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 Gardner: If 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 Soriano: After 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 Wells: All 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 Suzuki: Let’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.