Missing the playoffs is not sitting well with Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner.
The Yankees have been one of the league’s most active teams in free agency to this point, having made several big-time moves. Here’s how I would grade the moves (and non-move) the Yankees have made thus far:
The Yankees significantly overpaid to acquire the former Boston Red Sox center fielder. Ellsbury, 30, was signed to a 7-year $153 million dollar contract, which is the 3rd largest contract ever given to an outfielder. Looking at Ellsbury’s stats over his career, he misses a ton of games due to injury, and really only had one great year in his career. That year came in 2011 when Ellsbury hit 32 home-runs and drove in 105 runs. He hasn’t come remotely close to matching those numbers since. If Ellsbury can stay healthy, he will be a dynamic threat at the top of the Yankees lineup, and he can use his speed to produce a lot of runs. The problem is he simply can’t be trusted to play 162 games.
In 2013, the Yankees offensive production at the catcher position was among the worst in Major League Baseball. Chris Stewart played in 109 games hitting just .211 with 25 RBIs. The addition of Brian McCann will help tremendously. Yes the Yankees probably overpaid for him, but having a stable catcher is essential for a team with winning aspirations. McCann playing at Yankee Stadium should equal a recipe of at least 25 home-runs since he’s a dead pull hitter.
Letting Robinson Cano Go
This was the best move the Yankees have made so far, not matching the ridiculous contract the Seattle Mariners were offering to Robinson Cano. Signing a 31-year old to a 10-year $240 million dollar contract is absurd, and teams will be lucky to get 5 productive years out of that player. Instead of dealing with a player who can’t play the field everyday in a few years, the Yankees can focus on getting younger and spending the teams money in a variety of different ways.
Hours after Robinson Cano signed with the Mariners, Brian Cashman immediately began spending extra money by signing Carlos Beltran to a 3-year $45 million dollar contract. Beltran will be 37 next April, and there’s no way the Yankees can pencil Beltran in right field for 162 games. He will need to DH plenty in order to keep his knees healthy. Assuming Alex Rodriguez wins his appeal, the Yankees will have to be very creative in how they utilize the DH spot. Derek Jeter, Alfonso Soriano, A-Rod, and Beltran all can’t play the field everyday meaning Girardi has to sacrifice offense since so many Yankees are in their late 30s. It’s better to stick to a consistent lineup as opposed to mixing it up basically every game which with the signing of Beltran, appears to be the case.
Hiroki Kuroda was a Cy Young candidate for most of the season before he fell apart in September. Kuroda’s horrendous final month was a major reason why the Yankees missed the playoffs. Now that he’s back, there’s no way he will be able to give the Yankees a consistent outing every five days. Joe Girardi will have to skip over him, or give him an extra day’s rest a lot of the time especially considering he will be 39 in February. After losing Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte, it’s understandable why Brian Cashman brought back Kuroda to hold a spot in the rotation for one more year.
Despite everything the Yankees have done so far, there’s still plenty left for Brian Cashman to do. The Yankees need a backup plan for Alex Rodriguez, and at least one more starting pitcher, if not more.
Future Suggestions: Masahrio Tanaka, Matt Garza, Grant Balfour