After every season Brian Cashman brings of all his scouts and decision makers together to formulate a strategy for the off-season. They will go through every player on the current team to discuss how they fared and if they have a role moving forward. While the Yankees will start this process after Cashman re-signs some time in the next week or so, I will also go through the current team and evaluate their 2011 season, grading each player. Like Cashman’s many advisers I’d like input from all the commenters to hear what you agree or disagree with.
We’ll begin with the Infield………
Martin should be brought back in 2012
Offensively, Martin was very streaky with 2 excellent months (April & August) and 4 not so good. Overall he hit .237/.324/.408/.732 with 18 HRs, 65 RBI & 8 SBs. Where he made a huge difference was defensively. He brought energy, athleticism & leadership to the position and worked very well with the pitching staff. Martin consistently blocked pitches in the dirt – inning after inning, game after game – giving confidence for guys like AJ, Garcia & DRob to throw their off-speed pitches in the dirt in any situation. Yankee catchers in 2010 were last in MLB defensively by almost any metric but Martin made it a strength in 11′ throwing out 30% of runners trying to steal. Grade: B
Cervelli started the season on the DL, missing all of April and ended it on the DL, missing Sept with a Concussion. He had been red-hot at the plate at the time of his injury to raise his final line to .266/.324/.395/.719 in 137 PAs. He improved on his 2010 defense but still only threw out 14% of base stealers and had 6 E’s. Grade: C
2012 Outlook: Martin is up for Arbitration and I think he must be re-signed (about $6.5M) to be the primary starter. Montero and Romine got a taste in Sept but I don’t think either is prepared to be the full-time starter. Cervelli may be traded this offseason as Jesus appears ready to get some time as the backup C and primary DH. With Montero DHing so often there may be a need to carry a 3rd Catcher but I think a veteran defensive type would be sufficient. This would set Romine up to get a year in AAA.
First base – Mark Teixeira
Tex had his 8th straight 30-100 season but saw another dip in ALL of his offensive ratios, having his worst season since his rookie yr going .248/.341/.494/.835. He’s still the same dangerous hitter as a Righty, hitting .302/.380/.587/.967 but was a meek .224 batting LH. He hits too many fly balls/pop-ups and pulls everything into the teeth of a huge overshift. Mark continues to be magnificent defensively making excellent plays to save runs and errors every game. It’s hard to give a bad grade to a Gold Glover with 39 HRs & 111 RBIs but he had another disappointing Post-Season (3 for 18, 1 RBI) and I know he’s capable of much more. Grade: B–
2012 Outlook: Despite all of the big Free Agent 1B, Tex is going nowhere with 5 yrs @ $112.5M left on his contract. Mark & Kevin Long both discussed the need to get more balanced from the Left side and use the whole field more – something we have been saying since the 09′ Post-Season when scouts seemed to have his weaknesses figured out. This off-season & ST are important for him as he must improve his LH mechanics & approach. A lefty hitting bench player who can play 1B along with OF or 3B could be a possible fit.
Second Base – Robinson Cano
Continues to show why he’s the best 2B in MLB and one of the league’s top all-around hitters hitting .305/.349/.533/.882 with 28 HR & 118 RBI. He went through a tough stretch in May when pitchers were giving him nothing to hit since Swisher & Posada were doing nothing behind him. Cano swung at too many pitches and saw his strikeouts climb to a career-high 96 after averaging only 68 over the prior 3 seasons. He wasn’t as flawless at 2B as he was in 2010 but he’s still excellent and turns the double play better than anyone with his quick release and rocket arm. Grade: A
2012 Outlook: He has a no-brainer $14M club option that will be picked up. Girardi FINALLY put him in the 3-hole for the playoffs and he should remain there in 12′ He should see better pitches to hit and he just needs to be a little more selective at the plate to be the elite hitter he can be. Although he has a $15M option for 2013 also, it may be cheaper to soon discuss a long-term deal than let him be a Free Agent after 2013.
Third Base – Alex Rodriguez
The IF isn't as strong as it once was.
ARod broke his streak of 13 consecutive 30-100 seasons with another injury-plagued yr. His mid-season knee injury sapped him of his power as he lost his lower body drive. He had the worst season of his career hitting .276/.362/.461/.823 with 16 HRs & 62 RBI in 428 PAs. His defense was still solid but he’s had 3 straight seasons of regression due in part to aging & injuries. Grade: C
2012 Outlook: We all know ARod is signed for another 6 yrs so he’s going nowhere. The key is keeping him healthy to maximize his production. To do so he needs regular days off and DH days. The team needs to have another 3B capable of starting 40+ games. Is Nunez that guy…..or perhaps Brandon Laird….or does someone else need to be brought in?
Shortstop – Derek Jeter
DJ clearly had 2 different seasons in 2011. He looked like the same washed up player from 2010 thru June 13th when he went on the DL with a .260/.324/.324/.649 line. But after working on some things with Gary Denbo in Tampa and getting the pressure of his 3,000th out of the way, he was a new man the rest of the yr hitting .331/.387/.447/.833. His defense wasn’t great but he is still the same steady, no range SS he’s been the last few yrs. Grade: C+
Nunez was a versatile asset who filled in for an inured Jeter & ARod at different times during the yr. He hit well for the nearly 3 wks he started at SS in June but overall hit only .265/.313/.385/.698. His defense was lackluster to say the least with 14 Errors in 39 starts at SS and 6 E’s in 33 starts @ 3B. He flashed some promising tools – a quick bat, blazing speed, quick feet and a rocket arm. If he can play under control and refine his skills, he can become a starting MLB player. Grade C
2012 Outlook: Jeter is signed for 2 more seasons and like ARod, needs to be kept fresh at his age. This means Nunez needs to be given 40-50 starts at SS with Jeter sitting against tough RH pitchers. The Captain has always beat up on LHP and last yr was no different with a .946 OPS. For whatever reason, Jete also hits much better during the day the last 2-3 yrs so Girardi needs to rest him in certain night games vs RHP to maximize his production. Between resting Jeter and ARod, Nunez will be looking at 80-100 starts or more. Hopefully, he got some of the rookie jitters out of the way and can play more relaxed.