"Now, what is this site about, how Joe Torre ruined pitchers' arms? Is that it?"
-Michael Kay, August 18, 2009

Friday, December 12, 2008

Time to think offense

With the latest signing, the Yankees have spent $243.5 million this off-season on two contracts, both belonging to pitchers. While the pitching was bad last year, hitting was also an issue. The Yankees scored almost 200 less runs in 2008 than they did the previous year.

As it stands, two players who scored 168 of those runs last year will be gone. Those two players, of course, are Jason Giambi and Bobby Abreu.

At 34, Abreu hit .296/.371/.471 with 20 home runs, 100 RBI and 100 runs scored in 684 plate appearances. Giambi hit .247 with 32 home runs and 96 RBI. Both players had an OPS over .800.

Earlier this off-season, the Yankees refused to offer both arbitration, even though Abreu had Type A free-agent status, meaning they won't get two draft picks if he signs elsewhere.

The question is, should the Yankees think about bringing back Abreu or Giambi? The outfield and DH spots are congested, so there may not be room, but the Yankees need a bat. The lineup is lacking as of now.

Despite spending all of that money already, the Yankees have a lot of to play around with.

I hope Brian Cashman is thinking here, because I don't think Nick Swisher and (possibly) Mike Cameron will cut it. It's great that the rotation has been upgraded, but there are two sides to the game of baseball.

By the way, Mark Teixeira is still available. Imagine the uproar around baseball if the Yankees sign him to go along with CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett? There is money to be spent...


Anonymous said...

The Yankee offense, as currently constructed, is relying on the majority of these things happening in 2009:

1. Jorge Posada's bat stays strong after surgery.

2. Jorge Posada is healthy enough to catch 140 games like he usually would when he's healthy. This is important to the offense because it means fewer at-bats for the punchless Jose Molina.

3. Jeter turns some of last year's weak contact into solid line drives. 2008 was his weakest season in a long long time.

4. The entire team hits better with runners on base.

5./6. Robsinson Cano and Nick Swisher resemble their 2006/2007 form much more than their poor 2008 form.

7. Hideki Matsui can stay healthy and remain very close to his typical level of production.

8. Gardner and/or Melky hit close to something that resembles an average centerfielder.

9. Xavier Nady is a career .280/.335/.458 hitter, which is far below average for a right fielder. Last year he was great with Pittsburgh, but with the Yankees he only hit .268/.320/.474. That is just who he is, and if the Yankees expect him to hit an overall line of .305/.357/.510 again, they are foolish and unrealistic. Basically the Yankees need him to get lucky again like he did in the first half with Pittsburgh in 2008.

10. Damon resmebles more of the 2008 Damon than the 2007 Damon.

11. It would be nice to have someone on the bench who can hit the ball.

12. Don't bad Nady or Cano in the third slot in the lineup.

So, the success or lackthereof of the 2009 Yankee offense, as currently constructed, depends on how these issues play out. They need most of these things to happen in their favor, in addition to avoiding big injuries to key players (ARod, Jeter, Posada, Cano, Damon). But even if only 5 or 6 of these things happen in the Yankees favor, it will probably be another mediocre year for the offense. And if the Yankees actually think all of these things will go their way, they are crazy.

First off, Nady is not good enough to hit every day. Secondly, Molina quite likely will still get too much playing time because Jorge probably can't catch 140 games. Thirdly, the chances that Gardner and Melky won't hit well enough are reasonably high. Also, it is possible that Matsui's legs are shot and his power drops off due to this. Jeter could be in a dramatic decline, or perhaps he just had a fluky bad year (I'd say this is more likely). The likelihood of both Swisher and Cano turning it around isn't that great. They'll both probably be better than last year but it might be dumb to assume they will each immediately return to pre-2008 form. Damon will probably drop off a little from last year, and quite possibly a lot. The issues with bad hitting with runners on base was probably a fluky thing that was luck-based so it could easily turn around this year. The bench always sucks. Someone important will probably miss a large chunk of time. Where's the infield or outfield depth to account for this likelihood?

I'd say the Yankee offense is pretty weak right now, because many of these things likely won't play out in their favor. The only sure thing in the lineup is A-Rod, and there's gonna be a lot of praying that 6 guys (Cano, Swisher, Matsui, Posada, Jeter, and CF) turn last year's fortunes around and stay healthy. At the very least, they need another good bat in the OF/1B slot, and they need a decent bench hitter or two as well.

But with all this money spent on pitching, it seems the Yankee are going to ignore the every day lineup and probably just fill out the bench. The Burnett signing was a clear misuse of resources and a big mistake.

Andrew Fletcher said...

Thank you for that, Anonymous. I agree with every word. I especially agree with you on Burnett. They probably could've signed Ben Sheets to a shorter deal worth a little less annually than Burnett's going to get.

It scares me that the Yankees have let Abreu and Giambi leave and have only focused on pitching thus far. I realize it's only December, but it's still a concern at this point.

Cashman has done a lot already, but he still has much more to do. It's great that the rotation has gotten a significant upgrade, but the lineup has lost over 150 runs, and that's very hard to replace.

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