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State of the organization: Right field

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 13, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Carlos Beltran

Finishing our look at the Yankees position players heading into 2014, we’ll move into right field, where the Yankees seem to have three prominent players nearing the end of their careers. The youngest of them is 36 and just signed a three-year deal. The oldest is 40 and likely to be a bench player for the first time in his life. In between is a 38-year-old who’s never actually played the position.

SorianoTop of the depth chart: Carlos Beltran
Backup options: Alfonso Soriano, Ichiro Suzuki, Zoilo Almonte
Also coming to camp: Tyler Austin, Russ Canzler, Antoan Richardson, Adonis Garcia
Deeper in the system: Aaron Judge, Austin Aune, Yeicok Calderon

For the most part, I’m just assuming Beltran is at the top of the depth chart. I don’t believe the Yankees have specifically said he’ll get the bulk of the time in right field, but it seems to make the most sense given the other options. Alfonso Soriano has never played right field, and Ichiro Suzuki — easily the best defensive option of the bunch — hasn’t hit much the past three years. Reality is that all three of those guys could see time in right field this season, while Beltran and Soriano get regular turns at designated hitter. Because he used to be a pretty good center fielder, there’s a tendency to assume Beltran is a terrific right fielder, but advanced metrics actually had him well below average last year.

Ichiro SuzukiLingering question: How will the playing time be divided?
It’s actually a legitimately interesting situation. It seems to make sense that Beltran will be the regular right fielder, Soriano will be the regular at DH, and Ichiro will mostly become a pinch runner and defensive replacement. But the Yankees need to make sure Beltran stays healthy, which will surely mean occasional days off and fairly regular turns at DH. They also have to recognize that Soriano has never been a full-time DH and might prefer to play the field whenever possible (except that he’s never been a right fielder). And Ichiro has certainly never been a bench player. Joe Girardi is going to have to keep guys fresh, keep them happy, keep them productive, and keep some sort of balance between offense and defense while sorting out his right-field rotation.

Worth watching this spring: How does Soriano look in right?
Doesn’t seem like it should be a huge transition once he gets out there a few times, but I don’t think it’s totally insignificant that Soriano’s outfield experience is almost exclusively in left field. He’ll have to adjust a little bit to the ball coming off the bat the other way. And we’ll have to see how his arm plays in right. Mostly, though, it’s worth watching to see how Soriano’s lack of right field experience might impact Girardi’s willingness to play him out there. How much incentive will there be to generally keep Soriano in left field when he’s playing the field, maybe sit Brett Gardner against tough lefties, and use those opportunities to DH Derek Jeter? Figuring out the playing time in right field could go a long way toward determining the playing time at designated hitter as well.

Best-case scenario: The perfect combination
Ichiro has speed and defense, Beltran is a kind of all-around switch hitter, and Soriano brings the raw right-handed power. Together, those three do just about everything a right fielder should do. If they could be rolled into one player, he’d be elite even for a guy in his late 30s. Instead, getting the most out of those talents will require the right kind of mixing and matching by Girardi. It will also require some late-career health, especially from Beltran, who’s had health issues in the past but has managed at least 600 at-bats in each of the past two years. There’s a good mix of skills here, enough to handle an outfield position and regular turns at designated hitter. The key will be getting the most out of those players, which will require keeping them healthy and using them in the right roles at the right times.

Worst-case scenario: Missing pieces
Here’s the problem with that idea of a three-headed approach to right field (plus a rotation at designated hitter): while Ichiro, Beltran and Soriano each bring value, each also brings some holes and concerns, not least of which is the fact that all three are older players. Beltran is the youngest — and probably a better all-around player than the other two at this point — but his injury history isn’t encouraging. Soriano has been an all-or-nothing kind of hitter in recent years, and has to hit for big-time power (at 38 years old) to be a valuable hitter. Ichiro’s offensive production is dwindling to almost nothing, and the fact he can still run a little bit doesn’t mean much if he can’t get on base. He’s a nice defensive replacement, but it’s hard to bank on him being even a replacement-level offensive player. The Yankees could piece together a productive situation in right. The pieces could fall apart also.

