Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New York Yankees: Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda

As the New York Yankees spiral out of the postseason race, how about we play some Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda where it concerns a few of their offseason moves?

Move #1

The most puzzling to me was the signing of Carlos Beltran. Yes, he had some nice seasons in St. Louis, but a three-year deal bringing him to his age-39 season seemed less than optimal at $45 million. Plus his signing cost the Yankees a draft pick because the Cardinals submitted a qualifying offer for his services. Beltran is currently slashing .236/.305/.409 with 15 HR, 49 RBI, with a 97 wRC+ and a -0.4 WAR in 106 games and 440 plate appearances.


The Yankees instead might have signed a similar player in Marlon Byrd (also 37) at a much lower cost and potentially one year less (he has an option year with the Philadelphia Phillies). Considering he signed for two-years, $16 million with the Phils, the Yankees could have gone to two years, $20 million and saved $25 million, assuming they didn’t have to go with an option year. Further, Byrd did not have draft pick compensation attached to him. Byrd has a .265/.313/.458 line with 25 HR, 78 RBI, a 112 wRC+ and 2.4 WAR in 139 games and 581 PA.

Move #2

First, I’ll admit that this move was one I was on board with. I didn’t understand why at first because of the cost, the time associated with the contract and the Yankees depth at the catcher's position, but I felt Brian McCann would be worth it. If we can expect decreasing value over the remaining four years of the contract, the Yankees are screwed.

McCann is a Yankee through the 2018 season at a total cost of $85 million. He’s never seemed completely right at the plate this season. His .238/.288/.394 line with 17 HR, 61 RBI, an 88 wRC+ and a 1.8 WAR in 121 games and 472 plate appearances is much less than what the Yankees hoped for. To his credit, McCann has been very good behind the plate, once again helping his pitchers with excellent pitch-framing skills.

However, McCann’s presence clouds the system of young catchers and what they’ll do with them, and his production has to scare the Yankees. He also cost New York a draft pick.


They had two options here. One they might have decided to stay in-house with Francisco Cervelli and John Ryan Murphy, or sign a holdover like Dioner Navarro and combine with one of the above.

They were probably convinced a Cervelli/Ryan (or Austin Romine) combination would not work just like they tried with Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Romine in 2013. But instead of forking over a truckload of cash and assuming they have faith in prospect Gary Sanchez, they could have tried Cervelli and Murphy out, or added Navarro.

Cervelli is slashing .280/.341/.441 with a 120 wRC+ and a 1.0 WAR in 129 plate appearances across 40 games and 129 PA. Murphy is hitting .299/.319/.392 with a 97 wRC+ and a 0.2 WAR across 25 games and 69 PA. It remains to be seen if they could extrapolate this over an entire season, but it might have worked.

Navarro who was signed by the Toronto Blue Jays for two-years, $8 million has a .284/.325/.413 line with 12 HR, 66 RBI, 104 wRC+ and 2.1 WAR in 126 games and 471 PA. Consequently, there was no draft pick compensation for Navarro.

Move #3

The Brian Roberts signing was downright laughable when all was said and done. He hit .237/.300/.360 resulting in an 83 wRC+ and 0.1 WAR. Coming off a 91 wRC+ and 0.9 WAR in 2013, I’m not sure what the Yankees expected. While the cost was not huge ($3 million) it was a waste of time and a lineup spot.


It would be too simple to say they should have re-upped with Robinson Cano. I can’t argue with the Yankees taking a stand against handing out a 10-year contract.

However, if they would have simply had faith in Kelly Johnson (I expect to take some heat here) and given him regular at-bats, the result might have been different. Slotting Johnson at third base was their first mistake. He would have been better off with handling the regular second base duties and hit against righties only with Brendan Ryan taking the keystone against left-handers.

Johnson would have been much more comfortable in the field taking more time to concentrate on his hitting versus learning a new position. I believe he would have been much better than the .219/.304/.379, 90 wRC+ and 0.6 WAR he put up in 77 games and 227 plate appearances with the Yankees before being traded to the Red Sox for a bigger slouch in Stephen Drew.

Yangervis Solarte might have been able to hold down third base for the season knowing they were stuck with Alex Rodriguez in 2015.

That was some fun, hypothetical, hindsight is 20/20 review of some moves that shoulda, coulda, woulda made the Yankees better now and maybe even stronger in the future.

Thoughts? Please leave a comment below.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.