Can the Yankees Turn it Around? Yes. Here’s How! by Cary Greene (Guest Post)
Can the Yankees Turn it Around? Yes. Here’s How!
by Cary Greene
July 16, 2021
*** I’m going to lead with this bold statement, then I’m going to back it up: THE YANKEES ARE BEING GROSSLY MISMANAGED THIS YEAR. That’s actually the real problem. Fix this and you fix the Yankees.
Allow me explain:
Alex Rodriguez dropped a bomb on the Yankees this year when he said that no team in baseball has more players playing out of position than any other team in baseball – he pointed to this as the single main thing that was killing the Yankees and you know what, it’s time SOMEBODY listens to this viewpoint before the season is entirely lost.
Simply by playing people in the proper positions, the Yankees could be about 7 games better and right now, that would mean they’d be tied with Tampa Bay. I’m talking here about simple fixes that require no trades. Mange the team better and the team would be better. Simple. Easy.
The Yankees have a run differential right now, at the halfway mark of the year, of +1, which is a really big problem. If the team is going to start winning at a .600+ clip, they are going to need to start consistently outscoring their opponents and to do that, they absolutely have to turn things around.
Brian Cashman could make a trade or two for a few difference making players – sure. But that’s not going to get the Yankees playing .600+ baseball. It just isn’t. The Yankees need to start playing their personnel in their natural positions.
Giancarlo Stanton is not just a designated-hitter. He’s a plus outfielder. DJ LeMahieu is not a first-baseman. He’s a plus-plus second-baseman. Gio Urshela is not a shortstop. He’s a Graig Nettles quality defender at third-base. When those players are slotted in other spots, it hurts the team. Additionally, Brett Gardner is no longer a centerfielder, in fact he doesn’t even belong on the roster. Tim Locastro is not a platoon playing left-fielder who should start every other day. He also doesn’t belong on the roster. Luke Voit is not a first-baseman, when he’s right, he’s a designated-hitter. Aaron Judge should not be playing right field in Yankee Stadium, he’s too fast, he should be in leftfield. All of these are simple changes to make for most games on most days.
Lastly. Gary Sanchez is a decent catcher and he should be doing exactly that – catching. Kyle Higashioka is a great defensive catcher, in fact, he’s the Yankees best overall defensive player and in games he plays, he absolutely brings a ton of value. He should be catching Gerrit Cole and coming into games when the Yankees have a lead. This would save on Sanchez and keep him fresh, eliminating the need to ever DH him. If anything, Sanchez is underutilized right now. Think of this, teams bring in closers to save games. Higgy should be coming in once the Yankees have a lead in later innings. His impact could be a needle mover, and no, Higgy should not be starting over Gary Sanchez, except when Cole is on the mound.
The average OPS for a Major-League player this season is .718 – so as we examine this mark and factor in defensive value, the Yankee’s offensive opportunities are easily identified.
The Yankee position players are listed below. The goal of this exercise is to highlight which Yankee players are contributing the most and identify who is weighing the team down and could be replaced by a true difference-makers.
The first thing that leaps off the page when you examine the Yankee’s from a positional perspective is that the way Brian Cashman is using Giancarlo Stanton is killing the Yankees. DHing Stanton ruins any value he could potentially bring to the team. SOMEONE ought to at least advise Hal Steinbrenner, that if he’s going to stick with Cashman and Boone, that he should insist that Stanton be moved to the outfield immediately. The reasons for doing this are numerous and the reasons against it don’t hold water:
I’ll start with why Brian Cashman defends this – the Yankees say it’s the only way to keep his bat in the lineup. Well, if you brought in an average player who could play average defense & simply dropped Stanton entirely from the roster – you’d lose exactly one game more for the duration of the season. THINK ABOUT THAT. When we look at a typical Stanton season when he’s playing the field, he’s incredibly more valuable.
Furthermore, Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar are killing the Yankees defensively. Leftfield in Yankee Stadium is expansive. You need a fast player who get to balls in the gap. Frazier, when he was starting, was taking horrible routes to balls and misplaying them and Andujar can’t get to balls. In fact, if Andujar is an outfielder, he isn’t even suited for leftfield. He has a strong arm. He should be experimenting with playing rightfield, but in the Minor Leagues, where games don’t matter.
The next thing that jumps out is that the team’s most valuable full time defensive player, by a mile, is Gio Urshela. He shouldn’t be playing shortstop to rest Gleyber Torres. He’s like Graig Nettles at 3B. The Yankees need to play him where he’s best. Also, Gio doesn’t do a great job of getting on base, so he absolutely shouldn’t be batting in front of power hitting players. For a long time, Boone had him hitting in front of Gary Sanchez in the order. Not a bright idea, but easily fixable.
The least valuable offensive players are, in order, Tim Locastro, Clint Frazier, Gleyber Torres, Brett Gardner, and Miguel Andujar. When we further scrutinize these players’ defensive values, Clint Frazier and Miguel Andujar stand out as the two Yankees who MOST need to be removed from the roster, in favor of a true needle-moving, difference making player.