Keep an eye on this year: The return of Tyler Austin
In 2012, the Yankees actually got aggressive with one of their hitting prospects. At 20 years old, in his first taste of full-season ball, Tyler Austin was bumped from Low-A to High-A to Double-A. Each level proved a little more of a challenge, but the guy still hit .322/.400/.559 for the year. He was the system’s true breakout star. Then he went back to Double-A last year and hit just .257/.344/.373. This season will be a big one for determining what exactly Austin is really capable of doing against upper-level pitching. A wrist injury certainly didn’t help him last year, and it might have a significant drain. One great year doesn’t make a prospect, and one bad year doesn’t destroy a prospect. A bounce-back season could put Austin back among the top hitters in the Yankees system (and considering he should be back in Double-A to start the year, it could also move him to the verge of the big leagues).

Associated Press photos

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79 Responses to “State of the organization: Right field”

  1. Bret The Hitman February 13th, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Ichiro stays.

    Jeter needs to DH.

    Soriano gets pushed to LF.

    Time is running out.

  2. tomingeorgia February 13th, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    Did someone break the blog?

  3. comet February 13th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Hey Tom, what’s new?

  4. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Do you have power Tom?

  5. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 6:55 pm

    Assuming that you’re are possibly posting from your phone.

  6. comet February 13th, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    RIB where abouts are you?

  7. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Upstate NY, Saratoga area.

  8. tomingeorgia February 13th, 2014 at 7:00 pm

    Hey. comet! Going to get off the reservation tomorrow for the first time since Wednesday. The City boasted they had a spreader, and borrowed another from a feed and seed. Plus, they had ten tons of salt! That’s about enough for our main street. Everything else will be iced until it melts on its own.

  9. UpState February 13th, 2014 at 7:02 pm

    RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:00 pm
    Upstate NY, Saratoga area.
    ============================

    Watchin’ the ponies run !

  10. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    UpState

    Not at the moment!

  11. UpState February 13th, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:03 pm
    UpState

    Not at the moment!
    =============================

    Ski-Doo’s pulling horse trailers ?

  12. tomingeorgia February 13th, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    RIB,
    Mirabile dictu, The lights stayed on. Most of the counties around here had 75-90% outage, and most of them still are.

    Let’s play ball, if only to forget this crap.

  13. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    UpState

    Except for the local stud farms most of the horse people are out of here with the white stuff on the ground.

  14. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Good deal Tom.

    Won’t be long now buddy.

  15. comet February 13th, 2014 at 7:10 pm

    Cold and Colder here. A thaw on its way next week.

  16. Blojaldo February 13th, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    I think not giving Soriano enough playing time would be a huge mistake. In 50 games in pinstripes last year he hit 17 home runs and drove in 50 with an .850 OPS. I see no reason not to expect good things from him in 2014. If the Yankees can get a very good return for Gardner and fill a need, I would feel fine starting the year with Soriano, Ellsbury and Beltran in the outfield with Ichiro as the primary backup.

  17. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Rites of spring up here, and it never fails are news reports of ice fisherman falling through the thin ice on Saratoga Lake.

    First report then I’ll know spring isn’t too far off.

  18. UpState February 13th, 2014 at 7:14 pm

    RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:09 pm
    UpState

    Except for the local stud farms most of the horse people are out of here with the white stuff on the ground.
    ===============================

    Returned to Kentucky like mis-labeled Fed-Ex packages….

  19. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    comet where are you?

  20. pat February 13th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    We all know how this Jeter fairy tale will end
    http://nypost.com/2014/02/13/w.....-will-end/

  21. UpState February 13th, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    Blojaldo February 13th, 2014 at 7:11 pm
    I think not giving Soriano enough playing time would be a huge mistake. In 50 games in pinstripes last year he hit 17 home runs and drove in 50 with an .850 OPS. I see no reason not to expect good things from him in 2014. If the Yankees can get a very good return for Gardner and fill a need, I would feel fine starting the year with Soriano, Ellsbury and Beltran in the outfield with Ichiro as the primary backup.
    =======================================
    Yes.
    Knock, knock Cincinnati…

    “…Can Bailey or Cingrani come over to our house to play ? …”

  22. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    UpState

    Went to a convenience store down on Saratoga Lake early one Sunday morning last spring to get the papers, entering the store as Bill Parcels was leaving eating an ice cream cone.

