word awesome to describe Ellsbury.

    • Rick

      I have really appreciated Ellsbury’s game this year. His defense in CF is incredible and, old school of thought here, he really just seems to come to the ballpark and play. Has he maybe disappointed a bit offensively? Sure. But we got spoiled by his insanely hot start. He’s settled in to right around the player he’s always been. Is he worth what he’s getting paid? Maybe slightly less. But, again, that’s the cost of doing business in free agency.

      • nyyankfan_7

        I don’t think it’s fair to say he has disappointed offensively. He is doing exactly what he was signed to do. He is hitting over .280 and will probably finish the year with 10+ Hrs and 40+ SB’s.
        It’s not his fault he is a leadoff hitter having to bat #3.

        • Rick

          I agree with you, he’s being asked to do more than what was originally thought. As I said, I’m happy with his performance thus far and have really been pleasantly surprised with how much I’ve enjoyed watching him play.

        • Need Pitching & Hitting

          I think with that contract, they were hoping he’d at least match his performance of last year offensively. He hasn’t quite done that.
          Maybe that level of performance was an unrealistic expectation given his up and down career (it probably was), but I don’t think they game him 7/$153 expecting him to be a barely above average (105 wRC+) hitter.

          • ac1

            Having Ellsbury/Gardner 1-2 next year will get use out of both of them to the max. Ellsbury is a better base stealer, and Gardner takes a lot of pitches.

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I wonder if the Yankees could put together a deal for Andrus around McCann and Beltran? Andrus is owed 118 million, and Beltran and McCann are owed around the same amount. Frees short up for Profar, and 2nd then can go for Odor.

    • Rick

      What impact do you think this would have on the Yanks ability to draw free agents? It can’t set a great precedent to sign a player and then immediately trade them at the first trade deadline. Particularly veterans.

      Obviously this is assuming that trade would be accepted – though I have no idea why Texas would do that. Just playing hypotheticals.

      • TWTR

        My guess is none. If they offer the most money (or close to it) and a chance to win, free agents will always come here.

        That said, that deal won’t happen.

        • Rick

          I think it’s definitely above “none.” How much above? No idea. With that said, it would cause some headaches to players of having to move multiple times and possibly going to a city they don’t desire to play in. One of the big perks of free agency is not only trying to get the best offer possible, but also living in a place that you may enjoy. I think those are bigger factors than people give credit to. We think of trades as getting one player and discarding of another. We don’t factor in the impact on the player’s livelihood.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I agree.

            If a team starts getting a reputation of trading away guys a year or so into their contracts, future FA’s are going to keep some sort of tab. Whether it influences their final decision or not is another question.

            Obviously, the Sox aren’t a great example because they only went and won an unlikely championship right after. You could keep track of who is willing to take Jeffrey Loria’s money, though, or whoever the owner is for a long while down there.

            • The Great Gonzo

              The Cubs are another great example. Marquee free agents don’t sign there because they 1) suck something awful and 2) are always selling. EVERY YEAR they sell a big piece. or 2.

          • TWTR

            Maybe you’re right, but there is another way to look at it.

            Will players want to come here if they don’t think they can win, which has been the expectation since 1997.

            I think some would, but not nearly as many.

            So I think reconstructing a team that can win big again, as opposed to contending on the margins (as they have for the last couple of years), should guide whatever they do.

            • Jorge Steinbrenner

              Players are going to think they can win in pinstripes long after the negative part of the fanbase thinks they can.

              • TWTR

                I think they are smarter than most fans, but they can cut both ways.

                10 years ago, players thought that signing with the Yankees meant getting to play in the WS.

                I’m not sure that nearly as many think that right now.

                • Jorge Steinbrenner

                  I don’t think we’re there yet.

                  I think they think the team is one spending spree away at all times.

                  We love to throw out ’89-’92. This isn’t ’89-’92. Yet.

                  It should surprise no one that this is exactly where we both stand on the topic. ;)

                  • TWTR

                    I agree that they are at a crossroads, but I’m uncertain of the direction they will go in. I personally think over-leveraging pitching is a mistake, and that they need to prioritize making the offense younger, at least in part, by trusting kids like Refsnyder and maybe Pirela.

                    (And, as an aside they really need to re-sign Robertson; they aren’t deep enough to let their best assets leave for nothing in return.)

                    I also agree that they aren’t in the ’89-’92 hole; that would pose additional problems because I cannot envision them having the patience to rebuild with youth to that extent given the media beast they believe they have to feed, and that would be true irrespective of who the GM is. A lot of these issues, although not all, are owner-driven.

