Before I get into the OF’rs I have to follow-up on a quote I saw from Girardi. “Serge was more of a starter; He was never really a one-inning guy.” This is the part of Girardi that rubs me the wrong way; he simply says things that insult my intelligence. Does he really think everyone just listens without thinking? If Mitre really was “more of a starter” than why was his ERA as a starter 7.16 and 5.93 in 2009 and 2010 while being 4.70 and 2.45 as a reliever?
Sorry just had to get that off my chest.
OK, on to the outfield.
Swisher: Swisher was an excellent acquisition by Cashman. He has had back to back years with an OPS of .869 and .870. The interesting part is he arrived at the numbers in different ways. Last year he hit for higher average, but walked a lot less, in fact it was the lowest walk per AB ratio of his career. He walked about 16% of the time in 2009 and only 9% last year. However, he made up for it with more hits in the place of the walks. He has been very consistent outside of the hits and walks replacing each other; he played 150 games and hit 29 homers in each of the past 2 years with 33 and 35 double respectively. Going into this write-up my feeling was that Swisher would see a little down tick, but his consistency has been excellent. At 30 he is in his prime, but something tells me I would predict a little bit less from him; I would say an OPS more in line with overall career numbers (.827) around a .835 OPS.
Granderson: I went on record stating I liked the Granderson trade, but I also was concerned we didn’t have a platoon partner for him and the sooner the Yanks realized they need to get him out against lefties the better. The Yankees never addressed this and Granderson continued the exact same thing I stated would happen (even though everyone said it would be different this year) he had an excellent ops against righties of .866 and a very weak .646 against lefties. That being said, I would be disingenuous if I didn’t point out how much better he played in the 2nd half after Kevin Long quieted his bat. Granderson had an OPS of .861 in the 2nd half after only a .718 in the first half. I don’t have the numbers of how he did against lefties in the 2nd half, but I would expect them to be over an OPS of .700. While still not good against lefties, it does reduce the amount of times he should not play against lefties. Based on the 2nd half of the year, he is not “Jose Molina” against lefties anymore, but still not a good option. However, he remains a tremendous hitter against righties, especially for a fast OF’r. I see Granderson adding about 30 points to his OPS and finishing around .830.
Gardner: I took a lot of heat when I said Gardner was a better overall option than Damon (and a lot less costly) and letting Damon go was the right move. Gardner really played great until he hurt his wrist. He had an OPS of .811 at the All Star Break but only .698 after the injury. He finished the year at .762. keep in mind when you take into account 47 SB’s and only being caught 9 times, he actually added 29 bases (subtracting 2 for every CS) to his numbers which gave him an equivalent OPS of .813. Then, when you add in his defense, where he has about as much range as anyone and an arm which was surprisingly accurate and strong, you have a really good player. I believe Crawford won the GG, but Gardner might have been better with 5 more assists (a total of 12) and only 1 error all year (Crawford only had 2). BTW, Crawford can’t throw at all so I am sure that Gardner stopped more advancement bases than Crawford also. While Crawford is a better hitter, Gardner is not very far behind Crawford as an overall player. At less than a mil/year Gardner is an amazing value. I believe Gardner can give us an OPS approaching .800 and when you add another 45+ SB’s to the defense that really should be in CF (I discussed this a lot last year), he is more valuable than people realize.
So I expect our overall OF to be slightly better.
Bench: We added Eric Chavez and Andrew Jones as the major bench guys to go along with Nunez (who I expect to beat out Pena) and whoever our 5th OF’r will be. The backup catcher will eventually be Montero and that will/should be a good bat when he comes up. Chavez has been the talk in camp as he has hit great and the former Oakland 3rd baseman gold glover should help spell ARod and Tex and be a decent bat option.
Jones is an important piece here as we know Granderson struggles against lefties and Gardner is better against righties as well so having an OF’r who can bat against lefties is a key piece. In steps the 33 year old Andrew Jones who had a nice year last year with a respectable .781 OPS against righties, but a stellar .931 OPS against lefties. Obviously if he can duplicate these numbers (he did have 330 AB’s) this would be a great addition. The issue I have is that his swing didn’t look all that great and last season was big resurgence compared to the prior 3 years. He did post a .782 OPS in 2009 but he actually hit a little better against righties. This signing made some sense based on the platoon need, but I am not sure what Jones has left in the OF defensively. I would expect Gardner to move to CF when Granderson gets platooned.
I like our bench better than last year, especially with Montero on the team, but at 21 he is still young and while he looks like a can’t miss hitter, one never knows.
Bottom line for the Yanks is that our hitting is better than last year and we already scored the most runs. Our defense should be about the same overall with an increase at catcher being offset by my own expected drop at SS and everyone else being about the same.
With an improved bullpen (not mentioned I think Joba will have a good year this year) and better offense, does that make up for the loss of Pettitte? Pettitte really pitched well last year, but the answer is yes. Overall, I don’t see our starters being worse than last year. If Burnett is better and our 5th starter is better, does that make up for the loss differential from Pettitte to Nova? One could say very close when you also add the time Pettitte missed and how poorly what we replaced him with. We also have better depth with Colon waiting in the wings.
So while most see the Yanks really struggling because they didn’t add Lee and didn’t retain Pettitte, the starters are not a lot worse in my opinion and even if slightly less, the much better pen and still top ranked offense should give this team another mid 90’s victory tally. Boston should be very tough as they added some guns and last year they were really banged up. But TB should drop with some of their losses. Baltimore did play well under Buck at the end of the year, but they don’t have the guns to compete yet. We have a little better depth than Boston and we have the fire power to get someone if we need it based on the money we had reserved for Pettitte and Lee. We will be enjoying the postseason games again as long as we don’t get hit hard with injuries.