    Now I know how he keeps that great body.

  23. UpState February 13th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:18 pm
    UpState

    Went to a convenience store down on Saratoga Lake early one Sunday morning last spring to get the papers, entering the store as Bill Parcels was leaving eating an ice cream cone.

    Now I know how he keeps that great body.
    ====================================

    Francessa’s always up at the track, too !

  24. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Haven’t see Francessa.

    Not much of a gambler, I go to the track to eat the chowder drink beer and look at the women.

  25. GregD February 13th, 2014 at 7:26 pm

    Montero reported to camp 20 pounds overweight, he’s making Cashman look like a genius…..

  26. Tar February 13th, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    “Blojaldo February 13th, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Sock Puppet February 13th, 2014 at 5:33 pm
    We should have traded Cano for Aaron Hill when we had the chance.
    ___________________

    That’s crazy talk. No one knowledgable about baseball would ever propose such a thing.”

    Great here we go again. Hey Chad can you ban WCYF again?

  27. Tar February 13th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    “why would the yankees start tanaka off with cervelli?

    i know it’s first day of spring training , but damn, cervelli?

    makes no sense to me.”

    I was thinking the same thing. Try hard as I may, I just can’t bring myself to like Cervelli as a Yankees catcher.

  28. tomingeorgia February 13th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    RIB,
    Mrs. Tom grew up in Charleton and Bemis Heights, right next to the battlefield.

  29. Tar February 13th, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    I have some great childhood memories of Saratoga as a kid with my Grandfather. He loved the track…almost as much as the Yankees.

    Probably not PC to take a kid to the track these days… But I am certainly glad we had those days together.

  30. UpState February 13th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Stillwater ?

  31. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    Tom,

    Bemis Heights, Know it well, beautiful area. and I know the history, the fortifications there by Tadeusz Kosciuszko the turning point of the American Revolution happened right there.

    And my Step Father and Mom are close by in the National Cemetery.

  32. tbone1570 February 13th, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Tar February 13th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    “why would the yankees start tanaka off with cervelli?

    i know it’s first day of spring training , but damn, cervelli?

    makes no sense to me.”

    I was thinking the same thing. Try hard as I may, I just can’t bring myself to like Cervelli as a Yankees catcher.

    *****************************
    The thing is that it’s not the first day of spring training. Pitchers and catchers are due to report and have physicals tomorrow then the first work outs are on Saturday. It’s possible that McCann just wasn’t there today for an “unofficial” workout today.

  33. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    UpState

    Stillwater is south about 10 miles. Stillwater is where Hendrick Hudson turned the Halfmoon around for shallow water in the Hudson.

  34. Tar February 13th, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Tbone

    You are probably right no big deal…just not a fan of Cervelli.

  35. Tar February 13th, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    “Bemis Heights, Know it well, beautiful area. and I know the history, the fortifications there by Tadeusz Kosciuszko the turning point of the American Revolution happened right there.”

    Damn I have nightmares of going over the Kosciuszko bridge in the snow. Did they ever fix that death trap?

  36. RhapsodyInBlue February 13th, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Tar,

    Kosciuszko Bridge (twin bridges) known as the Dolly Parton bridge locally is still as it was originally built.

    And I agree improvements are long overdue. There was an accident there two days ago backing up traffic for at least ten miles during rush hour.

  37. tbone1570 February 13th, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    Tar,

    I’m not a fan of Cervelli either ( I actually hope Romine wins the buc job this year). I was just a little surprised at randy’s take on Tanaka throwing to him today.

  38. dan l February 13th, 2014 at 8:29 pm

    Pitchers love throwing to Cervelli…I have no issue with Tanaka throwing to him.

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