The Middle/Corner Balance

For as long as I can remember, the Yankee offense has been built, in some way, on power; they don’t call the team the Bronx Bombers for nothing. The Yankees are not and have not been unique in that way; every team tries to build around power. What has made the Yankees’ power unique has been the source thereof. From Derek Jeter, Bernie Williams, Jorge Posada, Robinson Cano, and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees have enjoyed getting top quality offense from the up-the-middle positions of catcher, shortstop, second base, and center field, positions that don’t normally provide much power. It doesn’t hurt that hitters like Tino Martinez, Mark Teixeira, Jason Giambi, Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield, and Nick Swisher provided power from the corner infield and outfield positions, where we expect it. As 2013 approaches, the offense from the up-the-middle positions will be as important as ever.

The first place to look is in the outfield. By the time this is published, Ichiro Suzuki may be re-signed and ready for a return trip to right field in the Bronx. And, of course, Brett Gardner is set to reclaim his throne in left field. Obviously, neither guy has a ton of power; it’s incredibly likely that the Yankee corner outfield spots will produce under 25 home runs combined. Both players, however, can make up for it with other skills. Both Gardner and Ichiro play stellar defense and can wreak havoc on the bases, while Gardner has a great batting eye and Ichiro’s contact skills are almost unparalleled. Still, having such little to no pop in two of three corner outfield spots is never desirable. Compounding this problem is the fact that A-Rod will be out for an extended period of time. Kevin Youkilis will likely fill in ably, but power is not his calling card. Teixeira is always reliable for power, but with three of four corner spots in question regarding high-level offense it’s all the more important for Granderson, Jeter, and Cano to keep up their top-tier hitting to help balance out the team. Oh and let’s not forget that the Yankees don’t exactly have a DH or a catcher right now.

A native and resident of the Mean Streets of Southwestern Connecticut, Matt is a narcissistic, misanthropic 20something English teacher who lives by a simple creed: Yankees Only.

8 thoughts on “The Middle/Corner Balance

  1. Max

    Agreed. This is why they need to trade for Michael Morse (as soon as the Nats re-sign Laroche) to DH/play OF and sign Scott Hairston. Problem solved.

    • Chris

      Hairston isn’t going to happen, he’s getting 2 and maybe 3 years somewhere and I don’t see the Yankees committing 5 or so million to next years payroll for a right handed platoon bat. If he was going to take a 1 year deal I think he’d be a Yankee right now, but he performed well enough to deserve multiple years.

      I’d be interested in Morse but he’s heading into his age 31 season and I wouldn’t be willing to pay the price in prospects Washington is going to ask. All the rumors are he won’t come cheap and he’d be nothing more than a DH/ platoon right fielder for us, so it’s not worth it.

      I think the team is pretty much set with how it’s going to look heading into the season at this point. Cashman is going to add some DH types on 1 year deals like Ibanez last year, and I’m sure some right handed outfield and pitchingh scrap heap guys. But adding Ichiro is really the last “big move”, and if it takes 2 years to bring in Suzuki (I really hope not) then they are going to for sure stay away from anything but scrap heap 1 year moves.

  2. Chris

    I really hope this is the year that the Yankees move Granderson to left field. He’s gone at the end of the year so there’s no reason to try and pretend he’s a center fielder for trade value and he’s clearly declined. Put him in LF, let Gardner take over as one of the best defnesive center fielders in the game, and finally get the most value out Gardner’s talents.

  3. roadrider

    Alright, I know this is probably not going to go over well and I’m getting a little (OK, a lot) queasy even suggesting it, but how about Alfonso Soriano for the RH half of the OF/DH platoon? The Cubs want to move him and are willing to eat all but $10 million of the two years he has left on his contract. They do want a prospect in return but that’s where the negotiation aspect comes in (How badly do you want this guy gone Theo?) and there might be room to have them pick up more of the tab for a better prospect or offer a lesser prospect if they won’t move on the money.

    Soriano hit .260/.342/.489 vs lefties last year (.255/.318/.497 away from the friendly confines against lefties and righties) which is not far off his career split of .277/.346/.517. He can at least fake the OF and it’s the short side of the platoon (plus you’d have Suzuki to come in for defense in the late innings).

    I doubt the Yankees will go for it, especially since it’s a two-year commitment but that is a lot of production against LHP for not much money (OK, baseball money).

    • Chris

      If they were going to spend 5 million a year for two years they might as well offer 2 years and 10 million to Delmon Young, Scott Hairston, and Cody Ross and see if one bites. Ultimately I doubt they are willing to cut into the 2014 budget, at any rate, for simply a right handed platoon bat. It’s too easy to sign someone to be the next Marcus Thames or Andruw Jones for 1 year once the market starts to close to devote 5 million dollars of the 2014 budget to a guy getting so few ABs in the perfect scenario.

      • fuster

        you ever see Delmon Young play the outfield???

        • Chris

          Have you seen Alfonso Soriano play outfield? I’m not a fan of bringing either player on board to be honest but the point is I don’t see the Yankees taking on a 2014 contract for a right handed platoon bat, let alone trading prospects to do so. They’re much more likely to go the route they’ve gone for the past 3 or 4 years in filling that position, cheap one year scrap options.

  4. fuster

    If Gardner’s not traded, he’s likely to play center. If Granderson’s not, he’ll be supplying power from the corner.

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