Monday, December 16, 2013
Yankees Look Ahead - Outfield
Nowhere is the Yankees tendency to pick up aged players more evident than the outfield. After the injuries to Curtis Granderson, the 2013 Yankee outfield was Brett Gardner in center, Ichiro in right, and a combination of Vernon Wells and Alfonso Soriano in left.
2014 looked to be more of the same, although I would have liked to see Zoilo Almonte a crack at right field. However, the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury changed all that. Although, to be honest, I am not sure if it raises more questions that it answers.
The talk around the blogs is that Ellsbury will man center and Brett Gardner will slide back over to left field. This leaves open what to do about right field. Neither Vernon Wells or Ichiro have much pop left offensively, even though they are still solid defenders. Alfonso Soriano, displaced from left, still seems to have some offensive utility, but has never played right. I suppose Soriano could be the DH, although the Yankees use that spot in the lineup as a place to put aging regulars to give them a day off defensively. So I am not really sure what they plan to do.
My suggestion is to try Soriano in right. It is a small enough field that his limited defensive skills won't be that much of a liability, particularly with Ellsbury in center. I would also release Vernon Wells, especially since the Angels are still picking up $18.6M of his $21M salary, and keep Ichiro. Wells might bring more power and OBP to the team, but Ichiro would be good to have around if the Yankees are successful in signing Masahiro Tanaka. Lastly, I'd look to Amonte and Melky Mesa as my back up outfielders.
So, there you have it. The last of my looks at the Yankees 2014 season. I'll need to check back in at the end of spring training to see whether New York took my advice.