Thursday, January 7, 2016


The Outfield

In my first segment, THE YANKEES: WHO WILL START VS. WHO SHOULD START- THE INFIELD, I explored who the Yankees would most likely start around the infield if the season were to begin tomorrow.  In this article, I’ll take a look at the outfield.

LEFT FIELD - Who Girardi Will Start

The first half of 2015 was arguably the best of Brett Gardner’s career as he represented the Bombers in the All-Star game (his first).  Going into the mid-season break, “Gardy” was hitting .302 with a .377 on-base percentage.  Unfortunately, the year was no different than any other for the 32-year-old, and he performed the annual second-half collapse at the plate that has become all too familiar for Yankees fans.  Over his last 69 games of the season, Gardner hit .206 with a .300 OBP; striking out once every four at-bats.  Since 2012, the mainstay in left has hit .245 post All-Star break; an average drop-off of 32 points from his pre All-Star average of .277.  He isn’t going to get any better at this point in his career, but in spite of the continued quick decline over the course of a season; there is little doubt that Gardner will be Manager Joe Girardi’s everyday player in left.

Who should start? 

Given the unquestioned success Gardner begins every season with, he should be the starter in Left Field on Opening Day.  As the campaign progresses, however, it might make sense for Girardi to recognize the “writing on the wall” and begin mixing in starts by youngsters like Slade Heathcott, Mason Williams, or newly acquired Aaron Hicks.  There is definite historical evidence that Gardy just can’t remain consistent over the course of a year, and the sooner the Yankees manager realizes it, the better.

CENTER FIELDWho Girardi Will Start

As massive as Gardner’s second-half collapse was, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury’s was even greater.  Through July 12th, Ellsbury was hitting .318 with a .399 on-base percentage.  Following the return from the mid-summer classic, Ellsbury hit .220 (.266 OBP).  Like Gardner, Ellsbury is developing a history of second half collapses.  Over his past three seasons, Ellsbury’s post All-Star batting average drops, on average, by 48 points.  Is it any wonder that the Yankees fell from a hold on first place in the AL East to clinging to a wild card berth? Unlike left field, the Center Field spot does have more choices for Girardi.  Given that GM Brian Cashman inked the 32-year-old Ellsbury (and his agent Scott Boras) to a long-term contract that expires in 2020, you can be sure he’ll influence the decision as to who starts (he seems to be the one calling the shots with or without manager input), and look for Ellsbury to take the field on Opening Day.

Who should start? 

(In Photo: Aaron Hicks)
Contractual obligations aside, if I was managing the Yankees, Center Field would be an open competition going into 2016.  At the very least I’d make sure Hicks, Williams and Heathcott saw a large number of starts to minimize second half damage Ellsbury will do at the top of the order after the break – even if it meant ruffling the feathers of the Cashman/Boras tag-team.

RIGHT FIELD Who Girardi Will Start

This position may be the one where I have my biggest point of contention as to who starts in the field.  Again, due to a contractual obligation (thanks Brian) – as well as an over-abundance of DH-suited veterans – it is more than likely that another Scott Boras player will begin the 2016 season at this position, rather than someone better-equipped to play in the spot.  Of course I speak of Carlos Beltran.  Let me first say that I have no problem with Beltran being in the lineup.  His bat was one of the few that remained somewhat productive in the second half of 2015 (though he too suffered a drop-off).  The problem I have is with the management putting him in the field.  I have friends who refer to Beltran as “the Loafer” because at 38-years-old the man simply has no speed other than slow.  Chances are that most catchers could out-hustle him in a 90 foot sprint to first, and certainly the Yankees have a number of younger outfielders with 100 times the range in the field.  When I think of Beltran playing right field, I keep going back to a game against the Orioles last season (September 9th) where he played two Chris Davis fly balls into RBI hits.  Both – a first inning short fly ball to right and a 9th inning fly ball that landed short of the right field wall and bounced over – would have been caught by an outfielder with any semblance of speed.  Ultimately, the Yanks lost the game by two – 5 to 3.  Unfortunately, because of this organization’s lack of trust in its baby Bombers, as well as there being too many veterans that at this point in their careers are only fit to be DH, you can be sure that Beltran will “loaf” out to right field when the team breaks camp.

Who should start? 

As I said, I have no problem with Beltran being in the lineup.  He still has power and occasionally can turn on a fastball.  He hit .300 with runners in scoring position and two outs.  God knows we can use more in our lineup who can do that.  I think Beltran should be our DH, or at least platoon with ARod (we all know how Girardi LOVES his platoons).  Carlos hit .285 against right-handed pitchers last season and his slugging percentage actually got better as the year progressed.  That being said, the only time Beltran’s feet should hit the right field grass is when he’s playing catch with the starting right fielder between innings, or doing his pre-game stretches.  He no longer belongs in the field.  Instead, I’d go with Heathcott, Williams or- should he get a promotion (something we know Cashman doesn’t like to do unless injury dictates it) - top prospect Aaron Judge.  If we are to have a sound future, we need to start believing in the guys that have either already had a taste of the show and proved themselves (Heathcott), or the ones like Judge whose future appears to be very bright.  We certainly can’t do any worse than what Beltran has shown us in the field.  It’s time to find out what lies ahead.

That’s it for the look around the outfield; we’ll next take a look at the Yankees starting pitching.

We welcome your opinions and comments, and as always, thank you for your support of BYB.

--Steve Skinner, 
BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @oswegos1


Save 20% on Jorge Posada Memorabilia at with code SPORTS20


Thank you for your loyalty to Bleeding Yankee Blue. 
Please shop at the BYB store!  
On Twitter: @BleednYankeeBlu 
On Facebook, LIKE Bleeding Yankee Blue!
Don't forget to check out the BYB Hub.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting on Bleeding Yankee Blue.