Yankees GM Brian Cashman has been busy this offseason
In missing the playoffs for only the second time since 1995, New York Yankees' general manager Brian Cashman was tasked with making sure that 2013 was just an exception to the rule.
The club entered the offseason with several players leaving via free agency. Among them were All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano who found his riches in Seattle and center fielder Curtis Granderson, whose move was somewhat shorter (he signed with the Mets).
To date, Cashman has already addressed the offensive deficits with some marquee names from the free-agent market. He's also used that market to give some depth to the lineup and provide a "safety net" should debilitating injuries like those last season to shortstop Derek Jeter and first baseman Mark Teixeira occur again.
This article will take a look at the Yankees' offseason signings and rank them as to what they mean to returning the club to the top of the power statistics in MLB.
Brian McCann gives Joe Girardi and the Yankees an offensive threat they've missed at catcher
In 2013 the New York Yankees were dead last in baseball in home runs from the catcher's spot. Their backstops hit .213 with eight home runs and 43 RBI last season.
Enter Brian McCann.
One of the first things Cashman did this offseason was sign the former Atlanta Brave to a five-year, $85 million deal that ensures the club will have a legitimate threat in their lineup from behind the plate.
McCann has six consecutive seasons (and seven of the last eight) of 20 or more home runs and is a seven-time All-Star.
The 29-year-old should have many productive seasons ahead of him, and Yankee Stadium's short right field porch means that the left-handed hitter shouldn't have any problems maintaining his power numbers.
Of the signings that the Yankees have completed this offseason, McCann's brings with it the most improvement at one position.
Beltran brings veteran leadership and a potent bat to the Yankees' lineup
The loss of Granderson to the Mets meant that the Yankees needed to find a new power source in the outfield. While Grandy suffered through injuries in 2013, there's no denying the threat he provided to the lineup when healthy. Prior to last season, Granderson averaged 36 home runs and 97 RBI with the Yankees.
Cashman landed Carlos Beltran to help fill that power void. The 36-year-old switch-hitter is a veteran of 16 big league seasons and brings with him an arsenal of skills the Yankees will be happy to utilize.
A Rookie of the Year in 1999 and an eight-time All-Star, Beltran has hit 20 or more home runs in six of the last eight years (including 24 last season). Where Granderson struck out 100 or more times on an annual basis (when healthy), Beltran has done that just once since 2007.
That Beltran hits from both sides of the plate gives manager Joe Girardi flexibility in matching up his batting order from day to day.
In the field, Beltran most likely will see most of his time in right field, though he can play center or left if needed. He has won a Gold Glove three times and holds a .986 career fielding percentage.
Beltran's greatest value to the Yankees may be in the postseason, as that is where he shines the brightest. In 51 playoff and World Series games, the slugger is hitting .333 with 16 home runs and 40 RBI. His postseason slugging percentage is .683 and his OPS is a Ruthian 1.128 (Ruth's is 1.211).
Should the Yankees play into October, Carlos Beltran could prove to be their greatest weapon.
Will Ellsbury flash his 2011 power now that he calls Yankee Stadium home?
The key to Jacoby Ellsbury is staying healthy. When he's managed to do so, the center fielder has shown that there's more to his game than just swiping bases.
Can a new home in the Bronx signal a return to 2011 form? Brian Cashman hopes so as he inked the oft-injured center fielder to a seven-year, $153 million deal.
He probably won't hit 30 home runs again, but the short porch in right field will give him opportunity to flash what power he does have. He certainly has the speed to turn singles into doubles.
Ellsbury has led the league in stolen bases three times since 2008 and had 30 or more doubles in two of the last three seasons.
Power isn't just about home runs. Getting hits that put yourself into scoring position for those behind you in the order, or driving in runners from first base also translate into that category. Ellsbury certainly can do that.
It's just a matter of staying off the disabled list.
Johnson will play multiple roles with the Yankees
Thirty-one-year-old Kelly Johnson may be the busiest player for the New York Yankees in 2014.
Cashman signed the left-handed-hitting, multi-purpose player to a one-year contract in early December.
Johnson has played first base, third base and the outfield in addition to his primary second base position.
Therein lies his value to the Yankees.
In spite of limited playing time, Johnson has hit 16 home runs in each of the past two seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays. With the possible suspension of Alex Rodriguez and the need to either matchup or rest players at first base, second base and the outfield, Johnson will see plenty of playing time this coming season.
With that increase in playing time will come an increase in power and productivity. Johnson has hit 16 or more home runs in five of his eight seasons (including 26 with Arizona in 2010), and playing in Yankee Stadium will only help that number.
As with Ellsbury, keeping Roberts healthy will be the key to getting the most out of him.
Last week, the Yankees signed veteran second baseman Brian Roberts to a one-year deal.
The 36-year-old switch-hitter is a two-time All-Star who hasn't played a full season since 2009.
As Eduardo A. Encina and Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reported, Roberts played in just 115 games over the first three-and-a-half years of his contract with the Baltimore Orioles. He has been besieged with a series of injuries ranging from concussions to back and hip injuries, as well as a hamstring injury.
Could the end of last season signal a light at the end of the tunnel for Roberts?
In September he hit .250 with five home runs and 10 RBI. It was the most productive month of his season.
In his career, Roberts has led the league in doubles twice and went six consecutive seasons (2004 through 2009) with at least 50 RBI and 85 runs scored.
The Yankees are hoping for some semblance of the "old" Brian Roberts to man second base in 2014. While history has shown that is not likely, last September at least provides a glimpse into the possibility.