The New York Yankees‘ offense has been rather sub-par all year long. They have given up more runs than they have scored and they average more runs against per game (4.31) than runs scored per game (3.71). Of their starting nine, only three hitters have an average above .260, with Jacoby Ellsbury representing the highest average at a very modest .280. Because of this, they rank last in the league in average, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and on base plus slugging percentage (.231/.299/.371/.670). They have been, in every sense of the word, a disappointment. Something has to be done regarding the lineup and there are a few suggestions that I have for how to solve it.
Hit Starlin Castro lead off.
The top of the order is rather set with the exception of Brett Gardner. Gardner, as of June 2, is in a 0-23 slump and hasn’t recorded a hit since May 22. He’s still getting his walks, leading the team with 28, but he isn’t producing in the two hole in the lineup. Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran are still producing in the leadoff spot and three hole respectively, so something should be done about that two hole. My solution: move Starlin Castro to the leadoff spot. Castro has largely hit in the middle of the lineup for the Yankees this year and has produced a .245/.286/.411 batting line, good by Yankees standards this year, but compared to all other second basemen this year, he ranks near the bottom. By moving his bat to the leadoff spot, there stands the chance that his bat will pick up again. In fact, for his career, Castro has produced rather well atop the lineup producing a career .301/.346/.431 in the leadoff spot. He may not be the typical leadoff hitter, but the definition of leadoff hitters has changed a lot over the past few years. Jose Bautista is a prime example. Since he moved to the leadoff spot, the Toronto Blue Jays’ lineup has picked up, with Bautista himself representing a threat. For more information on his move to the top read this link and this link, too. The leadoff spot is no longer about on base percentage and speed, like it has been in the past. By moving Castro to the top of the lineup, Ellsbury would move second with Gardner moving eighth or ninth.
Bench Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira.
The two Yankees veterans have been largely disappointing. They are both posting negative wins above replacement and both hitting under .200. Much has been made about the two of them regarding their health (Teixeira has missed some starts due to a lingering neck injury and Rodriguez has played in 20 of the team’s 52 games and spent time on the DL earlier in the year), and their versatility, or lackthereof with the latter being a pure DH. Despite their contributions to the team in years past and their track records, it’s time for them to sit aside and let younger players get regular time. They don’t really pose much value any more; Teixeira has always been an outstanding defensive first baseman, with some arguing that his glove is reason enough to keep him playing, but his bat is a hindrance and Rodriguez can no longer be counted on every day. I say that these veterans should be benched in favor of younger players like Austin Romine, Rob Refsnyder, and Aaron Hicks. These players have shown promise this year and over their careers both in the majors and minors and both would be improvements over these two veterans. Plus, by benching Rodriguez, Beltran would move to DH (where he thrived when Rodriguez was on the DL) thus leaving a void in right field and first base. I’ll address this dilemma later.
Move Didi Gregorious up the order.
I’m a little bit bias when it comes to Gregorious. I like him a lot; he can flash the leather and has shown major improvements with the bat this year. I even made a post a few weeks back about why he is the best hitter in the Yankees’ lineup, and I still stand by it. He has hit in the bottom third all year hitting above seventh only once and hitting in the eighth hole the most, but when trying to ignite the offense, changes are needed. Although he has hit near the bottom for a large part of his career, he does have experience elsewhere, and he actually hits better higher in the order. Although it’s a small sample size, in 135 at bats hitting second, he hit .267/.325/.356. When batting first he hit ..263/.356/.474 in 38 at bats and when hitting seventh he hit .288/.335/.423 in 260 at bats. He has a combined 16 at bats between the sixth and third spots, but I propose that the Yankees try him in these spots. What’s the worst that could happen? He feels comfortable in the middle and produces, or he slumps and is dropped in the order. However, I highly doubt that Gregorious would produce a batting line worse than the current .217/.283/.386 that Yankees’ third through sixth hitters have posted this year. Bat him fifth or sixth behind Beltran and Brian McCann and see what happens.
Acquire a legitimate first baseman and outfielder.
With my proposal to bench Teixeira and Rodriguez, the Yankees would need to replace those players. Beltran would slide to DH where he would undoubtedly play every day and keep his knees healthy, but then there would be holes at first base and right field. The Yankees have some options in the minors for first basemen, but journeymen Nick Swisher and Chris Parmelee are hardly improvements. The Yankees do have a lot of young outfielders seemingly ready to move to the majors, but whether or not they can handle the pressure of playing right field everyday and expect to produce right away is a tall order. There are, however, a lot of trade candidates that the Yankees should look to acquire. Some players who would be major improvements would be Ryan Braun and Chris Carter of the Milwaukee Brewers, Jay Bruce of the Cincinnati Reds, and Josh Reddick of the Oakland Athletics. These player are more than likely going to be dealt at or before the trading deadline, but the cost might be too high for the Yankees in terms of prospects and dollars. However, the Yankees should dip into their pitching to make a trade. Andrew Miller and Nathan Eovaldi have been popular names since the off season and could bring back a good player or two. The Chicago Cubs have been mentioned as a trade partner and they surely have players that the Yankees would love to acquire. Jorge Soler and Javier Baez would be great young players for the Yankees.
This is all just speculation and things I would love to see the Yankees do, but the underlying issue here that I’m trying to get at is that the Yankees need to improve their lineup and here these are a few suggestions that I would look at if I were the Yankees higher-ups.