New York Yankees' Struggle Against Left-Handed Pitching Is a Serious Concern
Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Yankees have so far started to silence some of the doubts and concerns raised after a disastrous offseason and a monsoon of injuries. They're currently 10-8 and only 2.5 games behind Boston in the AL East. But after starting 1-4, they've improved to 9-4, taking series in Cleveland and Toronto and at home vs. Baltimore and Arizona.
How have they gotten off to this decent start? Even though it doesn't show up in the stats, the pitching has been able to carry them. Throwers CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte have played a huge role in the Yankees' recent return to form.
The offense has been the catalyst, of all things. They lead the AL in OPS and HRs and are 3rd in the league in runs scored. Robinson Cano has led the charge and is off to a big contract year. The replacements, Kevin Youkilis, Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells, have all played very well in place of Alex Rodriguez, Curtis Granderson and Mark Teixeira.
However, all isn't really well. The biggest concern right now besides the current injuries and inevitable future injuries is the current team's ineptitude against left-handed pitching. Coming into Monday's game, they were only hitting .210/.279/.318/.596. In case you didn't figure, that's atrocious, and it only went down when they were 2-hit (both by Cano) by Rays' flamethrower Matt Moore.
As if it wasn't already a problem, manager Joe Girardi really doesn't have many options right now. He's tried several things with the lineup. Against Moore he batted Ben Francisco second at DH. He's now two for 22 with seven strikeouts. The Yankees get the reigning AL Cy Young winner David Price on Tuesday.
With A-Rod, Teixeira, Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson still far away from returning, the Yankees HAVE to look for other right-handed bat options, no matter what position. With the likes of Ichiro, Lyle Overbay and Francisco not hitting, they may have to look in house for now, or even on the trade market in July.
Down in the minor league system, the Yankees have quite a few band-aid options in the higher levels of the farm. They are guys that won't be superstars, but quite frankly cannot be worse than some of the guys that they have striking out against Jon Lester and David Price.
Although he is currently injured right now, a perfect fit for this team's bench is 28 year-old Cuban Ronnier Mustelier. He can play both 3B and the outfield and can hit the ball, hitting .314/.371/.488/.859 last year between Double-A and Triple-A. He should be ready to play in games sometime in the next few weeks.
Currently, the Yankees could pluck up two different out-fielders at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre that can be easily slotted in against LHP. Zoilo Almonte, the three-hitter in SWB, is a switch-hitter and is off to a good start, batting .273 with a .832 OPS and 10 RBIs.
Melky Mesa is the other guy. He plays a very good center-field and has plenty of speed and pop. He hit 23 HRs and slugged .480 last year and has three bombs while slugging .460 in the early going.
The only drawback is his long swing. He struck out 118 times in 458 ABs and 26 times in 63 ABs. Still, could he be any worse than Ben Francisco? Can he?
The last guy I suggest the Yankees to give a chance to is third baseman/second baseman David Adams, soon to be 26 years old. You might remember him for having an injury that pretty much killed a 2010 trade for Cliff Lee.
It's true that he has had a long injury history, but he has produced when he's healthy, with a career .296 average and .829 OPS. If he can stay healthy, he could provide some good depth behind Kevin Youkilis and replace Jayson Nix.
Against LHP, many of the guys the Yankees are putting in the lineup are not getting the job done. Ben Francisco should not be on the team, let alone bat second and DH. The Yankees have to look for other options, preferably down on the farm system.
Right now, there aren't going to be any trades and the Yankees can't afford to wait and keep throwing these guys out there. They can't wait for Jeter, Teixeira and Granderson to comeback. It's pretty simple, call up anyone from Triple-A that plays 3rd or the OF and hits right-handed or is a switch hitter.
The Yanks just simply cannot just let other teams continue to throw tough LHP against them. In a division with Jon Lester, Mark Buehrle, David Price, Matt Moore and Wei-Yin Chen, improvements have to be made in some way
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