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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Best case, worst case: Corner outfield

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 01, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Justin Upton went to Atlanta, Mike Morse went to Seattle and Giancarlo Stanton stayed in Miami. Needless to say, the Yankees didn’t get any of the corner outfielders who emerged in trade speculation. Instead, the Yankees stuck with what they had: Short-term solutions with long-term potential on the way.   

Best-case scenario
Turn back the clock
I wrote earlier in the week that the Yankees are better off with Brett Gardner in center field, which means the Yankees best-case scenario in the corners begins with putting Curtis Granderson in left. That alignment gives the Yankees an interesting left-right combo — both Granderson and Ichiro Suzuki have speed and athleticism, but their different approaches have the potential for balanced production.

Want to get over-the-top optimistic? Think of Granderson in 2011 and Ichiro in 2009. For Granderson it might not seem like much of a stretch, but let’s also acknowledge that it’s entirely possible 2011 will go down as the absolute, no-doubt-about-it, best year of Granderson’s career. To set our sights a little more realistic, look at the first half of 2012 when Granderson hit .248/.352/.502. It’s plenty potent, and plenty plausible. For a more realistic version of Ichiro, how about 2010? He hit .315/.359/.394 that year, leading the league in hits. During his two months with the Yankees last season, Ichiro hit .322/.340/.454, which is pretty close to 2010, except with an obvious power boost. Give him a few Yankee Stadium home runs, and that rejuvenated Ichiro could be a realistic (and really good) best-case scenario.

Then there’s Tyler Austin (I suppose we could also talk about Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams in this spot — the best-case scenario certainly involves putting one of them in left field eventually – but for now it’s easier to think of those two strictly as center fielders). Austin brings significant prospect potential to the right field, where he’s adjusted defensively and could have the prototypical bat for the position. He got a brief look in Double-A last year, and although he might open this season back in High-A, a best-case scenario certainly involves him getting to Triple-A (at the very least). If he hits like he did last year, and does it in the upper levels, Austin could very easily become one of the biggest prospects in the game. Zoilo Almonte remaining productive after a bump to Triple-A would make him an immediate corner option for the Yankees, Ramon Flores continuing to get on base in Double-A would solidify his prospect status, Rob Segedin showing some increased power would put him back on the map, and Jake Cave finally getting regular at-bats — and being productive with them — would take him from a kind of sleeper prospect to another power bat on the rise.

Worst-case scenario
Too good to be true
Here’s the most unsettling thing about the Yankees corner outfield situation: All of the optimism comes from fairly small samples. Ichiro was terrific after last year’s trade, but that was two months of production after a year and a half of disappointment. Granderson was an MVP candidate one year, but he struggled quite a bit the year before that, and he had a hard time making contact for the second half of last year. Gardner – who could end up back in left field – is coming off a year lost to injury and has never sustained success long enough to completely quiet his detractors. If Ichiro reverts to the first half of last year, Granderson repeats the second half of last year, and Gardner’s small-ball routine proves too unreliable, the Yankees could have a good-glove, light-bat outfield that doesn’t provide nearly enough offense.

And trying to replace one or more of those outfielders could be tricky because right now the backup options are Matt Diaz (who’s been pretty bad and injured for two years), Russ Canzler (if he clears waivers), Thomas Neal (who has a handful of big league at-bats), Juan Rivera (a fading slugger who spent most of last year at first base), Zoilo Almonte (who’s never been to Triple-A), Melky Mesa (who swings and misses all the time) and Ronnier Mustelier (who’s played in the U.S. for just two years). There’s no dependable backup in the bunch.

And the Yankees certainly want to believe that Austin is on his way to change all that, but just a few years ago — in 2010 — every team in baseball let him slip to the 13th round of the draft. His past two years have been outstanding, but that’s with only a handful of Double-A at-bats. He certainly wouldn’t be the first player to rake in the lower levels and struggle against the more advanced pitchers. Flores also hasn’t seen much upper-level pitching (or ever hit for typical corner-outfield power), and Cave has hardly played at all since turning pro, and Segedin was awful when he got to Double-A last year. There are a lot of guys with a lot to prove in the Yankees corner outfield spots. The worst-case scenario, quite simply, involves those players proving nothing at all.

Associated Press photos





7 Responses to “Best case, worst case: Corner outfield”

  1. Bronx Jeers February 1st, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Ichiro looks like a real tough guy in that photo.

    Anybody know what’s up with Pat M? Haven’t seen him in ages.

  2. trisha - true pinstriped blue February 1st, 2013 at 7:35 pm


    jmills – you are totally to be forgiven any spelling transgressions posting from a Blackberry!

    Just as I am declaring myself to be forgiven for any spelling transgressions emanating from this stupid-ass Dell keyboard that decides to skip letters randomly, despite keys being pushed. I’ve already had the keyboard replaced once, so I am guessing that this is one of the quirks associated with the particular back-lit keyboard that goes to the model of my laptop!


    I manage to catch most of the errors but it is a huge pain typing so s-l-o-w-l-y in the hopes of catching errors as they occur!



    Time to watch more of the season 2 DVD of Downton Abbey!

    Have a great night all!


  3. JobaTipsHisCap February 1st, 2013 at 9:08 pm

    I hope Yankees pay every penny of A-Rod’ remaining contract.
    this is the worst contract in any pro sports.

  4. tomingeorgia February 1st, 2013 at 9:43 pm


  5. Barry February 1st, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Everyone throwing Arod away, fans as well as media, should think about the rejoicing when he was annointed best player in baseball “ever”. As for me, I like him but was always put off…prior to Texas.

  6. yankeefeminista February 1st, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    “More broadly, if you’re looking for balance, you’re not going to get it with the mainstream media — and you’re really not going to get when it comes to the mainstream media and Alex Rodriguez. I’m not going to link to the “A-Rod’s done” stories floating around the ether, because there are far too many of them out there to catalog and because the glee with which these grave-dancing hatchet jobs were written makes me ill.

    Rodriguez, who denied his involvement with Biogenesis in a statement sent to the New Times, should be evaluated with more scrutiny than zero-time offenders in the aftermath of his 2009 admission of prior PED use. But the fact remains that he has been subject to the league’s drug-testing policy, and hasn’t failed any tests they currently have. Yes, it’s worth noting that this season will be the first time MLB will test for HGH throughout the season. MLB’s investigation is far from over, but until it is, even A-Rod deserves to have more substantial evidence brought against him before the knives come out.

    Instead, we get universal trampling on the Jump to Conclusions Mat. The big headlines late Tuesday revolved around the Yankees’ attempts to void the rest of Rodriguez’s contract. If you close your eyes and think real hard, you might be able to conjure a justification for voiding the remaining five years and $118 million the Yankees owe A-Rod, should the current allegations of PED use prove true. In reality, the Yankees aren’t wiggling out of anything. The collective-bargaining agreement contains very specific language relating to PED suspensions, none of it remotely allowing a team to tear up a player’s contract. But the Yankees will likely press on in their efforts anyway. If A-Rod made less money, were healthy, and still putting up MVP numbers, they wouldn’t make a peep. But because A-Rod turns 38 this year, his body’s breaking down, and he appears to have little left in the tank, suddenly he’s somehow gravely offended his employers.”

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