The Plan In Left Field Is….No Plan At All?

The Dave Cameron article that we discussed yesterday has made the rounds, and Rob Neyer used the opportunity to make an important point about flexibility:

Yes, Holliday would make the Yankees better. Maybe a juggernaut, even.

But the only way the Yankees can fall into a habit of losing, someday, is by stockpiling too many players in their 30s with big long-term contracts. It’s incredibly difficult to place a value on flexibility, but that value is real and important and Brian Cashman’s awareness of that value is going to keep the Yankees on top for quite some time.

Now, the issue that we are discussing is not positional flexibility. The Yankees are not leaving left field open because they see a better player to fill that hole on the horizon. As Chris noted this morning, Holliday is likely a better player than Carl Crawford, and I do not see any superior left fielders becoming available in the next few years. As such, it seems clear that the Yankees are doing their best to maintain some semblance of financial flexibility. To do so, it is important to avoid doling out large contracts for players at non-premium positions.

Piecing all of this together, it means that Brian Cashman likely sees left field as a position that he can fill regularly with players on 1 or 2 year contracts, and save the big money for pitchers and players that play premium positions. This is what I mean when I say that the plan in left field is no plan at all. The long term vision of the club does not include a left fielder, and probably does not include a right fielder either. Those players will be added every couple of years on reasonable contracts to fill holes, while the major contracts will be reserved for the Joe Mauer’s and Felix Hernandez’s of the world. As Neyer notes, this is a prudent strategy, and one that should keep the Yankees at the top of the sport for a long time.

0 thoughts on “The Plan In Left Field Is….No Plan At All?

  1. the other Steve S.

    When you have an infield and pitching staff like ours, its unlikely an average outfield will hurt you too badly. Good looking strategy.

    • Congrats, first comment at the new site! And I agree. You can get adequate corner outfielders every year. The up the middle guys are the key.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      If there is one team that can survive with Brett Gardner in its outfield, it’s the Yankees. However, that doesn’t mean they should be willing to settle for Gardner. I’m not saying they should run out and get Holliday or bring back Damon at any price, as those strategies could hurt. Being too passive, though, could also hurt them. While I’d be happy with a Damon signing, I’d also be happy with someone being brought in to caddy Gardner in left. Or, perhaps, they could roll with Jamie Hoffmann as the vs. LHP option and sign someone like Ryan Church to take on the right handed pitchers, while stashing Gardner away at AAA.

  2. Joe O

    Congrats on the new site! Best of luck.

  3. AT

    Whoa new changes to the site. Looks nice and business like. As for Left Field, I’m all for Gardner/Hoffman at Left Field. If things don’t go smoothly the Yankees can always try and trade for that Left Fielder. Who knows maybe someone may be available by the trading deadline that is a lot better then what is available right now.

  4. MJ

    While I agree with the analysis — that Cashman is likely keeping LF open in order to maintain financial flexibility in the future — I don’t agree with the overarching point that Cashman will never spend for LF or RF down the line. Justin Upton is a corner outfielder and considered one of those rare athletes that can do it all. For him, I’d spend the GDP of Bhutan or some other sum and I’m pretty sure a lot of other GM’s would too.

    Your average corner outfielder may not be worth a heavy investment but there are always exceptions and it’s important to point that out.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Good point. He did the same thing at 1st base with Tex. I think it will need to be that sort of player, a younger guy like Upton for him to give a large deal at a premium spot.

      • MJ

        Upton becomes a free agent after the 2013 season (assuming Arizona doesn’t extend him in the interim). At that point he’ll be 26 years old. I’d literaly rob a bank and spend 20 years in jail if that’s what it took to get the Yanks to give him his $15M/year or whatever the going rate would be.

  5. Reggie C.

    This is one heck of an impressive format. Congrats TYU and I tip my hat to the site’s designer.

    Its certainly a conversation starter if Cashman and co. view LF as an ideal spot for roster and salary flexibility. At some point, the Yankees will have a viable OF prospect (Heathcott, DeLeon, or maybe even JR Murphy) ready to contribute. Till then, locking up the LF spot long-term doesn’t make much sense. We’ll need to reserve money for the eventual Jeter replacement (clearly coming via FA), and down the line, for a new #1 starter if CC jumps ship.

  6. larry smith

    Keep an eye on Neil Mechill for LF in 2 years.He was huge early last season at Staten Island, hits with power, runs well for a big guy and is a good OF’er.He faltered a bit at the end of the season due to injury but I think he’s going to surprise everyone and be a Major leaguer sooner than might be expected.
    Think Yankes stole him.Reports are he’s smart and a tireless worker too.

  7. Matt Imbrogno

    larry smith: Keep an eye on Neil Mechill for LF in 2 years.He was huge earlylast season at Staten Island, hits with power, runs well for a big guy and is a good OF’er.He faltered a bit at the end of the season due to injury but I think he’s going to surprise everyone and be a Major leaguer sooner than might be expected.
    Think Yankes stole him.Reports are he’s smart and a tireless worker too.  

    Everything I hear about Medchill (and DeAngelo Mack for that matter) is that they’re likely OF versions of Juan Miranda.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Agree, although Mack sounds like a bit more of an athlete.

      (Also, can you use the reply button? Helps keep the comments in order. Thanks)

  8. The Yankees is wise not stock players in their 30’s and might fall into a trap like what they did in the past by signing Jason Giambi for long term.

    Signing an outfielder for 1 to 2 years is the right way to go. The plan of going “young and athletic” is a perfect move to competitive in the long run. The Yankees should stock more talents in their farm and use them properly by using them as trade baits or bringing them up in the big league roster.

    • Matt Imbrogno

      Just a question, and anyone can answer this, really, why is everyone always so pissy about the Giambi signing? His OPS+ in his time with the Yankees was 143 and he averaged 30 HRs per season (38 per 162 games) while posting a .400+ OBP four times. 2004/7 weren’t good because of injuries, but in every other year, he was massively productive.

      • Moshe Mandel

        Two totally lost years really hurt his total value. He provided 35-40 million dollars less than he was paid. That is a lot of lost value.

        • Matt Imbrogno

          Fair enough.

  9. -Leftylarry

    Matt Imbrogno:
    Everything I hear about Medchill (and DeAngelo Mack for that matter) is that they’re likely OF versions of Juan Miranda.  

    Nothing wrong with Miranda if he gets a chance and frankly Medchill is 6’4 215, can hit, run and field.You’ll find out soon that everything you heard about him is wrong.
    I argued with some “geniuses” about Brandon Laird not being a top 50 Yankee prospect last year and he’ll be a top 10 prospect by the end of this season, he can flatout hit, just needs a position with 1st and 3rd spoken for.
    Medchill is a real good prospect who Yankees got lucky with.We’re not talking a big stron stiff but a guy who hit with power and for average and who can cover ground in the OF.I saw him play this season before he hurt his wrist.He was batting about .350 then with numerous HR’s in limited atbats.I saw him crush one over the fence and make a good play in the OF.Couldn’t tell about his arm but he looks like a major leaguer.

    • Moshe Mandel

      I highly doubt Laird will be close to that high by the end of the season. You seem to be the only one who believes in him that much.