MLB: Girardi expects A-Rod back at third base in 2015
NEW YORK -- The Yankees spent nearly $500 million last offseason to avoid a second straight quiet October yet that's exactly what unfolded as a disappointing offense, especially from the middle of the lineup, resulted in one fewer win than last y...
NEW YORK - The Yankees spent nearly $500 million last offseason to avoid a second straight quiet October yet that’s exactly what unfolded as a disappointing offense, especially from the middle of the lineup, resulted in one fewer win than last year when Mark Teixeira played 15 games and 10 players saw at least one game at third base.
Instead of preparing for the postseason, the Yankees will miss it for the third time under manager Joe Girardi, who is lamenting an offense that scored 633 runs and batted .245. Their runs are 17 fewer than last season and while the average is three points ahead of 2013, the last two years the Yankees have been dismal at the plate.
“I really still believe that there’s enough talent in that room that, if when you put all the pieces on the field, to score runs,” Girardi said Monday. “I do. We didn’t do it enough this year. I understand that.”
The average age of the Yankees hitters was 32.5, which is the second-oldest in team history. They scored the second-fewest runs since the Steinbrenner family began owning the team in 1973, the batting average was the third-worst since 1973 and the 147 home runs were three more than last season.
The Yankees ranked toward the bottom of the American League in many major offensive categories. They were 13th in runs, 11th in batting average, 14th in on-base percentage and 12th in OPS.
Among the things that the Yankees must learn from this year is that they have a capable backup to a brittle Teixeira and someone who can also played third base.
Kelly Johnson did not work out in that role but Chase Headley did somewhat. The question is what kind of money does Headley want and what the Yankees are willing to offer. The belief based on the recent injury history of Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez is that Headley could get 400 at-bats rotating between first and third base.
Girardi said that he expects Rodriguez to be the third baseman, but saying it on Sept. 29 and actually seeing it become a reality in spring training games and in regular season action is different, especially since Rodriguez really hasn’t had a full season of good production since 2010, and that was one of the years mentioned in the Biogenesis reports linked to him.
“We got to see where he’s at,” Girardi said. “I think that’s the thing that we have to do. He’s going to be 40 next summer and we have to see where he’s physically at and if he can play the field, how many days he can play the field and how many days he needs to DH. So I don’t think any of us know about him until we actually get him into games in spring training.
Shortstop will also be a priority after Derek Jeter retired. The Yankees haven’t been in the market for a free agent shortstop since 1995 when they signed Tony Fernandez, who was a four-time Gold Glove winner and a decent hitter. That kind of combination is what the Yankees should be looking for and they’ll have to spend to get it in a trade or free agency since there is nobody in the minor leagues ready to step in.
Pitching should also be addressed because of uncertain variables. Will Masahiro Tanaka be able to avoid Tommy John surgery? Will CC Sabathia’s struggles pitching at a lower velocity continue for a third straight year? Will Michael Pineda make it through a full season? Will Ivan Nova recover from Tommy John surgery?
Hiroki Kuroda was the only Opening Day starter to not get injured, but he is a free agent. Brandon McCarthy pitched well in two months and has said he likes pitching in New York, but will money in free agency from the Yankees be enough?
Big name pitchers available via free agency include Jon Lester, James Shields and Max Scherzer, and it certainly would not surprise anyone if one became a Yankee.
Still, the Yankees have a ways to go to avoid discussing missing the playoffs for the third straight season.