                    So yes, there are pieces in place for a fairly quick revival (it could take two productive offseasons, especially with the Tanaka gut punch), but doing it right will require some better, more far-reaching decisions than we have seen over the last couple of years, at least imo.

                    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

                      Or a little more luck, a la the Boston method.

                    • TWTR

                      If possible, I would prefer that the luck quotient be assigned to Tanaka for a complete recovery in six weeks.

                    • The Great Gonzo

                      I’d settle for that kind of luck.

                    • Jorge Steinbrenner

                      Could you imagine the reaction of today’s fanbase back then every time GS3 brought in some .500 pitcher with the hopes that he’d somehow emerge while in pinstripes? And some of players who were traded away for some of these pitchers?

                      Those teams couldn’t sign the vets to contribute, didn’t have younger players even good enough to overachieve, and had little in the pipeline for several years. It wsa the sort of dire this isn’t yet.

                      But, hey, none of this would be happening if GS3 were still running the show, right?

    • Mandy Stankiewicz

      If you’re going to propose an impossible joke/fantasy trade, make it more entertaining. How about Jeter’s contract (and all the commercial dollars for his second half), 3 original Freddie ‘Sez’ signs, an autographed golden thong (worn) from the Giambiono, and an all-inclusive date with either KLong or Meredith Marakovits at Billy’s sports bar on River Ave. for Beltre, Ron Washington’s coke pinkie nail, 10 of those Choomongous sandwiches from the Rangers games and GW’s parking pass for 1 game. Who hangs up first?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        How all-inclusive is this date?

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      You can’t just base trade proposals on the guys you don’t like. Acquiring someone you’d like most often involves giving up something you like.

      • The Great Gonzo

        Why not? Larry Luccino did it.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          He fucking did, didn’t he? He totally did.

          Cashman failed.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Lol.

    • The Great Gonzo

      Would YOU make that deal if you were Texas?

    • FIPster Doofus

      I’m sure Texas would love to pair those horrendous contracts with Fielder’s.

    • trr

      I’ll be blunt; nobody wants either one of these players, especially Beltran. And trading is not simply a matter of substituting one salary for another; The players need to fit as well.

  • kenthadley

    Soriano saga not surprising in the post steroid era. Older hitters can lose it quickly, especially swing and miss guys like Soriano. He made it to 38, which is quite a long run. Beltran more surprising, but not totally. Again, over 35 power hitters historically drop off drastically…only the steroid era changed the bar for about twenty years. Going forward, teams must beware of athletes in mid thirties. That’s why letting Cano go was the right move, even if not for the next two or three years. Don’t pay for ten and get three or even four.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Unless he was juicing last year and abruptly stopped over the offseason, I’m not sure how steroids are related. It surprising because how how fast and hard the drop was.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I think teams know they’re playing with fire with the older vets. They just take a chance of much juice they can squeeze out of them before they’re done.

  • Vern Sneaker

    If Gardner’s an “A” (no problem with that), so is Ellsbury.

    • The Great Gonzo

      In terms of performance and value? Nope. If anything I would say they are having bizarro world seasons. I would have expected Ells to have the better all around season but Gardner to be the very-good-not-great offensive performance.

  • Darren

    I take it that these grades are no longer relative to expectations, correct? Because Ichiro is giving you just about exactly what you would expect if not a touch more.

    • BigDavey88

      Dude…

    • The Great Gonzo

      God, I hate agreeing, but yeah.

  • Scott

    Not to get off topic, but, did anyone read the article linked in Pinstripe Alley about Mel Hall? Disgusting isn’t even a strong enough word to describe this douche bag pedophile.

    He preyed on 10-15 year old girls, including one while playing with the Yankees. He actually lived at her house with her parents permission, while she was 15 and he was 28. Luckily he got 46 years of prison and hopefully a little prison love “more oil, more oil!”

    http://www.sbnation.com/2014/7.....f-mel-hall

    • hornblower

      Scott, thanks for the link. What a sad story! How the parents of these kids could trust this guy is beyond me.

    • Darren

      What an insane story. I knew the stories of Mel bullying Bernie but was not aware of the rest of it. Incredible that the Yankees knew about it and let it happen. They basically treated him like he was Jimmy Page in 1968. Crazy crazy crazy.

  • http://riveravenueblues Mississippi doc

    What is most disheartening is that 2015 does not look much better. There are several albatross contracts with once star players who will be receiving large salaries and are no longer able to be productive: Sabathia,
    Rodriguez, Beltran and, I hope I am wrong, McCann. In the latter case, it may be that he remains a good but no longer outstanding player. Texiera is having an excellent season, but we all live in anticipation of the next injury. Just to add to our collective misery, it is hard to be naively optimistic about our once very promising young pitching staff. Does anyone believe that Tanaka is not looking at TJ surgery? Will Pineda ever be able to overcome all of his physical problems? He looked so good. Nova will probably not be back until next July and who knows which Nova we will see. Maybe Greene is a legitimate starter, or maybe a flaming star like Solarte or Whitley. Phelps is probably the most reliable starter looking forward to next year. Not a pretty picture. Thank goodness for our relief pitchers.

