The Yankees and Defense

I missed this pretty blunt quote from Brian Cashman a few days ago, courtesy of Rob Neyer:

“A.J. led the American League in strikeouts,” Cashman said. “There’s a lot of reasons why his power and his stuff — if he can maintain health — really are a benefit.

“We are a bad defensive team, so a guy that prevents the ball from being put into play is a good thing for us.”

Oh, and you have to appreciate Cashman’s honesty here. When’s the last time you heard the general manager of a good team admit that his team was bad at something? At best, they’ll usually soft-peddle the criticism, say something like, “We don’t have a great defense.”

Last season, the Yankees were 25th in the majors in defensive efficiency — that is, turning batted balls into outs — and they don’t figure to be much better this season. But with Sabathia and Burnett and Joba Chamberlain in the rotation, it really shouldn’t matter a great deal.

I think that Neyer is understating the improvements that the Yankees have made defensively this offseason. Replacing the statuesque Giambi at first and the awful Abreu in right, coupled with Brett Gardner filling in for Melky Cabrera in at least some of the games, should put the Yankees squarely in the middle of the defensive pack. Combine that with the improved starting pitching, and the Yankees should be significantly better at run prevention than they were in 2008.

0 thoughts on “The Yankees and Defense

  1. Lasoo

    I agree. Aside from Posada and Jeter (who actually played about average defense last year), who is a below average defensive player. Cano can be hit or miss, but hopefully Tex on the same side of the infield will help him be more consistent. Damon, A-Rod, Swisher, and Nady are all at least average, if not slightly above average. And Gardner and Melky are both above average. That, coupled with the improved defense, should give the Yankees the best defense they’ve had in a long time.

  2. I think having Posada active will have an effect on Cano, especially defensively. Maybe not the same as Bowa, but I think he’s the ‘bad cop’ among the teams vets (and even when he was younger) like a catcher should be.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Yeah, him and Jeter make a better captaining tandem than I thought. It seems that the players actually respond to Jeter’s quiet way, and Posada supplies the fire when necessary.

  3. Steve

    Don’t figure to be much better? Check out the differential between 08/09 team

    RF
    Abreu 2008 -24
    Nady 2008 -4/Swisher -1

    1B
    Giambi 2008 -18
    Tex 2008 +24

    CF
    Damon 2008 -3 CF
    Gardner 2008 +6 CF

    2B
    Cano 2007 +17
    Cano 2008 -16

    Total +99-102 plays. That’s a LOT of plays. Maybe Cano doesn’t bounce back, but I also think Gardner’s +6 is a bit light. When he gets some more experience, and becomes more comfortable both at home and on the road, I (and Gene Michael) think he will be as good as anybody.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/fantasy/index.php/yankees-d-does-pettitte-no-favors/

    http://www.billjamesonline.net/fieldingbible/2008-plus-minus-leaders.asp