Looking ahead to 2014: The Outfield

Brett Gardner 5

With the 2014 season just mere months away, it’s time to take a look at the players the Yankees currently have on their roster and figuring where the team stands as they attempt to make a run for their 28th World Series Championship. Today, we’re going to take a look at the current state of the Yankees outfield, figuring where there are question marks and what the Yankees can do to improve their team. Let’s break it down player by player:

Brett GardnerIf the Yankees had their own MVP race within their team, Brett Gardner would probably finish second behind Robinson Cano. Gardner was a constant in a lineup of uncertainty in 2013, until September when his season ended due to an oblique strain. Gardner improved offensively and his defense was once again superb, providing the Yankees with a Gold Glove caliber glove. Unless something happens (like a bizarre trade), Gardner will be the center fielder for the Yankees in 2014, hoping to capitalize on his 2013 campaign.

Alfonso SorianoAfter Gardner, the outfield becomes a little uncertain but Soriano still provides some certainty. Although he’s originally a second basemen, Soriano played left field for the Yankees after a trade with the Chicago Cubs in mid-July. What was the most consistent quality about Soriano? Soriano’s offense. He hit 17 HR’s and 50 RBI’s in 2.5 months with the Yankees. Overall he finished with 34 HR’s and 101 RBI’s. Soriano’s glove also looks good for a player that has been labeled as “an inconsistent glove” for left field, and he even instilled confidence in Joe Girardi to put Soriano in left field every day. Again, unless something happens Soriano will be the left fielder for the Yankees in 2014.

Vernon WellsAll right, here is the point where all the certainty vanishes. Wells isn’t the player he used to be. It’s safe to say that he’s now strictly a reserve player. His offensive numbers weren’t there and his total RBI’s (50) for the season is the same amount Alfonso Soriano had in just 2.5 months with the team. My suggestion to Girardi: use Wells in small amounts. He’s no longer an every day right fielder.

Ichiro SuzukiLet’s start with I like Ichiro a lot, but he’s another player that’s now strictly a reserve player. Sure, Ichiro has never been an RBI guy, but he has been a batting average hitter. A batting average of .262 might be good for some players, but while he was in his prime, Ichiro would hit over .300. He had a decent 2013, but you have to wonder if this is the beginning of regression for Ichiro.

Overall: Outside of Brett Gardner, the Yankees outfield is old and two of the four players are past their prime. The Yankees need to sign an outfielder and there are options available in the free agent market. There’s Carlos Beltran, Shin-Soo Choo, Jacoby Ellsbury and of course Curtis Granderson just to name a few. Ellsbury would want a multi-year deal and he gets injured frequently, so he seems like an unlikely candidate for the Yankees. Choo can’t hit left handed pitching, so he’s out. It seems unlikely that Granderson would come back, although Brian Cashman has informed the media that Granderson is on their radar. If the Yankees can get Carlos Beltran to take a two year contract, then he would be a huge asset in right field and his bat could become accustomed to the short right field porch at Yankee Stadium. 

Verdict: Work needs to be done in the OF. 

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7 Responses to Looking ahead to 2014: The Outfield

  1. Mr. McGigbblets says:

    How is it that Soriano "is learning left field"? He has played LF more than any other position in the Majors. If he doesn't know it by now, he's proven him self incapable of learning anything. Answer me this, was Jorge Posada a second basemen, that spent his Major League career learning how to catch? If that's the case, then Soriano would actually be a short stop learning LF.

  2. Clayton says:

    Yankees should go after Kemp in LA who is available via trade as long as he has overcome his injuries. Still young with a lot of potential and he's just about to enter his prime years. This guy can be a beast if healthy.

  3. Tanned Tom says:

    This OF is junk: Soriano is a .302 OBP hitter, and the league will expose him next year for being the hacker he is. Wells is done. Suzuki was terrible last year, he wasn't even close to decent as a hitter – a slash line of .262/.297/.342 is dreadful. A hitter with no power who can't take a walk is damn near useless.
    The Yanks have neither the prospects nor the salary room to acquire Kemp, that's a non-starter.
    The situation is bleak, Ellsbury and Choo are not really all that great, Beltran is 37, all of them cost draft picks. Bad time to be 2 corner OFs short. And the 2014 FA class is weaker still.
    They'll live with Soriano, but look for them to sign Beltran. They almost have to keep Suzuki because he has no trade value unless they pay his salary, so Wells get traded or cut.

  4. tom says:

    Let's hope that Ramon Flores, Zach Heathcott or Tyler Austin is ready to show off this mid-summer. Always a fun to watch rookie playing in place of crappy player.

    LF- Almonte vs Soriano.

    Soriano is a southpaw killer so if he is on the slump, start Almonte against righty. Almonte can come in late game for defensive purpose.

    CF- Gardner vs Injury.

    Thank to his fatless body and style of play, Gardner is unreliable. While Ichiro can play defensively he won't threaten anything offensively. Is that when Heathcott comes in? I hope so.

    RF- Almonte vs aging FA vs Austin.

    For now, it is Ichiro. I would love to throw Austin into wolf pack now. He has hit anywhere in the minor but he has hole in bat and he will need a MLB professional to fix his bat. Unfortunately, Girardi will go with veteran or hot hands so it could be sticking with aging FA or Ichiro until either Almonte, Austin, Flores or Heathcott shows up offensively.

    Personally, I want to push Austin and Heathcott for season's opening day roster so they can taste a cup of coffee at majors. If they struggle mightily then they will be optioned to AAA with knowledgeable MLB experience so they can be ready for second time later in the summer or next year. That is how Yankees had lucks with Cabrera and Robertson.

    Baby pampering big guys in the minor wont do any good.

  5. olie says:

    Time to play Almonte everyday and see if he can handle it, Beltran is to old to sign would rather they spend money on catcher. (If they had signed Martin last year they would not have had this problem) I don't think the young catchers in system are ready yet.
    Also the signing of Ryan (SS) a really good as it makes the pitching staff better!

  6. P D C says:

    Yankees must sign Beltran right now to 3 years pact and avoid another Russell Martin case.