2017 Yankees Offense Has a Lot of Question Marks

Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

As evidenced by the Yankees’ 2-0 loss to the Rays on Thursday night, you can’t leave 10 men on base and expect to win many games.

Since this is the second part of a three-part series, I’ll repeat the first paragraph from yesterday’s article for those who might have missed it. What you’re about to read isn’t meant to be a pessimistic look at the Yankees as they are currently assembled for next season.

Instead, it is being used to make fans aware that there are a lot more question marks than definitive exclamation points regarding the makeup of the 2017 Yankees.

We now continue our look at next season’s Yankees offense.

And where else to start than at the top of the lineup. To say it as nicely as I possibly can, there is no way in hell that Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury can continue to bat one and two!

Joe Girardi‘s pet–Brett Gardner, may be leading the team with 65 walks and 76 runs, but as a lead-off man, color me unimpressed when you factor in his dreadful .257 BA, 102 Ks, and 16 SB.

Yes, his home runs and runs batted in are down from 16 HR and 66 RBI in 2015, to 7 HR and 39 RBI in 2016, but that doesn’t concern me as much since Gardner is now a “table-setter.”

Ellsbury’s numbers, on the other hand, are actually better in most categories this go-around; which has a lot to do with the fact that he’s been mostly healthy, playing in 26 more games than in 2015.

The thing is, the Yankees signed Ellsbury to bat at the very top of the lineup. He’s not the type of hitter that’ll drive a ball the other way, or bunt a runner over into scoring position.

He’s built to get on base and cause mass disruption with his speed. Yet batting second doesn’t allow for the No. 3 hitter–Gary Sanchez, to take pitches–enabling Ellsbury to swipe a bag. It’s a waste of his talent, and in turn–money.

If the Yankees decide to keep Gardner, which I totally disagree with since his trade value decreases by the hour, the only place I’d let him hit is ninth. Maybe then, some of those long forgotten power numbers would miraculously reappear.

As far as Gary Sanchez is concerned, what can you say about the fastest player in the modern era of baseball to ever slug 19 home runs. It’s hard to believe he totally fell off the Yankees’ top 30 prospects list in 2014.

My only concern for the young catcher next season is the immense amount of pressure he’ll be under to duplicate the staggering numbers (.337 BA., 19 HR, 38 RBI) he’s put up in just 43 games.

I hope the fans and media alike don’t get all over this kid if he were to only hit–say 20 HR next season.

Didi Gregorius is having a career year. But what if that’s all a .278 BA, 18 HR, 67 RBI is? Sure he’s only 26 and the best may still be yet to come, but as we get closer to the arrival of Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo, questions will begin to mount about who stays and who goes.

It’s not easy for a young–developing player to continue up the rung of greatness while watching his back.

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The same can be said for Starlin Castro. It’s hard to believe that he’s already been in the majors for seven seasons. Playing second base–without the worry of being the captain of the infield, has proven to be a worthwhile move in terms of his 21 HR; but what about if/when he comes out of the proverbial gate slowly, as he does every year?

Do the Yankees stay the course with Castro or does talk begin to circulate–as it did up until June of this year, that he isn’t destined to be a long-term exponent to the solution?

The sweet-swinging Greg Bird will be back in action, after missing this entire campaign due to a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Unfortunately, all the good press he received in 2015, like slugging 11 HR and 31 RBI in only 176 at-bats will likely fall on deaf ears if it takes him some time to readjust to the speed of Major League pitching.

Chase Headley, who has come on strong since the beginning of August is a placeholder at this point in his career with the Yankees. At 32, he’ll likely never top the 31 HR and 115 RBI he slugged as a member of the Padres in 2012, but at a semi-manageable $13M per season through 2018, the Yankees don’t have many internal options for a replacement as of right now.

The case for Brian McCann to be kept as the everyday DH, and twice a week replacement for Sanchez is a solid one. The Yankees are suddenly mostly right-handed when it comes to long-ball ability, so keeping McCann, who would stay a lot fresher only picking up a bat four times a game–rather than donning the tools of ignorance for nine innings, would make a whole lot of sense.

Which means that Brian Cashman will inevitably trade him to justify saving $17M per season through 2019. This is the world we live in now, pinching pennies is just as important–if not more so than reaching the Postseason.

Getting back to the crowded outfield picture, even though Aaron Judge did not live up to the enormous hype his first professional swing (a home run) brought with him, he should still head into camp as the favorite to win the starting right field job.

But what if he picks up where he left off in 2016? You know–like batting below .200, while showing a propensity for injury. How’s that going to play out with Tyler Austin, Rob Refsnyder, and Aaron Hicks sitting the bench–just waiting for their own shot to prove the doubters wrong.

Besides, we’ve already seen that to get much of anything out of Hicks, he needs to play on a semi-regular basis. Before injuring his hamstring back in late August, Hicks was batting almost .300 since the departure of Carlos Beltran to Texas.

I mean, the same can be said for any of the players described here. How can you expect someone to get into a groove if they’re not out there working through the kinks, refining their game–playing against the best competition in the world?

Next: The Yankees Coaching Staff Is Full of Questions

New York is a polarizing market. What you did well one year, means absolutely nothing the next–especially if you’re struggling to earn your keep. While there is a ton of offensive potential on this Yankees roster, they are still lacking that one key ingredient that’ll bring it all together–consistency.