As is typically the case during the Major League Baseball offseason, the New York Yankees have been the focal point of the baseball world. They lost out on the biggest free agent of the winter, who happened to be one of their own, but have done some serious work in attempting to replace him. Which begs the question: are the Yankees better off now than they were in 2013?
It’s hard to say that the Yankees were ‘bad’ in 2013, but it’s often overlooked that they were not very good. They were 24th in the league in team batting average and 23rd in team on-base percentage. At 3.94, their team ERA ranked 18th in the league, and they sported a Defensive Efficiency Ratio of just .688, coming in 23rd in the league. And that’s without getting the really heavy stuff involved.
In short, the Yankees weren’t really contenders at any point last season. They just didn’t have it. However, in “allowing” Robinson Cano to depart as a free agent, the Yankees freed up the cash to improve their team in the only way they know how: buying up the free agent market. The Yanks have signed three marquee free agents thus far, and reportedly had an offer out to Shin-Soo Choo as well.
The Yankees have already introduced Jacoby Ellsbury and Brian McCann, with the press conference for Carlos Beltran coming this weekend. Those are three significant additions. The Yankees get their table setter and a very good defensive outfielder in Beltran, a big bat behind the plate in McCann, and one of the best postseason players ever in Beltran.
They’ve also gone out an added some extra depth to their lineup, grabbing second basemen Kelly Johnson and Brian Roberts off of the free agent market. Their outfield depth is extraordinary at this point, with Ellsbury, Beltran, Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Brett Gardner, and Vernon Wells all making up the outfield depth for this team. Of course, expect at least one of them (most likely Ichiro or Gardner) to be moved.
With what they’ve added, and what they already had, this is what the Yankees lineup could look like in 2014:
- C – Brian McCann
- 1B – Mark Teixeira
- 2B- Kelly Johnson
- SS - Derek Jeter
- 3B - Alex Rodriguez
- LF – Brett Gardner
- CF – Jacoby Ellsbury
- RF – Carlos Beltran
- DH – Alfonso Soriano
There are obviously some issues that remain to be worked out there on the infield, in regard to Jeter’s age and Rodriguez’s status moving forward, but as old as this lineup is, it’s going to score runs. Playing their home games in the Bronx, this team has the potential to be among one of the more potent offenses in the game. It’s hard to see them finishing in the bottom half in the league again in offensive output.
It’s the pitching that’s the concern here. They brought back Hiroki Kuroda and added Matt Thornton, but this isn’t an impressive group overall. If there’s one thing that’s going to hold them back in 2014, it’s going to be their lack of pitching, particularly from a depth perspective. They have a couple of very good arms, but simply not enough. Maybe they can move folks like Gardner to acquire pitching.
At this point, it’s easy to say that the New York Yankees are better than they were in 2013, because they are, especially from an offensive standpoint. However, their lack of pitching will ultimately hold them back in 2014, unless that changes over the course of the next couple of months.