I’m going to be honest: until Brian Cashman raised the possibility that the Yankees may be prepared to head to Spring Training with the roster as it stands now, I hadn’t really appreciated how precarious their offensive situation is. I mean, I knew they’d lost a lot of production, of course, but I don’t think it had ever really hit me how much of a liability the offense could be in the (none too far-fetched) worse case scenario. I won’t go so far as to call them “bad,” if only because that’s just setting myself up to fall on my face when Ichiro Suzuki hits 20 home runs, Robinson Cano wins the triple crown, and the team scores 900 runs. But for a team whose front office has taken to reassuring fans that they still spend $200 million on the roster, there’s barely a position at which the Yankees don’t have serious questions and/or limitations with their projected starter.
Consider this lineup:
C- Chris Stewart (career wRC+ of 59!)
1B- Mark Teixeira (116 wRC+ in 2012, the fourth straight year in which that number declined)
2B- Robinson Cano (Arguably the only non-problem, though his sudden problem hitting lefties is worrisome)
SS- Derek Jeter (Had his second best offensive season since 2007 last year, also had ankle surgery)
3B- Kevin Youkilis (102 wRC+ in 2012 was the worst of his career, only 89 against RHP)
LF- Brett Gardner (career ISO of .103. Not saying he’s not a nice player, but if he’s your savior, well…)
CF- Curtis Granderson (2012 marked career worsts in batting average, on base percentage, and strikeout rate).
RF- Ichiro: (Even with that strong performance with the Yankees, his season total wRC+ was a whopping 90)
DH- ??? (You get free offense out of this position, so to speak, and the Yankees don’t even have it filled yet).
So that’s…disconcerting, if you’re a Yankee fan. I’m not saying there isn’t reason for optimism here or anything, and the best case scenario for this lineup is pretty darn good. But right now, just eyeballing it, I think the concerns outweigh the hopes, and the lowest low seems more likely to happen than the highest high. It also makes you appreciate the effect Nick Swisher and Russell Martin had on the lineup just a little bit more. I know we’re all tired of beating that horse, but it probably won’t stop being a storyline unless and until the Yankees prove they won’t miss their production too much.