    • kenthadley

      It’s all about the pitching. The question for next year will be who can step up. Maybe Greene, maybe some of the AA arms. Problem will be carrying Arod/CC/Beltra contracts will limit how much can go toward FA arms. This is the price you pay for those contracts.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I don’t know how we can expect the franchise to make every look perfect for 2015. It’s going to take a combination of additions through various means, as well as hoping for overachieving and surprises in places.

      A lot of us experienced this franchise going 18 years without a championship. I realize there’s a generation that’s not so young anymore that wasn’t around for that. I can’t fault them one bit for that, but we may be in another period where it’s going to take a whole lot of patience from the fanbase. I did it as a kid. So can everyone else.

      Tanaka may very well need surgery, but four separate medical opinions pointed him in the same direction. I don’t see how you can’t both put your trust in that AND remain a bit tepridacious.

      We don’t know where Greene and Whitley will settle. My hope is that where they both settle is on the Yankee 25-man roster moving forward, and for the right reasons.

      There’s a lot of work to be done moving forward. All we can do is sit there and watch.

  • Bill

    Not sure I agree with the analysis of Gardner’s strikeouts. He had a maddening tendency to take two strikes early in the count, which puts him in a deep hole. Take a look at his numbers this year when he swings early in the count as opposed to when he runs a deep count. Not saying he should become a first pitch hacker, but he should keep the pitcher honest every so often and be ready to swing early. He’s striking out at a pace that would have him end up with 140, which is ridiculous for a player of his ability and skill set. If he cut that by a third, he might approach 15-18 home runs and might even be in the conversation for a batting title.

  • mt

    Somehow if Soriano is an F, then I almost feel Beltran has to be an F-. Given that Yankees’ commitment to the always streaky Soriano was only for one year at $5 million net salary and we knew he would basically be a DH, “steady” Beltran has been worse. We have Beltran signed for two more years after this one at $30 million more and there is still the possibility that he will have to do elbow surgery.

    Basically the 2 moves that Yankees made that still seem a little iffy even with all the injuries that have happened since then is that 1) Ellsbury is too close to Gardner in skill (not sure who would have been the alternative; have not really followed Choo’s year who is also a lefty OF that happens to hits lefties more poorly than either Ellsbury or Gardner; from a power standpoint would he have been better than than Ellsbury; Nelson Cruz may have been problematic for several reasons 9see below)). having Ellsbury and Gardner kleft a huge power vacuum that could only be filled by by McCann (who has subsequenetly disappointed), Teixera (better than expected), Soriano (F), and Beltran (F-) and maybe a little Kelly Johnson (disappointement). There was too much reliance on older players for power.

    2) The other move is Beltran. Yanks really need to start doing the “I’ll pass” on option of adding aging players to contracts longer than a year (they sort of doubled down on Beltran with Soriano already on roster). And to those who say elbow and concussion could not have been foreseen, I say Beltran’s knees are pretty bad and his knees still have an opportunity to rear their ugly head when and if Beltran starts producing again.

    I do not question the McCann move – he just has not produced as much as hoped offensively – it happens.

    I guess 2013/2014 off-season will be looked back on as Yankees trying to fill too many holes at once and in addition Yankee FO and ownership feels Yankee fans must always have the well-known name (“shiny toy” syndrome”) Couldn’t they have given Zoilo Almonte a chance as opposed to spending $45 million on Beltran and then reinvested that money elsewhere (starting infield and better back-up 1b/DH).

    (Also given all the Arod hullabaloo with lawsuits and press atetention in offseason, does anyone think that Yankees shied away from the negative optic of going after Biogenesis Nelson Cruz? Obviously Cruz signed for $8 million for one year with Baltimore way after the McCann/Beltran/Ellsbury/Cano moves but I will always wonder whether Yanks probably wanted to avoid that whole issue. You also know that if Nelson Cruz were in NY today whether hitting like he is now or struggling we would hear about his steroid use every day, all day – not how it is in Baltimore where it is largely ignored until someone like Lackey pouts and brings it up and there is a 3 day story.

