Why Victorino Is A Good Fit
About a couple of weeks ago, as the Philadelphia Phillies continued to fall hopelessly out of the playoff race, I thought about which of their players might be intriguing for the Yankees. Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels are good, but they both come with issues: Hamels would cost too much for a rental. Lee has a bad contract and has never shown a desire to pitch for the Yankees. However, Shane Victorino was a player who I thought fit what the Yankees needed perfectly. Then yesterday Jon Heyman reported that the Yankees are interested in Victorino, and right after that, it was reported that Brett Gardner had another setback and will go for yet another MRI. With Gardner potentially being done for the season, a trade for Victorino would be something I would endorse.
The Yankees are in a fantastic position up nine games in the AL East. Because of their position, they do not have to overspend for anybody at the trade deadline. If the Yankees were battling for a playoff spot I would feel differently, but they have their spot pretty much wrapped up. Anybody the Yankees can go out and acquire wouldn’t guarantee them a championship, so there is no reason to overpay. The Yankees can win a championship with this current team. Sure a guy like Cole Hamels would give them a better chance at a ring, but he guarantees them nothing but a playoff berth, which they already have. If you mortgage the future and don’t win the championship it is really bad for your organization.
However, there is nothing wrong with improving the team at the right price. With Gardner’s status looking extremely murky, an outfielder is the biggest need for the Yankees. The only other argument you can make is for starting pitching. Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova have all pitched solidly for about two months now give or take. CC Sabathia is coming back tonight and Andy Pettitte should be back by September. That is enough pitching to win in October in my opinion. However, they can definitely use another outfielder. Despite the grand slam from Raul Ibanez yesterday he hit only .162 in June and only has 3 HR’s since the start of June. He seems to be wearing down and it could be worse by October. Andruw Jones has been spectacular of late, but he is still only a platoon player. Getting Victorino would allow Ibanez and Jones to platoon the DH spot for October like they were supposed to originally, and it would improve the defense in left field greatly.
The Yankees also need another bat to face lefties, which is another hole Victorino fills. Jones is great vs lefties, but Ibanez, Eric Chavez, and Dewayne Wise are all lefties. The Yankees used Jayson Nix at DH vs. CJ Wilson last Friday with everybody fully rested coming off the All Star break. Nix at DH or anywhere in the field will not be acceptable in October. Victorino has had a down year this year hitting .245, with 8 HR’s, 38 RBI, and.690 OPS. However, Victorino’s line vs. lefties this year is .305/.383/.585/.968. With Victorino, Jones, and Derek Jeter being outstanding vs. lefties, to go along with the rest of the mashers, that is a terrific lineup vs. lefties. Obviously, Victorino has been awful vs. righties this year, but he is a switch hitter and his career line of .269/.331/.405/.736 vs. righties is not awful.
Victorino has had a down year, but he has also probably been a little unlucky to this point. Victorino only has a .259 BABIP this season, which is 36 points below his career .295 BABIP. Also, this season his Line Drive % is 15.5%, his Fly Ball % is 39.1%, and his Ground Ball % is 45.5%. His career LD% is 18.3%, his career FB% is 45.2%, and his career GB% is 36.5%. There is only a very little difference between his career percentage’s and this season’s percentage’s. Victorino would also bring some added speed to the lineup, as he is tied for 8th in the NL with 19 steals. The Yankees are lacking the speed that Brett Gardner provided for their lineup big time. If the Yankees were to bat Victorino 9th they can recreate the double lead off guy effect that they had with Gardner and Jeter.
I would not give up Mason Williams, Gary Sanchez, Tyler Austin, or Manny Banuelos for Victorino. Anybody else is fair game. Victorino should not be too costly because he is a free agent next offseason. If the Phillies want to recoup a draft pick for Victorino after the season they would have to offer him about a 1 year / $13MM contract. That is risky, since he could easily accept it coming off a down year, and they probably don’t want him at that price. Considering all of this, Victorino probably should not cost the Yankees a whole lot. He fits their needs for an outfielder, speed, defense, and a righty bat and a trade for him should not force the Yankees to part with any of their top prospects. Victorino also comes with a solid amount of playoff experience and should not be afraid under the bright lights in October. To me, Victorino is the ideal player for the Yankees to target at the trading deadline.
What do you guys think? Would Victorino be a good fit for the Yankees? If so, who would you give up for him?