New York Yankees Off Season Outlook, Part 2: Infield
Last time I went over the New York Yankees’ outfield situation and contracts that will make it harder to find new talent before the 2016 season.
If you missed that here is the link.
Now, in part two of our off-season outlook, I’ll take a look at the infield which does have more room for change, but it’s still a complicated matter. Unlike the outfield, the infield’s biggest problems were mostly based off lack of performance. Injuries came here and there, but the only significant one came to Mark Teixeira (just their luck).
Mark Teixeira: 8 yr $180,000,000/Expires in 2017
Chase Headley: 4 yr $52,000,000/Expires in 2019
Stephen Drew: 1 yr $5,000,000/Expires in 2016
Brendan Ryan: 2 yr $5,000,000/Expires in 2017
Dustin Ackley: 1 yr $2,600,000
Didi Gregorius: 1 yr $553,900
The main issues with this group:
- Will Mark Teixeira be able to continue the success he had this past season and STAY HEALTHY?
- Will Chase Headley find the success he had in the last half of the 2014 season?
- Who is going to play second base?
Oddly enough the player who has the easiest situation in the whole infield is Didi. He started off slow, but then showed why he was a great acquisition (to this point), and why he’ll be here moving forward.
Now to the questions
Mark Teixeira was the team’s MVP last season before he was injured. Greg Bird filled in nicely, but Brian Cashman made it clear with Tex and Alex Rodriguez still under contract, Bird will likely be in Scranton to start the season. With that being said, a lot of pressure will be put on Teixeira once again to prove he can remain healthy and conssitent. This is still a win now team, and Teixeira is a big factor in the ‘win’ part of that. Is asking Teixeira to do what he did last season again too much to ask? He could’ve very well slow down like most of the team did in August/September, but then again, he could’ve led the team further than they got with Carlos Beltran right by his side. One thing that’s for certain is Teixeira definitely made the organization feel better going into next season. He does still have that power, and I also saw him being a smarter hitter with the shifts. Teixeira was a .230 hitter for the start of the year with a lot of home runs, I saw an old dog re-learn some old tricks in going for contact in situations that called for it. He and Brian McCann started doing more of this as the season went on and I hope to see it right off the start (when needed) next season. I understand they’re both two of the more power guys in the lineup, but they’re also two of the best hitters in the lineup, and if needed getting on base is what matters. Contact hitting is what the Yankees couldn’t do in 2015 and they must get it figured out by next season.
I’ll save the second base circus for last and go to the third base situation; Chase Headley simply had an awful year in 2015. The defense got better as the year went on but for a veteran that shouldn’t be a problem to begin with. The Yankees had nearly no one to plug in at third behind Headley except Brendan Ryan and now it seems like they should. Third base is not a position the Yankees have a lot of options at so they’ll have to hope Headley finds the defensive talent the Yankees know he has this off-season once again. This might be an overreaction to a bad year, but it’s no understatement as to how much it effected the Yankees getting out of innings. The fact that fans had to hold their breathe every time he got a chance to throw doesn’t leave a good feeling heading into next season. The only thing that did is the Wild Card game in which Headley made a couple of very good plays to keep them in it. He did also lead the team in hits this season, and the amount of times he got an at-bat with the bases loaded was almost unbelievable. In general though, it wasn’t a good year for him, and going into next year he’ll be another ‘question mark’ added to a long list.
Now to the fun part.
In September I wrote up about the Yankees’ second base situation and it’s still as confusing as it was then. Stephen Drew was non-existent in September due to a serious injury, but I find it hard to believe that was the only reason. I think the Yankees finally got their heads right and went to a platoon of Ackley and Rob Refsnyder. Ackley was a target for the Yankees years ago when Robinson Cano left, and now he’s here. Ackley was primarily playing left field with the Mariners, but with the Yankees outfield being log jammed the Yankees will definitely move him to second base and let him compete with Rob Refsnyder for the starting job. Of course this can all change if one of the two are traded in the off-season, but that’s rather here nor there.
Drew gave the Yankees 17 homers and good defense, but home runs aren’t what they need and it appears they’re going to sacrifice that defense for contact hitting in Ackley or Ref. Another possible option is Jose Pirela who as the other two doesn’t have the defense they want, but is very fit for Yankees stadium and his hitting seems to be above the Triple-A level. It’d also be good to have a bat in the lineup who can get on base and be a threat to run. Of course the fan-favorite is Refsnyder and he did show more promise as he got more playing time in September. If the Yankees didn’t want him he would’ve been traded for Ben Zobrist, yet he’s still here. Also, if you’re looking for a free agent option, there’s is not a very good option of second baseman in the MLB, and the ones that are above-average players are locked up. It’s very likely Ackley will be the starting second baseman, and whether or not Refsnyder is in the mix too will depend on his development this off-season.
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