  • hornblower

    Ichiro has been a useless player this first half. He has 11 rbi’s in over 200 AB’s and as many homers as the rest of us on this board. How he could merit even a C is grade inflation at it’s worst. Right field is a black hole for the club. Get Pirela or Ref. out there soonest.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Well you’re using RBI’s to make your point, so your opinion is out the window.

      .297/.347/.337

      Not good, but worthy of a C.

      • hornblower

        No offense, but scoring runs is how you win the game. If not rbi’s for an outfielder what then. RISP is in the .220′s and no power. He was a top player and he surely is doing his best but the Yanks need production from that position fast.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          RBI’s from an outfielder batting 7th to 9th in the lineup is a very different thing. You know this.

          There’s a different version of this argument to be made that you’d be absolutely right on.

        • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

          “but scoring runs is how you win the game”

          No, you meant offense.

          But if you’re going to be a pedant, then no, you don’t need any RBI’s to win a game.

          Inning 1: Walk, walk, walk, GIDP scores a run, strike out.
          Innings 2-9: no runs.

          Final score: 1-0.

          Run(s) not scored. Run scored. 0 RBIs.

          Offense meant in its entirety.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          RBI’s are largely a product of opportunity. Given what’s around him in this rag-tag lineup, there isn’t much opportunity.

          That being said, he got a C, no ones advocating an A or B.

  • TWTR

    I would rather have signed Ellsbury for 7 years than Cano for 10 years because if you give another player a deal that long, other free agents will expect it as well. So they had to draw the line.

    Adding a 37 year old Beltran to an already aging roster was not smart.

    • LarryM Fl

      I agree. Beltran contract was a bad move. Some people may defend Beltran’s singing because he was injured. Yeah, all players can be injured but 37 year old players are inclined at a higher % to be injured.

      When will the FO and or owners learn their lesson. I was against the Cano signing of more than 7 years.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        I’ve never heard him sing, but I’d think that would absolutely be linked to a potential injury. :)

        • LarryM FL

          He spent 15 days on the DL with vocal cord injury when he attempted the National Anthem without warming up.

  • PunkPitch

    With the rapid descent of Arod still fresh on everyone’s mind, hard to fathom the rationale for signing an injury prone Beltran, not to mention the short sightedness of trading for Soriano. Shrug…Wince..Giggles

    • BigDavey88

      Shortsightedness? Soriano cost Corey Black and was a year and a half rental at most. They didn’t trade for him to become a cornerstone at 37/38.

      • The Great Gonzo

        If Corey Black throws more than 100 meaningful MLB innings in his life, I will personally eat Kabaks hat.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          That hat’s had more different filthy tongues on it than Pamela Anderson in the early 90′s.

  • willie w

    these grades show inept yankee management is

    long list of people they could have signed at “low” cost who are kicking butt in MLB

    Cespedes is a good example

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      Who else is on this “long” list?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        Pull up the roster of current active major leaguers. Subtract the Yankee 25-man roster.

        Double-check and make sure Carl Pavano is not on that list. If so, subtract him as well.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I love players who go 84 at-bats without a home run, then win the Home Run Derby. Exactly the kind of player I want.

      SSDD.

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        You know who really sucks

        Wainwright is a good example

  • Vinny Bag-a-donuts

    Great article Mike, but disagree with Ichiro being a “terrible regular outfielder”. You gave him a C yourself! I see a trend that once Mike disagrees with a signing, he makes every point to show why. He does it this year with Ichiro, and last with the catchers, because they weren’t Russell Martin.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      He was kinder to Jacoby than I expected, though.

  • willie w

    signing beltran was so incredibly stupid

    keep turning him down in his prime

    then give him 3 years after he breaks down

    yankee management is so stupid

    • The Great Gonzo

      Are these Haikus?

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        We could make it rhyme. Watch:

        “signing beltran was so incredibly stupid

        keep turning him down in his prime

        then give him 3 years after he breaks down

        their stupidity is sublime”

        That instantly elevates the level of trolling.

        You folks need to TRY HARDER.

      • Mandy Stankiewicz

        LOL!

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        Reminds me more of a limerick.

  • ac1

    On McCann, I think in the end, he is going to be right where we expected when we signed him, maybe a few less homers. He seems to have fixed what is wrong, and he is crushing the ball. The shifting is killing him, on top of first year learning new pitchers, and a lot of rookies….

    Dont give up on McCann just yet.

    • FIPster Doofus

      Every time people declare that McCann’s fixed because of a small sample of success, he goes back to doing nothing.

  • J

    If someone is “pretty awsome” they don’t get a B grade. Ellsbury has done his job with little help. He gets A minus or at least a B plus. The only reason Gardner gets a higher grade is he has exceeded expectations. Ellsbury is one of few Yanks who have met expectations