Key Offseason Bats Acquired by the 2013 New York Yankees
by Jerome Manson
Jerome Manson is a sports enthusiast who enjoys both watching games and writing about them. When he is not cheering on his team from the stands, Jerome is blogging about The NFL for selectaticket.com.
The 2012-2013 offseason campaign for the New York Yankees can be characterized, besides the most recent muddle concerning Alex Rodriguez and performance enhancing drugs, as uneventful. The Yankees didn’t make a very large splash during free agency, but I’d argue they didn’t really need to. They finished with the best record in the AL East, good enough for the third best overall record in Major League Baseball.
Then we get the American League Divisional Series. The Detroit Tigers pummeled the Yankees to the tune of a 4-0 series win. The Yankees were gone from the postseason, it seemed, before they even got there. Not to mention the Yankees narrowly squeaked by the Orioles in the American League Divisional Series. Regardless of last season, 2013 brings upon us a brand new campaign. One winner and 29 losers. For the Yankees to compete deep in the postseason they’ll need to avoid key injuries, such as to Mariano Rivera or Joba Chamberlain as well as get consistent play from Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, and Brett Gardner. Here are some of the notable additions to the 2013 Yankees heading into spring training.
Kevin Youkilis and the Return of Brett Gardner
These players ranked 3rd and 4th among active players in pitches seen per plate appearance, respectively. If both can keep this trend going and take opposing pitchers deep into counts, it should provide better chances for Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira, and others in other parts of the order.
I envision Kevin Youkilis batting either 6th or 7th as Designated Hitter or third (base) on most nights. If he can fill in for injuries, days-off, etc. and consistently bat .260-.270, I think the Yankees should consider him a worthy investment. It’ll be interesting to see what will happen when Alex Rodriguez gets back from hip surgery, but whoever provides the better defensive consistency the other will see most time at DH. The kicker here is that Youk hasn’t batted above .258 since 2010, so let’s hope his bat reawakens in 2013.
Gardner returns to the Yankees after suffering an elbow injury that sidelined him for much of the 2012 season. What the Yankees primarily lost were stolen bases and outfield range. In 2011, Gardner led off for the Yankees and finished the season tied for 1st in the American League in stolen bases. He also does a great job saving runs as the Yankees were combined for minus-two in defensive runs saved last season.
In addition to Gardner providing speed and range, Ichiro is back this year. Not acquired this offseason, but close enough. (He joined the team in late 2012 and had a productive debut with the Yankees.) Ichiro may only slightly resemble what he once was in Seattle, but what is left is still a solid player who can provide run support and base-running ability. He batted .322 in 67 games for the Yankees last year with 21 stolen bases. A realistic batting average in the range of .300 with 30-40 bases would be great for a team that ranked 22nd in stolen bases.
In comparison to past years, the Yankees don’t have to rely on the long ball as much this year. They’ve got decent speed in the lineup and good base-running ability in Ichiro and Brett Gardner. Youkilis should provide another good fill-in, but let’s hope his bat can liven up a bit for this season. The Yankees didn’t do much in the offseason, but really didn’t have to. We’ll see how that philosophy fares this year.