Gleyber Torres isn’t hitting enough to be playing shortstop for the New York Yankees. Torres is a prime candidate for a deadline deal and due to his upside and controllability. Plenty of non-contending teams would love to get him straightened out. It would be a horrendous idea to trade for Andrelton Simmons by the way, as Torres is more of a difference maker than he is. This would be a clear downgrade. Simmons is so bad offensively that whatever he gave you with the glove would be a huge net loss compared to Torres, even though Torres is playing nightmare-bad offensively right now.
The Yankees absolutely should use the second half of the season, providing they are in contention at the deadline, as an audition for Trevor Story. Whether he’s just a rental or whether he’s a fit, let’s get a look at him in pinstripes. Would that be a huge needle mover? No, it would equate to being one or two games better but the point is, Torres is holding the Yankees back and he wouldn’t be missed.
Tyler Wade .564 OPS OFFENSE -1.5 DEFENSE +0.8 WAR +0.1 Brett Gardner .614 OPS OFFENSE -4.3 DEFENSE -0.1 WAR +0.4 Clint Frazier .633 OPS OFFENSE -6.8 DEFENSE -8.9 WAR -0.8 Gleyber Torres .634 OPS OFFENSE -6.2 DEFENSE +4.2 WAR +0.9 Miguel Andujar .667 OPS OFFENSE -5.1 DEFENSE -2.1 WAR -0.2 Luke Voit .698 OPS OFFENSE -0.4 DEFENSE -0.9 WAR +0.3 Kyle Higashioka .711 OPS OFFENSE -1,0 DEFENSE +5.0 WAR +0.8 Tim Locastro .712 OPS OFFENSE -9.6 DEFENSE -1.0 WAR -0.6 Rougned Odor .715 OPS OFFENSE -0.9 DEFENSE -0.8 WAR +0.1 DJ LeMahieu .718 OPS OFFENSE +1.8 DEFENSE +.08 WAR +1.6 Gio Urshela .756 OPS OFFENSE -3.4 DEFENSE +4.8 WAR +1.2 Gary Sanchez .785 OPS OFFENSE +2.5 DEFENSE +1.3 WAR +1.3 Giancarlo Stanton .848 OPS OFFENSE +7.2 DEFENSE -7.1 WAR +1.0 Aaron Judge .901 OPS OFFENSE +20.1 DEFENSE -2.1 WAR +3.1
Fixing the Yankees main problems at the deadline are easy, providing trade partners can be found and providing the Yankees do what they can internally to play their best players where they belong.
Move Stanton to RF Move Judge to LF Play DJ Lemahieu at 2B Move Luke Voit to DH Trade for a difference making CF at the deadline: Cedric Mullins or Bryan Reynolds (takes Gardy’s spot on the roster) or even a lesser CF if you have to Trade Gleyber Torres as part of package for Ketel Marte or a Starter Trade for a legit 4th OF – Andrew Benintendi Trade for a legit 1B – Carlos Santana (can be had as part of Benintendi deal) Trade for a good SS – Trevor Story can be had for a reasonable prospect package Release Brett Gardner Demote Clint Frazier once he’s off the IL Trade Tim Locastro Demote Miguel Andujar & convert him to RF Keep Tyler Wade and use him more for pinch running and late game OF
Now Imagine these replacements & moves and what they’d look like:
Brett Gardner .614 OPS OFFENSE -4.3 DEFENSE -0.1 WAR +0.4 —- REPLACED WITH—- Cedric Mullins .921 OPS OFFENSE +25.0 DEFENSE -0.9 WAR +3.8 —- OR—- Bryan Reynolds .906 OPS OFFENSE +22.3 DEFENSE -4.0 WAR +3.0
Gleyber Torres .634 OPS OFFENSE -6.2 DEFENSE +4.2 WAR +0.9 —- REPLACED WITH—- Trevor Story .765 OPS OFFENSE +0.2 DEFENSE -8.1 WAR +1.9
Miguel Andujar .667 OPS OFFENSE -5.1 DEFENSE -2.1 WAR -0.2 —- REPLACED WITH—- Giancarlo Stanton .848 OPS OFFENSE +7.2 DEFENSE +1.1 WAR +3.5 —-and—- Andrew Benintendi .761 OPS OFFENSE +0.5 DEFENSE -5.0 WAR +0.5
Rougned Odor .715 OPS OFFENSE -0.9 DEFENSE -0.8 WAR +0.1 —- REPLACED WITH—- DJ LeMahieu .718 OPS OFFENSE +1.8 DEFENSE +.08 WAR +3.5 —-ADDED TO ROSTER—- Carlos Santanna .789 OPS OFFENSE +8.2 DEFENSE -5.6 WAR +1.5
Now we’re talking!
These moves get the Yankees back into the race.