Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The beauty of Bleeding Yankee Blue is that we all share a common interest in our desire to see the Yankees add to their warehouse of championship trophies.  Let’s face it, we want Number 28. 

Over the years we’ve been fortunate enough to have owners willing to do whatever it takes to put the very best product on the field.  Other less fortunate fans of teams with owners not willing to make the sacrifices the Steinbrenners have made for the Yankees constantly chastise us out of nothing more than jealousy.

The fact is the Steinbrenners are willing to lay down money to plug holes and add depth.   Sometimes their efforts are misguided, much of the time they hit the nail on the head.

This year’s version of our Bombers has some issues that certainly need addressing.  As fellow BYB writer Ike Dimitriadis points out, our recent struggles at the plate have left the team inconsistent and have put undue pressure on our pitching staff.  He rightly offers that a team ranked 12th out of 15 AL teams in hitting warrants our attention.

Ike suggests a scan of the free agent market is in order.  Talented outfielders like Grady Sizemore, Matt Joyce and fan favorite Raul Ibanez are out there for the right price.

I’ll take it a step farther.  This team needs hitting from the infield spots.

I’m a numbers guy.  I have a Math degree, so naturally the first things I look at are the statistics when researching a topic. 

So, what do I see?

I see that the Yankees have just one infield position ranked higher than 7th in batting average in the American League – third base (we rank 4th in the AL with a .267 average from the hot corner). 

In terms of average, the catching spot ranks lowest among our infielders – 9th in the AL.  But, that is deceiving because in terms of RBI, we have the third most productive catching corps.

First base is similar in that we rank 8th in average, but 4th in RBI. 

Where are the most evident problem spots in the Yankees infield when it comes to offensive production?

Well, at second base we rank 7th in average (.260), 11th in RBI (20), 9th in runs scored, and 2nd in grounding into double plays.  Ouch.  I think we have a spot that is snuffing out rallies more often than not.

How about shortstop?

With all due respect to our Hall of Fame captain, we rank 7th in average (.257), 12th in RBI (19), 13th in runs scored (25) and 5th in grounding into double plays.  Oh Captain, Our Captain.

The numbers are telling me that we are weak up the middle on the infield. 

What can we do?

Well, I’d be most concerned about second base.  Our primary second baseman has been Brian Roberts.  Signed with the hope that somehow we could tap into some of what he once was, to this point it would appear that very little remains.  Rather than heating up, Roberts is hitting just .235 in June, and for the season is hitting .227 with runners in scoring position.  What’s worse is that he’s not saving his best for the home crowd.  At Yankee stadium, our second baseman is hitting a paltry .216 (he’s batting .264 away from home).
Perhaps it’s time that we explore other options at the position?  Before throwing money away on someone else’s castoff free-agent, let’s try building from within.

At Triple-A Scranton, we have 23-year-old Rob Refsnyder

The kid is on a fast track.

He began the year at Double-A Trenton where he hit .342 with 6 home runs in 60 games.  He posted a .933 OPS there.  Things haven’t been much different for him at Scranton.  So far, through 12 games he’s hitting .318 (.333 over last 10…probably needed two games to get his sea legs) with a home run and a .912 OPS.  He can steal bases (7 for 12 on the year) and has a .972 fielding percentage on the year (for comparison, Roberts has a .976 pct).

What could it hurt to give the kid a shot?

If you’d rather let Refsnyder “season” a little more at Scranton, we also have Scott Sizemore.  We’ve seen what he can do, and it actually wasn’t bad.  Right now the multi-positional Sizemore is hitting .270 with the RailRiders and earlier this year hit .313 over six games with the Yankees.
If you’d like Refsnyder to develop more, then Sizemore makes sense.

Either way, the option couldn’t be any worse than what we’ve had.

I also mentioned shortstop.  Now, before you sharpen the guillotine and shove my head into the lunette (the part where the head is held prior to…well….you get the picture), I get that we are talking sacred ground here.  As a matter of fact, I wasn’t going to suggest a change right now. 

The fact is that when it comes to hitting with runners in scoring position, Derek Jeter is among the top 10 on the team (batting .258 with RISP).  What might be a better move offensively at shortstop is to move our captain down in the order – perhaps seventh?  (GASP….I know, I know).

I still hold out hope that he has something left in the tank, and I think Joe Girardi believes it too.  After all, he IS Derek Jeter.  Never has there been a smarter hitter or player than our shortstop. 

I think our bigger problem with Jeter lies in the field, not at the plate.  His range isn’t what it used to be.  But, we aren’t talking about that aspect of the game in this article anyway.

If we can keep Mark Teixeira healthy and Yangervis Solarte fresh, our corners offensively can be sound for most of the season. 

I agree with Ike that this team needs help hitting, but offer that it lies in the middle of the infield, not in the outfield.  As a “math guy”, the numbers back me up on this.

I also think that we can solve our issues at second and short in house.  There’s no need to throw more money away.  We have solutions right in front of us.

Most of all, let’s remember that the season is not yet even half over.  There’s still plenty of time to do nothing and see if things will work out.  No team is running away with the East Division yet, so patience is truly a virtue in 2014.

Joe Girardi had us on the cusp of the playoffs with a far inferior team last year.   I’m going to trust that our skipper can get us back into the post season in 2014.


--Steve Skinner, BYB Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1

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