Yangervis Solarte Should Probably Be Batting Second

Solarte HR vs MIL

Courtesy of the AP

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod.  Stats have not been updated to reflect last night’s game.  Solarte went 2-4 with a BB and a HR)

If you had Yangervis Solarte as your pick for the player who would be leading all qualified Yankees in batting average, OPS, wOBA, and RBI on May 13th, then congratulations.  You’re a smarter person than I.  Even after cooling off from his smoking hot initial start, Solarte has maintained a level of consistent aboave-average production over the last month that nobody else on the team can match.  He’s got a hit in each of the last 7 games (multiple hits in 4 of those 7), 11 of the last 13, and he’s either scored or driven in a run in 6 of the last 7.

This latest stretch of good hitting has come at a time when the Yankees aren’t getting much from the middle of their lineup, and in that respect Solarte has been a quiet lifesaver.  …

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Designated hitter again a problem for the Yankees

A writer often comes up with random ideas and then says, “Yeah, let’s go with that one.” For me, today’s idea was about the Yankees and the designated hitter position. The silly part was realizing that the Yankees are in Milwaukee for a weekend series against the Brewers and will not have a designated hitter in the National League park. Oops. Well, hold on to these thoughts for later, okay? The bottom line here is that the Yankees are not getting much from the DH position thus far this season.

The good news, at least, is the DH has been better than last year. Last year was awful as the Yankees had an OPS of just .583 out of the DH position compared to the average OPS in Major League Baseball (all positions) of .706. In theory, if you designate a player to hit for you as a bonus in the lineup, you would like that player to actually hit.

With that little bit of good news out of the way, the 2014 Yankees are still below average from the designated hitter position.…

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Where Has All The Offense Gone?

Ellsbury K vs BOS

I feel ya, Jacoby. I feel ya. Courtesy of the AP

The Yankees should have been catching a big break last night.  Seattle choosing to push back Wednesday’s scheduled starter Roenis Elias rather than skip him meant the Yanks got to avoid getting carved up by Felix Hernandez for the 457th time.  Of course, there’s always that pesky theory about the Yankees never being able to hit rookie pitchers and it played out in full effect last night as Elias held the lineup to 2 runs (1 earned) through 7 innings while striking out 10.  2 runs isn’t enough to get it done with the rotation in the kind of shape it’s in these days and it didn’t get it done last night.

The 2-run output marked the 5th straight game in which the Yankees scored 4 runs or fewer and the 13th game this season in which they’ve been held to 3 or fewer.  Since beating Boston 14-5 last Thursday, the Yankees have scored 13 runs in their last 5 games.  …

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Why Is Kelly Johnson’s Role Shrinking?

Johnson vs BOS 2014

Has anybody seen this man? Courtesy of Getty Images

Between not finding suitable everyday options for second and third base and finding even fewer for a backup at first base, the general consensus was that Kelly Johnson was going to be an important part of the infield this year.  At the end of Spring Training, he was the starter at third, the backup and perfect world best man for the job at second, and the backup for Teix at first as declared by Joe.  As a guy who’d spent the better part of the last 4 seasons either at second or in left field, that was a lot to handle, and if we’re being fair, I think Johnson has done a nice job handling what was asked of him in the first month of the season.  He’s played a pretty good third, a decent first, and he’s provided the left-handed pop the Yanks were hoping for when they signed him (4 2B, 3 HR in 69 PA).  …

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Comparing Yankees’ Opening Day Lineups From 2013 To 2014

After a torturous Spring Training last year, the Yankees opened up the 2013 season with one of their worst opening day lineups in recent history. Curtis Granderson, Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez all hit the disabled list early, and this was after losing Nick Swisher and Russell Martin to free agency. There was a ton of doom and gloom from Yankee fans and the media, but by the end of the season, the Yankees’ record really wasn’t all that terrible. Yet, only Alex Rodriguez returned for long enough to make an impact on the season, while the Yankees’ management proved that they would make the necessary moves to provide a competitive team.

Looking back on the 2013, it’s hard to be too pessimistic about their 85-77 record, despite losing out on the playoffs. They played far better than we expected, but it’s easy to forget just how bad this team looked in April. Here’s the opening day lineup from 2013 compared to the projected opening day lineup for 2014.…

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No Shortage Of Questions About The Batting Order Right Now

Joe Girardi

As the focus shifts from the hot stove season to the start of spring training, the talking points are shifting along with it.  Case in point, Buster Olney’s ESPN article yesterday about the toughest lineup decisions facing teams as they prepare for the 2014 season.  The article is Insider only, but the important part for the purposes of this blog was the one on the Yankees and their slight dilemma of where to bat Brett Gardner.  Olney’s case for hitting Gardner 2nd is a sound one.  Gardner’s speed and patience are a great fit at the top of the lineup where they can be used to wreak havoc on the basepaths with Jacoby Ellsbury, and he has shown a knack for getting on base (.352 career OBP).  The Yankees best bet to set the table for the middle of their lineup would probably be to use Ellsbury and Gardner as a 2-headed leadoff monster.

Of course, no discussion about the top of the Yankee batting order would be complete without mentioning Derek Jeter, and Olney correctly points out that Jeter’s legend and resume will factor heavily into Joe’s decision on where to bat him.  …

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Thinking About The Potential DH Carousel

Carousel

Not pictured: the Yankee DHs

We’re less than 4 weeks away from pitchers and catchers reporting, so baseball is officially out there on the horizon.  When that Friday comes, baseball will officially be back and a few days later when the rest of the team arrives at the Tampa complex Spring Training 2014 will be fully underway.  As usual, there will be a handful of roster battles that will dominate the ST headlines, highlighted by the annual 5th starter competition.  A bench job or 2 will be up for grabs, as will some bullpen roles, possibly the closer role if the Yanks do end up signing another veteran late-inning reliever, and the third base platoon jobs.

One spot that won’t be up for competition this year is designated hitter.  The older and injury risky Yankees have more candidates for the DH spot than ever this season and will most likely be rotating a large cast of veteran characters through it in an attempt to keep everybody as well-rested and healthy as possible.  …

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Musing On The Playing Time Breakdown At Shortstop

Jeter ST

It’s way too early to call anything for sure, but it sure looks like the Yankees are done addressing the shortstop position for 2014.  They gave Derek Jeter a new contract, in all likelihood his final one, so he can try to go out on his terms as the starter and they hedged their bets by re-signing Brendan Ryan to a reported 1-year/$2 million deal as the backup.  With as many other roster holes as they have to fill and the front office sticking to its “we’re planning to have A-Rod around next year” story, it seems highly unlikely that they will go out and drop another $10-15 million on a Stephen Drew or a Jhonny Peralta as a third option.  Realistically we can assume the Yankees will roll with The Captain and B-Ry (still working on Ryan’s nickname) at short and will split the bulk, if not all, of the playing time there between the 2.

Now the question becomes just how that playing time is going to be split up.  …

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