Grading 2011 and Looking Ahead: OF/DH Edition
According to Wallace Matthews……..Cashman, on Thursday was set for a second day of organizational meetings with Yankees scouting and player personnel executives.
“We’re addressing every area of need on the team,” he said. “We’re evaluating our own personnel as well as whoever might become available this offseason.”
So, as Cash and his team evaluate the Yankees personnel, it’s time for Part II of our evaluation also – this time we finish the offense with the Outfield and DH spots.
Gardner began the year as the leadoff hitter but had a dreadful April hitting .188. He quickly got things together and was having an excellent season thru late July, even showing some improved pop at the plate. On July 20th, Brett was hitting a robust .291/.372/.419/.791 and was in the midst of a record string of 22 straight successful stolen bases. Everyone was lobbying for him to get his leadoff job back but he seemed to wear down and for the third year in a row faded badly in August & September to finish at .259/.345/.369/.713.
Brett’s game is always much more than his hitting. He led the A.L. with 49 SBs in 62 attempts and was again the Majors best defensive Outfielder with a sick 25.2 UZR. The jumps he gets on balls and the athletic plays he makes save numerous runs. Grade: B
Jones was brought in to hit LHP and he did it well. In 146 PAs he hit .286/.384/.540/.923. he was a non-factor vs RHP with a .172 BA. He played a decent OF when asked to and hit 13 HRs with an .851 OPS overall so he was exactly what they thought he’d be. Grade: B
2012 Outlook: Gardner will see a decent raise in his first arbitration year but will still be a bargain for the roughly $2-3 Million he may get. His late season fades are becoming regular. it seemed to be injuries in his first 2 yrs but this yr he just seemed worn out. Given his all out, aggressive nature, he may need to be given more off days throughout the yr to stay fresh. He should probably see more days off against LHP this yr to see if an extra day off every week to 10 days will keep him strong. Jones could be offered a chance to come back but if he doesn’t there is definitely a need for an OF to play against LHP.
Curtis had a career year hitting .262/.364/.552/.916 with 41 HRs and a league leading 119 RBI & 136 Runs. The key to his improvement was the adjustments he made vs LHP. He went from one of the most anemic hitters against southpaws to leading all MLB with 16 HRs against them. The only real knock from an offensive standpoint was his 169 SOs. Grandy stole 25 of 35 bases and played an above average CF. His UZR was not good as he often takes false initial steps and takes circuitous routes to the baseball but his great speed, athleticism and solid arm make up for it. Grade: A
2012 Outlook: Curtis has 1 year and a team option left on his deal so the Yanks have control over him thru 2013. He has vowed to work on cutting his strikeouts this off-season and it would be a welcome improvement. He remarked many times that he is not a power hitter and I’d like to see him be able to put the ball in play more and raise his BA
Swish got off to a horrendous start in the first 2 months of the season. On May 25th he was hitting .204/.321/.289/.610 and it seemed like he was playing his last season in NY. But something clicked and he went on a 3-month tear where he hit for a .982 OPS and hit 19 HRs with 58 RBI in 83 games. Unfortunately, he also wore down to have a poor Sept and his 3rd straight lousy post-season. Overall his season was slightly down from his previous 2 with a .260/.374/.449/.822 line, 22 HRs & 85 RBI. Like Tex, he was much better from the right side as he seemed to get to Pull & Fly ball happy as a lefty hitter. His defensive metrics were good but in my eyes he seemed no better than average in RF and his arm looked weak to me. Grade: C+
2012 Outlook: The club has a $10.25M option on Swisher with a $1M buyout. So he will cost an additional $9.25M to bring back for 2012. Looking at his 3-yr tenure in NY, he has averaged .265/.368/.483/.851 with 27 Hrs & 85 RBI. Those #s are worth picking up the option. But when you weigh in his career .169 Postseason BA, extreme streakiness, mediocre defense and declining hitting vs RHP, the decision gets harder. Add in the fact that the rest of the offense is under contract and it seems like RF is the only are to make a change. The question will be is a FA like Carlos Beltran or Michael Cuddyer worth signing to a multi-year deal? Or is it worth trading some young prospects for another OF? Or maybe its worth bringing Nick back on a reasonable 1 yr option and going after someone like Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, Josh Hamilton, Delmon Young, Carlos Quentin or Shane Victorino as Free Agents next year.
Jorge was told to hang up his shin guards and be the everyday DH this season. It seemed he never embraced the role and made the best of it, instead choosing to act like he was dissed and pout around all season. I wish he would have taken the team-first approach Michael Young took when Texas made him DH. But Posada did not and it affected his play. Like Swisher he was worthless for April and May. Soon after he refused to bat 8th vs Boston, he got hot for June and hit .382 for the month. But that didn’t last and he finished with a .235/.315/398/.713 line. Posada has never been a fast runner but his decision-making and overall base running was so bad that he was an embarrassment when he did get on base. He had a nice moment in Sept when he got the winning hit to clinch the AL East and he followed it up with a solid ALDS vs Detroit. Grade: D
2012 Outlook: Posada is a Free Agent but I don’t think there is any reason to bring him back. He’s had a great career and will be remembered as a great Yankee but at 40 he clearly should step aside. The Yanks have young Jesus Montero ready to take the DH and back up Catcher job. Montero hit .328/.406/.590/.996 with 4 HRs in his brief 69 PA cameo in Sept and has had comparisons to everyone from Miguel Cabrera to Manny Ramirez to Albert Pujols. Those are weighty expectations to put on a 21 yr old but the kid can rake and needs to be given 500+ ABs to prove it.